As the world celebrates International Women’s Week from 29th February to 8th March, we highlight and celebrate some of the most powerful, inspiring, and empowering women that have influenced the fashion world in the past century.

Marlene Deitrich
A true starlet of the silver screen and symbol of old Hollywood glamour, Marlene was once almost arrested for wearing a man’s suit in public during the 1930s. She famously stated that she didn’t dress for men, and showed it in her relatively outrageous dressing for the time.

Vivienne Westwood
As well as being one of our most badass fashion icons, Vivienne has continually inspired and encouraged empowerment and activism since launching her first line of punk clothing back in 1971. Viv is a women who certainly isn’t afraid to speak her mind, push boundaries, and call out what she sees as wrong.

Leandra Medine
Perhaps less well known than others on the list, but no less worthy of a place by any means. Leandra launched her blog ManRepeller in 2010, rejecting the notion that women’s fashion is created for male consumption. It is full of intelligent fashion and beauty debates, pro-women humour and a hilarious pun dictionary. Well worth a read.

Coco Chanel
Original designer of the women’s suit, Coco pushed fashion boundaries and consequently the inequalities between men and women in terms of clothes in the early 20th century. Coco’s imitable design has certainly stood the test of time and paved the way for the equally ground-breaking ‘Le Smoking’ pant suit by YSL in the 1960s.

Alexa Chung
Alexa has become a firm icon of 21st century Brit fashion, championing female empowerment in both her unapologetic individuality and very vocal support of other strong, creative women. As well as standing alongside the likes of Emma Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch in last year’s HeforShe campaign, her recent line for AG, which featured a ‘FEMINIST’ slogan tee, was an instant sell out.

Diane Von Fustenburg
Aside from building a fashion powerhouse and creating the renowned wrap dress, Diane has also founded The DVF Awards which honours inspiring females across the globe for their contributions to women’s causes. She is also a board member of Vital Voices, an organisation which champions and supports emerging female leaders and entrepreneurs.

Annie Leibovitz
For starters, Annie is undoubtedly an inspiration across the fashion world for asserting herself as one of the most iconic photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries, being the first women to open an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Now fashion and celeb royalty, Annie continues to inspire female empowerment, recently shooting the famous 2016 Pirelli calendar which challenged typical female beauty standards, and launching a similarly though provoking global exhibition, Women: New Portraits, at the start of the year.

Sophia Amuruso
A list of fashion’s most influential women wouldn’t be complete without rising star Sophia Amoruso on the list. After building fashion empire Nasty Gal from an ebay shop, Sophia’s bestselling #GirlBoss has also become a coffee table staple akin to Eat Pray Love for its empowering message to women to take their careers, and lives, into their own hands.

Words: Charlotte Tomlinson


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