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13 World-Famous Designers Everyone Knows by Name but Would Hardly Recognize on the Street

Not all famous fashion designers are public people. Perhaps most of us have heard their names and even wear clothes with their famous label. However, few of us can imagine what Calvin Klein or Tommy Hilfiger look like.

We at Bright Side found photos of the people hiding behind the names of labels from expensive boutiques. We totally admit that it was even hard for us to distinguish these famous designers from ordinary people on the street.

1. Marc Jacobs, age 59

Marc Jacobs was born in 1963 in New York, and he is a fashion designer known for his famous popular culture trends. He grew up with his brother and sister, and when he was only 7 years old, his dad passed away. His mom got remarried and divorced a couple of times, which meant his family had to move to a different place.

When he was a teenager, he moved to his grandmother’s in Manhattan, where she taught him how to knit. This inspired him to look into the fashion industry, and he eventually started becoming interested in fashion design. At 15, he applied to the High School of Art and Design and worked at a clothing store. He met a fashion designer named Perry Ellis in that store, who became his mentor after some time. After he graduated high school, he went to Parsons School of Design, where he made many creations and earned high honors.

At the age of 23, with the support of sponsors, Jacobs designed his first collection with the label, Marc Jacobs. At the age of 24, he was recognized as the youngest designer who had ever gotten a prestigious award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

2. Christian Louboutin, age 59

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Christian Louboutin was born in Paris and has 3 sisters. In an interview, he stated that he had much darker skin than his family members, leading him to believe he was adopted. He found out that his father was Egyptian, and his mother had a secret affair with his biological father. In school, he was expelled 3 times and decided to run away when he was just 12 years old. His mom allowed him to live at a friend’s house.

Since he was young, Louboutin had been creating women’s footwear for Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Maud Frizon as a freelance designer. When it came to his career, he brought stilettos back into fashion in the ’90s and 2000s, making many styles with heels over 4.72 inches. His aim was to make women feel elegant and beautiful and make their legs look as long as possible. However, Louboutin is widely known for the red leather soles in high heels, which were first made in 1993. Even though his sketches didn’t perfectly match his ideas, he was satisfied with the famous results. At the age of 27, he decided to establish his own company and opened a store. Soon after that, he started to make shoes for royals and Hollywood celebrities, and his famous red soles became one of the most recognizable fashion trends in the world.

3. Michael Kors, age 63

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Michael Kors was born in New York in 1959. When he was a child, he was a model and appeared in many campaigns for things like toilet paper and cereal. His biological parents split up when he was very young, and then he got a new name when he was 5 years old. His mother moved on to marry a businessman named Bill Kors. He got to choose his own first name, with Michael being his first favorite and David being his second. His mom also let him design her wedding dress, which he was very happy about since he was so interested in fashion.

As a teenager, Kors started to design clothes and sell them from his parents’ basement. At the age of 17, he entered the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City but he dropped out after 9 months and started to work in a fashion boutique. 4 years later, he started his own label of women’s wear in the same store. When Kors was 23 years old, he asked a fashion editor named Anna Wintour to look at his collection, and soon after that, he earned many awards for his designs.

4. Tommy Hilfiger, age 71

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Tommy Hilfiger was born in New York in 1951, and he is the second child of 9 overall. His mom was a nurse and his dad created watches at a jewelry store. In high school, he couldn’t be an athlete due to his height and weight, and he wasn’t a star student either due to his dyslexia.

When he was a teenager, he would buy jeans that he recreated and sold. At the age of 18, he opened up a place that sold hippie fits, which became very popular, and he ended up owning many stores. He then married one of the employees at his store, a woman named Susie Carona. Shortly after, they became designers, but he really only wanted to have his own personal label and become a famous designer.

At the age of 20, Hilfiger opened his own clothing store, but he went bankrupt after 5 years. After that, he moved to New York where he worked for several labels. By the age of 28, he created his own clothing design company called Tommy Hill. 6 years later, with the help of sponsors, he established the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation, which soon became one of the most famous clothing brands in the world. Today, there are hundreds of his stores in many different countries.

5. Christian Lacroix, age 71

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Christian Lacroix was born in France, and ever since he was young, he loved sketching historical fashions. He opened his personal couture house and started drawing inspiration from many different cultures. However, many people criticized his work, saying that the clothes he made weren’t what women really needed. Then, in 1989, he started making jewelry, shoes, handbags, and more, and eventually opened stores for them in different countries. He started to become known for his creative, fantasy ideas.

