One would describe an “icon” as an individual that stands in the spotlight, acclaimed, adored, and imitated for the phenomenal manner they stand as symbols for something in particular. A fashion icon, likewise, is one of the sparkling faces of the respective field.
Not everybody, however, holds the power or is granted the privilege of being an icon of fashion. Even the most celebrated of individuals wielding the highest of ranks in the empire of fashion are scarcely considered “fashion icons.” To be one of those is to break out of the walls of normalcy and embrace incomparable uniqueness, to give the deaf ear and the blind eye to destructive criticism and focus on encouragements, to wholly showcase oneself through what they wear. Fashion icons set trends that are certain to be followed, respect fashion craft and history and show that they do.
The world has seen numerous fashion icons come and go. Lady Diana, Twiggy, Jackie Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Elton John and Audrey Hepburn are names that would reverberate throughout all eternities upon reference to 20th century fashion icons. Regardless of time, the effect they left is fated to persist as long as fashion would. But the 21st century has lifted the curtain for the newer generation, and it does not disappoint, just as the list that follows would confirm.
Looking back at her Disney-star days before regarding her style now would provide an idea of how much Zendaya’s sense of it had evolved over time. It had been an upward journey that started from mundane denim jackets and tiered skirts that stopped at glamorous pencil skirts, suits and bralette tops.
Her stylist, Law Roach, receives much credit for the pieces he puts together on the actress and singer. Zendaya’s street style is one that promotes stylized comfort through designer-wear, while simultaneously covering both edginess and contemporaneity, involving colors of pastel and neutral. On red carpets, this would transform into varying hairstyles and radiant, bold-hued, daring gowns that, despite their unadorned surfaces and single-color applications, would still invariably be remembered as much as the event itself.
A list of fashion icons with the absence of the Timothée Chalamet would simply be inconsummate. His gentle, princely charm and huge professional accolades are only part of what comprises the character of the French-American actor because fashion remains undeniably one of the strongest of his points.
Chalamet is adept when it comes to gambling with colour in that he is rarely seen outdoors in a casual outfit devoid of a display of colour contrast. All that from glitter to pastel hues to bold colours fails to perturb his comfort when he humbly takes his style skills to the red carpet, hailing designers Haider Ackerman, Virgil Abloh, Stella McCartney, Belruti and Louis Vuitton on a regular basis in the process. One of the dozens of noteworthy facts in Chalamet’s choice of style is the manner he steps out of stereotypical boundaries, for instance, when he continually swaps traditional leather lace-up shoes with combat boots. An elegance—at times calm and at times boisterous—is stored within Chalamet’s style, and he creates each incident of fashion without the aid of a stylist.
Some would call it absurd, some would, correctly so, call it creativity. Either way, a nature of peerless uniqueness resides in the outfits donned by Harry Edward Styles that grants him every right to be considered a fashion icon. With the help of stylist Harry Lambert, Styles had long since moved from his One-Direction-era outfits of black skinny jeans, t-shirts and flannel shirts on to being a Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci-enthusiast, continually triggering a gasp in whatever crowd that beholds him.
Styles is an avid lover of androgynous fashion, as is obvious from the colorful polish on his fingernails to the feminine clothing and accessories he is seen in on magazine covers and elsewhere. Checkered and plaid patterns seem to be on his list of favourites, unswervingly there next to deep necklines, baggy slacks and boot-leg pants, colour-blocking, faux-fur boas, sweater vests, frilly penny-collar blouses, polka dots and strings of pearls.
Much like as it is with Chalamet, Rihanna is essential for a list of fashion icons so much so that she is a powerful trendsetter, trend-follower and fashion influencer.
Not once had Rihanna floundered in making entrances, turning heads and freezing wonderstruck gazes whenever she flaunted her intricate and colossally elaborate attires on the red carpet, be it a sparkling, sheer dress or a puffy, layered gown. It goes without saying she is behind half the trends regarded as street-style, inclusive of overtly oversized blazers, bold-hued fur jackets, socks-and-heels combinations and creative denim crafts, which have been derived from the singer’s own personal style itself.
Political figures have proven over time that being iconic when it comes to fashion is not restricted to those in the spotlight in pop culture, and the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, remains one of them. Both during life under the restrictions of the White House and after, Obama had been connecting sophisticated fashion with audacity, humbly giving the fashion style a break from the mundanity it tends to employ.
Obama takes a keen interest in silk and bright colours, varying neckline styles, suits and pantsuits. Her dresses from the days of being First Lady were patterned with vividly kaleidoscopic designs, whilst her post-presidential book tour was speckled with more silk-incorporated ensembles than ever. A noteworthy attire from Obama’s post-presidential era would be the full-burgundy suit she donned on the day of US President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Deserving to be on this list, in addition, would be Victoria Beckham, ASAP Rocky, Madonna and Micheal B. Jordan among countless others. All or most of these fashion icons looked up to and esteemed by a world today, did not always have that spotlight. Their transition involved hard work and most important of all, a desire to portray through fashion who they really are, how they truly wanted to be seen.
By Mischelle Rupasinghe