1. Jeanne Lanvin
French fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin founded the Lanvin fashion house and the perfume company Lanvin Parfums. In 1909, Lanvin joined the Syndicat de la Couture, which marked her formal status as a couturiere. The clothing Lanvin made for her daughter began to attract the attention of a number of wealthy people who requested copies for their own children. Soon Lanvin was making dresses for the children’s mothers, and some of the most famous names in Europe were among the clientele of her new boutique on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris.
2. Isabel Marant
The Isabel Marant house of fashion was founded in 1994 by French designer Isabel Marant. The brand was launched initially in 1990 under the name Twen, before being renamed Isabel Marant in 1994. Originally consisting only of a line of jerseys and knitwear, the brand is currently most popular for its shoes, which have been worn by many celebrities, including Kate Bosworth, Katie Holmes, Anne Hathaway, and Hilary Duff. The first show was shown in Spring/Summer 1995. In 2000, Marant expanded her brand by adding Etoile, which is designed to be more affordable and casual.
3. Miuccia Prada
Miuccia Prada, the youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada, took over the family-owned luxury goods company, Prada, in 1978. In 1985, Prada had her first hit when she designed a line of black, finely woven nylon handbags that instantly became a hit. In 1992, Miu Miu was launched as a less expensive women’s wear line that was inspired by her personal wardrobe and nickname.
4. Carolina Herrera
Carolina Herrera is a Venezuelan American fashion designer known for her “exceptional personal style,” and for dressing former and present first ladies from the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Michelle Obama. Frequently associating with Mick and Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol at Studio 54, she became well known for her dramatic style. She first appeared on the International Best Dressed List in 1972, then was elected to its Hall of Fame in 1980.
5. Sonia Rykiel
At the age of 17, Sonia Rykiel was employed to dress the window displays in a Parisian textile store. In 1962, unable to find soft sweaters to wear during her pregnancy, she used one of her husband’s suppliers from Venice, Italy, to design her own sweaters. So Rykiel created her first maternity dresses and a tiny sweater, called the Poor Boy Sweater, which she started selling as part of her husband’s label Laura. The Poor Boy Sweater made the cover of Elle magazine and brought Rykiel fame: because of it, the French fashion designer was crowned “Queen of Knits” by the Americans in 1967.
6. Vivienne Westwood
Dame Vivienne Westwood is an English fashion designer and businesswoman, who is largely responsible for bringing punk and new wave fashion to the mainstream. Westwood came to public notice when she made clothes for Malcolm McLaren’s boutique on London’s King’s Road, which became famous when it was called SEX. Together, they were able to synthesize the clothing and music that shaped the 1970s UK punk scene, dominated by McLaren’s band, the Sex Pistols. She was deeply inspired by the shock value of punk, “seeing if one could put a spoke in the system.”
7. Gaby Aghion
French fashion designer Gaby Aghion founded the French fashion house Chloé. She is said to have coined the term “pret-à-porter.”
According to the Chloé website, Aghion rejected the stiff formality of 1950s fashion and created soft, feminine, body-conscious clothes from fine fabrics, calling them “luxury pret-à-porter.” Unique for their time, these beautifully made clothes were available off the rack. She set up her workshop in a maid’s room above her large flat. In 1953, Aghion joined forces with Jacques Lenoir — he ran the business side, and she ran the creative side. The duo put on the first Chloé show in 1956 at a breakfast at the Café de Flore, the epicenter of young intellectual Parisians of the 1940s and 1950s.
8. Vera Wang
American fashion designer Vera Wang is based in New York City and a former figure skater. She is known for her wide range of haute couture bridesmaid gowns and wedding gown collections, as well as for her clientele of elite female figure skaters, designing dresses for competitions and exhibitions.
Beginning in 1970, Wang was a senior fashion editor for Vogue but left the magazine after being turned down for the editor in chief position currently filled by Anna Wintour and joined Ralph Lauren as a design director for two years. Wang has made wedding gowns for many well-known public figures, and her evening wear has also been worn by Michelle Obama.
($1,295), Vera Wang Women’s Febe Sandal ($150), Vera Wang Princess Eau de Toilette Spray ($75), Vera Wang Simply Vera 14k Rose Gold Diamond Wedding Band ($445)
9. Tory Burch
American fashion designer, businesswoman, and philanthropist Tory Burch has won several fashion awards for her designs.
After graduating from college, Burch moved to New York City, where she worked for Zoran, a Yugoslavian designer, and at Harper’s Bazaar magazine. She then moved into public relations and advertising positions at Vera Wang, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Loewe when Narciso Rodriguez was there. Her style has been described as preppy-boho and preppy-bohemian luxe and is known for including her T-logo medallion.
10. Diane von Furstenberg
Diane von Furstenberg is a Belgian-born American fashion designer best known for her iconic wrap dress. She relaunched her fashion company, Diane von Furstenberg (DVF), in 1997, with the reintroduction of her famous wrap dress. The company is now a global luxury lifestyle brand offering four complete collections a year. DVF is available in more than 70 countries and 45 freestanding shops worldwide. The company’s headquarters and flagship boutique are located in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.
In 2005, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) awarded her the lifetime achievement award and the following year named her as its president, a position she has held since 2006.
($265), DVF Kinder Cork Foil Sandal ($298), DVF New Yahzi Silk Jersey Maxi Wrap Dress ($575), DVF Neapoli Metallic Crochet Dress ($745), DVF New Jeanne Two Silk Jersey Wrap Dress ($365), DVF Norah Embellished Chiffon Dress ($345)
11. Stella McCartney
English fashion designer Stella McCartney graduated from Central Saint Martins in 1995. A signature style of sharp tailoring, natural confidence, and sexy femininity was apparent in her first collection. In 1997, she was appointed the creative director of Chloé in Paris.
In 2001, McCartney launched her own fashion house under her name in a joint venture with Gucci Group (now Kering) and showed her first collection in Paris. McCartney now operates 17 freestanding stores in locations including Manhattan’s SoHo, London’s Mayfair, LA’s West Hollywood, Paris’s Palais Royal, Barcelona’s Passeig deGracia, and Milan, Italy, and shops have recently opened in Rome and Miami. Her collections are now distributed in more than 50 countries through 600 wholesale accounts including specialty shops and department stores.
($5,200), Stella McCartney Beckett Shoulder Bag ($1,178), Stella McCartney Snake-Effect Faux Leather Sandals ($515)