A late 40s or early 50s pin up photo of Marilyn Monroe posing on the phone in a black lace bra.
60s model Linda Morand wearing sheepskin, wool and big goggle-style sunglasses in Elle 1968. [2 photos] Read more
We all know Coco, Audrey, Grace, Marilyn and Twiggy were among the most influential figures in 20th century fashion. But they were far from alone. Here are five others who forever changed the face of style, leaving an indelible mark on global vintage culture.
Born into an aristocratic family in Beauvais, France, Givenchy brought his patrician sensibilities to Paris when he opened his couture house in the early 1950s. By the time Yves Saint Laurent hit the international fashion scene in 1962, he had already made a name for himself designing iconic dresses for Audrey Hepburn that appeared in a string of popular Hollywood movies, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Funny Face and Charade. A master of fabric known for his simple, feminine creations, Givenchy’s work epitomized a time when tasteful elegance dominated on catwalks and between velvet ropes.
Before Chanel, there was Lanvin. She may not have revolutionized women’s fashion in early part of the 20th century, but Jeanne Lanvin became a household name producing wardrobe staples for the wealthiest women in Paris. Her signature style, proudly bourgeois flapper dresses with form-fitting bodices, full skirts and extravagant embellishments (silk ribbons, glass beads and pearl embroidery) defined the look of the ’20s. One of the first designers to build a luxury lifestyle brand—complete with interior design and fragrance divisions—the company bearing her name is the oldest surviving couture house.
This sophisticated journalist and socialite-turned-international glamour icon had a sense of style that extended well beyond her penchant for elegant pastel suits, Halston pillbox hats and Marimekko dresses (though she wed Aristotle Onassis in Valentino). Not only did she set herself apart with an intentional about face from the matronly aesthetic of former first ladies while transforming the White House into an elegant showcase for fine American art and antiques, Jackie’s timeless dressing and graceful poise forever cemented her iconic status for many.
With her waiffish form and perennial class, supermodel Jean Shrimpton is best remembered as a fashion goddesses who came to embody Swinging Sixties London. Famous for her long legs, beautiful hair and heavy-lashed doe eyes, “The Shrimp” was the face of the 1960s, finding her way onto the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Vanity Fair. She popularized the miniskirt and together with paramour, photographer David Bailey, took the British capital London by storm, leaving a treasure trove of iconic images in her wake and influencing generations on both sides of the pond . (Their four-year relationship was immortalized in the 2012 BBC drama, “We’ll Take Manhattan.”)
Her name may be perpetually associated with the iconic Hermès handbag, but Jane Birkin has contributed more than inspiration for a best-selling luxury leather good. After finding fame in the 1960s following her first role (and nude appearance) in the 1966 cult classic Blow Up, this straight-banged, gap-toothed actress and singer went on to star in dozens of films and TV series. She also collaborated with longtime lover Serge Gainsbourg to record what is considered one of the most erotic songs ever written, “Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus” (“I love you, I don’t”). To this day, Birkin’s laid-back presence and quirky Euro-chic fashion sense still inspires countless vintage lovers around the world.
Shannon Roxborough, a widely published luxury and lifestyle writer, is the founding editor of the magazine-style blog Vintage Living. He enjoys watching classic movies, shopping for vintage and antique treasures and sipping wine.