A-Z of Fashion Designers

Marit Allen

Hardy Amies

Giorgio Armani

The designer whose signature style of relaxed yet luxurious ready-to-wear and elegant, intricately beaded evening wear helped introduce ease and streamlined modernity to late 20th-century dressing. His androgynous approach rarely disappointed fashion critics, who dutifully appeared each season at shows staged at his 17th-century palazzo on Via Borgonuovo in central Milan. Armani’s reputation grew as a result of the popular film American Gigolo (1980), in which actor Richard Gere was featured as the dashing owner of a closet-ful of tailored Armani clothing. 

Laura Ashley

The British designer known for her traditional, Victorian-style prints on natural fabrics, which she used to create household furnishings, linens, and women’s clothing. Bernard Ashley handled the engineering and financial aspects of the business, and Laura created the designs, noted for their floral, frilly, and lace-covered appearances, suggestive of traditional English country manners and ways.

Pierre Balmain

French couturier who in 1945 founded a fashion house that made his name a byword for elegance. His clients included the Duchess of Windsor, the Queen of Belgium, and many of the leading film stars of the 1950s. Balmain's designs were characterized by superb quality, particularly in evening wear, which combined femininity with an imposing elegance.

Cristóbal Balenciaga

Spanish dress designer who created elegant ball gowns and other classic designs. His collections featured sumptuously elegant dresses and suits. Balenciaga helped popularize the trend toward capes and flowing clothes without waistlines in the late 1950s and the use of plastic for rain-wear in the mid-1960s. 

Geoffrey Beene 

Mr. Blackwell 

Bill Blass 

American designer who helped define the relaxed, pared-down elegance that would characterize American fashion in the late 20th century. He made sportswear, but he glamorized the concept by making clothes that possessed a new American casual chic sensibility, which he achieved by merging simple styles with luxurious materials. Classic Blass designs included a pea coat he fashioned from white mink in 1966, a strapless gray flannel day dress that he paired with a cashmere sweater tied over the shoulders, and a simple yet sharply cut dress that he transformed with feminine ruffles (his signature style)

Manolo Blahnik

Spanish fashion designer best known for his signature line of high-end women’s footwear. Blahnik began designing shoes for Zapata, and in 1972 he designed for the British designer Ossie Clark his first collection, featuring innovative designs such as the “Cherry Shoe”—a stiletto heel with imitation cherries dangling from green straps that tied around the ankle. The collection was modeled to critical acclaim by some of the era’s top models, including Twiggy, and gained the attention of the fashion elite.

Thom Browne 

American designer known for his re conceptualization of the classic men’s suit. He became widely recognized for his women's wear after U.S. first lady Michelle Obama wore one of his designs to the 2013 presidential inauguration. His signature soon became impeccably tailored suits in traditional navy wool's and gray flannels skewed with shrunken proportions. His designs initially shocked the fashion world but soon came to lead the trend of slim-fitting menswear.

Sarah Burton

Burton earned international attention when in April 2011 she was revealed as the designer of Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress for her marriage to Prince William of Wales. The long-sleeved dress was made of ivory and white satin gazar and had a V-shaped neckline, a fitted waist, an almost 9-foot (2.7-metre) train, and a Victorian corset-style bodice—a trademark McQueen design.

Bonnie Cashin 

Oleg Cassini 

Hussein Chalayan

Is best known for infusing intellectual concepts and artistic elements into his designs and shows. Often featured body-inhibiting designs—such as his cocoon dress, a sleeveless creation that bound the arms of its wearer to the sides of the body but provided slits for the release of the hands.

Coco Chanel

Her elegantly casual designs inspired women of fashion to abandon the complicated, uncomfortable clothes—such as petticoats and corsets—that were prevalent in 19th-century dress. Among her now-classic innovations were the Chanel suit, the quilted purse, costume jewelry, and the “little black dress.”

Liz Claiborne 

Raymond Clark

André Courrèges

Courrèges made a reputation in the Parisian fashion world of the 1960s for futuristic, youth-oriented styles. His collection featured proportionate, well-cut pants, rigidly constructed clothes with smooth “trapeze,” or trapezoidal, lines, and short skirts, with white mid-calf boots and large, dark glasses as accessories. White became his trademark.

