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The 23 Most Iconic Fashion Designers


More than just clothes, fashion is also about the creative minds who make those clothes come to life—fashion designers. They are the visionaries, the trendsetters, and the maestros who have left their creative and inspiring mark on the fashion world.

Here we’re going to uncover the most iconic fashion designers who’ve not only dressed celebs but have become stars themselves and influenced the very essence of what we consider stylish.

Who Are the Most Iconic Fashion Designers?

From Parisian chic to the NYC runway hustle, these are some of the most acclaimed fashion designers in the world: 

Christian Dior

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Christian Dior

On January 21, 1905, a French fashion designer was born—Christian Dior. He founded the House of Dior in 1946 and revolutionised post-World War II fashion with his “New Look” collection in 1947.  

Dior’s “New Look” featured luxurious fabrics, intricate detailing, and a departure from wartime austerity. His hourglass silhouette, cinched waist, and full skirts became synonymous with femininity and elegance. 

One of these iconic Christian Dior dresses is the “Bar Suit” from the first collection, famously worn by Princess Margaret. The gown was praised for its luxurious materials and impeccable craftsmanship, solidifying Dior’s reputation as a master couturier.

His impact on the fashion industry was profound, as he restored Paris as the fashion capital after World War II.

Coco Chanel

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Coco Chanel

Born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel on August 19, 1883, in Saumur, France, Coco Chanel was a pioneering French fashion designer. 

She founded the House of Chanel in 1909 and introduced revolutionary designs that embraced simplicity, comfort, and functionality, which challenged the corseted and ornate fashions of the early 20th century.

Coco Chanel’s hallmark was her minimalist and timeless aesthetic. She popularised the “little black dress,” jersey fabric, and the Chanel suit with its boxy jacket and slim skirt. Her use of pearls, quilted handbags, and the interlocking CC logo became enduring symbols of luxury and sophistication.

No less than fashion icons Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were among the celebrities who embraced Coco Chanel designs. Hepburn famously wore a little black dress in the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” solidifying the garment’s iconic status.

Cristóbal Balenciaga

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Balenciaga

Known as the “master of us all” by Christian Dior and other equally prominent designers, Cristóbal Balenciaga is no doubt one of the most iconic fashion designers in the world. He was born on January 21, 1895, in Getaria, Spain.

The Spanish fashion designer was revered for his innovative use of fabrics, and architectural designs, and for pioneering the shift from traditional waistlines to a more fluid silhouette. His designs were marked by their sculptural shapes, bold experimentation with fabrics, and a focus on craftsmanship.

The fashion designer founded the House of Balenciaga in 1919 and introduced the sack dress, cocoon coat, and balloon skirt, challenging conventional notions of female attire.

His designs were celebrated for their modernity and elegance, with the iconic wedding dress he created for Grace Kelly being a standout example.

Alexander McQueen

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Alexander McQueen

Lee Alexander McQueen, born in London on March 17, 1969, was a British fashion designer known for his avant-garde creations. McQueen served as the chief designer at Givenchy from 1996 to 2001 and later established his eponymous label. 

His designs often pushed boundaries, blending art and fashion. They also often featured unconventional materials and innovative tailoring, showcasing his rebellious spirit.

The British designer’s style was then characterised by theatricality, dark romanticism, and meticulous craftsmanship. He was also known for his provocative Fashion Week runway shows and attention to detail. 

McQueen’s designs were worn by celebrities like Lady Gaga and Sarah Jessica Parker. His iconic “Armadillo Boots” gained widespread attention when featured in Gaga’s music video for “Bad Romance.”

Throughout his career, top fashion designer McQueen has received numerous awards, including four British Designer of the Year awards and the CFDA International Designer of the Year award in 2003. 

Vivienne Westwood

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Vivienne Westwood

Dame Vivienne Westwood, born on April 8, 1941, in Tintwistle, England, is a British fashion designer credited with pioneering the punk fashion movement. She co-founded the punk fashion boutique “SEX” with Malcolm McLaren in the 1970s, introducing unconventional designs and inspiring other young designers.

