FEMALE FASHION ICONS THROUGH HISTORY
In honor of International Women’s Day, let’s take a look at some True Fashionista female fashion icons whose ideas and vision over the years have helped shape the industry. They not only have helped pave the way, they also mirror the times and societal shift of the passing years. Through economic upheaval, social and political change, and the search for a generational voice, fashion has always been there to reflect the changing times. With the donning of a particular accessory or simple widening of a collar, the fashion-conscious open the door to something fresh, thereby influencing even more creative thought and future brilliance. We’ll chip the surface here. The rest, as they say, is up to you.
“Fashion is part of the daily air and it changes all the time, with all the events. You can even see the approaching of a revolution in clothes. You can see and feel everything in clothes.” —Diana Vreeland
Prior to the 20thcentury and its industrial explosion, there were few people making their mark in fashion. Born July 2, 1747, Rose Bertin was one of the first. As dressmaker to Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, Bertin was often sarcastically referred to as the “Minister of Fashion”. She eventually opened a shop in Paris and became quite the influencer on Parisian style. It was, however, her work with Antoinette that helped set a fashion precedent for monarchs that followed.
As Wikipedia denotes, Bertin’s boss was an outsider to the French Court, relying on her meticulous designs to help her “combat her enemies with style”. Antoinette’s unique fashion preferences such as masculine riding breeches contrasted sharply with her elaborate gowns. As much as Marie Antoinette tried, her attempts at glamour were largely unsuccessful, but the ways that Bertin helped the Queen articulate herself through fashion were indeed groundbreaking.
Fresh off the first World War, fashion became all the rage, and a young French designer found her voice, eventually becoming a certified icon even to this day. Coco Chanel helped to define radical new gender-bending looks like the bob hairstyle, the LBD (little black dress), tweed jacket, and the use of jersey knit for women’s clothing. Chanel’s designs freed women from corsets and introduced easy-to-move-in pieces. And then there’s the perfume! Who hasn’thad their No. 5 phase?
In her continuing 25+ year tenure as editor in chief of American Vogue,Wintour is easily the most influential fashion editor of her generation. Under her direction, Voguehas become the most profitable book in the fashion industry. Her unyielding attitude and demand for the best, immortalized to perfection by Meryl Streep in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada, is a thing of legend; however, we hope she will be remembered for her support of emerging designers and charity work equally as much.
Easily making Time’slist of All-time Fashion icons, Liebovitz has produced images appearing regularly on Vogueand Vanity Fair, not to mention her timeless Rolling Stone cover shot of a nude John Lennon wrapped around wife Yoko Ono, in the last picture taken of him before his murder on December 8, 1980. Her ubiquitous style has been utilized for American Express and Louis Vuitton campaigns alike.
Known as the mother of the American “look” and ready-to-wear fashion, Claire McCardell made chambray shirts, sundresses and ballet flats cool. Smithsonian Magazinenotes that her collections, designed during the Great Depression and World War II, “reflected not only the needs of the time but the changing social position of women. Moving from the home to the downtown offices and male-dominated college classrooms, she offered women clothes that mirrored their new attitudes.” Her designs can be found at the Smithsonian Museum itself. ‘nuff said.
Actress Marlene Dietrich enjoyed success in the 1930’s and is one of the most famous actresses of the period. Born in Berlin, Germany, she became an American citizen in 1939 and was well-known for her staunch support of the troops in WWII. She was one of the first celebrities to raise war bonds and even performed for the Allied troops on the front lines, says CollegeFashion.net. Flaunting her penchant for wearing men’s suits along with Katherine Hepburn, Marlene helped to revolutionize and redefine women’s fashion by making pants acceptable for women to wear. She was also known as a Glamour girl, donning pencil skirts, form-fitting dresses and silky blouses. Whatever the ensemble, Ms. Dietrich always topped her outfits off with a chic hat.
Let’s make International Women’s Day every day. It would be a truly True Fashionista thing to do!