Founder of Rebecca Taylor
"I have always been inspired by the determination of Emmeline Pankhurst and the suffragettes. Their struggle for equality and the hardships they endured in order to secure women’s rights for the rest of us is truly moving."
Founder of Trina Turk
"I’m inspired by the exuberant and inventive spirit of fellow Californian Ray Eames. Ray did not limit herself to a single creative pursuit — she was a painter, sculptor, designer and filmmaker. With her husband Charles Eames, she’s responsible for many groundbreaking ideas associated with mid-century modernism in varied disciplines, including textile, industrial, furniture and graphic design, filmmaking and architecture. From their studio in Venice, California, the couple created a huge body of work that remains influential today. Charles said, 'Anything I can do, Ray can do better.'"
Founder of Smith & Cult
"There are many inspirational women that move me in one way or another and each for different reasons. As far as fashion goes, I admire Daphne Guinness for her evolution as a style icon. I love that she always works with visionary artists. We’ve never met (only in my dreams), but I imagine that her spirited wardrobe choices are much like Guinness herself; elevated and whimsical."
Founder of Sara Happ
"As a girl who started this brand in her kitchen with nothing more than sugar and an idea, Estée Lauder’s example made me believe that what I was doing was possible, when it really just seemed crazy. Hers was a kitchen startup; one she built every step of the way by crafting meticulous formulas and making women feel wonderful. Yes, she became an empire, a socialite, an icon. But she started with nothing more than a love of beauty and a firm commitment to working hard. Her autobiography sits in my office. I’ve read it too many times to count."
Co-founder of We Are Handsome
"Angelina Jolie is my constant inspiration, I am in awe of her ability to juggle and seemingly balance her many roles in life. I adore that she keeps true to her powerful and creative nature, while nurturing and engendering good will in all her endeavours. I strive to replicate her strong but firm ways of changing the world around her."
Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss
Founder of Shoshanna
"I am crazy about Marie Curie and Gloria Steinem. Both women did not let the establishment hold them back from pursuing what they felt like were improvements toward a better society. Both defied what was expected of women at their time."
Makeup artist and founder of Sonia Kashuk Beauty
"Gloria Steinem. She has transcended time. She’s as relevant today as she was years ago. Plus, she still looks incredible!"
Founder of Mara Hoffman
"Frida Kahlo's unapologetic strength and courage have always inspired me. She embodied this phoenix energy — even in tragedy she still found expression of her self through the beauty in art."
Co-founder of Onia
"Claire McCardell was basically the inventor of American sportswear. She created super simple pieces that helped shape the casual sensibility that everyone associates with American ready-to-wear. Truman even gave her an award for it. She basically made it possible to dress casual and for that, I am forever indebted and inspired by her!"
Founder of Beth Richards
"I would say a quote that always resonated with me was 'well-behaved women seldom make history' by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and have always looked to the feminist movement that Gloria Steinem helped forge so many years back. Many think what I do, being in fashion, seems rather trivial, but in all honesty a huge part of why I do this is for women and to help empower them by bringing a sense of confidence and love of self back one garment at a time."
Founder of Mark Garrison Salon
"Louise Hay taps into a spiritual connection that I identify with through her writings in her books and daily affirmations. She is a staple for a broad spectrum of people in recovery for addictions with food, alcohol, drugs and relationships, to name a few. She bridged a connection with millions of people who have a disconnect with organized religion and helps them tap into their own spiritual power to overcome their issues and find the strength that lies within. Her publishing company Hay House has produced thousands of self-help books from authors like Deepak Chopra and Dr. Wayne Dyer."
Founder of Venessa Arizaga
"My ultimate fashion icon is Carolina Herrera. I had the honour to work alongside her for many years. She taught me so much about style, culture, history of fashion and most importantly, business, business, business. It was a moment in my life that has shaped the woman I am today."
Founder of David Hart
"I love Louise Nevelson both from a personal style standpoint and her assemblage artwork during the 1960s. Her art was groundbreaking and left a lasting impact. I think about her forms and geometric patterns often when I'm developing prints."
"I've always admired Diane von Furstenberg. As a working mother, it's inspiring to see women forge a path in any field, to set an example for their children and for other women around them. She's also quoted as saying 'attitude is everything.' That's true not just in what you wear, but in how you treat people, in how you live your life."
Founder of Amaiò Swim
"The most influential woman in history for me was the 1953 Miss World victor May-Louise Flodin, my grandmother. She may not have been the most 'famous' woman in history, in the traditional sense, but her story, what she accomplished and what she ultimately overcame has stood as a beacon throughout my personal life. Her interpersonal achievements, the public service and the light she brought to everyone with whom she worked with and met has stood to become her legacy and will continue to influence every moment in my life."
It seems just about everything gets a day or a month these days…National Doughnut Day (June 3), National Cereal Day (March 7)…there’s even a whole National Frozen Food Month. Every now and again, however, there’s a day that sheds light on a matter of real importance, which brings us to today: International Women’s Day. Brands are banding together to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while raising much-needed funds to further support female entrepreneurship, particularly in the developing world.
In light of this very meaningful day, we reached out to fashion industry influencers and asked them to tell us about the famous women in history who inspire them. Here’s a look at what Trina Turk, Rebecca Taylor and some of our other favorites had to say.