There have been many famous British fashion designers over the years, and it can be hard to choose just a few to highlight. The UK is renowned for producing high-quality designers who have helped shape the face of fashion. Here are some of the most influential British fashion designers ever:
Alexander McQueen (1969-2010)
The late Alexander McQueen, born Lee Alexander McQueen in London, was one of the UK’s biggest success stories. His work drew on gothic and romantic influences to create highly distinctive designs that were worn by many A-list stars, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Kirsten Dunst. He won Britain’s top design award The British Fashion Award four times, including for his 1996 Autumn/Winter collection called Highland Rape.
McQueen committed suicide in 2010 at the age of just forty – a darkly sad end to a brilliant career. If you want to learn more, you can see https://www.printemps.com/uk/en/alexander-mcqueen-women
John Galliano (1960- )
John Galliano, born in Gibraltar to a Gibraltarian father and English mother, is one of the most successful British fashion designers of all time. He has worked for some of the world’s leading fashion houses, including Christian Dior and Givenchy. His wildly theatrical designs have won him numerous awards, including three British Fashion Awards.
Galliano was fired from his position as Creative Director at Christian Dior in 2011 after making racist and anti-Semitic comments in public. He later opened his own label, John Galliano.
Christopher Bailey (1971- )
Christopher Bailey is the Chief Creative Officer and President of Global Brands at Burberry. He started his career at Burberry in 2001 as Chief Designer and launched his first collection for the label in 2002. He has been responsible for designing some of Burberry’s most iconic looks, including the trench coat worn by Kate Moss at the British premiere of “The Corporation.” In 2009, he was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to fashion.
In 2016 Bailey was named British Fashion Person of The Year at London Fashion Week.
Mary Quant (1930- )
Mary Quant is one of Britain’s most influential fashion designers. She opened her first shop in 1955 selling miniskirts that she had designed herself. Her designs were considered more modest than modern minis that are more revealing, but they were revolutionary at the time because they allowed women to be more active while wearing them. Quant also designed clothes for The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein and appeared on TV with them several times.
Quant said of her work: “I brought the mini to London, I was really pleased with it and nobody wanted it. And then suddenly everybody wanted it. I mean, the mini skirt told everybody about legs and how girls wanted to be free and all that.”
Isabella Blow (1958-2007)
Isabella Blow, born in London to an English father and Russian mother, worked at the famous Chelsea boutique Bazaar. She also designed clothes for herself under the label ‘Issa’, which became known for its bright colors and offbeat style. It was her expertise in spotting talent that made her one of Britain’s most influential fashion designers – she discovered Alexander McQueen when he was working as a lowly salesman at the store, after being inspired by his intricate sketches. She launched Lee McQueen’s first show with Givenchy in Paris in 1997.
Blow committed suicide in 2007 at age 49 due to depression following serious health problems including alcoholism and bipolar disorder.
Vivienne Westwood (1962-1965)
Vivienne Westwood is one of the most iconic British fashion designers of all time. She was born in Tintwistle, Derbyshire. After studying at Harrow College of Art and later at the Royal College of Art, she worked for various fashion houses before starting her own business with Malcolm McLaren in 1971.
The pair became known for their outrageous punk designs, which challenged the traditional views of fashion.
Westwood has been honored with several awards, including an OBE and the French Legion of Honor. She is also a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Zandra Rhodes (1940- )
Zandra Rhodes, born in Croydon to an English father and Malaysian mother, is one of Britain’s most successful fashion designers. After studying at the Royal College of Art, she started her own label in 1969 and quickly gained a reputation for her colorful and opulent designs. Her clothes have been worn by some of the world’s most famous women, including Diana, Princess of Wales, Madonna, and Kylie Minogue.
Rhodes has also designed costumes for the Royal Opera House and over 100 outfits for Elton John’s 1974 tour.
She was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2007.
Bruce Oldfield (1955- )
Bruce Oldfield is one of Britain’s most famous fashion designers, known for being able to mix femininity with elegance and modernity. After studying at Harrow College of Art, he went on to work with several couturiers before launching his own label in 1981. His clothes have been worn by numerous celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana, Kate Moss, Vanessa Paradis, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Oldfield received an OBE honor in 2010 for services to fashion.
Victoria Beckham (1981- )
Victoria Beckham, more commonly known as Posh Spice, is one of Britain’s most successful fashion designers. She met footballer David Beckham while he was playing for Manchester United and the couple married in 1999. After the birth of their first son Brooklyn, she launched her own label with her husband through high-end retailer Selfridges.
Since then she has become one of Britain’s best-selling fashion designers with a clientele list that includes Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Scarlett Johansson. Her clothes are often seen on celebrities attending red carpet events all over the world.
Beckham was honored with an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II in 2008 for services to British fashion.
So there you have it – 9 of Britain’s most successful fashion designers. Each one has its own unique story and style, and they continue to influence the world of fashion today.