Fashion rebel Jean Harlow, Getty Images.
10 coolest fashion rebels
Fashion rules can help us get dressed, but they can also hinder our creativity. So let’s celebrate fashion’s rule-breakers – they make style freer and more liberating for all women.
10. GABRIELLE CHANEL
Coco Chanel turned womenswear on its head in the 1920s and 1930s with her use of loose jersey – previously associated with men’s underwear – in dresses and trousers. Modern women of the time loved Chanel’s relaxed new alternative to rigorous corsetry.
9. JEAN HARLOW
As the first bombshell of the modern movie era, Jean Harlow set the trend for sultry sex appeal. Satin bias-cut dresses that skimmed the body became de rigueur for Hollywood sirens in the 1930s, and Jean was the icon that brought about that change.
You get the feeling that nobody tells Rihanna what to do, and that applies to her wardrobe, too. She’s never been afraid of going for very sexy, very sheer – in this case, full-on boudoir – for both day and night, attracting a lot of tabloid attention along the way.
7. REI KAWAKUBO
It’s hard to imagine a world without Rei Kawakubo – her avant-garde, anti-fashion designs for Comme des Garçons have gripped us since she emerged in Paris in 1981, and have inspired designers around the world since.
6. MICHELLE OBAMA
Picking a tailored outfit by subversive American designer Thom Browne for her husband’s second inauguration was an unusual choice for Michelle Obama, but it shows that she’s still not afraid to shake up First Lady Fashion.
5. HELENA BONHAM CARTER
Never one to conform to the rules of Hollywood dressing, you can always count on Helena Bonham Carter to bring some personality to the red carpet. Embellished dresses, uneven hems and once, mismatching shoes, all regularly feature in Helena’s distinctive formalwear.
4. JEAN SHRIMPTON
The English It-Girl of the Swinging Sixties was at the forefront of an important style shift – the mini-skirt. As hemlines rose above the knee, Jean Shrimpton became the relatable face of the shorter skirt, inspiring many to hitch up their own hemlines.
3. AMELIA BLOOMER
Amelia Bloomer was a women’s rights activist in the 1850s, fighting for social change in North America at the time. After promoting the new women’s trousers in her magazine The Lily, her name became linked with the scandalous new wide-legged bottoms, breaking all the rules for women’s clothes of the time.
2. VIVIENNE WESTWOOD
From her days running a punk boutique on London’s King’s Road in the 1970s to her current occupation with climate change and clean energy, Vivienne Westwood shows that in both fashion and in life, you can be a rule-breaker at any age.
While we often expect our pop stars to dress and act a certain way, those rules have never applied to Björk. Her quirky, often radical choices from designers such as Alexander McQueen and Walter Van Beirendonck attract criticism and praise in equal measure, but always ensure that she’s an inspiring and modern muse on the scene.