Effortless, contemporary and elegant – these words are all part of 3.1 Phillip Lim’s fashion vocabulary. Indeed, we are talking about a design sense that emphasises on youthful elegance achieved without trying too hard at all. Phillip Lim launched his namesake label when he was 31 years of age, no prizes for guessing the inspiration behind his brand name.
The usage of skulls and bones is one of the trademarks of the label’s designs. Another distinctive style is the ‘De Manta’ range which features bags with foldable corner flaps. Alexander McQueen was an avid scuba diver and the ‘De Manta’ range was inspired by the manta ray sea creature. With ideas found to be conceptualised from the most unusual places, the brand has continued to wow its audience time after time. Look out for unconventional pieces with a gothic appeal at Alexander McQueen.
Expect sleek cuts and sporty accents from Alexander Wang. A Parson’s School of Design drop-out, the young designer went on to intern and subsequently started his own label which has remained successful to this day. One of his signature styles includes the flamboyant designer studs on his bags which have become a hit with the edgy crowd.
Cristobal Balenciaga founded the fashion house in 1919. Possessing unsurpassed tailoring skills and being a true innovator in the fashion realm, he was a well-respected couturier. As such, he was known among his fashion peers as the designer of designers. The brand had a few quiet years since the founder’s passing but it was revived by Nicolas Ghesquière in the 2000s. The iconic motorcycle bags designed by Nicolas Ghesquière show no signs of slowing down in production and they have been around for nearly two decades. With more colours and variations added every season, there is little wonder why we never seem to get tired of it.
A brand steeped in history, Bally was founded in Switzerland in 1851. Starting out as a shoemaker, the company has some notable footwear under its belt - the Zurich pumps for the ladies and the well-handcrafted Scribe shoes for the men. Stripe designs also known as ‘Trainspotting Stripes’ are also employed in some Bally designs; they are inspired by the colours of the Swiss flag on moving trains.
Focusing on elite craftsmanship, this Italian luxury label continuously impresses with its iconic intrecciato leather goods. Characterised by its woven leather texture, every piece is exquisitely done. Bottega Veneta describes itself with the words ‘Discretion, quality, and unsurpassed craftsmanship,’. Certainly, they have lived up to the standard.
When one thinks of Burberry, one must know the Trench Coat. Thomas Burberry is the man behind his eponymous line. He invented gabardine which is a breathable, waterproof and hardwearing fabric used to make the famed coats. The brand’s weatherproof products have been used by notable personalities throughout the company’s history. Till today, the trench coat remains as a covetable item, proving it to be not just withstanding against the weather but also against the fickle fashion trends. In 2015, the three lines - Prorsum, London and Brit were all unified to be under a single label: Burberry.
Bvlgari is one of the oldest jewellery houses in the world. It was set up in 1884 by a Greek immigrant in Italy. The brand draws inspiration from their Greek and Roman roots, with a penchant for using colours in their designs. Today, Bvlgari also manufactures leather goods among other products and services that they do. Some of their iconic leather goods collections include the ‘Serpenti Forever’ and the ‘Bvlgari Bvlgari’. The house’s impressive jewellery background is evident in the exquisite hardwares used for their bags.
Céline was once a made-to-measure shoe label, making children’s shoes. What a far cry from what it is now under the helm of Phoebe Philo. Discreetly luxurious with strong silhouettes and comfort at the heart of its design, the Céline today boasts a ready-to-wear collection complete with shoes, bags and accessories. For a few years now, Céline has been the go-to brand for minimal yet plush pieces with their bags consistently making it to the ‘Want’ lists of many.
Fun, flirty and with the sense of mischief, Chiara Ferragni is a young shoe and accessories brand which appeared in the market in 2013. Its most iconic design is the ‘winking eye’ also called ‘Flirting’. Full of glitter, vibrancy and quirkiness, this is the label to turn to for a quick pick-me-up in your style.
“I thought it was pretty…”, said Gaby Aghion, the co-founder of Chloé when asked about the naming of the label. Turns out that Chloé was the name of a friend of hers. This pretty much personifies the brand – feminine with minimal effort involved, coupled with a bohemian sense of attitude. Designed as a reaction to haute couture that was reigning in post-war Paris, Chloé made it big as the pioneer pret-a-porter luxury label, giving the ladies of that era a refreshing stance to look to in their sartorial choices. Throughout the years, Chloé’s aesthetic has stayed true to its roots.
