The world of luxury fashion isn’t an easy one to break into , so it goes without saying that to reach the top at a prestigious fashion house takes something special. However in recent years there’s been a welcome change of pace – and diversity – at many brands, with a new wave of savvy trend-setting designers who first proved their fashion chops on the street before being snapped up to far bigger gigs at luxury houses, bringing their edge and influence among millennials and Gen Z with them. In a large part streetwear is seen as cheap. What my goal has been is to add an intellectual layer to it and make it credible Virgil Abloh Here are four of our favourite creatives who went from cult following to major industry player in record time – all now working with mainstream brands under the all-powerful LVMH staple . Colouring perceptions: could Tiffany’s gamble pay off? Virgil Abloh: from Off-White to Louis Vuitton For US designer Virgil Abloh , self-launched streetwear brand Off-White marked the turning point of his career. His unconventional designs – adding visible tags and quotation marks to his clothing and trainers, for starters – created plenty of hype. And after he launched a collaboration with Nike, his career went from strength to strength. So it wasn’t the hugest surprise that a mere four years after launching Off-White, Abloh was appointed to design Louis Vuitton’s menswear line and made history as the first African-American designer to take the influential men’s artistic director position. For his debut spring/summer 2019 collection for the fashion house, Abloh opted for a youthful collection in a riot of colours that was heavily influenced by street culture. Famous fans of his work now include A$AP Rocky, Kanye West and Rihanna. Could LVMH’s Delphine Arnault become the world’s next richest woman? When asked to explain his designs to The Business of Fashion, Abloh said: “In a large part streetwear is seen as cheap. What my goal has been is to add an intellectual layer to it and make it credible.” Matthew Williams: from 1017 Alyx 9SM to Givenchy After making a name for himself by designing notable stage outfits for Kanye West and Lady Gaga , by 2015, Williams had decided to found his own brand alongside his wife Jennifer and urban brand designer Luca Benini. For the next five years, the label – partly named after the couple’s daughter Alyx – gained the attention of everyone from Dior and Nike to Moncler, spawning collaborations on all manner of accessories and clothes, from utility buckles to T-shirts. Is China’s luxury market really ‘Covid-proof’? When Dior Homme’s artistic director Kim Jones was considering accessories for his spring-summer 2019 collection, he told Esquire he knew he wanted to work with his friend Williams. Adding 1017 Alyx 9SM’s signature buckle to the house’s saddle bags, backpacks, high and low-top trainers and caps, the collection remains a reference point for luxury streetwear aficionados. View this post on Instagram A post shared by 1017 ALYX 9SM (@alyxstudio) In June 2020, Givenchy announced that Williams would take over from Clare Waight Keller as the fashion house’s creative director. Given most brands urgency to appeal to Gen-Z and millennials, his technical skill and ability to innovate seemed to play a large part, with Givenchy’s official statement saying that his “intuitive understanding of tailoring, technology and integrity in fashion make the designer an ideal steward for carrying the Givenchy legacy forward with modernity and power”. Rainbow gem setting: the hopeful, optimistic new watch and jewellery trend Jonathan Anderson: from JW Anderson to Loewe In 2008, just three years after graduating from a degree in menswear design, Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson launched his eponymous label, gaining sponsorship from the British Fashion Council for his first collection that same year. The designer is best known for his creative use of fabrics, strange proportions, volumising layers and ability to expertly mix patterns and employ accessories to great effect. After successful collaborations with Topshop and Versace, LVMH spotted the designer’s potential and took a stake in JW Anderson in 2013. As part of the agreement he was also appointed as creative director of Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Harrods (@harrods) In a bid to capture the Spanish spirit of Loewe, Anderson had the idea of reviving his favourite legendary fashion boutique from his travels in Ibiza, Paula’s, leading to a “ collection within a collection ” that delighted customers by offering playful (and more affordable) accessories. This year’s Loewe’s Paula’s summer pop-up at Harrods recreated the Balearic island vibe, and no doubt helped win over more fans amid the global pandemic with its gorgeous bright colours, pineapple bucket bags and raffia ruffles. Are these luxury brand collaborations truly disruptive, or just a gimmick? Yoon Ahn: from Ambush to Dior Homme Not unlike Matthew Williams’ origin story, former graphic designer Yoon Ahn began creating stage accessories for her husband, famous Japanese rapper Verbal. Her styling drew all the right kind of attention and, in 2004, the couple founded a jewellery brand called Antonio Murphy & Astro. It was another four years before Ambush was born, and its giant gold chains and chokers became an instant success, gaining Yoon international attention after Kanye West was seen sporting her “POW!” pendant. Would you pay US$4,000 for a virtual Gucci bag? This Roblox user did Ahn’s blending of the avant-garde with Tokyo street style clearly appealed to other urban labels like Reebok, Off-White and BAPE – who all collaborated with her on several items – but also to more traditional fashion houses keen to reach a younger, more hip client base, including Louis Vuitton and Bulgari. Are these new luxury accessory collabs a step too far? With collaborators like these, perhaps it was only a matter of time before Ahn was snapped up by former Dior Homme creative director Kim Jones to be the brand’s jewellery designer. While Jones has since moved to Fendi, Ahn continues to create futuristic and edgy pieces for the storied French brand. Want more stories like this? Sign up here. 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