The Most Popular Fashion Designers in History

February 2, 2019 by John Harrington

The most popular fashion designers of all time are names familiar even to those who are not fashionistas. Coco Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Donna Karan, Christian Dior are just some of the design icons whose fame has transcended the fashion world.

They have become popular because they’ve succeeded in identifying trends, taken risks, defied convention, turned their name into an enduring brand, hobnobbed with the rich and famous, and demonstrated media and social media savvy.

With New York Fashion Week scheduled to start on Feb. 8, 24/7 Wall St. is taking this opportunity to compile a list of the most popular fashion designers in history.

Click here to see the most popular fashion designers in history.
Click here to read our methodology and detailed findings.

Source: Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

Adele Fendi (1897-1978)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 20th century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 387,865

Along with husband Edoardo, Adele Fendi was known for creating a luxury brand of chic, well-tailored garments. After her death, her five daughters took over the business, growing the company into a major player in the fur fashion industry.

Source: maiabee / Flickr

Alexander McQueen (1969-2010)
> Birthplace: United Kingdom
> Era of influence: 1990s-early 21st century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 1,854,052

Alexander McQueen was famous for shaking up the fashion world with his shocking catwalk shows. He was also known for his precise tailoring and pencil skirts and was credited with reviving the low-rise jeans trend and talking the skull motif mainstream.

Source: Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

Anna Sui (1964-)
> Birthplace: United States
> Era of influence: 1990s-Current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 144,498

Anna Sui is known for her enduring designs. She has a talent for crafting collections with compelling cultural and historical references. In addition to clothes, her brand also includes cosmetics, accessories, and beauty products.

Source: Larry Busacca / Getty Images

Betsey Johnson (1942-)
> Birthplace: United States
> Era of influence: 1960s-Current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 288,902

Betsey Johnson was known for her quirky, out-of-the box aesthetic, and her feminine and whimsical designs. She is also considered to be a pioneer of New York City street fashion. Johnson likes exuberant and over-the-top designs in clothes, as well as shows, handbags, and jewelry.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Bill Blass (1922-2002)
> Birthplace: United States
> Era of influence: Late 20th century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 72,141

Bill Blass is famous for couture and ready-to-wear designs. He is considered one of the pioneers of the relaxed and laid-back fashion, including sportswear, that was so popular in the late 20th century.

Source: Matthew Eisman / Getty Images

Calvin Klein (1942-)
> Birthplace: United States
> Era of influence: 1970s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 1,002,680

After initially focusing on women’s coats and coordinates, Calvin Klein became known for popularizing denim, as well as raising eyebrows with provocative ads featuring models and celebrities, including a teenage Brooke Shields.

Source: Jason Kempin / Getty Images

Carolina Herrera (1939-)
> Birthplace: Venezuela
> Era of influence: 1980s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 108,799

Carolina Herrera is known for elegance, class, sophistication, and for dressing several first ladies, including Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama. Herrera likes classic outfits such as pencil skirts with white cotton shirts.

Source: Fred Ramage / Getty Images

Christian Dior (1905-1957)
> Birthplace: France
> Era of influence: Post-World War II
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 793,695

Christian Dior is known for upending post-war fashion with tight-waisted dresses and his bell-shaped and swirling full skirts. He opened a luxury ready-to-wear store, the first of its kind, in Manhattan in 1948.

Source: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

Christian Louboutin (1963-)
> Birthplace: France
> Era of influence: 1990s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 821,467

Christian Louboutin, a shoe and handbag designer, is famous for his high-end stilettos. Red soles of shoes are his trademark. Beyonce wore a custom pair of boots when she headlined Coachella.

Source: Florian Vincent / Wikimedia Commons

Christian Lacroix (1951-)
> Birthplace: France
> Era of influence: 1980s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 129,341

Christian Lacroix is known for mingling bright tones and extravagant materials. He is also famous for designing clothes based on a matador’s costume. Lacroix is credited with inventing the puffball skirt.

Source: Evening Standard / Getty Images

Coco Chanel (1883-1971)
> Birthplace: France
> Era of influence: 20th century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 2,525,753

One of the best known names in the history of fashion, Coco Chanel is famous for her trademark suits, costume jewelry, and little black dresses. She also brought a male aesthetic to fashion with tweed blazers.

Source: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

Diane Von Furstenberg (1946-)
> Birthplace: Belgium
> Era of influence: 1970s
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 6,041

Diane Von Furstenberg, who is actually a former princess and a fixture at Studio 54 in the 1970s, is known for her iconic wrap dress, which was introduced in 1974. It became a symbol of the women’s liberation movement.

