Designer Basics: How to Recognise a Brand

Haute couture fashion can be a confusing concept. Seasonal runway shows, continuous releases of ever-evolving collections, and a multitude of brands vying for consumer attention, it can be difficult to gain a sense of individual designer styles. Creative direction makes a huge difference to the ethos and aesthetic of a brand, however, and most have a few signature styles by which their clothes can be recognised. Below is a guide to a few of the most well-known designer brands; their aesthetics and what sets them apart as producers of high end fashion.  


Alexander McQueen


To describe Alexander McQueen in one word, it would be ‘controversial.’ Founding his brand in 1992, he quickly earned himself the title “the hooligan of English fashion,”  breaking all the fashion rules with his experimental and artistic runway shows. Models cast as chess pieces, Shalom Harlow spray-painted live by robotic paint guns, and a life-sized hologram of Kate Moss made up just some of the more memorable performances. Quoted as explaining fashion as an ‘everyday art form’ his influential contribution to the fashion world continues after his tragic death in 2011.



  • Dark Victorian-inspired colour schemes, thick fabrics
  • Signature tartan
  • Highly sophisticated tailoring 
  • Animal inspired textures and patterns



The brand was founded in 1917 by Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciagia, and is synonymous avant-garde luxury. His bubble skirts and trademark silhouettes have given way under new creation direction by Gvasalia to cater to the purchasing habits of the modern, evolving customer. Now most easily recognised by their motorcycle inspired handbags, emblazoned t-shirts and luxury trainers, it has retained its reputation for uncompromising standards of quality. 



  • Emphasis on form
  • Deconstructed garments
  • Futuristic design inspiration




Donatella Versace is one of the most well-known faces in fashion, and her creative direction of the brand since 1997 has created many of the most iconic dresses of the recent decades. A dress that can create Google Images – Jennifer Lopez’ plunging turquoise dress for the 2000 Grammy Awards – is a pretty impressive legacy by itself. Known for its decadent and sultry looks, the clothes are both architectural (think Kendall Jenner’s 2019 Met Gala orange feathered apparel) and futuristic, fusing street style with high fashion in its signature collections.



  • Mixed mediums, (metal, mesh) bright colours 
  • Rock-and-roll / neopunk aesthetics (leather, bomber jackets, zippers)
  • Medusa logo, chosen by founder Gianni Versace to represent empowerment for women through clothes 



Givenchy is a French fashion house, founded in 1952. As the first designer to create a luxury ready-to-wear fashion line, Hubert de Givenchy set the fashion house on the path of combined elegance and discretion that it has been following ever since.


  • dark aesthetic
  • bold graphics
  • high fashion approach to streetwear.