TOP 50 Best Fashion Designers
Join Love Happens as we explore the top fashion designers of all time! We started with the top 50, but our fans reminded us of some names we really could not possibly leave off a list of the most fabulously famous fashion designers. So, we updated the list! Read on and be inspired!
Top Best Fashion Designers of All Time
1. Coco Chanel
Born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, “Coco” was an exquisite French fashion designer and founder of the well-known CHANEL brand. Her modernist thinking, practical design, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made her an important and influential figure in 20th-century fashion. Coco Chanel was the only fashion designer to be named on the Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.
2. Donna Karan
Donna Karan’s love of fashion was instilled in her at a young age, shaping her brand in several ways. The renowned fashion designer launched Seven Easy Pieces with her first collection in 1984, transforming how women dressed and examined style. Donna Karan’s understanding of the needs and desires of the modern woman is conveyed through every fabulous piece. The fashion visionary is the sole creator of the DKNY label (Donna Karen New York), flourishing as an iconic creative mind and designer throughout the past three decades.
3. Giorgio Armani
The outstanding Italian fashion designer, Giorgio Armani, is famous for the clean, tailored lines of his menswear collections. He established Armani, the fashion powerhouse, in 1975. With the aid of his success, he was acclaimed as the most successful Italian designer by 2001. “Successful” is an understatement for Giorgio Armani as he has earned an annual turnover of $1.6 billion and a personal fortune of $7 billion as of 2012. Armani is the first designer to ban models with a Body Mass Index under 18, revolutionizing the fashion industry and transforming how the industry perceives body image. “Giorgio Armani is truly a living legend and has been able to reinvent himself and the company many times over the years, maintaining his status as one of the most iconic designers in the industry,” says Ana Roberts, style editor of Top Trends Guide.
4. Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein has dominated the fashion world as a top house for over 75 years. Born in 1942, the Bronx native studied fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City before apprenticing as a coat and suit designer at a manufacturer in the New York garment district. When he established his company in 1968, he transformed style at an age where hippie-style clothing was all the rage. His timeless aesthetic is portrayed in his collections, emphasizing classic modernity with simple yet trendy and fashionable pieces.
5. Donatella Versace
After the murder of Gianni Versace in 1997, his younger sister Donatella Versace took the reigns in leading the Versace name to new heights and vast fame. She ensured that Versace stores and boutiques would cater to different fashion centers worldwide, particularly Milan and New York. Prominent celebrities, such as Jennifer Lopez and Madonna, have endorsed the company’s fabulous collection of clothing, accessories, fragrances, and home furnishings.
6. Ralph Lauren
Worth $7.5 billion, Ralph Lauren is celebrated for its exquisite fashion sense that embodies chic sophistication, classic innovation, and style. In 1970, the first Polo logo was showcased in Ralph Lauren’s ground-breaking line of women’s suits that were designed in the classic men’s style. Two years later, the famous short sleeve shirt with the renowned Polo emblem appeared again, becoming a classic. The shirts have since prevailed, permeating throughout the world.
7. Christian Dior
Born in 1905, the iconic French designer was eminent for his distinctive “New Look” silhouette. Debuted in 1947, Christian Dior suits and dresses revolutionized the way women dress and consider fashion following World War II. The fashion house made headlines in July of 2016 as Maria Grazia Chiuri was named the first female artistic director in Dior’s seven decades of male leadership. In two short years, the former Valentino co-creative director has already made an incredible impact on the fashion house, using the runway as a platform to spread messages of women empowerment, feminism, and the arts.
8. Tom Ford
Tom Ford, deemed one of the most famous contemporary designers, has created high fashion, high-end accessories, and clothing that we can’t get enough of. The designer has served as creative director for both Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci before creating his fabulous label. The Texas-born icon aspired to be an actor, but fate had other “designs” for him. The icon’s popularity peaked in 2000 when he won the award for Best International Designer.
9. Pierre Cardin
The Italian-born Frenchman is praised for his 20thcentury pieces that exuded a futuristic flair. As Pierre Cardin rose to fame in the age of the space race, his creations embodied the perfect touch of innovation, inventiveness, and modishness. His ‘bubble dresses’ radiated science fiction, combining earthly elegance with out-of-this-world colors and avant-garde design.
