7 Most Influential Fashion Icons of Past Decades

Posted by PZ on August 19th, 2010

This article was brought to you by Rachael Miller, of the fashion vouchers team at moneysupermarket.com

Fabulous Forties – Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman is probably most famous for her role as IIsa Lund in Casablanca, 1942.  In the 40’s, fashion starlets were using heavy make-up and femininity, but then the Swedish Ingrid decided to go against the norm, and create a style of her own, which would be copied for decades to come. Ingrid was a beautiful woman, and kept her make-up natural.  Her style was feminine, with masculine undertones as in Casablanca.  She made the brimmed hat and power suit fashionable, and was known for wearing wide legged trousers and pencil skirts with smart blouses, adding femininity with delicate necklaces and scarves.  Her daughter, Isabella Rosselini also had a big impact on the fashion world, later becoming a model, actress and film director. Feminine Fifties – Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn became famous for her role in Roman Holiday, 1953, and since has changed the fashion world.  Her frame was slighter than the norm of the Hollywood beauties of her time, but this spurred her to make a style all of her own.  She is seen as responsible for introducing the LBD (little black dress) from her role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She’d team up simple, clean lined dresses with bold jewelery and an up-do, making her look elegant and sophisticated.  Her more casual attire consisted of Capri pants and men’s button down shirts, which she’d team with ballet flats – similar to the fashion of the nighties, proving her sense of style, will remain timeless.

Swinging Sixties – Jackie O

Jackie O is probably the most stylish 1st Lady ever to grace the planet. She was married to John F. Kennedy until his assassination in 1963, but became known more for her fashion sense than her love life. Jackie O is responsible for making the classic Chanel suit a timeless design which gave an air of sophisticated elegance. She’d team the suit with a string of pearls and some white gloves. Sexy Seventies – Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry rose to fame in 1975, when her band Blondie became popular in the American punk and rock scene. The rock scene grew massively in the seventies, bringing with it a completely new idea of fashion for women. Gone were the primped and preened Chanel suits and strings of pearls, and in came the ‘out of bed’ look and colours. Debbie Harry wore her hair tousled and bleached it blonde, promoting the essence of punk. Her make-up was always colourful – wearing pink and blue eye shadow all the way up to the eyebrows. Denim was the fabric that she loved to wear, whether it was jeans or a jacket, and teamed these with colourful vests. This brought a slightly unisex feel to the fashion world, as women started to dress more casual with less emphasis on femininity.

Eclectic Eighties – Madonna

Some hail Madonna as the ultimate fashion icon. Her arrival onto the pop music scene in the mid eighties took the fashion world by storm- and has kept it on its toes ever since. Madonna brought in hints of lace, leggings, denim, pointed bras, shaggy hair and everything else you can imagine to completely ruffle the feathers of eighties fashion. Girls all over the world attempted to replicate the layered look- skirts over leggings, with vests and t-shirts, all finished off with some statement of bangles or necklaces. Her make-up kept up the seventies ‘out of bed’ look, but with less colour and more charcoal eye liner. Finish off the look with an over-sized bow in your hair and the look was complete. Madonna has since changed her look more times than she’s had hot dinners, but almost always creates a winning combination. Naughty Nineties – The Spice Girls

The nineties saw women’s fashion morph into unisex styles more than ever, especially when grunge bands such as Nirvana were so popular. Loose fitted, light denim jeans teamed with men’s shirts and Dr Martins were the norm, even with the most popular catwalk models of the decade – Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. Then the Spice Girls came on the scene in 1996 and revolutionized 90’s fashion. With 5 girls, all having a different sense of style, there was something for everyone to aspire to – girly girls, sporty girls and preppy girls. Platforms made a come back, as well as clothing sporting the Union Jack. Not only did the Spice girls change the fashion of the 90’s, but attitudes towards ‘Girl Power’ were amplified.

Nighties – Lady Gaga


The nighties have seen many fashion items come back into fashion from nearly all decades. Leggings have made a huge come back and are now a staple of many a girl’s wardrobe. We saw the introduction of the Ugg boot. Fifties glamour make-up has also made a come back, with liquid liner being used on the top lid, teamed with bright red lipstick. There has also been a revival of brightly coloured eye shadows. Sky scraper heels with platforms are now the norm too, bringing in hints of the sixties and nineties combined. One woman that has influenced the fashion world is Lady Gaga. She stormed onto the music scene in 2008 and the fashion world hasn’t looked back since. Her inspirations are said to be a mix of David Bowie, Queen, Madonna and Michael Jackson which is reflected in her dress sense. The hairstyle that she wore in her ‘Poker face’ video, a bow made out of her own hair which sits on top of her head has been copied many times, and has even seen a revival of the over-sized bow from the eighties. Every song Lady Gaga releases comes with a new style, so she’s definitely one who will determine the fashion of the future.

Category: Lady Gaga, Lists, Madonna