When it comes to trendsetters, fashion designers have created some of the most popular brands in the world. These famous designers are men and women who have influenced the way we dress and can be defined by their talent, creativity and success. The best fashion designers have become known for their unique styles and iconic designs, creating clothing, footwear, handbags and accessories that pushed boundaries to transform society.
While the most influential designers will go down in history for starting trends and changing what we wear every day, other names will live on through their fashion brands. With so many popular fashion icons to consider, it can be a challenge choosing the most iconic designer names.
To inspire your search, we’ve compiled a list of the best fashion designers. From Coco Chanel to Valentino, Versace and Prada, explore the most famous fashion designers of all time.
- 1 Best Fashion Designers
- 1.1 Coco Chanel
- 1.2 Donna Karan
- 1.3 Giorgio Armani
- 1.4 Calvin Klein
- 1.5 Gianni Versace
- 1.6 Ralph Lauren
- 1.7 Christian Dior
- 1.8 Tom Ford
- 1.9 Pierre Cardin
- 1.10 Yves Saint Laurent
- 1.11 Christian Louboutin
- 1.12 Karl Lagerfeld
- 1.13 Roberto Cavalli
- 1.14 Marc Jacobs
- 1.15 Betsey Johnson
- 1.16 Sandy Powell
- 1.17 Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana
- 1.18 Alexander McQueen
- 1.19 Valentino Garavani
- 1.20 Miuccia Prada
- 1.21 Tommy Hilfiger
- 1.22 Carolina Herrera
- 1.23 Jean-Paul Gaultier
- 1.24 Herve Leger
- 1.25 Stella McCartney
- 1.26 Ralph Rucci
- 1.27 Salvatore Ferragamo
- 1.28 Jimmy Choo
- 1.29 Alexandre Herchcovitch
- 1.30 Mossimo Giannulli
- 1.31 John Varvatos
- 1.32 Daphne Guinness
- 1.33 Kate Spade
- 1.34 Christian Audigier
- 1.35 Donatella Versace
- 1.36 Diane von Furstenberg
- 1.37 Michael Kors
- 1.38 Tory Burch
- 1.39 Phoebe Philo
- 1.40 Oscar de la Renta
- 1.41 Zac Posen
- 1.42 Riccardo Tisci
- 1.43 Vera Wang
- 1.44 Isabel Marant
- 1.45 Esteban Cortázar
- 1.46 Vivienne Westwood
- 1.47 Paul Smith
- 1.48 Jil Sander
- 1.49 Anna Sui
- 1.50 Cristóbal Balenciaga
- 1.51 Hubert de Givenchy
- 1.52 Pierre Balmain
- 1.53 Edith Head
- 1.54 Emilio Pucci
- 1.55 Paco Rabanne
- 1.56 Manolo Blahnik
- 1.57 Virgil Abloh
- 1.58 Rihanna
- 1.59 Alberta Ferretti
Best Fashion Designers
Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer and businesswoman who redefined fashion by introducing sporty and casual womenswear to the market. As a fashion leader, Chanel is known as one of the best designers in history for creating timeless designs and trends that revolutionized the industry. Believing that women needn’t be corseted to look elegant, she spent her career designing everything from relaxed suits to handbags. Her modernist approach to fashion made her an international sensation and she is even credited with introducing the famous little black dress to the market. Her legacy lives on into the 21st-century with the enduring No. 5 fragrance, which has continued to be one of the most popular scents in the world.
Donna Karan is an American fashion designer who was exposed to the fashion industry at a young age because of her family’s background in tailoring and modeling. After working with the designer Anne Klein, Karan went on to launch her eponymous Donna Karan label in 1984, which later came to be known as DKNY. This successful businesswoman always puts the female gaze first and specializes in comfortable and functional pieces that still look stylish. Since stepping down as the head of DKNY, Karan has been showcasing her creative chops with her lifestyle brand Urban Zen.
Giorgio Armani is best known for his impeccably tailored suits and commitment to traditional Italian craftsmanship. After working with Cerruti, Allegri and Bagutta, this powerhouse designer established the Armani brand in 1975. Since then, he has become one of the richest men in the fashion industry. Although this incredible designer is best known for his menswear lines, he’s dabbled in skiwear, cosmetics, eyeglasses, handbags and womenswear. Not only is Armani credited for revolutionizing red-carpet fashion, but he became the first designer that refused to use models that had a BMI under 18. This singular action turned the tide in the runway world and opened doors for previously overlooked models.
