Apr 17, 2017

Posted by in Dress for Success

Designer Dictionary: The Brains Behind Fashion Brands

Designer Dictionary



Abercrombie & Fitch: Founded by David T. Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch, the A&F brand originally supplied high-quality camping and hunting gear. Today it is recognized for its casual luxury.

Alexander McQueen: The London born, bad boy of fashion and was renowned for his unusual and captivating designs.  He worked as chief designer at Givenchy from 1996 to 2001 and for founded his own Alexander McQueen label.


Badgley Mischka: Business partners Mark Badgley and James Mischka teamed up in 1988 to create modern and sleek designs.

Betsey Johnson: Fashion’s wild child, Betsey creates shocking and delightful fashion with her rebellious streak.  She started her self-entitled fashion line in 1978.  In 2002, Betsey Johnson was inducted into the Fashion Walk of Fame.

Beyoncé: Legendary songstress, talented performer, super mom, committed wife, beauty queen and designer!  Beyonce is the co-founder of active-wear line Ivy Park.  She collaborated with London based TopShop to create the line in March of 2016.

Bill Blass: The American designer produced high-priced, high-quality clothes for more than 30 years.  He won the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

Billy Blues: A leading contemporary women’s wear company that creates stylish and comfortable clothing, founded by Billy Curtis and Renee Thomas.


Calvin Klein: The designer excelled at menswear, women’s wear, sportswear, and even launched bed linens, fragrances, cosmetics, and skin care.  The brand is currently owned by Phillips-Van Heusen.  The brand initially sold coats and dresses only when it launched in 1968, and branched it’s womenswear collection out to sportswear, blazers and lingerie.

Carolina Herrera: Born in Venezuela, Carolina is best known for her elegant, ready-to-wear clothes with couture appeal and dramatic full length A-line skirts.  She was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980 and in 2008 she was awarded the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Chloe: The brand was founded by Gaby Aghion because she rejected the stiff formality of 1950s fashion and opted for a softer silhouette.  She is said to have coined the popular term prêt-à-porter, which stands for market ready apparel, rather than couture or made to order.

Christian Dior: The French fashion designer who founded his self-entitled fashion house in 1946, which is now one of the world’s most popular and vast international merchandising operations.  Christian Dior’s shape of clothing is characterized by sloping shoulders, tiny waists, and full hips – coined “Dior’s New Look.”

Christian Lacroix: The designer is given credit for reviving French couture at a point when it had become stale, and using his irreverent wit and sense of humor to return an element of adventure to fashion.

Christian Louboutin: He fell in love with shoes at an early age, and his passion continues to show. Red soles are his characteristic signature.

Coco Chanel: She was a French designer with an innate knack for knowing what women wanted and created the original Little Black Dress.

Cristobal Balenciaga: The Spanish designer best known for creating French fashion house Balenciaga, was born in 1895 and died in 1972. His legacy continues to live through his innovative and modern brand.  He was referred to as “the master of us all” by Christian Dior.


Dante Beatrix: Designer Dante Pauwels would design and make her own fashion in high school. Eventually she created her own brand that now sells bags for every purpose: handbags, laptop bags, gym bags, diapers bags and pet carriages.

Dolce & Gabbana: Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have built a multidivisional corporation having designed costumes for the international tours of Beyoncé, Missy Elliot, and Mary J. Blige and collaborated on fragrance and beauty lines with Madonna, Scarlett Johansson and more.  In 2003 GQ named Dolce & Gabbana among their “Men of the Year.”  Colin Farrell was announced to be the new face of their fragrance Intenso in 2014.  In addition to designing apparel, accessories, cosmetics and fragrances Dolce & Gabbana have authored more than two dozen books.

Donna Karan: The widely popular American designer is the creator of Donna Karan New York and DKNY clothing labels.  She got her start working for Anne Klein in the late 1960s as an assistant designer and eventually became the head of the team until launching her own line in 1985.


