Most Influential Fashion Icons Throughout History


By: Anastasia Popov

     As a middle school student, I can assure you that fashion is an important part of my daily routine and might also play a big part in yours as well, whether you favor more of a punk-like style, or enjoy a simpler look your fashion choices are what make the biggest first impression on someone and this article is here to help you learn more about the idols who’s choice of clothing set a flame to fashion’s history. 


Coco Chanel

An iconic saying from a fashion icon was,” I don’t do fashion, I am fashion.” Coco Chanel was born on August 19th, 1883, and made her first standing as a designer in 1910 when she made a dress out of a jersey that was the best of both worlds, it could keep you fashionable and warm on a cold day. The brand “Chanel” was born in 1910 and started off as a hat business since then, Coco Chanel has created some of the most iconic looks in history and has even earned her standing of “Most Iconic Fashion Icon” over time. You might wonder why she’s the most iconic when there are many other people worthy of that title and the answer to that is, She was the original. While many different celebrities have worn some of her pieces and been idolized for wearing the outfit itself Coco Chanel was the one who created it. She was also iconic because she was able to always come up with fashionable solutions. One of her biggest designs was called “LBD” which stands for “Little Black Dress.” This dress was described as “long-lasting, affordable, and widely accessible.” Some people even agreed that the “Little Black Dress” was essential to every girl’s closet. Since then many different designers have used her design of the “Little Black Dress” for inspiration and done many different versions of it but it’s important to remember that she was the one who created the design for the first ever little black dress.

  1. Marilyn Monroe

        Another person that made a huge impact on fashion, as well as Hollywood in the 50s and 60s, was Marilyn Monroe. You have most likely heard this name at some point in your life. But, what you might not know was that her real name was Norma Jean Mortenson until it was legally changed in 1956 to the iconic name, most of us remember today. She had many outfits that she was famous for but one of her most well-known outfits was her pink strapless dress that appeared in the music video “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.” Over time this outfit has continued to spread and has managed to stay popular over the years. It has even been used in a few modern-day music videos and even movies.  Another well-known outfit of hers was her white dress. Her white dress got famous after a photo of her standing over a windy subway grate spread around America and had even reached the title of “Most Iconic Photo Of The 20th Century.”  It now sits in “The Holly wood Motion Pictures Museum” behind glass. Though she has so many more well-known outfits I will only talk about one more. The last dress that she wore that I will be talking about is the dress she wore when she sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President.” The dress was made out of Marquisette fabric with beautiful rhinestones sewn over it. The dress reappeared in the 2022 Met Gala when a celebrity named Kim Kardashian decided to wear Marilyn Monroe’s Mr. President dress as her costume though many people have different opinions about her wearing it, some people believe that Kim Kardashian had damaged the dress while wearing it. 

    1.         Audrey Hepburn

          Audrey Hepburn was also a fashion icon. She was the most popular during the ’50s. She was an actress and made her greatest appearances in the movies “Roman Holiday” and “My Fair Lady.” Her most historic outfit was her “Little Black Dress” that she wore in the movie “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.” It was made out of Italian Satin and is now stored in Givenchy’s (who was the designer of the dress itself) private archive. Another one of her best-known outfits is her white floral Givenchy Dress that was made by her best friend. She wore this dress when she got her academy award for “Best Actress” in 1954. The unique part about her academy award dress was that it featured a bateau which was considered unusual for a dress that was worn when receiving an award. Another stunning outfit of hers was also worn in the movie “My Fair Lady” when she played Eliza Doolittle. It was an ascot dress and was designed by ”Cecil Beaton”. The original outfit was recently sold at an auction for 3.7 million dollars. The dress itself was worn at the most memorable part of the film and is now ruled to be the most famous garment ever designed for a motion picture along with the hat worn with the outfit as well. Audrey Hepburn was so iconic that you could watch any of her films and find at least one of her outfits breathtaking.

          Micheal Jackson

    Another influential fashion icon, whose outfits were almost more astonishing than his songs was Micheal Jackson. Micheal Jackson wore his most well-known outfit when he performed his Gravity Defying Lean in the 1988 music video “Smooth Criminal”. His outfit consisted of a white hat made out of wool felt with a black stripe surrounding it, his outfit also came along with a white suit made out of lightweight twill which included a three-button cuff jacket. The trick of his Anti-Gravity Lean was in his shoes. The shoes were designed specifically with slots so that they would connect into place with pegs on the stage, allowing him to do the famous lean. The entire outfit including the shoes was designed by his costume designers Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins who then served as his designers for 25 years. 

