Our favourite iconic women: Fashion mavericks of the 21st century redefining boundaries

Iconic women

In commemoration of International Women’s Day, we are celebrating women over the 21st century whose styles have influenced and transformed the language of fashion beyond and beyond. In the spirit of women growing in power, self-discovery and breaking barriers, we take inspiration from 7 style mavericks who have broken every mould cast around them.


  1. Grace Jones

Bold and unapologetic, Jones challenged the norms by embracing individuality and defining herself outside of what society would have expected of a black woman

She blurred the lines between masculine and feminine aesthetics and ultimately challenged conventional gender norms. Beyond her androgynous inclinations and bold beauty statements, Grace Jones embraced her Jamaican roots, empowering women of diverse backgrounds to do the same.


  1. Diana Ross

Rising to prominence in the 60s as part of the mega-group, The Supremes, and continued success as a solo artist into the 70s, 80s and beyond, Ross’ style was marked by elegance, confidence and a celebration of femininity. Breaking racial barriers, Diana Ross was a trailblazer whose success and elegance challenged stereotypes of how a black woman could present herself with agency over her image. She inspired black women to embrace being black and feminine unapologetically. She continues to be an inspiration.


  1. Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese’s style is empowering for its celebration of self-expression, body positivity, and the reclaiming of vintage glamour. A neo-burlesque dancer with a style reminiscent of classic Hollywood and pin-up aesthetics, she encourages women to break with trends and celebrate the fashion of a bygone era confidently. Without objectification, her confidence radiates through her sensual and provocative style, passing a powerful message that a woman can and should celebrate her sexuality free from societal expectations.


by sequoia emmanuelle


getty images


  1. Brenda Fassie

 South African pop star Brenda Fassie was known for her anthemic tunes and her unique fashion sense. Her confidence lay not only in her dress or iconic hairstyles alone but also in her charismatic performances and stage presence. Her performances and music conveyed a potent message about self-assurance and taking ownership of your star qualities, unapologetically.

  1. Rihanna

Bad gal Riri is why many women, especially millennial women, love fashion. Riri was the inlet to how fashion can be used to express oneself and look incredible while expressing. Rihanna is the mannequin of the fashion world, because when Riri wears anything, it goes, and we all go with it. Rihanna embodies boldness and self-possession through her tattoos, hairstyles that define eras, and endless fashion inspiration. In a time like this that leaves us so easily influenced, she stands out as an individual, who is true to herself.



  1. Janelle Monáe

Known for her signature monochrome style, mainly black and white, her aesthetic pays tribute to her working-class background. Favouring tailored silhouettes conveying strength and an unencumbered sense of expression. Her hairstyles affirm the movement of black women proudly wearing and styling their natural hair and doing so often. The overarching essence of Monáe’s style is its intersectionality, seamlessly blending elements of various genres and styles, challenging the notion of rigidity in fashion. Although she may have a signature, her style feels free.


  1. Erykah Badu

After her soulful music, Badu is known for her spirituality and holistic influences expressed through her style. She celebrates natural beauty, often seen with her distinctive headwraps and free-flowing natural hair; women can be empowered to present themselves with all their quirks and traits with no embellishments required in order to be acceptable or digestible. Badu inspires women to love their natural selves, hair texture, facial features and all, without conforming to mainstream beauty standards.


Image via Pinterest

image via Manda Demme

Image via Getty Images


  • Efua

    Efua Claire Jobi-Taiwo is the fashion and beauty editor at Marie Claire Nigeria. She is passionate about the future of fashion in Nigeria and believes the right outfit can transform the mind and spirit of anybody. She is an excellent event host, mediator and public speaker. She is hopeful to build a beautiful life by God's grace. She is married with a beautiful son and lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

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