Vivienne Westwood’s style is eclectic, combining historical references with punk elements. She is known for her use of tartan, corsets, and punk-inspired accessories. The Vivienne Westwood designs often convey a sense of rebellion and social commentary. 

Her iconic “Pirate” collection in 1981, featuring exaggerated silhouettes and historical references, left a lasting impact on the fashion landscape.

Embracing the Vivienne Westwood designs are musicians like the Sex Pistols and cultural icons such as Madonna.

Jean Paul Gaultier

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier, born on April 24, 1952, in Arcueil, France, is a French fashion designer renowned for his avant-garde and daring creations. He started his career in the early 1970s and gained fame in the 1980s with his eclectic and unconventional designs.

Gaultier’s unique style challenges traditional notions of fashion. He is known for incorporating elements of punk, streetwear, and gender-bending fashion into his work. 

His iconic designs often feature bold prints, corsets, and intricate detailing, showcasing a blend of couture and street fashion.

One of Jean Paul Gaultier’s most famous creations is the cone bra corset famously worn by Madonna during her “Blond Ambition” tour in 1990. This piece not only became an iconic fashion moment but also solidified Gaultier’s reputation as a designer willing to push boundaries.

Giorgio Armani

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Armani

Giorgio Armani, born on July 11, 1934, in Piacenza, Italy, is an Italian designer whose name has become synonymous with timeless elegance and modern sophistication. 

Armani founded his eponymous fashion brand, Armani, in 1975 and revolutionised men’s and women’s fashion with his understated yet luxurious designs. And so, he played an important role in redefining power dressing for both men and women. 

Giorgio Armani’s style is characterised by clean lines, neutral colours, and a focus on tailored silhouettes. They exude a sense of effortless chic, making him a trailblazer in modernising formal wear.

Armani’s red carpet-influence is profound, with celebrities like Julia Roberts and Jodie Foster frequently choosing his creations.

Gianni Versace

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Gianni Versace

Gianni Versace, born on December 2, 1946, in Reggio Calabria, Italy, was an Italian fashion designer and founder of the iconic Versace fashion house. He rose to prominence among the best fashion designers in the 1980s and became known for his bold and extravagant designs, epitomising the glamorous excess of the era.

Versace’s style was expressed in bold prints, vibrant colours, and daring silhouettes. He was a pioneer in incorporating elements of pop culture and celebrity into his designs. 

The Medusa logo became synonymous with the Versace brand, reflecting the designer’s penchant for luxury and excess. One of his most iconic fashion moments was Elizabeth Hurley’s appearance at the 1994 premiere of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” in a safety pin dress.

Donatella Versace

Most Iconic Fashion Designers -Donatella Versace

Gianni’s sister, Donatella Versace took over as the creative director of Versace after her brother’s tragic death in 1997 and has since continued to lead the brand with her distinctive style. She was born on May 2, 1955, in Reggio Calabria, Italy.

Donatella Versace’s style is an evolution of the bold and glamorous aesthetic established by her brother. She is known for her use of vibrant colours, bold prints, and sensuous silhouettes. Her designs often celebrate the female form, exuding confidence and allure.

Donatella Versace has dressed numerous celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, who made headlines with her iconic green Versace dress at the 2000 Grammy Awards. This dress, often referred to as the “Jungle Dress,” became a cultural phenomenon and is one of the most memorable red carpet moments in fashion history.

Hubert de Givenchy

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Givenchy

Hubert de Givenchy, born on February 20, 1927, in Beauvais, France, was an exquisite French fashion designer who founded the House of Givenchy in 1952. He gained fame for dressing Audrey Hepburn and became synonymous with elegance and sophistication.

Givenchy’s style was marked by refined and timeless elegance. He loved working with clean lines, luxurious fabrics, and a focus on creating understated yet impactful looks. He then introduced the iconic “Bettina blouse.” 

Audrey Hepburn was Givenchy’s muse, and their collaboration resulted in some of the most iconic fashion moments in history. The black dress worn by Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is one of Givenchy’s most celebrated creations.

Marc Jacobs

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs, born on April 9, 1963, in New York City, is an American fashion designer known for his eclectic and innovative designs. 