Initially, Lacroix was planning to become a museum curator. By the age of 20, he had moved to Paris where he started to study art history at Sorbonne, as well as at the École du Louvre. However, soon after that, his affinity for clothing design awoke a bigger passion. By the age of 36, he had already established his own haute couture house.

6. Miuccia Prada, age 73

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Maria Bianchi, one of the most famous fashion designers, was born in Italy in 1949 to an affluent family, and she has 2 siblings. She first wanted to be a politician and studied political science, even earning a Ph.D. in it.

The youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada started to run their family business designing luxury items when she was 29. However, in her youth, she had dreamed of becoming a mime in the Teatro Piccolo. She had even been performing there for several years. At the age of 40, she designed and released her first women’s collection. 5 years later, she released a men’s collection as well. In 2014, Miuccia Prada was included on the list of the most influential women, according to Forbes.

7. Jimmy Choo, age 73

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Jimmy Choo was born in 1948, and he is a Malaysian fashion designer that currently is based in the United Kingdom. He is famous for designing handmade women’s shoes.

Choo designed his first pair of footwear when he was 11. He moved from Malaysia to Great Britain to study at Cordwainers Technical College in London. After graduating, Choo started to work at a design company, and soon after, he opened his own shoe shop. His skills and designs were quickly noticed at London Fashion Week, after which he became world-famous.

8. Yohji Yamamoto, age 78

Yohji Yamamoto is a Japanese fashion designer that currently lives in Tokyo and Paris. He graduated with a degree in law and gave everything up in order to help his mother in the dressmaking business. That’s where he learned to pay attention to detail. After that, he started studying fashion design and got a degree at Bunka Fashion College. Yamamoto debuted his collection in Paris in 1981 and became world-famous almost instantly.

9. Calvin Klein, age 79

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Calvin Klein is not only a world-known fashion designer, but he has also given his name to various perfumes, watches, and jewelry. He was born in New York in 1942 and earned a doctorate at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.

Klein used to work in various fashion houses in New York in his youth. He also worked as a street artist from time to time. At the age of 26, he established Calvin Klein Inc. together with his friend, Barry K. Schwartz, in New York. Initially, the company specialized in menswear, but later he included womenswear in his production line as well.

10. Manolo Blahnik, age 79

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Manolo Blahnik is a fashion designer known for his high-end shoe brand. He was born in Spain, and his mom’s side of the family owned a banana plantation — this is where he grew up with his sister. He didn’t attend school but instead was homeschooled, and he later majored in politics and law.

Blahnik’s career started at the age of 28 in London where he started to write a column about footwear in Vogue magazine. One year later, he decided to open a footwear boutique with his own label. At the age of 32, Blahnik became the second man in history to ever appear on the cover of Vogue. His shoes were referred to as the fifth character in the Sex and the City series (after the 4 main heroines).

11. Roberto Cavalli, age 81

Roberto Cavalli was born in 1940 and is a designer and inventor known for very cool prints and sand-based jeans. His name also represents many perfumes and leather accessories.

Cavalli studied weaving techniques on a manual loom that soon fascinated him. He decided to drop out of his studies and open his own textile printing business, which started to slowly become more famous. At the age of 32, Cavalli successfully released his first collection at the Salon for Prêt-à-Porter in Paris. Soon after that, he opened his fashion boutique in Saint-Tropez and started his namesake clothing collection.

12. Luciano Benetton, age 87

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Luciano Benetton was born in 1935 and is known for the Benetton Group, a famous Italian fashion company. Benetton’s father had a small business, but after his death, the 14-year-old boy had to drop out of school and start working at a clothing store.

He eventually saved enough money to buy a knitting machine and created his first collection of colorful sweaters with commercial success. At 30, Benetton, his sister Giuliana, and his 2 brothers, Carlo and Gilberto, established the Benetton Group.

13. Paco Rabanne, age 88

His real name is Francisco Rabaneda Cuervo, and he was born in 1934 in Spain. He studied architecture and earned money by making fashion sketches for Dior and Givenchy.

Paco Rabanne started his career in the fashion world by designing jewelry for Givenchy, Dior, and Balenciaga. At the age of 32, Rabanne established his own fashion house and presented his first collection made of paper, plastic, and metal in Paris. It drew the attention of the world press, securing him a successful career over the following decades.

If you could become a world famous designer, would you have a namesake label or would you come up with something original? We would be glad to hear from you in the comments!

Please note: This article was updated in August 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Preview photo credit JBMPHOTOS/JBM PHOTOS/EAST NEWS, PHIL LOFTUS/CAPITAL PICTURES/EAST NEWS
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