From Christopher John Rogers to Miuccia Prada and Simon Porte Jacquemus: the list of famous fashion designers is endless. But who are the names to know right now? We’ve listed the most important designers of the 21st century below.
Cover photo: © Louis Vuitton SS21
Famous fashion designers
George Michael once said he thought he would be one of the last worldwide known rockstar, since information gets more and more scattered with time. It’s fair to say that some fashion designers own the new rockstar-status.
Christopher John Rogers
2020 has been a good year for Christopher John Rogers. It marked the year in which he became one of the most recommended designers and the year in which he won the CFDA award for emerging designer. On top of this, Lady Gaga accepted a MTV Music Video awards wearing his designs, just like Zendaya when she received an Emmy award.
Rogers graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2016 and since then has been a celebrity stylist and big Instagram hit. His popularity on Instagram only became bigger after George Floyd’s death in 2020. Something that gives him mixed feelings. Earlier he stated that his work is made through the lens of someone who is Black, but that doesn’t necessarily makes it Black work.
Despite the success and massive media attention, Rogers won’t rush and likes his brand to grow slowly.
Fast-forward thinking fashion designer Nicolas Ghesquière has worked at Balenciaga for over fifteen years. During that period, he transformed the powerhouse to having the worldwide renowned status it still enjoys today.
Ghesquière knew he wanted to become a fashion designer at a young age. When only fourteen years old, he started as an intern at Agnès B, where he was paid in clothes. In his early twenties he worked at Jean-Paul Gaultier as his assistant.
In 2001 he was names womenswear designer of the year by CFDA, when Gucci Group bought Balenciaga. After a couple of successful years, Ghesquière and Gucci Group separated. His next move: Louis Vuitton, at which he reinvented (and still is reinventing) the label’s luxury status.
In 2015, Jonathan Anderson was awarded womenswear and menswear designer of the year at the British Fashion Awards, being the first one who had ever won both prestigious prizes at once.
Anderson graduated in 2005 from the London College of Fashion, after which he worked as a visual merchandiser for Prada and started a career as a menswear designer in 2008. When starting his eponymous label, he soon received the likes of many industry insiders. In 2013, LVMH took a minority stake and hired him as creative director at Loewe.
Kerby Jean-Raymond started Pyer Moss in 2013, as a label fusing the personal and politics – it’s all about activism and heritage. The creative director describes the brand as an “art project” or “a timely social experiment” at times.
The Haitian-American designer went to the High School of Fashion Industries in New York, after which he attended Hofstra University. His career in fashion kick-off at Marc Jacobs, Theory and Kenneth Cole, for which he did some freelance jobs. Years later, he started his own label.
Simon Porte Jacquemus
Simon Porte Jacquemus started his namesake label when he was only nineteen years old. Growing up in the southern of France, he was mesmerized with the way Parisian tourists looked. At an age of eighteen, he moved to Paris and briefly enrolled École Supérieure des Arts et techniques de la Mode. When his mother passed away in 2019, he realized how life could be over in a second and decided to quit his studies, to start working at the Parisian Comme des Garcons shop, while developing his namesake label.
His collections started with a minimalist aesthetic – due to financially limitations – and developed to a fashion powerhouse for the free-hearted. Asymmetrical silhouettes and deconstructed designs are his expertise. When showing “La Bomba” at Maison Méditerranéenne des Métiers de la Mode in 2018, it was picked up by some of the biggest retailers worldwide. Since then his playful approach has set new standards within the industry.
Maria Grazia Chiuri
While Maria Grazia Chiuri is widely known and praised for her work at Dior, she gained true recognition for her job done at Valentino. She’s been with the house for more than seventeen years (!) and closely co-operated with Pierpaolo Piccioli.
When studying at Instituto Europeo di Design, she met Pierpaolo Piccilio via a mutual friend. After graduating, Grazia Chiuri joined Fendi and convinced Piccioli to do so as well. Soon after they both swapped the fashion house for Valentino. They were named co-creative directors in 2008.
