Italy has a reputation for producing some of the best designers in the world.
Art, design and architecture have long been the hallmarks of Italy. As one of the best fashion design countries in the world, it has a rich history of notable personalities, notable designs, and shows that have attracted celebrities from all over the world. It all started after World War II, with the help of the United States under the Marshall Plan, where Italy launched its illustrious fashion house industry. Family textile businesses were encouraged to expand, and Italian designers began to produce brands of merchandise expressing the brilliance of their creative abilities and craftsmanship.
Hence, these outstanding designers have risen to the top with their high-quality products that exude elegance. So it’s no surprise that they often appear on the covers of your favorite fashion magazines and editorials. Moreover, they have also amassed a ton of money from their awesome coins, earning a place among the richest people in the world. Let’s take a look at eight of the richest Italian fashion designers we can gather so far.
8 Giorgio Armani – $6.5 billion
Giorgio Armani is a global icon in high-end menswear, having introduced a softer, more austere aesthetic to the industry. He dropped out of medical school to serve his country in the army before landing a job as a buyer and window decorator at La Rinascente department store in Milan. Later he worked as a fashion designer for Nino Cerruti before creating his own label in the mid-1970s with the help of his business partner, Sergio Galeotti. After he was asked to design the costume that actor Richard Gere wore in the 1980 US box office Gigolo, his business took off. It wasn’t long before his business ventures expanded beyond costumes to include everything from sportswear to interior design to real estate.
7 Miuccia Prada – $4.7 billion
What would the devil be wearing if Prada wasn’t there? I guess we’ll never know. Founded in 1913 by Mario Prada, Prada is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable names in the annals of the fashion industry. Miuccia Prada, chief designer and co-CEO of the brand, has been the driving force behind the brand’s innovation and exquisite style. She took over the family business in 1977 with her brothers Alberto and Marina Prada. She started making waterproof backpacks until she met her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, who at the time ran a luxury leather goods business. His first product, a black nylon bag with a silver triangular label, was his first major commercial success. Soon after, her shoe and handbag designs caught the attention of trendy customers in the United States, Europe and Japan. As the company grew, they started buying other companies and building it into today’s fashion juggernaut.
6 Patrizio Bertelli – $4.7 billion
The beginning of Patrizio Bertelli’s rise to wealth was the establishment of a modest factory in the city of Arezzo, which produced leather goods such as belts, bags and other accessories. After meeting Miuccia in 1977, he joined the family business Prada, and their collaboration changed the course of Prada’s history. The deep creativity of Miuccia and Bertelli’s business acumen was instrumental in the expansion of the Prada brand. By working together, the company has become a global fashion giant.
5 Valentino Garavani – $1.5 billion
Valentino Garavani got his start in the fashion industry as an apprentice for his aunt and a local designer. After completing his studies in Paris, he returned to Rome to start a fashion house. In 1962, Valentino launched its first designer fashion line at Palazzo Pitti in Florence and began to build a reputation around the world. Celebrities such as Queen Paola of Belgium, Princess Margaret of England, Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy soon sought him out for his magnificent designs. Soon, Valentino’s designs were considered the pinnacle of Italian haute couture.
4 Stefano Gabbana – $1.2 billion
Dolce & Gabbana, popularly known as D&G, is a luxury fashion house widely regarded as one of the most famous brands in the world. Stefano Gabbana is the Milanese half of Dolce & Gabbana. He studied art and graphic design, but later decided to give up a career as an artist in favor of a career in the fashion industry. In 1980 he was introduced to Dolce, and a few years later the two started working for the same fashion company as designer assistants. In 1993, Madonna gave the duo their first major break by selecting them to create the outfits she would wear on her Girlie tour. In the years that followed, the company enjoyed phenomenal success, garnering several accolades and recognition globally.
3 Domenico Dolce – $1.2 billion
In the Dolce & Gabbana duo, Domenico Dolce is half Sicilian. His father was a tailor by trade, which fueled his interest in fashion as a young man. After that he moved to Milan, where he found work in a design studio. He and Stefano Gabbana met at a nightclub in 1980 and established Dolce & Gabbana soon after. Together they rose from the shadows to become two of today’s best-known fashion designers. Men and women like Whitney Houston, Madonna and Nicole Kidman have all worn their designs, as have celebrities like Tom Cruise. People compete to wear their clothes on public occasions, where they can enjoy the attention they receive.
2 Roberto Cavalli – $500 million
Born in Florence, Italy in 1940, Roberto’s career began in 1970, but he was relatively unknown until 1990 when his career really took off. He honed his chic approach at his eponymous label, now run by creative director Paul Surridge. His creative animal print techniques also earned him the nickname “King of animal fashion” as defined by The New York Times in 2001.
1 Donatella Versace – $400 million
Donatella is the younger sister of famous designer Gianni Versace. She inherited Versace after the tragic death of Gianni in 1997. She served as CEO, Creative Director and Artistic Director of Versace. In 2018, she played a key role in selling the company to Michael Kors for a staggering $2.12 billion. Amazingly, in the same year, she became the first woman to win Designer of the Year at the “GQ” Men Awards among her many accolades.
The wealth of Italian fashion trends doesn’t stop there; they are a unique fusion of luxury, contemporary style and historical inspirations found nowhere else.
Source: Discover the walks, vogue, Forbes, Biographies,
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