8 New York Fashion Icons That Helped Define The City's Style

Things NYC is known for: Amazing bagels, exorbitant rent and, of course, being one of the most fashionable places on earth. These eight New York fashion icons helped shape and solidify this city’s position in the style world and continue to inspire every NYC gal’s wardrobe, even today. So thank you, ladies, for reminding us that true New York style is much more than just head-to-toe black.

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sarah jessica parker nyc style icon list
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1. Sarah Jessica Parker

Yes, she spent years playing one of the most fashionable women on television, but SJP deserves fashion icon status in her own right. Although she originally hails from Ohio, Parker has spent the majority of her adult life roaming the streets of Manhattan sporting basically every trend you can think of. She even launched her own shoe line in 2014, which quickly became a favorite of celebs and Carrie Bradshaw acolytes alike.

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2. Iris Apfel

The 96-year-old fashion maven has had a long career in fashion, working for Women’s Wear Daily before starting a textile company with her husband, Carl. She was the subject of a fascinating documentary in 2014 and recently launched her very first collection with Macy’s. She is perhaps best known for her “more is more” approach to styling and, of course, those oversize black glasses.

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3. Iman

The stunning Somali model came to New York to pursue a modeling career in the ’70s, and although her success has taken her all over the world, she keeps coming back to good old NYC. She and her late husband, David Bowie made for one of the most fashionable and striking couples in the city, never disappointing with their fabulous red carpet appearances and sometimes even more fabulous strolls around Central Park.

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4. Patti Smith

She burst onto the NYC music scene in 1975 with her album Horses, and hasn’t left our city-loving heart since. Her punk-rock style might look carelessly thrown together to the untrained eye, but Smith has spoken at length about her love of fashion, playing with clothes and the icons who came before her and whose images she used to tack up on her walls. It’s been more than 40 years since her launch to stardom, but she’s still inspiring our off-duty style (and tousled waves) even now.

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5. Jackie Kennedy Onassis

After her husband’s death, the former first lady moved to the Big Apple in the late ’60s to start over—and swiftly proceeded to make every woman in the country go out and buy a pair of oversize round sunglasses immediately. Although she had solidified her status as a true fashion icon long before becoming Jackie O, her style evolved to be much more experimental and fashion-forward once she hit the streets of Manhattan.

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6. Diana Vreeland

Before Anna Wintour, there was Vreeland. A fierce force to be reckoned with, she is perhaps one of the most influential figures the fashion industry has ever seen. As an editor for Harper’s Bazaar and then Vogue, Vreeland is credited with discovering Lauren Bacall and Edie Sedgwick, providing style advice to Jackie Kennedy Onassis and making the Met Gala into the incredible, celebrity-filled event it is today. Oh, and her decorating sense was just as avant-garde: She reportedly told her decorator, “I want this place to look like a garden, but a garden in hell.”

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7. Madonna

The musical superstar has reinvented herself sartorially more times than we can count, but this one thing is for sure: She knocks it out of the park every. Single. Time. Madonna moved to New York from Michigan in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance, but it wasn’t long before her talent as a singer and badass confidence were recognized. She may have recently moved to Portugal, but we doubt she can resist the call of NYC forever.

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8. Grace Jones

We couldn’t possibly conclude this list without talking about the powerhouse that is Grace Jones. A frequent face at Studio 54 and Andy Warhol’s Factory, Jones has never been one to blend into a crowd. Her striking androgynous style caught the eye of essentially every photographer, magazine editor and artist in the ’70s, and if the fervor her name induced had calmed down at all since then, it has certainly been reignited by a new documentary out this fall. For good reason, too—we don’t think there’s a single piece of clothing out there she can’t pull off.



Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...