Fashion: we’re fascinated with it. What’s trending?
What’s timeless and elegant, and what would we not be caught dead in?
Who decides these things? Let’s take a look at the ultimate masters and mavens of good taste: 25 famous fashion designers who are forever trending!
Coco Chanel was born in France, in 1883.
She brought in a breath of fresh air as she released women from the prevailing, restrictive fashion that included corsets and petticoats.
Her philosophy was: “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”
She was a pioneer in introducing fragrance as a special, luxury item, as immortalized by Chanel No.5. Her legacy of comfortable, elegant fashion lives on to this day.
Born in New York in 1948 to parents who were both in the fashion industry,
Donna Karan worked for Anna Klein until 1974.
She felt that fashion should embrace the feminine form by accentuating positive features while camouflaging negative ones. Clothes should also be versatile, and interchangeable between seasons, as well as perform basic functions.
Karan’s line, while having started with womenswear, has expanded to include clothes for men, children, perfumes, cosmetics, and accessories.
Born in Piacenza, Italy, in 1934, it wasn't till his forties that he entered the
fashion industry, as a window dresser in a department store.There began his meteoric rise to men’s wear, and then to designing garments for
Nino Cerruti. From 1975 onwards, he concentrated on building his now-global business empire.
Born in the Bronx in 1942, Calvin Klein studied fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology and started his business in 1968. His brand has become synonymous with jeans, underwear, and perfume, mainly due to the provocative ad campaigns featuring attractive models of the time, ranging from Brooke Shields and Mark Wahlberg to, more recently, Justin Bieber.
Donatella Versace was born in 1955 in Reggio Calabria, Italy. Having been close to her brother, Gianni Versace, she inherited his love for fashion and clothes design. She carried on his legacy of high-end fashion and superior design after his murder in 1997. Her creativity and public relations skills have both pushed the company into new, successful collaborations in areas such as top-tier automobiles, and the luxury hotel segment.
Ralph Lauren was born in the Bronx, New York in 1939. Style-wise, he derived inspiration from Fred Astaire and Cary Grant. In 1967, he began fashioning ties under the “Polo” brand and selling them at departmental stores like Bloomingdales. His fashion philosophy is best seen in his logo: a polo player: signifying exclusiveness, style, and everyday clothing. His brand has something for everyone.
Christian Dior was born in Granville, France in 1905. He began by joining the Lucien Lelong fashion house, where he worked with Pierre Balmain. After opening his fashion house in 1946, he became known for elegance and mastery of silhouettes and shapes. Post World War II, he wanted women to feel joy, enchantment, and beauty again through his elegant creations. Though he has long since passed on, it’s obvious why he is one of the most famous fashion designers today.
Tom Ford was born in Austin, Texas in 1961. His start in fashion was with Cathy Hardwick, in 1985. After designing jeans for Perry Ellis, he started designing Womenswear for Gucci in 1990. His signature style started with updated, sexified retro looks. Starting his label in 2005, he stands for young and sexy clothes. He is also an award-winning Director.
John Galliano was born in Gibraltar in 1960. He studied textile design in London and was particularly interested in historical clothes. In the late 80’s he set up his first fashion studio in London’s East End. He debuted on Paris runways in 1991. He has worked with the houses of Givenchy and Dior. He is now with the Maison Margiela. His style is contemporary, avant-garde and elegant. He may have had a turbulent career, but he is deservedly one of the most original, famous fashion designers of our time.
Yves Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent was born in Algeria in 1936. A natural talent, his designs were immediately snapped up by French Vogue, at 17. After fashion school, he worked at Dior till 1957. In 1962, he set up his label (YSL). He pioneered such designs as the jumpsuit, sheer blouse, and the reefer jacket. YSL is synonymous with glamour, elegance and effortless style.
Christian Louboutin was born in Paris in 1964. His shoes add him to this list of most famous fashion designers. It was apprenticing in the dressing rooms of a famous music hall in Paris, inspired by the nimble-footed showgirls, that he discovered his love of shoes. He moved on to Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent before launching his own business in 1992. In his hands, shoes became objects of desire, made distinctive by their red soles.
Karl Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg, Germy in 1938. He became apprenticed to Pierre Balmain from the young age of 17 as a result of submitting a winning design for a coat. From 1962 he freelanced and worked with various fashion houses in Europe. Apart from owning his label, he collaborated with Fendi, Chanel, H&M, and Diesel. He was also a distinguished Photographer. His style incorporates a lot of sleek, contemporary silhouettes.
