Great Britain has produced some of the most influential fashion designs in history. London itself is home to countless talented designers, so limiting ourselves to just five designers was a difficult task. When it came down to it, these designers topped our list as the 5 best British designers of all time. If you disagree with our choices, please let us know who you would have chosen instead!
Arguably the most influential fashion design in the nation’s history, Alexander McQueen was head designer of the Louis Vuitton Givenchy fashion line, until 2004. He then left Givenchy and started his own wildly successful line. McQueen won numerous fashion awards and accolades over the course of his career, including being name Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
McQueen became infamous for his dramatic, over-the-top runway shows. From torrential downpours to wind tunnels to holograms, McQueen made each runway show a stunning visual experience for the audience. Following McQueen’s suicide in 2010, his second-in-command, Sarah Burton stepped in as Creative Director of the brand.
The Sex Pistols created punk rock in England, and Vivienne Westwood created punk fashion. Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood helped set the style for modern punk and New Wave music. During her career she has received a Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire, as well as several other prestigious awards.
Westwood is credited with creating the now iconic punk rock look. Leather, safety pins, explicit tees, these are all Westwood designs. Her collections frequently have political messages, and she herself is an outspoken activist for combating climate change.
Christopher Bailey has an impressive resume, to say the least. Over the course of his career, Bailey served as the womenswear designer for Donna Karan, senior designer of womenswear at Gucci, and design director and creative director for Burberry. He currently serves as chief creative officer at Burberry but will be stepping down from that position this year. His eye for fashion and his keen business sense made Burberry a hugely successful luxury brand.
If you have ever worn a miniskirt, you can thank Mary Quant. In the 1960s, Quant sought to make youthful, vibrant clothes for London women, and as a result, she ended up codifying a look for the decade. Her miniskirts, patterned tights, and hot pants became emblematic of the era.
Like Westwood, Quant received a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of her impact on the world of British fashion.
The daughter of Paul McCartney, Stella McCartney has paved her own way in the world of fashion. While her smart, tailored looks are incredibly popular, her biggest impact on fashion has been through her commitment to sustainability. McCartney is outspoken in her desire to change the fashion industry for the better. She refuses to use leather or fur in any of her designs, and is constantly seeking out new eco-friendly manufacturing practices.
McCartney has been name an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. She was also chosen to be Creative Director for the 2012 London Olympics.