Style Icon - the most overused phrase in the fashion dictionary?

I always thought having a style icon was a personal choice decided by the individual, so why am I constantly being told who to admire?
Kelly Morris
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I always thought having a style icon was a personal choice decided by the individual, so why am I constantly being told who to admire?

Last week when the final stills from H&M’s forthcoming ad campaign featuring Lana Del Rey were released, she was lauded by the press as a 'style icon'. This week she’s been revealed as the ‘iconic’ face of Jaguar – let’s all ignore the fact that in the shots released there isn’t a car in sight…


The best adverts for cars never feature the car, duh?

This got me thinking about what it actually means to be a style icon today when the words are thrown around so casually and seem to apply to every female celebrity from J-Lo to Jennifer Aniston.

I’m not here to add to the mountain of stick poor old Lana gets, I’m not going to talk about her music or whether or not she has a ‘duck face’, or whether she really lived in a trailer park. What I want to talk about is why she ended up being declared a style icon because I'm a little confused.

A year ago Video Games was just a viral hit on YouTube, since then she’s had a bag created in her honour by Mulberry, a Vogue cover and is the face of numerous ad campaigns. I’m not saying it isn’t deserved or that she isn't beautiful, I’m sure she works very hard, but what I find strange is I don’t know a single person who thinks she’s particularly stylish, or if I do, I've never heard them say it.

This made me think, who is it deciding who is and who isn’t a style icon? Is there a committee in the sky hurling a dart and picking whoever it lands on? Because it seems that the more famous you are, the more stylish we’re told you are and I was always under the impression that being a bona fide style icon was quite different to being flavour of the month.


We all want to be her, apparently...

I always thought there were a few things you had to achieve before you could be considered a style icon. For me the first step is always starting a trend. Whether you like her or not, Alexa Chung’s influence is splashed all over the British high street where Peter Pan collars, satchel bags, duffle coats and loafers are piled high in every store. It's hard to move through the armies of mini-Alexas.

The next step is to inspire devotion, with endless blog posts that leave followers obsessing over every item the person wears. Where can they get it? How much is it? Who’s doing the best replica? A prime example is the massive spike in LK Bennett sales thanks to the Kate Middleton effect. Those blasted nude shoes! Everything she wears sells out instantly whether it’s from Zara, or whether it’s McQueen and though Kate isn’t one of my personal icons, you have to give her credit. There aren’t many people out there who can change a brand's fortunes by wearing a cardigan.

For me the most important quality in a style icon is authenticity. They should be someone who embodies a mood, who perfectly captures the zeitgeist by wearing clothes of their choosing, not wearing whatever their stylist forces upon them. I enjoy seeing people who offer something different, but are still themselves, not a cartoon or caricature like so many people today are. And because we're not about slagging people off here at xoJane, (there's enough hate in the world), I won't name names but we all know who they are.

You can spot the team of people behind them from miles off and the stars themselves are essentially clothes horses. They don't wear the clothes, the clothes wear them.

To me, the appearance of someone perfectly at ease in their own skin and in what they’re wearing can’t be imitated but maybe you disagree? Can a person with such a machine behind them be an authentic style icon?

I don’t know, maybe one day Lana Del Rey and the rest of the starlets and singers being shoved down our throats will be icons, but to me they aren’t yet. What do you think? Who are your personal style icons? Do you think the term has become irrelevant?