Britain has brought us many a fantastic fashion designer. Discover more about four of our favourite British fashion designers, from how they started out in the industry, to which designs they’re most famous for.
Mary Quant’s thirst for fashion began at a young age. After studying a diploma in art education from Goldsmith’s and securing an apprenticeship with a milliner, she began making her own clothes, using her childhood dance outfits as inspiration.
By 1955, Quant had opened her first boutique on King’s Road. In her windows, she displayed simple shapes and strong colours in hope of catching the eyes of younger generations. Quant was always keen on making her designs appealing to those who weren’t yet into fashion, and her low price points (at least, when compared to other boutiques) helped her to do this.
With success came a second store, this time in Knightsbridge, and Quant even started a lower priced line called Ginger Group, to appeal to an even wider audience.
If Quant can only be remembered for one thing, it will likely be her invention of the micro-mini skirt back in the 60s. In 1996, she received an OBE at Buckingham Palace for her contribution to the fashion industry.
Christopher Kane first decided he’d like to start his own label while taking an MA in Fashion Design at Central Saint Martin’s College and, together with his sister, Tammy, he started the Christopher Kane label in 2006.
Launched shortly after his graduation, the brand took off with thanks to the fact that Kane’s graduate collection had won an award and much attention from the media. These days, the Christopher Kane label is widely recognised, and Kane himself is widely known as the designer who revived British high fashion.
In 2015, Kane opened his first flagship store on Mount Street in Mayfair, London. In June of the following year, the brand launched its first online flagship store, allowing people from around the world to buy into the brand with ease.
Most recently, Kane has released a capsule collection inspired by Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; the collection features rose print tops and tea set earrings. Kane even ran his ideas past the film’s leading lady, Emma Watson, as he wanted to be open to her interpretation of the character.
After moving to Harrow at the age of 17, Vivienne Westwood began working at a factory and, sometime later, enrolled onto a teacher training course. It wasn’t until 1971 when Westwood’s designs were released in store – a boutique on Kings Road opened by her partner, Malcolm McLaren.
Filled with punk-style designs, the shop may have changed name several times, but it proved to be a great success. When McLaren became manager for punk group, the Sex Pistols, it was Westwood who styled the band, making a huge contribution to their public image.
As years went by, Westwood became a force to be reckoned with in the fashion industry. One of the most important trend setters of her time, her styles included the mini-crini, the frayed tulle and tweed suits.
Westwood has twice been named British Designer of the Year, and received an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II back in 1992. In 2006, she was advanced to DBE in the New Year’s Honours List for services to fashion.
From the age of eight, Maria Grachvogel knew she wanted to be a fashion designer and, aged just 12, she started cutting and sewing small items to sell to friends. She was 14 when she put together a small collection for London Fashion Week despite being unsure of the business side of things.
Spotted for her talent and dedication, Grachvogel was giving some helpful advice and by 1991 (aged 21), she had founded her self-named brand, launching her first full collection three years later. Today, Maria and her team are designing garments with the aim of building women’s confidence and making them feel amazing.
One of Grachvogel’s most popular garments are the ‘magic pants’ – which took their name from the nickname clients used to call the design by. With several shapes to choose from, the fabric is designed to fit perfectly to the individual wearing them within an hour of putting them on.
Grachvogel delivered an inspirational talk at LCCA last year. Take a look at her career advice to our fashion students.