Fashion Design Icons And Their Rise To Fame

Have you ever wondered about the back story behind world-renowned fashion brands? Today we will discuss a few of the most well-known fashion designers of the world. These designer’s luxury brands are so renowned that they are still around today.


Coco Chanel

She was born in 1883 in France and was placed in an orphanage soon after her mother’s death. Nuns raised her and taught her how to sew and she briefly dabbled in the art of singing. The nickname Coco was given to her through one of her singing gigs and it is thought to derive from the word cocotte meaning “kept woman”. She began her work in the fashion industry in 1910 selling hats. One day she created a dress out of an old jersey and got many compliments on it. This started her on the road to fame when she was a costume designer for many ballets and plays. 

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Chanel looking into the future

The year 1925 was when she launched her collarless suit and well-fitted skirt sets for women. Her designs were revolutionary for her time because it encouraged women to take off corsets and enjoy some comfortable clothes for a change. Her fashion designs are timeless, sophisticated, and always paired with great accessories. Back in the 1920s, she also started her perfume line with her most iconic perfume called Chanel No. 5. The great depression and the subsequent WWII had forced Coco to shut down her stores and factories, but she made a comeback in the 1950s. By that time she had reached 70 years of age but her designs were still well received by many women. This luxury French fashion brand now has a net worth of over 35 billion dollars and is famous for its little black dresses.

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Coco Chanel 1937

Christian Dior

He was born in France in the year 1905. Christian was the second oldest of five children and his family moved to Paris when he was a boy. Oddly enough, he was persuaded to go into the field of political science by his father. He did graduate but was always fascinated by the world of art. He opened an art gallery but was soon forced to close it after his father’s business collapsed financially. To try and make ends meet, Dior started selling his fashion sketches up until he was called to be an officer in the French army during WWII. 

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Right after the war, he became a fashion designer and was quickly known for his haute couture women’s fashion. His designs were a big hit and were dubbed the “New Look” in the late 40s and early 50s. Dior’s first designs featured suit jackets with rounded shoulders and cinched waists paired with full a-line skirts. These features clearly accentuated women’s figures in all the right ways and brought a sense of nostalgia from the pre-war glamorous looks. Later on, he would create lavish and exquisite dresses featuring rhinestones, sequins, and pearls. He made women’s fashion for the upper-class citizens and his designs appealed to many American women. In 1957, Dior was the first haute couture designer to appear on the cover of Time magazine. Today, the Dior brand’s net worth is close to 5 billion dollars.

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The famous "Bar Suit" on display at the Denver Art Museum in 2019.

Yves Saint Laurent

He was born in Algeria in 1936. In his early teen years, he designed dresses for his mother and sisters. Growing up he was often bullied in school but found solace in the world of fashion. His mother arranged a meeting with the editor of French Vogue when he was 17. This once-in-a-lifetime meeting changed the course of Saint Laurent’s life. He moved to Paris and eventually was introduced to Christian Dior. He spent many years at Dior’s side and worked with him up until his death in 1957. 

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Study of Yves Saint Laurent by Reginald Gray

Saint Laurent was able to gain enough money to start creating and selling his own designs beginning in 1962. He is known for the legendary smoking suit design from 1966. This was revolutionary to women’s clothing because no one ever could have imagined women wearing suits as evening wear prior to that time. Saint Laurent thought that the tuxedo for men was a timeless style so he boldly made the iconic tuxedo blazer style designed for women. Today, his brand sells men’s and women’s clothing along with a variety of accessories. This brand has a net worth that is just over 3.5 billion dollars. 

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Dresses from the Mondrian collection, 1965

We hope you enjoyed learning more about some of the most renowned brands and how the people behind their iconic fashion designs started out. Fashion is ever changing and allows us to express ourselves, but the styles thought up by these fashion designers will forever remain classic and sophisticated. 



Image of Coco Chanel standing attribution