In 2016, Chiuri was announced as Raf Simons’ successor at Dior, being the very first female artistic director at the brand. Under the helm of Chiuri, Dior brought back some vintage designs that got the likes of many great influencers. Who doesn’t own a Dior saddlebag today?
Recommended: Discover our favorite Dior Spring/Summer 2021 looks
No one would have thought about Rihanna as a trailblazing and game-changing fashion icon when Pon De Replay hit the radio. Fast forward, the philanthropist, singer, business woman, actress and above all fashion designer is one of the industry’s most important tastemakers. Together with LVMH, she launched Fenty in 2019. More recently, she added a beauty line – Fenty Beauty, which has been a massive success since its start. With her size-inclusive lingerie label Savage X Fenty, she has set net standards for the industry.
British fashion designer Kim Jones has an impressive resumé, with labels such as Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss, Iceberg, Uniqlo and Topman. He joined Dior in March 2018, as the new menswear artistic director.
When he grew up, the soon-to-be designer traveled around the world with his family – from the Amazon to the African continent. Jones spent his teenage years in London, though, after which he attended the prestigious Central Saint Martins for an undergraduate degree. In 2002, none other than John Galliano bought his graduate collection and soon after Jones started his eponymous label. With his streetwear aesthetic, he earned a great reputation within the industry. After eight seasons he disbanded the company and started to work for Dunhill.
Belgian designer Raf Simons owns an eponymous label, is co-creative director at Prada and is widely known for bringing Dior to the forefront of modern fashion. Quite impressive for a self-taught designer, who studied Industrial Design and Furniture Design.
Since then he has grown into one of the most famous fashion designers of our time, know for his bold yet elegant styles. The designer started his eponymous cult label in 1995 and became Jil Sander‘s creative director in 2005. His minimalist work for the label received praise from all over the world. In 2012, he swapped the German label to succeed John Galliano at Dior. After only three years, the designer decided to move on and focus on his own label. However, just a few months after his resign he got appointed as creative officer at Calvin Klein. This marriage wasn’t made to last; he stepped down the role in 2018. Since then he has focussed on his own label, as well as taking the task at Prada.
Virgil Abloh started his career in fashion as Kanye West’s creative director, but is mostly known for his own label, Off-White and as the artistic director menswear at Louis Vuitton.
In 2002 Abloh started to study architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, after which he worked at an architecture firm for two years. After this short career, he shifted his focus to fashion and developed his first concept ‘RSVP Gallery’, which was an art gallery and menswear boutique at once. During that period, he joined Kanye West’s agency as creative director. Three years later, in 2012, Abloh started his first brand Pyrex Vision, printing logos on Champion and Ralph Lauren shirts – even before the hype around upcycling was real. Pyrex only lived short though, since he shut the brand down when he started Off-White in 2013.
Since then, the rest is history. Off-White was picked-up worldwide by the biggest tastemakers of the industry. With the likes of Rihanna, Jay-Z and many others, the brand only gets bigger and bigger.
As one of the world’s most famous fashion designers, Miuccia Prada is the co-chief and co-creative director of Prada and creative director of Miu Miu. In 2020 Prada announced a cooperation with designer Raf Simons, who has worked for Jil Sander, Calvin Klein and Christian Dior in the past.
Miuccia hadn’t always dreamed of becoming Prada’s main character; she did a PhD in political science and became a mime artist afterwards. In 1988, though, she debuted at Prada with her first womenswear collection and gave birth to Miu Miu in 1993. As of 2017, Miuccia Prada was listed as the 79th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine.
As Versace‘s artistic director since 1997, Donatella Versace has seen it all. From hotels to accessories and home decoration: under the helm of Donatella the label has grown fast. Back in the days, Donatella had a strong connection with her older brother Gianni. She debuted her first collection at Versus in 1994 and succeeded her brother after his death in 1997. Versace’s Spring/Summer 1998 collection marked her debut, shown at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. It resulted in approval from renowned industry insiders.
Since then she has successfully fulfilled the role of both artistic director and vice president of Versace’s board, making her responsible for the organization’s overall vision.