It all started when six artisans created a collection of leather bags in 1941, working from a workshop loft in Manhattan. Their leather goods soon captured the attention of sagacious customers and the brand took off from there. A perfect representation of modern luxury, Coach fills the gap in the market for well-crafted yet affordable leather goods. Today, under the helm of Stuart Vevers, Coach sees a more youthful injection to its aesthetics but also retaining its heritage with the ‘Coach 1941’ collection.
It all started in 1947 when Christian Dior debuted his first collection and took the fashion world by storm, with his ‘New Look Revolution’. Till now, his vision still inspires the designs from the label. Embodying exquisiteness and grace, the House of Dior consistently creates pieces that are highly covetable with a signature femininity to the aesthetic.
The label was established in 1985 by designer duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, with a focus on feminine styles tinged with a flirtatious nature. The Italian fashion house designs their pieces with inspirations heavily drawn from Sicilian influences, creating looks from the sweet to the sultry and favouring figure-hugging silhouettes.
Emporio Armani targets the young professional with their fashion-forward pieces designed with an elegant sensibility. This diffusion line of Giorgio Armani joined the scene in the 1980s and has appointed many big names such as David Beckham, Beyonce and Rihanna to front its campaigns. Giorgio Armani himself still designs for this line.
The luxurious use of fur in fashion probably started here at Fendi. Adele and Edoardo Fendi started the house in 1925 as a leather and fur shop and was later joined by their five daughters. Karl Lagerfeld was then brought to the house to reinterpret how fur could be converted into something completely wearable and fashionable. The ready-to-wear collection was launched in 1977 and the rest as they say, is history. The present Fendi is known for their legendary Baguette bag and in more recent times, their Bag Bugs collection as well as the Peekaboo bag.
Most would associate Furla with their iconic ‘Candy’ bags which is an innovative range of PVC bags available in a myriad of colours. That is only one facet of what the brand is about. Furla boasts of a rich Italian heritage that dates to 1927, focusing on time-honoured craftsmanship and a love for producing contemporary and elegant designs for men and women.
It was in 1921 when Guccio Gucci started a small leather goods store with a vision to fuse refined English aesthetics with Italian craftsmanship. Many of Gucci’s signature styles were developed with a good reason. The ‘horsebit’ logo was created to cater to the horse-riding clients and the green-red-green web stripe also owes its creation to equestrian inspiration. One of their most innovative ideas was to use cane for their ‘Bamboo Bag’ when the company was faced with a shortage of materials. Alessandro Michele now designs for the brand and his eccentric style sensibilities has breathed fresh life into the brand while keeping in line with Gucci’s innovativeness.
As one of the most successful Italian luxury fashion houses, one cannot expect any less from the founder who still designs the creations for the label. The exclusive Giorgio Armani line serves as the main collection of the fashion house and the creations consist of high quality apparel with a timeless appeal. The famed ‘Armani’ suit can still be found in this line where clean tailored silhouettes take centre stage.
Bejewelled shoes are intrinsic to the Giuseppe Zanotti aesthetic. After all, his first shoe collection designed in 1994 featured lustrous jewellery that caught the attention of his buyers. Exuding a bold glamour and an undeniable sex appeal, his shoes have graced the feet of many style icons, elevating the brand to greater heights. The brand at present also makes a small selection of ready-to-wear items, jewellery and leather goods but Zanotti has made it clear that they play second fiddle. “In my case, the shoes will always come first, since they’re not just accessories- they’re my universe.” says Zanotti.
Hubert de Givenchy’s designs were well loved by some of the chicest ladies in history and his biggest muse was Audrey Hepburn. The little black dress she donned in Breakfast at Tiffany’s was designed by him. In the 1950s, he became the first couturier to launch a luxury ready-to-wear collection. Subsequently, the fashion house expanded into menswear, shoes and accessories. Riccardo Tisci is at the helm today and has made the brand go from strength to strength with an attention to Givenchy’s heritage and injecting his own ideas of colour accents, sense of romanticism, sensuality and at times, mysticism.
With the many lines he has under his belt, Issey Miyake has managed to secure the fashionable crowd’s love and admiration for his innovative approach towards his creations.
The ‘Pleats Please’ and ‘Bao Bao’ collections have stood out in the wavering world of fashion trends with their unique stance and functionality.
