IWD21: The most influential female fashion designers

For International Women’s Day 2021 #IWD21, we wanted to celebrate some of the most influential female fashion designers. 

Designers are the core of the fashion industry. Fashion designers have the potential to transform their vision into beautiful designs and silhouettes. Over time, female designers have captivated the world of fashion. Many women in the industry have changed the way we view fashion over the years and have carried the art. These influential female fashion designers have created designs that have transformed fashion and still influence us today.

Here is our low-down on the most influential female fashion designers. We are fangirling over them all right now, as they have paved the way for women’s fashion and female designers.

The most influential female fashion designers

Coco Chanel

Black and white photograph of designer Coco Chanel wearing a black dress with a white ruffled neck

The ultimate classic designer. Coco Chanel established the idea that fashion staples will last a lifetime. A tweed jacket, a statement necklace and the little black dress, every woman’s wardrobe staple even now. Her designs became more than just an item of clothing.

Despite all she is famous for, it was the jersey fabric that the French designer was going to put on the map. Coco Chanel was the first mainstream designer to use the material, traditionally reserved for underwear, in her collection, after starting her career during World War I.

She was also one of the first designers of fashion to produce boxy pieces. They were shorter and easier to move, liberating women from their restrictive corsets and skirts influenced by Poiret. Chanel went on to create knit-wear, costume jewellery, and perfumes in the years that followed.

The eye of Coco for fine aesthetics, futuristic concepts, and business sense has ensured that Chanel is evolving as a brand and has been an inspirational figure for many other designers.

Throughout the years, she expanded her brand, and her well-loved perfumes (including the iconic No.5).  With over 2 million female consumers as of 2017, her perfume, Chanel No.5, is already a world leader. Chanel is considered a legend by fashionistas, even after her passing in 1971.

Vivienne Westwood

Photograph of designer Vivienne Westwood in a white robe with a fluffy red mid section

The fusion between high-fashion and punk is really the legacy of Dame Vivienne Westwood. Westwood, an artist, businesswoman, and designer, tackles everything in her career. All while producing high-fashion inspired by prominent worldwide change, from human rights to climate change.

In the 70s, she started designing garments for the punk boutique SEX. Today, she manages both the Vivienne Westwood Red Label and her namesake label. Her influence within the fashion community has followed suit in some of the high street stores we see today. From pairing a girly dress with chunky boots, Westwood made this all possible.

Miuccia Prada

Photograph of designer Miuccia Prada in a faint yellow floral pattern top and bottoms

In 1978, as Mario Prada's youngest granddaughter, Miuccia, took over the respected leatherworking brand of the family. She turned it into a powerhouse in international fashion. Having a Ph. D. in political science, Miuccia has spearheaded the vision of intellectual and dynamic fashion, while running a highly popular multinational fashion house too.

In 1985, Miuccia created a line of black lightweight backpacks that were an immediate success. Three years later, with the encouragement of her husband Patrizio Bertelli, Prada debuted her womenswear line in 1988. She described it as "uniforms for the slightly disenfranchised." She would add Miu Miu, a secondary line, in 1993. This now shows in Paris and has become a powerful brand in its own right. In 1995, Prada released her first menswear line too.

Prada has received several awards for her work. Including the 2004 CFDA International Designer Award and the 2013 British Fashion Awards as the first International Designer of the Year. She is listed by Forbes as the 79th most influential woman in the world as of 2017. In 2018, at The Fashion Awards, the British Fashion Council awarded Miuccia Prada the Exceptional Achievement Trophy.

Stella McCartney

Photograph of designer Stella McCartney in a white button up shirt and black suit trousers

Stella McCartney is one of the leading female designers in the industry. She has transformed her British perspective on contemporary femininity and tailoring into an international brand.

In 2001, as a 50/50 joint venture collaboration with Kering, the only designer in the Kering group to have had an equal stake in their company, McCartney presented her first eponymous collection in Paris. Currently, in cities like Manhattan, London, LA and Tokyo, the Stella McCartney brand runs 51 freestanding stores. Her collections are sold by 800+ wholesale accounts in over 77 countries.

McCartney is a perfect example of the commercial potential of sustainable, ethically conscious companies. She is one of the most outspoken supporters of environmental concerns in the industry.

 At Ukiyo this has inspired us to keep sustainability in mind in everything we do. Sustainability has shaped Ukiyo from our business model to our brand ethos, and we couldn’t be prouder. We believe in quality, investment fashion that will last for years.

In 2018, McCartney designed Meghan Markle's mock-necked, fit-and-flare reception dress for her wedding to Prince Harry. Her pieces are chic and wearable for both the everyday woman and the fashion enthusiast.

Vera Wang

Photograph of designer Vera Wang wearing a black hat, dark grey vest top and black patterned pants

When her first boutique opened in 1990, Vera Wang turned her love for all bridal items into a global empire. By making head-turning gowns at every price point, she quickly disrupted the conventional bridalwear industry. Although everyone from Kim Kardashian to Victoria Beckham wears her wedding gowns, her dresses in contemporary fashion have a special place in her heart. Vera Wang shows that determination can lead to your vision becoming reality. She is a reminder for all women to be confident, never give up and to push boundaries.

Vera Wang ranked 34th in Forbes' list of America's Richest Self-Made Women in 2018, as her revenues reached $630 million that year. At Ukiyo, we too want to empower women, and help them to feel confident in everything they wear.


Image of singer and designer Rihanna wearing an orange turtleneck dress with silver cross necklaces

An unshakable influence is Robyn Fenty, known to many as Rihanna. With her first album, Music of the Sun, which came out in 2005, the musician-turned-CEO has been in the spotlight since she was a teenager.

She launched Fenty Cosmetics in 2017. A year later, Savage x Fenty was introduced to the delight of millions of women around the world who, like her, struggled to find lingerie that suited their skin tones and body sizes. She promoted this on a trendy, accessible, and inclusive line of models.

Next came Fenty, a fashion collection, the introduction of which was the first time a woman had ever launched a line with LVMH, let alone a woman of colour. Better yet? From the corset dresses to the monochrome co-ords, the first drop was a beautiful work of art. At Ukiyo, we are completely inspired by Rihanna’s efforts to create an inclusive brand for women of all styles, sizes and shapes.

Happy International Women’s Day 2021!

That’s our round-up of our most influential women fashion designers! International Women’s Day is all about celebrating the achievements of women and promoting equality.

At Ukiyo, we believe in empowering all women, so we have created a range of luxury clothing to help women feel comfortable and confident all day long. We take inspiration from these influential female fashion designers when curating our collections. Our elevated basics form the basics of any woman’s wardrobe and can be styled from day to night effortlessly.

Be sure tag us on Instagram @ukiyoonline_ with female fashion designers you love too. And let us know how you’re celebrating International Women’s Day 2021!