Source: Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

Domenico Dolce (1958-)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 1980s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 275,445

Domenico Dolce, from Dolce & Gabbana, is famous for being part of the team considered the inventors of a Mediterranean style inspired by sensual, austere Italian women. Madonna and Angelina Jolie are among the celebrity clients.

Source: Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

Donatella Versace (1955-)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 1990s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 4,607,164

Sister of the famous Italian designer Gianni Versace, Donatella has become known for a few trends of her own. The famous J.Lo plunging dress is from the Versace house, as well as the jumpsuit Lady Gaga wore for her Super Bowl LI halftime show.

Source: Giuseppe Cacace / Getty Images

Gianni Versace (1946-1997)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 1980s-90s
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 10,848,520

Before his assassination in 1997 in Miami, Florida, Gianni Versace had become known for bondage gear, bold colors, polyvinyl chloride baby-doll dresses, and silver-mesh togas, as well as using leather and fuse rubber as materials.

Source: Larry Busacca / Getty Images

Donna Karan (1948-)
> Birthplace: United States
> Era of influence: 1980s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 319,846

The creator of Donna Karan New York clothing labels, Donna Karan is famous for collections intended to give businesswomen alternatives to traditional suits. Her clothes are considered sleek and practical.

Source: Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

Edoardo Fendi (?-1954)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 20th century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 387,865

Edoardo Fendi is mostly known her being the husband of Adele Casagrande, who later became Adele Fendi. The two worked on the luxury ready-to-wear fur brand Fendi, which is currently one of most prestigious brands in fashion.

Source: Central Press / Getty Images

Emanuel Ungaro (1933-)
> Birthplace: France
> Era of influence: 1960s-90s
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 36,624

Emanuel Ungaro is famous for making clothes comfortable and flattering the female form. He is also known for his robust use of colors, prints, and patterns. His following included Jacqueline Kennedy and actress Catherine Deneuve.

Source: Franco Origlia / Getty Images

Gianfranco Ferre (1944-2007)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 1970s-early 21st century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 2,760

Gianfranco Ferre is known for adding an architectural aesthetic to fashion. He is also known for carefully constructed couture as well as ready-to-wear styles. Women’s business suits with bold seams and white blouses are like a trademark for his style.

Source: Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

Giorgio Armani (1934-)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 1970s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 782,603

Giorgio Armani is known for classic men’s suits and clean tailored lines. His clothes have been worn in movies like “American Gigolo,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and “Ocean’s Thirteen.”

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Halston (1932-1990)
> Birthplace: United States
> Era of influence: 1970s-90s
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 220,663

Roy Halston Frowick, whom most people know simply as Halston, is known for sexy, sleek dresses worn by the disco crowd in the mid-1970s. He loved to use jewels and flowers as accessories in hoods and bonnets.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Thierry Hermès (1801-1878)
> Birthplace: France
> Era of influence: 19th century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 59,824

Thierry Hermes was a famous luxury goods maker specializing in leather, lifestyle accessories, home furnishings, perfume, and jewellery. One of the company’s most famous creations is the iconic Kelly bag, named after Princess Grace who used it to hide her baby bump.

Source: Franco Origlia / Getty Images

Hubert de Givenchy (1927-2018)
> Birthplace: France
> Era of influence: 1960s-80s
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 487,684

Hubert de Givenchy is famous for his understated style. He liked simplicity and elegance. The designer dressed Audrey Hepburn, including in the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Princess Grace of Monaco, and Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor.

Source: Scott Barbour / Getty Images

Jimmy Choo (1948-)
> Birthplace: Malaysia
> Era of influence: 1980s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 558,186

Jimmy Choo is known for handmade women’s shoes worn by celebrities, including Princess Diana, Julia Roberts, and Renee Zellweger. He used as an inspiration a craftsmanship he learned from his father, who was a cobbler.

Source: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Karl Lagerfeld (1933-2018)
> Birthplace: Germany
> Era of influence: 1980s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 1,432,581

Karl Lagerfeld, who worked with Fendi, was known for reviving the Chanel label by adding chains and leather to Chanel’s classic suit. He was also credited with expanding Chanel’s perfume business.

Source: Matthew Simmons / Getty Images

Kate Spade (1962-2018)
> Birthplace: United States
> Era of influence: 1990s-21st century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 6,507,986

Kate Spade was a fashion journalist turned handbag empire creator. She is known her modern handbags that have a glossy but classy look, and are often very colorful and in practical shapes.

Source: incendios / Flickr

Levi Strauss (1829-1902)
> Birthplace: German Confederation
> Era of influence: 19th century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 544,567

Levi Strauss is famous for creating blue jeans to outfit gold prospectors in California. You may know them as Levi’s. He called them waist overalls.

