Monday, June 2, 2008

Yves Saint Laurent Dead at 71

Yves Saint Laurent died yesterday in Paris.

I was too young to live the original YSL experience but from what I know of fashion history it must have seemed very exciting, sexy, dangerous, innovative, and beautifully crafted – everything that fashion (at it’s very best) is suppose to be about

YSL is generally considered one of the top five designers of all-time.
1. Dior (extra points for having discovered YSL )
2. Chanel
3. Yves Saint Laurent
4. Armani (created a revolution in both womens and mens, no other designer has ever had as much influence in both categories)
5. ?????

Who is number #5?
Yohji or Rei? (it seems difficult to have a discussion about design without them but does the size of their business exclude them from the the top echelon?)

Like in sports, I think when we discuss fashion designers we will have to create a line between High Couture (pre-70′s) and post-Couture (70′s – forward)

Today, I would love to hear your Top 5 All-Time Greatest Designers.

Tomorrow I would love to hear your list of Top 5 All-Time Greatest Modern Designers (post 70′s)


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  1. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 11:23 am

    #5…Ralph Lauren

  2. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Don’t you think that launching straight into a “top 5 designers” discussion, specifically focussing on who is number 5, is a little disrespectful to Mr Saint Lauren? I would have thought that a stand alone tribute would have been more appropriate

  3. Mr.Right

    June 2, 2008 at 11:35 am

    It’s a shocking news!, YSL was the last living icon of the old school.

    Himself was an inspiration of style, and revolutionary clothes.

    Au revoir Monsieur Saint Laurent!

  4. GianLorenzo Thatcher Greyson

    June 2, 2008 at 11:37 am

    I have to second Ralph Lauren although I know there will be a backlash…

  5. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 11:39 am

    don’t know women’s, so only men’s:
    Ralph Lauren
    Perry Ellis
    Bill Blass
    Georgio Armani
    Levi Strauss

  6. Berta Sandelewska

    June 2, 2008 at 11:40 am

    No. 5 : absolutely and only: Senor Cristobal.

  7. sda

    June 2, 2008 at 11:41 am

    I totally agree with the second anonymous guy: i think it’s disrespectful to start a top5 discussion in a post together with the announcement of Yves Saint Laurent’s death. Especially for a fashion focused blog!

  8. The Sartorialist

    June 2, 2008 at 11:42 am


    I don’t have a big opinion on YSL

    he really wasn’t of my time.

    I can appreciate his talent and his standing historically but I don’t have a ton to say about him personally.

    YSL was a man that made people passionate about fashion and this kind of moment is great to remember why we love fashion and the people that create it.

    I hope to hear from others that had a deep love for his work and what it meant to them.

  9. Click

    June 2, 2008 at 11:42 am

    #5 Givenchy

  10. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 11:42 am

    5. Valentino

  11. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 11:46 am

    1. Dior
    2. Givenchy
    3. Balenciaga
    4. Galliano
    5. Lagerfeld

  12. Sunshine

    June 2, 2008 at 11:47 am


  13. The Knittymommy

    June 2, 2008 at 11:48 am

    While I can’t rank them from 1-5, I can certainly name my favourite 5: Chanel, Givenchy, YSL, Tom Ford, and Dior.

  14. The Man Who Knew Too Much

    June 2, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I cant really make a top 5 of oldschools only, so I will wait until tomorrow..

    It is a sad day tho, but as with everything, life goes on.

  15. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I agree with “sunshine”, Poiret or Schiaparelli.

  16. attraversiamo

    June 2, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Yves Saint Laurent represents not only an astute and defining sense of style and design in fashion but he represents a theme of hope and possibilities. May his passing shed light on his legacy; one that will live on forever.

    He is secured in the top five, and Cristobal Balenciaga should be among him in that list. A master of range and invention.

  17. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 12:05 pm


    you must include Jean-Louis Scherrer, one of the best designers.

    Very sad, especially for his mother who is still alive.


    June 2, 2008 at 12:05 pm


  19. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    5. Valentino

  20. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    1. Coco
    2. Yves
    3. Karl
    4. Cristobal
    5. Marc

    I am of my time period. My five can’t be based on respect for the esteem of a designer’s work (a dior, an armani)
    As a fresh face in the fashion world, these are the people I look up to.
    Rose Bertin defined our modern idea of fashion as art and joy during the advent of the art of pleasure pre-french revolution. That is a vision that we can’t even fathom and obviously the influence has fizzled out but I had to mention..

  21. Kate G.

    June 2, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    My vote? Absolutely, Paul Poirot! He cut the cloth and he lived the life.

  22. Erin

    June 2, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    O.K. #2 Anonymous Guy – first of all – why anonymous…if you’re going to say something – grab a pair and say it with conviction without hiding behind anonimity.

    Sda – Why is it disrespectful. The man died, there was a nice tribute and then on to fashion. You people make me laugh…luckily Mr. Sartorialist has thick skin.

    My top 5 are:

    1. Chanel
    2. Givenchy
    3. Dior
    4. Perry Ellis (* a must!!)
    5. Levi Strauss – Still an original and still the best!

  23. Anne Corrons

    June 2, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Monsieur Saint Laurent as we called him in France was one of the most fabulous French designers. He liberated women about clothes and invented the famous black smoking. None of the young current designers will replace him, trust me. Dior, Chanel,and YSL are part of fashion history, now.

  24. pink glasses

    June 2, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    #1 Dior
    #2 Chanel
    #3 Yves Saint Laurent
    #4 Armani
    #5 obviously…. VALENTINO

  25. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    R.I.P Yves Saint Laurent

    He said, he wished he had invented jeans.

    Coco Chanel
    Yves Saint Laurent
    Ralph Lauren

  26. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    #5 Balenciaga!

    YSL is recognized as a legend by all who write and read this blog. No need to argue about how he should be respected…

  27. Brandon

    June 2, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    No one has mentioned Helmut Lang who has influenced, in my opinion, every modern designer out now like like Yohji and Rei and even Proenza Schouler. I doubt Slimane could have produced what he has for Dior Homme without some influence for Lang.

    He definitely gets #5 in my book and he’s had a huge influence on women’s and menswear also.

  28. Dee

    June 2, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    i think it’s laughable that some posters are attacking sart for being ‘disrespectful’

  29. AT

    June 2, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Oscar de la Renta would be in my top five, but that’s probably more a result of personal taste than anything else.

  30. Nina

    June 2, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Charles Worth. He created contemporary couture as we understand it today, none of those designers would have been able to take the steps that they did without his vision of luxury clothing in an age when mass production was a new and exciting thing.

  31. Helô Coltro

    June 2, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    #5 Courrèges, of course!

  32. Mrs. de Winter

    June 2, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    #1 Coco Chanel
    #2 Yves Saint Laurent
    #3 Cristobal Balenciaga
    #4 Christian Dior
    #5 Giorgio Armani

  33. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    I agree with your top 4. I also agree completely with your division between Haute Couture and Post Couture.

    I think the fifth, for the HC group, would be either Givenchy or Balenciaga. I’m not sure of the exact order, but those are definitely the top 6.

    As for PC, after 1970 was a whole new world in fashion with the rise of pret a porter and decline of couture. Can you really even compare the two eras?

