Italian Fashion Designers

1960S FASHION
Italian fashion dress in 1967. Creation by the Farsoni fashion house of Rome. (AP Photo)

Italian Fashion Designers

Italian fashion designers have been preeminent in the world even before Italy became a united country. All one has to do is look at the sumptuous garments worn by the sitters in such portraits as Raphael’s paintings of the Donis or Titian’s Portrait of a Bearded Man. Now, even if the gorgeous dresses, suits, sunglasses and handbags aren’t actually made in Italy, the ideas for them are.

The number of Italian designers and brands nearly defy listing, but here are a few worth mentioning:

Giorgio Armani

1Armani

Founded in 1975 by Italian Fashion designer Giorgio Armani, this house specializes in high-end fashion, cosmetics and accessories and is the fastest growing brand in the world. Somewhat unusually for many quality Italian brands, Armani sells products that most people find quite affordable.

Gianni Versace

2Versace

Founded in 1978 by the late Gianni Versace, this family-run fashion house uses the head of the Medusa as its logo. This terrifying mythological figure is not meant to be negative. Its inspiration was a mosaic on the floor of a building where the Versace children used to play. Versace interpreted the Medusa’s power as making people fall hopelessly in love with her and hoped this would apply to his merchandise.

Guccio Gucci

3Gucci

Gucci salespeople had a reputation of being intentionally rude to their customers, which was and is part of this fashion house’s appeal. Founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci of Florence, it’s famous for its vivid green and gold bands and double G logo.
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Roberto Cavalli

4Roberto Cavalli

This Italian fashion house is known for both its sandblasted jeans and beautiful prints, as well as haute couture and perfume. Roberto Cavalli is one the most recognized Italian fashion designers around the world and its products are available at many online retailers.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana

5Dolce & Gabbana

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are the founders of this house. They went into business together and opened their first store in 1985, in Milan. Their wares include clothing, handbags, jewelry, watches, perfume and cosmetics. They are some of the most wanted Italian fashion designers, especially among celebrities.
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Missoni Family

6Missoni

The house of Missoni was founded in 1953 by Tai and Rosita Missoni. Based in Varese, it specializes in vividly colored knitwear. At one point, a colorful knit pattern was shown on the labels of bottles of Pellegrino mineral water.

Giuseppe Zanotti

7Zanotti

Giuseppe Zanotti is an Italian luxury footwear and fashion designer known for his sculptural, jeweled heels, luxury sneakers, handbags, jewelry and leather ready-to-wear.
Read more about Giuseppe Zanotti

Franco Moschino

8Moschino

Founded in 1983, Moschino is famous for designing the outfits for the 2006 Olympics’ opening ceremony, which took place in Turin. It also designs costumes for celebrities such as Madonna and Lady Gaga. Moschino is one the most beloved Italian fashion designers.
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Mario Prada

9Prada

One of the oldest of the Italian brands, this Milanese house was founded in 1913 by Mario Prada. Besides clothes and wearable accessories, Prada also offers cell phones and wine. Prada is one of the most sold brands among Italian fashion designers.
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Dante Trussardi

10Trussardi

Even older than Prada, Trussardi was founded by Dante Trussardi in 1911 and was originally a purveyor of luxury gloves made in Italy. It only really expanded its line to include perfumery and jeans in the 1960s. It also owns a restaurant, Ristorante Trussardi Alla Scala, in Milan. The house is still run by the Trussardi family.

Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani

11Valentino

Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani of Voghera, Italy was educated in Paris, and after apprenticeships with Balenciaga and Jean Dessès, opened his own house in 1960. His fashions are and were passionately sought after by movie stars, royalty and notables such as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Valentino is perhaps the most famous of all Italian fashion designers of all time.
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Laura Biagiotti

12Laura Biagiotti

Italian fashion designer Laura Biagiotti first studied to be an architect, but then caught the designing bug after working with her parents, who were dressmakers. Eventually, she opened her first show in 1972. Her house is found in Rome, but she has presented her work in China. Indeed, she was the first Italian designer to do so.

Mariuccia Mandelli

13Krizia

For anyone who ever wondered where on earth hot pants came from, this is the house. It was founded in 1954 by the late Mariuccia Mandelli. She claimed that the name Krizia was inspired by a tale of vanity and money told by Plato.

Miuccia Prada

14Miu Miu

This house is a subsidiary of Prada and is run by Miuccia Prada, the granddaughter of Mario Prada. Miu Miu is her nickname, and her Milanese based house specializes in clothing and accessories for women.

Ermenegildo Zegna

15Zegna

Founded in 1910 by Ermenegildo Zegna, this is one of the few houses that specializes in clothing and accessories for men. It produces suits not only for its own brand, but for labels such as Tom Ford and Gucci. It is also makes high quality textiles, especially those made from wool. This is to be expected from a couturier whose father ran a mill and looms in the Italian Alps. The house is still family run, with cousins Paolo and Gildo Zegna as the Chairman and CEO respectively.

Emilio Pucci

16Emilio Pucci

Emilio Pucci was an Italian nobleman as well as a fashion designer. Born in 1914, he founded his eponymous house in 1947. His clothes are famous for their brightly colored geometric patterns.

Sotirios Boulgaris

17Bulgari

Bulgari is known for the quality of its luxury watches and its trademark BVLGARI. Interestingly, it is the only house in this list not founded by a native Italian. Sotirios Boulgaris was born in the Balkans of Bulgarian parents and eventually found his way to Naples. The Rome-based house of Bulgari is also the oldest of the houses presented, being founded in 1884.