Icons Who Ignited Fashion
9 Game Changers from MOMA
Of the 111 pieces in the Museum of Modern Art‘s newest exhibition, ITEMS: IS FASHION MODERN?, the nine below are so ingrained in our consciousness that we don’t even think of them as the game changers they once were.
The white t-shirt? Who doesn’t own at least three (thank you, Hanes, for always selling us a troika of cotton goodness). But when James Dean donned one as outerwear rather than underwear, oh, boy! The fashion rule was forever broken…and we never felt the same again about a hot guy in a short sleeved shirt. Pair that with the iconic 501 Levi’s jeans, and you’ve got the bad-boy look every guy has attempted to wear, but few as well as our sexy rebel without a cause.
Speaking of breaking the fashion rules, the modern leader of that pack—and the creator of dressing casually chic—was none other than Coco Chanel. With her motto, “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury,” she literally freed women from corsets, banning them from under her looser fitted clothing and allowing women to breathe freely, some for the first time. Chanel helped usher in the “new look” in terms of skirts, creating the impeccable pencil skirt, raising hemlines from floor-dragging to easy mid-calf lengths and making the garment in a stretch jersey with—horrors!—pockets! Just add numerous strands of those perfect Chanel pearls and the look was complete.
Chanel also made it fashionable for ladies to go to the beach and wear the classic Breton wool sweater originally worn by the fishermen from Brittany. Today, there isn’t a closet in France that doesn’t have at least one of these striped shirts hanging in it.
We can’t officially say Coco endorsed the ballet flat, but the easy footwear, made famous by former ballet dancer/actress Audrey Hepburn, works perfectly with Chanel’s casual style.
Hepburn was one of the first women to wear a classic men’s white shirt, making men’s wear a trendy look for fashion-forward women.
Hepburn also helped make Chanel’s Little Black Dress a necessary staple in every woman’s closet. Even today, almost a century later, you can’t go wrong when wearing the versatile LBD.
Finally, there is the motorcycle jacket. Created in 1928 by Irving Schott, he named the leather zipped jacket the Perfecto, after his favorite cigar. And when Marlon Brando slipped into his rugged scene-stealing garment for the film, The Wild Ones, it was, indeed, Perfecto.