What does it mean to be a style icon? Impeccable taste, yes. The power to inspire designers, definitely. The influence to incite copycats, undoubtedly. But perhaps, the most important attribute is endurance.
Think about it: who is a true style icon? Audrey Hepburn. Grace Kelly. Marilyn Monroe. Jackie Kennedy. We know these women as style icons because of their endurance. We don’t know who today is truly a style icon because they have yet to stand the test of time. These women have and proved an inspiration to generations after their prime and even death.
This weekend, another icon, one who has passed the test of time with flying colors, passed away: Lee Radziwill, younger sister of that other style icon Jackie Kennedy. Though Jackie may have married the future president, Lee was once married to a prince; though Jackie is remembered as the style icon, it is said that it was to Lee that style came more naturally. Indeed, without Lee encouraging her, it is possible that Jackie herself may not have become a style icon.
Much like her sister, Lee is remembered for her impeccable taste both for formal occasions and more casually. Smart skirt suits, covetous coats, and perfectly coiffed hair was her uniform in the early sixties. Later, she epitomized off-duty glamour in wide-legged trousers and fur coats. She aged gracefully and stylishly, inspiring current designers like Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch and pulling off an old-world glamour that only someone like she could continue to pull off today.
Unlike so many today, she refused to follow and chose instead to lead. “She told me she’d never had an Hermès bag or silk scarf in her life. Everyone else carried them, so to her they were common,” André Leon Talley told the New York Times. She wore unknown designers to high profile events to ensure that no one else was wearing something by that designer. She was truly an original.
Passing away at 85 years old, it’s clear that Lee had all the elements of a true style icon. The impeccable taste, the power to inspire designers, the influence to incite copycats, and, the most important, endurance. Time will not forget Lee Radziwill and her style.
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