Eileen Fisher: The Illinois born designer’s fashion ideal involves simple, loose, yet flattering outfits.  She moved to New York City in 1973 after attending the University of Illinois, and worked as an interior designer and graphic artist before establishing her own fashion business.

Emilio Pucci: Born in Florence, Italy, his design projects have included accessories, sportswear, underwear, fragrances, porcelain, sheets, bath linens, rugs, and airline uniforms.  He and his company are known for geometric prints and kaleidoscopic tones.


Fendi: Founded in 1925 in Rome by Adele Fendi, the Italian luxury fashion house specializes in furs, ready-to-wear, shoes, accessories, eyewear, luggage, sportswear and fragrances.

Franco Moschino: He was widely known and admired for his irreverent send-ups of conventional fashion thinking, even providing his audience with fresh tomatoes to throw at what they didn’t like.


Ginch Gonch: A small Vancouver-based company founded by Jason Sutherland that creates unique underwear and matching T-shirts and tanks for men and women.

Giorgio Armani: Italian designer whose emphasis is on exquisite Italian fabrics and fine tailoring.

Hubert de Givenchy: Givenchy took over the fashion scene after Balenciaga closed his house and he was known as a close friend of Audrey Hepburn. He retired in 1995.


Issey Miyake: One of the most innovative and influential designers of his time, he’s known for his innovative fabrics, brilliant use of texture, and mastery of proportion.


Jean Paul Gaultier: A French haute couture and prêt-à-porter designer who was the creative director of Hermès from 2003 to 2010 and known as a master of tailoring and dressmaking.  At age 14 he was presenting mini-collections to his mother and grandmother.  His labels include Jean Paul Gautier, Gautier PARIS, Jean Paul Gautier Argent and Junious Gaultier.

Jimmy Choo: The son of a shoemaker, Malaysian fashion designer Jimmy Choo originally made his first pair of shoes at only 11 years old. He remains in the fashion spotlight for his high-end, London based shoe production.

John Galliano: Galliano began his brand with twisted and artfully torn, weird but beautiful avant-garde pieces.

Johnny Cupcakes: Founded by John Earle at the young age of 26, he launched a multimillion dollar company that continues to grow through viral fashion branding.


Karl Lagerfeld: German born and incredibly successful designer who has been the head of many fashion houses including Chanel, Fendi, Chloe, H&M and Macy’s and has his own line of fragrances.

Kenneth Cole: A Long Island designer who can be considered the perfect example of creative entrepreneurship in the shoe business. His brand is well known for its provocative, socially conscious advertising and active participation in causes.


Liz Claiborne: The Belgian designer made her name in sportswear and was known for her natural, easy looks.  In 1986 Liz Claiborne became the first company founded by a woman to make the Fortune 500 list.  Claiborne was also the chair and CEO of her Fortune 500 company.


Manolo Blahnik: One of the world’s most influential and creative shoe designers born and raised in Canary Islands, Manolo Blahnik has received awards and recognition from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the British Fashion Council, Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and more.

Marc Jacobs: Though living in Paris, he continues to show in New York his menswear, women’s wear, and the lower priced Marc by Marc Jacobs. He launched Little Marc Jacobs, children’s wear in 2007.  Marc Jacobs has over 200 retail stores in 80 countries.  He was the creative director of Louis Vuitton from 1997 to 2003.  Marc was selected by for the “Time 100” by Time magazine in 2010.

Martin Margiela: Known for his original collections and classic tailoring, the designer has used his looks to create press-attracting ploys. Personally he is a reclusive and refuses to be photographed.

Michael Kors: Kors designs individual pieces then combines them into outfits. This is his aim at creating versatile, functional, and classic garments and accessories with a signature pop of color.  Michael was selected by for the “Time 100” by Time magazine in 2013.  In 2010 Kors was the youngest recipient ever for the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Missoni: The family owned, Italian fashion house known for its colorful high-end knitwear. The company was founded by Ottavio and Rosita Missoni in 1953.  In 2010 the company launched its first capsule collection with Target, which sent a multitude of Missoni fashion lovers to the Target’s e-commerce website causing it to crash.

