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5 Boss Babes in Women’s Fashion and Beauty History

This week, Her Campus CU Boulder is celebrating prominent and inspiring women throughout history. Scroll down to see five boss babes that shocked the fashion and beauty industries and left their mark on the world. 

Coco Chanel

Is it too much to call her the creator of fashion as we know it? I don’t think so either. Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel challenged stereotypes in both fashion and life, and continues to empower women every single day. Coco Chanel revolutionized the way the female body was viewed and treated in society, bringing style back to focus on a woman’s natural shape and genuine femininity. She stripped women’s fashion of corsets and introduced a modern style of elegance— clothes that were made to help women do what they want to do and be who they want to be, with freedom. Her own fashion sense was iconic, too, including pantsuits later worn by Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn, the little black dress that shortly snuck it’s way into every wardrobe, and her classic Chanel No. 5 scent still worn by millions of women around the world. Coco Chanel lived unapologetically bold and passionate, inspiring all womankind to do the same.

Vera Wang

You can’t talk about fashion icons without Vera Wang. A figure skater turned Vogue fashion editor, Vera Wang started her career as a designer in 1989 with her own wedding dress. Disappointed with the selection of existing bridal wear she sketched her own design and commissioned a dressmaker to tailor the gown. The following year, Wang opened her own bridal boutique in New York City. As the most prominent bridal designer in America, she received countless awards and accolades including the 1994 Girl Scout Council’s Woman of Distinction Award, the 2005 CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year, and more.

Audrey Hepburn

I mean, come on, do I even have to explain this one? She’s an icon, a star, and a muse to millions, even called the “most stylish woman who ever lived,” by fashion designer and icon herself, Mary Quant. In 1953, Hepburn made her debut in Roman Holiday making her the first female actress to win three major awards for a single performance clinching an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA Award. This film gave way to her best-known role as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s where her fashion sense is just as amazing as her performance. Ask any woman to name their fashion icon, and it is most likely going to be Audrey Hepburn. And rightfully so, she inspired the works of many famous designers like Salvatore Ferragamo, Isaac Mizrahi, and most notably, Hubert De Givenchy, founder and couturiere of The House of Givenchy. Her legacy even earned her a spot in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.

Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay Ash changed the business world for women more than 50 years ago with determination, ambition, and a little pink Cadillac. After being beaten down in the male-dominated sales industry for 25 years, Mary Kay decided to retire, and with her life savings ($5,000) and the help of her 20-year-old son she opened her first store in Dallas, Texas. With 500 sq. ft. and nine independent beauty consultants, Mary Kay Inc. was born. Within two years, the company had almost reached $1 million in sales and iconizing Mary Kay Ash in the business and beauty world. She started receiving numerous awards beginning in 1976 including The Horatio Alger Distinguished American Citizen Award, Texas Woman of the Century, and more.


What can’t this woman do? After almost 14 years in the music industry, Rihanna released Fenty Beauty establishing herself as the ultimate boss babe. With a 40-shade foundation line, Rihanna worked to design makeup for all skin tones so that women everywhere would always be, and feel, included. But that wasn’t enough. Rihanna transferred her all-inclusive ideals to create Savage X Fenty, a size-inclusive, comfortable lingerie brand centered around body positivity and self-expression. She really has done it all, and considering she is only 32 years old, Rihanna is not slowing down any time soon. I can’t wait to see what she brings to the table next.

There are thousands, if not millions of women that could be featured in this list, but these are five women who changed the status quo and evolved fashion and beauty standards that had been in place for so long. Thank you so much for reading!



Maddy Atwater

CU Boulder '20

Maddy is currently studying Staretgic Communications with an emphasis in advertising at the College of Communication and Information, while minoring in both Business with the Leeds School of Business and Creative Writing in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder.  Her involvement on campus includes being chapter President of Branding for Her Campus CU Boulder as well as holding spots in the CU Boulder Photography, Ad and Fashion clubs. Outside of school, Maddy enjoys photography and yoga (she even works at Corepower Yoga!). When she isn't in the yoga studio or finding the best food in town, you can catch her reading a good book or exploring with her friends.