Roberto Cavalli was born in 1940 in Florence, Italy. Though he studied art, he was interested in painting on textiles, so it’s natural that he ended up being a fashion designer. Debuting in 1970, his career began with a lot of leather, jeans, and later, Lycra. His style has often been described as lavish, dramatic, and aimed at the strong, confident woman.
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are a Sicilian designer duo who met in the 70’s while working for another designer. Their ideas and influences were from almost opposite directions, but they made it work, infusing their designs with a Mediterranean aesthetic and romance in fashion. They often shock and awe with outrageous ideas, such as innerwear on the outside, animal prints, and bold, colorful garments.
Born in London in 1969, he apprenticed at Savile Row at the age of 16 before moving onto designers with a flair for technical clothesmaking and theatrical melodrama in clothing. His work is a study in contrasts and combines perfect British tailoring, French high fashion, and a masterful Italian finish.
Valentino Garavani was born in Voghera, Italy in 1932. Having learned his trade young, in France, he started his line in 1959. Ten years on, he was favored by some of the best-dressed women in the world. Valentino stands for sensuous, feminine, elegant high-end fashion.
Miuccia Prada (born Maria) was born in 1949. While having majored in Political Science, her connection to fashion began when she started designing accessories, luggage, and handbags for the family business. She started her womenswear collection in 1988. Her distinctive style is characterized by disruption and the juxtaposition of normally clashing elements paired together by her unique sensibility.
Carolina Herrera was born into a wealthy family in Caracas, Venezuela in 1939. As a child, she was often taken to fashion shows in Paris and wore fashionable, designer clothes. She started designing clothes in the 1980s for an exclusive clientele. She started her fragrance line in the 1990s. She began her fashion line after 2000. She has made great use of shoulder pads and has a signature style of a white dress paired with jewelry.
Jean-Paul Gaultier was born in 1952 in Val-de-Marne, France. He debuted his collection in 1976, but only launched his own designer house in 1982. As a child, he was fascinated with his Grandmother’s closet, with a particular interest in corsets. His style can be summarized as edgy, occasionally gender-bending and innovative.
Stella McCartney is the daughter of ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and was born in London, England in 1971. She grew up with a love of natural living, animals, and vegetarianism. Her first show was in 1995, when her friends Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, modeled her designs at her graduation. She has worked with Chloe and Gucci. Stella’s entire line is cruelty-free, and she embraces the values of sustainability.
Salvatore Ferragamo was born in Bonito, Italy in 1989. He left for America at 16, and designed shoes for most of Hollywood in the 1920s. He returned to Italy in 1927 and founded his label. His flagship store in Florence now holds a museum in his name, dedicated to his creations. When his widow took over after his death in 1960, she expanded the designer lines to clothing, eyewear, accessories, and perfume.
Born in Penang, Malaysia in 1948, Jimmy Choo learned his craft from his father, a cobbler. He started making his own shoes at 11 and moved to England in the 80’s. His first shop opened in Hackney in 1986. His bespoke shoes became popular and famous, for he had, and still has many celebrity clients, securing his spot in the list of most famous fashion designers in the world.
Born in 1962 in Kansas City, Missouri, she started her career in journalism with Mademoiselle magazine in New York City. She eventually left fashion journalism in 1991 to start her own line.
She specialized in handbags but later expanded her lines to include paper goods, eyewear, and shoes.
Diane von Furstenberg
Diane von Furstenberg was born in 1946 and brought up in Brussels, Belgium.
Her career in fashion started with her clothes design in 1970. She invented the wrap dress, combining the existing wrap top with a skirt. She felt it embodied the free spirit of the seventies. Her fashion is characterized by its boldness and vivid colors.
Vera Wang was born in New York City in 1949. She had initially aimed to become a competitive figure skater but didn’t. She brought this fierce determination to the fashion industry, where she worked for Vogue and Ralph Lauren, before embarking on a solo career at 40. She is famous for her bridal wear but has other product lines. She mixes haute couture with affordability, though she has catered to many celebrities.
The world of fashion is an expansive, ever-changing one. From the lives of these 25 famous fashion designers, you could probably see that behind the glitz and glamour is a lot of determination, hard work, and raw talent.
Why not add a little color and style to your life, and try a few of their designs for yourself?