Calvin Klein is one of the most popular American fashion designers in the world and is best known for his comfortable and minimalistic collections. Klein started his career as the protégé of the magazine editor and socialite Baron de Gunzburg. Thanks to regular introductions to New York’s fashion elite, this young designer quickly rose through the ranks and established his eponymous company in 1968. Strongly rebelling against the vibrant hippie fashion of the late 1960s and 1970s, Klein became the first designer to be recognized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Not only has he appeared on Vanity Fair’s “International Best Dressed List” for his sleek personal style, but he’s received the American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award for his work.
The late Gianni Versace was an Italian fashion designer, businessman and socialite regarded for his use of vivid colors, daring prints, and risqué cuts. Moving the industry away from previously favored neutral palettes, Versace was always met with equal amounts of criticism and adoration. After creating a string of sexy lines for women, this edgy designer began to create jewelry, luxury furnishings and haute-couture pieces for the runway. Throughout his career, Versace also lent his expertise to stage productions at La Scala, claiming that this work gave him a sense of liberation. Despite the designer’s tragic murder in 1997, the company continues to go from strength to strength under the watchful eye of his younger sister Donatella Versace.
Ralph Lauren is an American fashion designer and philanthropist who is known all over the world for his sophisticated cuts and signature sportswear line. Lauren was always partial to preppy outfits as a teen and started his fashion career while working for Beau Brummell. After successfully selling his necktie designs at large department stores, this headstrong designer was able to expand his business in 1968. Never afraid to break boundaries, Lauren released an impressive range of women’s suits that showcased the Polo logo in 1970. Since then, the brand has exploded and is a favorite among young men and women who enjoy the classic fit of Lauren’s shirts. When he’s not working, this fashion mogul is building up his collection of automobiles or working with the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care in Harlem.
Christian Dior was a famous French designer who took women’s clothing to the next level. Best known for his “New Look” collection which featured a cinched waist and full skirt for an ultra-feminine appearance, he single-handedly revolutionized 1940s fashion. Throughout his career, Dior was nominated for an Academy Award, a BAFTA and a Cesar Award for his work on costume design for Hollywood. Although Dior died suddenly in 1957, his successors have secured the brand’s legacy. As a result, his company continues to be one of the most successful fashion houses in the world.
Tom Ford is an American fashion designer and filmmaker who first burst onto the scene in 2005. Having previously worked as the creative director for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, Ford launched his eponymous brand with plenty of industry experience. Not only is his personal style effortlessly suave, but he serves as the chairman of the Board of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. When he’s not working on the Tom Ford label, this talented individual is working with his film production company Fade to Black. Having directed the 2009 flick A Single Man and the 2015 movie Nocturnal Animals, this multi-faceted designer proves he’s anything but a one-trick pony.
Pierre Cardin was an Italian-French fashion designer best known for his eccentric avant-garde designs, geometric shapes and outlandish accessories. Cardin was a fan of unisex pieces and often disregarded the traditional female form in his designs. He released several futuristic and modish pieces inspired by space travel during his career, but Cardin’s finest creation remains the 1954 “bubble dress”. As an ambassador for UNESCO Goodwill and FAO Goodwill, this enduring icon was as kind as he was creative.
Yves Saint Laurent
Hailing from France, Yves Saint Laurent was one of the most influential fashion designers in the world. Not only did Saint Laurent help women embrace their natural beauty with comfortable and elegant pieces, but he seamlessly kept up with changing trends in the fashion world. In addition to designing the powerful “Smoking” tuxedo for women, he is also credited with creating the reefer jacket and the first iteration of the jumpsuit in the late 60s. Consistently praised for using diverse models on the runway and in print, this trailblazing designer leaves behind an incredible legacy.
Known for his gorgeous, red-soled stilettos, Christian Louboutin has been elevating the fashion industry for decades. After starting his career at Charles Jourdan, Louboutin made a name for himself as a freelance designer for Chanel, Roger Vivier and Yves Saint Laurent. After a successful stint as a freelancer, he opened his first Parisian store in 1992. Believing that heels have the power to make a woman feel beautiful, Louboutin’s opulent shoes are sported by celebrities and fashionistas across the globe.