  34. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Sorry…and VERSACE? Where is he? In my opinion…must to be in that list. Gxx

  35. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I wont forget G.Versace in a top five.

  36. C.

    June 2, 2008 at 1:49 pm


  37. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    I too don’t think this would be disrespectful or inapropriate for monsieur Saint Laurent.
    His death makes us think about what he meant in fashion, and which other designers could be estimated as high as YSL himself.
    That certainly includes dior and chanel, but also Cristobal Balenciaga and Madeleine Vionnet. They too had a great influence in fashion, just as Monsieur Saint Laurent did.

  38. BK.

    June 2, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    In no particular order:

    1. Coco Chanel
    2. Claire McCardell
    3. Bonnie Cashin
    4. Mainbocher
    5. Halston

  39. chrissi

    June 2, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    I think Ralph Lauren deserves some respect for bringing design to the mainstream in a big way. You could say the same for Calvin Klein but maybe he’s been a bit too mass-oriented to get props with that line-up. I don’t know, though. His impact in the 90′s basically defined style for the decade.
    I definitely agree with your top 4 though.

  40. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Number 5 def. Balenciaga!

  41. Archit Sarpangala

    June 2, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Elsa Schiaparelli, no question! She was both influential and innovative far beyond anyone named thus far.

  42. the swede

    June 2, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    louis vuitton? (not those horrible bags but still…he’s made a huge impact hasn’t he?)
    Or cristobal balenciaga, he was greatness himself!
    And then we have Ralph Lauren. He’s made a huge impact too, especially on american design….but not enough to be #5.

    There is a lot of young talents out there, but we just haven’t seen enough of them to put any of them on #5! At least that’s my opinion…

  43. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    1 – Chanel
    2 – Vionnet
    3 – Poiret
    4 – Balenciaga
    5 – Dior

  44. Gemma

    June 2, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    #5. two-way tie between Tom Ford and Nicolas Ghesquiere

  45. Antonio Acuña

    June 2, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Balenciaga! anyone who doubts his masterful eye and the way in which he changed our perception of shape as an expression of the female body needs to take a look back at his creations, there will always be only one Balenciaga. As for respect or disrespect, I think YSL would enjoy everyone throwing his name about as one of the greatest, he lived off attention and expression, I don’t see the disrespect at all, it is a tribute!

  46. Trevira

    June 2, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Very sorry to hear about YSL. Possibly THE most influential designer of the last century for sure.

    I would suggest that ‘top fives’ or whatever are invidious, and no one is ever going to agree on them, but much of the response – with honourable exceptions – is heavily weighted towards recent designers. Are we talking about the entire 20th century? Worldwide?

    If so, I’m seconding Poiret for the revolutionary impact he made at the time (1910s).

    Balenciaga was amazing too. Heck, this is difficult!

    My favourite is Schiaparelli but she probably didn’t have as much of an impact on the way ‘ordinary’ people dress.

    A sure sign of a designer’s impact is the mass produced rtw copies that follow in his/her wake that your average person can afford (YSL was a pioneer of couture-based rtw, so extra credit for that, monsieur!). If that’s what we’re talking about – its not that clear.

  47. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 2:19 pm


  48. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Armani should not be in that list. Chanel, YSL, Christian Dior and Balenciaga are the ones. Armani, Ralph Laurent, etc stand out for the size or their business (In fact they are the richest designers). However, creatively their work leaves much to be desired compared to ground shaking designers.

    Today’s top five should be:
    Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Valentino, Vivienne Westwood and Tom Ford. They have taken fashion to the next level.

  49. Abbie

    June 2, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I am currently reading A Beautiful Fall so to hear about the death of YSL is very sad today. He was such a talent and his personal life was very intriguing. I think the top five is a nice tribute to show respect to Yves and the other top designers of the century who aren’t neccessarily with us anymore but keep inspiring and leading fashion.
    SCHIAPARELLI can not be forgotten! So many, including Galliano, mimic her innovative designs. I think Karl is a legend and is of the same time period as YSL.
    my top five:
    1 dior
    2 schiaparelli
    3 coco
    4 ysl
    5 lagerfeld

  50. ellen

    June 2, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    alber elbaz
    marc jacobs
    coco chanel
    karl (he creates breakthroughs)

  51. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    No one has mentioned Helmut Lang who has influenced, in my opinion, every modern designer out now like like Yohji and Rei and even Proenza Schouler. I doubt Slimane could have produced what he has for Dior Homme without some influence for Lang.

    He definitely gets #5 in my book and he’s had a huge influence on women’s and menswear also.

  52. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Dior, Chanel, Balenciaga, Yve Saint Luarent, Givenchy.

    I consider Armani post-couture (perhaps I’m wrong)

    but thats just me.

  53. Navi

    June 2, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Hedi Slimane

    He isn’t necessarily a heavy weight like others mentioned but I really think he has the potential to become a legend in the world of fashion.

  54. TJT

    June 2, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    I’m shocked that no one has mentioned Gaultier or Versace (the late one, not the cokehead). Surely their craftsmanship, technical prowess, and enormous influence on fashion in the 80s and 90s put them in the top. My list would read:

    1. Chanel
    2. Dior
    3. Versace
    4. YSL
    5. Gaultier

    Maybe I’m just too young, but you also have to think in terms of influence on middle and mass fashions. These five have created the most enduring effects, in my own opinion.

    P.S. Tom Ford will never make it into my top 5 (or 10, or 15). He’s not a designer, let alone a couturier–he’s an art director.

  55. notanotherblog

    June 2, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    a) The top five is a good idea because YSL will be further cemented into history now.

    Thierry Mugler
    Calvin Klein

    b) For some odd reason, one of the things I’ll remember YSL as the man who understood how to make women of all races chic. It felt like that of my impression of the 1970′s, and his designs seemed to cater to everyone,l especially those who wanna have fun but wanted to be classy as well.

  56. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    #1Christian Dior
    #2Karl Lagerfeld
    #3John Galliano
    #5Hedi Slimane

  57. Baglife

    June 2, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Pertegaz of course !!!

    My top ten:

    1. Balenciaga
    2. Pertegaz
    3. Chanel
    4. Dior
    5. YSL
    6. Schaparelli
    7. Rabanne
    8. Valentino
    9. Cardin
    10. Givenchy

  58. Bradlex

    June 2, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Tragic loss.

    1. Dior
    2. Vivienne Westwood
    3. Karl Lagerfield
    4 + 5 not sure, very tough….

  59. Vega

    June 2, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Death of a true legend. One of the few desginers who blurred the lines of fashion, culture and personal empowerment. He single handedly got this jock interested in fashion. Au revoir Mr. Laurent. Top 5 All time:


  60. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    1- Balenciaga
    2- Dior
    3- Chanel
    4- Yves Saint-Laurent
    5- Lagerfeld

    Balenciaga definitely tops my list! Dior and Chanel both looked up to him and praised him as being the KING of Haute Couture!


  61. Joe

    June 2, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Like TJT’s comment earlier, I will point out that in my opinion Ralph Lauren is a stylist, not a designer per se. Coordinating and repackaging English style and ‘reinventing’ American westernwear doesn’t make one a designer. Besides, his stuff is so mass market they sell it at Sam’s Club!