Oscar de la Renta 

Blended European luxury with American ease, helped define standards of elegant dressing among socialites, U.S. first ladies, and red-carpet celebrities during a career that spanned some 50 years. He first gained attention in the late 1960s and early ’70s for his gypsy- and Russian-inspired collections, which suggested the cosmopolitan sophistication that would characterize his creative output over the following decades. These collections were always distinctly modern, yet they also possessed a romantic, feminine quality, reflecting his grounding in both American sportswear and European couture.

Hubert de Givenchy

Is noted for his couture and ready-to-wear designs, especially those he created for the actress Audrey Hepburn. Givenchy’s first collection, featuring flawlessly detailed separates, high-style coats, and elegant ball gowns, gained immediate international recognition. His designs used imaginative accessories, silk prints, and embroidered fabrics. His “Bettina blouse,” named for a popular model, reintroduced tailored shirting into high fashion.

Christian Dior

Dior introduced the revolutionary New Look, spurring international controversy over its radically lowered hemline. The look featured small shoulders, a cinched waist, and a voluminous skirt—a drastic change from the World War II look of padded shoulders and short skirts.

In 1947, backed by French entrepreneur Marcel Boussac, Dior introduced the revolutionary New Look, spurring international controversy over its radically lowered hemline. The look featured small shoulders, a cinched waist, and a voluminous skirt—a drastic change from the World War II look of padded shoulders and short skirts.

Also in 1947 Dior expanded his brand. He opened a luxury ready-to-wear fashion house in New York. He ventured in new opportunities  and produced Dior Parfum. The first perfume was called Miss Dior in respect of Catherine, his sister. As with all successful brands Dior soon licenced his name to a range of luxury accessories: ties, furs, hosiery and the handbags. In the competitive world of haute couture this could of being thought as to lowering exclusivity of the brand though it had the effect of spreading Dior’s name quickly around the world.

The overnight sensation of the New Look was followed by 10 years of outstanding success. In the 1950s, Dior introduced a variety of new silhouettes, including the H-line, the A-line, and the Y-line. Dior was instrumental in commercializing Parisian fashion on a worldwide basis and in regaining for Parisian couturiers the ground that had temporarily been lost to American designers. 

Fiamma di San Giuliano Ferragamo

Gianfranco Ferré

Mariano Fortuny

The fashion designer best known for his dress and textile designs. Fortuny’s dress designs, many of them inspired by ancient Greek garments such as the tunic and the peplos, became extremely popular among the wealthy. The silk dresses that he designed were perhaps most remarkable for their subtle colouring and for the freedom of movement that they allowed. Some of these dresses were simple in execution, while others of similar design had hundreds of tiny pleats that ran from neck to foot. Fortuny drew inspiration for his many textile designs in cotton and velvet from a number of international sources; they are characterized by rich, sensuous colouring.

John Galliano

known for his ready-to-wear and haute-couture collections for such fashion houses as Christian Dior, Givenchy, and Maison Margiela. Galliano revealed his first couture collection featuring sumptuous bouffant ball gowns, bowed dresses, and belted suits, and in 1995, for the third time and second consecutive year, he was named British Designer of the Year.

Jean Paul Gaultier

Gaultier celebrated androgyny, blended street styles with haute couture, and juxtaposed other seemingly contradictory cultural symbols. Throughout his career he strove not only to redefine social categories but to draw attention to the role that fashion played in both distinguishing and obfuscating them. Gaultier was particularly noted for his consistency of style. Initially he favoured dark colours, especially red, brown, navy blue, deep purple, and black; later he lightened his palette through the addition of salmon, bronze, beige, and turquoise. Typical components of his collections included broad-shouldered jackets, textured or patterned stockings, trench coats of all sorts, baggy pants, flowing skirts, and the horizontally striped sailor’s shirts that became the signature of his style.

Rudi Gernreich 

Austrian-born American avant-garde fashion designer of the 1960s. Gernreich became interested in developing non-restrictive and contemporary clothing for women. His innovative designs were intended as an alternative to the conservative styles of the then-dominant Parisian fashion houses. In 1964 he designed a topless swimsuit (“monokini”) that gained him worldwide notoriety. The unisex look, invisible undergarments, transparent tops, miniskirts, knit tank suits, and brightly coloured stockings were his trademarks.

