Female Icons Who Transformed Fashion

We all take style inspiration from different sources. Everything from politics and culture, to fame and the media has the power to change what we wear — but who are the female icons that have truly transformed how we dress?
Pinpointing the moment a style leapt from the side-lines into mainstream fashion is near impossible. However, sometimes, all it takes is the drive and power of a single female icon to create a revolution. Check out the leading women fashion influencers and find out how to bring their iconic trends into 2018.

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Mary Quant and the miniskirt

The miniskirt is one of the greatest icons of the Swinging Sixties and British designer, Mary Quant, was the sole driving force behind it, taking it from alternative to mainstream almost immediately.

Although experimenting with the short hemline much earlier, it was around 1964 that she started creating miniskirts — named after Quant’s favourite car — in her London boutique. Sitting around six or seven inches above the knee, the style was revolutionary at a time when young women were still expected to dress like their mothers.

Soon, the garment went global and was worn by 1960s’ icons including Jean Shrimpton, Goldie Hawn and Jackie Kennedy. During the 1970s, the popularity of the miniskirt waned. However, rock legend, Debbie Harry, brought it back in true PVC style, before Madonna put her own tulle-embellished stamp on it at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards and 1990s’ girl Britney Spears took it in a fresh direction with barely-there cropped tops.

The miniskirt came at the ideal time — during a decade hallmarked by emerging youth culture and sexual freedom for women. Often considered a symbol of female rebellion against the status quo of fashion, the miniskirt is still causing controversy today in certain religions and countries.

Get the look:

Skorts are big in 2018 — so why not go for this style and infuse your current wardrobe with the 1960s? Alternatively, try a frill mini skirt with a cute cami for an interesting outline, or rock an embroidered denim number with a cold-shoulder top when the spring-summer season gets underway.
Audrey Hepburn and the LBD

There are hundreds of famous film costumes, but few carry the legendary status of Audrey Hepburn’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s number. Released in 1961, the opening scene depicted Hepburn in a stunning, black Givenchy dress with elbow-length gloves and pearls eating a croissant on the morning after a big party is a beloved part of Hollywood history.

However, the LBD was first launched in the 1920s by Parisian designer, Coco Chanel. Featuring on the front cover of Vogue in 1926, it was labelled ‘Chanel’s Ford’ which was testament to its simplicity and accessibility.

“Black wipes out everything else around,” said Chanel about the design, and it appears that fashionable women feel the same. The vision of Holly Golightly — Hepburn’s character — revived the high-fashion style and brought it to the attention of fashion-conscious, 1960s’ women who wanted to look effortlessly elegant at a time when women were beginning to be encouraged to think that way.

Interestingly, Hepburn’s original LBD was much shorter, but the film bosses of the time felt it showed too much of her leg. Consequently, costumer designer, Edith Head, amended the design, which sold at auction for £467,000 in 2006.

From the frenzy-creating LBD worn by Princess Diana in 1994, to the LBD donned by Kate Moss to mark a decade with Rimmel London; this symbol of simple sophistication is an obligatory part of female fashion — and Hepburn propelled it into mainstream consciousness where it remains.

Get the look:

This look is timeless and no matter which style you go for, you’re going to look incredible. This is your opportunity to rock whichever cut and length you feel most comfortable in. Love figure-hugging styles? Get a bodycon occasion dress. Prefer undefined silhouettes? Go for a tunic LBD. Need something truly sensational for a special evening? Opt for a floor-length, fishtail design for classic glamour.
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Marilyn Monroe and the cocktail dress

Screen icon, Marilyn Monroe, is still renowned today for her on-screen persona, off-screen romances and unforgettable fashion choices. But when it comes to style, what made Monroe an icon?

Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson in 1926, defined what it was to be sexually attractive and made it acceptable in an era when women were still encouraged to dress modestly. While most ladies naturally opted for blouses, long skirts and high necklines; Monroe showed the world how to wear clothes that showed off your body in an attractive way — and the best example of this was the famous white cocktail dress.

In 1955, Monroe wore the unforgettable ivory dress for production of The Seven Year Itch. You may not have watched the film, but you’ll certainly recognise the now iconic scene where air blows up from a subway grate and lifts the skirt of Monroe’s frock, as she playfully tries to push it back down — an example that perfectly defines how Monroe contributed to fashion. This famous backless dress featured a daring halter-like bodice with a plunging neck and bare arms — a far more risqué design than many 1950s’ women were used to. Similarly, the sheer, strappy dress featuring more than 2,000 crystals that she wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in 1962 again displayed Monroe’s ability to create an attractive silhouette while fusing sex appeal and high-fashion.

The most popular sex symbol of the 1950s, many attribute the invention of the term and definition ‘bombshell’ to Monroe. Her curvaceous figure and ability to exhibit it with class and style today makes her one of fashion’s most celebrated icons. Soon after her death in August 1962, we saw the rise of miniskirts and knee-high boots — both styles that helped women break free of humble fashion during the Swinging Sixties.

Monroe embraced the power of femininity and did not conform to the modest trends of the 1950s, instead fusing her attractiveness with fashion to create an alluring, elegant, feminine appeal and encouraging other women to do the same. Perhaps today, we could even thank Monroe for 2018 fashion-favourites like figure-hugging bodycon dresses, backless jumpsuits and strapless tops.

Get the look:

There are plenty of styles around today that can help you channel the confidence and glamour of Marilyn Monroe. Bodycon dresses will give you an enviable silhouette by flaunting every curve, while Bardot tops allow you to show some shoulder and halter-neck jumpsuits look amazing with a pair of heels. Strapless, fishtail dresses are the ultimate in Hollywood glitz, and anything with metallic or diamante embellishments will help you shimmer like the blonde bombshell herself. Make sure to finish off your look with pretty pieces of jewellery, too.

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Cher and bell bottom trousers

Before the 1960s, bell bottom trousers were most widely associated with the British and United States Navies. However, the rise of the multi-talented singer, actress and fashionista, Cher, was the driving force behind bell bottoms — potentially the most iconic of all 1970’s styles.

She is credited with popularising the clothing style on both sides of the Atlantic — from the 1965 episode of Beat Club when she sang ‘I Got You Babe’ in flared trousers, to the end of her three-year run on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in 1974 where she donned the trouser-style throughout.

Looking back from 2018, many of us consider the bell-bottom jean — which were typically flared from the knee with an opening of up to 66cm — a product of the hippie movement. However, Cher brought the style into mainstream fashion via her fame and influence in TV, radio and film; encouraging men and women alike to adopt the style and aiding the fusion of genderless fashion styles.

Get the look:

Bring the 1970s into 2018 by replicating these famously wide cuts. Think bell bottom jeans are too retro? Go for a pair of black palazzo pants and match with a cropped top and heels for a stunning, going-out look with just a hint of nostalgia. Or, pull on a pair of nude culottes and team it with a floral Bardot top for the perfect boho, 1970s vibe for drinks and food with friends.

There are countless more fashion icons that we and women before of us have used as a source of inspiration when it comes to dressing. Why not pay homage to these iconic styles by bringing a taste of them into your 2018 wardrobe?

Who is your fashion icon?

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