The 11 Top Fashion Icons of All Time
Fashion is truly my passion, and as a result I’m always looking for new sources of fashion inspiration. From keeping up with my fellow fashion bloggers to spending a lazy Saturday catching up on some of the best fashion movies of all time, I’m always looking for new resources to fuel my creativity.
That got me thinking about the people whose fashion inspiration transcends the current trends — the ones whose influence can be felt over decades. I’m talking about the fashion icons that didn’t just wear great fashion, but defined fashion. So to add a little extra inspiration to your day, here’s my list of the greatest fashion icons of all time.
It’s impossible to talk about classic Hollywood fashion icons without talking about Audrey Hepburn. From the way she carried herself to her personal style, Hepburn personified feminine beauty and grace. Her ensembles in films such as Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany’s constitute some of the best known and most admired fashion moments in film history.
You know you’re one of the top fashion icons of all time when one of the most coveted (and pricey!) line of bags in the world is named after you. An English actress and singer, Jane Birkin’s straight bangs, tooth gap, and cool mod style made her the poster child for 60’s and 70’s “cool girls.” Her influence on fashion was so profound that when Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas saw Birkin struggling with her carry-on on a flight, he designed his now famous Birkin bag just for her. Now that is #fashiongoals.
With her smokey cat eye, blonde beehive hair-do, and easy, confident style, French actress Brigitte Bardot epitomized 60’s fashion. Bardot was known for her ethereal beauty and was a frequent muse of artist Andy Warhol, however, she was far more than just another pretty face — she was a trendsetter in her own right, as well. A former ballerina, the first ballet flats were made for her by designer Rose Repetto, and she popularized the bikini and wide-necked shirts that expose both shoulders (now appropriately named a “Bardot neckline”).
Although, she is strongly associated with the 60’s, Bardot’s influence on fashion can still be felt today from the styles she popularized, to her overall aesthetic which is still embraced by celebrities today from Adele to Gig Hadid. That staying power makes her a shoo-in for one of the top fashion icons of all time.
Though the world lost him far too soon, James Dean’s impact on fashion is undeniable. His brooding good looks combined with his classic, “bad boy” jeans-and-t-shirt looks took the world by storm — and more than 60 years later it still shows no signs of stopping. (If you can get a shout out in a Taylor Swift song, you know you’ve made it, right?)
Katharine Hepburn is easily one of the top fashion icons of all time, due largely to her influence on menswear inspired fashion for women. Bucking the trends that came and went over the decades, Hepburn stayed true to her own personal aesthetic, choosing to wear wide leg pants, mens shirts, and comfortable shoes. Her tomboyish beauty, confidence, and poise showed the world that a woman could be just as alluring in a suit as she could be in a dress.
Princess Diana rocked the royal world by refusing to conform to the more conservative fashion choices of her in-laws, instead embracing a more modern, fashion-forward style. With her voluminous sleeves, her bright prints, her iconic hairstyle Princess Diana quickly became fashion royalty, as well.
Fashion icons usually have one or two signature looks that that become a part of our cultural history, but you know that you are truly one of the greatest fashion icons of all time when your life can be broken down into distinct fashion eras. Such is the case with Michael Jackson. From his bell bottoms, to his glittery glove, to his red leather jacket, you can trace the fashion evolution of Jackson from decade to decade and see the enormous mark that he left on each one.
If Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, then Madonna is most certainly the Queen. Like Michael Jackson, Madonna’s style evolution can be traced through the decade as she transitioned seamlessly from one iconic fashion moment to the next. If there was a new trend, Madonna was there leading the charge, putting her own glamorous spin on everything along the way.
The widow of President John F. Kennedy, Jackie Onassis was bonafide American royalty. Her classic, feminine style launched trends throughout the country from pill box hats to bows and scarves. She succeeded at being glamorous and pristine, while also feeling wholesome and approachable, an innate ability that endeared her to the American people.
From her white dress in The Seven Year Itch to her pink gown in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn Monroe spent her too-brief time in the spotlight making fashion history. The original blonde bombshell, her personal style always emphasized the sexuality, femininity, and vulnerability that defined her as a person and made her one of the most captivating stars of her day.
Grace Kelly’s timeless style and effortless grace had already made her Hollywood royalty early in her career, but when she married Prince Rainer of Monaco she became a real princess as well. Kelly’s ethereal beauty, elegance, and poise made her the perfect fit for that sort of fairy tale ending — and made her the muse of fashion designers from Hermes to Tommy Hilfiger for years to come.
The New Generation of Fashion Icons
The fashion icons listed above have all made an indisputable impact on fashion that can still be felt today. However, there is a new school of fashionable celebrities breaking new ground and creating some fashion history of their own. Here are my picks for the fashionistas who will be the fashion icons of the future:
Taylor Swift may be young, but her style has already undergone some pretty dramatic changes over the years. From her origins as a sweet, country starlet to her more sleek, classic Hollywood phase to the present when she is experimenting with edgier looks, Taylor has never been afraid to push the envelope and try new things were her personal style. The future looks bright for this budding fashion icon, and as she continues in her career, she’s sure to leave her mark.
When Olivia Palermo was cast in The City she immediately became a breakout fashion star on a cast that was already filled with people known for their great style. Flash forward to now and she has built her own empire, sits front row at fashion shows, and continues to inspire the world with her incredible street style. She definitely has all the makings of a fashion icon.
Gigi Hadid has an amazing fashion pedigree. Her mother is former supermodel (and currently Real Housewife) Yolanda Foster, and her sister Bella is a successful model as well. On top of her amazing looks, Hadid also has killer model “off-duty” street style that has made her a fashion darling. Already one of the top supermodels of the moment, it seems like that she’ll evolve into the fashion icon that she’d destined to be.
So what do you think of my list of the top fashion icons of all time? Is there anyone that I left out that you think I should include? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @KylenEveryWear.