Nicolas Ghesquière

Ghesquière expanded the number of Balenciaga’s collections and continued to produce innovative designs to wide acclaim, such as short gladiator-style skirts and toga dresses, knee-high gladiator sandals, fitted cropped tops, high-waisted trousers, dresses with flamenco ruffles, and a collection inspired by some of Balenciaga’s original designs. He drew praise for the collection, in which he used such rich fabrics as crocodile, brushed Shetland wool, and printed moleskin for his short A-line skirts, boxy jackets, high-waisted pants, and cropped sweaters. His signature silhouette was a slight A-line, inspired by designs from the 1970s and early ’80s.

Frida Giannini

Giannini went to work in 1997 at the larger Fendi, where she quickly rose to become a designer of leather goods. She was responsible for Fendi’s Baguette, an opulent handbag that helped to ignite a profitable accessories craze. In 2002 she was hired as Gucci’s director of handbag design. At Gucci Giannini took on more responsibilities, serving as creative director of accessories from 2004 and of women’s ready-to-wear and accessories from 2005 until she was named creative director of the entire firm in 2006.

Rogan Gregory 

Gregory is known for his environmentally and socially conscious clothing lines. His perhaps best known as creative director (2005–07) of Edun. He then independently produced an eponymous sharply tailored denim label, which was launched in 2001 and was highly successful, as well as a line of sweatshirt apparel produced by Los Angeles fashion labels Juicy Couture and American Apparel.

Riitta Narhi Immonen

Marc Jacobs 

The American born designer is renowned for his sartorial interpretations of trends in popular culture, perhaps most notably his “grunge” collection, which was credited with launching the grunge look of the 1990s. Inspired by the emerging grunge music scene, the collection featured unorthodox combinations—such as flowered girlish dresses paired with combat boots—to achieve a disheveled and individualistic look. The designs were shown by waifish models, including Kate Moss—the antithesis to the glamorous and curvaceous models then in vogue. Jacobs was christened the “guru of grunge” by Women’s Wear Daily and named CFDA Women' s wear Designer of the Year (1992) largely because of the monumental collection, which ushered in the grunge look of the 1990s.

Donna Karan 

Is internationally acclaimed for the simplicity and comfort of her clothes. After the bridge line DKNY debuted in 1988, Karan’s company diversified and sold blue jeans, men’s wear, and a children’s line in addition to accessories, hosiery, and perfume. Karan won rave reviews for her mix-and-match clothing in soft fabrics and neutral colours. She was especially noted for her signature bodysuits, dark tights, sarong-wrap skirts, fitted jackets, and heavy pieces of jewellery.

Rei Kawakubo

The self-taught Japanese fashion designer known for her avant-garde clothing designs and her high fashion label, Comme des Garçons (CDG), founded in 1969. Kawakubo’s iconoclastic vision made her one of the most influential designers of the late 20th century. Her clothes were designed for the independent woman who did not dress to seduce or gain a man’s approval. Kawakubo recoiled from Western definitions of sexiness, which focused on revealing and exposing the body. She found revealing clothing decidedly un-sexy and boring

Calvin Klein 

The American fashion designer noted for his women's wear, menswear, jeans, cosmetics and perfumes, bed and bath linens, and other collections. He described his design philosophy as the making of “simple, comfortable but stylish clothes—but with nothing over scale or extreme.” His clothes were relatively expensive, classic, elegant, and easy to wear, and they struck a responsive chord among buyers in the United States and other countries. His achievements were said to represent not only the triumph of his particular brand of classical styling but also the maturation of the American fashion industry

Ralph Lauren 

American fashion designer who, by developing his brand around the image of an elite American lifestyle, built one of the world’s most successful fashion empires. From the inception of his brand, Lauren’s creations were characterized by a moneyed style that evoked the look of English aristocracy as adapted by the sporty American East Coast elite. His first menswear line in 1968 featured classic tweed suits, and his first women's wear line in 1971 continued his explorations of classic tailoring and good taste, but with a feminine twist. In 1972 Lauren debuted what would become his signature piece: the mesh sport shirt, available in a variety of colours and featuring his trademark emblem of the most aristocratic of athletes, the polo player.

