The Most Influential Designers of the Century

Last Updated: 27 Jul 2020
Pages: 8 Views: 143

Paul Poiret (1879 - 1944) is best known for liberating women from corsets. Lacking certain technical dressmaking skills Poiret made draping the focal point of his designs. He was interested in simple shapes that freed the body and being inspired by Fauvism, Japanese culture and the Ballet Russes mostly used exotic colours. He was the king of Oriental Era in 1910's and a natural businessman. He expanded limits of what fashion meant at the time and brought some serious innovations to the industry. Kimono coat, "hobble" skirt, "lampshade" tunics, "harem" pantaloons are all signature outfits of Paul Poiret.

Along with other designers like Mariano Fortuny, Paul Poiret helped to establish what we now call a Classical style and of course, he is one of those designers who define Exoticism. While researching this revolutionary designer I came up with idea of three types of women he designed for: 1) Goddess-like woman in rich colored, empire waisted, beautifully draped dress; 2) Exotic, seductive, slave-like woman in turban and harem pantaloons/hobble skirt. 3) Rich, extravagant Eastern/Japanese woman in fur, velvet, etc. lush fabrics.

Gabrielle Coco Chanel (1883 - 1971) is rightfully called a queen of 20's. She was (and still is) one of the most influential designers of all time. The style that Chanel promoted is considered classic today, not to mention timeless wardrobe essentials as little black dress or Chanel suit. Channel started off by shortening hemlines so that women who now had to work in factories (post WWI) would feel more comfortable. Using unconventional fabrics (at the time) like jersey and tweed she adapted menswear to women needs and actually transformed what a modern woman means.

Order custom essay The Most Influential Designers of the Century with free plagiarism report

feat icon 450+ experts on 30 subjects feat icon Starting from 3 hours delivery
Get Essay Help

Her woman was independent and strong. She lowered the waistline to upper hips level thus creating an androgynous/boyish silhouette - La Garconne. Combining elegance and practicality she used simple materials to create accessories: for the first time in history daring to mix pearls with glass beads and inventing "poor chic". On the contrary to Poiret, Coco Chanel was an experienced seamstress and paid great attention to details. Later in her career, she stopped using sewing machines and started making every garment by hand.

She was also known for her signature embroidery which was carried out by Russian house Kitmir exclusively for her. For me, Chanel stands for timeless elegance. She is inspirational image of independence and innovation. Nowadays, Karl Lagerfeld is a head of design in house of Chanel. Here are my three favorite looks this season (from pret-a-porter A/W 2012): Madeleine Vionnet (1876 - 1975) was the first designer to adapt her "haute couture" designs to high street and by doing so she transformed commercial fashion industry. Vionnet combined modern business practices with innovation in dressmaking.

She is also praised for taking garment construction to the highest level - adopting and perfecting the bias-cut (many people say she invented the bias cut but in her biography Vionnet clearly states that is not true), making dresses with one seam and showing off outstanding cutting skills in each garment. Vionnet promoted style which I would describe as Grecian aesthetics minimized and polished to form clean, sleek, ageless idea of beauty. In 1925 British Vogue, articulating Vionnet's appeal, declared her 'perhaps the greatest geometrician among all French couturiers'.

Her ideas survived and are continued with great success in the house of Vionnet. http://vionnet. com Here are some of my favorite looks this season: Elsa Schiaparelli (1890–1973), Italian designer and the greatest rival of Chanel was a very influential figure in 30's fashion. Fascinated by Surrealism, she formed one of the most iconic partnerships between Art and Fashion while working with world-renowned artist Salvador Dali. (I must mention though, that she collaborated with many other artists of the time).

Unfortunately, she didn't adapt to changes after WWII and her business had to close in 1954. Today, her garments are kept in museums and she is praised as a genius, messiah of ultramodern couture. Few of her creations are particularly famous: Tear (1), Lobster (2) and Skeleton (3) dresses and Shoe hat (4). Claire McCardell (1905-1958) is regarded as the inventor of the "American Look". With the rationing of silk and wool during WWII, she employed corduroy, seersucker, denim and cotton fabrics to create sensational designs. She said, that "All of us, any of us, deserves the right to a good fashion".

