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10 Designers to Watch in 2015

Here are the names we'll be tracking for the next 12 months.

Who will be the breakout star of 2015? My guess is that that the year’s headlines will be less about emerging talent and more about the industry’s biggest names tackling new challenges. These are the designers I’ll be watching, from the unknowns to the overexposed.

John Galliano
The Maison Martin Margiela creative director will present his first couture collection in London on January 12. To say that Galliano’s return is the most hotly anticipated comeback since Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s in 1953 would not be much of an exaggeration. It’s important that Galliano is showing in his hometown, where he managed to garner support during the most damning moments of his 2011 scandal. There’s little doubt the work will be exquisite, but what will the reaction be from clients, critics and the media as a whole? There’s a lot riding on this.

Guillaume Henry
Credited with transforming mid-Century couture house Carven into a booming advanced-contemporary label, Henry was poached in the fall of 2014 by Nina Ricci when its designer, Peter Copping, decamped for Oscar de la Renta. Henry’s big coup at Carven was making modern, sort-of affordable clothes that winked to the house’s history without feeling overwrought. Nina Ricci sits at a higher price point, with an aesthetic that reads “sexy sophisticate,” not "It"-girl, the crowd Henry catered to at Carven. It’ll be interesting to see how far away Henry moves from Copping’s vision for the brand.

Simon Porte Jacquemus
To make fashion fun but also desirable is a tricky thing. That’s the genius of this 20-something Parisian designer, whose Spring 2015 collection evoked beach balls and candy ribbons. While some of Jacquemus's work can feel a little clunky, most of it just feels good. If he can diffuse the pressure, the designer has a chance to create a new global brand: one that’s cheery and inviting. I can surely see this guy putting his name on a quirky fragrance bottle.

Peter Copping
Rumors of Peter Copping's imminent arrival at Oscar de la Renta swirled last summer. By September 2014, news of his appointment was out. Copping is a sensible choice for the role, given that his own designs are very much in line with de la Renta’s vision. Maybe more important, though, is his time spent working under Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton and at the helm of Nina Ricci. He understands how a modern luxury brand is run, and that knowledge will be valuable as the ODLR brand expands further into accessories and other markets.

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Marc Jacobs
Will 2015 be the year of a Marc Jacobs IPO? Unlikely. But it may serve as a turning point for Jacobs, who left Louis Vuitton in 2013 to focus on transforming his namesake label into a Michael Kors-level business. Last year was about settling in: his Fall 2014 collection was well reviewed, while Spring 2015 received a lukewarm reception. The newly rebooted Marc by Marc Jacobs gained plenty of steam under the watch of Kate Hillier and Luella Bartley. But can he take it all up a notch this year?

Louisa and Pookie Burch
Wasn’t Trademark such a nice surprise? The collection, designed by Louisa and Pookie Burch, whose father is Chris Burch and stepmother is Tory Burch, formidably stands on its own. And that’s thanks to the Burch sisters’ sense of silhouette and color. The duo has spoken about the line being grounded in nostalgia, and there is a preppy-throwback feeling to the pleated skirts, baseball jackets and oxford-cloth dresses. But there’s something weird about each piece, too — whether it’s an exaggerated hem, a saturated color, or an unexpected print — that makes it cool, not typical. The fashion industry has spoken in favor of the brand, but will well-dressed shoppers flock to Trademark as they have to Steven Alan, A.P.C. and Opening Ceremony? This year will be a big indicator of whether or not it’s going to catch on.

Zaid Affas
British-born, Los Angeles-based designer Zaid Affas is a graduate of Central Saint Martins who spent years working at Ralph Lauren and BCBG before launching his own ready-to-wear collection two seasons ago. Thus far, he has only shown by appointment in Paris, slightly under the radar. His sculptural, architectural trench coats, blouses and gowns – done in interesting fabrics, like a silk organza threaded with raffia to create a stripe – are the sort of elevated classics that women so desperately seem to want right now.

Paul Andrew
Along with his namesake label, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Paul Andrew designs the shoes for many of your favorite American designers. During the competition, he was working on five separate collections. This year will be about boosting the Paul Andrew name, and making his signatures more identifiable. (He adds a little winged detail on many of his heels, a flourish that could certainly turn into a calling card.)
Riccardo Tisci
Tisci going to Gucci? Unlikely, say those who have knowledge of the Givenchy designer’s contract with LVMH. The funny thing is, Tisci probably is the best person to transform the Italian house’s ready-to-wear – mostly because he cares little for codes. His Spring 2015 collection could’ve easily been tagged with Gucci instead of Givenchy: it was about him and his tribe, not the brand’s history. Whether or not he stays or goes, Tisci is always fun to watch.

J.W. Anderson
Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe debut was met with lots of praise and his bags for both men and women — from a knotted clutch to the bungee-cord drawstring tote — are some of the most compelling accessories out there right now. Can he keep it all up, though? It’s certain that 2015 will be an even bigger year for Loewe, but it’s also a crucial one for Anderson’s namesake collection. A dynamite Fall 2015 could take him into another stratosphere.