In the last decade, we’ve seen high profile people in all industries stepping out of the closet, but fashion has long been a niche that welcomed those who didn’t give in to mainstream conformity. In fact, this singular trait is often what makes someone successful in fashion.

And it just so happens that the relatively small circle of those who’ve been most successful in the industry is full of brilliant and amazingly talented non-conformists who are also gay men.

From models to designers to editors and bloggers, the world of style is almost dominated by men who are open and proud about their homosexuality.

One couldn’t possibly cover all of these individuals in one short article, so we chose 7 of our favorite contemporary figures who represent a variety of styles and perspectives in modern fashion.

1. Tom Ford

The handsome “it” man snagged himself a spot in fashion’s pantheon by essentially turning Gucci into the highly respected haute couture fashion house it is today back when no one would touch it with a 10-foot pole. And since then, he’s gone on to revitalize YSL, form his own line and direct an Oscar-nominated film. Not bad for a kid from Texas who graduated Parsons with a degree in architecture.

2. Andre Leon Talley

Mr. Talley is like the fairy godfather of fashion – he’s served as everything from the fashion advisor of the first family to editor-at-large at Vogue to Tyra’s right-hand-man on America’s Next Top Model. He made his way up in the world by graduating from Brown University and then becoming creative director at Vogue. And as a close personal friend of the likes of Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld, you can be sure he always has his finger on the fashion pulse.

3. Marc Jacobs

In 2010, Time Magazine named Jacobs one of the 100 most influential people in the world, let alone the fashion world or the gay world. Winning multiple awards for both his own line and his work for Louis Vuitton, this designer has become a household name and a pop culture icon. His name has been dropped in several hip hop artists’ songs. In addition to his bold runway designs, Jacobs released a line of t-shirts promoting equal marriage rights, using his high profile status for good.

4. Domenico Dolce & Steffano Gabbana

The painfully stylish Italian duo, who are partners in work and life, naturally come as a pair on this list. With a bootstrap start in Italy in the 80s, the two designers shot to style stardom with their 4th collection inspired by 1940s cinema. Their signature über feminine designs have even come in the form of performing costumes for superstars like Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Beyoncé.

5. Tim Gunn

As Project Runway’s resident mentor, Tim Gunn has become one of fashion’s most recognizable figures. He endured childhood in a severely homophobic home and even attempted suicide as a teenager, which he spoke about in his own “It Gets Better” narrative. But Gunn went on to become a faculty member at Parsons School of Design in 1982, later serving as dean and then chair of the fashion design department. But his star really rose once he became an integral part of TV’s premiere fashion reality show. And as the current chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne, there’s no doubt that Tim “Make it Work” Gunn is a force in fashion.

6. Michael Kors

Another frequent character in Heidi’s Project Runway menagerie, Michael Kors is a giant in the American sportswear world. By age 23, Kors had already dropped out of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and launched his first womenswear line in the city’s major high end department stores. In addition to several fashion and accessory lines with his own name, he also served as Celine’s first ever ready-to-wear designer. And as the designer of the dress Michelle Obama wore in her first term official portrait, he may even be featured in history books someday.

7. Christian Louboutin

The shoe design wizard behind the iconic red-soled shoes grew up in Paris and had little formal training but a longtime fascination with women’s shoes. After some rebellious exotic travel in his youth, Louboutin returned to Paris and began shopping his drawings around to fashion houses. He opened his first shop in 1991 and is credited for bringing back the stiletto heel. His sophisticated, sexy style has become a fashion staple among celebs and fashionistas and the red-soled shoe has become, in itself, a symbol of feminine style.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does include some of our very favorites and those we think have contributed and continue to contribute the most to style, design and fashion today.

In addition to what these men have done for fashion, many also publicly advocate for gay rights and no doubt serve as shining examples of personal and professional success for the LGBT community.

[Editor's note: Maureen Lampert serves as chairman of Chicago's Oak Street Council, an organization made up of the owners of luxury shops, restaurants, hotels and more in the fashionable Gold Coast neighborhood. She is also a style and travel writer who frequently contributes to several online publications.]