Although Karl Lagerfeld has been subject to controversy over the years, this late German designer remains one of the most prolific fashion icons in the world. Operating as the creative director at Chanel until his death, Lagerfeld is responsible for revolutionizing the brand’s ready-to-wear line. He is even credited with creating the fashion house’s iconic interlocking “CC” emblem. In addition to his work with Chanel, Lagerfeld has also worked extensively with the leather goods specialist Fendi. Never afraid to take risks with his smart and on-trend designs, Lagerfeld will go down in history as a major game changer in the fashion industry.
Roberto Cavalli is an Italian fashion designer and inventor who has been making waves in the fashion world since 1970. After patenting a leather printing procedure early in his career, he quickly began to specialize in exotic prints, patterned jeans and rogue designs. Thanks to his excellent eye for beauty, Roberto Cavalli acted as a judge for the 1977 Miss Universe pageant where he met his future wife, Eva Duringer. Always regarded for his unique approach to patterning and unwavering commitment to glamour, Cavalli remains a red-carpet favorite.
Marc Jacobs is a prolific American fashion designer who is best known for his stylish handbags and luxury womenswear. Since bursting onto the scene in 1986, Jacobs has enjoyed immeasurable success. As a result, his designs have been worn by everyone from the edgy Lady Gaga to the decidedly demure Dakota Fanning. Before creating his own brand, this talented mogul held impressive positions at Louis Vuitton and Perry Ellis. Named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time magazine in 2010, Jacobs remains a shining star in the industry.
Betsey Johnson is an American fashion designer who specializes in outlandish and whimsical designs that are inherently feminine. After interning at Mademoiselle magazine where she met the incredible editor Edie Locke, Johnson became an in-house designer for the Manhattan store Paraphernalia. In the late 1970s, this vibrant woman started her own fashion line. Inducted into the Fashion Walk of Fame and awarded the Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement in Fashion by the National Arts Club, Johnson proves that youthful and bright designs are just as fashion-forward as the avant-garde.
Sandy Powell is a British costume designer who has worked on an impressive range of Hollywood blockbusters. She has been nominated for the Best Costume Design Academy Award an astonishing fifteen times and has won for Shakespeare in Love, The Aviator and The Young Victoria. You may also spot her handiwork in The Favourite, Cinderella, and Mary Poppins Returns. Praised for her unique ability to channel character through fabric, Powell is one of the film industry’s brightest gems.
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana
Typically paired together, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are two of the world’s most renowned designers. Believing strongly in female strength and individual expression, their designs emphasize a woman’s form without overwhelming it. The pair met in 1980 and founded their eponymous brand in 1985 to much critical acclaim. Their first collection was titled “Real Women” and fully represented their inclusive approach to fashion. Designing bespoke pieces for Monica Bellucci, Kylie Minogue, Isabella Rossellini and Angelina Jolie, their elegant pieces can be spotted on most red carpets.
Alexander McQueen was a Scottish fashion designer and couturier who founded his popular fashion label in 1992. Before catapulting to fame as a designer, McQueen was working as a skilled tailor. Alongside the release of the incredible “bumster” trousers and edgy skull print clothing at his label, McQueen was working as the chief designer at Givenchy between 1996 and 2001. Although he tragically took his own life in 2010, this artist’s creative influence continues to be felt under the fashion-forward direction of Sarah Burton.
Valentino Garavani started his career working for Jean Dessès and Guy Laroche before opening his own fashion house in 1959. Although it took a while for him to get noticed, the young fashion designer shot to fame after Elizabeth Taylor favored one of his designs while shooting Cleopatra. These days, Valentino is regarded for his attention to detail and specializes in ornate, glamorous pieces that make women feel irresistible. Prioritizing classic lines and colors over bolder designs, Valentino remains one of the most elegant luxury clothing brands in the world.
Miuccia Prada is an Italian fashion designer and businesswoman who has become famous for her design work at Prada and her founding of the luxury brand Miu Miu. Before diving into the fashion world, Prada trained at the Teatro Piccolo to become a mime and was also heavily involved with the Italian Communist Party and the women’s rights movement. She first took the fashion industry by storm with a finely woven nylon handbag. After the success of this piece, she expanded into the ready-to-wear world. Focusing on minimalism and flattering cuts, this iconic designer remains at the top of her game.
