If you are trying to break into the fashion industry, there are a LOT of things you need to know; terminology is one of the biggest things to know, the others include names of clothing, genres or “era’s” and the last, has to be the people who made a name in the fashion industry.
Below is a list of the top names in the fashion industry, and how they became popular. They are in alphabetical order, not by how much of an impression that had.
Azzedine Alaïa: This Tunisian-born designer made his name in the fashion industry by “telling it like it is.” He has worked with some of the other top names in fashion, including Christian Dior, Guy Laroche, Thierry Mugler, and Miuccia Prada.
Giorgio Armani: Italian born designer was working as a window dresser in Italy, and decided to launch a line of his own in 1975 and his career took off after Richard Gere modeled his suits in the film American Gigolo. Armani does not just have clothes, but also a fragrance line and watches.
Cristóbal Balenciaga: Son of a fisherman and seamstress, Cristóbal Balenciaga was trained in fashion in Madrid, Spain. He set up his couture shop in 1937, however, he was one of the primary men to reinvent the woman’s clothing shape in the 1950’s. Cristóbal Balenciaga had some now prestigious students including, Oscar de la Renta, Emanuel Ungaro and Hubert de Givenchy.
Manolo Blahnik:For the shoe lovers that read my blog, one of the best shoe designers in fashion is Manolo Blahnik. Madonna wore his shoes and claimed they were “better than sex”, while Sarah Jessica Parker swears she could “run a marathon” in his shoes. He was the first shoe designer to make the cover of British Vogue (1974).
Coco Chanel: In the early 20th century, Chanel again revolutionized women’s fashion by creating a looser, more comfortable silhouette so women no longer had to wear corsets. Coco was born in France, and created her empire in France. The Chanel name is known worldwide and is one of the most prestigious fashion names in France. Today, Karl Lagerfeld is now the head designer of the Chanel name.
Christian Dior: Granville, France born designer Christian Dior debuted his designs in 1947 in a Parisian home. Dior passed in 1957 and the Dior name was doomed to be forgotten until twenty-one year old, unknown designer named Yves Saint Laurent took over the Dior name as artistic director. Since then, the Dior name has flourished and has become one of the top fashion names in the world. However, since early 2011, the creative director position of the House of Dior has been vacant since the firing of John Galliano.
Dolce & Gabbana:Italian born designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana made their name in the fashion industry in 1982 as they were design assistants in Milan, Italy. In 1985 they debuted their line in the prestigious Milan Fashion week. Dolce and Gabbana is still a favorite for the red carpet attendees, including Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Bradley Cooper.
Tom Ford: In 1994, Texas born, Tom Ford become the creative director of Gucci. Since then he has launched his own line of clothes with the name Tom Ford, however, Ford also worked for Yves Saint Laurent.
Hubert de Givenchy: France born designer, Hubert de Givenchy launched his career in the fashion world in the 1950’s Givenchy is known for dressing Audrey Hepburn both personally and in her career as an actress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hubert de Givenchy was also at the forefront of shorter hemlines in the 60’s.
Jean Paul Gaultier: This self taught designer made his name in fashion fairly recently. He earned his name mostly from being at the forefront of the House Hermes from 2004 until 2010. However most of his recent designs in his own line have been very S&M inspired. Women looking like they are in restraints and pairing leather with lace.
Marc Jacobs: He was actually let go from his first position in fashion. He worked for Perry Ellis. After Jacobs made a grunge line, he was dismissed. This would be a turning point in his career as the next house he worked for was Louis Vuitton, as Artistic Director, where he stayed for ten years. It was only recently, late 2013, did Marc Jacobs leave Louis Vuitton to concentrate on his own brand, Marc by Marc Jacobs.
Karl Lagerfeld: If you only remember one name in this whole blog, I hope it is this name. Karl Lagerfeld started his fashion career when he was 17. Lagerfeld came in second to Yves Saint Laurent in a dress making competition. He did freelance work for the top fashion houses all over the world including Valentino, Chloe, Repetto, Curiel and Fendi. The biggest turning point of Lagerfelds career is when he took on the restoration of the House of Chanel, 12 years after Coco’s death. He was the main driving force behind the expansion of the house which now has a revenue over 4 billion dollars a year.
Christian Louboutin: One of the more daring shoe makers to come out of France is Christian Louboutin. For the past 20 years, his red soled shoes have been easily identifiable everywhere. Louboutin has actually gone to court to protect that “signature”. Unfortunately, some women have been painting their soles red to make fake Louboutin shoes. His shoes can cost upwards of $5,000.00 and possibly be covered in Swarovski crystals.
Yves Saint Laurent: Have you ever heard of “le smoking”? It is more often called a woman’s tuxedo. You can thank YSL for that. In the 60’s and 70’s he created safari jackets for the runway, along with thigh high boots. He was also the first courier to sell ready to wear. He now has men’s and women fragrances, along with an extensive cosmetics line.
Philip Treacy: An Irish milliner, who created over 30 hats for William and Kate’s wedding along with hats for Chanel, Givenchy, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karen.
Garavani Valentino: He was the creator of Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress. He has gone on to dress numerous dresses for actresses on the red carpet, not to mention that his wedding dress line is one of the most in demand.
Louis Vuitton: Vuitton started as a luggage creator for the elite Parisians. His first line was plastered with his initials, L.V. with a Japanese flower, which is still the most in demand pattern at Louis Vuitton today. Louis Vuitton luggage and bags, are just as much a status symbol today as it was when he first started his career in 1854.
These are NOT the only fashion designers out there. There are plenty of designers that have made a grand name for themselves. I know I have not even scratched the surface, however, if you are just starting out learning about fashion and you have no idea who these people are, this is a pretty good list. Maybe later I will go back and make a “Part Two”.