Her Monastic and Popover dresses were massive hits, not to mention cloth ballet slippers which survived until today. She was the originator of mix-and-match separates, spaghetti straps, pedal-pushers, bareback summer dresses, strapless swimsuits, and feminine denim fashion. Immediately after WWII, Christian Dior (195 - 1957) jumped into a fashion arena. He launched his "New Look" in 1947 and it was an immediate success. After years of rationing Dior cut himself loose and designed dresses with full skirts (making of these required up to 50 yards of fabric), "waspie" waists and slender shoulder line.

He brought back femininity and hope for a better life. Although many people in Europe were shocked with such drastic changes, Americans gladly accepted the new breeze and much of Dior's income in the first years came from export to USA. Unfortunately, genius died 10 years later leaving young master Yves Saint Laurent as an artistic director of his house. Today Dior house is one of the strongest leaders in fashion industry and one of my personal favorites as well. Here are my three favorite looks from A/W 2012 haute couture collection:

Yves Saint Laurent (1936 - 2008) was hailed as the man who (at the age of 22) saved the house of Dior, a King of French fashion and a first couturier to present ready-to-wear collections. I think that the most important time began when he opened his own house in 1962. He was a genius and cared about empowering women, also (much like Schiaparelli) he aimed to shock. Therefore a trouser suit - Le Smoking - was born. It was a trend setting evening trouser suit and it became Yves Saint Laurent's trademark, also a must-have in modern women's wardrobe.

We have to be grateful to him for blazers, see-through blouses and a business wardrobe for women. He was one of the main figures in 60's and 70's taking the best out of pop culture and translating it to fashion (Andy Warhol inspired dresses). He was also a great lover of art so he designed a collection of dresses inspired by his favorite painter Piet Mondrian. "Mondrian Look" (especially one particular dress) is as famous as New Look or Elsa Schiaparelli's Tear dress. Yves Saint Laurent house continues to make androgynous women designs under leadership of newly appointed creative director Hedi Slimane.

Here are my favorite looks from Spring/Summer 2013 ready-to-wear collection: Hubert de Givenchy (1927 - today) is best known for his elegant, refined style, and for his popularity with celebrities like Audrey Hepburn (Audrey Hepburn became a symbol of house of Givenchy, she popularized him in movies like "Sabrina", "Breakfast at Tiffany's", "My fair lady", etc. ) , Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly and many others. Givenchy introduced a new concept of mix and match separates (unthinkable in 1950's). His signature garments were: little black dress and "Bettina" blouse.

Creating elegance for 40 years straight, Givenchy house continues to astonish the world today with a new leader Riccardo Tisci. Here are my favorite looks from A/W 2012: Givenchy's idol was Cristobal Balenciaga (1895 - 1972) a great Spanish couturier and colorist. He was strictly modern, very technical and a master of illusion. He invented the threequarter-length sleeve and the standaway collar. He taught fashion design classes, inspiring other designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Andre Courreges, Emanuel Ungaro, Mila Schon and Hubert de Givenchy.

He was so innovative, that he designed waistless dresses and tunics in 50's proving to be fashion forward by almost a decade. However, in 1968 he decided to close his business. Balenciaga house was bought by Gucci group and today is run by Nicolas Ghesquiere, one of the most talented designers of today(as praised by Vogue). Here are my favorite looks of the season: Mary Quant (1934 - today) is a British designer and fashion icon which has become synonymous with the "swinging sixties" in London. She is credited with the invention of a mini skirt, skinny rib sweater and false lashes.

She reinvented the use of PVC material and created the popular "Wet Look". She popularized hot pants and eventually received OBE and Hall of Fame awards from British Council for her outstanding contribution to fashion industry. Through 70's and 80's she concentrated on cosmetics industry and interior design and her clothing lines became of secondary importance. Today she has about 200 Mary Quant Colour shops in Japan where her cosmetic products remain popular. Vivienne Westwood (1941 - today) is the mother of 70's punk era.