Marc Jacobs first gained attention in the 1990s for his grunge-inspired collection while working for Perry Ellis and later became the creative director of Louis Vuitton. In 1997, he launched his eponymous brand, Marc Jacobs.

Marc Jacobs is renowned for blending high fashion with street style. His designs often feature unexpected combinations, bold prints, and a mix of textures. He is known for pushing boundaries and challenging conventional norms, earning him a reputation as a trendsetter.

One of the most iconic Marc Jacobs pieces is the “Grunge Collection” he designed for Perry Ellis in 1992. Although initially controversial, it became a defining moment in 1990s fashion. 

Also, celebrities like Lady Gaga and Rihanna have been spotted wearing his avant-garde creations on various occasions.

Yves Saint Laurent

Most Iconic Fashion Designers -Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent, born on August 1, 1936, in Oran, French Algeria, was a visionary French fashion designer. He started his career at Christian Dior where he eventually became head designer and then founded his own fashion house in 1961, becoming a pioneer of modern ready-to-wear fashion.

Yves Saint Laurent’s style was characterised by its androgynous silhouettes, masculine tailoring for women, and bold use of colour. He introduced iconic pieces such as the tuxedo jacket for women (Le Smoking) and the safari jacket.

One of Saint Laurent’s most iconic pieces is the Mondrian dress from the 1965 collection, inspired by the abstract artist Piet Mondrian. 

Celebrities like Catherine Deneuve and Bianca Jagger were often seen in his designs, contributing to his brand’s global recognition.

Miuccia Prada

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Prada

Miuccia Prada, born on May 10, 1949, in Milan, Italy, is an Italian fashion designer and the creative force behind the renowned Prada fashion house. She holds a Ph.D. in political science and entered the family business in the 1970s. Miuccia transformed Prada into a global luxury brand known for its intellectual, boundary-pushing designs.

Her designs are celebrated for their intellectual and conceptual approach. She often challenges traditional notions of beauty and femininity, combining elements of luxury and avant-garde. Prada’s designs reflect her keen interest in contemporary art and culture.

Miuccia Prada’s nylon backpack became an instant fashion phenomenon in the 1980s. It was embraced by celebrities like Kate Moss.

Pierre Balmain

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Balmain

Pierre Balmain, born on May 18, 1914, in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, France, was a French fashion designer known for his elegant and sophisticated designs. He founded the Balmain fashion house in 1945, and his creations defined the post-war Parisian couture scene.

As one of the best fashion designers, he created timeless and luxurious pieces that embodied the epitome of Parisian chic. His designs often featured embroidery, embellishments, and a focus on craftsmanship.

Balmain’s designs were favoured by Hollywood stars, including Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn. One of the most iconic pieces is the structured “Jolie Madame” suit, a favourite among fashion-forward women in the 1950s.

Valentino Garavani

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Valentino Garavani

Valentino Garavani, born on May 11, 1932, in Voghera, Italy, is an Italian fashion designer and the founder of his own fashion house. Known simply as Valentino, he rose to his career height in the 1960s, dressing high-profile clients and becoming one and the same with luxury and sophistication.

He is one of the best fashion designers renowned for his signature shade of red, known as “Valentino red.” His designs often featured intricate detailing, embroidery, and flowing silhouettes.

Valentino’s creations have graced numerous red carpets, and he is a favourite among celebrities. One of the most iconic moments was Julia Roberts winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2001 while wearing a vintage Valentino gown.

Stella McCartney

Most Iconic Fashion Designers -Stella Mc Cartney

Stella McCartney, born on September 13, 1971, in London, is a British fashion designer celebrated as a committed sustainable fashion designer. She is the daughter of Sir Paul McCartney, a member of the legendary band The Beatles. 

McCartney graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and in 2001, she launched her own fashion house, Stella McCartney. Her style fused elegance and ethical fashion.

An iconic fashion designer that she is, Stella is a pioneer in promoting sustainable practices in the fashion industry. She avoids the use of leather and instead incorporates vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

One of McCartney’s most iconic designs is the wedding gown she created for Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, for her 2018 royal wedding. This sustainable and elegant dress showcased McCartney’s influence and commitment to creating fashion with a purpose.