Philophiles all know that talented designer Phoebe Philo will return to the fashion industry, preferably with an own label. During her time at Céline, Philo redefined the modern woman’s wardrobe. She successfully reinvented the dusty Parisian fashion house. But that isn’t all; after a study at Central Saint Martins Philo joined her friend Stella McCartney at Chloé as her very first assistent back in 1997. When McCartney left in 2001, Philo became the brand’s creative director. When leaving the house in 2006, she took some time off. Then, after a two-year hiatus, Philo joined Céline, ready to redefine fashion.
Philo is widely known for her clean lines and timeless designs. When leaving Céline in 2017, the fashion industry was in mourning.
Virginie Viard has worked with predecessor Karl Lagerfeld for decades. Soon after his death her new role as Artistic Director at Chanel was announced.
Viard joined Chanel in 1987, working in embroidery. She’s been Lagerfeld’s longtime colleague, even following him when he joined Chloé. Before being Chanel’s Artistic Director, she worked as the house’s studio director.
Recommended: Best of Chanel Spring/Summer 2021 ready to wear
French photographer and fashion designer Hedi Slimane has been working for Dior Homme between 2000 and 2007, after which he worked at Saint Laurent. At the latter, he developed his signature look, namely the “skinny” suit. It’s said that Karl Lagerfeld started to eat less so he would fit in well.
Currently, Slimane known for his work at Celine. Phoebe Philo fans weren’t that happy with his appointment. Once announced, Celine’s entire Instagram feed was cleared and the ‘é’ turned into an ‘e’. Some think he solely brings up the past, others think he’s a genius with a great sense for knowing what his clients long for.
Stella McCartney – daughter of The Beatles’ Paul McCartney – is known for her eponymous label, creating vegan fashion since its start. At an age of 13, she started to make her own clothes. It doesn’t come as a surprise that she started her first internship as a 16-year-old, at the renowned Christian Lacroix. Her designs describe themselves best as simple and sharp, combined with fine tailoring and they have been so since her graduation show at Central Saint Martins in 1995. It was a show to remember, with friends Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Yasmine Le Bon modelling for her. Since then the rest is history.
Queen of punk Vivienne Westwood is one of the most famous fashion designers of the era. Westwood knows how to shake things up and how to do things differently. Everything this lady does, makes you rethink your values.
In her early career, Westwood opened four shops in London, eventually expanding around the world. Her first store ‘SEX’ was a meeting point for people in the punk scene. Westwood is held accountable for making punk more mainstream during the seventies. Today, Westwood hasn’t lost her punky-edge. Her famous quote “Buy less, choose well, make it last” has been a starting point for many in the fashion industry. Without doubt, Westwood is one of the most famous fashion designers of all time.
Recommended: Best of London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2021
American designer Matthew Williams founded 1017 ALYX 9SM and was appointed as Givenchy’s new designer in June 2020. When he was an eighteen-year-old, he discovered a career in fashion was an option for him. He attended University of California for just one year, but never had a formal fashion training or education.
When Williams worked as an production manager, he came in touch with music stylists. In 2007, Kanye West’s stylist asked him to design a jacket for his performance with Daft Punk – which became the iconic LED-coat. West was impressed and asked Williams to join his team. The rest is history ever since.
Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen
Attention-shy twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen form the master brains behind their timeless classic label The Row. Since a young age, the twins were known for their effortless style. Together with Phoebe Philo, the duo re-invented a minimalistic, timeless, clean and ultimate chic look that will never go out of style. While shy of being in the spotlight, they are two of the most famous fashion designers of this age.
Telfar Clemens created furore with his eponymous brand. His simple and clean fashion shopper is simply history in the making, with waiting lists for months. However, “a Telfar bag is not for you – it’s fo everyone“, Clemens claimed. Therefore, earlier in 2020, everyone around the world could pre-order a Telfar bag; shipping dates would vary from a couple to many months. True Telfar fans were relieved they didn’t have to buy these renowned bags at much higher rates on second hand websites.
Telfar Clemens has more to offer, though. Since 2005 the Queen’s born and raised designer has been doing genderless fashion before the concept even existed. He’s an example like no other and therefore one of the most famous fashion designers of our time.
Recommended: 7 fashion brands to watch in 2021