Tommy Hilfiger is an American designer best known for his red, white and blue striped clothing. Capitalizing on the elegance and immense possibility of the American Dream, Hilfiger’s designs largely focus on Ivy League smart-casual shirts and polos. For his impressive work in the fashion industry, Hilfiger was awarded the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award in 1995. Believing that menswear is just as important as womenswear, Hilfiger continues to be a go-to designer for young guys.
As talented as she is fashionable, Carolina Herrera is a Venezuelan fashion designer that specializes in elegant and chic clothing inspired by global cultures. Thanks to her association with Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol in her early days, she became known for her outlandish and dramatic style. Throughout her career, Herrera has designed pieces for prolific clients, including Diana the Duchess of Cadaval, Jacqueline Kennedy and Renee Zellweger. She is better known for her womenswear pieces, but Herrera has also released several successful fragrances.
Always looking to push boundaries Jean-Paul Gautier is a French fashion designer who has never been afraid to embrace androgyny. His designs typically blur the boundaries between masculinity and femininity and incorporate unusual motifs like tin cans and corsetry. Before founding his self-titled label, Gaultier was working with established designer Pierre Cardin as his assistant. Between 2003 and 2010, this multifaceted haute-couture designer also worked as the creative director for Hermès. When he’s not working on his brand, Gaultier can be found rocking along to the Eurovision Song Contest as France’s primary dresser.
Herve Leger was a French fashion designer who started his decades-long career as a hairstylist for Jean-Marc Maniatis. After a successful stint making hats for Tan Guidicelli, he became Karl Lagerfeld’s assistant for several years before starting his label in 1985. Preferring to highlight the female form instead of hiding it, Leger’s eponymous fashion house created the iconic bandage dress which remains one of the most popular dress styles today.
As the daughter of Paul McCartney, English fashion designer Stella McCartney has natural artistic talent running through her veins. In her early years, McCartney interned for Christian Lacroix before working with the Savile Row tailor Edward Sexton to refine her approach to dressmaking. After working as the creative director of Chloe from 1997 to 2001, she launched her eponymous line in 2001. Since then, this talented designer has released everything from high-quality womenswear and childrenswear to fragrances and chic handbags. As a staunch supporter of animal rights, McCartney refuses to use fur or leather in any of her collections.
Ralph Rucci is an American fashion designer best known for creating the luxury fashion line Chado Ralph Rucci. Most of his pieces are haute-couture designs that are extremely lavish, making him a popular choice among celebrities and society’s elite. Throughout his career, Rucci has been nominated twice for the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s “Womenswear Designer of the Year Award”. If you’d like to take a closer look at his perfectly crafted designs, several of his impressive gowns are on display at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Salvatore Ferragamo was an Italian shoe designer who first rose to fame in the 1930s for his daring use of exotic leathers. He was also praised for bringing platform sandals into mainstream fashion by designing a cork and suede pair from war-rationed materials for the Hollywood starlet Judy Garland. Although this designer’s brand is now run by his eldest son Ferruccio Ferragamo, the company remains committed to producing high-quality, perfectly crafted shoes that look elegant on the foot.
Jimmy Choo is a Malaysian fashion designer who was exposed to shoemaking from a young age. As his father was a shoemaker, he was inspired to make his first pair of slippers at the tender age of 11. Since then, he’s taken the fashion world by storm with his iconic heels, ready-to-wear collections and handbags. Thanks to this designer’s excellent craftsmanship and commitment to handcrafting, Choo’s gorgeous shoes have been rocked by everyone from the late Princess Diana to Hollywood’s sweetheart Julia Roberts.
Hailing from Brazil, Alexandre Herchcovitch has been making a statement with his vibrant prints, avant-garde approach, and trademark skull icons since launching his brand in 1994. Aiming to channel punk fashion and the boldness of youth, this designer is never afraid to challenge social norms. For his interesting designs, Herchcovitch became the first Brazilian fashion designer to receive the coveted Ordem do Mérito Cultural Award from the Ministry of Culture in Brazil.
Mossimo Giannulli is an American fashion designer who created the youthful line Mossimo back in 1986. Considered a mid-range clothing company, Giannulli aims to make cool and casual fashion accessible to all. After releasing his first collection of teenage clothing, this impressive designer expanded his range to include womenswear, tailored suits and knitwear. His work took a backseat after he was forced to serve time for his involvement in the infamous college admissions bribery scandal with his wife Lori Loughlin.
