What Is Avant-Garde Fashion – Designers, Brands & More 

What Is Avant-Garde Fashion – Designers, Brands & More 

Avant-Garde is a French term meaning people or works that are innovative or experimental. It is usually with regard to fashion, lifestyle, art, or culture. You can always find an avant-garde movement in every creative field, and fashion is no different. Answering the question ‘what is avant-garde fashion?’ requires recognizing that avant-garde simply means existing out of established norms and confines. Therefore avant-garde designers do not try to keep up with trends; they are immune to them. 

While many designers choose to stay within the familiar confines of what they deem marketable, some designers have surrealistic convictions that put them outside the mainstream. Although there’s a thick line between avant-garde fashion and ready-to-wear, some designers choose to leave their pieces with some extraordinary touch. When you design clothes unusually, it usually draws more attention from the press and celebrities. The media enjoy writing about clothes that do not exist within the norms. There are several designers and brands that you can consider to be avant-garde. In this article, we’ll explore some of them while also touching on the aesthetic of avant-garde fashion.

Avant-Garde Fashion Aesthetics

To succinctly answer the question ‘what is avant-garde fashion,’ there’s a need to explore the aesthetics that makes us avant-garde fashion. This section explores these aesthetics to give users a better chance of understanding what it wants.

Full Looks

To fully understand the avant-garde fashion movement, people need to understand the brand’s full looks. Since most of the garments are separate, a holistic view of the avant-garde movement. Avant-garde doesn’t bring out the most in other pieces. However, there are times when directional clothing would influence when paired appropriately. 


The volume is another aesthetic of avant-garde fashion that will help answer the question ‘what is avant-garde fashion?’. Most avant-garde fashions come with layering features. However, this is crucial for aesthetics. Most pieces of the avant-garde are cut in a way that reveals the underneath level. This movement plays with volume frequently and therefore considers the t-shirt flat. However, there are times when avant-garde transforms a typical t-shirt into something with character. They usually turn out asymmetric and unnecessary long. There are also bunched fabrics beneath that form a flat fabric, simply adding volume to the body. 

Sculptural Clothing

Most clothing choices are rooted in utilitarianism. This ranges from jeans to double-sided zippers. However, avant-garde aims to push the limit of clothes by being as aesthetic as we are. Avant-garde clothing is usually voluminous and textured with inspiration from cultures. These are wearable work of art that uses the body as a vessel but do not burn attention. The fur helps to conceal the body. A clear example of this is the Rei Kawakubo spring/summer collection known as Lumps and Bumps. This collection saw different dresses that challenged what people considered as attractive silhouettes. 


Not all Avant-garde clothes are back, even though it is the predominant option in the world of avant-garde fashion. Most avant-garde collections feature strict color guidelines. Whatever isn’t black usually falls into the muted parts of the spectrum like white, dark grey, beige, owns, off-white. Most times, designers used one color throughout to accent earth tons. Most of the time, people who wear avant-garde clothing put it together monochromatically. 

What is Avant-Garde Fashion – Its Designers

Avant-Garde designers are those who break the rule of what clothing should be. They get rid of design books and embark on the journey of revolutionalizing the industry. Avant-garde would appear anti-fashion to beginners, but they’re simply ahead of their time. Check out the avant-garde designers on the list below.

Rick Owens

Rick Owen is an American who dropped out of Otis College of Art and Design to begin his fashion career. However, Rick Owens did not shoot into the limelight in the beginning. The designer first started at a school with a job cutting patterns, and then he upgraded to illegally copying designer clothing over the years. This rebel attitude followed Rick Owens when he finally created his line named after himself in 1994. The brand is known for its leather jacket and haunting inspiration. Rick Owens combines the gothic and glamorous designs into an unsettling look.

Rick Owen’s fashion show featured long, narrow boxes sticking out of the leather jackets tied around the model’s waist and geometric structures. The message from this fashion icon is open to interruption, but it’s clear that a dose of confidence is essential to wear these clothes.

Thierry Mugler

Another avant-garde designer essential to answer the question ‘who is avant-garde is Thierry Mugler. Most people would define the house of Thierry Mugler as a sexy, alien-chic house. Their signature perfume is known as Alien. Mugler is famous for using over-the-top design to give the female body a strong silhouette. Sometimes, his designs can be frightening. However, they are awe-inspiring and focus on the concept of empowerment. It’s easy to find sharp. Angular and geometric shapes are pretty popular on his runway. Most people view the models channeling Mugler’s dress as a force of nature. Although he was popular in the 1980s, his designs are just as popular today.