Going against his parents’ wishes, Kenzo Takada went ahead with pursuing his passion for fashion when he was a teenager. It served him well and he managed to open a boutique in Paris after a few stints in the country. His talent took him further to set up his eponymous label which he oversaw up till 1999. At present, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony have taken over as creative directors for the brand. With Kenzo, one can always look out for the youthful vibe that is fun and colourful. The Kenzo ‘Tiger’ print has become a cult favourite over the years.
The Lanvin logo is that of a woman and a child holding hands and not many would know that the woman in the significant image is that of Jeanne Lanvin herself and her daughter. It was because of her daughter that Jeanne started making clothes and that was how others noticed her skills. The fashion house which is one of the oldest in France was established in 1889 and started out as a hat shop before being dedicated entirely to making clothes. Her signature tiered ruffled romantic style is still resounding in the Lanvin designs of today.
A fairly new contender to the quirky corner of fashion, Italy-based label Les Petits Joueurs which translates to ‘The Small Players’ boasts pop art-inspired styles which are colourful and light-hearted. The brand was brought to fame by style bloggers and other prominent personalities in the fashion scene who were seen photographed toting a bag from the label. The usage of Lego pieces and pompoms are used in the designs, ringing in images of childhood and giving it an elegant charm. The iconic ‘LOVE’ bag is the best seller of the brand and the pom pom bag have also cement its place in the collection.
Spain is the birthplace of Loewe and has remained so since the beginning. Their leather goods are still manufactured in Madrid, all done with great attention to unparalleled craftsmanship and detailing. A standout number from the brand is the longstanding Amazona bag which was first created in 1975. The bag has become an iconic covetable luxury bag from the brand. In more recent years, Jonathan Anderson became the creative director. The unification of them both has resulted in an explosion of dynamic and innovative designs that one would find hard to regard as unimpressive.
The Le Pliage from Longchamp is arguably the most ubiquitous bag style you can see on the streets. Known for its lightweight attractiveness and durability, there is little wonder why it is so popular. However, not many know that Longchamp started out as a tobacco company and the owner started making leather covers for tobacco pipes. Today, Longchamp’s range of products have extended to include not just bags but also small leather goods, luggages, accessories, shoes and ready-to-wear collections.
When something is so subtly-designed yet you still recognise it, that is when you know the brand has made their aesthetic a successful signature. Mansur Gavriel is such a brand. Focusing on clean silhouettes with minimal detailing, the label boasts a range of bags and shoes in a dizzying array of covetable colours. Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel are the geniuses behind the label which burst into the scene in 2012. Their ‘it’ bag – the bucket bag, was launched in 2013 and it proved to be so popular, it generated a waiting list!
With an impressive portfolio under his belt, Marc Jacobs is a force to be reckoned with in fashion. The American designer once said ‘For some, life has no meaning without fashion. But for me, fashion has no meaning without life." True to his words, one can always expect whimsical touches to his style that is always youthful and always the talk of the town.
Often seen toted by the young crowd, MCM is a brand that is not afraid to be flashy. In fact, this is what the luxury brand has come to stand for – being loud and proud. MCM now stands for ‘Mode Creation München’ after being acquired by a South Korean company in 2005. The label has its origins in Germany and was founded in 1976. These days, the MCM backpack remains as the most prominent and sought after item in their collection.
More accessible to the younger crowd, McQ’s designs are a blend of playful looks with a street style appeal but still unmistakably tinged with Alexander McQueen’s signature gothic touch.
MICHAEL Michael Kors offers a wide range of clothing, shoes and accessories to satisfy the consumers’ need for on-trend products. Launched in 2004, the line has its focus on handbags which are a huge hit with the masses for its affordable yet luxurious appeal.
Marketed as the rebellious little sister of Prada, Miu Miu is named after Miuccia Prada’s family nickname. Started in 1993, this diffusion line has kept up with its playful persona that is colourful, feminine and less conventional. Expect a welcoming whimsical touch to break up the monotony in fashion when it comes to Miu Miu.
For the girl who loves to shock with her dressing sense, Moschino is very much a go-to label. With their constant references to pop culture, throwback to the 80s’ and tongue-in-cheek style, Moschino has made fashion fun again. The brand’s inception was in 1983 and the designs today are still reflective of that loud decade. Jeremy scott appropriately took the reins in 2013, bringing fresh energy to the brand with his rebellious attitude that also pours out into Moschino’s aesthetic.