10. Yves Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent gained popularity in the world of fashion due to his creativity in redesigning masculine clothing into beautiful, feminine pieces for women. Perhaps one of the most renowned designers in France, Yves was the first designer to introduce “power dressing” for women in the form of trendy, high fashion power suits in 1966. The visionary is credited with designing the men’s smoking jacket. His refreshing concept of ready-to-wear fashion has allowed him to make history during his legendary time.
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11. Christian Louboutin
Born in France in 1963, Christian Louboutin has flourished as a top fashion designer for over two decades. The icon was expelled from school at age 16, a blessing in disguise because he could work for the brilliant and talented shoe designer Charles Jourdan. In the early 1990s, Louboutin launched his line of women’s shoes, adding his bold, legendary bright red sole in 1993. The Christian Louboutin brand is a crowd favorite as it enchants women with the striking high heel and eye-catching red sole.
12. Karl Lagerfeld
One of the most acclaimed fashion designers in the world, Karl Lagerfeld, was born in Hamburg, Germany. As a teenager, Lagerfeld worked at Balmain for four years before moving to Jean Patou, where he became artistic director at 21. His prolific portfolio now encompasses Chanel and Fendi, along with his own house. Known for his bold designs and constant reinvention, he’s been hailed by Vogue magazine as the “unparalleled interpreter of the mood of the moment.” King Karl, the one-man multinational fashion phenomenon.
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13. Roberto Cavalli
Born in Florence, Italy, in 1940, Roberto Cavalli exuded artistic talent early on. Roberto showcased his first collection in 1970, shocking the world with his beautiful, lavish-printed, colored-leather gowns and denim. Exotic elegance was his signature, enchanting fashion lovers with wild prints and bohemian glamour. He has designed red carpet pieces for exclusive celebrities, such as Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham.
14. Marc Jacobs
Born in 1963, New York designer Marc Jacobs has taken the fashion world by storm with his bold, high-fashion pieces worn by Cara Delevingne, Dakota Fanning, Kate Moss, and Lady Gaga— to name a few. Since he established his successful label in 1986, Marc Jacobs has never gone out of style, continuing to impress fashion lovers across the globe.
15. Betsey Johnson
The Connecticut-born designer spent her childhood in dance classes, inspiring her exuberant, vivacious label that rocks the fashion industry due to unique, one-of-a-kind designs since the 1960s. Betsey Johnson’s creativity and imagination are apparent in her pieces, constantly ever-changing with the times, but remaining true to herself and her personal design aesthetic, embodying enthusiasm, fun, and fervor.
16. Sandy Powell
British costume designer Sandy Powell has won numerous awards for her incredible, inspiring creations that exude personality and individuality of character. The impressive, Oscar-Winning costume designer has also won three Academy Awards for Best Costume Design and has been nominated a whopping 12 times for the award. She crafts beautiful, breathtaking masterpieces that elevate the meaning of fashion design in the film industry.
17. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana
For Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, women empowerment is a significant mantra to live by, demonstrated through their strong designs that emphasize the womanly shape. The duo debuted their collection in Milan in 1985, establishing them as a new luxury brand to be reckoned with. Dolce&Gabbana express a new form of elegance, adding touches of modern classicism that evolve but steer away from their original, timeless creations. Dolce and Gabbana are arguably the most influential designers of our time, revolutionizing the fashion world.
18. Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen perfected his tailoring skills at reputable names such as Anderson & Shepherd, Barmans & Nathans, and Romeo Gigli before launching his brand in 1992. The designer was highly regarded in the fashion industry, recognized for his iconic sense of style, extravagance, and extraordinary design. It was a devastating surprise when McQueen took his own life in 2010, shocking the fashion world and beyond. The Alexander McQueen label designed Kate Middleton’s wedding gown showcased in 2011 and was praised across the globe for its beautiful craftsmanship.
