Valentino knows how to make a woman look pretty. The brand’s designs may seem simple at times, but it’s their nonchalant glamour that make them beautiful. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll also find Valentino designs that are extremely romantic and feminine, full of embellishments, ruffles and bows (Valentino’s favourite). The designer’s number one trademark? Valentino red.
When was the brand created: 1959
The founder: Valentino Garavani
The current head designer: Pierpaolo Piccioli
Best known for: Red silk crêpe dress, rockstud heels
Celebrity fans: Anne Hathaway, Lady Gaga, Emma Watson
Where to buy: valentino.com/en-au
Balenciaga famously changed the way we viewed the female silhouette after Dior made a woman’s waist famous. Instead, he favoured sculptural designs with broader shoulders where waistlines were nowhere to be seen.
A penchant for perfectionism ensured his designs were always well-tailored and elegant (Gabrielle Chanel is said to have admired his technical skills). In addition to the tailored pieces and unstructured silhouettes that are classic to the brand, hoodies and ‘ugly’ sneakers have also become go-to signatures of the modern-day Balenciaga.
When was the brand created: 1917
The founder: Cristóbal Balenciaga
The current head designer: Demna Gvasalia
Best known for: The balloon jacket, the tunic dress, the cocoon coat
Celebrity fans: Hailey Bieber, Taylor Swift, Kendall Jenner
Where to buy: balenciaga.com/au
Fendi does it all - they design ready-to-wear clothing for women and for men, leather goods, shoes and accessories. What many may not realise is Karl Lagerfeld was the head of women’s wear at Fendi from 1965 until his recent passing in February 2019.
He was also the one who designed the iconic FF logo. The famous logo is often featured predominantly on its pieces as a full-blown print, regularly worn from head-to-toe by A-list celebrities. Fendi is considered the originators of the ‘It’ bag with the creation of their still-hotly-coveted Fendi Baguette Bag.
When was the brand created: 1926
The founder: Adele and Edoardo Fendi
The current head designer: Silvia Venturini Fendi
Best known for: The Baguette Bag
Celebrity fans: Bella Hadid, Olivia Culpo, Kim Kardashian
Where to buy: fendi.com/au
Italian luxury brand Prada began as a family-run bags and luggage company, then expanded into womenswear in 1988. It’s a fashion brand that evolves regularly - almost every six months with each new collection release.
The best thing about Prada is you never know what Prada will do next. But don’t worry, you’ll always get pieces that are eccentric and stunning. True style statements. If your style changes with your mood, this is the high fashion brand for you.
When was the brand created: 1913
The founder: Mario Prada
The current head designer: Miuccia Prada (Mario’s granddaughter)
Best known for: Lipstick-print skirt, the Bowler Bag
Celebrity fans: Carey Mulligan, Emma Roberts, Victoria Beckham
Where to buy: prada.com/au
6. Tom Ford
Tom Ford, the fashion designer, is a man of many talents. He’s designed for cult brands Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, produced, directed and starred in films, dabbled in fashion photography and has designed everything from menswear and womenswear to eyewear, accessories and beauty products.
While menswear was his foray into designing under his namesake brand, his womenswear collection quickly followed. His signature style is simple elegance, but it’s anything but boring. He loves sleek suits, skin-baring gowns and impeccable tailoring. Tom Ford’s designs are always sexy, confident and sophisticated.
When was the brand created: 2006
The founder: Tom Ford
The current head designer: Tom Ford
Best known for: Tailored women’s suits, capes
Celebrity fans: Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore, Chanel Iman
Where to buy: tomford.com
5. Yves Saint Laurent
Now referred to as simply Saint Laurent, the brand is best known for putting women in pieces that are historically regarded as menswear, but making them look sultry not androgynous.
From its original Le Smoking tuxedo to its most current collection, Saint Laurent toes the line between sexy and sophisticated through clean, sharp lines, luxurious fabrics and (in addition to its signature black and white) a love of bold colour - an ode to the designer’s passion for the arts.
When was the brand created: 1961
The founder: Yves Saint-Laurent
The current head designer: Anthony Vaccarello
Best known for: The Mondrian dress, Le Smoking tuxedo, the safari jacket
Celebrity fans: Kate Moss, Kaia Gerber, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Where to buy: ysl.com/au
4. Christian Dior
Cinched waists and full skirts that accentuated a woman’s hourglass figure were responsible for putting French designer Christian Dior on the fashion map back in post-World War II. He moved fashion away from being about practicality and made it about looking and feeling good. Today, the Dior brand is still devoted to just that. Christian Dior was always well-known for using the finest fabrics, his acute attention to delicate details, and above all, his celebration of femininity.
When was the brand created: 1947
The founder: Christian Dior
The current head designer: Maria Grazia Chiuri
Best known for: Bar suit, the bubble dress, the tulip dress
Celebrity fans: Charlize Theron, Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence
Where to buy: dior.com
One of the UK’s most iconic designer brands, Burberry is steeped in history and a slew of unmistakable pieces. The Burberry check, the trench coat. Even the fashion novice can spot them a mile away. Always a pioneer in bringing together fashion and function - and exceeding above and beyond in both categories, when you invest in Burberry you can rest easy knowing you’re buying a timeless style staple.
The label has always been at the forefront of innovation, from its 1879 invention of gabardine (the weatherproof, hardwearing fabric its trench coats were originally made from) to more-recently being the first luxury brand to join the Ethical Trading Initiative, as well as showing its support for diversity and inclusivity by featuring a rainbow vintage check throughout its 2018 collection.
When was the brand created: 1856
The founder: Thomas Burberry
The current head designer: Riccardo Tisci
Best known for: The trench coat, Burberry check
Celebrity fans: Cara Delevingne, Sienna Miller, Suki Waterhouse
Where to buy: au.burberry.com
Extravagant yet timeless, Gucci started out as one of the top clothing brands for the ‘horse-riding aristocats’, which is apparent through its tan leathers and horsebit detailing on their handbags and accessories. But since then, its found its confidence in opulence.
It’s a brand that gets you noticed. The brand’s logo is one of its greatest distinctions. Current designer, Alessandro Michele, brings together historical influences and modern maximalism. Also worth noting: It was one of the first high-end design labels to stop using fur.
When was the brand created: 1921
The founder: Guccio Gucci
The current head designer: Alessandro Michele
Best known for: Gucci logo tee, the Gucci loafer, the Jackie Bag
Celebrity fans: Alexa Chung, Lucy Boynton, Saoirse Ronan
Where to buy: gucci.com/au
Are there any more famous fashion brands than Chanel? From its double-C logo to its tweed jackets, to its founder herself, it’s a label that’s synonymous with classic elegance. Founded by Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, who continued to design for her namesake until she died at the age of 88. The other almost-equally famous designer for the brand was Karl Lagerfeld, who designed for Chanel from 1982 until his death in 2019 at the age of 85.
Coco Chanel made trousers a women’s style essential, she pioneered wearing black in the everyday (rather than solely at funerals), she was the first to put a strap on a handbag, and well, there’s no mistaking a beautiful Chanel suit. The fashion label is always classic but also manages to push boundaries.
When was the brand created: 1909
The founder: Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel
The current head designer: Virginie Viard has just taken over from the late Karl Lagerfeld
Best known for: Tweed jackets, the 2.55 quilted bag, the Breton top and the Little Black Dress
Celebrity fans: Margot Robbie, Kristen Stewart, Keira Knightley
Where to buy: chanel.com/en_AU