Helmut Lang

Ted Lapidus

Christian Louboutin

French fashion designer who was best known for his high-end shoes, which were identifiable by their brilliant red soles.

Stella McCartney

British fashion designer known primarily for her fur-free and leather-free apparel as well as for her celebrity-studded clientele. Her first collection, featuring lacy petticoat skirts and dainty camisoles, silenced critics, and her 2001 Paris romantic offerings—silk pants set off by midriff-baring tops, body-hugging jeans paired with tunic tops or jackets, and faux-fur coats and jewelled vests—cemented her professional reputation.

Alexander McQueen

British designer known for his ground breaking clothes, shocking catwalk shows, and precise tailoring. His audacious designs attracted notice for their darkly romantic qualities and violent, grotesque elements. Collections featured streamlined, angular suits; hourglass-shaped dresses sculpted using tight corsets; long gowns with components as varied as beaded needlework, fresh flowers, and deer antlers; and, later, bulky 10-inch “Alien” and “Armadillo” heels. 

Issey Miyake

Japanese fashion designer who was known for combining Eastern and Western elements in his work. He also had a popular line of fragrances that included L’Eau d’Issey. Miyake developed in 1993 called Pleats Please, which “allows unrestricted body movement while enabling the fabric to maintain its form,” and A-POC (“A Piece of Cloth”), which was made from a single thread with the aid of an industrial knitting or weaving machine programmed by a computer. Miyake had begun experimenting on A-POC more than 10 years earlier with textile expert Dai Fujiwara before launching it commercially in 1999. Insisting that A-POC was an ensemble piece, he refused to imprint his name on that collection. He sold it simply as a long tube of jersey, and it was then up to the customer to cut and shape it.

Phoebe Philo

Her innovations included high-waisted jeans, baby-doll dresses, wooden wedge shoes, and the padlocked Paddington bag. Influenced by 1990s minimalists Helmut Lang and Jil Sander, Philo adopted that philosophy for her personal style as well as for her fashion line. She eschewed makeup and donned simple clothing, often appearing in a signature biker jacket and trousers.

Stefano Pilati

In Pilati’s first spring/summer collection, in 2005, he led fashion’s new direction with his smart ruffled YSL minidress, suede stacked-heel loafers, and thigh-grazing bell-shaped “tulip bubble” skirts. Other signature items included his cloche-shaped jackets, Muse handbag (2005), and Muse Two bag (2008). Pilati managed to maintain the classic YSL sleek designs but also moved the brand forward to a more modern viewpoint.

Zac Posen 

American fashion designer best known for his glamorous evening gowns and cocktail dresses. He gained recognition while still a student, when in 2000 supermodel Naomi Campbell requested one of his designs. The following year one of his dresses—made entirely from thin strips of leather held together by hook-and-eye closures—was selected to be featured in the “Curvaceous” exhibit (2001–02) at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Paul Poiret

Poiret was particularly noted for his Neoclassical and Orientalist styles, for advocating the replacement of the corset with the brassiere, and for the introduction of the hobble skirt, a vertical tight-bottomed style that confined women to mincing steps. “I freed the bust,” boasted Poiret, “and I shackled the legs.”

Miuccia Prada

She is renowned for utilizing minimalist designs to achieve a traditional style with modern influence.One of her earliest ideas included fashioning a line of unlabeled handbags out of a then unorthodox fabric called Pocono nylon—the durable water-resistant fabric often used to make military tents. However, the line, launched in 1979, was not immediately successful.

The following year she debuted to critical acclaim her first ready-to-wear collection, which featured parkas fashioned out of nylon, affording customers durability without sacrificing style. Prada’s progressive ideals were often reflected in her designs, which imparted an understated glamour and a refined elegance that stood in strong opposition to the overt sex appeal of many of the brand’s competitors, prompting a re-evaluation of femininity and challenging the industry maxim that only “sex sells.” Clean, simple lines and muted, basic colours were paired with luxurious fabrics and exquisite tailoring to achieve a tasteful look that flattered the figure while preserving modesty. At the close of a decade of excess, Prada’s idea of casual luxury caught on, and the brand quickly became associated with confident, intellectual, and affluent working women.

