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20 Most Influential Fashion Designers You Need to Know

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To this day, society is developing improvements in women’s equality across industries in the workforce, from equal pay to equal opportunity. That imbalance has never inhibited women from pioneering countless industries. From education to science and medicine, women have held their own notoriety in these fields. One of the most notable industries women have lead is the Fashion Industry. Here are the 20 Most Influential Fashion Designers You Need to Know.

Madeleine Chéruit

Chéruit became one of the first women to lead a major French fashion house, at the turn of the century. Chéruit got her start working as a dressmaker at Raudnitz & Cie House of Couture in the late 1880s. Madeleine’s talent was so exceptional that she after took over the salon with its over 100 employees in 1905 and renamed it Chéruit. Her career is praised by Vogue. Chéruit’s legacy is remembered as one of the first and most influential fashion designers in history.

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel’s aesthetic has stood the test of time as she remains relevant in today’s fashion. Her trademark little black dresses along with pant suits remain staples in the present day fashion house. Chanel lead the menswear in womenswear movement, introducing sportswear into her collections. Coco’s groundbreaking career is what lands her amongst the most influential fashion designers who have surpassed many newer names in the fashion game.

Jeanne Lanvin
A trained dressmaker, Lanvin began her career creating clothes for children. This started after Lanvin’s outfit creations for her daughter were being coveted by the community’s wealthy class, who began requesting these outfits for their own children. Mothers soon began requesting similar designs for themselves. Within only a handful of years Lanvin’s business had grown to include womenswear, perfume and home design. This is what separated Lanvin as the first designer to create and see the profit in a lifestyle brand.

Madeline Vionnet

Vionnet is most recognized for her invention of the bias cut. This is a diagonal way of cutting fabric that gives it stretchability. By making dresses that could be put over the head, due to the stretching, Madeleine created garments that were both easy to put on. Vionnet’s garments were comfortable to wear, which was revolutionary in dresses at the time. The bias cut is found in dress styles even today.

Elsa Schiaparelli

Schiaparelli had no training in the technical skills of pattern making and clothing construction, she lead with intuition and learned technique. She launched a collection of knitwear in 1927 using a special double layered stitch created by Armenian refugees, which were featured in Vogue. Today, Schiaparelli is remembered for her exquisite tailoring that lead to the first structured jacket for women.


Valentina’s career was created on designing for Hollywood’s elite and the prominent New York society women including members of the Whitney and Vanderbilt families. She specialized in dramatic evening gowns which pioneered the notion of red carpet glamour.

Claire McCardell

McCardell is known as the inventor of American sportswear or today known as ready-to-wear. Her revolutionary pieces were a taffeta skirt, a jersey top and a jersey jacket. McCardell’s influence was incredible in 1950. Because of this President Harry S. also Truman presented her with the Women’s National Press Club Award. This made her the first fashion designer to be voted one of America’s Women of Achievement.

Bonnie Cashin

Cashin’s fashion legacy includes designing chic ponchos and handbags. Being inspired by her jet-set life, she created pieces that were perfect for layering with had minimal seams. Cashin is credited with pioneering the American sportswear movement and has ties to the fashion brand Coach.

Barbara Hulanicki

Hulanicki gave glamour a new name with her mini-skirts, floppy felt hats, feather boas and velvet trouser suit creations. Amongst her dressed list is David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull. In 1964, Hulanicki gave a 15-year-old nobody by the name of Anna Wintour, her first job as a sales assistant. 

Sonia Rykiel

Rykiel’s most recognized for her soft dresses and sweaters. Her famous design is the The Poor Boy Sweatera snug-fitting, pullover sweater with ribbing on both the body and sleeves. This design of Rykiel’s covered Elle in 1967 and earned her title of “Queen of Knits”.

We’re halfway through the 20 Most Influential Fashion Designers You Need to Know.The list only gets better.

    Katharine E. Hamnett

    Hamnett’s work as an English fashion designer best known for her political t-shirts and her ethical business philosophy. Hamnett paved the way not only in couture fashion, but through her long tee shirts with thought-provoking slogans. Hamnett is in a non-couture league of her own in the list of most influential fashion designers.

    Mary Quant

    Quant played an instrumental part in the mod fashion movement and is widely credited as the inventor of the miniskirt and hot pants. As the owner of a retail boutique, Quant began selling knee-high, white, patent plastic, lace-up boots and tight, skinny rib sweaters in stripes and bold checks, which came to epitomize the “London look”. In 1963 Quant was the first winner of the Dress of the Year award.

    Betsy Johnson

    Johnson’s over-the-top, vibrant designs captured the youth’s attention in the early 70s. Johnson took control of the fashion label “Alley Cat” during this time. In her first year, her debut collection reportedly sold $5 million in volume and in 1972 she won the Coty Award. Johnson started her own fashion line in 1978.  She was then awarded by the National Arts Club the Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement in Fashion in 2009.

    Diane von Fürstenberg

    She is most recognized as one of the most influential fashion designers for the introduction the wrap dress. Not depending on her royal marriage, she immediately began designing women’s clothing. Fürstenberg has stated “The minute I knew I was about to be Egon’s wife, I decided to have a career.” She is also the CFDA‘s president. Fürstenberg coined the phrase “Feel like a woman, wear a dress.”

    Carolina Herrera

    Herrera began her design career in 1981 because of advice to start her own fashion line from her friend Diana Vreeland, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue at the time. It wasn’t long that she debuted her collection at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Club to critical acclaim. In 2008 Herrera was the recipient of the CFDA‘s prestigious Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. Her credibility includes making the white shirt a must-have staple in every woman’s wardrobe.

    Vera Wang

    Wang’s fashion career began in 1970 as the senior fashion editor, then editor-in-chief for Vogue and then joined Ralph Lauren as a design director. Wang’s notoriety is for creating the world’s most recognized bridal gowns and owns ready-to-wear lines available in stores worldwide. Vera carries the award for Leadership in the Arts Award by the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association.

    Donna Karan

    Karan is responsible for developing stylish staples for the everyday career woman. Karan’s career started as an assistant designer with Anne Klein in the late 1960s. She flourished and was promoted to associate designer in 1971. In 1984 Karan began her own line with her husband “to design modern clothes for modern people”. She is known for her ‘Essentials’ line. Karan’s concept offers seven easy pieces that can all be mixed and matched, creating a fully integrated wardrobe.

    Miuccia Prada

    She was the youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada, who started the Prada fashion line in 1913 for the Milanese elite. Miuccia let the Prada brand sore to new heights in 1985 as she unveiled a series of black nylon handbags and backpacks with understated labeling. Four years later, Prada, who had no formal fashion training, in addition introduced a line of ready-to-wear women’s clothes. Prada calls this “uniforms for the slightly disenfranchised.”

    Stella McCartney 

    McCartney’s start was as the creative director of Paris fashion house Chloe in March 1997. This followed in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld. Four years later McCartney launched her own fashion house. McCartney’s move was under her name in a joint venture with Gucci Group and showed her first collection in Paris.

    Phoebe Philo

    Philo succeeded Stella McCartney as Chloe’s Creative Director in 2001. Consequently, she single-handedly brought the fashion houses of both Celine and Chloe back to life. Philo’s recognition continued. In 2014 she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to fashion.

        That’s a wrap! The 20 Most Influential Fashion Designers You Need to Know.

        Continue reading about leading ladies in the fashion sphere. Read ArtTECA‘s story and the two sisters who made it a reality.

        The post 20 Most Influential Fashion Designers You Need to Know appeared first on Artteca.


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