Though International Women’s Day may have been last week, it’s never too late to chat about women who inspire us. We’ve created a roundup of some of our favourite leading ladies from the twentieth century creative industries, some of whom are still continuing successful careers today. Revolutionary clothing designers, singers and actresses, these are some seriously creative and talented women.
Designing simple, modern garments that freed women from the constraints of tightly structured clothing (corset, anyone?), this lady was responsible for some truly elegant wardrobe classics: the LBD and the tailored suit. We love her comfortable, yet classy, monochrome jersey dresses and her costume jewellery is something we’ll always drool over. Chanel is the only fashion designer to feature in Time’s list of the 100 most influential people of the twentieth century.
Responsible for some seriously dreamy costume designs, Edith Head secured herself a job as a costume sketch artist at Paramount Pictures (without any relevant training, we might add). Head kitted Elizabeth Taylor out in a white full-skirted strapless gown for A Place in the Sun (1951), and it’s this costume that the classic 50s prom dress is inspired by. As if all that wasn’t enough, she won eight Academy Awards, more than any other woman in history.
Hepburn appeared in films such as Funny Face (1957), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and My Fair Lady (1964), winning three BAFTAs and two Academy Awards. The American Film Institute ranks Hepburn as the third greatest female screen legend in the history of American cinema. From 1954, Hepburn worked with UNICEF, later being appointed its Goodwill Ambassador. We could rave on about her for another couple of hours, but we’ll leave it there...
Quant will always be known for creating (or, according to some, merely popularising) the miniskirt and hot pants. Nonetheless, her designs came at a time when the fashion industry didn’t target young consumers, and young women were expected to dress like adults. Her designs were a contrast to the structured styles of the 50s, and were made up of simply cut shapes paired with bold colours. Quant said she wanted women to “play with colour and have fun”- we definitely think she succeeded.
Forever one of our favourite style icons (who doesn’t love leopard print, denim shirts and a red lip?), Harry began her singing career at the end of the 60s, working as a backing singer for The Wind in the Willows. She later formed Blondie with Chris Stein, earning world recognition; their third album, Parallel Lines, sold twenty million copies worldwide, and the group were nominated for two Grammys. Harry also launched a pretty damn successful solo career, releasing five albums.
Words by Anam Rahim