Source: andersphoto / Shutterstock.com

Louis Vuitton (1821-1892)
> Birthplace: France
> Era of influence: 19th century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 1,758,361

Louis Vuitton created a leather goods empire synonymous with luxury. As a young man he focused on luggage and making the perfect suitcase. He designed a lightweight rectangular suitcase for long journeys that was copied within a few years.

Source: looksarah / Flickr

Manolo Blahnik (1942-)
> Birthplace: Spain
> Era of influence: 1970s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 297,460

Manolo Blahnik is known for high-end women’s footwear worn by Bianca Jagger and by actresses on television shows like “Sex and the City” and ” Absolutely Fabulous.” He likes sleek stiletto heels that accentuate femininity.

Source: Ronald Dumont / Getty Images

Mary Quant (1934-)
> Birthplace: United Kingdom
> Era of influence: 1960s-70s
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 230,510

Mary Quant was famous for inventing the miniskirt and hot pants. She was also instrumental in the mod fashion movement. She is credited with creating the so-called Chelsea look — boyish, edgy and affordable.

Source: 26087974@N05 / Flickr

Miuccia Prada (1949-)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 1980s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 210,370

Miuccia Prada, the boss of fashion empire Prada, is known for restoring the family business to glory. She likes experimenting with fashion style and disregarding any current trends. She surprised the fashion world with black nylon handbags and backpacks in 1985.

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Nino Cerruti (1930-)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 1960s-90s
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 31,721

Nino Cerruti is known for founding the haute couture house. He designed costumes for 150 films, including “Philadelphia” and “Pretty Woman.”

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

Oleg Cassini (1913-2006)
> Birthplace: France
> Era of influence: 1950s-80s
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 208,562

Born to an aristocratic Russian family with maternal Italian ancestry, Cassini was a favorite of Jacqueline Kennedy who wore his pillbox hats. Cassini designed costumes for movie studios and stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, and Grace Kelly, to whom he was engaged before she married the Prince of Monaco.

Source: Brad Barket / Getty Images

Oscar de la Renta (1932-2014)
> Birthplace: Dominican Republic
> Era of influence: 1960s-21st century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 341,576

Oscar de la Renta is known for women’s evening wear and suits. His clothes are considered elegant and classically feminine. He designed clothes for first ladies Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush.

Source: Pier Marco Tacca / Getty Images

Ottavio Missoni (1921-2013)
> Birthplace: Yugoslavia (present day Dubrovnik, Croatia)
> Era of influence: 1950s-90s
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 16,629

Ottavio Missoni, who was an Olympic hurdler, is known for his unique knitwear and zigzag dresses, made from a variety of fabrics in colorful patterns. Jacqueline Kennedy and Kate Middleton have worn Missoni designs.

Source: Ronald Dumont / Getty Images

Paco Rabanne (1934-)
> Birthplace: Spain
> Era of influence: 1960s-90s
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 190,780

Paco Rabanne is famous for making clothes out of plastic, paper and metal into extravagant designs, which may be explained by the fact that he was a trained architect. He designed the costumes Jane Fonda wore in the movie “Barbarella.”

Source: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Pierre Cardin (1922-)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 1950s-60s
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 299,196

Pierre Cardin is famous for his geometric avant-garde designs and space age look, for which he used vinyl, helmets, and goggles. He was one of the first fashion designers to license his name for sunglasses and other accessories.

Source: Mike Coppola / Getty Images

Ralph Lauren (1939-)
> Birthplace: United States
> Era of influence: 1970s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 1,682,589

One of the best known American designers, Ralph Lauren is famous for the sportswear line Polo Ralph Lauren, and its very sporty, laid-back youthful look.

Source: Jemal Countess / Getty Images

Rei Kawakubo (1942-)
> Birthplace: Japan
> Era of influence: 1970s-early 21st century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 355,224

Rei Kawakubo is famous for her avant-garde clothing designs, which are almost always predominantly black, that some critics called anti-fashion. Kawakubo was one of the most influential designers of the late 20th century. She was the first living designer with a solo show at The Met’s Costume Institute since 1983.

Source: Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

Rene Lacoste (1904-1996)
> Birthplace: France
> Era of influence: 20th century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 13,450

Rene Lacoste was a world-class tennis player who created tennis shirts with a crocodile symbol (as well as the tennis metal racket and the first ball machine).

Source: Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

Roberto Cavalli (1960-)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 1970s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 246,569

Roberto Cavalli is known for his use of intricate prints. He is also known for his sand-smashed jeans and pioneering creations in denim.

Source: Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

Salvatore Ferragamo (1898-1960)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 20th century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 238,107

Salvatore Ferragamo is known as the “shoemaker to the stars” because his clientele were Hollywood stars in 1920s and 1930s. He held more than 300 patents, many in footwear that are still used today.

Source: 55361146@N08 / Flickr

Stefano Gabbana (1962-)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 1980s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 344,204

Stefano Gabbana is the Gabbana in Dolce & Gabbana. He and his partner are considered to be the inventors of a Mediterranean style inspired by sensual, austere Italian women. Their clothes are a mix of men’s and women’s fashion. Madonna and Angelina Jolie are among celebrity clients.

Source: Mat Hayward / Getty Images

Stella McCartney (1971-)
> Birthplace: United Kingdom
> Era of influence: 1990s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 1,214,201

Stella McCartney, daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney, is famous for her fur-free and leather-free apparel. She is also known for exact, simple tailoring.

Source: Matthew Peyton / Getty Images

Thomas Burberry (1835-1926)
> Birthplace: United Kingdom
> Era of influence: 19th and 20th centuries
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 116,482

Thomas Burberry, founder of international chain Burberry, is known for his trenchcoat,. His company’s designs are known for their iconic check pattern and British heritage branding.

Source: Victor Boyko / Getty Images

Tom Ford (1961-)
> Birthplace: United States
> Era of influence: 1990s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 1,676,478

Tom Ford, another designer formally trained as an architect, is credited with turning Gucci into a brand worth billions of dollars before leaving the business to launch his own successful brand. He dressed Daniel Craig as James Bond.

Source: Randy Brooke / Getty Images

Tommy Hilfiger (1951-)
> Birthplace: United States
> Era of influence: 1980s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 1,284,207

Tommy Hilfiger is known for an all-American style, specializing in sports and casual wear, featuring preppy with a twist designs. The brand also has in its collection various products, including fragrances, eyewear, watches and home furnishings.

Source: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

Valentino (1932-)
> Birthplace: Italy
> Era of influence: 1960s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 48,708

Valentino Garavani, simply known as Valentino, is famous for his jet-set glamour, elegant and feminine designs, and the “Valentino red” shade.

Source: JP Yim / Getty Images

Vera Wang (1949-)
> Birthplace: United States
> Era of influence: 1990s-current
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 757,627

Vera Wang, a former figure skater, became known as one of the top designers of bridal wear. Her elegant gowns, which are a mixture of modern trends and classic elegance, are worn by stars and have graced red-carpet events.

Source: Reg Lancaster / Getty Images

Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008)
> Birthplace: Algeria
> Era of influence: 1960s-21st century
> Wikipedia pageviews (2 yr.): 67,597

Yves Saint Laurent is known for creating modern chic style and rewriting the story of couture and ready-to-wear. He was the head designer for house of Dior at age 21. Some of his iconic creations include the women’s tuxedo jacket, the high-fashion peacoat, and the shirt dress.

It is worth noting that some of the designers on this list, such as Miuccia Prada, came from families with a fashion, retail, or textile legacy. Nearly all of the designers have a middle-class or upper-class background, an advantage to helping them gain popularity.

Some of the older names on this list, such as Thierry Hermès and Louis Vuitton, became popular for making luxury goods for the wealthy in the 19th century. Their names have endured as luxury and aspirational brands well into the 21st century.

Movies became a major part of the culture in the 20th century, and an increasingly affluent middle class aspired to dress like film stars. Fashion designers augmented their popularity by dressing movie stars such as Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, and Jennifer Lopez. Oleg Cassini, who first gained notoriety for designing costumes for film legends, leveraged his fame into a friendship with Jacqueline Kennedy, who wore Cassini’s trademark pillbox hat when she was first lady.

Some designers have embraced controversy to raise their profile, such as Alexander McQueen — the subject of a new documentary — who was accused of misogyny because of his eyebrow-raising runway shows that depicted women covered in blood. Other designers have raised awareness about issues such as the exploitation of women, climate change, or abuse of animals. Designers such as British designer Katharine Hamnett do more than wear their opinions on their sleeve — she created a fashion niche of putting political opinions on T-shirts.

That kind of agitation keeps these arbiters of fashion in the public eye. So in keeping with the spirit of author Oscar Wilde — that there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about — here are 24/7 Wall St.’s most popular fashion designers in history.

In order to make our selection of the most popular fashion designers of all time, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed fashion industry sources and media reports. Popularity was based on name recognition, the number of Wikipedia pageviews, influence on fashion, legacy, and enduring fame.