These are the names that are etched in people’s minds, the fashion houses, and the designers behind them, that created something unique and left their mark on the world. All of these fashion houses were built on one person’s dreams and ambition, so let’s take a look at ten of the most famous old fashion houses and the designers that built them, with this list of ten of the oldest and most famous fashion houses in the world.
The world famous Chanel was founded by Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel in 1909. She was a designer who really did revolutionise women’s clothing and it’s Coco Chanel that we have to thank for finally replacing the structured look, which was created by wearing a corset, with a more natural feel to her designs. Coco Chanel is most famous for the little black dress and, of course, Chanel No5, the perfume that Marilyn Monroe said was all that she wore to bed.
Dior, founded by Christian Dior in 1946, was another revolutionary in the world of fashion who launched his ‘New Look’ in 1947, right after the Second World War. It was seen as the first move in fashion, away from the austerity of the war, and was characterised by long flowing and very feminine skirts that were nipped in at the waist. Dior is now one of the largest luxury fashion houses in the world.
Perhaps not the oldest, but still one of the most famous fashion houses is that of Versace, which was formed in 1978 by Gianni Versace. A relative newcomer when compared with Dior and Chanel, Versace was catapulted to the ranks of the top fashion houses, by the famous safety pin dress that Liz Hurley wore to the premiere of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ in 1994. Versace is now operating more than eighty shops worldwide and, with all the fake Versace products that there are around, The Versace brand is quite possibly the most counterfeited brand name in the world!
Unlike many fashion designers who came from humble beginnings, the founder of the house of Givenchy, Hubert de Givenchy, was a French aristocrat, whose family already had a background in fashion design. Givenchy was famous for his chic, casual designs that used raw cotton and for the sack dress. He also designed most of Audrey Hepburn’s wardrobe that she wore in her movies.
One of the oldest fashion houses that is still in existence today, the house of Lanvin, was founded in 1889 by Jeanne-Marie Lanvin. Her career as a designer really began when she started making clothes for her children. The designs were said to have been so beautiful, that well-to-do ladies asked her to make copies for their own children and larger, adult sized copies for themselves. She went on to become one of the most influential designers of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
6. The House of Worth
The House of Worth, formed by Charles Frederick Worth in 1858, is thought to have been the very first forerunner of the modern fashion house and Worth was the first person to put his own name on the labels of the garments, which makes him the father of designer branding. He was also one of the first people who displayed a seasonal collection shown on live models.
Mainboucher is an American fashion label that was founded in 1929 by Main Rousseau Bocher. Famous for the “Mainbocher Corset” and the ‘nipped in at the waist’ silhouettes that his designs created, he was also well known for being the designer behind much of Wallis Simpson’s wardrobe. He designed the wedding dress for the marriage of Wallis Simpson and the former King of England, Edward VIII. The dress became the most photographed and copied dress of all time.
8. Vivienne Westwood
A more contemporary designer, but nonetheless influential, is Vivienne Westwood. She came to the public attention as the designer of the clothes that the infamous British punk band, the Sex Pistols wore and she was the driving force behind much of the punk fashion. Her influences and her own designs can still be seen in mainstream fashion today.
9. Ralph Lauren Corporation
Ralph Lauren’s corporation and the polo brand name started in 1967 as a menswear label, initially making neckties. His first line of women’s clothing was launched in 1971. As well as the well-known polo shirts, Ralph Lauren gained recognition for his wardrobe design for the 1974 movie, the Great Gatsby.
10. Saint Laurent Paris
Saint Laurent Paris, or YSL, as it is often called, is the fashion house that was founded by Yves Saint Laurent in 1961. YSL is widely considered to have been one of the most prominent fashion houses in the world and was responsible for iconic designed like the tuxedo jackets for women and the ‘power dressing’ suites of the late 1960’s. The other big thing that Yves Saint Laurent brought to the fashion world was ready to wear designer clothing.