England – Ralph and Russo – This British fashion house was co-founded in 2007 by duo Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo. It is a relative newcomer to the hautecouture industry, but already has a global pool of highprofile clients such as Beyoncé and Fan Bingbing. Their designs are created entirely by hand, evoke fairy-tale princess glamour, and are notable for their use of silk, embroidery, and pastel colours.
Spain – Balenciaga – Founded in 1919 by Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, this luxury clothing brand always aspired towards ultra-modern designs while retaining an image of femininity. The fashion house actually closed in 1968 and Cristóbal Balenciaga died in 1972; Balenciaga was only revived in 1986. The fashion house is now owned by international luxury group Kering S. A., which also owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, and Puma.
Lebanon – Elie Saab – Founded in 1980 by the Lebanese designer Elie Saab, the fashion house initially focused on bridal wear but has since branched out into ready-towear couture. Elie Saab is distinguishable for their use of expensive materials such as lace, gemstones, crystals, and pearls. Fans include many notable fashionistas, including Olivia Palermo and Angelina Jolie.
Japan – Yohji Yamamoto – Yohji Yamamoto began his career as a lawyer but found a passion in tailoring after assisting at his mother’s dressmaking business. He debuted his collection in Paris in 1981, and since then his brand has grown into a worldwide fashion powerhouse, clothing some of the world’s most notable stars, including Tina Turner and Elton John. The majority of Yamamoto’s clothing is black, a colour he admires for its modesty, arrogance, and mystery.
USA – Oscar de la Renta – The founder of this influential fashion house was Óscar Arístides Renta Fiallo, a DominicanAmerican designer who trained under Cristóbal Balenciaga. Before setting up his own eponymous brand, he worked for Lanvin and Balmain, and was one of the couturiers who dressed Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1960s. The fashion house continues to be a superbrand even after Oscar de la Renta’s death in 2014.
By Kseniya Shrimpton
Elie Saab Fall/Winter 2017-18.
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham