Both graduates of Central Saint Martin, Marta and Paulo are the brains behind Marques Almeida. They work primarily with denim, repurposing it into original and unmatched silhouettes that you could never really fathom until they’re presented in front of you. All the clothes are handmade—the denim is ripped purposefully and meticulously so as not to not unravel. Wearing a piece of Marques Almeida is like wearing a miniature work of art—a way to never go unnoticed.
2. Comme des Garçons
Rei Kawakubo is a Japanese designer who founded the illustrious Comme des Garçons brandin 1973. Kawakubo is sort of fashion’s unofficial god, and whether it’s in spite of or because of her lack of formal training in fashion design, it’s nonetheless impressive. Comme des Garçons has been praised as “anti-fashion” and it’s easy to see why. Kawakubo also started Dover Street Market—a concept retail store that’s really more like a museum, which started in London and just opened up its second store in New York City. Dover Street Market carries all 29 of the Comme des Garçons lines.
3. Mark McNairy
Mark McNairy is an American fashion designer, and the former creative director of J. Press. He came onto the scene with his own label in 2008, first designing footwear for men’s and then venturing into menswear. The look is practical menswear with a quirky flair; and menswear that women look good in too. His clothes are known for their signature smiley faces over camouflage print. Recently, he has been venturing into womenswear, making boyish yet sleek silhouettes and simple, clean, yet unparalleled shoes. Even more recently, McNairy collaborated with Pharrell Williams’ Billionaire’s Boys Club to make Bee Line.
4. J.W. Anderson
J.W. Anderson first garnered attention when he was 26 years old. Since then, the Northern Irish designer has risen to unsurpassable levels of fame. He’s known for reassembling typically Anglo designs, in a punk, Vivienne Westwood kind-of-way, and for recently setting out to blur the line between feminine and masculine clothes. In his last two shows, his male models have worn halter-tops and chunky high heels.
Looking at Jacquemus—their clothes, designers, models and editorials—feels like being transported into an old French film. Everything from the teeny tiny skirts that are structured and so have an element of class to them, to the models they use and the knee-high socks styled with the clothes scream French and makes my heart melt.
Another characteristically French designer, Carven is a bit more sophisticated compared to a brand like Jacquemus. They’re known for their suits, quirky prints and biker jackets fashioned out of wool. For their last collection they made a couple pieces out of a beautiful pastel-colored tie-dye print. Just when you think they’re going full-on, serious, and stiff working woman, they bring you back for playtime.
7. Simone Rocha
It takes nothing more than a glance at the Simone Rocha section in Dover Street Market to see the appeal of her clothes. Born in Dublin, Ireland, Rocha went on to receive her MA at Central Saint Martins, after which she gained massive amounts of recognition. Her silhouettes and colors—she’s known for utilizing pink—are notably girly, as are her shoes, which are often oxford style and embellished with crystals.
8. Isa Arfen
Founded by Serafina Sama in 2011, Isa Arfen was initially inspired by the retro glamour of Slim Aarons’ society photographs. The London-based designer likes to think of her line as an homage to her hometown in Ravenna, Italy, where the women are especially eccentric and individual, and wear a distinct style of relaxed, yet unconventionally styled clothing.
Toga was founded by Japanese designer Yaskuko Furuta and was launched in 1997. They make some of the coolest most unique designs—from faux fur, oversized sweaters to awesome suspender skirts and boots that resemble the Chloé studded ankle boot, except with a distinctly Toga flair.
10. Dries Van Noten
One of the Antwerp Six, Dries Van Noten hails from Belgium and rose to fame in the 80s. Since then, his clothes have only improved. Though he began in the 80s, he debuted his line of womenswear in 1993. When designing, Dries typically begins with the fabric; he’s known for bold prints and embroidery, and deservedly received the CFDA’s International Award in 2008.
11. Jean Paul Gaultier
To have your clothes exhibited at a celebrated museum and before you’ve even died is a rather huge feat. The Brooklyn Museum has an exhibition up right now, showcasing some of Jean Paul Gaultier’s finest works throughout history, and the craziest part is he‘s still designing and showing. His shows are always the most fun, perhaps because they inevitably reflect his clothes. He has made shirts out of Monet, has designed silk to look like denim, and favors skin-hugging designs that exude a tattooed-on look. Most importantly, he’s never irrelevant.