International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8th. The commemorative date is a moment for reflection about womanhood by remembering women’s social, political, economic and cultural achievements, while also pointing out their ongoing battles. Over the years, women have looked for outlets to show their creativity and passion – while being silenced in many settings – but there was one place that always had a space for them to let their personalities be free: the fashion.
While in the beginning fashion was all about posture and modesty, women accomplished to make it about their unique stories. It has not only become a guide to the latest trends, but has also shifted into an empowerment tool, a way to fight the world with small or big steps.
The world of fashion has become a celebration of womanhood and it’s enormous diversity. The icons in this area are risk-takers within the fashion and beauty industry. They are influential trend-setters that introduce new styles which spread throughout fashion culture and become unique and memorable parts of its for generations.
To understand more about this trajectory, check out six female icons that have changed the world of fashion:
Princess Diana of Wales
Princess Diana is often remembered due to her presence in the Royal Family and the love affair between King Charles III – her then husband – and his mistress Camilla Parker, involving a series of theories of murder and mistreatments. However, one of the many things that captivated the hearts of the public was her constant fashion sense. At the beginning of her royal tenure, the princess of Wales preferred being seen in the traditional aristocratic attire: clothes with big bows, frills and large neutral dresses, while still being up to date with the latest 80’s trends.
Nonetheless, the royal fashion icon is mostly recognized for her outfit choices after discovering King Charles’s betrayal, since she abandoned the expected royal looks and prioritized much sexier silhouttes, that portrayed her soft and charismatic personality perfectly. She was often seen wearing brands like Versace and Dior. She was also known for her plaid outfits and colorful dresses, while being fond of mixing casual and classy.
Whenever Diana’s sense of fashion is reflected, there is an specific outfit that comes to mind: The Revenge Dress. This historical fashion moment refers to when she wore a tight, low-cut black dress by Christina Stambolian, paired with a beautiful pearl necklace. The outfit by itself was iconic, however it is the way it empowered and gave even more confidence to the princess that made it memorable. When King Charles admitted his affair with Camilla Parker, it wasn’t expected that his wife’s public debut after the news would become an empowerment move. The Revenge Dress was a powerful and silent message from her end, by breaking royal rules, since wearing black was only allowed during funerals.
Therefore, Diana became a fashion icon due to her ability of making fashion an extension of herself, her heart and her emotions. Fashion was not only a form to feel beautiful, but also a way to show the world what she was going through and who she truly was behind the Royal’s closed doors.
Even though she broke a couple of the Royal Family’s rules, she has even become a fashion inspiration to Kate Middleton – now Princess of Wales. The princess has been seen honoring Diana with several looks, as some of her iconic jewerly and has taken inspiration to some of her dresses and coats.
Her outfits continue to be an inspiration and is reaching to younger generations, such as Gen-Z made it a trend to reinvent her athletic looks – biker shorts, a crewneck and a sweatshirt.
When thinking about Audrey Hepburn, it is impossible to dissociate her from her iconic movie: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – where she portrays a fortune hunter, obsessed with fashion and expensive clothing. Her love for clothing started after meeting Hubert de Givenchy – creator of Givenchy – becoming obsessed with using the stylist’s pieces and intricate designs.
Nonetheless, she was only considered a fashion icon after her debut in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in which she was spotted wearing a black custom made dress designed by Givenchy himself, paired with a pearl necklace, silk gloves and sunglasses. The dress became a symbol in the word of fashion and it’s still recreated to this day, wether by celebrities or even as a costume.
Hepburn was mostly seen wearing feminine dresses and a pair of ballerina flats designed by Salvatore Ferragamo -however, she did love wearing high heels. Her style was mostly elegant and classic, becoming timeless. She also had a classic street wear style, opting to wear a ton of trech coats and jackets, paired with skirts and her iconic elegant bun.
“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.”Audrey Hepburn
Marilyn Monroe is one of the world’s biggest fashion and sex symbols. She is known for her acting, modeling, and singing in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Whenever thinking of Monroe, there is a series of outfits that come to mind that have become iconic in the fashion industry. The main choice that impacted the way the world sees fashion nowadays is the flowy white dress that flew into the wind in the movie Seven Year Itch. The dress became a momentum, having many people trying to recreate not only the magnificence of the piece, but also the scenery of the movie.