    And if we’re judging on commercial empire, as an earlier poster did, do we include Tommy Hilfiger (please, try to suppress the vomit instinct)?

  62. H�lo�se

    June 2, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    I can’t seem to make a choice!
    Personally, I’m not that fond of Armani. He has built an incredible imperium, but I do not feel anything innovative for the past years. And I don’t really fancy the Italian generation.

    Marc Jacobs or Lagerfeld

  63. Donald

    June 2, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Levi Strauss

  64. grant

    June 2, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    i would put yves saint laurent at #1 and vionnet at #2, after that everything is debatable. YSL was perfection and made everything possible, vionnet was the most innovative.

  65. TresChic

    June 2, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    I agree with the old favourite…dior..ysl et al…

    but some future greats?? marc jacobs for his humuor, creativity and business mind… Proenza Schouler duo for always looking at all aspects of each design particularly texture and colour…. Alexander Wang, Derek Lam, Doo Ri Chung—for their new take on femininity…
    I dont think Armani deserves a place in the top5. He may have been great back in the day but he hasnt wowed me for a looooong time…and dont you think that style and true talent transcend time and change??

    halston and galliano don’t seem to be getting enough recognition on this blog by the way!!!!!

  66. Una

    June 2, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    1. Chanel
    2. Christian Dior
    3. YSL
    4. Givenchy
    5. Valentino

  67. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    5.Calvin Klein

    P.S. Not trying to be confrontation but making a statement that Tom Ford isn’t a designer is the most ignorant comment I have ever read on this blog.

  68. MM

    June 2, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    I agree with YSL, Dior and Chanel deserving their places on the list. Young Mr Gere was certainly properly dressed in American gigolo, but I would not raise Armani to the same league as the European designers.

  69. Gunnar

    June 2, 2008 at 3:48 pm


  70. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Hi Folks,

    Just a quick note to say that if you put Dior or YSL and Armani in the same category you are really mixing apples and oranges.

    Armany can hardly draw. He can’t cut. He is, well, just a ‘stylist.’ His original job was to dress windows at a dpt store and he evolved by advising industries on what to do, and others did it.

  71. the Launderette

    June 2, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    I find it surprising that so many people thought it was disrespectful to start a discussion of top five designers as part of a post recognizing Yves Saint Laurent’s death. I’m sure any designer would find it wonderful that a mention of them, whether it be of their life of their death, would bring up such a great discussion of fashion. I don’t find it disrespectful at all.

    Also, ditto to the Ralph Lauren people.

  72. jkh

    June 2, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    YSL gets extra points for having discovered hedi slimane.

    top five designers with most historical impact and longest legacy (no particular order)

    top five all time favourite designer (no particular order)

  73. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Vuitton was a trunkmaker, responsible only for those “awful bags”.
    For credit where credit is due, Marc Jacobs introduced Louis Vuitton ready to wear 10 years ago. I’m surprised Marc doesn’t get more shout outs from this crowd. (Although I admit I misread and didnt notice that modern designers are the discussion tomorrow)
    P.S. I love that you posed this question. I enjoy your blog as a thinktank and not as a lookbook. This way I walk away with inspiration and not ideas to copy.

  74. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    #5 has got to be MIUCCIA PRADA.
    My top 5 designers are

    Miuccia Prada
    Raf Simons
    Cristobal Balenciaga
    Nicholas Ghesquiere
    Yves Saint Laurent

    Lagerfeld is an incredible man who presides over an enormous empire but I don’t think he’s that great a designer. Armani has revolutionised things and has built a hugely successful brand but it all seems a bit bland and formulaic, and lacking in creativity.

    And people, when you’re asked to name 5 designers, name 5 NOT 8 or 9. Use some self discipline and have justification in your choices rather than spewing every designer you kind of like!!

  75. Allison

    June 2, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    I think Gianni Versace deserves to be on the list…

  76. Andrea

    June 2, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Definitely add Balenciaga. I’m surprised there are no votes for Mme. Gres. No Claire McCardell? I mean, really, Ralph Lauren before her? No.

  77. American in Zurich

    June 2, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    1. Chanel
    2. Yves
    3. Armani
    4. Rei Kawakubo
    5. Nicolas Ghesquiere (achieving this simply because he is a consistent innovator being watched by the ENTIRE fashion community at the present time – imagine looking at his career after another decade or two)
    *Honorable Mention: Loeb Strauss aka Levi Strauss simply because of the power of 1 garment and the components used to make it based upon the needs of that moment in time.

  78. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Marc Jacobs

  79. Mary

    June 2, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    There seem to be generational differences here! – and maybe geographical. Perhaps not surprising.
    As one who remembers the effect of YSL in the 60s/70s – he was huge, loved – and so influential! He introduced the trouser suit for goodness’ sake, the wonderful smoking jacket – as well as those amazing Russian and other romantic collections, that so often get copied by others.
    For me he is so great because he designed divine, sexy and beautiful clothes (in fabulous fabrics) that yet were easy to wear by real women! And because of his move into pret-a-porter, his influence was felt and appreciated by many more than just the wealthy and privileged, as was the case with earlier designers. Further down the line it was felt by the likes of me and my friends! RIP YSL.

  80. Litchee

    June 2, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I would definitely put Vivienne Westwood as #5.
    Revolutionary, unique, and lasting.

  81. jkh

    June 2, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    i quote: “For some odd reason, one of the things I’ll remember YSL as the man who understood how to make women of all races chic. It felt like that of my impression of the 1970′s, and his designs seemed to cater to everyone,l especially those who wanna have fun but wanted to be classy as well.”

    and agree.

  82. Glamouricious

    June 2, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    I would have to say Ralph Lauren for #5

  83. Violet Harrington Pickles

    June 2, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Dearest Sartorialist,

    Thank you for the lovely words in homage to Yves Saint Laurent.

    I remember the first collection of our young Yves.
    The unimaginable pressure of the Dior legacy and future, resting on his shy and slender shoulders.
    Yet, when we beheld the collection, it was clear that what lay beneath his fragile frame was the visionary power and confidence of a master.
    For like his mentor, Dior, he would come to redefine fashion.
    I have been an admirer of, the great Saint Laurent, throughout my life and will mourn the passing of a pure soul, whose gift of beauty, I was privileged to share.

    Violet Harrington PIckles

  84. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    miuccia prada would be my number 5

  85. jkh

    June 2, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    YSL – timelessly modern.
    the cleanest line ever (almost german – but even cleaner).

  86. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    I don t know the order but Christian LACROIX would be my choice

  87. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    ralph lauren is not a designer he is a merchandiser, poiret, halston , yoji, rei and beene are all much more important in the world of original design than little ralph in his riding costume.

  88. American in Zurich

    June 2, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Revised list:

    1. Yohji Yamamoto – I believe his influence on mainstream fashion to be much greater than what Westerners perceive. His fashion is less classist, more innovative & UNIversal.
    2. Chanel
    3. Yves Saint Laurent
    4. Giorgio Armani
    5. Nicolas Ghesquiere
    *Honorable Mention: Loeb Strauss aka Levi Strauss

    There’s no disrespect to Monsieur Saint Laurent. His best work and legacy will be honored these days and in days to come.


