Cheyanne Greig-Andrews explores some of recent history’s most iconic fashion legends to arise from the streets of London
London, home to some of the world’s most notorious trailblazers in fashion. Pumping out style icons year after year, there seems to be an endless supply of creative ingenuity here. However, there is occasionally one person who embodies a style so evocatively that they become known asa fashion icon. Each decade from the 1960s to today has certainly seen at least one person stealing the show for each era.
The 1960s – Twiggy
Lesley Hornby was born in London in 1949, unaware that by 16 her slight frame would catapult her rise to stardom. Working as a salon assistant for the hairdresser Nigel Davies (later known as Justin de Villeneuve), he would often refer to her as Twigs. This relationship eventually led to an experiment with an edgy bob, false lashes, and thick eyeliner. Unbeknownst to them, an icon was being born. A fashion journalist from the Daily Express in 1966 would be the one to christen Lesley with her forever title: Twiggy. From this point, her supermodel fame skyrocketed. Twiggy’s thin boyish frame was ideal for the rising hemlines, boxy shapes, and unisex patterns of the 1960s. She became the emblem of ‘60s fashion, inspiring the youth with her makeup, hair, and style. Twiggy has been regarded as the first ever supermodel, her face recognisable across the globe. Twiggy’s unique look inspired the youth of the ‘60s, but her legacy will surely last far longer.
The 1970s – David Bowie
David Bowie is possibly one of the most adaptable, chameleon-like artists ever to cross the earth. He has become a timeless icon, but certainly, the peak of his fashion influence can be traced to the 1970s. Born in Brixton in South West London, he is an emblem of London culture, something Londoners are just as proud of today.
Bowie was able to seamlessly intertwine music and visual worlds to create a persona unlike any other. From cross-dressing to wild hairstyles and face paint, Bowie was constantly turning out unfathomable looks. He opened the doors to new possibilities of dress that broke down old gender barriers. His fearlessness inspired the youth of the ‘70s to express their individuality and break the rules.
The 1980s – Princess Diana
Without a doubt, Princess Diana is one of the most iconic women of fashion the world has seen. Declared one of the most photographed women in history, Princess Di’s outfits were constantly admired, critiqued, and replicated the world over. She reignited a love of classic English fashion, but with a modern flair which the princess seemed to master.
The ‘80s were certainly the era that Diana’s style gained the most attention. In those ten years, hundreds of looks inspired women around the world. Whether she was in an oversized jumper and biker shorts or decked out in velour ball gowns and a diamond tiara, Princess Diana quite simply always looked good. Her effortless elegance and down to earth attitude were the cornerstones of her fame in the ‘80s and her style has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years.
The 1990s – The Spice Girls
Ah, the ‘90s, probably one of the most ‘extra’ decades in recent fashion history. To match this decade’s over-the-top energy there couldn’t be just one fashion icon because there were five of them. The Spice Girls. The little black dress (LBD as it’s classically known), platform shoes, and double bun hairstyles were all thanks to these five influential women. Oh, and of course we can’t forget the Union Jack dress, thank you Ginger Spice.
This London girl group took the world by storm with their risqué outfits, sky-high shoes, and of course their catchy music. The Spice Girls had a rapid rise to fame and were quickly flying worldwide spreading the ‘90s London look across the globe. Without The Spice Girls, who know what fashion would be like today.
The 2000s – Kate Moss
The early 2000s were when jeans turned dangerously low and tiny purse dogs came onto the scene. There was a lot of fashion to cringe over from this decade, but, one person who managed to make the 2000s look effortlessly cool and edgy was Kate Moss. The South London-born supermodel saw her rise to fame in the 1990s alongside other influential models of the decade.
Her career didn’t stop there though. Possibly thanks to the edgy public persona she created, her career thrived in the early 2000s. Her street style became a source of inspiration for many fashion lovers of the decade. She was able to layer unpredictable pieces and make it look unbelievably chic. Her roll-outof-bed look changed the structured, skin-tight, and perfectly tailored pieces that were seen as fashionable until the 2000s. A relaxed attitude that fashion lovers have continued to emulate today.
The 2010s – The Royal Family
Once again the royals deserve a spot on this list of London fashion icons. However, it seemed impossible to pick just one for the 2010s. The Queen, Kate, and Meghan have all been hugely regarded for their style influence in those 10 years. Kicking off the decade in 2011, Prince William and Kate Middleton wed. The entire country, and the wider world, tuned in to watch the exciting royal nuptials. With her picture-perfect street style, she was quickly catapulted into fashion icon territory. The 2010s also saw the Queen being recognized for her decade’s worth of fashion wins.
Later in the decade, the stunning Meghan Markle joined the royal family in 2018. She has been photographed in several gorgeous jewel-toned outfits. An emerald green caped number with matching hat was just one of the iconic looks Markle has worn. The classic and timeless fashion worn by these three women not only reflect traditional British attire but also how it can be brought into the modern era for women of all ages.
The 2020s –?
Almost one year into this new decade and most of the fashion trends to date have comprised of face masks and loungewear. Predicting who the next great London fashion icon will be is anyone’s guess. London has no shortage of fashion icons and, with young people expressing themselves in new and unique ways, the possibilities are endless in this new era. The 2020s surely won’t be like anything we’ve seen before.