What makes a fashion icon? Is it their style? Their originality? The way they influence others? The answer is simple, it’s a combination of everything. People that earn the title of a fashion icon exude confidence, from the way they dress to the way they walk. Originality plays an important part in the making of an icon, and having their own unique style will help put them on the map. Now that the title is well described, here are the top ten fashion icons over the years:
Icon #10 - Zendaya
Born September 1, 1996, Zendaya Coleman is an American actress and singer. She is well known for her roles in various television shows and movies. However, her impeccable fashion sense is one of the main attributes that makes her stand out in Hollywood. Her unique style has led her to making headlines. In September 2021, Vogue magazine wrote an article detailing her most iconic fashion moments. These include her yellow, custom-made Valentino Oscars dress that was heavily inspired by Cher. From the cover of Vogue to the Met Gala carpet, she always dresses to impress. Zendaya puts on a showtime and time again with her Met Gala looks, such as the Cinderella themed gown that she wore in 2019. She is well on her way to becoming a fashion icon, and her style already influences other people around the world.
Icon #9 - Timothée Chalamet
Timothée Chalamet is an American actor with a French background, born December 27th, 1995. His movies have earned him praise and recognition in the form of several awards. His portrayal of Elio in “Call Me By Your Name” earned Chalamet a nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Apart from his talent on screen, his fashion sense makes the 25-year-old actor steal the spotlight in every event he attends. His red carpet looks always stray away from the simple suit and tie that most men sport, making him stand out for his bold yet stylish choices. The Louis Vuitton balck sequin harness he wore atop a simple balck shirt and pants for the 2019 Golden Globe awards further highlights how Chalament is not afraid to add a personal touch to all his looks. In 2019, Vogue wrote an article all about how Chalamet was “the most influential man in fashion” which only further proves his impact.
Icon #8 - Cindy Crawford
American model, actress and television personality Cindy Crawford was born February 20th, 1966. Her modeling career led her to being part of the ‘90’s supermodel gang, the original five’ alongside models such as Naomi Campbell. Her style includes figure hugging minis, classic gowns and anything in red or black. Crawford dawned an iconic red Versace dress for the 63rd Academy Awards in 1992. Today, the red dress is still considered to be one of the best looks ever worn in the history of the Oscars. It is so famous that the red dress has its own Wikipedia page. Cindy’s daughter, Kaia Gerber, is following her mother's footsteps, with modelling contracts to top brands and acting roles on renowned shows like “Horror Story”, maybe in some years, she will earn a spot on this list. her.
Icon #7 - Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly is an American actress born on November 12th, 1929. Her poised posture was always elegantly decorated with flawless hair, makeup and a pearl necklace. After starring in a few successful movies, Grace married Prince Rainer III and became the princess of Monaco, which only heightened her elegant mannerisms and influence. Kelly has Irish roots, and she was raised to celebrate them. One of her most timeless pieces, that could still be worn today, is a green chiffon dress with beading that the actress wore on St.Patrick's day, 1954. Her elegant outfits were always decorated with jewelry that further heightened her style and one of Grace Kelly’s favorite designers was Christian Dior. To this day, she symbolizes the elegant and classic look that she always wore.
Icon #6 - David Bowie
Born January 8th, 1947, David Bowie was a singer, songwriter and actor. He is arguably the most influential musician of the 20th century, using fashion as a means to self-expression. Bowie utilized personalities he created such as Ziggy Stardust, in which he dyed his hair bright red and wore colorful clothing by designer Kansoi Yamamoto, to heighten his stage presence. His bold and colorful outfits serve as an inspiration to many artists to this day. His colorful and edgy outfits have helped give birth to a large amount of runway looks, such as Jean Paul Gaulier’s spring collection of 2013, in which one of the outfits included a bodysuit that represented the style that Bowie dawned as Ziggy Stardust.
Icon #5 - Diana Ross
Diana Ross is a singer, songwriter and actress who was born on March 26th, 1944. Her outfits were unapologetically over the top, putting her on the map as one of the many fashion icons from the 1970s. Her style influenced many celebrities and artists. Both Keke Palmer and Ciara have worn Met Gala looks inspired by Diana Ross, with both women wearing figure hugging, glittering dresses and big hair. What made Diana Ross an unforgettable icon is the fact she always walked with confidence, no matter what she was wearing. She launched a style legacy that continues to thrive and inspire others to this day.
