15 Best Fashion Designers of All Time

We all have heard about the best fashion designers that make or break the industry, but it’s time to see what makes them the best.


Fashion may be all around us, but the best of it often leaves us in awe. Seeing iconic fashion moments in history, on TV and in cinema is like magic. The world’s best fashion designers make that magic happen, and as such, have influenced the way we dress for over a century. They have introduced trends that don’t seem to die even today. Groundbreaking and exemplary, these designers are household names and brands of prestige.

15 Best Fashion Designers Ever

What makes these top designers whose names are echoed between the walls so famous? Let’s discuss these icons and their contributions to the world of fashion.

1. Christian Dior

Best Fashion Designers New-look-by-Dior
(L: Christian Dior, R: Exhibition poster ft. New Look)

Christian Dior (1905-1957) was a French fashion designer, and arguably one of the best fashion designers of all time. He became iconic after the launch of his first collection in 1947. Called the “New Look”, its main elements were rounded shoulders, cinched waist and very full skirt. The collection celebrated femininity and gave people a new outlook on fashion, modernizing the royal vintage styles of 19 th century. Dior also came up with the “slim look” around 1977 which, draped even more naturally and had a waistband.

Dior was the son of a wealthy textile manufacturer and studied law at university. In 1937, he started the House of Dior. His first collection was called “Corolle” which means “flower” in French. The collection was inspired by his mother garden and featured many floral designs.

After Christian Dior’s death, many other designers have carried on his legacy, including Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano and Raf Simons. Personally, when I first saw the Dior saddle bag, I instantly knew it had to go on my bucket list. This brand has never failed to amaze me with its breathtaking collections.

Christian Dior opened its first boutique in 1950 in Paris and since then has grown immensely. Currently, this fashion house operates on a revenue of $64.2 billion euros and has 4000 boutiques worldwide with a presence in 35 countries.

2. Coco Chanel

(L: Coco Chanel, R: Jackie Kennedy wearing a pink Chanel suit on the day of J.F. Kennedy’s assassination (1963))

Coco Chanel (1883 -1971) had a successful career as an actress and singer, but made her mark in the world of fashion with the iconic Little Black Dress. First designed by Coco Chanel and Jean Patou, the LBD holds a special place in a women’s wardrobe and is a timeless classic. This dress gained even more popularity and recognition when Audrey Hepburn was seen wearing one in Breakfast at Tiffany.

Coco Chanel also designed the women’s suit and wide-leg pants. Inspired by menswear, these clothing items liberated women from the corsets and frills during the 1910s, and revolutionized the post-war woman’s wardrobe.

Even today the suit is seen in many of Chanel’s fashion shows with a few interesting modern twists. Apart from the clothing, Coco Chanel is famously known for quilted purses and Chanel N°5 perfume.

3. Gianni Versace

(L: Donatella Versace, R: Jennifer Lopez wearing green Versace dress at Spring 2020 show, same as Grammy Awards 2000)

Gianni Versace (1946-1997) was an Italian fashion designer and is regarded as one of the world’s top fashion designers. He studied architecture and industrial design in Rome before moving to Milan. In 1978, he founded his own company with his sister Donatella.

Famous for its Medusa logo and Barocco prints, one of Versace’s most famous dresses was a green number worn by Jennifer Lopez during Grammy’s back in 2000. After watching JLo slay in that dress, a part of me definitely wanted to be a Versace model.

Even now, Versace is known for its baroque, historic designs and bold silhouettes. The brand is known for its fearless, bright colors and prints as well as luxurious fabrics. After the death of Gianni Versace, his sister, Donatella Versace took the brand to greater heights. Currently Versace earns a revenue of 1.8 billion USD and operates from 1500 boutiques all over the world.

4. Guccio Gucci

(L: Guccio Gucci, R: a Gucci outfit from Spring 2022 collection)

Guccio Gucci (1881-1953) was born in Florence, Italy in 1881. He was the son of a shoemaker and he had a passion for art and design. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and then moved to Rome to work as an illustrator.

Gucci is known to design the ‘it-bags’ and shoes for decades now. Their inherently A1 quality, unique designs, excellent craftsmanship and color palettes give it the deserved recognition. Since the Gucci bags are not factory made, they come in limited supply giving them a “must have” factor for the buyers.

Gucci is also famous for luxurious clothes and it has over seven product lines. In 1920, Guccio Gucci opened his first store in Rome, selling leather goods, luggage, and other items. Currently operating at a revenue of 7.4 billion USD, Gucci has presence over 500 stores across the world. The murky story of the House of Gucci has recently been adopted into a film “House of Gucci” (2021).

