Fashion design is the applied art dedicated to the design of clothing and lifestyle accessories created within the cultural and social influences of a specific time.
Fashion design differs from costume design due to its core product having a built in obsolescence usually of one to two seasons. A season is defined as either autumn/winter or spring/summer. Fashion design is generally considered to have started in the 19th century with Charles Frederick Worth who was the first person to sew their label into the garments that they created. While all articles of clothing from any time period are studied by academics as costume design, only clothing created after 1858 could be considered as fashion design.
Fashion designers design clothing and accessories. Some high-fashion designers are self-employed and design for individual clients. Other high-fashion designers cater to specialty stores or high-fashion department stores. These designers create original garments, as well as those that follow established fashion trends. Most fashion designers, however, work for apparel manufacturers, creating designs of menís, womenís, and childrenís fashions for the mass market. Designer brands which have a 'name' as their brand such as Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren are likely to be designed by a team of individual designers under the direction of a designer director.
French fashion design
Most French fashion houses are in Paris, which is the capital of French fashion and of the world. Traditionally, French fashion is chic and stylish, defined by its sophistication, cut, and smart accessories. Among the many Parisian couture houses are Chanel and Christian Dior, who present exclusive fashion shows in their salons; other designers display their work at the designer collections that are held twice a year.
British fashion design
As in France, the majority of British fashion houses are based in the capital, London. Whereas the French are considered the epitome of style and fashion in ladies' garments, the pinnacle of men's is considered to be London, Savile Row in particular. British fashion houses are associated with a very traditional, British style: elegant, yet conservative cuts, fine yet not overly extravagant materials and a sort of noble, even 'imperial' elegance, such as that of traditional 'Fifties debutantes' gowns, compared to the French 'chic'. The first fashion designer, Charles Worth, was a native of Britain, although he made his name in Paris in the 19th century. In the 1920s, Norman Hartnell became known for elaborate evening gowns, and went on to design Queen Elizabeth II's world-renowned wedding and coronation gowns, along with others for many members of the British royal family. Famous British Designers include Vivienne Westwood, Sir Hardy Amies, Paul Smith, Christopher Bailey and Christopher Kane.
American fashion design
The majority of American fashion houses are based in New York, although there are also a significant number in Los Angeles, where a substantial percentage of clothing manufactured in the US is actually made, Miami, and Chicago, which was once a center of American fashion. American fashion design is dominated by a clean-cut, casual style, reflecting the athletic, health-conscious lifestyles of many American city-dwellers. A designer who helped to set the trend in the United States for sport-influenced day wear throughout the 1940's and 50's was Claire McCardell. Many of her designs have been revived in recent decades. More modern influences on the American look have been Calvin Klein (known for classic coats and separates), Ralph Lauren (known for casually elegant clothes in natural fabrics), Uriel Saenz (known for his luxury detailing and superb craftmenship), Anna Sui (known for her unique styles of clothing and for creating new trends), Donna Karan (known for practical, sophisticated women's wear), Kenneth Cole (know for a modern, casual look), Marc Jacobs (known for a diverse style and influences), Michael Kors (for a fresh appeal), and Tommy Hilfiger (known for preppy, modern American style). Also, among the younger American crowd, Hollister, American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aéropostale, and Coach predominate, though many with some knowledge of fashion or in the fashion business do not consider this fashion.
Italian fashion design
Most of the older Italian couturiers are in Rome. however, Milan is the Italian fashion capital because it is base to most of the well-known designers, and it is the exhibition venue for their collections. Italian fashion features casual elegance and luxurious fabrics. The first Italian luxury brand was Salvatore Ferragamo (who has exported exquisite hand-made shoes to the U.S. since the 1920s); among the best-known, exclusive fashion names are Valentino ("Rosso Valentino" [Red Valentino] line), Gianfranco Ferrè (boldly-cut, brightly-colored clothes), Giorgio Armani (subtle masculinity for men and women), Gianni Versace (beautifully-cut leather clothes), and Dolce & Gabbana (classic-to-modern avante-garde appeal); per BusinessWeek.com, Gucci is the greatest-selling Italian fashion brand, with world-wide sales of $7.158 billion dollars.