19. Valentino Garavani
Born in Italy in 1932, Valentino Garavani studied fashion design at a young age, training in Paris in 1950 and starting his fabulous line in Rome in 1959 after working for impressive houses like Dessus and Laroche. Valentino is celebrated for his profound ability to make women look utterly glamorous. The Italian maestro dressed influential women, such as Jacqueline Kennedy, and goes down in history for his signature fabric shade, Valentino Red, and studded style!
20. Miuccia Prada
Born on May 10, 1949, one of our favorite Italian fashion designers, Miuccia Prada, was once a member of the Italian Communist Party and a mime student. The amazing designer first dazzled the fashion world in 1985 with a series of black nylon handbags and backpacks. Prada has flourished as a billion-dollar company, transforming the fashion world through stylish minimalism based on pared-down design, innovative fabrics, and computer-enhanced patterns, become influentially iconic.
21. Tommy Hilfiger
Known as the champion of star-spangled glamour, Tommy Hilfiger‘s favorite trends go from red, white, and blue. Since introducing his first collection in 1985, no designer has become more closely associated with Ivy League prep than Tommy Hilfiger. After building his company on the modernization of all-American men’s wear and winning the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year award in 1995, Hilfiger introduced women’s wear in 1996 and sold the company for $1.6 billion ten years later.
22. Carolina Herrera
Fashion icon Carolina Herrera has a keen eye for beauty. Her elegant yet dynamic sense of style was shaped at a young age as she was exposed to international culture and global fashion trends in her home country of Venezuela. The style expert and fashion aficionado launched her renowned label in 1981, quickly gaining reputable attention for her refined yet chic designs. Carolina Herrera flourishes in her career as she is celebrated for her classic modernity in dressing celebrities and influential leavers worldwide.
23. Jean-Paul Gaultier
Born in 1952 in Val-de-Marne, France, Jean-Paul Gaultier thrives as a French fashion designer as he exudes a sensual, irreverent style that continually challenges stereotypical femininity. His style ignores traditional gender roles by embracing androgyny and the freedom of sexuality. At age 18, he joined the house of Pierre Cardin before moving on to Jacques Esterel and Patou. Gaultier’s collection was launched in 1976, but his own design house was established in 1982.
24. Herve Leger
Herve Leger became the most famous when its iconic bandage dresses took the fashion world by storm during its initial production in 1989-1997 and again from 2008-present. Creator Herve Peugnet’s fashion resume is nothing short of impressive. At only 23 years old, the young designer gained recognition from talented fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld and was sought after by designers such as Chanel, Lanvin, Fendi, Diane von Furstenburg, Chloe, and Swarovski. When he created the Herve Leger line at age 28, the fashion world was astounded and inspired by his signature bandage dress, which debuted at his 1989 runway show. An instant sensation, the bandage dress is still coveted today.
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25. Stella McCartney
Coupled with natural confidence and sexy feminity, Stella McCartney’s signature sense of style is sharp and sophisticated. Born and raised in London as well as the English countryside, the designer graduated from Central St. Martins in 1995. Two years later, she debuted two collections and was appointed the Creative Director of Chloe in Paris. The hip fashion icon launched her fashion powerhouse in 2001. Since then, it has grown in fame for its chic designs and the brand’s opposition to leather and fur. The now 51-year-old designer’s collections include ready-to-wear accessories, lingerie, eyewear, and fragrances.
26. Ralph Rucci
When Ralph Rucci launched Chado Ralph Rucci in 1994, a new standard was established for lavish dress coupled with an artistic twist. Ralph Rucci’s work extends beyond trends while he is the quintessential American couturier. Rucci is a forever favorite among high society socialites due to his sculptural silhouettes, impeccable craftsmanship, and to-die-for materials.
27. Salvatori Ferragamo
Born in 1898, Salvatore Ferragamo made his name working with top celebrities and Hollywood stars in the 1920s. The Italian shoe designer established his iconic brand in 1927, changing the way people thought about shoes altogether. His scientific and creative approach to shoes inspired many innovations, such as the wedge and cage heel.
