10 Men Who Created World-Famous Brands (We Knew Their Names, but Didn’t Know Their Faces)
Being famous does not always mean being easily recognized by anyone. Such is the case of these men who managed to create fashion empires. We’ve heard their names, seen their designs, and we recognize their logos. Still, we don’t always know the faces of men who are behind these great fashion brands.
iBuzz set out to investigate the lives of the men who brought to life the following renowned fashion brands, and the admirable life situations some went through.
1. Hubert de Givenchy
This French designer left his family in 1944 and traveled from Beauvais to Paris to become a tailor. After working with important designers of that time, such as Jacques Fath, Givenchy opened his own workshop in 1952.
His fresh designs challenged the conventional fashion styles of the time. He became a favorite designer of famous American figures like Audrey Hepburn, who would end up being his greatest and most famous muse.
Unlike some of his colleagues, he had an interest in ready-to-wear, mass-produced, patterned clothing, launching his first men’s sports collection in 1969. It wasn’t until 1995 that Givenchy retired from the fashion industry.
2. Yves Saint Laurent
The French designer decided to move to Paris at an early age to fulfill his dream of becoming a fashion designer. His ambition was given a lift when he met Christian Dior, who hired him as his assistant and named him his successor after his death. However, later on, he was relegated from this position, leading him to establish his own firm with Pierre Bergé. This decision was the beginning of what we now know as the Saint Laurent empire.
3. Pierre Balmain
Balmain was one of the most important pillars of fashion in the twentieth century. He was born in Savoy and after moving to Paris to study architecture and join the French army, he began working in his mother’s clothing workshop.
In 1945, he established the brand that we know today. During the ’50s, his name became better known and he got to dress essential figures of his time, including Marlene Dietrich and the Queen of Thailand.
In 1951, he opened a boutique in New York. Together with Dior, they became important representatives of the fashion generation’s “New Look” after World War II.
4. Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen left his studies in 1985 at just 16 years old to learn how to tailor. In 1992, he graduated from a prestigious London art school with a fashion collection inspired by Jack the Ripper. Luckily for McQueen, the editor of Vogue UK was at the runway show and bought all of his designs. Thanks to this, the designer’s career took off from there.
In the 1990s, he gained a great reputation and began revolutionizing fashion. He was a chief designer of Givenchy and devoted himself to making haute couture designs without neglecting his own brand.
Toward the end of 2000, he sold 51% of his brand to Gucci and left his position at Givenchy to devote more time to his own fashion ventures.
5. Cristóbal Balenciaga
Cristóbal Balenciaga began his career in 1919, opening his own fashion workshop with the help of one of his sisters and, likely, the support of the Marchioness de Casa Torres. Before long, he had made himself known to the aristocracy and royalty, allowing him to open up a second workshop and expand his business in Madrid. In 1936, he was forced to move to Paris due to the Spanish civil war. In the French capital, he changed the fashion of the 1950s with his designs that centered around comfort, lines, and volume.
In 1968, he decided to forgo fashion because the ready-to-wear movement threatened to downplay haute couture designs.
6. Ralph Lauren
After joining the U.S. Army and studying business for 2 years, the New York designer made his way as a salesman at a tie company. In 1967, he convinced his boss to allow him to start his own clothing line.
And so he began making men’s clothing under the Polo brand. In 1971, he began designing women’s clothing. With both gender clothing specialties, the designer won the chance to make costumes for the 1974 film production of The Great Gatsby. Since then, his brand has taken flight to the level we know today.
7. Louis Vuitton
Louis left his home at 13 in Anchay to go to Paris. After a long journey, he arrived in the French capital in 1837, at the age of 16. Once there, he managed to become an apprentice to a box maker and packer, eventually becoming an expert in the practice. His renown was such that, in 1852, Napoleon III’s wife hired him as their personal box-maker and packer, gaining popularity among the upper class of the time.
In 1854, he opened his own workshop together with his wife. Over time, his business grew and he began testing new styles. His fame was so great that he even created designs for those beyond French royalty, like Ismail Pasha, an Egyptian viceroy.
Even though his business suffered due to social and political problems, the designer never gave up until his death at age 70.
8. Gianni Versace
Having helped his mother make clothes as a child, he established his first boutique in 1978 in Milan despite previously having studied architecture. Recognized for his colorful designs and unique way of understanding post-pop, he dressed stars like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and royalty like Lady Di. Through his work, he set up a link between show business and fashion.
After his unexpected death, people thought the brand would collapse. However, his sister Donatella knew how to continue her brother’s work and the brand has continued to thrive.
9. Calvin Klein
The famous American designer attended the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan and matriculated at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Soon afterward, in 1968, he created a brand with his own name that became known for its minimalist coats and garments. However, what really struck the public was his provocative underwear designs, one of the company’s main sources of income to date. Also, he was the first designer to introduce a unisex perfume, CK One, and branded jeans to the common market. In mid-December 2002, he sold his company to Phillips-Van Heusen.
10. Christian Dior
The influential French fashion designer, Christian Dior, was born into a bourgeois family in France. After studying political science in college, he left his studies to go into fashion. He started by sketching for the famous designer Robert Piguet. Then, in 1946, he opened up his own sewing house in Paris. He was known for his “New Look” movement, a feminine style that stood out for its designs with turned shoulders, slim waists, and wide skirts that were 20 cm from the floor.
Did you already know the history or face of any of these designers? Who else would you add to this list?