There have ever been trendsetters, people of taste, ideas and the means to implement those thoughts and whims of fashion. Celebrities, who enjoy great popularity especially, have acted as leaders and inspiring examples in the fashionable world. People who become icons lead a rather public life: today they are often singers, film stars and models. In the past centuries, they were usually queens, noblewomen or in general ladies who had risen to important positions. This rise was not always free from scandal, or impropriety at least, which has served to make the person yet more fascinating - just think of Anne Boleyn, Lady Emma Hamilton or Madame de Pompadour.
Henry VIII overturned a whole kingdom to be able to marry Anne. He set aside his former wife Katherine of Aragon and broke with the Roman Catholic Church. Emma Hamilton was born as Emma (or Emily) Lyon into modest circumstances but her beauty and her artistic talents made first the mistress of the nephew and then the wife of the uncle, nobleman and British ambassador in Naples, Sir William Hamilton. Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, better known als Madame de Pompadour, caught the eye of the French King Louis XV and became his maîtresse en titre.
To be a fashion icon can take very different shapes. Jackie Kennedy was widely admired for her elegance and excellent taste while Marie Antoinette is famous rather for her extravagance, at least in her early years at the French Court. Together with her very skillful and creative dress maker Rose Bertin she was constantly changing something about her wardrobe. The life at this court might have been enough to tempt a Saint to luxury, maybe. But for a young girl, far from her home and ill guided, the splendour must have been overwhelming and enough to lose her head over it...
© Nina Möller