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16 Historical Fashion Influencers and Icons


Have you ever wondered who paved the way for the stylish trends we love today? From royalty to rebels, there’s a fascinating history behind those iconic looks. 

Join us as we take a stroll through time to explore the lives and legacies of historical fashion influencers and icons!

Who Were the Fashion Influencers and Icons Throughout History?

Queen Elizabeth I: Renaissance (14th century – 17th century)

Historical Fashion Influencers and Icons - Queen Elizabeth I

Renowned for her elaborate gowns, intricate ruffs, and love of pearls and jewels, Queen Elizabeth I set the standard for Renaissance fashion. Elizabeth’s clothing choices were meticulously planned to convey power, authority, and majesty. She favoured sumptuous fabrics, such as silk and velvet, adorned with intricate embroidery and embellishments.

Marie Antoinette: Baroque (17th century)

Historical Fashion Influencers and Icons - Marie Antoinette

The Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, epitomised Baroque extravagance with her lavish gowns, towering hairstyles adorned with feathers and jewels, and fondness for opulent fabrics and accessories. Marie Antoinette’s style became synonymous with excess and indulgence. She played a pivotal role in shaping French fashion, promoting trends such as the robe à la française and the pouffe hairstyle and popularising pastel colours, floral motifs, and elaborate embroidery.

Louis XIV of France: Baroque (17th century)

Historical Fashion Influencers and Icons - Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV of France, known as the “Sun King,” was not only a powerful monarch but also a trendsetter in matters of fashion and style. His lavish court at the Palace of Versailles became the epicentre of Baroque fashion in Europe, setting the standard for aristocratic attire. Louis XIV’s personal style was characterised by ornate garments made from sumptuous fabrics, such as silk brocade and velvet, adorned with elaborate embroidery, lace, and precious jewels. He popularised trends such as the waistcoat, the red-heeled shoe, and the wig, which became essential components of aristocratic fashion during the Baroque era.

Queen Victoria: Victorian Era (1837–1901)

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom popularised the tradition of wearing white wedding dresses, setting a precedent that continues to influence bridal attire to this day. Additionally, Victoria’s penchant for mourning attire, following the death of her husband Prince Albert in 1861, led to the widespread adoption of sombre colours and mourning customs in Victorian society.

Her influence on fashion extended beyond clothing to include jewellery, accessories, and even hairstyles, shaping the aesthetic of the Victorian era and reflecting the cultural and social values of the time.

Coco Chanel: Roaring Twenties (1920s)

Coco Chanel

A pioneer of modern fashion, Coco Chanel revolutionised women’s clothing by breaking away from the restrictive and elaborate styles of the Belle Époque era, offering instead simple, elegant designs that emphasised comfort and functionality without sacrificing style. As an iconic fashion designer, she introduced the little black dress in the 1920s, which became a timeless wardrobe staple, offering women a versatile and chic option for both day and evening wear.

Similarly, the Chanel suit, with its tailored jacket and slim-fitting skirt, redefined women’s fashion with its understated sophistication and clean lines.

Josephine Baker: Roaring Twenties (1920s)

Josephine Baker

An iconic figure of the Jazz Age, Josephine Baker became synonymous with the flapper aesthetic of the 1920s, embracing the era’s newfound sense of freedom, independence, and rebellion. She famously performed in risqué stage costumes that showcased her lithe figure and emphasised her uninhibited sensuality. Baker’s bold and provocative style, characterised by fringe, feathers, and beaded embellishments, helped define the look of the Jazz Age and influenced 1920s fashion with its daring and glamorous allure.

Audrey Hepburn: Golden Age of Hollywood (1930s–1950s)

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn popularised iconic trends that continue to influence fashion today, including the little black dress she wore in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” designed by Hubert de Givenchy, which became a symbol of understated chic. Hepburn’s portrayal of Holly Golightly in the film solidified her status as a fashion icon, with her sleek updo, oversized sunglasses, and statement jewellery setting trends for generations to come.

In “Roman Holiday,” Hepburn’s character donned capri pants, which became a symbol of casual elegance and practicality.

Marilyn Monroe: Golden Age of Hollywood (1930s–1950s)

Marilyn Monroe

A quintessential symbol of glamour and sensuality, Marilyn Monroe captivated audiences with her bombshell persona, sultry voice, and iconic style, which combined elements of sophistication, allure, and vulnerability. She popularised figure-hugging dresses, such as the iconic white halter dress she wore in “The Seven Year Itch,” which became one of the most iconic images in film history.

Monroe’s love of red lipstick, platinum blonde hair, and form-fitting silhouettes defined the epitome of Hollywood glamour, influencing fashion trends and beauty standards for decades to come.