  89. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Prada, and to say Tom Ford is not a designer is the most ignorant thing I have heard.

  90. Olaf-Germany

    June 2, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    I am very sad about this news, cause for me he was the number one !!! Todas I was wearig black. I can´t live without french fashion. I love this decad of french fashion, which is back again with Lanvin, Balenciaga etc.

    My List:
    1) Chanel (sorry Yves, but it´s Coco)
    2) YSL (here you are!)
    3) Dior (the french top three)
    4) Balenciga, Lanvin, Poiret, Schiaparelli, Givenchy, Worth
    5) no 5, see 4

  91. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Maybe because I’m french, surely because i’ve been lucky growing with a mother mad about Saint Laurent, i can say that Yves Saint Laurent is more than a top 5.
    I remember how many dreams he created in my mind when i was watching his haute couture catalogs. Like a precious book, a hero, like every magic reference of the childhood, Mr Saint-Laurent is still alive in each day of my life, and when i think of his creations, i still feel myself like a little girl in a big and fabulous universe of candies ! Amazing colours, perfect cut, womanhood, élégance … I still wear the YSL pieces of my mother, it’s always a magic act. And he taught me what the perfection, the posture, the subtlety and the discretion are. In the attitude, but also in my relation with life and people.
    God bless YSL ! With all my LOVE. M

  92. Saucy

    June 2, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Rose Bertin, dress designer for Marie Antoinette.

  93. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 5:04 pm


  94. augusto

    June 2, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    and about Valentino?

  95. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Ohh I forgot:

  96. Lisa

    June 2, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    I would like to add Madeleine Vionnet as the top 5 designers. Her work with the bias is, almost, unequaled.

  97. OndrejS

    June 2, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    I think it is nigh impossible to do actual ranking at the top. Of course that you can have personal preferences, but to rank as to greatness as an objective measure is a different story. I think top 5 should include of course Valentino (the way he handled female sensuality is still amazing to me whenever I see his models), Gianni Versace, Armani, Prada, Chanel, Balenciaga, Dior, Lagerfeld, Galliano, and others. By naming many more than 5 I want to show that I simply do not know how to make a ranking… Who do I like the most? Right now probably Valentino Garavani. But can I say that this will last forever? no… Chanel was so innovative and ingenious… Than Dior who gave fashion back the grace and nobles.. Really… my mind is flying from one another in an erratic pattern

  98. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    While reading some of the comments, I have realized that a majority of people tend to confuse who is/were at the vanguard of clothing construction & who is commercially successful.

    Granted, some of you will refute the idea that economic profit & artisanal revolutionism go hand in hand when discussing fashion design; but I have to express my disbelief when I hear people placing Ralph Lauren, Valentino Garavani, & Christian Lacroix (to name a few) on the same echelon of genius as Yves Saint Laurent, Cristobal Balenciaga, Christian Dior, & Gabrielle Chanel.

    These five individuals uniquely reshaped the requisites of a woman’s closet because they were discontented with the habitudes of their society, but most importantly, they had an answer to fixing the situation.

    For example, Chanel despised how the women of her time dressed, specifically because of the corset. In practical terms, it was painful to wear (squeezing the rib cage into abnormal positions). In symbolical terms, it was fulfilling the hour glass shape that wetted the occidental man’s mouth of the early 20th century; this was not about women dressing the way they wanted (this concept didn’t exist at the time). What did she do? I think everyone knows that her disregard of boundaries –adopting ideas from men’s clothing to suit the woman’s body; using fabrics deemed vulgar or only permitted for the construction of undergarments; using a textile culturally attached to another country (the tweeds of the Duke of Westminster, Chanel’s British lover)…– made her the figure we cherish her to be; a revolutionary.

    To finish off, I would simply like to remind everyone that when thinking about the ‘top 5 designers of all-time’, one should think of revolutionary individuals, people who were able to make society rethink the norms of clothing, and make them understand that, above the idea of making money or pleasing people, it concerns the search for ultimate beauty.

    Adieu Yves Saint Laurent, vous qui etiez le dernier grand maitre du vingtieme siecle. Sachez que votre place sur l’echelon de la mode est indiscutable.

    -Alex PC

  99. phyllis

    June 2, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    BALENCIAGA without question.

  100. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Yves Saint Laurent was the first designer to book afro american models for his haute couture show, this was in 1983. Among countless things, I give him credit for that.

  101. Nanashi

    June 2, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    While I love Balenciaga, I would choose Yohji, Rei Kawakubo or Martin Margiela—in the sense that they also were revolutionary in changing the way people look at couture, they opened up new ways of thinking about clothings–bringing black, and flat shoes, challenging us to keep on thinking–and if I had to add only one more to the list it would be Yohji. I would say why not make it top 7 or 8 and also add Westwood, too.

  102. AnonymousJK

    June 2, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Given that today everything is disposable and nothing stands the test of time, I’d have to say the, or my top five desigers are:

    1. Christian Dior – original
    2. Cristobal Balenciaga – original
    3. Perry Ellis – original
    4. Halston – original
    5. Vivienne Westowood

  103. Acrata

    June 2, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    a) Worth
    b) Vionnet
    c) Balenciaga
    d) Dior
    e) Saint-Laurent

  104. Holly Golightly

    June 2, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    #5. Givenchy/Balenciaga

  105. Miah

    June 2, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    1. Christian Dior (Without a doubt)
    2. Yves Saint Laurent (RIP)
    3. Coco Chanel
    4. Miuccia Prada
    5. Gucci

    I really just don’t think Marc Jacobs or Ralph Lauren have places on this list. Marc would positively be on my post-70s list, but greatest of all time list? not really.

  106. emma

    June 2, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    #5 Kenzo …or Christian Lacroix

  107. will_c

    June 2, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    1. Balenciaga
    2. Dior
    3. Saint Laurent
    4. Schiaparelli
    5. Chanel

    And anyone who says a top-5 list in insensitive to YSL’s passing is being a bit overemotional: being placing him alongside greats like Dior or Balenciaga is one of the highest complements a designer could receive.

  108. Gabriela

    June 2, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    YSL was great, marvelous artist, and great worker and he’ll always be remembered. I’m a fan. Edition 24 is one of the most wonderful and clever collections I’ve ever seen.

    BTW, I think that this discussion of who are the 5 top designers doesn’t lead anywhere because it is only based in subjective and personal opinions.

    Like above commenters mentioned, I don’t think that a ‘comparing designers dicussion’ is the most sensitive thing to do in this post.

  109. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Ralph Lauren would be no. 5

  110. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    ralph Lauren

  111. jj

    June 2, 2008 at 6:23 pm


    Ralph Lauren


  112. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    NOBODY mentioned Issey Miyake? Only one mention of Kenzo (so far)? smh

    Americans…Mainbocher or Oscar de le Renta, but there was also the lesser known but incredibly gifted James Galanos, Adolfo, and Pauline Trigere

    Italy…Versace or Valentino, but way too many to name

  113. anna

    June 2, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Ralph Lauren

  114. suzanne nelson

    June 2, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    #5 for me has be either Balenciaga or Vionnet, and at a pinch i go for Vionnet.

