As a fast-moving sector, the fashion industry is not always easy to keep up with. New fashion designers are discovered every season and trends change quickly, even before the majority has had the opportunity to adopt them.
The world of fashion might be dominated by some of the biggest and most famous fashion houses, such as Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, but there is a plethora of relatively unknown fashion designers who create high-end collections every season. Some of them own a single boutique in one of the world’s fashion capitals, while others might have chosen to sell their creations through websites and department stores.
Although their clientele is relatively small, they are often blessed with a returning customer base with deep pockets, who crave to be a little different. For these fashion designers, their success is measured upon quality instead of quantity and they often attract customers who keep away from bigger fashion houses. The truth is, even those who say not to care much about fashion will at some point in their life be struck by a beautiful piece of clothing, designed by one of these creative minds. The following fashion designers may not have presence in every high-end shopping street in the world, but their creations do the industry justice.
10. Ann Demeulemeester
Ann Demeulemeester is a Belgian fashion designer whose creations are mostly showcased at the Paris Fashion Week. She developed her creative skills at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, after which she launched her first collection in 1985. In 1991, she held her first runway show in Paris and her first appearance in Vogue followed in 1992. Her fashion brand, includes men’s and women’s clothing, shoes and accessories. In 1999, she opened a flagship store in Antwerp, followed by Hong Kong and Tokyo. Although Demeulemeester has been approached by major fashion houses, she wishes to remain in charge, doing things her own way. Her brand is reported to have annual revenues of $50 million.
9. Philipp Plein
Philipp Plein, a true autodidact, was studying law when he began designing furniture for family and friends. Soon his designs drew attention from experts within the interior design industry and in 1998, the company Philipp Plein was founded in Münich, Germany. In the following years, Philipp took his own interior design collection as an inspiration and transformed it into a fashion collection, which in 2004, he presented for the first time. Only two years later, he added a jewelry collection and another two years later, the Philipp Plein Couture Collection was born. Nowadays, his collections are known for its contemporary luxury and celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Naomi Campbell have worn his creations. His company generates an estimated $100 million in annual revenue.
8. Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs
Immediately after graduating with top honors from the Parsons School of Design, Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs started their fashion brand Cushnie et Ochs, with a widely praised first collection that launched in 2008. During her time at the Parsons School of Design, Cushnie, born in London, worked as an intern at Oscar de la Renta and realized her dream of working in fashion was within reach. Over the past five years, fashion house Cushnie et Ochs has won several awards, including the Fashion Group International Rising Star Award in 2010 and the young fashion duo has even had the honor to dress first lady Michelle Obama. Their women’s collection is known for its body-hugging silhouettes. Even though Cushnie et Ochs has experienced great success so far, they are eager to expand. They have an estimated yearly revenue of $100,000.
7. Francesco Scognamiglio
At the age of 23 Francesco Scognamiglio opened his first atelier in Italy, where he is born and raised. Since then, he has gained fame in the Italian fashion industry with his women’s collections. Scognamiglio’s fashion is designed for the ideal woman, who is a modern icon of strength and he is inspired by Italian actresses like Valeria Golino and French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. Although he is currently still based in Milan, Scognamiglio is eager to move to Paris as he realizes it is the place where a fashion designer can develop himself. His creations were previously worn by celebrities like Madonna and Lady Gaga.
6. Kris van Assche
Fashion Designer Kris van Assche was born and raised in Belgium and after graduating from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, he moved to Paris to pursue a career in fashion. He gained experience while working together with Hedi Slimane at Yves Saint Laurent and Dior Homme. Shortly after, Van Assche presented his first line in 2005. His men’s collections are known to have an eye for detail and are considered to be yesterday’s chic, while slipping in some luxury sportswear as well. With his creations, he seeks a new masculinity which is authentic and poetic. Van Assche not only has his own fashion brand; he is also the artistic director for Dior Homme since 2007.
5. Emanuel Ungaro
Emanuel Ungaro is a French designer with his roots in Italy. His interest for fashion started when his father gave him a sewing machine as a child. At the age of 22, he moved to Paris to design for the House of Cristobal Balenciaga, followed by a four-year career at Courrèges. Ungaro launched his first men’s collection in 1973 and a perfume line followed 10 years later. Although he has never reached the level of fame as some other fashion designers of his scale, his collections have had great success and a partnership with Salvatore Ferragamo in 1996 put Ungaro on the map. Emanuel Ungaro retired in 2005, but his label remains to be successful, with yearly revenues of a reported $200 million.
4. Noritaka Tatehana
At the young age of 15, Noritaka Tatehana started designing dresses and shoes for the fun of it. Knowing that he had potential, he decided to study Fine Arts and Sculpture at the Tokyo National University of Arts, majoring in dyeing and weaving. During his study, Tatehana continued designing kimonos, using a traditional Japanese dyeing method, but his dream was to design shoes. After graduating in Tokyo, Tatehana started his own shoe label, handcrafting every step of the manufacturing process himself. Noritaka Tatehana is admired by both the fashion industry and the art world and his creations were previously worn by celebrities like Lady Gaga and Daphne Guinness.
3. Anthony Vaccarello
This Paris based fashion designer was born in Brussels from Italian parents. After his graduation from La Cambre-Mode in Belgium in 2006, he won the Grand Prize of the International Hyeres Festival, a fashion and photography competition. It was not long before he was hired by the fashion house Fendi to design their fur collection in Italy. Currently back in Paris, Vaccarello mainly works on his own collections and has had outstanding responses from the fashionable elite. Vaccarello’s collections are pieces of art and have a modern sensibility. He enjoys playing with contrast, sheers and deconstructed cuts and his creations are ideal for women who like to reveal their sexiness. His previous career at Fendi has helped Vaccarello in many ways, as his collections are now showcased at the Paris Fashion Week. Vaccarello has an estimated yearly revenue of $350,000.
2. Roland Mouret
Unlike some other fashion designers, Roland Mouret started designing in his thirties. The French Mouret may have been a late bloomer, but his creations have won the hearts of many celebrities around the world. His label, featuring a women’s collection, was launched in 1998. One of Mouret’s signature creations is the now-famous Galaxy dress, which was inspired by Scarlett Johansson and Dita von Teese. The Galaxy dress was part of his spring collection of 2006 and was lined with Powerflex, a stretchy fabric used in the 1950s to make underwear, and gives all women an hourglass figure. Other accomplishments are his collaboration with Bergdorf Goodman for a one-off collection of 36 personally signed dresses and in 2007, Mouret launched another label, RM. His collection of 21 dresses was showcased during the Paris Fashion Week. Celebrities who love Mouret’s creations are Sienna Miller, Victoria Beckham and Nicole Kidman.
1. Collette Dinnigan
Collette Dinnigan is the first Australian based fashion designer to be showcased at the Paris Fashion Week. Born in South Africa, she moved to New Zealand to study fashion and textiles at the Wellington Polytechnic. In 1990, Dinnigan started her own label, inspired by French underwear. Nowadays, she is best known for her flirty feminine gowns, perfect for the red carpet. In addition, she also launched a bridal collection. Her first store was opened in Paddington in 1992 and it was not long before she began selling her creations to Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York. Her hard work paid off and the Louis Vuitton Business Award followed in 1997. Dinnigan’s creations were previously worn on the red carpet by celebrities like Halle Berry, Julia Roberts and Elle Macpherson. She has an estimated yearly revenue of $12 million.
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