Fashion is intrinsically connected to almost every aspect of society. So at this time where major social movements are being catalysed, fashion is seeing a broader reconceptualisation within its already constant evolution. With such a tumultuous life cycle, living in the midst of fashion’s continuously changing seasons makes it difficult for us to schematise an era’s fashion ‘look’ until we have grown into the next era. Here we look back at iconic fashion muses and the impact they have had on fashion in their time, as well as their extended reach into today’s fashion scene.

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Jane Birkin | 1985 | 1971

Jane Birkin, fashion muse, style icon. Birkin’s uncomplicated, laid-back elegance of the 60’s and 70’s has become iconic and timeless. The British model, actress and singer introduced the world to simple, bohemian and classic shapes that decidedly lent her the “Parisian-meets-boyish style” (Marie-Claire, 2015): high-waisted jeans, sheer and loose fitting blouses, crop tops, tailored trousers and knee high boots.

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Jane Birkin | 1970’s

The iconic Hermès-Birkin handbag (1984, based on a 1892 design) was the result of an encounter between Birkin and Hermès Chief Executive Jean-Louis Deman, who designed the bag for her when she expressed how she could not find a good leather bag for the weekend -and found it inconvenient to store her items securely in her signature straw bag whilst travelling (Herald Scotland, 2014).

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Jane Birkin | 2013 | 1970’s

Jane’s famous relationship with her creative collaborator, French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, yielded one of the era’s most erotic songs, Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus (meaning ‘I Love You Me Neither) (Time, 2012). Gainsbourg popularised Yé-Yé pop music, from which derived the yé-yé girls of the 60’s (such as Frances Gall and Francoise Hardy), a style strongly evident in Jane Birkin’s look.

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Francoise Hardy  1960’s | Jane Birkin 1969

Birkin’s original rock chic aura with London mod has influenced many of today’s trends. Undeniably, without Jane Birkin, we would not have modern trendsetter Alexa Chung -who cites Birkin as her style inspiration.

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Alexa Chung AG Jeans A/W15 | Jane Birkin 1971

In his early career, Hungarian photographer Martin Munkacsi shot energetic, free-spirited photos of German and Hungarian life in the 1920’s and 1930’s. His early work captured action differently from many other photographers of that time; of sports, entertainers and street life during the war.

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Martin Munkacsi | Potsdam Day c. 1933 | The Puddle Jumper c. 1934

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Martin Munkacsi | Harper Bazaar‘s Fashion Plate c. 1940

Munkacsi channelled his spontaneous, informal style of photography when he began shooting for Harper’s Bazaar. A contrast to traditional fashion shoots which involved models posing in a staged manner in a studio, Martin’s action-focused style revolutionised fashion photography to what it is today.

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Martin Munkacsi | Nude in Straw Hat c. 1934 | Lucy Brokaw on a Long Island Beach c. 1933

In his seminal fashion shoot for Harper’s Bazaar, his photograph of Lucy Brokaw on a Long Island Beach (1933) was the famous photo that shot Munkacsi into the limelight, catalysing the transition from static to action-dynamic fashion photography.

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Martin Munkacsi | Peignoir in a Soft Breeze c. 1936

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Martin Munkacsi | Girl hiding under umbrella c. 1935

Infusing his work with the zest and personality of his models, Munkacsi’s photographs have become iconic in the fashion industry, and his style has now transcended the norm in many fashion-shoot set-ups.

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Grace Codding [right] during Paris Fashion Week 2010 | Photograph: Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/Wirelmage

Grace Coddington is regarded as one of the most influential and respected fashion editors and stylists of our time. Recognised by her signature fiery red hair and porcelain skin, Grace’s reign started in the 1960’s when she first modelled before becoming a stylist and editor at British Vogue, and then creative director US Vogue. Coddington’s long-lived tenure at Vogue has allowed her to display her unbounded imagination and individualism when it comes to portraying fashion.

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Vogue | 1997

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Vogue US | August 2007 | Hothouse Flowers Jan 2013

Grace’s early career as a model has allowed her insight to her work on the other side of the camera (The Guardian, 2016), and understanding the point of view of a variety of photographers. Unflinching to modern consumerism, Grace has been loyal to her own uncorrupted vision to champion the pure essence and fantasy of fashion.

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Vogue US | Shades of Poiret May 2007 | Garden of Delights 2006

Whereas many stylists and editors tend to only stay focused on only one look, many have applauded her ability to produce an “extraordinary range” (Lucinda Chambers, 2016) of styles; from simple to elaborate, and from grunge to floral to couture. Over the decades, Coddington has created some of the most iconic, refreshing and symbolic images of fashion that are yet to be disregarded as modern and relevant.

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Vogue US | Brights, Camera, Action 2007

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Vogue US | Stardust  | June 2013

Written by Alice Pearce

Edited by Christina Wright

References
Lucinda Chambers, The Guardian (2016). Grace Coddington: the woman who made fashion art. [Online] Available http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2016/jan/23/grace-coddington-the-woman-who-made-fashion-art

Marie-Claire (2015). 27 Times Jane Birkin Inspired Our Wardrobes. [Online] Available at: http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/blogs/548011/27-times-jane-birkin-inspired-our-wardrobes.html

Time (2012). Jane Birkin. [Online] Available at: http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2110513_2110627_2110709,00.html