Oscar de la Renta

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta, born on July 22, 1932, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was a Dominican-American fashion designer who became an iconic figure in the world of haute couture. He worked for prestigious fashion houses, including Balenciaga and Lanvin, before launching his label, Oscar de la Renta.

Oscar de la Renta’s style is a mix of timeless elegance and femininity. His ability to create stunning evening gowns and glamorous dresses earned him a reputation as a master of haute couture.

Countless celebrities, including former First Ladies, Hollywood actresses, and royalty, have worn Oscar de la Renta’s creations. One notable moment was Amal Clooney’s choice of an exquisite de la Renta gown for her wedding to George Clooney in 2014.

Tom Ford

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Tom Ford

Tom Ford, born on August 27, 1961, in Austin, Texas, is an American fashion designer and filmmaker. Ford gained prominence as the creative director of Gucci and later Yves Saint Laurent. He won the award for Best International Designer in 2000, and in 2006, launched his own luxury fashion brand, Tom Ford. 

Ford is known for his suave and sophisticated designs that redefine modern glamour. His designs often feature sleek lines, bold silhouettes, and luxurious materials. 

Ford’s creations are frequently seen on red carpets, and worn by celebrities like Beyoncé, Julianne Moore, and Gwyneth Paltrow. One standout moment was the custom gown he designed for actress Naomi Watts at the 2016 Oscars, showcasing his mastery of red carpet-glamour.

Michael Kors

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Michael Kors

Michael Kors, born on August 9, 1959, in Long Island, New York, is an American fashion designer known for his sporty yet sophisticated aesthetic. Kors started his career at the age of 19, designing a collection for the prominent boutique Lothar’s. In 1981, he launched his label, Michael Kors, which has become a global fashion powerhouse.

He is celebrated for his ability to create clothing that effortlessly transitions from day to night. He often incorporates classic American sportswear elements into his designs, creating a timeless and accessible appeal.

Michelle Obama notably wore a black sleeveless dress by Michael Kors for her first official portrait as First Lady in 2009, showcasing his influence in both fashion and political spheres.

Karl Lagerfeld

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Karl Lagerfield

Karl Lagerfeld, born on September 10, 1933, in Hamburg, Germany, was a German fashion designer and creative director. Lagerfeld was a prolific and influential figure in the fashion industry, known for his work with modern fashion brands Chanel, and Fendi, and his eponymous own brand.

The creative director’s style is marked by his ability to blend tradition with avant-garde elements. He revitalised and modernised iconic fashion houses, most notably Chanel.

Lagerfeld’s designs for Chanel have been worn by countless celebrities, including Keira Knightley, Diane Kruger, and Kristen Stewart. One memorable moment was when actress Lily-Rose Depp wore a stunning pink Chanel gown to the 2019 Met Gala, paying tribute to Lagerfeld’s legacy.

Ralph Lauren

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Ralph lauren

Ralph Lauren, born on October 14, 1939, in The Bronx, New York, is an American fashion designer and business magnate. Renowned for his classic, preppy style and his eponymous brand, Ralph Lauren has become a symbol of American fashion and lifestyle. 

His journey began with a small necktie store and evolved into a global empire that encompasses clothing, accessories, fragrances, and home goods. Truly one of the best fashion designers, he pioneered the “Polo” shirt, a symbol of casual yet sophisticated sportswear. 

Lauren’s ability to capture the essence of the American spirit has made him a trailblazer in defining a lifestyle brand.

Pierre Cardin

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Pierre Cardin

Making it to the list of the most influential fashion designers is Pierre Cardin, born on July 2, 1922, near Venice, Italy. He is a visionary French fashion designer and entrepreneur.

Cardin is renowned for his avant-garde designs and his groundbreaking approach to fashion marketing and branding, including the introduction of space-age aesthetics to fashion. He broke away from traditional silhouettes, experimenting with bold shapes, cutouts, and innovative materials.

His “Bubble Dress” and geometrically inspired designs became iconic symbols of the 1960s.

Cardin’s designs have been worn by numerous celebrities, including the Beatles, Mia Farrow, and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Calvin Klein

Most Iconic Fashion Designers - Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein, born on November 19, 1942, in The Bronx, New York, is an iconic American fashion designer known for his minimalist and modern approach to design. He studied design in New York City and founded the Calvin Klein brand in 1968.

