Everyone has a favorite fashion icon, but what exactly does “icon” mean? Unfortunately, the word “icon” seems to be a term used loosely in our society today. In our fast moving culture fashion icons are a dime a dozen now. It seems all one needs to do to get their name in the paper is wear a “barely there” dress to an awards show and suddenly they are deemed a daring cultural icon. Historically, however, a cultural or fashion icon is a person of desire that endures the test of time.
We have yet to see if our women of fashion can live up to such a test. I think for us to see what a fashion icon truly is we must look to the past. My two favorite fashion icons are women who have endured long past their time in the spotlight, remained in people’s mind and to this day still generate words of respect. Another nice quality is that they didn’t mind shaking up society when it was least expecting it.
Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: What can you say about this woman but class? A woman who could have made fortune on book rights alone, but chose never to tell her story and looked good doing it. She was the demur and cultured First Lady of the White House wearing the Oleg Cassini A-line dresses and daring to wear off-the-shoulder gowns. She gave the role of First Lady style with just a hint of sexiness. She moved on to become the jet-setting bejeweled wife of Aristotle Onassis, wearing gypsy skirts and sandals. Nothing defined her more than the “Jackie O” sunglasses with the wide frames to keep out the sun—and the menacing paparazzi. Amazingly, in her later years she would redefine herself again. This time, however, she embarked on a life on her own as a Double Day editor in New York City. She wore the crisp designs of Valentino and the soft, casual style of Caroline Herrera to celebrate her independence. Never has a women evolved so many times in one lifetime and made it look so effortless.
What these two women represent is not only a style that has lived on after their time in the limelight, but also a source of strength for women. These two women set a standard the moment they were given power and the world took notice. So you see it isn’t so much the clothes that they wore, but the attitude they had wearing them. Whether they were praised or criticized they knew how to live well and never let conventional beliefs get in the way of living their lives. For me that is what defines a true icon.