We’re thankful to America for a lot of things – putting a man on the moon, giving us Starbucks, denim jeans, and, of course, Beyoncé. However, as we come to celebrate Independence Day, it’s the American fashion pack that we are grateful of. Here we have selected our top five American fashion designers of all time. The following designers have saved companies from closure, embodied the American dream, reinvented the wedding dress and created a global fashion empire. Here at Emirates Woman, we’re so grateful to these wonderful Americans, happy fourth of July everyone.
Tom Ford rose to stardom after famously saving Gucci and sister company Yves Saint Laurent from bankruptcy. In an astonishing first year under Ford’s reign, Gucci’s sales increased by 90 per cent, as the ambitious designer took the company image in a new direction. Born in Austin, Texas, the 53 year old is responsible for many fashion trends, most notably velvet hipster trousers and slim satin shirts. But of course, the Gucci stiletto and sleek Gucci dress swiftly became his most famous signature pieces.
Following from his shock departure from the Gucci group in 2004, Tom Ford launched his eponymous line and a year later opened his flagship store in Manhattan, stocking his own ready-to-wear collection.
Not content on dominating the fashion industry, Ford is also a respected director. His directorial debut with A Single Man, based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood, and starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore received Golden Globe nominations. Today, he is worth an estimated US$70 million.
The epitome of the American dream, Ralph Lauren, is one of the most iconic American designers of our time. Born Ralph Lifshitz (his family immigrated from Belarus) and raised in the Bronx, New York City, Lauren began his career studying business at Baruch College in Manhattan. After serving in the US army for two years, and a brief stint as a sales assistant with Brooks Brothers, Lauren, in 1967, he started designing neckties under the name of Polo.
He started out selling ties (rags which he transformed) from a drawer at the Empire State Building now his company Ralph Lauren Corp employs 25,000 staff and has the world’s top models vying to be the face of the brand.
Today, the Polo brand is an American fashion empire, selling everything from fragrances to homewares and luxury clothing. The American entrepreneur, has a staggering estimated net worth of US$7 billion.
Calvin Klein is the man we all need to thank for those underwear images of Mark Wahlberg, in fact he is to thank for all of those underwear campaigns – even Justin Bieber looked OK. The unique adverts are now synonymous with the brand.
Born in the Bronx, New York City, Klein studied fashion and enrolled at, New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Despite not graduating, Klein began an apprenticeship for a suit manufacturer. In 1968, he decided to go it alone and create his own design company. The collection was extremely well-received by the industry but his sportswear and denim line outshone all competitors and quickly became his signature garments.
In fact, the Calvin Klein advert starring a 15-year-old Brooke Shields courted controversy, due to her age, but helped catapult the model and actress to fame. Today, Klein’s net worth is estimated at US$700 million. His collection now ranges from a variety of luxury goods from womenswear, to perfumes, watches, jewellery and accessories.
Famously known for reinventing the wedding dress, Vera Wang, is the most prominent American bridal designer.
Born and raised in New York, Wang began her fashion career working for Vogue as a senior fashion editor (she was turned down for role as editor-in-chief, which went to Anna Wintour) before moving to, Ralph Lauren, as design director.
While planning her wedding to Arthur Becker (they are now separated) Wang was fed up of the lack of variety offered to brides. “There wasn’t anything that satisfied the needs of a modern woman,” she said. And so in 1990 she opened her first bridal boutique and began her career creating the perfect gown to complement any big day. She has since become the go-to bridal designer for the A-list with everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Chelsea Clinton wearing her gowns.
In 1993, Wang set her sights on the red carpet and ventured into evening wear and launched her own ready-to-wear collection, complete with houseware, fragrance and eyewear. Thanks to all of her projects, Wang has an estimated net worth of US$400 million – good job she didn’t get that spot on Vogue (Wintour’s net worth is reportedly US$35 million).
Tiffany & Co
Founded by Charles Tiffany and John Young, Tiffany, Young and Ellis (as it was originally called) first opened its doors in 1837 in New York City as a stationery and fancy goods emporium. In 1853, Charles took control of the company – it became Tiffany & Co –and started focusing more on jewellery. it was one of the first stores at the time to publicly display prices (to avoid haggling) and accepted only cash payments, thus cementing its reputation as a high-class establishment.
The brand became popular among upscale clientele and Charles Tiffany was named the ‘King of Diamonds.’
As well as creating their own colour – Tiffany Blue – Tiffany & Co. is also famous for the Tiffany Setting – the six-pronged engagement ring which rapidly became their signature.
Today, Tiffany & Co is referenced so frequently in popular culture the company has an estimated to be worth over US$8 billion.