The introduction of Calvin Klein Underwear in the 1980s revolutionised the lingerie market and modern fashion. The minimalist design, featuring the iconic Calvin Klein or CK logo on the waistband, became a phenomenon.

Also, his provocative advertising campaigns featuring models like Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg further solidified Calvin Klein’s reputation as a boundary-pushing brand. Calvin Klein’s influence extends beyond apparel to fragrances and accessories. 

Other Notable Mentions

Other worthy mentions in our list of the most iconic fashion designers include:

  • Diane Von Furstenberg, a Belgian-American designer, is one of the famous fashion designers for her wrap dress which found an iconic status in fashion. 
  • Esteban Cortázar is a Colombian fashion designer who made his name by being the youngest fashion designer to debut at the prestigious New York Fashion Week.
  • Virgil Abloh became the artistic director of the Louis Vuitton menswear collection in 2018 and was given increased creative responsibilities across the Louis Vuitton brand in early 2021.
  • Rei Kawakubo explored the colour black and shocked Paris Fashion Week in 1981 when Rei Kawakubo started showing her Comme des Garçons collections.
  • Alexander Wang, a Taiwanese-American fashion designer, is one of the most successful young designers and launched his first women’s dress collection in 2007.

Who Is the Most Famous Fashion Designer?

The title of the most famous fashion designer is subjective and can vary based on individual preferences and the era in question. But, a few names consistently emerge.

One of the unquestionable icons is Coco Chanel. The French designer revolutionised women’s fashion in the early 20th century, introducing timeless classics like the little black dress and the Chanel suit.

Other contenders for this title include Gianni Versace and Yves Saint Laurent.

Versace’s impact on the fashion industry and pop culture, coupled with his tragic and untimely death in 1997, has solidified his place among the most iconic and talked-about designers. 

On the other hand, Yves Saint Laurent’s eponymous brand remains influential, and his legacy extends beyond modern fashion. He was the first designer to exhibit a solo retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Who Is the King of Fashion and Style?

Some fashion designers have made an incredible contribution to the industry. Christian Dior is one such figure. As the founder of the iconic fashion house, Christian Dior is celebrated for his post-war “New Look,” his own fashion line. His impact is undeniable, as he not only revived French haute couture but also set the standard for elegance and luxury.

Also referred to as the king of fashion designers is Cristóbal Balenciaga, he holds a significant place in the history of haute couture. Balenciaga’s journey to becoming a fashion legend is marked by his unparalleled craftsmanship and innovation. His impact on the fashion industry is so profound that he is often hailed as “the master” by his peers and successors.

Balenciaga’s influence extended to mentoring other renowned fashion designers, including Oscar de la Renta and Hubert de Givenchy. 

Who Was the Most Inspiring Designer in the Fashion Industry?

Vivienne Westwood, the British fashion designer, is often regarded as one of the most inspiring figures. Known for her punk aesthetic and avant-garde designs, Vivienne Westwood has consistently challenged conventions, making her a symbol of rebellion and creativity in fashion.

Ralph Lauren also has a touching story in the fashion world. Overcoming challenges and establishing himself as a self-made man with a fashion empire, Ralph Lauren is all about the pursuit of one’s dreams against all odds. His brand, Polo Ralph Lauren, is elegant and sophisticated, and Lauren’s journey adds a layer of inspiration to his status as a fashion legend.

Final Note

In the world of fashion, some fashion designers truly stand out for their incredible creativity and bold ideas. From Coco Chanel’s timeless elegance to Karl Lagerfeld’s avant-garde vision, these pioneering fashion designers created art and transformed how we think about style.

They challenged the norm and encouraged us all to express our individuality through what we wear. As we celebrate their legacies, let’s be inspired to dream big and break boundaries.

Imani Jackson

Imani Jackson is a writer born, raised, and based in South London. She developed a keen eye for style through her habit of observing people’s clothes in the street every day. When she isn’t doing that, she likes to spend her time writing about the trends she sees, going out and dancing with the girls, or curating her R&B playlist for the next round of people-watching.

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