John Varvatos is an American contemporary designer who began honing his skills with Polo Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. For the latter designer, Varvatos was appointed as the head of menswear design and was responsible for the creation of the boxer brief. In 1999, he started the John Varvatos company which focuses on clothing, belts, handbags, footwear, eyewear and fragrances. Inspired by the rebellious nature of rock ‘n’ roll, Varvatos prides himself on standing out from the crowd. When he’s not working, he’s flexing his philanthropic muscles with the Save the Music Foundation which helps communities reach their full potential through music.
Daphne Guinness is an English socialite and designer who began her career working with Isabella Blow and Karl Lagerfeld. Typically seen sporting contrasting brown and platinum blonde locks, her signature style is all about the avant-garde. Thanks to her unique look, she has been featured on Tatler’s “Best Dressed List” and Eleanor Lambert’s iconic International “Best Dressed Hall of Fame List”. In addition to designing fashion, perfume and jewelry, Guinness is also a model and was once the muse of fellow designer Alexander McQueen.
Kate Spade was an American fashion designer and entrepreneur who never shied away from color, pattern and kitsch shapes. Before starting her eponymous brand in 1993, Spade was working within the accessories department at Mademoiselle magazine. While she was acting as the magazine’s Senior Fashion Editor and Head of Accessories, she noticed that the market was lacking a stylish and accessible handbag range which she sought to rectify with her own line. During her career, she was also honored by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Although she sadly passed away in 2018, her accessories remain some of the most popular items in the fashion world.
Unlike his more elegant competitors, Christian Audigier is a French designer that focuses on rugged, motorcycle-inspired clothing. As the founder of the Ed Hardy and Von Dutch lines, Audigier cites his main influence as The Rolling Stones. In addition to designing trucker hats, jeans and jackets for his lines, Audigier has also lent his expertise to American Outfitters, Guess, Diesel and XOXO. Worn by everyone from Madonna to Britney Spears at the height of their careers, this fashion designer knows how to make people stand out from the crowd.
Donatella Versace is an Italian fashion designer, socialite, model and businesswoman who has become best known for inheriting the Versace brand from her brother Gianni. Versace has designed successful campaigns for several celebrities and is also credited with creating the famous “Jungle Dress” worn by Jennifer Lopez in 2000. Always seen rocking her signature platinum locks, Versace’s style remains as radical as her designs.
Diane von Furstenberg
Diane von Furstenberg is a Belgian designer who has been in the spotlight since marrying Prince Egon von Furstenberg in 1969. She quickly made a name for herself in the fashion world after launching the iconic wrap dress in 1974. After this whirlwind success, Furstenberg appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine as the next “big thing” in fashion. The brand continues to release impressive collections, but Furstenberg has chosen to spend her later years working philanthropically. Not only does she empower women through her #InCharge podcast, but she sits on the board of Vital Voices which promotes female advancement in society.
Praised for his affordable handbags, accessories and ready-to-wear collections, Michael Kors is an American fashion designer adored by the masses. Not only is he the founder of his eponymous brand, but Kors has appeared as a judge on several seasons of the popular design show Project Runway. Worn by everyone from fresh-faced teenagers to former First Lady Michelle Obama, this on-trend designer proves that his versatile pieces are suitable for all.
Tory Burch is a famous American fashion designer and philanthropist who started her career working for Zoran and Harper’s Bazaar. Soon after, she learned a few tricks of the trade in the public relations and advertising departments of fellow designers Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren, and Loewe. Despite only launching her fashion label in 2004, Burch’s work quickly gained traction in the fashion industry. As a result, she was awarded the Rising Star Award for Best New Retail Concept by Fashion Group International in 2005. In her time away from the drawing board, Burch is an active philanthropist and works closely with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Startup America Partnership and the Barnes Foundation.
Phoebe Philo is a British fashion designer best known for her work with the high fashion brands Céline and Chloé. Philo received her first break as Stella McCartney’s design assistant at Chloé in 1997. After taking over as creative director in 2001, Philo developed her experience and moved on to Céline where she would debut her first collection. Favoring clean and aesthetic lines that look effortlessly chic on the female form, Philo launched her eponymous brand in 2021 with great success.