    Yves St Laurent was an amazing unique talent, a great artist and designer. Yet he was all too often portrayed as a tortured soul despite his luxurious lifestyle and money, i can’t imagine his life was happy. I hope his passing was peaceful. we must rejoice in his legacy, the beauty he has left in the world.

  115. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Issey Miyake
    Dres Van Notten
    Helmut Lang
    Raf Simmons

  116. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    5. Ralph Lauren
    6. Giannii Versace (not Donatella)
    7. Dolce & Gabbana
    8. Prada
    9. Helmut Lang
    10. Donna Karan

  117. Edwin Maxwell

    June 2, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Coco Chanel
    Christian Dior
    Yves Saint Laurent
    Karl Lagerfeld
    Crystobal Balenciaga
    (not necessarily in that order)

    But definitely not Giorgio Armani, I’m sorry I think to be legendary you need to keep up the ability to create new and noteworthy collections. His last 5 (at the least) collections have been worse than Sui or Furstenburg… not legends. Seriously Spring 08, what is that?

  118. sarah

    June 2, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    hmm tough.

    and at the risk of controversey, I find it slightly offensive that people would include Tom Ford alongside such luminaries.

  119. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Claire McCardell
    Issey Miyake
    Perry Ellis (the real Perry– not that crap now, not the rip-offs that Marc Jacobs did on staff and afterwards– look at the old pictures)
    Charles James

    Sorry! I can’t count!

  120. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    that man is amazing.

    actually slimane could be up there too.

  121. Jacqueline

    June 2, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I also say Charles Frederick Worth deserves to be included in your list. Perhaps he should even be number one.

    Worth was the original designer. Before him, a woman went to her dressmaker and told her what the dress should look like. Worth reversed this thinking, telling women what they should wear and how to wear it.

    Plus, he was the first man to design. He paved the way for all these other revolutionary male designers.

  122. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I agree with everyone who said Ralph Lauren for #5. I can’t believe you left him out Sart!

  123. J

    June 2, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    If I were to finish yours I would say Lagerfeld.

    Here is mine:

    -Coco Chanel
    -Miuccia Prada
    -Marc Jacobs

    I have to be honest though I dont know if I can settle on that order. Every designer adds something different to the fashion scene.

  124. chip

    June 2, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    I’m not sure of what the criterion is for this top five list, however I can give my subjective fifth pick: Ralph Lauren. He is my number one designer actually.

  125. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    I Think the last century we had the greatests fashion designers ever…
    5.balenciaga(the fashion architect)

    and It´s difficult to choose only 5!

  126. pixie

    June 2, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Ralph Lauren, Levi Strauss, your kidding right? I think they both changed fashion in very large measure but they are hardly in the same category as YSL or Chanel!
    In my view Armani does not belong on the list either.

    My vote would be for Balenciaga.

    Also, I don’t think its inappropriate at all to discuss YSL, fashion, other designers, the fashion world, the history of design, our opinion of the top designers, on the day after his death. I think its most appropriate.

  127. muranogirl

    June 2, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Recently I caught this documentary: Yves Saint Laurent: 5 Avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris (2002) and was really struck by his presence and talent.

    I would add Valentino to your list Sart.

  128. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    I wouldn’t say that making a Top Five here is disrespectful to M. Yves Saint Laurent…but I’m sure this isn’t very elegant.

  129. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 7:28 pm


  130. Peter

    June 2, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    1. CoCo Chanel
    2. YSL
    3. Cristobal Balenciaga
    4. Issey Miyake
    5. Elsa Schiaparelli

    There are so many people who make me passionate about fashion that I think it makes most sense when compiling this list to leave the new school out of it. I also chose people on the basis of innovation plus excitement. So yes, my list is very personalized.

    Marc Jacobs has nothing to do with YSL. If it wasn’t for the huge changes in fashion business that YSL’s career created Marc Jacobs would not be the millionaire multi-company conglomerate that he is today. (no disrespect to Jacobs, an impressive individual in his own right.)

    For my list, I choose to expedite Dior all together. He was certainly important and influential, but his big innovations were not entirely original.

    Chanel — she was not only innovative and original, but she’s such an interesting character and had the power to come back from the dead more than once. By the time she was YSL’s age, she was starting up again!

    YSL — truly innovative and masterful with tailoring. Along with the guidance of Pierre Berge, changed the way fashion does business.

    Balenciaga — even Dior knew Balenciaga was the best and his work just makes me so excited. He has to be on my list!

    Miyake — this man may not have as large an impact on those of us in Europe and the US, but if we talk about the whole world, not just Europe; Miyake has invented so much. Miyake stands alone when we talk about creating something entirely new and undoubtedly innovative.

    Schiaparelli — another personal favorite, and I almost put Vionnet, but Schiaparilli just made such exciting and daring clothes.

  131. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Balenciaga. It is about invention, which includes shape/form.

    Pierre Cardin? He did future/space minimalism way before Helmut.

    And correction: Helmut did not inspire Yohji…Tom for? as stylistnot a creator. I thought this was a serious fashion blog.

  132. Kanani

    June 2, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    It’s hard because I think over the generations and each time I come up with different ones. I mean, how can I leave out Pierre Cardin in the 1960′s or even Paco Rabanne or Coureges? Or into the 80′s and Issey Miyake? Ah, you make my head work in overdrive, Sart!
    But off the top of my head, the ones who I always heard about when I grew up as a kid in my Mom’s sewing room…
    For Haute Couture:

    1. Mainbocher
    2. Dior
    3. Givenchy
    4. Chanel
    5. Vionnet

  133. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 7:55 pm


  134. luckybastard

    June 2, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    ralph lauren. he romanticized the staple of americana like no one before or since and makes styles of clothing for almost anyone- not just fashionistas and hipsters.

  135. Jean Kallina

    June 2, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Saddened by the loss of one of the most influential designers EVER. I loved almost everything he did, and still can not give up my vintage YSL blazer and other items, even though they really do not fit me now. I have had them for 20 years, and when I come across them in my closet, I smile…. so beautiful. Great Legend…. no one to compare to. Chanel and YSL…. after that it is another level.

  136. rohan

    June 2, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    What about Calvin Klein !? He is the one who really defined and brought to the forefront of fashion the american modern minimalist chic.

  137. kira

    June 2, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    top fives are extremely subjective and the canon of fashion history is still being written. Five very influential couture designers would be (in order of appearance):


    I would throw Poiret, Lucille (Lady Duff Gordon), Schiaparelli, and Courreges on if this was a top 10 (reserving the last for Issey Miyake who is not couture)

    Also, I would define tomorrow’s top 5 as “Post-Modern” or “Contemporary” or “Post-Couture” (acknowledging that couture is indeed dead), not “Modern” with a capital M. Ancient Greeks and Romans were Modern. The 20′s were Modern. The 60′s were Modern. We live in a Post-Modern era.

  138. Elana

    June 2, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    I am so sad to hear about Yves Saint Laurent!

    I think brilliant designers that will be recognized in the future will definitly include:
    Marc Jacobs (while he is more modern, he will definitly be an icon and a legend in the future)
    Alber Elbaz
    Nicholas Ghesquiere
    Olivier Theyskens
    Dries Van Noten
    Miucca Prada
    John Galliano

  139. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    GALLIANO is #5! He’s a freakin’ genius.

