You may ask, how we could possibly shortlist the best fashion designers of the year? The answer is “with great difficulty”. We all stepped into 2021 with the need of some positivity and freshness, and these designers brought it. From dressing the first female Vice President to creating a catwalk on top of an iconic Empire State building, the below nominees are all deserving of being crowned Designer of the Year – but, there can only be one.
So, let’s see who made this year’s Designer of the Year list:
2021 has been a big year for luxury womenswear designer LaQuan Smith. A major highlight of the year was their Spring/Summer 2022 collection that debuted during New York Fashion Week, Smith created a runway at the top of the Empire State Building going down in history as the first designer to do so.
LaQuan Smith was formally launched in 2013. Before this, Smith started designing his key 3D Leggings that first caught the attention of celebrities. Fast forward to 2021, LaQuan Smith counts Beyonce, Rihanna, the Kardashians, Ciara among endless others as fans. Smith’s designs are feminine-enhancing, sensual and trendsetting. There was a time that you couldn’t scroll through Instagram without encountering a high-profile wearer of his sheer, cutout jumpsuits that became one of the most coveted fashion pieces of the year.
2. Sergio Hudson
Designer Sergio Hudson is not one to shy away from bold colors. In fact, this is one of the key elements of his collections. Other tell-tale sign of a true Sergio Hudson piece is the quality tailoring. No wonder Mary J Blige, Michelle Obama, Vice President Kamala Harris and Beyoncé are just some of Hudson’s clientele.
Hudson started his namesake label back in 2014. The womenswear brand is well-known for its powerful silhouettes (think flowy and elegant boss chick vibes) and monochromatic looks, but Hudson also creates stunning floor length show-stopping gowns and versatile everyday-wear belts.
3. Anifa Mvuemba of Hanifa
2021 was a history-making year for the Hanifa brand as it held its first in-person fashion show inside the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. Designer Anifa Mvuemba continues to turn heads in the fashion world. In fact, she was honored with the Future of Fashion Award at the InStyle Awards the night before her big show. During the show, Mvuemba showed that Hanifa is a fashion force and would be taking a step into the accessories market with the unveiling of signature footwear.
Celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, Hanifa can count Monica, Gabrielle Union and Zendaya as fans. Mvuemba’s designs are fresh, incorporating vibrant colors to make every women feel as though she can take on the world.
4. Olivier Rousteing of Balmain
It has been 10 years since Olivier Rousteing took the reigns at French couture maison Balmain. Rousteing was appointed Creative Director at just 24 years old and at the time he was the only black designer at the helm of a luxury label of its kind. Inclusivity is embedded into the soul of his designs mixed with opulent embellishments. For his most recent Pre-Fall 2022 collection, Rousteing took a grungier take on his style.
In June of this year, his documentary Wonder Boy was released on Netflix showing a different side to the designer who on the show was trying to find out more about his biological parents.
5. Anthony Vaccarello x YSL
Belgium-born Anthony Vaccarello joined Saint Laurent in 2016 as creative director. His mark on the atelier showed quickly when revenue increased over 20% within his first year. Vaccarello’s designs are sophisticated and is the epitome of glamour with everything from mini dresses to structured tuxedos.
Before his days at Saint Laurent, Anthony had previously worked at Versus Versace and Fendi with fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld with a focus on fur.
6. Alexandre Vauthier
Alexandre Vauthier began his fashion career as a trainee at none other than Thierry Mugler Couture, before moving to Jean Paul Gaultier at their height of popularity in the late 90’s. Vauthier ventured out on his own and launched his namesake Maison in 2008. His designs as of late have featured perfectly tailored two-piece ensembles, over-the-top glam dresses and let’s not forget the sold-out mirror boots!
Alexandre Vauthier has an endless list of celebrity fans such as Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Tessa Thompson, Beyoncé, Chloe Bailey and more.
7. Rick Owens
Collaborating with the likes of Converse and Dr Martens in 2021, Rick Owens is well known for his gothic aesthetic with frequent use of dark tones mixed with contrasting neutrals. 2021 was the year of the Rick Owens coat. Countless celebs and Fashion Influencers have been rocking the oversized puffer jackets, especially now that we have turned to colder months. Another trending Owens piece is the platform soled, high-top sneakers.
Owens is also known for his custom evening gowns such as Zendaya’s futuristic looking cream look at the Dune premiere or Kim Kardashian’s elegant black floor-length dress for Paris Hilton’s wedding.
8. Telfar Clemens
It all started with the humble tote bag that kick-started a fashion empire. If you have managed to get your hands on a Telfar shopping bag, count yourself lucky as these bags sell out the minute they are released! Clemens founded Telfar while he was still a student at Pace University in 2005 and we have witnessed the unisex brand rise through the ranks.
As one of the biggest collaborations of the year, the Telfar x UGG collaboration was a smash-hit with Clemens current, and new, fans. In fact it was so popular, the collection has also been nominated for Faby’s Collaboration of the Year 2021. Clemens also designed Liberia Olympic Team’s uniforms for the 2021 olympics.
9. Christian Siriano
After finding fame by winning Project Runway, Christian Siriano launched his eponymous label in 2008. His red carpet-worthy gowns are what keep his designs constantly on best dressed lists worldwide, whether they may be modernized tulle dresses that would make any Disney princess drool or sleek goddess-like pieces effortlessly draped over one of his many muses.
This year, we have seen the likes of Halle Berry, Camila Cabello, Cardi B and Karrueche all rocking a Siriano design.
10. Christopher John Rogers
Lady Gaga, Regina King, Gabrielle Union and Hailey Bieber are just some of the fabulous clients of Christopher John Rogers. The New York-based, Louisiana-bred designer has had an unforgettable year. He kicked off 2021 with the honor of dressing Vice President Kamala Harris for the inauguration followed by a sell-out capsule collection with Target. His notable year was finished off with being awarded with the American Womenswear Designer of the Year at CFDA Fashion Awards.
Always one to showcase vibrant colors, Rogers’s style is bold, fun and contemporary. His designs ooze of character and always makes a statement.
11. Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga
You can’t bring up Balenciaga in 2021 without the mention of Kim Kardashian. For the latter part of the year, we have seen Kim take on a plethora of masked Balenciaga looks from her polarizing Met Gala 2021 look to her opulent pink looks for her Saturday Night Live special. Along with The Simpsons and Gucci collaborations, Demna Gvasalia is currently putting a refreshed Balenciaga back on the map reaching a new era of popularity.
Gvasalia took on the creative director role at Balenciaga in 2015 following in the footsteps of Alexander Wang. Previously in his career, he had co-founded Vetements as well as worked at Louis Vuitton and Maison Martin Margiela.
What a line up! Which of these designers do you think should win the 2021 Faby’s Designer of the Year Award? Vote below: