From creating or perfecting certain looks to designing completely original pieces that become part of mainstream style, the most influential fashion designers have often managed to channel their talent into creating true fashion empires.
Discover the most important names in fashion who’ve exerted their influence on modern style in a truly important way and who continue to be at the forefront of high fashion, even if they’re not innovating at the same pace they once were.
A true visionary, Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel is responsible for the modern interpretation of elegance, where simplicity pays a big part in a great design.
As a pioneer who turned the little black dress into the most important item in any stylish woman’s wardrobe, Coco Chanel is definitely one of the most influential fashion designers and she also revolutionized the world of perfume by introducing Chanel No. 5, the first chemical fragrance.
With a strong vision, Christian Dior created fashion history with his first collection in 1946. Known as “The New Look”, it brought back a sense of fantasy into fashion after a few years of function overcoming style. The combination of a tight bodice with a full skirt is Dior’s legacy to fashion and he also inspired another hugely influential fashion designer who worked under him for a while, Yves Saint Laurent.
Bringing punk sensibilities into mainstream looks is Vivienne Westwood is one of the most influential fashion designers. Starting out in the 1970s, the British designer infused a rebellious attitude into street wear, taking inspiration from bikers and other fringe cultural groups. From high platform shoes to safety pin shirts, Westwood really innovated when other designers were playing it safe.
Armani’s influence is felt to this day in both womenswear and menswear, cementing his status as a true trend-setter. From perfectly tailored jackets for women to menswear that’s flawlessly elegant, his clean lines set a new standard for luxury and he continues to push boundaries by designing stage outfits for Lady Gaga.
Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent is the mastermind behind “Le Smoking”, the tuxedo inspired look for women, along with the safari jacket. He’s one of the most influential fashion designers in the world thanks to both his revolutionary work and because he was one of the first designers to use celebrities as inspiration.
While she failed to turn her original creations into a real fashion empire, Mary Quant is one of the most important figures in the 1960s mod fashion movement. She created the miniskirt and hotpants and is also responsible for introducing plastic as a viable fabric choice.
One of the most influential fashion designers thanks to his important part in the development of preppy style, Ralph Lauren. Bringing in casual elements from the more sporty looks of British aristocracy, Lauren played a big part in the rise of American fashion and has expanded his brand into a worldwide empire that included everything from furniture to towels.
After creating two of the strongest fashion labels, Prada and Miu Miu, Miuccia Prada has been incredible successful thanks to her business vision, but she’s still been a big influence thanks to her mixture of minimalism and luxury. Starting from nylon handbags in 1985, Prada managed to constant expand and influence other designers thanks to its iconic and influential style.
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana has become of the biggest brands in the world because its two creators are truly among the most influential fashion designers. Reinterpreting classic looks for a modern twist, Dolce & Gabbana has embraced the female form with an eye for flattering and sexy designs.
After being the chief designer at Givenchy for 5 years, Alexander McQueen embraced his personal vision under his own label and managed to create iconic and influential styles, despite his short career. From his Armadillo heels to his haute couture looks, the British visionary will continue to influence young designers because of his unique sensibilities.