Artists strive to leave their mark on the world. Fashion designers are no exception. Some of the most recognizable designers – from Coco Chanel to Oscar de la Renta – continue to influence us today. While many designers find success during their lifetime, some find their fame far later than this. Even in death, these iconic fashion legends continue to inspire and influence the fashion industry.
We’re looking at three legends that the fashion world has had to say ‘goodbye’ to in recent months – and the mark they left behind on the industry.
Alber Elbaz was a fashion designer who worked at some of the biggest names in the industry – from Yves Saint Laurent to Guy Laroche – before becoming the creative director of Lanvin in 2001. He’s credited for taking the Parisian brand to the next level in Hollywood, making it a red-carpet staple by forming close relationships with celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker and Meryl Streep.
In 2014, Elbaz unexpectedly left Lanvin, later explaining that he wanted to “live a life not as a fashion designer but just as a human being”. Shortly before he died in 2021, Elbaz launched his size-inclusive brand, AZ Fashion. While known for creating famous moments like Kim Kardashian’s first Vogue cover, Elbaz is perhaps most remembered for bringing the conversation about size inclusivity to the luxury fashion niche.
The fashion world was rocked by the unexpected news of Virgil Abloh’s death in late 2021. Abloh was quickly on the path to becoming the next Karl Lagerfeld, founding the streetwear brand Off-White in 2013 before becoming Louis Vuitton’s menswear artistic director in 2018. Before his death in November 2021, Abloh was becoming the face of LVMH, taking on a role in shaping the direction of the fashion industry’s most influential conglomerate.
What made Virgil Abloh unique – and one of the most influential designers of the 21st century – is how his distinctive aesthetic bridged the gap between the luxury fashion world and the emerging streetwear niche. Abloh’s meteoric rise within the industry started in 2009 when he joined Fendi as an intern after training as an architect.
As a barrier-breaking designer, Virgil Abloh was the first African American to serve as the artistic director of a French luxury fashion house and one of the most influential people in the world, according to Time magazine.
And in January this year, the world bids farewell to Thierry Mugler, the French fashion designer who’s hyperfeminine fashion brand, Mugler, is perhaps best known for curating the concept of power dressing for women in the 1980s. His silhouettes of cinch-waists and sharp shoulders are instantly recognizable.
Mugler has been a ‘go-to’ designer for celebrities as varied as David Bowie to Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga. This fashion legend will always be remembered for bringing theatre to his designs, inspiring other fashion designers like Rick Owens and Alexander McQueen. Although he retired in 2002, Mugler has left behind an indisputable legacy with his unapologetically avant-garde designs.
Photo credit: Forbes