An icon by definition is a person who is regarded as a representative symbol. Someone who is worthy of note, someone who effortlessly oozes a certain individualistic type of cool. Sure, everyone can be ‘cool’; not pretending to care, taking selfies, getting things pierced, all of these things scream ‘cool’…but in such an obvious manner that rather ironically makes them ‘uncool’. You following?
There are many iconic figures of fashion and style in the world today. But for the sake of this article, let’s focus on a certain calibre. The ‘it’ girls. The golden girls. The women who get it done and don’t give a fuck what others think. There have always been ‘it’ girls. In the 1700’s, the Duchess of Devonshire had a famous eye for fashion, arguably making her one of the oldest style icons in England. Even though her catastrophic love affairs and desire for gambling was a main source of gossip, she was also a keen political campaigner in a time so notably dominated by patriarchy.
Flash back only to last century and we see the same rebellious streak in women like Josephine Baker, unforgettably causing commotion by dancing wearing nothing but, well, almost nothing. Yet she defined her era and super charged the expression of sexuality in women which up to that point was always something that was told to be repressed.
Some may say history is repeating itself in the sense that there are young women in today’s pop culture who are so very similarly breaking the mould; Miley Cyrus shocked the world with her drastic physical transformation in 2013, and continues to do so. Her androgynistic style inspires others to abolish gender roles and live freely by wearing whatever you feel like…if that isn’t the definition of a style icon I don’t know what is. What people seem to forget however is that she is an honouree for Amfar -the foundation for AIDS research (watch her amazing acceptance speech here it’s amazing) and has also set up her own independent organisation named ‘The Happy Hippie’, a non profit organisation whose mission is to “rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations”.
It seems that to achieve an iconic status, the world ‘style’ has to be dissected. You can be physically stylish, wear nice clothes, be pretty ect, but you should also live your life in such a way that promotes others and influences the way someone feels. Your style of life and your way of living it is arguably the definitive factor here in the metaphorical checklist of being a representation of an ideal style icon.
“It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it” says fashion icon Iris Apfel in a recent video interview with The New York Times. Adorned in rich aquatic colours and beads Iris sits and imparts her wisdom onto an eager audience who are gripped by her every word…including myself. At ninety three years old, most will probably wonder why Iris has my prestigious title of ‘number one fashion icon’. Well, here’s the thing. Good design is self expression. Not trying to copy anyone else. Throughout her life Iris has been a pioneer in fashion; I read somewhere once that she was one of the first women in the world to actually wear a pair of jeans. She is a unique individual, the definition of personal expression and giver of exceptional quotes. Like this one that I will end with:
“You only have one trip, might as well live it up”
Long may these fantastic people continue to crop up in our lives and shape our thoughts and existence.