Fashion Gossip: 12 Houses, So Much Drama

As much fun as it is to think that our favorite designers work in charming workshops like Keebler Elves, the reality is that design houses are massive entities filled to the brims with big budgets, big strategy, and even bigger personalities.
It's that wealth of creativity and resources that churns out the two, three, four, sometimes five collections a year, per house, that you love following. But it's the in-house drama (also thanks to some of those larger-than-life designers) that keeps each institution at the top of our fashion news feed. Ahead, we've detailed the stories behind 12 of the biggest (or at least, most interesting) names in fashion, and the moments, people, and designs that have made them so illustrious.
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P.S. The illustrations are awesome, so please view them in fullscreen mode if your browser can handle it!
Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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Chanel

Date Founded: 1909
Most Notable Designers: Coco Chanel (1909 - 1971), Karl Lagerfeld (1983 - present)
Muses Throughout History: Gabrielle Dorziat, Catherine Deneuve, Inès de la Fressange, Audrey Tautou, Alexa Chung, Amy Winehouse, Alice Dellal, Blake Lively, Leigh Lezark
Most Famous Contribution To Fashion: Coco Chanel was the first to popularize many of fashion's most iconic pieces, like the Little Black Dress, the Breton stripe, the bouclé jacket, jersey, the 2.55 handbag, and her classic scent, Chanel No. 5.
House Drama: Coco Chanel reportedly had affairs with Nazis, married men, and women. Karl Lagerfeld is notoriously loose-lipped with his criticism of celebrities, and has made some off-color remarks about everyone and everything from Adele to prostitution.

Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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Louis Vuitton

Date Founded: 1854
Most Notable Designers: Louis Vuitton (1854 - 1892), Marc Jacobs (1997 - present)
Muses Throughout History: Empress Eugenie, Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Sofia Coppola, Arizona Muse
Most Famous Contribution To Fashion: Louis Vuitton's stackable luggage is a jet-setter's holy grail, and its monogrammed shoulder bags are some of the most iconic purses today. In the past decade, designer Marc Jacobs has linked Louis Vuitton with contemporary artists like Stephen Sprouse, Yayoi Kusama, and Takashi Murakami, which has inspired other brands to forge similar partnerships.
House Drama: Vuitton provided goods for and worked closely with Nazis during WWII. In 2010, the brand's ad campaigns were labeled as false advertising (ads suggested that all bags are entirely hand-sewn, yet sewing machines are used in certain stages of production).

Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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Maison Martin Margiela

Date Founded: 1989
Most Notable Designers: Martin Margiela (1989 - 2009)
Muses Throughout History: No official muses, but Kanye could be seen as the unofficial spokesperson (just jackets, though)
Most Famous Contribution To Fashion: For loyal Margiela fans, those four white stitches at the upper back of Margiela creations are like a badge of honor. The house has also taken everyday objects like pen caps, synthetic wigs, and gloves and made them as high-impact as paillettes, expensive furs, and hand embroidery.
House Drama: Martin Margiela has long been criticized for refusing interviews, forgoing bows at the ends of shows, and shunning photographers. In fact, the last verified image of the man is from 1997.

Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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Burberry

Date Founded: 1856
Most Notable Designers: Thomas Burberry (1856-1926), Christopher Bailey (2001-present)
Muses Throughout History: Emma Watson, Cara Delevingne, Kate Moss
Most Famous Contribution To Fashion: Burberry's jacket in its waterproof gabardine fabric is now the Rolls Royce of trench coats.
House Drama: Kate Moss was dropped from Burberry's ad campaigns after she was caught doing cocaine on camera. In 2011, their ads came under attack once again when Emma Watson’s leg was Photoshopped out of a photo.

Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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Versace

Date Founded: 1978
Most Notable Designers: Gianni Versace (1978-1997), Donatella Versace (1997 - present)
Muses Throughout History: Madonna, Elizabeth Hurley, Linda Evangelista, Gisele Bündchen
Most Famous Contribution To Fashion: Versace's scarf-printed pieces were ubiquitous in the '90s, and its over-the-top gold accessories are still an oft-copied styling trick.
House Drama: Gianni Versace was murdered in 1997 by serial killer Andrew Cunanan.

Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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Dior

Date Founded: 1946
Most Notable Designers: Christian Dior (1946 - 1957), Yves Saint Laurent (1957 - 1960), John Galliano (1996 - 2011), Hedi Slimane (menswear, 2000 - 2007), Raf Simons (starting July 2012)
Muses Throughout History: Princess Margaret, Duchess of Marlborough, Mitzvah Bricard, Kate Moss, Dita von Teese
Most Famous Contribution To Fashion: Christian Dior introduced the New Look into fashion in the '40s, in which full, mid-calf-length skirts, small waists, and fitted tops became the silhouette to emulate for the next decade and beyond.
House Drama: Christian Dior designed dresses for wives of Nazi officers while his own sister was sent to a concentration camp for being a member of the French Resistance movement. In 2000, John Galliano created a homeless-inspired couture collection. In 2011, Galliano was removed from his post at Dior for making anti-semitic remarks in Paris while drunk.

Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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Prada

Date Founded: 1913
Most Notable Designers: Mario Prada (1913 - 1958), Miuccia Prada (1977 - present)
Muses Throughout History: Anna Wintour, Carey Mulligan
Most Famous Contribution To Fashion: Prada's waterproof backpacks and totes were some of the best examples of '90s man-made textiles. Additionally, its whimsical jolie laide aesthetic is finally becoming the look of the day, launching dozens of trends.
House Drama: Mario Prada famously did not believe that women could work in business, even though his daughter and granddaughter eventually became his successors.

Technically not an official store, this Prada Marfa installation created by artists Elmgreen and Dragset represents one of the most recognizable Prada icons the world over (which is why we chose to use it in our illustration!).

Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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Alexander McQueen

Date Founded: 1992
Most Notable Designers: Alexander McQueen (1992 - 2010), Sarah Burton (2010 - present)
Muses Throughout History: Isabella Blow, Daphne Guinness, Kate Middleton
Most Famous Contribution To Fashion: McQueen's use of super low-rise jeans sparked a phenomenon in the early '00s. The brand's forward-thinking silhouettes, which included the vertiginous armadillo shoe, gave fashion a new shape.
House Drama: McQueen's tartan-tattered '95 collection was entitled Highland Rape, which referred to the British 'rape' of Scotland. Tragically, in 2010, Lee McQueen committed suicide.

Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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Yves Saint Laurent

Date Founded: 1962
Most Notable Designers: Yves Saint Laurent (1962 - 2002), Stefano Pilati (2002 - 2012), Hedi Slimane (2012 - present)
Muses Throughout History: Loulou de la Falaise, Catherine Deneuve, Betty Catroux, Talitha Getty
Most Famous Contribution To Fashion: Saint Laurent famously designed Le Smoking tuxedo suit, and in the '60s, his trapeze dresses changed the current, modern silhouette forever.
House Drama: Women were initially banned from restaurants and private institutions for wearing Le Smoking and/or sheer YSL blouses. YSL was later sued by Christian Louboutin for creating red-soled shoes and won the lawsuit. And then, recently, Hedi Slimane decided to drop the "Yves" in YSL, instead returning the brand to the moniker of Saint Laurent Paris.

Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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Hermès

Date Founded: 1837
Most Notable Designers: Thierry Hermès (1837 - 1878), Catherine de Karolyi (1967 - 1980), Martin Margiela (1988 - 2003), Jean-Paul Gaultier (2003 - 2010), Christophe Lemaire (2010 - present)
Muses Throughout History: Grace Kelly, Jane Birkin
Most Famous Contribution To Fashion: Hermès is responsible for creating two of the most iconic bags known to fashion — the Kelly bag in the 1930s and the Birkin bag in the 1970s. Its silk scarves and Collier de Chien cuffs are still dream-ticket accessories for fashion folk.
House Drama: Hermès has long been embroiled in knock-off investigations and lawsuits, and it recently won $100 million against counterfeiters, many of whom were house employees.

Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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Comme des Garçons

Date Founded: 1969
Most Notable Designers: Rei Kawakubo (1969 - present)
Muses Throughout History: None
Most Famous Contribution To Fashion: Kawakubo popularized avant-garde, deconstructed clothing.
House Drama: In 1995, the designer unwittingly sent striped pajamas down the runway on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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Ralph Lauren

Date Founded: 1967
Most Notable Designers: Ralph Lauren (1967 - present)
Muses Throughout History: Iris Apfel, Kim Nye, Camilla Belle
Most Famous Contribution To Fashion: Ralph Lauren has come to epitomize classic American sportswear, including denim, polo shirts, and cable-knit sweaters.
House Drama: Ralph Lauren was criticized for excessively Photoshopping model Filippa Hamilton in its 2009 ad campaign. In 2011, the brand was embroiled in a case against the U.S. Polo Association for the use of its logo of a polo player on a horse and won.

Illustrations by Gabriela Alford
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