Yohji Yamamoto

Yohji Yamamoto is a famous avant-garde fashion designer from Tokyo, Japan. He’s renowned for making hip clothes with avant-garde tailoring. Originally, Yamamoto went to law school. However, he decided to help his mom at her dressmaking shop afterward. Down the line, Yohji Yamamoto chose to set up his own company and started creating outfits with oversized silhouettes. His favorite color was black, allowing him to showcase his technical expertise. Yamamoto was frequently playing with contrast as well. He continued to combine the drapes of silk with something sharp and structural. A standard option was a deconstructed trench. He didn’t aim his designs at enhancing a lady’s figure; they protected it instead. The sweeping colors and people forced viewers to view fashion as an art form.


Another option of avant-garde fashion designers that’s important to answer the question ‘who is avant-garde fashion’ is Andre Courreges. He began the fashion house of Courrges. He studied civil engineering before making a move to Paris in 1925. From the beginning, he started working under Cristobal Balenciaga. He opened his fashion house in 1961 and released a collection in 1964. In this collection, he used materials like plastic and metals. He used these materials to create clean lines and geometric shapes. Although his clothing hit the fashion world with a bang, it soon faded with the entry of hippie style. 

Commes Des Garcon

The mastermind behind this fashion label is Rei Kawakubo. You cannot put this designer into a box, nor can her outfits. Commes Des Garcon’s clothing is so voluminous that they pop off the model wearing them. They’re usually clothes you’ve not seen before, and that’s how Kawakubo likes it. Most times, she fuses menswear elements with shapes that whisper at feminity. Her designs feel like wearing abstract art. Commes Des Garcon has continually grown in popularity since she started the brand in 1968. The brand grew in popularity amongst celebrities and cool kids because they captured every life uniquely.

Gareth Pugh

A British designer that makes a list is Gareth Pugh. He interned at Rick Owens after he earned his fashion design degree. The British club scene significantly influenced pugh’s designs. Rick Own inspired him, and he produced designs that mixed light and dark. He always played with the concept of night and day or good and evil. Therefore, his designers were almost impossible to wear. Pugh was struggling for a while. However, he was known for continually pushing boundaries. Pugh constantly challenged fashion and championed a distorted view about conventional realities. He would use unconventional materials like foam and plastics that were disturbing. However, his designs were also quite challenging to look away from. 

Vivienne Westwood

The list of Avant-garde fashion designers isn’t complete without mentioning Vivienne Westwood. She is a British eccentric known for creating historically- influenced punk rock design. Her outfits are usually beautiful but quite frightening to most women. They’re aimed at confident women who have a crazy sparkle in their eyes. Most times, her avant-garde dresses are provocative enough to draw inspiration for fetish or Victorian settings. In 1970, Westwood set the world on fire when she opened her store. She’s famous for her passionate views, and you can usually find anti-establishment literature between seats at her runway shows. 

Iris Van Herpen

This is the youngest name on the list, and she is a Dutch fashion designer that uses 3D printing to bring her haunting designs to life. After graduating from the Institute of Arts in Arnhelp, she introduced her 3D printing, earning her a reputation in the fashion world. She drew her designs from the dichotomy between paradise and the underworld. An example is how nature would act when artificial intelligence arises. Van Herpen brings the answer to this question to life using laser printing, heat bonding, and more to create striking gowns that ripple in unearthly ways. Her sophisticated methods landed her a solid spot on Paris fashion week. 

Issey Miyake

Although most would define Issey Miyake as simple, he is truly not. He grew up postwar in Japan and didn’t know how to combine the Japanese heritage with western culture. Therefore, by paying special attention to rituals and details in his hometown. Miyake was able to find his niche. He catapulted into fame in the late 1980s with his heat seal pleating technique. People knew his clothes to move with the wearer geometrically. Today, he is known for crafting clothes with a handmade touché. People love him for his fusion of beauty, humanism, and balance. His careful, personal touch enabled him to create timeless garments in a primarily cold and distant industry.

What are Avant-Garde Fashion – Final Thoughts

Avant-garde fashion is unique. Each person has a unique approach to unveiling individual perspectives. Avant-garde fashion is made up of different views on fashion, and several features set them apart from other fashion designers. In this article, we touched on the distinct aesthetics of avant-garde clothing and the top designers that set the trend in the industry. 

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What Is Avant-Garde Fashion – Designers, Brands & More  Avant-Garde designers disrupt the status quo in the fashion world. Keep reading for an answer to the question 'What is Avant-Garde fashion?'
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