Iconic women who used fashion to make a statement

Coco Chanel, women, fashion, style, Rhiannon Topham, Kettle Mag
Written by yantops

From arrests and artists to slogan activism, women have made loads of fashion statements in the past. Here’s a round up of some of the best.

Marlene Dietrich

She defied all preconceived conceptions of femininity and proudly shook up Hollywood with her androgynous style by wearing trousers and men’s suits, almost getting arrested for doing so in the 1930s. She provided us with quotable gold such as: “I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.”

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Coco Chanel

What would the fashion industry be today without Chanel? She championed suits and tailoring at a time when women were commonly seen in constricting dress and skirts, and can be credited with shifting the paradigms of comfortability in women’s fashion. Her iconic designs and aesthetics continue to influence modern fashion and are frequently referenced across season collections.

Image: chariserin/Flickr

Frida Kahlo

Kahlo’s style brazenly diverted from the dominant trends of the 1930s and 1940s, and she’s as well known for her signature look (a sturdy unibrow and thick dark hair always tied up) as she is for her art. She incorporated her Mexican heritage as much as she could with traditional dresses, but updated them by nipping them in at the waist and adding accessories in abundance. Even after an amputation, she adorned her prosthetic leg in a crimson lace-up boot.

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Mary Quant

An immensely influential figure in British culture and a pioneer of the pivotal 1960’s fashions – Quant was the inventor of miniskirts and hot pants. She taught us a valuable lesson in how to dress to please ourselves and have a bloody good time in the process. In her own words, “the fashionable woman wears clothes. The clothes don’t wear her.”

Image: Nationaal Archief/Wikimedia Commons

Joan Jett

A multi-talented musician and fashion maverick, Jett is arguably the leading lady of rock music. We have her to thank for tight black leather pants as acceptable attire, a mass of jet(t) black hair that, in itself, popularised the mullet, and hardcore winged eyeliner. She was also sporting quirky tattoos way before they were a ‘thing’, btw.

Image: Toglenn/Wikimedia Commons

Diane Von Furstenberg

Most famous for her iconic wrap dress, DVF based her entire fashion empire on the concept of female empowerment. Aside from her immensely successful self-titled luxury brand, Von Furstenberg has been president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America since 2006, was named the 68th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in 2014, and was included in last year’s Time 100 list.

Image: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

Lady Gaga

You can always count on Gaga to bring some frivolity to proceedings. She is the walking embodiment of confidence and self-loving. Lately her style has steered in a more demure direction that is only subtly avant-garde, but in the past Gaga has blessed us with some truly unforgettable looks – the meat dress, the hair bow and leotard in the Just Dance video and her male alter ego Jo Calderone, to name but a few.

Image: Philip Nelson/Wikimedia Commons

Amber Rose

Combining fashion with activism, Amber Rose appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards alongside Blac Chyna wearing dresses emblazoned with derogatory terms often used in relation to women. She has since organised a SlutWalk to fight the ongoing myth that women who dress in a certain way (i.e. showing off their figures in tight items of clothing) are inviting people to take advantage of them.

Image: Mingle Media TV/Wikimedia Commons

Susan Sarandon

Not a fashionable statement in the same sense as those mentioned above, but an important statement nonetheless. Sarandon started a turbulent Twitter storm when she showed minor cleavage in a blazer and bra combo at the SAG Awards and Piers Morgan had the audacity to call her “tacky.” Since then, she has been continuing the fight to end the tit-taboo on the social network by sharing the pictures sent to her by fans wearing similarly low cut tops.

Image: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

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