“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” —Coco Chanel
True to these words. These designers have always stood out because of their talent and passion. Challenging the boundaries of fashion and as a result, creating designs and trends that have inspired aspiring designers for years.
Here is a list of the top 10 fashion designers in the world who have set trends in fashion instead of following them.
1. Coco Chanel – (CHANEL)
The legacy of Coco Chanel is immortalized in pop culture icons like the “little black dress” and “Chanel no. 5. Perfume.” She gave women freedom with her simple but stylish clothing designs instead of painful corsets and complex petticoats. “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it’s not luxury” was her belief. She created the classic Chanel women suit look consisting of a slim skirt and collarless tweed jacket. Worn by Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy and is still widely popular even today. And popularized costume jewelry.
2. Ralph Lauren – (Ralph Lauren Corporation)
There are few logos in fashion as recognizable as the polo player emblem. His Polo line became the quintessential “Preppy Look” from the 1980s to the 2000s. Laurens’s Clothing designs conjured images of the English aristocrat but tailored for the sporty American. A philanthropist who has supported breast cancer research for 30 years. From a small office in the empire state building in 1967 to a $7 billion fortune, he is truly an inspiration.
3. Tom Ford – (TOM FORD)
Tom Ford is known for being a perfectionist and workaholic. “If I am awake, I am working.” Maybe that is why he was able to run both Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent as creative director. During that time, he turned the nearly bankrupt Gucci into a $3 billion fashion brand. Creating the 1970s inspired, minimalist, sophisticatedly sexy Gucci image. In 2004 he created his fashion brand. Ford is also a romantic. He met partner and husband of 35 years, Richard Buckley, at age 25, admitting he knew he wanted to marry him after one elevator ride.
4. Yves Saint Laurent – (YSL)
We can’t discuss influential designers without Yves Saint Laurent. One of the greatest designers of 20TH century. He invented “power dressing” for women. His 1966 “Le Smoking tuxedo suit” was masculine clothing redesigned into a beautifully feminine collection for women, pioneering androgynous fashion. He also popularized ready-to-wear in high fashion which featured more affordable pieces. YSL was the first fashion designer to put women of color on the runway. He championed diversity, and those values are still reflected today when YSL appointed Blackpink’s Rosé as their global brand ambassador.
5. Christian Louboutin – (Christian Louboutin)
You see shoes with vibrant red soles and instantly know, “that’s Christian Louboutin”. It’s the most recognizable fashion trend in the world. His elegantly classy, curvy high heels have made Louboutin king of Stilettos. Before launching his fashion brand in 1986, he was a freelance designer for fashion brands. His first customer was Princess Caroline of Monaco. His designs are favoured by celebrities such as Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie, Rihanna.
6. Marc Jacobs – (MARC JACOBS)
Most notable for single-handedly launching the 1990s “grunge” look. His ability to represent the trends in pop culture through his designs is famous. Jacobs was taught to knit by his grandmother. In 1984 he designed hand knitted oversized sweaters for his graduation project from Parson School of design, winning the Perry Ellis Gold Thimble Award. He was Creative director Louis Vuitton for 17 years before starting his label.
7. Calvin Klein – (Calvin Klein Inc.)
“Simple, comfortable but stylish clothes – but with nothing over scale or extreme” that’s the design philosophy of Calvin Klein. Establishing himself as a “leader in American fashion through his clean aesthetic and innovative designs.” Klein became a household name not just for his Denim and undergarments line but also for his controversially provocative advertisings.
8. Donatella Versace – (VERSACE)
Donatella Versace didn’t always want to be a fashion designer. In fact, studied literature and foreign languages in Florence to become a teacher. Frequently she would go to Milan to help her brother Gianni Versace, the founder of Versace. Who considered her his “muse and critic.”After his death in 1997, Donatella revitalized the designer brand. She was the first famous fashion designer to use celebrities to walk the runway. She designed the iconic Jennifer Lopez “Jungle Dress” from the 2000 Grammy Awards, a turning point for her career.
9. Christian Dior – (DIOR)
Born in 1905, Christian Dior witnessed great tragedies. Great depression, World War, his sister sent to a concentration camp. In the midst of the post-war ruins of France, Dior changed the fashion industry. In 1947, he presented “New look” consisting of voluminous calf-length skirts, cream jackets and fitted waists. It was something very contrasting to the brutality of the war and reminded people of a simpler era. The brand Dior continued to use the runway to champion the idea of empowerment, feminism. His introduction of A-line, zigzag-line, Y-line, H-line silhouette is still important in fashion and couture.
10. Stella McCartney – (Stella McCartney)
In the stylish and ethical fashion scene, the first name that comes up is Stella McCartney. Her designer brand is famous for not using any fur and leather. A lifelong vegetarian raised on an organic farm by Beatles member Sir Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney. Launching her fashion brand in 2001. McCartney was Creative director for Chloé, succeeding Karl Lagerfled. She is a celebrity favorite for her “sexy feminity” designs while still being sustainable and cruelty-free. In 2018, she designed Megan Markel’s stunning “white halter-neck reception dress.”
Fashion is a form of expression, whether it’s your style, your identity or your values. These designers have been giving us voices to best express ourselves. Power suit for the career-driven. Polo shirts for the sports enthusiast, little black dress when you want all eyes on you. In my opinion, these designers are not legendary only for the clothes they designed but also for the messages and values they spread all over the world with their fashion. Using people of color as models to break down traditional beauty standards. Creating androgynous designs to rise above gender norms and so much more. If we can learn anything from these designers, it’s that if you want to change the world, you have to be BRAVE.