Oscar de la Renta
Lauded for his haute-couture womenswear, Oscar de la Renta has designed clothing for some of the world’s most beautiful women. Famous for his use of bold red and feminine lines, de la Renta’s evening gowns have been sported by women like Sarah Jessica Parker, Hillary Clinton and Emma Watson. Instead of designing clothing for the male gaze, this talented designer uses cuts, silhouettes and embellishments that women find exciting.
If you’ve ever spotted glamorous, trailing evening gowns on the red carpet, Zac Posen is probably behind them. This talented trailblazer has always had an interest in fashion and enrolled at Parsons School of Design at the tender age of 16. After a successful runway show in 2001, Posen was mentored by Yves Carcelle, Sidney Toledano and Domenico De Sole. In addition to his impressive design work, Posen also appeared as a judge on Project Runway in seasons 11 through 16.
Ricardo Tisci is an Italian fashion designer that has been making his mark in the industry since 2005. He first rose to prominence as the creative director of three of Givenchy’s major lines. During his time with the company, he designed several costumes for Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour in 2008. Following his success with the brand, he stepped in as the chief creative officer for the British luxury brand Burberry in 2018. If you’re a fan of Kanye West and Jay-Z you may have even spotted Tisci’s incredible work on the cover of “Watch the Throne”!
Best known for her bridal wear, Vera Wang remains one of the most elegant fashion designers in the world. After making a splash as the youngest editor of Vogue where she remained for 17 years, Wang became an independent bridal designer when she hit 40. In addition to creating gowns for prolific celebrities like Ariana Grande, Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian, this talented designer has also designed costumes for figure skaters. With Nancy Kerrigan and Michelle Kwan among her client base, this multifaceted designer’s work knows no bounds.
Isabel Marant is a famous French fashion designer who has received several accolades for her work in the industry. After working with designers Michael Klein and Bridget Yorke, Marant launched a jewelry label and a knitwear line called Twen. In 1994, she launched her eponymous brand which took her career to new heights. Basing her designs around simple staples like tailored jackets and unstructured blouses with an androgynous feel, Marant’s style is sure to stand the test of time.
Esteban Cortázar is a Colombian-American fashion designer best known for being one of the youngest designers to showcase his work at New York Fashion Week. In addition to running his eponymous line, Cortázar has also worked with the House of Emmanuel Ungaro and designed a wearable set of capsule collections for the online retailer Net-a-Porter. Although he is more widely recognized for his involvement in the American fashion scene, Cortázar also worked on several products for the Colombian concept store Colette. Drawing influence from his upbringing in Miami and his Colombian roots, Cortázar’s collections are eclectic as the man himself.
Known for her incredible punkish style and eccentric designs, Vivienne Westwood is an English fashion designer determined to shake up the status quo. Westwood’s career dates back to the 1970s when she became inspired by the UK punk scene and the rebellious group The Sex Pistols. Since her early days, she has dressed several Hollywood stars in couture gowns, including Marion Cotillard and Pharrell Williams. If you watch the Sex and the City movie, you’ll even spot one of her coveted wedding gowns taking center stage. When she’s not working on her designs, Westwood can be found campaigning for clean energy with the Trillion Fund and promoting vegetarianism with PETA.
Paul Smith is a British fashion designer that is highly regarded for his fine tailoring and dapper menswear collections. Focusing on simple, clean lines and classic silhouettes, each of Smith’s pieces exudes British elegance. This talented designer founded his eponymous company in 1970 and has won several awards for his work over the years. The most coveted of these is the Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2011 British Fashion Awards. As it was once his passion to become a professional cyclist, he also wrote Paul Smith’s Cycling Scrapbook in 2016 to detail his history with the sport.
Jil Sander is a German fashion designer who places minimalism and simple elegance above all else. After debuting her first collection in 1973, she quickly became associated with fine tailoring and elevated workwear. After a successful string of releases, Sander decided to pursue fashion consultancy where she oversaw the design of several Uniqlo collections. Never straying from neutral color palettes and wearable designs, Sander proves that fashion needn’t be complex to be stylish.
