Most Iconic Fashion Designs of All Time

“Fashions fade, style is eternal,” Yves Saint Laurent once remarked. No truer words have ever been spoken, as any fashionista worth their Manolos will tell you.

For while some clothing fads breeze in and out of our lives like a fickle, fair-weather friend (day glo leggings anyone?), visionary fashion house heads such as Saint Laurent, Chanel and Dior created a number of concepts so timelessly elegant they have simply never fallen out of style.

Iconic pieces such as the Chanel three-piece, the Burberry trench and the YSL safari jacket – to name but a few – have remained steadfast in any stylish woman’s repertoire, whatever her age and general approach to fashion.

Not only that, but these fashion staples continue to be reinterpreted by their respective houses every season, without the threat of brand desertion from a style conscious audience. Rather, the opposite: We continue to buy into these classic pieces and their 2.0 updates – no matter how many times they are reimagined or copied by mass high street manufacturers.

But just what are the keys to creating a design classic that can genuinely stand the test of time?

The role of practicality and ‘wearability’ is one that cannot be underestimated. Do you plan to walk through LAX airport in Alexander McQueen’s 10-inch Armadillo shoes or Vivienne Westwood’s iconic stack heels to hop on your next flight? We didn’t think so – unless you’re Lady Gaga, perhaps.

While sleeveless capes might look pretty and the recent trend for leather cut-out sundresses may have a certain luxe appeal, trends emerge every season that are simply not practical or flattering on most figures and these are the ones that inevitably lose their currency – fast.

Minimalism and a pared-down quality also play an important role in creating enduring fashion. As the great Mademoiselle Chanel once said: “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”

No coincidence then, that iconic pieces such as Chanel’s ‘Little Black Dress’ and YSL’s safari jacket created a ripple effect across the world which has lasted up until the present day. Elegantly simple, infinitely wearable, these seminal concepts have reappeared in the signature fashions of every decade since.

Of course ‘high fashion’ itself is a far more complicated scenario than it was when Dior introduced his ‘New Look’ silhouette back in the late forties. As the late Alexander McQueen once explained: “It’s a new era in fashion – there are no rules. It’s all about the individual and personal style, wearing high-end, low-end, classic labels, and up-and-coming designers all together.”

Which is why in the current fashion climate – where almost anything goes – it’s comforting to know there are some classic items that can always be relied upon in terms of quality and endurance. But just what are some of the most influential and iconic designs of all time? Join us as Milan Fashion Week comes to a close to take a peek.