  140. Jeffrey I

    June 2, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Fashion is a such a personal thing. Everyone has their own taste & personal style so I am sure each list submitted will be different. Since my tastes and personal styles have evolved over the years based on mood or life stage I had to submit 3 – they are only my opinions reflecting my own tastes. I am certainly not saying mine are better than any other lists here or anywhere else.

    List #1 – Those who have always inspired me – personally and professionally
    1. Yves Saint Laurent
    2. Christobal Balenciaga
    3. Karl Lagerfeld
    4. Christian Dior
    5. Coco Chanel

    List #2
    Those who showed me how to create something new with knowledge of the past
    1. Calvin Klein
    2. Halston
    3. Giorgio Armani
    4. Donna Karan
    5. Geoffrey Beene & Bill Blass
    (it’s my list so I can have a tie)

    List 3 – (my personal favorite)
    Those who march to the beat of their own drum – love their work or not I always feel compelled to watch what they are doing…

    1. Dries Van Noten
    2. Miucca Prada
    3. Olivier Theyskens
    4. Marc Jacobs – Signature & L.V.
    5. Alexander McQueen
    6. Nicolas Ghesquiere
    Thank you for creating this forum to share opinions Mr.Schuman you are doing a fabulous job!


  141. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    dior, ysl, balenciaga, givenchy, armani

  142. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Carolina Herrera and Ralph Lauren.

  143. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Rudi Gernreich or Claire McCardell.

  144. anyimage

    June 2, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Sorry but to suggest Ralph Lauren or Marc Jacobs is a bit of a joke in the context of influential 20th century designers. They’d be high on a list of INFLUENCED designers since all they do is rip off other designers. If we’re going to throw any Americans into the discussion it ought to be Geoffrey Beene and Donna Karan.

    Also I don’t quite understand this distinction between High Couture and Post Couture. True Haute Couture has not changed except in style and accessibility. The Dior Couture of Galliano and Christian Dior is no different in the experience of having a garment fitted perfectly to your body and made completely by hand. This is why YSL could not pass the reigns of his Couture house to Tom Ford, because he is incapable of performing such a task.

  145. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    definetly Cristobal.. easily… and those designers (top 5) should be placed no order.. they just are great…

    have you thought about designers like poiret and gris and lanvin though???

  146. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    post 1970s

    Jean Paul Gaultier
    Alexader McQueen
    John Galliano
    Karl Lagerfeld
    Miucca Prada

  147. go boo boo

    June 2, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Lagerfield. Nice tribute to YSL.

  148. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    I think #5 on your list should be Pucci or Valentino, I can’t decide!

  149. Diego Montoya

    June 2, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Top 5 of all times :


    Top 5 modern ( post 70′s) :

    Yves Saint Laurent
    Rei Kawakubo
    Jean Paul Gaultier
    Giorgio Armani

  150. Kristoff

    June 2, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Yves. Such a monkey person. Fabulous in this way. For him, I create Le Singe mort …


    (forgive my outburst)

    So fabulous. Please, no?

    I think so, yes.

  151. The Federalist

    June 2, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Off topic:

    Has anyone seen that excellent photograph of YSL and Audrey Hepburn, where they are walking down a city street?

    I thought of it yesterday and I’d love to save it to my hard drive for inspiration.

  152. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Rick Owens, Alexander McQueen, Christopher Bailey, Olivier Theyskens, and JP Gaultier…in no order in particular.

  153. Lina

    June 2, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Yves Saint Laurent
    Givenchy or Vionnet

  154. april

    June 2, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    goes without saying marc jacobs

  155. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    For any Montrealers visiting this, there is a fabulous YSL exposition debuting this week at the Musée Des Beaux Arts.. be sure to check it out

  156. Dovid

    June 2, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Not very fashion forward –– I know. But my favorite nonetheless: Ralph Lauren. He’s a man with impeccable tastes, whose tailored clothing is always beautiful.

  157. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    I DO appreciate his ground breaking early design…..I have to say, I’m much more impressed with the French designers with the more forward thinking artistic bent:
    -Thierry Mugler
    -Claude Montana

  158. Anonymous

    June 2, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    1. Chanel – for creating fashion for women
    2. Dior – for creating fashion for the other kind of woman
    3. Vionnet – for her contribution to the science and craft of fashion
    4. Miyake – for broadening the idea and perception of fashion
    5. Balenciaga – for bringing truth to fashion

  159. Sariush

    June 2, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    I second Diego Montoya:

    Coco Chanel
    Christian Dior
    Yves Saint Laurent

    Oscar de La Renta
    Karl Lagerfeld
    Christian Lacroix
    Proenza Schouler

    I read your comment above, and I can honestly say that he made a revolution as to womens daily wear, pants for one thing and the incident with Nan Kempner where she was trying to enter a retaurant in NY and she was not allowed because she was wearing pants; she took them off making a statement entering only with a jacket. Where would modern day women be today if not for Mr. Ives’ pants and safari jackets?

  160. Sterling-haired Lady

    June 2, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Are we still on pre-70s? Oleg Cassini would have to be on the list for me, with his designs for Gene Tierney, Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy. No one else with designs quite like his! His fashions for the women are so beautiful and feminine—not frilly or fussy, but more subtly womanly. Love them!

  161. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 12:04 am

    1. Dior
    2. Lauren
    3. Saint Laurent
    4. Browne
    5. Sternberg

  162. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 12:34 am

    Paul Poiret – he did after all remove the corset

  163. Equipo Dash & Cash

    June 3, 2008 at 12:52 am

    I may be not very original, but I love Valentino’s work and think he deserve his place in the list.

    I like the androgine tendency of YSL, it has been a success!


  164. Anje

    June 3, 2008 at 12:56 am

    Modern designers:
    1. Viktor and Rolf. It is worth it to study the construction of their early prototypes: Classic and thorough.
    2. Westwood, Gaultier and others, for their playfulness.
    3. Yamomoto and others, for the way they use textiles.
    4. Young designers coming from the new Europeans. They have a new way of using colors, construction, materials and decorations.
    5. Us. Yes. we who are incorporating ideas from the catwalks into our own daily clothes.

  165. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 1:25 am

    armani is not in my top 5. i think a lot of what he did was just a continuation of what ysl had started. balenciaga before armani

  166. mwade

    June 3, 2008 at 1:47 am

    1. dior
    2. ysl
    3. coco
    4. balenciaga
    5. lagerfeld

    tom ford not a designer? seriously that is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. he didn’t reinvent the wheel, but he revitalized two flailing brands, one of which was that started by the man whom we mourn today……

  167. Wendy

    June 3, 2008 at 2:21 am

    There are too many great talents and inspirational designers to just rank them.

    I mean how does one rank them anyways? Based on what? How does one really measure talent??

    I am certainly sad about the departure of YSL who was such an influential fashion figure but now that I am over the shock, I think I will just celebrate his talent.

    Rest in peace ☆

  168. polly

    June 3, 2008 at 3:04 am

    You don’t put Chanel at number 1? There has been no day of my life that I haven’t seen some woman, on some street, wearing -

    small neat twinset with pencil skirt
    jacket or cardigan with contrasting piping
    two tone shoes
    shoes with contrasting piping
    crisp white with crisp black
    oversized pearl necklace to accessorise black
    oversized pearl ear clips to accessorise black
    the famous tweed suit.

    And it’s bullet proof. It’s very rare for it not to work at some level.

    Is that not a more fundamental effect on fashion than any one thing any other designer has done?

    Dear M. Yves St Laurent, today I will take out my mahogany half moon YSL bag which was the first grown up handbag I’ve ever bought, and the most pleasing tool I use in my daily life.

    And thank you for making your garden in Marrakech open to the public.

  169. saudade

    June 3, 2008 at 3:10 am

    It is now tomorrow where I am.

    Alexander McQueen.

  170. irma la dulce

    June 3, 2008 at 3:13 am


    Balenciaga is, no doubt, in first place.

  171. Balenciaga's

    June 3, 2008 at 3:20 am

    1- Chanel
    3- Balenciaga( after Hubert de Givenchy , Courreges , Oscar de la Renta,…)
    4- Christian Dior
    5 – Yves saint Laurent .

    I think this before 1970


  172. Joanna

    June 3, 2008 at 3:28 am

    5. Balenciaga, for revolutionizing the female silhouette

  173. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 3:31 am


  174. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 3:37 am

    I can’t believe not a single person has said Margiela thus far!?!

  175. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 3:49 am

    Viv West

  176. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 4:16 am

    I am surprised that you did not include Mr Valentino amongst those 5.
    1. Christian Dior
    2. Yves St Laurent
    3. Coco Chanel
    4. Hubert de Givenchy
    5. Valentino

    Mr Valentino and Mr Givenchy dressed the most iconic women in the last 40 years. How come he who dresses an icon is not included?

    If asked what Valentino for fashion the answer would be embellish women. He may not have revolutioned the designs yet noone will ever make those wonderful red dresses and no one will ever draw the most iconic wedding dresses of our times. IE. Princess Marie Chantal of Greece, Lavinia Borromeo or Princess Maxima of Holland recently. Jacquie Kennedy when married Aristotle Onassis.

    Mr St Laurent shall be greatly missed. His genious will last forever

  177. Emily

    June 3, 2008 at 4:29 am

    Number 5 is tricky when their in the company of the other four who are so obviously legends.

    But i think mabye Lagerfield and Valentino deserve a mention

  178. isabelle

    June 3, 2008 at 4:59 am


    2.Rei Kawakubo
    3.Massimo Osti
    4.Helmut Lang
    5.Jean-Paul Gaultier

  179. alterego

    June 3, 2008 at 5:02 am

    1.- Chanel
    2.- Dior
    3.- Balenciaga
    4.- YSL
    5.- Givenchy

    YSL was a genious. We miss him.

  180. The Man Who Knew Too Much

    June 3, 2008 at 5:32 am

    post 70:
    1. alexandre herchcovitch
    2. Yamomoto
    3. Marc Jacobs
    4. Galliano
    5. dsquared

  181. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 5:36 am

    I am so stunned NO ONE even mentionned Emanuel Ungaro…
    Just go back and check his work, there are all masterpieces.

  182. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 6:04 am

    I always had this admiration for Christian Lacroix. (Beauty in the details…) md

  183. lucas

    June 3, 2008 at 6:20 am

    “Haute Couture is like an orchestra, for which only Balenciaga is the conductor. The rest of us are just musicians, following the directions that he gives us.”

    Christian Dior

  184. Cristina

    June 3, 2008 at 7:25 am

    Wihout any doubt… Balenciaga number one. Dior didn´t proposed anything new. Every thing Balenciaga did was new.
    Best regards to everybody!!

  185. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 7:28 am

    Balenciaga, cristobal
    Coco Chanel
    Christian Dior, no galliano
    Yves Saint laurent, R.I.P.
    Comme des Garcons
    Vivienne Westwood/ malcom mc laren
    Romeo Gigli, transformed the business suit in something far more poetic , in the 80s, way beyond Armani
    Martin Margiela
    Helmut lang
    Balenciaga, Nicolas
    Lanvin, Alber

    Here we are talking.. these designers really changed fashion and the attitude towards fashion

    here we are talking designers not stylists.

    Please do add designers to it which you think made or make a diffference and are in this leaque

  186. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 7:29 am

    so it’s tomorrow – Top 5 Greatest modern designers. tougher than yesterday, so many to chose from, nowadays we live in the age of the designer and widespread designconciousness in so many fields. So, ok, here goes:

    1.Karl Largerfeld – he is modernity
    3.Muiccia Prada
    4.Donna Karan – 7 easy pieces
    5.early Galliano tied= with mid career Westwood for romance, beauty and fantasy.
    Sart – Thank you – i’ve really enjoyed this challenge and reading all the thought provoking and inspirational posts – all the discussions. it’s been great, and a worthy and positive tribute to the great YSL.

  187. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Hard to choose betwen Balenciaga and Schiaparelli.

    What on earth is someone like Donna Karan or Ralph Lauren doing being mentioned in the same sentence as the greats?

    HC: Chanel, Givenchy, Yves St. Laurent, Schiaparelli, Dior, Balenciaga.

    PC: Dolce & Gabanna, Lanvin, Roberto Cavalli, Lacroix, Galliano and my new favourite Osman Yousefzada

  188. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 8:10 am

    WOW!!!!!!!!!! How can NOBODY even mention the Iconic Ozwald Boateng! This man has revolutionized Savile Row… and thus has my #1 Spot!

    #2 Ralph Lauren
    #3 Calvin Klein
    #4 Donna Karan
    #5 Versace

  189. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 8:47 am

    to anon 7:40 from anon 7:29

    Donna Karan- i’m a woman, for me Donna Karan revolutionised dressing in the same way Claire McCardell did for women with her sportswear approach in the 40s and 50s. Donna Karan has made great fashion for women regardless of body shape and size, i’m 5’6″ never been more than 115lb but i know from my friends and all the magazines out there female body image issues are huge and so many women suffer because of them.
    Donna Karan may not be Gabriele Chanel but i feel she deserves a mention.
    I’m with you on Ralph Lauren, however although he’s one great marketer…

  190. Emily

    June 3, 2008 at 8:56 am

    There are too many fabulous designers for me to narrow down a top five. I do, however, feel that we can’t have this discussion with Hermes. Along with Armani, they remain one of the last great houses to be family owned and operated.

    As for the respect/disrespect issue: this entire blog is an homage to the art we wear and because the artists are by nature very incestuous (how many houses did Tom Ford put his name on?) then singing the praises of YSL and his colleagues feels completely fitting to me.

  191. MadameSnob

    June 3, 2008 at 8:57 am



  192. Jorrit

    June 3, 2008 at 9:07 am

    I don’t think Fashion is about competition, it’s about beauty and about the time we are living in.
    Acctually I think its quite disrespectfull to start a top5 on day a person like Mr. YSL passed away.



