We often hear about gals like Audrey Hepburn or Princess Di being historical female fashion icons, but there’s an army of women who made strides in fashion years before. These fearless women in history paved the way for us and our predecessors with their revolutionary actions, and memorable sense of style.
Marchesa Luisa Casati
A style icon of Italy, this heiress was way ahead of her time with eccentric looks that would one day inspire Mick Jagger and tons of other musicians. She was the OG of androgynous rock n’ roll before it became wha t it was decades after, and even Man Ray captured her beauty. Luisa was all about bold jewelry with equally bold black eyeliner and dreamy robes that flowed. Oh, she also casually had a leashed cheetah.
Say hello to the epitome of extravagance – Madame de Pompadour, born in 1721, was King Louis XV’s mistress. This gorgeous woman was all about going over the top with her decadent bows and flowers sitting upon a puffed out, pastel toned rococo dress. She looked like a piece of candy, in the best way possible. Today, you would only see this on the runway.
The wife of Salvador Dali (and muse, you should note) was much more than the spouse of a famously moustached artist. Her signature timeless style consisted of brimmed hats, perfectly fitted dresses, wide-legged pants, and designs by Schiaparelli, who eventually worked with the Dalis. Not only was she a stunner in her outfits, but she was a savvy female entrepreneur who kept away snakes, and attracted gallerists with ease.
Simone De Beauvoir
Simone De Beauvoir she wasn’t one to dress up for the sake of looking cute for a man – she was against corsets and prisons of fashion. This feminist, had actually said that clothing wasn’t/t on her mind most of the time, but based on how she dressed, she must have naturally had a knack for fashion. Her wardrobe included accessories oversized garnet earrings encircled by silver, and outfits like a black and white wool-braided tweed dress. She adored clothes from her voyages, like a lamb-lined silk Chinese jacket robe.
Elsa Schiaparelli was a French-Italian designer with a passion fro Surrealist fashions. This shared passion over Surrealism is what brought Elsa so close with Dali and his wife. She inspired designers for years to come with her clever creations, like a telephone-shaped purse, and a white dress printed with huge lobsters. In the 1930s she led the world of haute couture, and even coined a new color dubbed “shocking pink” that fashionistas were obsessed with.
Evelyn Nesbit, who lived until 1967, had quite a scandalous story for her time. If reality TV were around, she definitely would have gotten her own series. Nesbit was an actress and model who was married but had an affair. Her husband murdered her lover, who just happened to be a High- profile architect at the time. She was technically the first supermodel ever, with bare shoulders (very scandalous for that time), tight corsets, and cascading ringlets.
This LGBTQ+ icon dates all the way back to the 1920s. She was a star in silent movies who was open about her love for women, and often hosted big parties at her mansion on Sunset Boulevard. Her floor-grazing robes, backless ensembles and silk dresses blended lingerie with outerwear, epitomizing what’s now referred to as “old Hollywood” style. She often wore designs by both of Rudolph Valentino’s wife, Natacha Rambova, a designer with a flair for Art Deco.
You might known the name Coco Chanel, but how about Misia Sert? This icon was in Coco’s circle as a member of Parisian society, and also acquainted with many artists. With a nickname like the “:Queen of Paris” you can bet that her fashion was on point, including huge hats decorated with flowers, sweeping lace dresses, and a loose Gibson Girl bun. She often helped out her artist friends financially.
Empress Elisabeth of Austria
This Empress of the 1800s dressed gorgeously, but how she styled her hair makes her forever an icon in our book. Apart from the multi-layered petticoats and tight corsets to show off that snatched waist. Why did her hair make her such a style icon? Because it was insanely long, and every morning she spent hours bedazzling it with diamond brooches, as well as wrapping her ponytail in pearls. Dripping in bling!
Lesley Blanch provided us with nearly 100 years of style swag, yet people are more familiar with Princess Diana than this Briton. Blanch was a British historian and writer who was the bohemian goddess we all strive to be. She’s that world traveler friend you have thats constantly nomadic and always chic. Lesley was known for rocking exotic jewelry, scars, and caftans, often scooped from trips around the world.