Anna Sui is an American fashion icon and designer who found herself enthralled by her mother’s sewing skills at a young age. After learning the basics, Sui moved to New York City to attend Parsons. Before creating her own brand, this talented designer worked with the clothing label Charlie’s Girls before dabbling in the sportswear world with Bobbie Brooks and Simultanee. As she struggled to compete with the world’s fashion powerhouses, Sui settled into the grunge niche. Throughout her career, she expanded into the fragrance, makeup, and skincare worlds and was even contracted by Samsung to design a stylish cell phone in 2005.
Cristóbal Balenciaga was a Spanish fashion designer who never compromised on standards or innovation during his lifetime. Thanks to his incredible haute couture designs, he was called ‘The Master of Us All’ by Christian Dior. As Balenciaga has advanced tailoring skills, he was able to mold his clothing to perfectly fit the female silhouette and released everything from the iconic lace babydoll to enormous organza evening gowns. Although his eponymous company now focuses more on accessories and fragrances, Balenciaga’s original care and attention to detail remain central to the brand’s ethos.
Hubert de Givenchy
Hubert de Givenchy was a French aristocrat and famous fashion designer who was highly favored by Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy. He opened his design house in 1952 with a focus on cotton separates. Before long, he was releasing large haute couture and avant-garde collections that appealed to Hollywood starlets and the elite. Considered one of the best couturiers in the world, he remains known for his ostentatious ball gowns and sharply tailored suits.
The late Pierre Balmain was a French fashion designer that started his career with the British design legend Edward Molyneux in 1934. In 1945, Balmain founded his own fashion house and quickly gained traction in the post-war years with his bell-shaped skirts and cinched waists. Not only did he design an impeccable wardrobe for Queen Sirikit of Thailand during her 1960 US tour, but he also created uniforms for the Singapore Airlines and Air France cabin crews. Although he’s better known for the Balmain brand, this designer scored a Tony Award nomination for Best Costume Design in 1980 for his work on the play Happy New Year.
Edith Head was an American costume designer who broke records by winning eight Academy Awards throughout her career. She was first recognized for her impressive work on The Jungle Princess but didn’t win her first Academy Award until The Emperor Waltz in 1949. In addition to her accolades in Hollywood, Head also designed a woman’s uniform for the US Coast Guard for which she received a Meritorious Public Service Award.
Emilio Pucci was an Italian fashion designer and active politician whose career took off after designing a one-piece ski suit. After receiving several offers from American companies to produce the suits en masse, Pucci left behind his career in the Italian Air Force and began to focus on haute couture. Adored by Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and Sophia Loren, Pucci was a true testament to his craft. When he wasn’t designing garments, Pucci was active in the political sphere, even contesting for the Italian Liberal Party in 1963.
Born Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo, Paco Rabanne is a Spanish fashion designer who launched his career by creating ornate jewelry for Dior, Balenciaga and Givenchy. After forming his own fashion house in 1966, Rabanne became known for his use of bizarre materials. This included plastic, metal and paper which was first showcased in his 1967 “Metal and Plastic Dress”. These days, Rabanne is regarded for his fragrances, including the iconic “1 Million” collection.
When it comes to high-end shoes, no one does it better than Manolo Blahnik. This trendy designer rose to fame after designing shoes for Ossie Clark’s runway show in 1971. He opened his first US boutique in 1979 and was never afraid to go against the grain by favoring stiletto heels when platforms were all the rage in the late 70s. Holding the belief that the right heels convey immeasurable sex appeal, Blahnik remains one of the most iconic shoe designers in the world.
Virgil Abloh may be young, but he’s been going from strength to strength since being appointed the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear line in 2018. Before his work with the French fashion house, Abloh was the chief executive officer of the Off-White label which he founded in 2013. Praised for his innate ability to blend streetwear vibes with luxury clothing, this fresh fashion designer is one to watch.
Rihanna is known primarily for her pop career but she’s also the founder of the popular Fenty line. Created alongside the French luxury fashion giant LVMH, Fenty was launched in 2017. Her edgy brand consisted of structured silhouettes, bold lines and corseted elements that cinch the waist. Although the brand has since announced its closure, Rihanna’s creativity remains present through her Fenty Beauty and Savage X Fenty lines.
Regarded for her impressive draping techniques and subtle layering, Alberta Ferretti is an Italian fashion designer and dressmaker who kick-started her career in 1968 with her first boutique Jolly. She is best known for her elegant party dresses and fashion distribution company Aeffe which she runs with her brother. As this designer has always been fascinated by textiles, her collections often showcase unique textures and mixed patterns.