28. Jimmy Choo
Jimmy Choo is an iconic luxury lifestyle designer defined by an empowered sense of glamour and a confident sense of style. Born in 1948 in Penang, Malaysia, Jimmy Choo Yeang Keat designed his first pair of shoes at the young age of 11. The London-based designer traveled to England in the early 1980s to study at the Cordwainers Technical College in Hackney. After graduation, Jimmy Choo remained in England, establishing Jimmy Choo Ltd in 1986 with good friend and British Vogue magazine accessories editor Tamara Mellon. The Malaysian icon has created shoes for many prominent figures, such as Princess Diana, Julia Roberts, and Renee Zellweger.
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29. Alexandre Herchcovitch
Since launching his collection in 1994, the Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch has turned heads in the fashion industry with bold looks and striking, politically charged ensembles. Alexandre Herchcovitch is a Brazilian icon celebrated for his famous skull print collection and punk roots. His avant-garde aesthetic and daring taste make him a force to be reckoned with in the fashion world.
30. Mossimo Giannulli
American fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli is world-renowned for his famous youth clothing line, Mossimo. The brand has flourished since its creation in 1986, thriving for its contemporary pieces and fresh collections that are ever-changing with the latest trends. The designer is married to Full House star Lori Loughlin and lives in Newport Beach, California, where he founded his company more than three decades ago.
31. John Varvatos
Before launching his career in fashion, Detroit-native John Varvatos had his heart set on teaching science. Fate landed him in retail in 1983, where he began working for Polo Ralph Lauren. Later, in 1990, he was promoted to head of the department of menswear at Calvin Klein. In 1995, Varvatos returned to Ralph Lauren as the design head for menswear and introduced the Polo Jeans line. This success drove him to create his menswear brand in 2000. Today, John Varvatos continues to prosper, gaining much of his fashion inspiration from his rock-n-roll obsession and favorite artists.
32. Daphne Guinness
Daphne Guinness was born in 1967 to brewery heir Jonathan Guinness and prominent French beauty icon Suzanne Lisney. The legendary UK designer is an heiress, socialite, muse, and mother and has been a fashion stylist, film producer, designer, and perfumer. Guinness is celebrated for her love of couture and extravagant personal style.
33. Jonathan Jony Ive
Sir Jonathan Ive was born in 1967 in London, England. The British designer studied art and Newcastle Polytechnic, paving his way to becoming a successful industrial designer and one of Apple Inc.’s most valued executives. Apple’s Chief Design Officer crafted many of our iMac computers, ensuring their power, speed, and easy-to-use features due to his flawless attention to detail.
34. Kate Spade
Known for her distinctive aesthetic, Kate Spade was celebrated for her modern, sleek, vibrant, colorful designs. The fashion designer businesswoman was born in 1962 in Kansas City, Missouri. She gained fame for her line of Kate Spade handbags in 1993. Her company expanded soon after, including several brand retail stores, and her handbags were showcased in many high-end boutiques. In 1996, the Council of Fashion Designers of America honored Kate’s timeless designs by selecting her for the “America’s New Fashion Talent in Accessories” award. Kate Spade New York is known worldwide for its bold and stylish designer clothing, designer shoes, women’s fashion accessories, and more. The iconic designer tragically passed on June 5, 2018, due to apparent suicide.
35. Christian Audigier
French entrepreneur and fashion designer Christian Audigier was born in France in 1958. Christian Audigier has designed the trucker-hats, jeans, t-shirts, bags, jackets, shoes, perfumes, motorcycles, furniture, and many other things for his brands, such as Ed Hardy, American Outfitters, Guess, and Von Dutch. An international sensation, Audigier’s iconic designs are sold in more than 3,000 stores around the world.
36. Allegra Versace
Allegra Versace was born in Italy and has an estimated net worth of 800 million dollars. Being the niece of legendary designer Gianni Versace allowed Allegra Versace to receive 50% of the Versace design empire after her uncle’s murder in 1997.
37. Diane Von Furstenberg
Fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg is best known for her use of bold color and unique fits, such as her debut wrap dress which launched her career in 1974. Today, in what Diane calls her “third act,” she is highly focused on using her voice to empower women worldwide through philanthropy, mentorship, and The DVF Awards.
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38. Michael Kors
Michael Kors was born on August 9, 1959, in Long Island, New York. The prominent designer moved to New York City to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology but dropped out after two semesters. Kors launched his women’s collection in 1981 and became a judge on Project Runway in 2004. His collections are vastly worn worldwide. Even First Lady Michelle Obama posed in a Michael Kors dress for her first official portrait.