  1. James Dean

        A recognizable male icon that became a big trend template for men in the 50s was James Dean. In Jame’s short life he managed to set many trends. An example of that was shown in the movie “Rebel Without A Case” where he wore a red blouson jacket with denim jeans and a white shirt. This became a popular outfit and represented the style of teens in the 50s. Even nowadays his style is called a “Classic” for the male teen clothing genre everywhere. He was also famous for his signature black leather jacket. It was also worn in the same movie “Rebel Without A Case,” a fun fact was that his outfit with the black leather jacket was inspired by his idol ΅Marlon Brando.” His looks and title also helped him popularize the wearing of a leather jacket in the 50s. It’s amazing how even though it’s been 65 years since Dean’s life took an end (way too soon) he has managed to stay relevant and stay a big influence to teen modern-day styles. When most people hear the name “James Dean”  to this day they still know exactly who you’re talking about.

  2.  Princess Diana

         Princess Diana was born in 1961 and joined the royal family when she married Prince Charles in a cathedral in London. During her time she stunned the world several times and even had a reputation for being a trend-setting trailblazer. Her ability to stand out was often admired. She was known for her daring style and being the queen of high-low dressing. One of her coolest looks was her “Revenge Dress”. Her “Revenge Dress” was worn to a dinner in 1994. It was an off-shoulder dress that was seen as an “unsuitable” dress for a princess. It was designed by “Christina Stambolian” and was sold at an auction for $65,000 after her death. It was called the “Revenge Dress” because she wore it at an event after prince Charles publicly humiliated her by admitting to his adultery with “Camila” on live television. Most people expected Princess Diana to be a no-show at the event and to hide away after what Charles said, but alas she appeared wearing the stunning dress we now know and love. Another of her best looks was when she decided to wear her emerald jewel necklace as a headband to an event in 1885. The emerald necklace was gifted to Princess Diana by Queen Elizabeth as a gift for her marriage. At the beginning of the event, Princess Diana tried desperately to wear the necklace normally as a choker, but suddenly the necklace got stuck in her hair, she then decided that wearing it as a headband was a good idea. Since Diana was already known for making her jewelry stand out this accident led to an iconic moment and added to her reputation of being a trendsetter.

 Naomi Campbell

7.   Naomi Campbell was known as the first black model to front several prominent publications. She was a big inspiration for models in the 90s. She was first scouted at 15 in 1986. Lots of model agencies liked her because of her feline-like features. At just 16 years old Naomi walked on the catwalk for Azzedine Alaïawalke (Who later became a big father figure for Naomi) in Paris. One of her jaw-dropping outfits was worn during a Mila Schön fashion show in June of 1991. The dress was a mermaid tail dress with a hot pink color and was paired with long black gloves. Everything in that outfit paired so well together. Another show-stopping outfit of Naomi’s was when she wore a silver Versace dress to the 1995 Met Gala. Her outfit was ruled as one of the most memorable looks there. And she even attended the met gala with Gianni Versace who was the designer of the dress. The dress was strapless and dazzling with exposed silver seams. Something important to Naomi was looking flawless, and she never had a bad outfit. One thing that proves how iconic she is was that in the 90s Princess Diana herself invited Naomi Campbell, along with Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington, to surprise her son Prince William on his return from school. In a 2017 documentary, Prince William confirmed this and even admitted to having posters of them in his room. But that’s not all, did you know that Naomi Campbell inspired Disney’s “Pocahontas” because of her facial features?  She even has her very own doll! In the 90’s Mrs. Naomi Campbell was known for dominating every single runaway she’s ever walked on. Even nowadays Naomi Campbell is still stopping people in their tracks with her gorgeous features and iconic outfits.

    Of course, there are multiple other fashion icons, but I wasn’t able to list all of them in this article since there are so many. One thing I do hope was that this article helped you learn more about some of your favorite fashion icons, or helped you learn something new about some of them. Now that you’ve read this article I wonder if you wonder about the many other people who stunned the fashion industry over time, and I encourage you to ease those wondering temptations and learn more about them. You’ll be surprised at how interesting it is. 

Sources Used

Learn more about Coco Chanel at:


Little Black Dress

Learn more about Marilyn Monroe:


Learn more about Audrey Hepburn

Breakfast At Tiffany’s Dress

Learn more about Micheal Jackson

Anti Gravity Lean

Learn more about James Dean


Learn more about Princess Diana


Learn more about Naomi Campbell