5. Balmain

(L: Pierre Balmain, R: Balmain skirt)

Pierre Balmain (1914–1982) was a French fashion designer. He is known for his elegant and luxurious designs. Balmain started working as a freelance designer for Jean Patou before founding his own fashion house in 1945.

Pierre Balmain famously used a lot of gold medallions, buttons and symbols in many collections since his early days. Head designer Olivier Rousteing has revived Balmain’s haute couture reputation in recent years.

Balmain’s distinctive features repeated throughout collections have made it a signature brand today. Currently, operating at a revenue of 8.6 billion USD and with stores spread across the world, Balmain is on its way to becoming an even more established brand.

6. Dolce and Gabbana

(L: Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, R: 2016 RTW)

Founders of the iconic luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are two Italian fashion designers who have been working together since 1982. Founded in Milan in 1985, the company has since grown to be one of the most successful fashion brands in the world.

Dolce and Gabbana are two of the best fashion designers in the world who are known for their luxurious and opulent designs, which are picturesque and inspired by Sicilian traditions. Their designs usually consist of heavy embroidery, flowers and black lace. Vibrant and gleaming, each of their looks is unafraid, and stays true to the designers’ Italian based roots. Dolce and Gabbana interpret their traditions through expressive clothes that have the vibe of Italy. They have definitely left me in awe with their collections every season.

Currently it’s revenue is at 1.4 billion USD with over 7 product lines. Currently, Dolce and Gabbana is also known for its mesmerizing fragrances, sunglasses and bags. They have over 90 stores worldwide.

7. Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy-hilfiger-athleisure-style Best Fashion Designers
(L: Tommy Hilfiger, R: Athleisure collection)

Tommy Hilfiger (1951-) is an American fashion designer, best known for his classic clothing designs. If your personal style revolves around athleisure and ‘looking cool without doing much’ then Tommy Hilfiger is the brand for you. Tommy Hilfiger is known for its sportswear collection which was first introduced in 1985.

Hilfiger was born in New York state to a family of Dutch immigrants. His immigrant father was a watchmaker and jeweler. Hilfiger dropped out of the University of Notre Dame to pursue his dream of becoming a fashion designer.

Tommy Hilfiger Corp. has numerous collections, some of the well known ones being “Tommy jeans” and “Tommy Hilfiger tailored”. They also have over 6 product lines and one of the first fashion brands that have expanded into furnishings as well. Their revenue is currently at 1.13 billion USD and have recently collaborated with model Gigi Hadid for a series of TOMMYxGIGI capsule collections.

8. Calvin Klein

(L: Calvin Klein, R: Kate Moss in a Clavin Klein jeans ad (1992))

Calvin Klein (1942-) is an American fashion designer who has been in the industry for over 50 years. He is best known for his underwear designs and his signature jeans, which sold over 200K units on the launch day. Calvin Klein was started in 1968 and since then it has become a famous luxurious brand with over 7 product lines.

The brand is also famous for its minimalistic designs and its simple yet classic logo on clothes. His other famous products include the fragrance, CK One, the Obsession perfume, CK Jeans and CK Be.

Calvin Klein Inc was acquired by PVH Corp in 2003, which also owns Tommy Hilfiger. Calvin Klein currently has 2700 stores in Asia Pacific, 1130 in Europe, 185 in North America. Their annual revenue is 12.5 billion USD (2021).

9. Ralph Lauren

(L: Ralph Lauren, R: Princess Diana with Ralph Lauren)

Ralph Lauren (1939-) is an American fashion designer, and founder/CEO of Ralph Lauren Corporation. New York-based Ralph studied business administration before starting his own company “Polo” in 1967 with $50,000 from his father-in-law.

The company’s name was inspired by the game of polo he played as a child at the country club his father managed. Ralph Lauren is known for its sportswear line, Polo Ralph Lauren which is the center of his fashion empire.

Known for its solid color shirts and polo player logo, Ralph Lauren has shown us the best example for minimalist fashion. The Polo player emblem was however first used in tailored shirts for women. Ralph Lauren has its presence in over 5 product lines, including home décor.

With $ 6 billion revenue and its presence in cities like Chicago, London, Paris, Tokyo, Moscow and Milan, Ralph Lauren became a household name after appearing in the iconic TC show Friends.

10. Alexander McQueen

Alexander-McQueen-celebrating-femininity Best Fashion Designers
(L: Alexander McQueen, R: Lady Gaga wearing armadillo heels in V magazine (2016))

Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) was a British fashion designer who was born in London. He was known for his avant-garde designs and his use of unconventional materials. Starting at the age of 18, McQueen also worked as an assistant designer for Jean-Paul Gaultier in Paris and at Givenchy in London.