39. Tory Burch
Famous for her preppy-bohemian, tunic-style over the past 13 years, Tory Burch has turned her brand into a global household name, a celebrity favorite, and has gained billionaire status! Growing to over 100 freestanding stores, a presence online, and in over 1,000 department and specialty stores, Tory Burch has learned firsthand the obstacles women in business face. This realization prompted her to launch the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009, which provides programs and initiatives to help women-owned small businesses.
40. Phoebe Philo
British fashion designer Phoebe Philo is known for her stunning yet understated designs. Her love of fashion started at a young age, prompting her to go on to study design at Central Saint Martins. After graduating, Philo moved to Paris to join the house of Chloé as Stella McCartney’s design assistant. She took over from McCartney as creative director of the label in 2001, where she presented her first ready-to-wear collection in October of that year. In 2002 she launched the label’s accessories line. Five years later, in September of 2008, she was appointed creative director of French fashion house Céline.
41. Oscar de la Renta
Born in the Dominican Republic in 1932, Oscar de la Renta dressed arguably every important woman throughout his six decades as a fashion designer. From Hilary Clinton to Sarah Jessica Parker, La Renta had arguably every dress any woman wanted to have. The unique tone of red from his dresses became to be known as “de la Renta red.” The designer will always be remembered as the man who knew what women wanted and desired. An old fashion gentleman, Oscar de la Renta, lived to dress women and make them feel amazing.
42. Zac Posen
World famous for his modern American glamour, Zac Posen masterfully combines couture techniques and profound innovation. Born in New York City, the designer attended London’s Central Saint Martins University in the womenswear degree program. He debuted his first runway show at the young age of 21. In Fall 2014, the designer was announced as Creative Director for the prominent brand Brooks Brothers, a signature women’s collection and accessories.
43. Riccardo Tisci
Relatively new in the fashion world, Italian-born Riccardo Tisci is already making quite the impact. Graduating from London’s Central Saint Martins Academy in 1999, he was soon picked up as Creative Director for Givenchy womenswear and haute couture.
44. Vera Wang
Bridal gown connoisseur Vera Wang began her career as the youngest editor for Vogue, where she spent 17 years. It wasn’t until age 40, and after two years working for Ralph Lauren, that she launched her collection. Since then, Vera Wang has become a lifestyle brand offering a variety of fashion and home products.
45. Isabel Marant
Isabel Marant was born in 1967 in Paris, France. The fabulous designer never planned on falling in love with design, but after collaborating with good friend and Hermés creative director Christopher Lemaire, she changed her current plans. Isabel decided not to study economics and switched her course to study design at Studio Berçot fashion school. She created her brand in 1994, setting up her studio in the Marais in Paris. The designer is known for her bohemian, tomboyish design aesthetic. Isabel Marant offers effortless chic and is practically a uniform for off-duty models and movie stars in the know.
46. Esteban Cortázar
Colombian fashion designer Esteban Cortazar made his name by being the youngest fashion designer in history to debut at the prestigious New York Fashion Week. Esteban Cortazar is a Paris-based designer whose career includes his eponymous line CORTAZAR, a tenure as chief creative director at Emanuel Ungaro, and much more. Vogue even deemed the designer “the most uninhibited designer showing in Paris.”
47. Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Isabel Swire was born in England on April 8, 1941. Considered one of the most eccentric and candid fashion designers in the world, Westwood rose to fame in the late 1970s when her early designs helped shape the look of the punk rock and grunge movement. Her daring sense of style has made her an iconic fashion figure who will go down in history. Vivienne Westwood is truly a living legend in the fashion world.
48. Paul Smith
Born in 1946 in Nottingham, England, Paul Smith‘s childhood ambition was to become a professional racing cyclist. However, at age 17, he suffered a serious accident that ended his dream of racing. Ironically, his time in the hospital allowed him to befriend local art students who would introduce him to the world of art and fashion. His design aesthetic is synonymous with classic British tailoring and style. Simplicity is the designer’s mantra, along with designing “well-made, good quality, [and] simple cut” fashion.
