10 Major Designers Who Broke Out at Fashion Week

Every profession has their pinnacle achievement. For football players, it's making it to the Super Bowl. For fashion designers, it's showing their collections at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. This momentous occasion only comes around twice a year in the U.S., and the Fall 2012 shows are just around the corner. For young hopefuls, being invited to show at Fashion Week is half the battle; getting critics and consumers to like your collection enough to buy it is the other. Check out these 10 major designers who broke out at Fashion Week.

  1. Alexander Wang

    Alexander Wang is all the hype these days and it doesn't take much to see why. Determined to make it big in the fashion industry, Wang dropped out of Parsons School of Design and interned for Marc Jacobs, Derek Lam, and Vogue. By 2007, Wang had launched his first women's collection and added an accessories line in 2008. Wang claimed his place in the fashion industry during New York Fashion Week, where he brought edgy, urban elegance to the runway. His most recent critically acclaimed collections have an athletic, tomboy feel that is unlike anything we've ever seen before.

  2. Peter Som

    Peter Som is a talented, trendsetting designer who got his big break at New York Fashion Week in 2001. After years of working for Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, and Michael Kors, Som was able to showcase his bold and sophisticated pieces that he is still known for today. Som's elegant designs and keen eye for detail have earned him worldwide critical acclaim and many major awards.

  3. Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough

    Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are the masterminds behind the New York-based women's wear label, Proenza Schouler. The duo launched their first collection in 2002, which was bought by Barneys New York. Although this was a momentous event in the designers' careers, their debut at New York Fashion Week was just as important and telling for their future in fashion. Today, Proenza Schouler is a runway favorite. The label has earned a reputation for having clever, contemporary pieces that focus on fine craftsmanship and refined ease.

  4. Rebecca Taylor

    Rebecca Taylor is the quintessential girl's girl who has made a killing off of her fun and flirty clothes that attract everyone from celebrities to everyday women. This New Zealander has been dominating the runways of New York Fashion Week for years. No matter the season, Taylor always manages to bring sexy, chic cuts and colorful designs to the stage. Whether it's the demureness of her dresses or the colorful consistency of her collections, critics and consumers can't say enough good things about Rebecca Taylor.

  5. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

    Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have been style icons since the day they were old enough to dress themselves. The entrepreneurial duo has been involved in fashion since the age of 12, when their Wal-Mart clothing line was created. In 2007, the Olsen twins put their fashion industry knowledge and love for clothing to use by creating the couture label, The Row. Their quest was to create the "perfect" T-shirt that would complement their basics line, but The Row proved to be much more than a modest T-shirt collection. It wasn't until the Olsens made their New York Fashion Week debut in Fall 2010 that they really started being taken seriously as designers. The Row has received a great deal of praise and recognition for its clean lines, fine workmanship, and sophisticated designs.

  6. Behnaz Sarafpour

    Behnaz Sarafpour made her fashion debut a little over a decade ago at New York Fashion Week in 2001. After years of interning with big name designers like Anne Klein, Narcisco Rodriguez, and Isaac Mizrahi, Ms. Sarafpour set out to showcase her own designs. Even though her first show was canceled because of the 9/11 attacks, Sarafpour was featured in Vogue and asked to participate in a group fashion show that helped boost her career. Today, Sarafpour is known for her feminine tailoring and chic, clean shapes that meet the needs of the modern fashionista and the everyday woman.

  7. Prabal Gurung

    Prabal Gurung took the fashion industry by storm when he launched his first collection during New York Fashion Week in 2009. Gurung's sophisticated designs and impeccable fit immediately caught the attention of critics and the chic set. Season after season, Gurung continues to deliver show-stopping runway looks with unique silhouettes and edgy cuts that clearly set him apart from the pack.

  8. Gregory Parkinson

    Gregory Parkinson might seem like a fresh face in fashion, but he's been around longer than you might think. For nearly 16 years, the designer struggled to get noticed and keep his collection afloat during the financial crisis. Determined to weather the storm, Parkinson scraped up any rare fabrics he could find and used them to make his breakthrough collection that earned him a finalist spot for the Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund Award. Although Parkinson didn't win, his name and talents were out in the open. But it was the Spring 2011 New York Fashion Week that really catapulted his career as a serious designer. Parkinson's exquisite workmanship and captivating use of color and print have made him a standout designer on the runway and in commercial retail.

  9. Joseph Altuzarra

    From the get-go, young designer Joseph Altuzarra was determined to shake up women's wear by making age-appropriate garments that are both sexy and practical. His vision came to fruition with the launch of his chic clothing line, Altuzarra, in 2008. The Paris-born designer claimed his place in fashion when he showcased his line at New York Fashion Week 2010. Altuzarra's sophisticated looks and technical precision wowed critics, who have since compared his designs to the likes of legendary designers, Tom Ford and Azzadine Alaia.

  10. Jen Kao

    Jen Kao is a true maverick of the fashion industry. Her dramatic silhouettes and futuristic designs have made a big splash at past New York Fashion Weeks, where she is known for turning up the volume and making heads turn with wild colors and interesting headpieces. In addition to her usual psychedelic prints and sexy cut-out dresses, the self-proclaimed jetsetter also likes to incorporate trendy, yet practical travel pieces that are comfortable and easy to pack.

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