Another Monroe’s iconic fashion moments was in the film Gentleman Prefer Blondes, in which she wore an elegant radiant pink silk dress. The dress had a low-cut neckline that showed her elbows and allowed her to use an enormous diamond necklace, being also paired with pink gloves, diamond bracelets, her iconic blonde bob and red lipstick. As if that wasn’t enough to make the scene unique and memorable, the dress was karked into fashion history due to it’s big – however elegant – bow in the back. In the movie, she wears it while singing the melody “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”.
Marilyn has another one of those looks that the world couldn’t get enough of: the dress worn while singing “Happy Birthday” to the United States President, John F. Kennedy on his 45th birthday. It was based in a sketch made by Bob Mackie for the French-born Hollywood costume designer Jean-Louis and it made a lot of heads turn as soon as Monroe took her white fur coat to reveal a sparkling translucent dress embellished with over six thousand crystals. The look was even put in a exhibit at “Ripley’s Believe it or Not”, now being 60 years old and evaluated as the most expensive dress sold at auction.
This look continues to impact society to this day. That is proven by MET Gala 2022, where the dress was taken out of it’s protection box to be worn by Kim Kardashian on the red carpet. The ocurrance had a bad feedback on social media, since Marilyn herself wanted the dress to be like a second skin to her and fit only to herself. Due to that, the historic piece suffered a lot of damage after the event, losing crystals and ruining the fabric.
Anna Wintour – the name that can easily be taken as synonymous with fashion. She is Vogue’s editor-in-chief and considered one of the most influential fashion icons in the industry. Her main statement piece is her black pair of Chanel sunglasses with her short bob hair and bangs.
Her passion for clothing started as she grew up in London in the 1960s, which framed her views on the topic. Under the management of Anna Wintour, Vogue re-established itself as the dominant American fashion magazine.
Wintour has made her biggest impact in the world of fashion by managing the famously renowned MET Gala. The icon has chaired the event since the 90’s and has raised a lot of money, which made the Metropolitan Museum of Art rename a wing the Anna Wintour Costume Center in 2014.
Gisele Bündchen is the most famous Brazilian supermodel. She has been representing the country on the catwalk for years and creating a variation of fashion tendencies throughout her career. The lady has performed in shows like Valentino, Versace and Ralph Lauren. She has also appeared in over 500 magazine covers and was awarded with the title of “Most Beautiful Woman” by Forbes Magazine and Vogue Magazine.
In most recent news, she appeared on Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival and stole the spotlight by wearing what people described as a simple yet fancy look, wearing the party’s blouse and white jeans. The public bet that this specific style might become a trend in the future Carnaval edition, since it attracted positive feedback form the media.
Bündchen is mostly known for an occurrence in the 2002 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, in which four members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) invaded the catwalk while she was on stage, dressed with black and red lingerie. The protestors held signs that read “Gisele: fur scum”. She read it, but kept walking with her head up high, acting as if she didn’t even see them in her way.
Gisele keeps bringing new fashion trends to the media and being Brazil’s pride in the world of fashion. At the moment she has collaborations with brands like Arezzo and Vivara.
Depite being only 26 years old, the supermodel Bella Hadid has already earned the honorary title of a fashion icon. Beginning her modeling carrer in 2014, she has walked for a remarkable amount of catwalks such as Chanel, Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs.
Hadid has an essential presence in the industry, both as a model and a style icon. As a model, her most recent successes occurred while taking part in several shows at fashion weeks in places like New York, London, Milan, and Paris. Althought the most iconic moment was during Paris Fashion Week, where she walked for the parisian brand Coperni and entered on stage – with underwear only – being sprayed with paint that turned into fabric.
She also became the record holder for the most shows in the 2023 Summer Season and received the award of “Model of the Year” by the British Fashion Awards. She is considered what TikTok calls an “It girl”, since after she is seen wearing a specific piece of clothing, the search for the grow immeasurably.
Bella’s fashion sense is described as edgy, unique and fashion-forward, while incorporating vintage and streetwear elements.
The article above was edited by Mariana do Patrocínio.
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