Together with Malcolm McLaren she established a brand that specialized in clothing with bondage pants, kilts, chains, leather jackets and T-shirts with provocative imagery. Popularized by McLaren's managed band "Sex Pistols" the look became a new wave of fashion . It was quickly accepted amongst teenagers and young adults and I think it captured the overall atmosphere of self-expression in 70's. Vivienne did not stop here though, she went on to receive prestigious OBE and DBE awards and opened quite a few labels under her name: Golden Label, Anglomania, Red Label and Man.

Her house successfully work today and here are my favourite looks from A/W 2012 collection: Rei Kawabuko (1942 - today) is a Japanese avant-garde designer which managed to enter the international fashion scene with an uproar. In 1983 (together with another designer Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto) she presented a new concept in fashion - deconstructed silhouette, colourless, distressed fabrics and garments full of clothes. The look was immediately dubbed "the Hiroshima chic", "boro look", "beggar look" and similar.

Her distinctive point of view shocked and amused the West and that earned her a place in Parisian Chambre Syndicale du Pret-a-Porter. Today she is a head of her own company Comme des Garcons, and one of the most popular brands in the world. Here are my favourite looks from this season: Yohji Yamamoto (1943 - today) became popular at the same time as Rei Kawabuko. Presenting the unprecedented style concept to Western fashion world with his 1983 cutwork collection he was instantly acknowledged and recognized.

His asymmetrical designs always take a viewer by surprise, his commercially successful designs are sold worldwide and together with Rei Kawabuko Yohji Yamamoto is held responsible for putting Tokyo on the map fashion wise. Wonderful thing is, that despite similarities in Kawabuko's and Yamamoto's designs (and their life together in 80s - 90s) they both have different aesthetics and distinctive directions. Kawabuko occurs to me to be more conceptual and Yamamoto is way more elegant designer. Here are my favourite looks:

John Galliano (1960 - today) is one of the most controversial designers today but nevertheless, genius. In short, he graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design Galliano was awarded the “British Designer of the Year” in the year 1987, 1994 and 1995. Due to frequent financial troubles he accepted the job offer at Givenchy and in two years time he was transferred to Dior as a creative director of the house. He also has his own house under his name. Achieving that amount of success in a short period of time, he is proven to be genius and of course he has plenty of respectable awards to prove it.

His creations are magical, his style is very dramatic and his presentations are always theatrical . Despite his recent "crimes" (in 2011 he was dismissed from Dior when found guilty of racial insults in public) Galliano name still stands for unspeakable elegance and innovation, his garments are highly collectible. It is unclear to me what happened to genius after he was dismissed from Dior. House of Galliano is working without his original captain under leadership of Bill Gaytten. However his idea of beauty prevails and I think he is the next Chanel. Here are my favourite looks from this season:

Alexander McQueen (1969 - 2010) was a magnificent designer who left a huge imprint through his short lifetime. He won a great number of awards for his distinctive dramatic point of view, including Commander of the Order of the British Empire, International Designer of the Year 2003 by Council of fashion designers of America and others of similar caliber. Ever since he entered fashion industry he was considered a genius. Fashion editors were left in awe after each new collection, not to mention the infamous VOSS. He is well known for his collaborations with celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Bjork, Kanye West and Katy Perry.

I would say his style is eccentric, avant-garde but extremely elegant at the same time. Alexander McQueen was original in every way and extremely technical as well. After unfortunate and untimely death of genius in 2010 Sarah Burton took the helm of Alexander McQueen's house and added her own feminine touch to the name. She has also designed a wedding dress for the Royal Wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince Williams. Alexander McQueen's house successfully runs today and here are few wonderful creations from this year Autumn/Winter collection:

Cite this Page

The Most Influential Designers of the Century. (2017, Mar 24). Retrieved from

Don't let plagiarism ruin your grade

Run a free check or have your essay done for you

plagiarism ruin image

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Save time and let our verified experts help you.

Hire writer