Emilio Pucci

He became best known for tight, shantung “Pucci” pants and, among his most widely copied creations, vividly printed silk jersey dresses and blouses. Pucci designed undergarments, knitwear, swimwear, and accessories. He also manufactured ceramics and perfume and branched into men’s fashion design.

Mary Quant

English dress designer of youth-oriented fashions, responsible in the 1960s for the “Chelsea look” of England and the widespread popularity of the miniskirt and “hot pants.” Quant’s designs reflected a shift in fashion from the establishment to youth as the source of inspiration. Her best-known fashions of the 1960s were similar in feeling to the outfits worn by little girls to dancing class—short pleated skirts, white anklets, and black-patent, ankle-strap shoes. In the early 1970s, Quant stopped manufacturing but continued to design clothing, furs, lingerie, household linens, and eyeglass frames.

Yves Saint Laurent

The French fashion designer noted for his popularization of women’s trousers for all occasions. Following the “little-girl” look and the A-line silhouette, he introduced more sophisticated, longer skirts and, in 1959, drastically shortened skirts. In 1960 he introduced the chic beatnik look of turtlenecks and black leather jackets edged with fur.

Jil Sander

Elsa Schiaparelli

She was famous for her Surrealist fashions of the 1930s and for her witty accessories, such as a purse in the shape of a telephone. Her designs were noted for combining eccentricity with simplicity and a trim neatness with flamboyant colour. In 1947 Schiaparelli’s new colour, “shocking pink,” was the sensation of the fashion world.

Mila Schön

Raf Simons

That year proved to be significant for the designer, as the German label Jil Sander, known for understated designs for both men and women, tapped him to replace Sander as creative director in spite of the fact that he had never before designed women's wear. His first collection for Jil Sander showed respect for the label’s minimalist aesthetic combined with his own subtle elegance.

Pauline Trigère 

While her designs were generally conservative, Trigère pioneered the use of cotton and wool fabrics for evening dresses and devised such novelties as the reversible coat, the mobile collar, the spiral jacket, and the sleeveless coat.

Gloria Vanderbilt 

American socialite, artist, author, actress, and designer of textiles and fashion who was often in the public eye for her social life and professional exploits. Vanderbilt was also known for her line of designer blue jeans, which was especially popular in the late 1970s.

John Weitz 

Vivienne Westwood

Is known for her provocative clothing. With her partner, Malcolm McLaren, she extended the influence of the 1970s punk music movement into fashion. Westwood produced clothing designs based on his provocative ideas. Their customized T-shirts, which were ripped and emblazoned with shocking anti-establishment slogans and graphics, and their bondage trousers—black pants featuring straps inspired by sadomasochistic costume—flew out of the London shop of which the couple became proprietors in 1971. Their boutique—variously named Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die; Sex; and finally Seditionaries—was a youth fashion mecca.

Charles Frederick Worth

Was a pioneer fashion designer and one of the founders of Parisian haute couture. He pioneered in designing dresses to be copied in French workrooms and distributed throughout the world. He is especially noted for designing sumptuous crinoline gowns that reflected the elegance of the era and for popularizing the bustle, which became a standard in women’s fashion throughout the 1870s and ’80s. His pieces were of such excellent quality that they became highly sought by collectors and museums, remaining so into the early 21st century.

Jason Wu

Taiwanese-born fashion designer known for his sophisticated and well-crafted creations. Wu established his own eponymous label, which reflected a design aesthetic that he characterized as feminine. Manhattan socialites, including Vogue contributing editor Marina Rust and business tycoon Ivanka Trump, were early fans of his polished ready-to-wear line. In 2009 Wu garnered international attention when U.S. first lady Michelle Obama wore one of his designs to the balls feting the inauguration of her husband, Pres. Barack Obama. According to Wu, 100 hours of workmanship went into the intricate dress, a floor-length white silk chiffon column featuring handmade organza flowers and Swarovski crystals


Reference: Encyclopaedia Britannica