Beyoncé’s position between pop culture icon and style icon has long been a topic of debate among critics in the fashion industry. Although some now say that after becoming the cover model for U.S. Vogue’s famed September issue, she has finally crossed over and can be considered a style icon.
Be that as it may, The Man Repeller’s Emilia Petrarca considers whether contemporary and celebrity fashion icons — like Beyoncé — are authentic style icons. Unlike some stars of the past, today’s icons have stylists to perfect their looks, and their popularity and can easily be viewed and imitated from social media.
In this new style landscape, it is worth investigating how a celebrity becomes a style icon. As trends come and go, the figures in fashion that stay true to their own personal style are the ones that can be deemed authentic. Kanye West has retained his title as a trendsetter and creative force in the media for almost a decade. No matter how many times his aesthetic changes, he has always been on the cusp of the next big thing with everything from shutter shades to foxtail keychains to monochrome sneakers.
Today, his style is no longer as urban and eclectic as it was back in 2004, but urban-inspired to a strategic, cleaner level that gives his high-fashion threads a bit of an edge, the same edge that can only be described as an edge that is unique to him. West has stayed authentic, even while wearing pieces from major fashion houses such as Givenchy and Balmain. This same aesthetic is largely duplicated in the world of men’s street style.
His wife, Kim Kardashian, has evolved greatly as a fashion figure in the past five years. The media starlet used to simply follow trends and was not a source of style inspiration. However, Kanye’s style began cropping up in Kardashian’s fashion choices as well, leading to the high fashion figure everyone now knows.
Kim has developed her own aesthetic and started new waves of fashion trends that are now staples in many people’s wardrobes, including the crop top and pencil skirt duo, bodysuits, neutral colorways such as hunter green, camel, and black.
Style icons don’t have to wear head-to-toe designer clothing. Instead, showing personal style by challenging current trends and wearing bold looks are the mark of style icons today. Without raw originality, no style icon is truly iconic.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 8 edition. Email Kaitlyn McNab at [email protected]