  193. Marianna

    June 3, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Lagerfeld has to be somewhere in a “”"top 5″”". Yet at the same time how is this top 5 thing classified? It seems almost impossible to limit it to just 5. There are like the first 50,60 years of the 20th century designers (Chanel, Dior, YSL) and then the later 20th century designers (Versace, Armani..) and then more recent (Jacobs, Galliano..). I think it is all very relative- the impact they created in fashion is measured vs society, WWII, etc etc… I don’t know if there are only 5 that fit in a list,so many designers have done good and created their own signature. I honestly could not do a top 5 list. It’s also easier to relate to designers in most recent periods- I could not “feel” the impact of Chanel and what she did for women. But I can today more clearly see the impact of someone like Marc Jacobs, McQueen, Galliano, Ford, etc.

    ANYWAY, so I do not have a top5 list, but I do definately admire Lagerfeld. Another designer that is amongst my personal favourites (although not comparable in magnitude to YSL for instance) is Elie Saab. That’s it for my overly long comment!

  194. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    1. CHANEL
    2. YSL
    3. PRADA
    5. DIOR


    1. CHLOE

  195. Pola

    June 3, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    My 5ht is Tom Ford, but the best has yet to come so I will understand if you don’t agree with me NOW.

  196. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    1. Dior
    2. Chanel
    3. YSL
    4. Armani
    5. VALENTINO!!!!!

  197. TJT

    June 3, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    I’m beating a dead horse now, I’m sure, but I want to clarify my Tom Ford comment: I don’t deny the greatness of Mr. Ford. He certainly DID revive two of the greatest fashion houses…because he’s a brilliant art director with an eye for what works commercially; not because he’s a brilliant designer. Tom Ford really did revolutionize the fashion industry by launching the luxury brand on a global scale. Did he revolutionize the actual fashions people wear? No. And if you say otherwise, look around you. In the couture realm, every girl has SOMETHING that looks “so Chanel.” In the “post-couture” every girl has something that Donna Karan gave voice to. Tom doesn’t have that. Sorry, friends.

  198. t38

    June 3, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    RL!!! oh my god you are mad. All-Time Greatest born in Europe!!! (not about the modern designers)

    No doubt: Balenciaga is number 5.

  199. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Absolutely Valentino. To be included on my list a designer has to have created works of enduring beauty.

  200. amiselfcentred

    June 3, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    very very much my personal choices.

    post 1970:
    saint laurent
    kaiser karl lagerfeld
    vivienne westwood
    antony price
    hedi slimane

    charles james
    cristobal balenciaga
    madeleine vionnet
    yves saint laurent
    charles frederick worth


  201. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    balenciaga completely number 1.
    before dior, after dior.
    the house holds more sway now than dior;
    what dior did was impressive; but no, balenciaga takes it. new silhouettes, new colours, an absolutely unique outlook. even dior himself called balenciaga the master of couture.
    ultimately, he just made beautiful clothes better than anybody else. x

  202. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    All Time:
    1. Chanel
    2. Dior
    3. YSL
    4. Balenciaga
    5. n/a. Anyone else would just be for the sake of adding on a 5th. No other designers have ever REALLY reached this elite Parisian couture status. Armani has hardly revolutionized fashion and I truly believe, in terms of womenswear, the fashion world would’ve been better off without him. He’s never really done anything so original or innovative in my opinion.

    Modern post 70′s:
    1. Marc Jacobs
    2. Karl Lagerfeld
    3. Miuccia Prada
    4. Proenza Schouler –truly modern, yet gorgeous and wearable design, especially amazing for two designers at such a young age!
    5. tied between Chloé (Karl Lagerfeld & Phoebe Philo eras) and Alber Elbaz for Lanvin. [CAN'T BELIEVE NO ONE HAS SAID HIM YET! THE MAN IS A GENIUS!!]

    Oh, and if you’re interested, there is an AMAZING non-fiction novel by Alicia Drake called “The Beautiful Fall” about the careers and feuds between Yves Saint Laurent and Lagerfeld and the Golden Age of fashion in the ’70s. It’s really great and I recommend it to anyone!
    R.I.P. Monsieur Saint Laurent

  203. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Balenciaga…hands down.

  204. Bradlex

    June 3, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Still surprised Westwood is not featuring highly here. Maybe she’s more important coming from the UK but I can’t think of a more important designer.

    She’s iconic though being mid 70′s onwards is relatively modern.

    Dior Homme is the benchmark for me however.

    Elsa Schiaparelli for revolutionising women’s wear.

  205. Alyssa

    June 3, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    1 balenciaga
    2 yohji
    3 dior
    4 chanel
    5 ysl

  206. iadoreamore

    June 3, 2008 at 11:30 pm


  207. Liz

    June 4, 2008 at 12:29 am

    i just saw the yves saint laurent exhibit at the museum of fine arts in montreal. fantastic. and i saw it about two days before he died.

  208. Anonymous

    June 4, 2008 at 2:26 am

    Every fashion historian and fashion addict knows that BALENCIAGA was the Greatest designer of the 20th century. His unorthodox used of colour revolutionized the severe colours of the French Couture, which later contributed to Saint Laurent daring colour combinations. Balenciaga’s cut were and still are superior to many couturiers. Even to this day he still serves as inspirationto the fashion world. Whoever wrote Marc et al needs a SERIOUS intense course in fashion history

  209. Anonymous

    June 4, 2008 at 3:38 am

    #5 should be Dolce & Gabbana! in my opinion anyway… :)

  210. santa mistura

    June 4, 2008 at 5:09 am

    i think that YSL was important over all, because he was a strong visionaire, his works change the way of study and development of products, using subject he present new cultures, and he start the pret-a-porter. If he don´t existed the fashion was live only for the hight society with the haute couture.
    so for the pret-a-porter he´s unique ;)) it´s like before and after YSL

  211. brii

    June 4, 2008 at 7:15 am

    Haute Couture:


  212. Anonymous

    June 4, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Dsquared ?????

    Hilarious.. I think there is defenitly a generation and knowledge gap somewhere.


  213. amyw

    June 4, 2008 at 11:23 am

    All Time Greatest Designers:
    1. Coco Chanel
    2. Paul Poiret
    3. Prada
    4. Dior
    5. Yves Saint Laurent

    All Time Greatest Modern Designers:
    1. Karl Lagerfeld
    2. Yohji Yamamoto
    3. Band of Outsiders
    4. John Galliano
    5. Viktor and Rolf

  214. Thomasd

    June 4, 2008 at 1:39 pm


  215. DeanTsugio

    July 3, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Great dialogue — different tastes abound — Fashion isn’t Art — it’s decorative art — as such, it dates itself. There are a lot of designers thrown out — but I thought I would mention those who haven’t gotten much press — I mean, really, as if Marc Jacobs needs another vote — but very little nods to Beene, Ungaro, Montana, Mizrahi — really great creative degigners, with original visions. And no Narciso? And what about Giorgio Sant’Angelo — who could sew a dress in ten minutes and make it look like a million bucks. Now that’s fashion.

  216. Kathryn

    August 19, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Surely the top five must include Miuccia Prada? for both labels, Miu Miu as well. All the characteristics you describe are there. She has set real women free, to live and to dream.

  217. Jeanlaid Alvarez

    February 7, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    5# Undoubtedly Balenciaga

  218. Su

    September 29, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    1. Chanel
    2. Balenciaga
    3. Dior

  219. Mina

    May 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Obviously, number five is Valentino Galiano.

  220. Sylvia

    June 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Lanvin….. duh!

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