Grace Kelly: Golden Age of Hollywood (1930s–1950s)

Grace Kelly

Before becoming Princess Grace of Monaco, Grace Kelly was a revered Hollywood actress known for her classic beauty and impeccable style. She favoured tailored suits, pearls, and structured handbags that reflected her refined taste and aristocratic upbringing. She became known for her polished, ladylike attire both on and off the screen, setting trends for understated glamour and timeless chic.

Kelly’s iconic wedding dress, designed by MGM costume designer Helen Rose for her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956, further solidified her status as a style icon, inspiring brides around the world with its timeless elegance and fairy-tale romance.

Twiggy: Swinging Sixties (1960s)


Twiggy, born Lesley Lawson, rose to fame in the 1960s as one of the world’s first supermodels. With her androgynous look, pixie haircut, and wide-eyed gaze, Twiggy became the epitome of Swinging Sixties style. She embodied the mod fashion movement with her signature miniskirts, bold patterns, and geometric shapes, revolutionising the fashion industry and challenging traditional notions of femininity. 

Mick Jagger: Swinging Sixties (1960s)

Mick Jagger

As the charismatic frontman of The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger personified the rock ‘n’ roll spirit of the 1960s. With his flamboyant stage presence and daring fashion choices, Jagger influenced men’s fashion with his bold experimentation and boundary-pushing style. He popularised trends such as skinny trousers, ruffled shirts, and statement accessories, embodying the rebellious and hedonistic ethos of the era.

Vivienne Westwood: Punk Movement (1970s–1980s)

Vivienne Westwood

A key figure in the punk movement, Vivienne Westwood and her designs challenged convention with their edgy, rebellious aesthetic and DIY ethos. As the designer behind the iconic punk fashion label, SEX, later renamed Vivienne Westwood, she pioneered the punk look with her ripped clothing, safety pins, and anarchic attitude. Westwood’s designs blurred the lines between fashion and rebellion, inspiring a generation of punks to reject mainstream culture and embrace individuality.

Madonna (1980s)


Madonna and her impact on 1980s fashion cannot be overstated. With her fearless attitude and chameleon-like ability to reinvent herself, she became the epitome of style and trendsetting during this era. Madonna’s fashion choices were as bold and provocative as her music and persona. She popularised a mix of edgy and feminine looks, often combining lingerie-inspired tops with lace gloves, fishnet stockings, and layered jewellery.

Her iconic “Like a Virgin” performance at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards, where she donned a wedding dress and accessorised it with a belt reading “Boy Toy,” became a defining moment in pop culture fashion.

Princess Diana (1980s)

Princess Diana

As a member of the British royal family, Princess Diana and her fashion choices were closely scrutinised and eagerly emulated by millions around the globe. Diana’s wardrobe was a mix of classic sophistication and modern flair, reflecting her evolving role as a global ambassador and humanitarian.

She was known for her preference for British designers like Catherine Walker and Bruce Oldfield, as well as her ability to effortlessly transition from glamorous evening gowns to chic, tailored suits and casual yet iconic sweaters. One of her most recognisable fashion moments was the sleek, off-the-shoulder black dress she wore to a gala at the Serpentine Gallery in 1994, which became known as the “revenge dress” and symbolised her independence and confidence.

Kurt Cobain (1990s)

Kurt Cobain

As the frontman of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain embodied the grunge aesthetic of the 1990s, influencing a generation with his raw talent, introspective lyrics, and laid-back, anti-establishment style. Cobain’s fashion choices reflected his outsider status and rejection of mainstream ideals, often consisting of thrift-store finds, flannel shirts, ripped jeans, and Converse sneakers.

His unkempt hair, thrifted cardigans, and signature oversized sunglasses became iconic symbols of the grunge movement, inspiring legions of fans to embrace a more casual, DIY approach to fashion.

Kate Moss (1990s)

Kate Moss

As the face of the “heroin chic” aesthetic, Kate Moss challenged traditional notions of beauty and glamour, ushering in a new era of minimalism and grunge-inspired fashion. Her waifish figure and effortless cool made her a muse for designers like Calvin Klein and a symbol of the anti-establishment ethos of the decade.

Moss popularised trends such as slip dresses, cropped tops, and distressed denim, embodying the rebellious spirit of the 1990s youth culture. Her presence on the runway and in fashion editorials redefined the standard of beauty in the industry, paving the way for a more diverse and inclusive representation of models.

Final Note

As we wrap up our journey through fashion history, one thing’s for sure: these icons may be from the past, but their influence on fashion remains as vibrant and relevant as ever. Their legacies continue to inspire designers, enthusiasts, and trendsetters around the globe. 

Let us celebrate their contributions to the rich tapestry of fashion and carry their spirit of creativity and individuality forward into the future.

Katie Davies

Katie Davies lives in Gloucestershire with her two young children. Katie juggles working life alongside duties at home but has found an escape through the world of clothing. She thoroughly enjoys sharing her thoughts on the latest in womenswear.

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