49. Jil Sander
German fashion designer, Jill Sander, created her first collection in 1973. She soon became celebrated for designing sophisticated, stylish workwear that was expertly tailored and made in lavish fabrics. Her collections had neutral color palettes and focused on simplicity and wearability, which stood in stark contrast to the brightly-hued, highly embellished looks that would follow in the 1980s.
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50. Anna Sui
American fashion designer Anna Sui is famed for her boho-chic style aesthetic and several ready-to-wear collections. The Detroit native has mastered the art of pairing bright colors with black. Her designs are also famous for using bold fabrics that reflect her Asian culture and individual creativity.
51. Hubert de Givenchy
Count Hubert de Givenchy, the creator of Givenchy House, is best known for his work with Audrey Hepburn. Even though Givenchy first started with perfume, Givenchy became more involved with the wardrobe of Hepburn. The black dress work in Breakfast at Tiffany’s was Givenchy. Givenchy’s designs were known for square necks, tighter silhouettes, and classic accessories. Givenchy also was very popular with ready-to-wear designs and haute couture.
52. Jeanne Lanvin
Jeanne Lanvin was a French fashion designer who started her own house in the early 1900s. Lanvin was known as one of the first couture designers to have a children’s line. Her child became a muse for Lanvin, inspiring both the children’s line and some of the dress designs. She incorporated just about every medium, from satin to furs, into dresses. Inspired by the many painters and artists of the time, Lanvin loved to use color as a contrast against black and white. She also enjoyed adding geometric patterns with the color, called Lanvin blue.
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53. Bill Blass
American designer Bill Blass is a famous designer, specifically for his comfort and beauty. In the 1970s, Blass started his own company. His main goal was beautiful, classy designs that were also comfortable and functional. He wanted these designs to be worn on the street by women who moved around. They were incredibly popular in New York, and he was known as “the Hardest Working Man on Seventh Avenue.” The style was modern yet fashionable. Now, they sell shoes for working women with style.
Roy Frowick, better known as Halston, was an American designer like Bill Blass. However, their styles differed completely. Halston’s designs were for the 1970s disco era, with suede. While it was the 1970’s his designs were more clean-cut and minimalist, with different fabrics and materials. Everything was very modern, very contemporary for the period. Halston was best known for spending his free time at Studio 54 with Andy Warhol and the period’s artists. Halston’s pieces were flowy, loose, and very stylish. Read more about Halston in our article, Who Is the Designer Halston?
55. Elie Saab
Lebanese icon Elie Saab is a relatively new name, but his work speaks for himself. Originally starting in the 1980s, it was bridal couture and wedding dresses that he was known for. Granted, these dresses were elaborate and not what you would imagine for a traditional wedding dress. Yes, some had the puffy sleeves of the 80s and 90s bridal fashion, but there were also colors and differing silhouettes. However, Saab really made his name known in American fashion by dressing Halle Berry at the Oscars. This dress had a mesh sequined top and a wine-red sweeping satin skirt. It was the talk of the Oscars, and Saab just grew from there. He was also the first Lebanese fashion designer to be represented at the Oscars.
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56. Pierre Balmain
Yet another French man to join the list, Pierre Balmain, started the House of Balmain. He worked with Hubert de Givenchy and Christian Dior, which is evidence of his future designs and pieces. Balmain’s style was hyper-feminine, and he chose fabrics and silhouettes that flattered the female body. His post-war designs drew in some of America’s Hollywood actresses, and it was then, in the 1950s, that his sweeping ballgowns really gained popularity. It was beauty, it was grace, and it was exactly what most women wanted during that time.
57. Manolo Blahnik
Last but certainly not least, we have Manolo Blahnik. Spanish fashion designer, this man makes some of the most world-renowned shoes of this century. When he got the endorsement from the Met Costume Institute director to make some shoes, Blahnik took off. Blahnik popularized the stiletto, while the clunky wedges of the ’60s and ’70s were in. Since then, Blahnik has been pushing the boundaries of what is “in” while still focusing on the classiness of his shoe collection. Fall in love with Manolo Blahnik’s Golden Anniversary Collection!