Mulberry’s history is deep-rooted in Somerset, England where it was founded by Roger Saul in 1971. The brand exudes a quintessentially English vibe and focuses on British craftsmanship and quality. The brand has collaborated with big British stars like Alexa Chung and Cara Delevigne for their namesake collections which have been a hit with the younger crowd. In July 2015, Johnny Coca joined the company as a Creative Director. While he keeps the core values of Mulberry in high regard, he is also looking to push the boundaries of the brand.
Established in 1913 as a luxury leather goods company in Milan, the company was then taken over by Miuccia Prada in the 70s. Under her helm, Prada expanded into making shoes and the ready-to-wear collection debuted in 1989. The collection was a far cry from what was popular during that era, pushing the boundaries of what was expected in the past. That set the tone for the label and allowed it to flourish into one of the biggest fashion powerhouses of our time.
An undeniable sense of coolness and attitude epitomises Proenza Schouler. The label’s name was a coining up of the creators’ mothers’ maiden names. Exuding a refinement that is far from being austere, the brand is heavily inspired by contemporary art and youth culture with a downtown style to its aesthetic. The young duo Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez met in design school which was also where they got their recognition when Barneys New York bought up their thesis collection. Their signature PS1 satchel was launched in 2008 and remains as an iconic number for the cool girl.
With the millennial consumers in mind, Rebecca Minkoff has captured the interest of her audience with her concept of accessible luxury. She created her first handbag in 2005 which is the Morning After Bag (M.A.B). It later spawned the Morning After Clutch (M.A.C) which has become the top seller of the label. Her bags are given names that evoke a sense of relatability to her target audience and that is part of what makes the brand so attractive.
For edgy aesthetics heavily influenced by rock ‘n’ roll, freedom and youth, Saint Laurent is the one to look to. Women love the empowerment they feel when donning the label while men who prefer nonconformist looks can feed their sartorial desires with what Saint Laurent has to offer.
The epitome of understated Italian luxury, Salvatore Ferragamo takes pride in excellent craftsmanship. The label started as a shoe shop, making shoes for the rich and famous. One of the most recognisable designs is the Vara bow which has now become a modern classic, unyielding in the fickle moments of fashion trends.
Stella McCartney has always held a strong focus on sustainability of materials used and cruelty-free methods in the production of her eponymous fashion line. Being a vegetarian company, the team is always exploring highly innovative ways to better their materials. This committed effort has resulted in well-crafted man-made leather and suede used for their bags; uncompromising in both style and quality.
A trip to New York in the 1970s had Diego Della Valle discover the rubber sole driving shoe. He sees the wonder of the versatile footwear and recreated them with a softer upper and in a myriad of colours. Diego Della Valle came from a family of shoemakers but he wanted to carve out a name for himself which led to the inception of Tod’s in 1978. The Il Gommino shoes soon became the driving force behind the label with impeccable Italian craftsmanship at the heart of its design. In 1997, leather goods and handbags were launched followed by the women’s ready to wear collection in 2006.
The face behind the label is Tory Burch herself who launched the brand in 2004. Her constant source of inspiration is her parents Buddy and Reva Robinson. She calls one of her signature ballet flats the ‘Reva’ after her mother and the family name was taken as the name of one of her bags. Leather goods are not the only draw of this young label, the tunic is also an iconic Tory Burch item and it was the first item designed by her. Look out for colours, eclectic details and a sun-kissed holiday vibe when it comes to this American lifestyle brand!
The family business was founded in 1911 by Dante Trussardi and the fourth generation of the family now owns the fashion house. The emphasis on unparalled Italian craftsmanship and attention to details are the qualities strongly upheld by the brand. What started out as a luxury leather gloves manufacturer turned into a full-fledged lifestyle brand that offers menswear, womenswear, kidswear, accessories, perfumes and homewares. The greyhound which signifies agility and energy has been adopted as the label’s logo since 1973.
Consistently inventing strong themes that encapsulate the seamless marriage between creativity and beauty, the inimitable fashion house never fails to charm the audience with its flair. Founded in 1960 by Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti, the label boast an impressive clientele which includes Jackie O. These days, Valentino is known for its ethereal styles and the ‘Rockstud’ series for their leather goods.