Miuccia Prada: Milan born fashion designer and entreprenuer behind luxury good labels Prada and Miu Miu.  The youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada, she took over the family-owned luxury goods manufacturer in 1978.  Since then the company has aquired Jil Sander and Helmut Lang.  In 2014 she was listed as the 75th most powerful woman by Forbes.


Oscar de la Renta: A Dominican American fashion designer trained by Cristóbal Balenciaga and Antonio del Castillo who was well known for his sexy, extravagantly romantic evening wear and having dressed Jacqueline Kennedy. He passed away in late 2014 leaving behind a huge impact in the fashion world.


Perry Ellis: The designer was successful in menswear, womenswear, perfumes, scarves, towels, sheets, and textbooks.  Perry Ellis International was founded in 1978, and in 1984 joined forces with Levi Strauss.  At its peak in 1986, the company earned revenues at about $260 million.

Pierre Balmain: The designer credited himself for beginning the New Look and his designs accentuated the femininity of the figure with a small waist, high bust, rounded hips, and long full skirt.


Ralph Lauren: American designer born in the Bronx, New York best known for the Ralph Lauren Corporation, a multi-billion dollar enterprise.  In September 2012, Forbes estimated his wealth at $7 billion, which made him the 191st richest person in the world.

Rihanna: The Barbados born “bad girl” and musical genius was crowned Style Icon by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2014.  She’s converted her individual sense of style into accessible fashion collections that her fans adore, most notable, the sporty and colorful Fenty X Puma.

Roberto Capucci: The Italian designer first studied art before opening his own fashion house at the tender age of 21 and is considered a genius for his dramatic sculptural and architectural effects.

Roberto Cavalli: This Florence born Italian designer is known for exotic prints and earthy yet youthful appeal.  His labels include Roberto Cavalli, Just Cavalli, Roberto Cavalli Junior, Roberto Cavalli Perfums, and Roberto Cavalli Home.


Stella McCartney: The Vegan designer is daughter to the Beatle and designs women’s ready-to-wear, accessories, eyewear, fragrance, and organic skincare.


Tom Ford: The Texan designer announced his brand in 2005 after having worked for many other high-end fashion houses. Beyoncé and Jay Z are known for wearing and commending the designer through their wardrobe and music.

Tommy Hilfiger: The New York designer began by selling hippy chic clothing to college kids and eventually moved on to baggier pants and more casual styles.  In March 2010, Phillips Van-Heusen, owner of Calvin Klein, bought Tommy Hilfiger for $3 billion.

Tory Burch: The Pennsylvania-born fashion designer, business woman and philanthropist is one of the most successful examples of marketing a stylized version of oneself as a ready-to-wear lifestyle.  Forbes listed Tory Burch as the 79th most powerful woman in the world.


Vera Wang: A lifelong lover of fashion and figure skating, designer Vera Wang creates apparel that celebrates the romance, sensuality, and spirit of modern young women. Her haute couture bridesmaid and wedding dresses are among her most covetable designs.  Beginning in 1970 Wang was a senior fashion editor at Vogue but left after being turned down for the editor-in-chief position currently being held by Anna Wintour and joined Ralph Lauren as a design director for two years.  Michelle Obama, Victoria Beckham, Ivanka Trump, Chelsea Clinton, Sharon Stone, Jennifer Lopez, Uma Thurman and more have chosen Vera Wang to create their wedding gowns.


Zac Posen: Posen’s designs rely heavily on the bias cut and posses both disciplined construction and refined workmanship.  He received his first big break after designing a dress for Naomi Campbell, which many other A-listers ultimately wore.  Since then he has designed dresses for Glenn Close, Reese Witherspoon, Naomi Watts and more for red carpet events such as the Golden Globes.

Photo Credits: Vera Wang, Huffington Post

Definition Sources: Whose Who in FashionBrand/Story

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