1. The Cult Designers
There are designers who make clothes for the sake of business, and then there are designers who inspire conversation and thought through their clothes. Phoebe Philo (left) and Rei Kawakubo (right) belong to the latter.
Known for her work at Céline, where her designs made women feel strong and sexy without pandering to the male gaze, Phoebe’s influence despite leaving the brand has not waned, as evidenced in the “Old Céline” term used to reference her work. When she announced her departure from the French fashion label, women across the world let out a collective groan, as avid fans rushed out to procure pieces from her design legacy.
Likewise, Rei Kawakubo has always marched to her own beat. Her brand Comme des Garçons has famously made clothing that has touched on everything from body image to witchcraft and feminism. Her avant garde designs have been worn by celebs like Lady Gaga and Tracee Ellis Ross, but she has an army of loyal followers who dress in head-to-toe Comme des Garçons.
2. The Multi-Hyphenate Mogul
You know her as a singer-actress, but in fashion, Rihanna’s influence is just as far-reaching. She’s designed clothes for Puma, jewels for Chopard and shoes for Manolo Blahnik, and her makeup line Fenty Beauty remains one of the best-selling celebrity brands in the world. To debut her new lingerie brand Savage x Fenty, she held a game-changing runway show that celebrated bodies of all sizes and colours. Her next move? A luxury fashion label reportedly backed by LVMH.
3. The Model-Activists
Today’s supermodels are using the catwalk to take a stand for bigger issues. Halima Aden has walked several top-name runways (like Max Mara and Alberta Ferretti) and campaigns for American Eagle and Nike, and she did it all while wearing a hijab. As global politics gets increasingly tumultuous, Halima’s visibility as a refugee-turned-model has given her a platform to speak out for the rights of Muslim women and refugees everywhere.
3. The Model-Activists
Meanwhile, Ashley Graham continues to be vocal about the lack of body diversity on the runway, Ashley encourages women to feel confident no matter their body shape.
4. The Duchess of Merch
After Meghan Markle carried her now-famous Strathberry tote bag, the brand reportedly sold out of that style in 11 minutes. The week of her wedding, Google searches for “boatneck” increased 370 per cent, while David’s Bridal reported a 200 per cent spike in sales for dresses that matched her reception gown. Meghan Markle may be the 21st Century face of the British royal family, but her real power lies in moving merchandise.
5. The Voice of Style
If you’ve been sleeping on Man Repeller, it’s time to catch up. What started out as Leandra Medine’s personal blog has now matured into a fully-realised empire that speaks to the women of today. Initially, Man Repeller encouraged women to dress for themselves rather than for men (hence the cheeky name), but today, her website talks about everything from fashion and beauty to politics, culture and women-centric news.