From Screen to Streets – How iconic fashion has shaped the styles of today’s women
From being a young child watching movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood and reading books all about that same period in history, I became fascinated almost immediately with the fashions and style icons of that time.
So it is only fitting that my first blog be about some of those great style icons, and the lasting inspiration that they’ve left on todays modern fashion icons.
The 1950’s actress Grace Kelly, much more widely known to many as Princess Grace of Monaco and for her unfortunate untimely death, was a style icon from her career in 1950’s movies championing American fashion designers like Oleg Cassini, and movie costume designers Helen Rose and Edith Head who worked with her many times.
As Princess of Monaco, she relied much more on European designers, notably championing a young Yves Saint Laurent for one of his first major collections in the 1960’s as well as Emilio Pucci. Her style during her Hollywood career was unlike that of the starlets of the day such as Jayne Russell, Marilyn Monroe and Lana Turner. While they relied much upon their sex appeal, Grace was much the opposite with her classic understated elegance heavily based around perfectly matched separates, white gloves, pearl earrings, black and white and the perfect accentuation of her figure relying heavily on Dior’s “New Look”.
Her most famous looks include her film costumes designed by both Edith Head and Helen Rose, for films such as Rear Window, High Society and To Catch a Thief. Helen Rose would also later go on to design the wedding dress Grace would wear to her wedding with Prince Rainier in 1956. This design would later heavily influence that of the Duchess of Cambridge in her 2011 wedding to Prince William.
She also relied upon American designers such as Oleg Cassini, who designed much of her wardrobe during her time as an actress. Edith Head would design the gown for the 1955 Academy Awards in the year she won for her role in the Country Girl, which would later influence modern day designers and Hollywood actresses notably Ralph Lauren and Gwyneth Paltrow at the 1999 Academy Awards. Her ultimate lasting legacy however is the fact that she became the first celebrity to have a bag named in her honour, the Hermes Kelly Bag. An iconic bag still admired by many today, on one of the ultimate style icons whose simple but sophisticated style live on.
Where to begin with the woman who brought the American president and his entourage firmly into the 20th century, developing what the Obama’s now carry forward. Jacqueline Kennedy, as she was during her period as First Lady, helped bring a taste for culture via art, music, literature and fashion firmly into the worlds viewpoint bringing about a lasting legacy still prominent five decades later.
From her inauguration outfit designed by Oleg Cassini, created a trend for pillbox hats, white gloves, pearl jewellery and bouffant hair in early 1960’s America. She never shied away from fashion in her three years as first lady, always adapting her style to suit the setting she was in.
It was, however, the death of her husband John F. Kennedy which would provide the two most famous images of Jackie to the world, that of the blood splattered pink Chanel skirt suit, and her black Givenchy designed funeral outfit. Many women copied this style, but it would be her second marriage to the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis that would provide the biggest influence on modern fashionistas.
She was one of the first women to be seen regularly sporting oversized handbags and sunglasses long before the days of Victoria Beckham and Anna Wintour et al. following this trend for the modern age. She was always seen around designers memorably pictured in Capri with the Italian designer Valentino, sporting an oversized sunglasses and handbag, black t-shirt, white trousers and barefoot with sandals in hand. Rarely seen without a scarf whether around her head or neck, all these looks would combine to become part of the enduring legacy of one of the most elegant style icons of the last century, and a fond supporter of culture and preservation of architecture.
One of the ultimate 60’s blonde bombshells who brought a relaxed style of dress to seal her legacy as a style icon. Often sporting dresses which enhanced her figure, with her long blonde hair and lashings of eyeliner matched with a tan from her home in the south of France.
Her most enduring looks are usually those when she is in relaxed mode, often seen sporting cardigans, capris, wide belts, Breton stripe tops, and flats with her head held back by a black headband. Her style has inspired many different people over the years, notably Kate Moss and Kate Upton, even Cheryl Cole has channelled this look at one time or another.
Open any fashion magazine, or go into any high street store at any time of year and you will always come across some influence from Bardot whether wholly visible through the way the fashion shot is styled, or just the subtle hints they give to this era.
Jane Birkin typified the ultimate in bohemian elegance. Without her people like Alexa Chung would not be the fashion icons they are to most people today.
Much known for her long dark hair, love of polo necks, gold jewellery, thigh high boots, lace dresses and Mary Jane pumps. Jane’s most noticeable influence has been on Alexa Chung, whose style relies on many of the same looks that Jane brought to the fore. Even Jane’s own daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, proves that sometimes the saying is true about ‘like mother, like daughter’ with her similar style to her fashionable mother.
Following on much like Grace Kelly, Jane had a bag named after her by Hermes which is still ranked as one of the most coveted ever bags, with some celebrities rumoured to have over a dozen of the bags and waiting lists being months if not years long in some places! Look anywhere and Jane’s influence can still be seen almost everyday and in every country.
For many women, including myself, Audrey Hepburn is one of the ultimate style icons who many still have as their inspiration to this day. Well, where to start with this woman who really broke the Hollywood starlet blonde, curvy and buxom mould. Audrey was entirely the opposite as a tall, striking, slim brunette.
It didn’t stop her from making a name for herself in some of the most iconic movie roles of the late 50’s and 1960’s which continue to inspire new generations. Causing fashion designers, including Hubert de Givenchy into making her is muse, collaborating on numerous film projects together. Givenchy would create one of the most iconic of Audrey’s on screen dresses, and the one dress regularly voted as the number one movie dress by women the world over; the little black dress worn in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The most sought after dress by movie and fashion fans alike, with numerous women still wishing to own this dress or see the original up close.
Audrey not only made this dress iconic on screen, but brought her own style of simple, relaxed, sophisticated dressing to the world. We have Audrey to thank for people wearing kitten heels, ballet flats, capri trousers, collared shirts, penny loafers and scarves which all became part of her signature look. Now answer this, how many of you own one or more of these signature staples? I know I do, this truly emphasises that even more than five decades on from her most famous role her style still endures.
These five were picked as they are some of my ultimate style icons not only for the fashions they wore, but also how they presented themselves to the wider world and the activities they were involved in with their humanitarian work, but also their love all things cultural, and how they broke the perceived ideals of the time.
Looking in my wardrobe every day, I see shades of their inspiration running through it whether it’s clearly seen or not. How many of you can say the same with your style icons, or even those above?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your favourite items and you could be featured on our next fashion related blog.
Grace Photo – SILVER SCREEN COLLECTION/GETTY
Brigitte – By MGM (ebay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis – via Wikimedia Commons