Male fashion designers often dominate the world of fashion. However, looking at the contemporary fashion industry more carefully and looking behind many successful brands, female fashion designers have established themselves and transformed the aesthetic language of the modern age with their talent, hard work, and uniqueness.

Fashion is a matter of interest for both sexes. Each professional fashion designer adds his/her touch of beauty and innovation. Milan is the homeland of the Italian fashion industry, including many of the world’s most prestigious brands and fashion houses. Across the globe, Italian fashion designers are famous for their groundbreaking contributions to the industry. Italian fashion designers have a talent for revolutionizing traditions, giving them a whole new identity.

We gathered a list of the top 10 female fashion designers from Italy that deserve our praises.

Laura Biagiotti

Laura Biagiotti /Wikimedia

Laura Biagiotti is an Italian fashion designer who conquered the Global markets with her loose and soft women’s clothes and luxurious knits. Her work was approved and appreciated worldwide, earning her the title ” Queen of Cashmere.”

Ms. Biagiotti began her journey in the women’s fashion industry in the 1960s, and by the 80s, she was making quite a name in the industry. In 1988, she became the first Italian fashion designer to put on a fashion show in China. Exquisite dresses and blouses made of silk and cashmere were presented in the show. She also became the first Italian female fashion designer to put on a show within the Kremlin walls in Moscow.

After dominating women’s wear, she started a men’s collection and created a plus-size women’s line, Laura Piu, and a children’s line. The Queen of Cashmere died in Rome at 73 on May 26th, 2017.

Luisa Beccaria

Luisia Beccari /Press

The beautiful designs of Luisa Beccaria are known for feminine lines, romance, and uniqueness. When she was only 20 years old, she exhibited and sold her designs in the art gallery of Italian painter Piero Fornasetti in Milan.

The newspaper and media started taking an interest in her work and fame. Local fashion stores began ordering her designs. Her collections were marched down the runways of Rome Alta Moda and Paris Haute Couture, and later her pret-a-porter collections were shown in Milan. Soon everybody was talking about Luisa Beccaria.

She opened her first store in 1984 in Milan in the charming neighborhood of Brera. She has opened shops worldwide in Russia, Italy and Australia, and her clothing line is presented in almost 50 stores on five continents. She also added Men’s and children’s collections to her fashion empire.

Miuccia Prada

Miuccia Prada / Wikimedia

Miuccia Prada is the chief-executive and Co-creative director of the Italian handbag and fashion label Prada, alongside being the creative director of Miu Miu.

Being the youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada, Miuccia Prada inherited the family business alongside her siblings. She transformed her family’s fine leather goods house into a luxury,  ready-to-wear powerhouse.

Miuccia Prada grew up in Milan and graduated with a Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Milan. In her youth, she studied mime at the Teatro Piccolo, joined the Italian Communist Party, and was active in Milan’s women’s rights movement during the 1970s. Later, she entered the family business and began designing for the family leather goods company. She created a line of black lightweight backpacks that earned her immediate recognition.

Just after 3 years, in 1988, encouraged by her husband Patrizio Bartelli, Prada debuted her womenswear line. She would add a secondary line, Miu Miu, in 1993.

The British Fashion Council awarded Prada with the OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD at the Fashion awards 2018.

Donatella Versace

Born on 2nd May of 1955, Donatella Versace is a businesswoman and an iconic Italian female fashion designer. Donatella Versace has been the artistic director of the Versace Empire since 1997. Throughout the years, Versace has overseen the tremendous growth of the company’s luxury clothing lines alongside the extension into home furnishings, hotels, and accessories.

As a vice president and artistic director of the brand’s board, Donatella Versace is responsible for the brand’s overall vision, from its images and catwalk collections to the global growth and future of the company in the digital world, she handles it all. She is truly a symbol of women’s empowerment and determination.

Alberta Ferretti

Alberta Ferretti /Press

Born on May 2nd, 1950, in Gradara, Italy, Alberta Ferretti is an Italian female fashion designer who designs for her namesake brand, Alberta Ferretti. Her showroom is in Milan, but her studio is in her hometown of Cattolica.

In addition to launching a successful and highly coveted womenswear label, the Italian fashion designer Alberta Ferretti has overseen the growth of one of Italy’s most prominent fashion production and manufacturing companies.

In 1968, at a very young age of 18 years, Ferreti began her career in the fashion industry by opening a Fashion Boutique named ‘Jolly’ in Cattolica, Italy. She launched her namesake brand in 1974 and soon expanded her way into Milan in the early eighties. After founding her first showroom, she shortly debuted at Milan Fashion Week. The designer launched Ferretti Jeansphilosophy in 1984, renaming it as ‘Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti’ just after 3 years. Since then, the renowned fashion designer has diversified into bridal, childrenswear, and sportswear. She even introduced her first namesake fragrance in 2009.

