The multi-billion dollar empire we call the “fashion industry,” wasn’t built in a day. There were an elite group of couturiers who revolutionized the industry and played a part in its many successful years of existence, including these style legends.

1. Coco Chanel

Famous Quote: “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”
Fun Fact: She began her career by selling hats.
Style Legend Coco Chanel
Image Source: The Style Rebels

Coco Chanel is famous for many things, including her tweed suits, 2.55 handbags, and Chanel No. 5 perfume. Beyond that, she’s been credited with making the “little black dress” a household name, as well as revolutionizing the women’s fashion industry by “putting women in pants.”

2. Christian Dior

Famous Quote: “It is not money that makes you well dressed: it is understanding.”
Fun Fact: He was the first couturier to license his designs.
Style Legend Christian Dior
Image Source: Rex Features

Dior faced many hardships during the beginning of his career, from his parents not wanting him to become a designer, to being forced to take a hiatus during World War II (to serve in the Army). However, that didn’t stop the inventor of “The New Look” from living out his dreams, and becoming the fashion phenomenon he’s known as today.

3. Yves Saint Laurent

Famous Quote: “Fashions fade, style is eternal.”
Fun Fact: He was the first living designer to be honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Style Legend Yves Saint Laurent
Image Source: Jeanloup Sieff

Saint Laurent didn’t waste any time during his teenage years, as his journey in fashion began at an early age. At the tender age of 19, he became Christian Dior’s design assistant, quickly working his way up to the chief designer of Dior in 1957. Saint Laurent eventually went on to launch his self-titled designer label, and has since been recognized as the creator of the modern woman’s wardrobe.

4. Cristóbal Balenciaga

Famous Quote: “A woman has no need to be perfect, or even beautiful to wear my dresses. The dress will do all that for her.”
Fun Fact: Hubert de Givenchy dubbed him the “architect of haute couture.”
Style Legend Cristóbal Balenciaga
Image Source: Variety

We have Balenciaga to thank for the balloon skirt, sack dress, and cocoon coat. Loose-fitted clothing was his signature style and forte. Like Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga started young also. As a child, he would tag along with his mother — who happened to be a seamstress — on her appointments, which is how he learned how to design, sew, and make patterns.

5. Diane von Furstenberg

Famous Quote: “Attitude is everything.”
Fun Fact: She was once known as “Her Serene Highness Princess Diane von Furstenberg.”
Style Legend Diane von Furstenberg
Image Source: Patrick Demarchelier

As the inventor of the wrap dress, founder of fashion empire “DVF,” and former president of the CFDA, Diane von Furstenberg is fortunately still alive to carry on her legacy, and experience the aftermath of her contributions to the industry.

6. Pierre Cardin

Famous Quote: “The dress is a vase which the body follows. My clothes are like modules in which bodies move.”
Fun Fact: He studied architecture before becoming a designer. 
Style Legend Pierre Cardin
Image Source: Wikipedia

The “Space Age” fashion era was Cardin’s claim to fame, and his notorious “bubble dress” was birthed during that period.

7.  Vivienne Westwood

Famous Quote: “You have a more interesting life if you wear impressive clothes.”
Fun Fact: Her son, Joe Corré, is the co-founder of Agent Provacateur. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree!
Style Legend Vivienne Westwood
Image Source: Marie Claire

Westwood has deservingly been crowned the “Queen of Punk Fashion” after continually gracing the fashion world with her edgy style, and she wears it well.

8. Alexander McQueen

Famous Quote: “Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment.”
Fun Fact: He invented the low-rise “bumster” trousers.
Style Legend Alexander McQueen
Image Source: Rankin

Although Alexander McQueen is the youngest designer featured on this list, he earned his legend status while on this earth. Before launching his own label, he worked as the head designer of Givenchy. Formerly known for his dramatic runway shows, the late designer won the “British Designer of the Year” award four times. He was a very talented couturier, who is tremendously missed by the fashion community.

Ready for a more extensive lesson on bold fashion visionaries throughout history? Enroll in our course from Otis College of Art and Design, titled “Fashion Style Icons and Designing From Historical Elements.” Sign up here.