First started in 1996, Alexander McQueen is known for its graffiti designs, use of denims and iconic scarfs. Instead of rigorous celebrity marketing, the brand invests in collaborations, social media platforms and online campaigns.

His collections were often controversial and challenging but they were also very popular with celebrities such as Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. With over 4 product lines including clothing, accessories, footwear and bags, their revenue is at 20 million USD.

11. Mario Prada

(L: Mario Prada, R: IT bag)

Mario Prada (1913-1958) was an Italian designer. He opened the first Prada store with his brother, Aldo in 1927. The brothers were inspired by their father’s textile business and wanted to create a new type of luxury goods that would be affordable for everyone.

The term leather is synonymous with the brand Prada, as it is known to make exquisite leather products like handbags and accessories. Initially, they did not sell any clothes, thus they began to show collectors’ items.

Since then, Prada has over 618 boutiques spread across the continents. They have over seven product lines, which make a revenue of 3.69 billion USD.

Prada is especially known for the house’s trademark Saffiano leather, introducing nylon on the runways by Miuccia Prada, Mario’s granddaughter. Prada is known as the brand that matters efficiency and designs that are multi purpose.

12. Karl Lagerfeld

(L: Karl Lagerfeld , R: A look from the Chanel Fall 2017 RTW rocket show)

Karl Lagerfeld (1933-2019) was a German fashion designer and served as the head of Chanel in the later years of his career. Born in Germany, Lagerfeld studied architecture in Vienna before moving to Paris.

He worked for Jean Patou, Elsa Schiaparelli and became the artistic director of Chloé. He worked there until 1987 when he left the company over disagreements with its president about the marketing strategy.

In 1989, he became artistic director of Fendi where his designs became highly successful. Before long, he started his own label, and gained immense recognition as the creative director of Chanel, taking the brand to great heights. His iconic runway shows made him one of the best fashion designers of our time. His curated runway sets included a replica of the Eiffel Tower, a beach, a rocket “launch” and even an aquatic underworld.

InitiallyKarl Lagerfeld started his first boutique in Qatar in 2015 and now the label has 120 stores, with key locations in Paris, London, Berlin, Dubai, and Shanghai. Karl Lagerfeld has four product lines with a revenue of 1170 million USD (2021).

13. Oscar de la Renta

Blair-Waldorf-in-Oscar-de-la-renta Best Fashion Designers
(L: Oscar de la Renta R: Leighton Meester as Blair in a scene from Gossip Girl)

Oscar de la Renta (1932-2014) was a Dominican-American fashion designer. Born in Dominican Republic and raised in New York City, Renta is known for his feminine designs and use of luxurious fabrics. He studied at the Parsons School of Design and later became an assistant to Pierre Balmain.

In 1965, he established his own design house with Antonio Castillo. Oscar de la Renta is known to be the first men’s designer who also designed clothes for women. It was also the first fashion brand to offer stocks however, later on it reclaimed ownership.

Oscar de la Renta is famously known to design clothes for Hillary Clinton and Nancy Reagan to name a few. Also known for perfumes like “Volupte” and “Ruffles”. However, he is known as one of the best fashion designers in America for his feminine, floral designs, which are his real legacy. They became some major fashion culture moments on shows like Gossip Girl, Sex and the City and And Just Like That.

14. Yves Saint Laurent

(L:Yves Saint Laurent R: Power suit)

Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008) studied art and design before starting his career as an assistant to Christian Dior. YSL is popularly known for its modern and iconic designs and tuxedo suits for women that promoted androgynous fashion for women.

YSL is also the first designer to put women of color on the runway promoting equality. His brand started in 1961 in New York and since then has over 70 stores spread across 10 countries. YSL has over four product lines with a revenue of 2.52 billion euros.

15. Giorgio Armani

(L: Giorgio Armani R: Power suit (1980))

Armani (1934-) was an Italian designer who has been in the industry for over 50 years. He started his career by working for other designers such as Pierre Cardin and Elsa Schiaparelli before starting his own company in 1975.

The company has since then gained popularity for relaxed yet luxurious evening wear. He is also known for his clean, simple yet timeless designs, and designing of the “power suit” for women.

Armani’s reputation grew more due to the popular film American Gigolo which featured the brand in a major way. Armani is known for its various collaborations in different fields like Samsung to create a LCD television and mobile phones as part of his consumer lifestyle product lines. Armani has over 5 product lines with an average revenue of USD 2.1 billion.

So this was the list of the 15 best fashion designers in the world who have made a mark on the industry, and contributed real, unique designs. Who is your favorite fashion designer of all time? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @shilpa1ahuja.

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