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Most Influential Fashion Designers of All Time

Every industry needs a titan; people need a leader to follow. Icons, wherever they are, inspire people around them to be equally great. The influence they have speaks from their work, even when you are unfamiliar with their name. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of fashion.

You might not know whose creation you are wearing right now but it started as the brainchild of a fashion designer somewhere. While some unfortunate ones perish in obscurity, many designers have risen to prominence. In this article, we are going to talk about the ten most influential fashion designers of all time.

  1. Coco Chanel
    No list would be complete without the mention of the iconic Coco Chanel. A mere list of her contributions to the fashion world is enough to guarantee a marquee place. From the “little black dress” to Chanel No. 5, it’s all from the house of Chanel. She even made the suntan famous. Once considered the mark of those unfortunate enough to have to work, she turned it into a symbol of luxury and a life of privilege.
  2. Donna Karan
    The founder of DKNY, Donna always insisted on designing clothes that were both comfortable and practical. In her own words, she preferred to design clothes that she would wear. Her collection is quite famous among working women for the reasons mentioned above. She is best known for her ‘Essentials’ line of product, seven pieces that always be mixed and matched.
  3. Vivienne Westwood
    Westwood might be the most controversial mention in this list but she is notable nonetheless. Her inspiration came from what the punk rock scene had to offer. Her initial collections, the most famous of which was the ‘SEX’, were rather edgier. Nowadays, she indulges herself in designing for the social elite and movie stars. Her designs had inspiration from bondage gear, motorcycle chains, razor blades, spiked dog collars, etc.
  4. Giorgio Armani
    The man who has designed costumes for more than 100 movies, a titan in men’s fashion and the first person to use unconventional advertising methods for promotion, Giorgio Armani is one of the most revered and renowned designers ever. He started with ready to wear clothing but expanded into accessories, swimwear, and underwear as well. With a net worth of more than USD8 billion, he is one of the richest designers ever.
  5. Christian Dior
    To date, one of the most famous fashion houses in the world. The doors first opened in February of 1947; the collection garnered much criticism from observers. What was distinctive and the point of content was the use of too much fabric in the dresses. But people came round to admire the voluptuous look, and branded it as the ‘flower women’. The name of Christian Dior lent a great deal of weight into making Paris the fashion capital of the world.
  6. Pierre Cardin
    The designs of Pierre Cardin were and still are, futuristic. He traveled far and wide and partook internationally. From Japan to the Philippines to Italy, all have some effect on his designs. Maybe it was owing to such diverse exposure that his creations look like they have traveled back in time from the 25th century. Pierre Cardin based his designs on geometry rather than the feminine or masculine form.
  7. Ralph Lauren
    A war veteran who successfully transitioned into a fashion icon, the ‘Polo’ logo we all know so well today represents his house. What set Ralph Lauren’s designs apart was the use of men’s style in tailoring classic women’s suits. It set apart the look of his brand from anything in the competition. Today with over 600 stores around the world, it has become one of the most sought after signature fashion brands.
  8. Yves Saint Laurent
    Saint Laurent is celebrated as of the most consistent fashion icon; his collections were responsible for rescuing Dior from the cusp of bankruptcy. The straight-lined, clean-cut creations became vastly popular and became the new face of branded couture. In women’s fashion, he introduced the ‘Le Smoking’, a classic to date! Setting up his brand in the 1960s, he immediately shot to international fame and success.
  9. Calvin Klein
    When he first debuted on the scene, he set the record for being the youngest recipient of the COTY Award (Contractor of The Year Award). The (now) common branding on the back pocket of your jeans is something that Calvin Klein introduced to the world. He followed up the massively successful campaign with an underwear collection. Today, though he does not oversee the designs of his range as he once did, he continues to be an inspiration.
  10. Tom Ford
    You might know him as the man who dressed Daniel Craig in all his Bond movies. And we all know better than to argue with Bond’s sense of fashion. Tom Ford is not a fashion designer by education, he is an architect. But that did not stop him from rescuing Gucci, then considered to be a faltering brand, and making it relevant again. Tom Ford’s advice on dressing is taken as gospel, and he has numerous awards to back that claim.

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Anna Papadopoulos
Anna Papadopoulos is an associate editor and oversees the global editorial division of CEOWORLD magazine, setting up the team structure and ensuring global alignment and cohesion in strategy. Working on a range of topics from fashion, higher education, travel, and lifestyle. Write at anna-papadopoulos@ceoworld.biz