Icon #4 - Princess Diana
Princess Diana was born July 1st in the year of 1961. Her classic outfits from her days spent married to Prince Charles heightened her natural elegance and poise. Fashion Designer Catherine Walker helped Diana create a modern version of clothes for her public life as the Princess of Wales. Even then, Princess Diana broke the royal dress code on numerous occasions. She was often seen without the pair of gloves that were traditional to royal family members, wore black in her wardrobe which is a color usually only worn in mourning for royalty, and skipped the rule about wearing nude nail polish as her nails were often seen painted in bolder colors such as red. After her divorce, Diana developed a more individual style that allowed her to express herself better. After it was revealed that Prince Charles had indeed partaken in an affair with Camilla, Princess Diana was seen wearing a gorgeous little black dress designed by Christiana Stambolian. The dress is now referred to as “the revenge dress.” The then “Chouchou” Dior bag was once gifted to Princess Diana by Bernadette Chircac, who was the first lady of France back then. Diana was often seen with the bag, and she even wore it to the 1996 Met Gala. The bag was later renamed after the princess, and is now called “Lady Dior.” Her selfless acts and iconic outfits inspire people everywhere, and after all, who wouldn't want to dress like a princess?
Icon #3 - Cher
Singer and actress Cher was born May 20th, 1949. She released 10 albums in the 1970s, putting her on the map and in headlines. She was often seen dressed impeccably in the 1970s trends and she embodied the era's fashion. The majority of Cher’s outfits were styled by Bob Mackie, who is an American fashion designer. When visiting the Vogue YouTube channel, there is a video in which Cher breaks down 22 of her most iconic outfits, and the star explains all of her fashion choices. She also talks of her friendship with Bob Mackie and how they met during a fitting for Carol Burnett (who had her own show called The Carol Burnett Show.) Her risky and bold fashion choices made an impact and still influences fashion today. Many celebrities have been influenced by Cher’s iconic style including but not limited to Zendaya, Emily Ratajkowski, Kim Kardashian, Dua Lipa and Jennifer Lopez. Cher has been breaking barriers all throughout her career, one of the most memorable moments where she shocked the world was when she showed her belly button on ‘The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour’ which at the time, was against the television policy for women's wardrobe. She was the first woman to do so, and her flair and boldness continued to inspire today and will carry on in her legacy.
Icon #2 - Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn was a British actress and humanitarian. She was born May 4th, 1929 in Ixelles, Belgium. She was often seen wearing a classic black dress, such as the one she wears in “Breakfast at Tiffany's.” Hepburn was ranked by the American Film Institute as the third-greatest female screen legend from the Golden Age of Hollywood. After meeting Hubert de Givenchy in the 1950s, the actress fell in love with fashion and often wore Givenchy. Her outfits and style in movies such as “My Fair Lady” and “Breakfast at Tiffany's” still have a massive impact on fashion. During the 2021 Met Gala, model Kendall Jenner wore a gorgeous Givenchy dress that paid homage to one of Hepburn's’ looks in “My Fair Lady.” Audrey's dress from “Breakfast at Tifannys” has often been seen in pop culture and a replica was worn by Leighton Mester in Gossip Girl, in which she plays Blair Waldorf.
Icon #1 - Marylin Monroe
In first place on the list of fashion icons is Marylin Monroe. She was an actress, model and singer who was born on June 1st, 1926 in Los Angeles, California. Her outfits varied from glamorous red carpet looks to comfortable jeans, and she managed to look elegant and stylish in both circumstances. Monroe is considered one of the most popular fashion symbols of the 1950s and 1960s; she is still greatly thought of as an icon to this day. Her style helped forge the image of the Hollywood actress. She had diverse outfits that could be defined as iconic, but the one that stands out the most is the pink dress, decorated with diamond jewelry, that she wears when singing “Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend” in the movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” This outfit has been recreated many times in pop culture by celebrities like Madonna and Blake Lively. Monroes impeccable and glamour filled style is translated into fashion today, and she continues to inspire many celebrities and people all over the world.
So what really makes a fashion icon?
So, to revisit the question from the start of this article; what makes a fashion icon? Being a fashion icon means making history. The word “icon” is generally overused, and it has partly lost its meaning. Someone may wear a beautiful dress once in their career, or say something that inspires people, and suddenly they are labelled an icon by the media. However, in most cases, being a fashion icon is mostly related to the groundbreaking, cultural impact that the person has; before labelling a celebrity as a fashion icon, one must ask themselves, will this person's outfits and confidence outlive them? All these stars stated above have certainly raised expectations for fashion by breaking norms, being the topics of conversations and inspiring pop culture and fashion to this day. They will not only be remembered for their talents, whatever they may be; but also for their contributions to fashion.