Today, the word "trendsetter" just doesn’t hold the same cache as it did back in the day. Mainstream was the way ladies of the past swam, so when sartorial rebels made a splash, it was cannonball style! And now that nonconformity is the cardinal rule for every fashion cognoscente, we feel the need to give some props to the pacesetters who made being a black sheep chic.
From the ultimate editrix, Diana Vreeland, to bohemian bon vivant Anita Pallenberg and decadent British darling Wallis Simpson, we’re forever grateful to these five iconic rebels. And, since their styles still resonate today, we’ve concocted a handful of cool ensembles inspired by each pioneer's singular taste. So, give a nod to your avant-garde ancestors, and soak up some of our secrets to making your own major fashion waves this summer.
Irreverent in the best of ways, supremely stylish, and overflowing with ideas, everything about this maverick's life exuded invention and joie de vivre. DV paved the way for fashion journalism’s heavy hitters and dedicated her life to the pursuit of bringing all things unique to the masses. She really was the arbiter of all things quirky-chic, and her entrée at Bazaar symbolized the birth of a new breed of fashion editors, staging a coup d'etat on the socialite-scene queens who previously ran the show.
We lived for her "Why Don't You?" columns (who could forget her suggestion to wash babies' hair in dead champagne?), and oh how those costume installations at the Met shook things up! If it weren't for DV, Lauren Bacall and Edie Sedgwick may have remained shrouded in obscurity, Jackie O wouldn't have found Oleg Cassini, her wardrobe's champion, and Funny Face's Maggie Prescott would've lacked major pizzazz — not to mention all of those splashy Avedon spreads.
We've pieced together a look we know this dazzler would adore, and of course included pops of red because as she famously quipped in only a manner she could describe, "All my life I've pursued the perfect red. I can never get painters to mix it for me. It's exactly as if I'd said, 'I want Rococo with a spot of Gothic in it and a bit of Buddhist temple.'"
Photo: Rose Hartman/Getty Images
The Modern-Day DV Twist
Clockwise from top left:
Lancome ‘Le French Absolu’ Rouge, $35, available at Nordstrom; The Row Roebling Stretch-Wool Gown, $2,850, available at Net-A-Porter; Kenneth Jay Lane Red Coral Necklace, $490, available at Kabiri; Dior Vernis Nail Lacquer in Red Royalty, $23, available at Sephora; Lionette Odessa Earrings, $238, available at Lionette; Manolo Blahnik Leather T-Strap Spectator Pumps, $469, available at Saks Fifth Avenue; Lanvin Chain Bracelet in Gold, $795, available at Forward By Elyse Walker.
If you've read Keith Richards' memoir, Life (if not, hello summer-reading list!), you'd know that this rock goddess was involved in some of the wildest hijinks of the '60s and '70s — and she did so in brazen bohemian style. She was much more than a groupie to the Stones, and has had stints as an actress, fashion designer (she's a Central Saint Martins grad), and even as a DJ.
Those who knew the leggy blonde best (Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards) were enamored with her feminine prowess and effortless, carefree style. On any given day, this black-magic woman would be garbed in fox-fur stoles, platform wedges, velvet pants, Moroccan prints, and her signature floppy hat. Our look may be a little more tame, but still packs a free-spirited punch!
Photo: Michael Webb/Getty Images
The Modern-Day Anita Twist
Clockwise from top left:
Little Doe Amethyst Crystal Pendant, $300, available at Bona Drag; Joie Rathana Dress in Porcelain, $218, available at Joie; Lover High-Rise Wide-Leg Jeans, $128, available at The Outnet; Forever 21 Wool Feathered Hat, $17.80, available at Forever 21; Anna Sui Orange Fringe Tote, $490, available at Stylebop; Iosselliani Stacked Rings, $210.44, available at Iosselliani; Lanvin Wedge Sandal, $591, available at FarFetch.
It was impossible not to be awed by the costumes of Madonna's W.E.
, some of which were exact replicas of the film's subject, the Duchess of Windsor. Wallis may not have been known as a "beauty" (we tend to disagree), but her style was drop dead gorgeous.
She embodied timeless elegance and for many years lived a life most could only dream of. Her flawless and eloquent look (and how about those jewels, oohwee
!) landed Wallis in The International Best Dressed List’s Hall of Fame. Our look pays homage to the never-forgotten mystique of this original "It" expat. (And don't worry, we've included the best tress gloss to matte your hair down like a would-be queen!).
Photo: Everett Collection/Rex USA
The Modern-Day Wallis Twist
Clockwise from top left: Frederic Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Cream, $34, available at Frederic Fekkai; LK Designs Peach Crystal Rosegold Earrings, $105.04, available at Pret A Beaute; Anna Sui Black Marguerite Floral Print Dress, $450, available at Stylebop; Miu Miu Velvet Clutch, $1,290, available at Net-A-Porter; Suzanna Dai Silver Sunset Blvd Cuff, $215, available at Charm & Chain; See By Chloe SB18041 Pumps in Pink, $259.84, available at Endless; Benefit Rose Tinted Cheek and Lip Stain, $29, available at Benefit.
Revolutionary takes on an entirely new meaning when describing one of fashion's bravest risk-takers. Isabella Blow was a true one-of-a-kind and fashion owes her a major merci beaucoup. The editrix discovered Alexander McQueen (she purchased his entire graduate collection, paying it off in weekly installments!) and even loaned her flat to Philip Treacy to launch his first line of luscious millinery.
Isabella pushed the envelope daily, and made the boldest of fashion statements by utilizing fascinators in offbeat colors and peculiar accessories paired with romantic and sometimes goth getups. In our minds, she will always reign as the offbeat queen! Our look is out there, and of course includes some McQ and a crazy hat. We know she probably would have befriended Delfina Delettrez, too!
Photo: Richard Young/Rex USA
The Modern-Day Isabella Twist
Clockwise from top left: Tom Ford Lip Color in Black Orchid, $48, available at Neiman Marcus; Miso Mesh Peplum Top, $31, available at Republic; Helene Berman Faux Fur Collar, $46, available at The Outnet; Libertarian Leather Crown, $168, available at Rock ‘N Rose; McQ Alexander McQueen Tiered Full Skirt, $1,590, available at Harvey Nichols; Delfina Delettrez Collar and Last-Cut Pendant, $2,925, available at Opening Ceremony; Joanne Stoker Flamenco Shoes, $730, available at Not Just A Label.
This Jamaican-born musician, muse, and model was the original scene stealer of the '70s and '80s. Her fearless and often intimidating androgynous style inspired a slew of artists (including Andy Warhol and our fave creative, Jean-Paul Goude, with whom she also has a child) in the underground NYC art scene of the time. And her tunes were some of Studio 54's most celebrated dance-floor beats.
Grace is a warrior woman, and our look conjures the nitty-gritty city style she was best known for with tough leather pieces, killer studded boots, and loads of ferosh electric-purple eyeliner.
Photo: Keith Hamshere/Getty Images
The Modern-Day Grace Twist
Clockwise from top left: Cheap Monday Tight V Stretch Black Jeans, $69, available at Coggles; Roland Mouret Bud Cropped Cutout Stretch Top, $1,144.50, available at Net-A-Porter; Helmut Lang Leather Slouchy Vest, $725, available at FarFetch; Lime Crime Liquid Eyeliner in Orchidaceous, $13.99, available at Lime Crime; Christian Louboutin Bourriche 100 Fishnet Ankle Boots, $1,095, available at My Theresa; Mawi Carved Jade Tusk Earrings, $305, available at Les Pommettes.