Everyone has them. Maybe just one, maybe ten. That person or those people who mould our aesthetics down to every last detail. The way they hold themselves, the way they walk, the way they do their hair and ultimately the way they dress. Her shoes. Her dress. Her bag. Her new hair. Her new man. It never seems to stop in this day and age but is the growing obsession with “style icons” something positive or is it gradually ruining the wonderful originality associated with Great Britain?
I myself have numerous style icons. I have one’s who actually influence the way I dress- Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Clémence Poésy, Chloé Sevigny. I have one’s who’s style I admire but know would not work for me like Alison Mosshart and Florence Welch. I have people who I admire for their impact on fashion like the amazing Grace Coddington and I have people closer to home who totally influence the way I dress almost subconsciously. I feel that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a style icon or a few. Everyone has someone who they look to for fashion help and ideas be it a friend or a global superstar! Style is something which matures with a person- style icons serve to season our dress sense!
Fashion can make or break a person nowadays. Look at Alexa Chung- the boyish, preppy girl who’s sudden style-icon credentials almost reach the dizzying heights of Audrey and Kate alike. Just your standard model turned presenter, effortlessly cool and funny but then something happened to elevate her to the Great British fashion icon she is now. The fashion industry took notice of the quirky style she championed and took her under their wing taking her to Vogue covers, Chanel freebies, her own show in America and the real pinnacle of the fashion world- a cult handbag named after her. All because of her dress sense she has become so much more than a television presenter and has become the ‘new Kate’. Not everyone can achieve what she has just through fashion, but Alexa has such an accessible style, such an easy yet chic look that makes it so easy for armies of young ladies to emulate her. And this is where the phenomenon of the Style Icon can start to become an issue.
Ask any group of girls their fashion and style icons and you would usually get a pretty predictable set of answers- Cheryl Cole and her girly, sexy ever-perfect look; Mossy and her ultra cool, ultra effortless style; Lovely Alexa and her boyish gorgeousness and then the occasional momentary style icons like Topshop-clad Pixie Lott whose style light seems to already be fading. These are all beautifully dressed women but their appeal seems to lessen when every single outfit they wear is copied across Britain. Take Kate’s Glastonbury 2005 look- waistcoat, Hunters, hot pants and that fabulous Glastonbury Rocks belt. She looked awesome and unique- shocking everyone with her nonchalant cool. Nowadays, though, no music festival is complete with out several mini-Mosses. Sure, it looks great, but the way things are going Britain will be full of outfit clones and I do not think we can take it!
Living in Edinburgh the majority of fashion originality is already wiped clean by the phenomenon of the “yah”. That look created by brands like Abercrombie and Jack Wills, that oh-so upper crust look that seems to swamp entire cities! But though they may look gorgeous the issue is clear. They. All. Look. The. Same. I totally dread the way we as a nation appear to be headed- where people are put under scrutiny for trying to break style barriers. That is not what made British style so iconic. I have a group of friends who all dress so differently and, although none of us are going to be the next Vivienne Westwood, we can all be as individual as we want without worrying about it! We don’t strive to be alike we strive to be ourselves- as all other girls used to do. Nowadays though, it’s simply much easier just to see and mimic.
Girls can sometimes use a style icon as a form of escapism. They can use clothes to morph themselves into Cheryl in the hope that maybe some of her appeal will rub off on them, but it never will. A woman’s attraction is in her ability to be herself in the face of anything you may throw at her. You can change so much about yourself but your sense of style is one thing which you can really make your own- make it a one off that no one else is doing! It is unique to you which is why it is so crucial not to get carried away in copying those in the public eye.
It is all too easy to dress identical to Sienna or Kate. It looks amazing on them. It may look amazing on you. But any fashion impact you hope to have will be eliminated by the fact that it has all been done before. So take inspiration but leave it at that. Do not make yourself become a copy of your icon- make people want to be a copy of you!