This past Paris Fashion Week, which welcomed Fall/Winter 2009/10 haute couture creations from the most legendary houses, was no quiet affair. First off, there was the mourning of what may have been Christian Lacroix's last show (the designer declared his namesake fashion house bankrupt last month, although just this past week news of a potential investor surfaced). Not to mention, rumors of an impending retirement for Karl Lagerfeld—who oversees creative operations at Chanel, Fendi, and his eponymous brand—abounded in the City of Lights. While Lagerfeld famously responded to speculation of his exiting the industry with the statement that he'll " die with his boots on," there's no doubt about it: As a number of fashion's premier designers near retirement, all eyes are on the next generation that could eventually pick up where they leave off.
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While it's hard to imagine another Alexander McQueen or Marc Jacobs ever climbing their way up fashion's fickle ranks, quite a few young designers are leaving increasingly formidable stamps on the industry. It's no coincidence that the Council of Fashion Designers of America will inaugurate 31 new designers into its exclusive, exceedingly chic club this year (four more than were welcomed in 2008). While the economic downturn has shaken the fashion set at its core, there's no shortage of fresh-faced, stellar talents. From classic silhouettes and fine tailoring à la Calvin Klein, to emotion-fueled fashions in the vein of Jean-Paul Gaultier, see our gallery for a guide to the relatively new talents sure to leave a lasting mark on the fashion world.
Alisa Gould-Simon is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer. She also covers fashion and culture for BlackBook, New York magazine, and PAPER among other publications.