Fashion Icon by Apparel Search - Fashion Terms of Interest to the Fashion Industry

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The media constantly refers to today's celebrities as fashion icons, but how do we truly define the commonly used term "fashion icon"?

When I think of the term "fashion icon" it's not Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen who come to mind— nor is it Paris Hilton, Chloe Sevigny, or even Sarah Jessica Parker. When I think of style, elegance, and the term "fashion icon," I immediately think of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Renowned for her large black sunglasses commonly referred to as "Jackie O" glasses, this woman was the epitome of fashion. Photos of this legendary lady portray a timeless sense of style—one of simplicity and femininity. With a focus on the understated, Jackie effortlessly presented an impeccable sense of style, which highlighted tailored looks and A-line dresses. A simple three-strand pearl necklace and a crisp pair of gloves often accented her look.

Jackie enjoyed French designers such as Chanel, Givenchy, and Christian Dior. She also popularized American designers such as Oleg Cassini. Although Jackie loved clothing, her "fashion icon" status was not limited to her appreciation of apparel and accessories. With her entry to the White House, Jackie ushered in an era of style and elegance. This was portrayed by the menus she carefully selected for the State Dinners and the restoration of the White House. With the help of society decorator Sister Parish, Jackie aimed to make the family quarters attractive and suitable for family life. She certainly had an appreciation for the art of fine living.

Several years ago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art recognized Jackie's icon status with a fashion exhibit called "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years." Through the exhibit, the public gained access to the inside of Jackie's closets. More than 70 garments were on display, including the fawn coat and signature pillbox hat Jackie wore at the 1961 inauguration, the red dress she wore for the televised tour of the White House, the beaded gown in which she dazzled Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, and more. Decades after her exit from the White House, Jackie is still remembered for her iconic status and sense of style.

Apparel Search considers grace, elegance, and a classic sense of style key to achieving this "fashion icon" status. We believe former actress and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly is also worthy of the title. Her classic beauty and sense of style continue to influence American women even years after her death.

The "Grace Kelly Look" emphasizes simple lines and soft, pastel colors. French haute couture fashion house Hermes even named a handbag—the "Kelly Bag"—in her honor after she was seen carrying the rectangular, crocodile bag. Unlike today's sought-after style, which often highlights the "bling," Kelly's look was soft, subtle, and understated. A true classic.

Apparel Search also points to Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the way it has influenced the fashion. Hepburn's character gracefully wore pearls, ballet flats, over-sized black sunglasses, and over-the-top hats, which presented an elegant style that is still mimicked today. Years after the 1961 movie debut, women still hold onto the notion that the simple black dress and a set of pearls is a chic must-have ensemble that never goes out of style.

Clad in a chic black outfit, old footage of Hepburn was recently featured in a commercial for the Gap—evidence of the continued influence of her simple style.

Decades after they have passed away—years after they faded from media attention—the fashion icons mentioned here are still remembered for their classic sense of style. In years to come, when selecting a wardrobe for a significant party or function, will we remember Paris Hilton, Chloe Sevigny, or the Olsen twins? Who will we think of when we set out to recreate the perfect and always appropriate ensemble?

Written By Regina Cooper

If you want to be a fashion icon, do you have to be fashion forward?  Learn about being fashion forward.

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