The 20th century marked significant improvements in both men’s and women’s apparel. Before then, people weren’t so keen about clothing and fashion in general. Behind the fashion industry reforms witnessed in the 20th century were a number of fashion designers whose contribution is still felt today. In this article, our focus will be on some of the most famous iconic fashion designers of the last century. These fashion designers are still highly recognized to date because of their unmatched ability to highlight men and women’s bodies through stylish, elegant, creative and modernist clothing.
In this article, we will feature 10 fashion icons who have been behind some of the most interesting, unique and popular fashion designs in the past century. It is important to note that most of the designers featured in this list are above 50 years. You shouldn’t therefore expect to see some of the most famous fashion designers today like Marc Jacobs. Although such fashion designers have contributed immensely, this article will focus more on fashion designers who have contributed the most or for the longest time in the past century.
Ranking will be based mainly on net worth and design contribution. If you are interested in finding out some of the biggest names in fashion in the past century, you are in the right place. Below is a list of fashion’s 10 biggest names in the past century.
10 Tom Ford (Estimated net worth: $70 million)
Thomas Carlyle Ford popularly known as Tom Ford is undoubtedly an iconic fashion designer of the 20th century. Born on 27th August 1961, Tom Ford makes it to this list for his contributions alongside respected fashion icons like Yves Saint Laurent. Tom Ford gained international recognition for turning around Gucci. He reached his peak in 2000 when he won the Best International Designer Award. Although he is one of the youngest fashion designers on this list, his contribution to the fashion world in the 20th century is immense. This is precisely why he makes it to this list.
9 Yves Saint Laurent (Estimated net worth as of 2008: $154 million)
Although Yves Saint Laurent died on 1st June 2008, he is undoubtedly one of fashion’s biggest names of the past century. Born on 1st August 1936 in Oran, Algeria, Yves Saint managed to create some of the most popular clothing designs for women in the past century. Yves managed to redesign clothes once considered to be masculine into beautiful feminine clothes fitting women’s tastes and preferences. He can easily pass as one of France most talented fashion designers in the past century considering he was the one introduced power suits to women in 1966. He is also credited for introducing men’s smoking jackets.
8 Donatella Versace (Estimated net worth: $200 million)
Donatella Versace is a 58 year old Italian fashion designer. She is the current Vice President and Chief Designer of the Versace Group. She has made priceless contributions in the fashion industry for the past few decades. She makes it to this list for taking Versace to the next level after the death of Gianni (Versace founder) in 1997. Donatella Versace is credited for her unique universally accepted designs popularized by celebrities like Madonna and Jennifer Lopez. She is currently worth $200 million which makes her one of the richest women in fashion today.
7 Donna Karan (Estimated net worth: $400 million)
Donna Karan is another fashion icon deserving a spot in this list. Born on 2nd October 1948, Donna Karan is known for launching legendary designs i.e. seven easy pieces. Donna Karan is the founder of DKNY fashion label; one of the most popular fashion labels in the U.S. Donna Karan’s fashion label is responsible for introducing many new additions in fashion including a luxury perfume line featuring perfume worth $1 million. Nothing more needs to be said about Donna Karan and her fashion line. Her contribution has been greatly valued in fashion which is why she is worth $400 million.
6 Calvin Klein (Estimated net worth: $700 million)
71 year old Calvin Klein is undoubtedly one of the most famous American fashion designers today. He makes it to this list for launching one of the most successful fashion lines in history. No wonder Calvin Klein boasts of a net worth of $700 million. Calvin Klein’s biggest rival has been Ralph Lauren who has admitted being envious of Klein’s ability to make charming clothing designs effortlessly. Since Calvin Klein Inc. was launched in 1968, the company has become one of the most successful fashion lines in the world diversifying into jewellery, perfume and watch making. Anyone who knows anything about fashion is guilty of owning Calvin Klein merchandise at least once in their lifetime.
5 Pierre Cardin (Estimated net worth: $723 million)
Pierre Cardin is an Italian-born French fashion designer. Pierre Cardin was born on 2nd July 1922. He is most popular because of for his Space age designs and avant-garde style. His 20th century fashion pieces are best known for being timeless. One of Pierre Cardin’s most notable designs is the bubble dress that features science fiction fixings combined with earthly elegance and futuristic colours. Although many Pierre Cardin critics have dismissed his designs as wacky, it is obvious that they portray very important concepts i.e. emancipation of women. No wonder his designs are cherished by many fashion enthusiasts to date. Pierre Cardin continues to inspire many considering his personal net worth has soared to $723 million according to the latest estimates.
4 Christian Dior (Estimated market capitalization: $32 billion)
Christian Dior (21st January 1905 – 23rd October 1957) was a French Fashion designer best known for founding one of the best fashion houses in the world today; House of Dior. Christian Dior is populat to date for bringing to life a distinctive new look silhouette. Christian Dior’s suits and dresses revolutionized women’s dressing after the 2nd world war. Today, designer John Galliano carries on Christian Dior’s legacy. This is one of the main reasons why House of Dior continues to dominate in the fashion world. House of Dior has an estimated market capitalization of $32 billion according to the latest Forbes estimates. The fashion house and its founder truly deserve the top spot in this list.
3 Giorgio Armani (Estimated net worth: $7 billion)
Giorgio Armani is the second richest fashion icon in this list. Born on 11th July 1934, this Italian fashion designer has made a name for himself making some of the best men’s clothes in the world. Giorgio Armani’s designs are characterised by very clean tailored lines. His is undoubtedly Italy’s most successful fashion designer given the fact that he is worth $7 billion according to the latest Forbes estimates. His company (Armani) boasts of an annual turnover surpassing the $1 billion mark ($1.6 billion in 2012). Giorgio Armani is known for breaking numerous fashion rules the most notable being i.e. banning models with a BMI under 18. He is truly a great fashion designer which is precisely why he makes it to this list.
2 Ralph Lauren (Estimated net worth: $7.5 Billion)
Born on 14th October 1939, Ralph Lauren is another great fashion icon of the 20th century. Back in 1970, Ralph Lauren embarked on a journey to transform the fashion industry. Four decades later, he is worth $7.5 billion making him one of the richest fashion designers in the world currently. His success can be attributed to one of his most famous designs; the polo short-sleeved shirt which to date remains a classic. Ralph Lauren also boasts of designing one of the best lines of suits for women featuring a classic men’s style. Nothing more needs to be said about Ralph Lauren. He is undoubtedly one of fashions biggest names today.
1 Coco Chanel - Estimated brand value 7 billion
Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel (Born; 19th August 1883, Died; 10th January 1971) is best known for founding Chanel whose modernist practical expensive designs have made Chanel become one of the most luxurious fashion brands in the world today. Coco Chanel’s contribution to the fashion world is priceless. She is best known for her expensive simplistic designs which made her one of the most important and influential fashion figures in the 20th century. She was in fact the first fashion designer to be named most important person on Times 100. Nothing more needs to be said about Coco Chanel and her brand. She deserves a top spot in this list.
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