Throughout her career, she has been awarded on several occasions to recognize her work. She holds the honor of being invited to a reception held for 200 fashion designers and retailers by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street in October 1988. In 1998, she was selected for the prestigious Cavalieri Del Lavoro by the Italian President and in 2018 received the America Award of the Italy-USA Foundation.

The Alberta Ferretti company also manages Moschino, Rifat Ozbek, Jean Paul Gaultier, Narciso Rodriguez. The group has 580 employees with 70% export turnover and 2,500 customers worldwide. Alberta Ferretti embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship and strength of character. 


Mariuccia Mandelli Krizia / Wikimedia

Born in Bergamo in 1933, Mariuccia Mandelli began making dresses for her dolls at 8 years old. Trained as a teacher, she started selling skirts and dresses in 1951 out of her car. She rented two rooms in Milan with a friend Flora Dolci, which later became her first workshops and design studios.

Initially, she sold her designs to local shops, which proved quite successful. By 1954, her project had grown into a team that included six workers. Mandelli named her company “Krizia,” inspired by Plato’s dialogue on women’s vanity. After presenting their first designs from 1954 to 1957, they began attracting press and potential buyers. The Fashion house increased during the 1960s and 70s, which was the start of Mariuccia’s success.

At its high during the 1990s, Krizia grew into a business having a net worth of over 500 million dollars. Mariuccia Mandelli passed away in 2015 at the age of 90 and is remembered for saying, “I like sophisticated, free women. A free woman can wear anything she feels comfortable in.”

Chiara Boni

Chiara Boni /Facebook

Chiara Boni was born in Florence on August 27, 1948. After a brief experience in London in her youth, Boni began her career as a fashion designer in 1971 by opening her first boutique in Florence. She offered clothing under the name of “You Tarzan Me Jane.” Soon the brand gained notoriety. A financial textile group, GFT (which also owns Armani and Valentino), acquired the Chiara Boni label. During this transition, Boni experimented with stretch fabrics which would become her signature fabric.

Chiara Boni has worked with the most respected photographers and designed theatrical costumes. Chiara Boni has been deeply passionate about art and considers fashion a free expression form.

Her pieces travel with ease and remain wrinkle-free, making them loved by celebrities, politicians, and businesswomen worldwide.

Francesca Liberatore

Francesca Liberatore is a talented Italian female fashion designer born in Rome in 1983. In 2007, after graduating from Saint Martins in London, she began her career in the industry by collaborating with some of the top fashion houses such as Jean-Paul Gaultier in Paris, Viktor & Rolf in Amsterdam, and Brioni Womenswear in Italy.

The new Italian fashion designer launched her collection for Spring/Summer 2009. It won her the “next generation” competition hosted by the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana and a place among the big names of  Milan Fashion Week. Liberatore also showed in other fashion cities such as Paris, New York, and London and took part in significant fashion projects like Saga Furs, Fashion Project Moulin Rouge, and Swarovski.

Elisabetta Franchi

Born in Bologna in 1968, Elisabetta Franchi is an Italian fashion designer who has a pragmatic approach to the fashion industry. Despite many difficulties during her journey to becoming a designer, her strong determination and steadfastness helped her complete her studies, follow her dream, and achieve it.

After a difficult childhood and rebellious adolescence, she entered the world of fashion, initially as a saleswoman, working at a market stall at 16. Her experience with the public was invaluable as she began to understand the needs and desires of her customers and learned how to spot upcoming trends.

In 1996 she opened a small atelier. Her first label was known as Celyn B. and later was rebranded in 2012 to Elisabetta Franchi.

Today the brand has 1,100 multi-brand and 80 single-brand stores located in international markets such as China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

Donatella Pellini

Donatella Pellini /Press

Emma Caimi Pellini founded her atelier in 1947. In 1950, after studying at Brera Fine Arts Academy, Emma took part in the Triennale held at Milano, securing the second and third prizes at the exhibition  “Imitazione del gioiello.”

She displayed her exquisite work in New York on Fifth Avenue after being invited by the Saks in 1951. Her daughter Carla took over the company in 1964, keeping the showroom and press office at the regal Palazzo Belgiojoso in Via Morigi, Milan.

Granddaughter Donatella also learned and mastered the art of jewelry design and redefined the family atelier, adding her unique contemporary vision. In the 1980s, she presented bijoux collections made in PVC, plexiglass, and rhodoid, earning her a permanent place in the accessories departments of Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue in NY and Marcus in Los Angeles and Dallas. Donatella Pellini remains the driving force behind the Pellini brand.

There are, of course, many more Italian female designers making their mark on the fashion world; these are just some of my favorites. Female fashion designers have inspired women and new designers worldwide with their talent, hard work, and entrepreneurship.

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Article by Celia Abernethy
Featured image: Catwalk show / CanvaPro

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