Fashion influences the masses in ways we cannot totally comprehend. From the haute couture styles of the runway to the trendy looks of street wear, fashion encompasses art, personal expression and individuality in a world of monotony. Those designers who are deemed influential, have made clothing lines that were avant-garde, original and set trends that have withstood the test of time, while paving the way for future designers. In no particular order, here are the 10 most influential fashion designers:
(October 14, 1939 – )
Whether it’s the signature Polo horse or the embroidered RL, Ralph Lauren is arguably the most widely recognizable label in American fashion. The preppy casual look of Ralph Lauren’s Polo shirts, denim and Hampton-esque pieces were Lauren’s recreation of English aristocracy and the sporty elite. Much of his original collection included classic tweed suits for men and feminine tailoring for women that exemplified classic American clothing and timelessness. Since his debut in the late 1960s, Lauren has expanded his label to include fragrances, jeans and children’s lines, as well as a home accessories collection of towels, linens, furniture and paint to make him a true household name around the world.
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana
(September 13, 1958 -, November 14, 1962 – )
Dolce and Gabbana are arguably the most powerful and renowned designers within the industry. This dynamic Italian duo is revered for their classic, glamorous collections using traditional elements, such as corsets, gangster pinstripes and black pantsuits. Dolce and Gabbana are committed to making sharp, flattering and trendy pieces that celebrate curvaceous female forms and thrill their celebrity and average clients alike. It’s their innovative ability to transform simple garments into shockingly sexy and luxurious pieces for men and women.
(April 8, 1941 – )
British designer, Vivienne Westwood, is the woman responsible for bringing you punk fashion. During the 1970s, Westwood began designing outlandish garments using lots of leather and skin-tight materials, safety pins, chains, spiked dog collars and other nontraditional fashion elements that imitated the clothing of bikers, prostitutes and fetishists. Her rebellious, grunge collections became popular among punk rock musicians and youth and has retained its popularity ever since. Westwood truly broke the mold when she introduced modern punk into everyday street wear, and continues to do so today with shocking, cutting edge designs for women and men.
(December 2, 1946 – July 15, 1997)
Gianni Versace was an Italian fashion designer and international icon, whose brand remains undeniably powerful and influential even after his tragic death. As the founder of Versace, Gianni began creating glamorous, ready-to-wear styles for women, as well as his trademark siren dresses that were seen on celebrities and royalty alike. He was also known for his innovative approach to combining art and fashion, by using unconventional materials like aluminum mesh and fused leather and rubber. Throughout the years, Versace had expanded his line to include menswear, couture jeans, accessories, home collections and much more. After his death, sister Donatella Versace stepped in as creative director, while his brother Santo Versace became CEO and Donatella’s daughter Allegra Versace took ownership of 50 percent of the company, as wished by Gianni.
Gabrielle Bonheur ‘Coco’ Chanel
(August 19, 1883 – January 10, 1971)
Coco Chanel was a pioneer of luxurious, sophisticated women’s clothing. From little black dresses to her famous suits, Chanel created timeless pieces that continue to influence women’s fashion today. Her clothing broke the mold just as much as her independent spirit, by incorporating elements of menswear with materials that were both feminine and comfortable. After Chanel passed away, designer Karl Lagerfeld took over the company to carry on the trendsetter’s vision and keep it fresh for years to come.
(1971 – )
Christopher Bailey is the chief creative director of Burberry and the mastermind behind the company’s advertising, corporate art direction and designing of Burberry collections and lines since 2001. Burberry is most widely recognized by its distinctive checkered pattern that garners much of the collection, which also happens to be one of the most copied trademarks in fashion history. Bailey has helped expand Burberry’s classic, tailored look by adding more contemporary elements and simplifying the line, while maintaining the orderly tradition and British style that is Burberry.
(November 28, 1960 – )
A leader in haute couture, John Galliano has taken runway fashion to another level of fine artisanship and rich storytelling. This London native is the current chief designer of France’s couture flagship, Christian Dior, and the former chief designer of Givenchy. Galliano is revered for his romantic, theatrical designs that use exotic colors, dramatic lines and feminine bias cuts. He has changed the face of modern dress through thematic storytelling and characterization, in addition to making ready-to-wear pieces that offer beautiful, feminine silhouettes.
(April 9, 1963 – )
Marc Jacobs has influenced fashion in more ways than one. In addition to the success of his own line, Marc Jacobs, and his diffusion line, Marc by Marc Jacobs, the American designer is also the creative director of the French design house Louis Vuitton. Jacobs has helped further the success of Louis Vuitton by designing its first ready-to-wear line, and collaborating with other designers to create new, youthful accessories for this timeless brand. Jacob’s designs are simplistic and understated, by using muted colors and classic cuts that cross multiple genres and styles. The international success of Marc Jacobs continues to grow, with his expanding line and chic collections that keep customers coming back for more.
(June 27, 1949 – )
Vera Wang is one of the most well-known names in the wedding industry for her high end bridal gown collection that incorporates luxurious fabrics, fine detailing and a modern twist on classic designs. In addition to her highly praised bridal collection, Wang also designs to ready-to-wear womenswear that exudes sophistication, sensibility and couture-like quality. The award-winning and cutting edge designs of Wang have stood the test of time and have made her a household name, as she adds new label collections, fragrances, beauty products, as well as home fashion items like crystal and China collections, mattresses and silverware to her name.
(July 11, 1934 – )
Giorgio Armani is one of the most successful Italian designers of all time, specifically for revolutionizing menswear. With more than 10 lines under his name, Armani has developed everything from haute couture, jeans, winter sportswear and diffusion lines that are excusive to the United States. Armani is also revered for his use of men’s wear elements, such as unstructured jackets, tailored lines and suits in his womenswear collections. It’s the effortless elegance and sophistication of his tailored garments that make him an international trendsetter and leader in the fashion industry.