Over the years, there have been so many strong and beautiful women who inspired us in the world of fashion. Some of these women started new trends, some called back to a previous time, and some defined the era they were living in. All of them are worth taking a look back at today.
Josephine Baker was one of the most admired entertainers in Europe in the 1920s. She emerged at the time of the Art Deco movement, and she embodied that in the sleek lines and geometric shapes in her fashion choices. She was quirky but sensual; Baker often danced wearing only a skirt made of artificial bananas, pasties, and tons of oversized accessories. Women of the time emulated her beauty aesthetic of pencil thin brows, tight slick waves, and dark lipstick. Far from just a pretty face, Baker was also an activist, resistance fighter, and spy during World War II.
Marlene Dietrich shot to fame in Hollywood in 1930 with the film Blue Angel and became one of the most famous actresses of the period. She was known for her love of menswear both on and off camera, wearing three piece suits and masculine hats. She along with fellow style icon Katharine Hepburn helped popularize and normalize women wearing pants and suits. Dietrich had a fondness for luxury clothing and enjoyed dramatic pencil skirts and glamourous faux fur accessories. She also made waves for making sexual innuendos and being bisexual in an era when it was nearly unheard of for women.
You may recognize Ingrid Bergman from classic films such as Casablanca and Notorious. She was also a style icon of the decade, famously refusing to conform to what were the set beauty norms when she entered Hollywood; Bergman would not pluck her eyebrows or cap her teeth. Her style was tailored and classic with tapered suits, silk scarves, pencil skirts, wide brimmed hats, trench coats, and tightly waved golden curls. She also liked statement necklaces and bracelets rather than multiple accessories. Bergman was consistently praised for her acting, nominated for several Academy Awards and winning three.
Audrey Hepburn is one of the most enduring Western style icons of all time. The actress owned the 1950s with classic films like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Roman Holiday and Sabrina, and to this day women try to emulate her style on and off screen. She was graceful, simple, feminine, and elegant in her style choices. Hepburn embraced the little black dress, popularized capris and ballet flats, and inspired many designers of the day. Classy in every way, Hepburn was also a humanitarian and an ambassador for UNICEF.
Born Lesley Hornby, fashion model Twiggy became known as the poster girl for the popularized mod movement of the 1960s. Her look centred on her long eyelashes, short boyish hairdo, and thin figure, all of which were a departure from many fashion icons of the previous decade. Her frame was perfect for the swingy coats, shift dresses, A-line dresses, knee high boots, and miniskirts that emerged during this time. Although largely known for her modeling career, Twiggy has also acted, done music, and become a voice in women’s fashion throughout the years.
Before the “Rachel” took off in the 1990s, Farrah Fawcett brought the 1970s what would become one of the most must-have celebrity hairstyles of all time. The hair was big, feathered, and layered, a big change from the styles of the 1960s. Fawcett was known as a sex symbol—a poster of her posing in a red swimsuit became one of the bestselling and iconic pin up posters of all time. She inspired women with her high-waisted denim flares, jumpsuits, and dislike for wearing bras. Fawcett remained an actress, model, and producer until her death from cancer in 2009.
In the 1980s, Madonna was one of the biggest names in movies, music, and fashion. Her sense of style was hugely influential during this era. Legions of girls tried to copy her style of teased hair, layered clothing and accessories, and “messy chic” outfits. Accessories she popularized included leggings, lacy fingerless gloves, and her famous beauty mark. Known for her love of reinvention, Madonna rocked many looks during the eighties, including her iconic cone shaped bra during the end of the decade.
It feels almost impossible to choose only one style icon of the 1990s, but TLC’s fun, fresh, and influential style moves are hard to ignore. This famous pop trio liked to stand out and start something new with their coordinated streetwear looks. They rocked oversized overalls and DIY graffiti covered men’s jeans alongside Tommy Hilfiger crop top and boxer sets. They’re well known for their crop top and sweatpants combos, silky pants, and strong sense of branding. You can see TLC’s influence on fashion still today with the resurgence in popularity of nineties inspired styles.
Love her or hate her, no human being epitomizes the street styles of the early to mid 2000’s quite like Paris Hilton does. Between her hit TV show The Simple Life, her single “Stars are Blind,” and the general rise of socialite culture, Paris Hilton was everywhere demonstrating the biggest trends in 2000s culture. She rocked super low rise jeans, halter tops, velour tracksuits, dresses over jeans, statement purses, and bedazzled hats. Paris and then BFF Nicole Richie often combined long skirts, slouchy tunics, and prints that were part of the boho movement also popular at the time with their own statement pieces and accessories. Paris’ middle part and chunky highlights are still recognizable today as a 2000s staple.