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Top 10 Classic Fashion Designers

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script Written by Trent Lee. John Galliano once said 'the joy of dressing is an art.' These are the masters of the art. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Classic Fashion Designers. For this list, we’re looking at classic designers from around the world that revolutionized the fashion industry and turned their companies into international labels. Special thanks to our users Muppet_Face, mac121mr0, Mar Brody, AmaanS, JUSTICECOUTURE, Gale Hawthorne, Mrmrjobo101 and arimazzie for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script Written by Trent Lee.

Top 10 Classic Fashion Designers

John Galliano once said 'the joy of dressing is an art.' These are the masters of the art. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Classic Fashion Designers.
For this list, we’re looking at classic designers from around the world that revolutionized the fashion industry and turned their companies into international labels. So if you’re looking for more recent designers, stay tuned for another list.

#10: Hubert de Givenchy
1927 -

Born into French aristocracy, Hubert de Givenchy understood quality at an early age. Celebrated for his feminine and elegant designs, Givenchy built the brand into what it is today: classic. Givenchy introduced the “Bettina” blouse and the sack silhouette. However, it’s his evening gowns that have become red carpet favorites, worn by royals and stars alike from Jackie O, the Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly and, of course, Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn became Givenchy’s muse and wore Givenchy everywhere from Academy Awards to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Today, Givenchy’s truly synonymous with Parisian chic.

#9: Karl Lagerfeld
1933 -

Sometimes known as Le Kaiser, German designer Karl Lagerfeld is instantly recognizable for his own sense of style, including his signature white hair, black sunglasses and high-starched collars. Legendary not only as a fashion guru, the creative director of Chanel and his personal label, but also for his artistic collaborations and fashion photography. Having designed for practically every major brand, including Diesel, H&M and Chloé, Lagerfeld still finds time to outfit the stars, like Madonna and Kylie Minogue. Beloved and bemoaned, Lagerfeld is also notorious in the industry for taking risks with his art, his tendency towards sensationalism and other controversies.

#8: Yves Saint Laurent
1936 - 2008

The quote “Fashions fade, style is eternal” is often attributed to the Algeria-born Yves Saint Laurent, who reinvented fashion with his designs. In the ‘60s, he was most famously associated with creating Le Smoking, which was a tuxedo suit for women that eventually paved the way for “power suits” later donned by authoritative women. The House of Yves St. Laurent was also made legendary by his “ready to wear” fashion line, since he was the first French courtier to launch one. Praised for his creative genius, non-European influences and use of non-Caucasian models, Yves Saint Laurent is, indeed, eternal.

#7: Gianni Versace
1946 - 1997

Italian fashion sensation Gianni Versace was known for his creativity in fashion design, like incorporating aluminum mesh and using “neo-couture” laser technology to combine leather with rubber. His work accentuated sexiness and seduction, and he was particularly famous for his siren dresses. Gianni’s clientele ranged from those who loved taking advantage of a city’s nightlife to high-profile individuals like Princess Diana, Madonna and Elton John. Though his sister Donatella later became the head of design following his death, there would be no Versace without Gianni.

#6: Guccio Gucci
1881 - 1953

Florence-born fashion designer Guccio Gucci established the first Gucci shop in 1921 and ultimately became renowned for mastering leather accessories, most notably his legendary Gucci handbags. Upon his death in 1953, the House of Gucci came together when his sons stepped into their father’s shoes to expand the Gucci brand and open stores overseas. Today, with product lines expanding into make-up, fragrance, jewelry, watches and footwear, Gucci is truly the gold standard for quality and class.

#5: Giorgio Armani
1934 -

Suits make the man and this man made suits. As a young man, Armani was interested in the human body, and spent a few years studying medicine. He soon became interested in the human body in a different way, after getting a taste of the fashion world while serving in the military in Milan. The rest, as they say, is history, since Armani turned his focus to designing clothing, his eye for lines and attraction to elegance eventually transferring to his now-celebrated Armani suits. From stitching sutures to tailoring, form and function are all hallmarks of an Armani suit. Thanks to his red-carpet fashion, stars like Martin Scorsese, Cate Blanchett and Megan Fox have been found to wear Armani quite often. With a fortune of over $8 billion, Armani is definitely one of Italy’s most successful designers.

#4: Valentino Garavani
1932 -

The Italian designer and fashion icon Valentino has been dubbed The Last Emperor because of the prestige and deep reverence he’s earned in his home country. Groomed to be interested in fashion by his aunt and another local designer, Valentino began studying fashion academically from a young age. Today, his fragrances, extravagant evening garments and costume designs have been draped over celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jackie Kennedy. In addition to his many accolades, Valentino was also awarded La Legion d’honneur.

#3: Ralph Lauren
1939 -

It’s been said that American fashion designer Ralph Lauren once stated: “I don’t design clothes. I design dreams.” Indeed, Lauren must sleep well every night as he’s accumulated a fortune of over $8 billion, according to Forbes. His trademark polo emblem seems to epitomize the lifestyle of those who’ve gone to universities like Yale, Princeton and Harvard. The emblem itself was introduced in the 1970s with Lauren’s line of women’s suits, though it’s now stamped across all of Lauren’s products, including the iconic short sleeve polo shirts. Lauren is forever timeless and traditional.

#2: Christian Dior
1905 - 1957

The French designer helped put France back on the map as the fashion capital of the world. Beginning with his “New Look” collection in 1947, Dior revolutionized the way women dressed after WWII. In contrast to the limitations being put on fabric at the time, Dior indulged his ideas by using yards of material for his designs, and wasn’t afraid to show off women’s curves. In that sense, Dior reintroduced femininity and luxury into womenswear. With Hollywood ambassadors like Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe and Charlize Theron, Dior has also brought fashion’s golden age to new generations.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:
- Oscar de la Renta
1932 - 2014
- Vivienne Westwood
1941 -
- Cristóbal Balenciaga
1895 - 1972
- Thomas Burberry
1835 - 1926
- Jeanne Lanvin
1867 - 1946

#1: Coco Chanel
1883 - 1971

Coco Chanel once said: “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” Doing away with restrictions of early 20th century fashion, the French designer established the illustrious House of Chanel by designing clothes that liberated women with their sports-inspired casual nature. Chanel set the standard for the simple, modern, chic and sophisticated woman as personified by the Chanel suit and the little black dress, while her Chanel No. 5 has become one of the world’s most recognizable fragrances. As the only fashion designer named in Time’s 100 Most Important People of the 20th century, Coco Chanel is, indeed, irreplaceable.

Do you agree with our list? Which classic fashion designer is your favorite? For more fashionable Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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