Unapologetically You: Inspiration From 5 Iconic Fashion Muses

Unapologetically You: Inspiration From 5 Iconic Fashion Muses

Have you ever been in the presence of somebody so unapologetically him or herself? They radiate confidence. They seem truly happy and at peace. It’s so inspiring and motivating and may leave you wondering how they make it look so easy. Likely, that person has accepted all of him or herself- interests, body, personality, etc.- not just the parts society deems as most acceptable.

Learning to own who we really are might not come easily or naturally to everyone. According to Emotionally Resilient Living, “We begin learning at an early age how good it feels to be accepted, and then spend the rest of our lives carefully hiding the weak or unacceptable bits and pieces of ourselves in an effort to fit in, or at the very least not to stand out too much. By the time we reach a certain age, we’re not even sure anymore who that person is underneath all of the filters we’ve built up over the years. So we continue molding ourselves into the person we believe we should be, the person we think we need to be for others to love us, to fit in, to achieve something that matters in this world.” This is no way to live!

At A.K. Rikk’s, we believe that our clients are individuals with unique styles, needs, and ways of expressing themselves. We are driven by the passion to help each person we serve feel empowered to be their authentic selves. We also promote this in our workplace. One of our core values as a store is “Create Fun & Weirdness.” This core value is not common in the fashion industry; however, we believe in celebrating the unique selves our staff members bring to the table. Our acceptance helps us empathize and accept the clients we serve.

The fashion industry is filled with muses. Below are some of our favorite fashion icons whose lives have inspired us to live unapologetically.

Iris Apfel: Age is Just a Number.

Iris Apfel is an American businesswomaninterior designer, and fashion icon known for her maximalist fashion choices and interiors, large rimmed glasses, and impeccable taste. She and her husband launched a textile firm and executed several design restoration projects, including work at the White House for nine United States presidents. Through their business, the couple began traveling all over the world where she began buying pieces of non-Western, artisanal clothes. She wore these clothes to clients' high-society parties throughout her life, but it wasn’t until the last 10 years that her notoriety rose to the masses.

In 2005, The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York premiered an exhibition about Iris Apfel's style entitled Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel. It was the museum's first time showcasing an exhibit about clothing and accessories focused on a living person who wasn't a designer. In 2013, she was listed as one of the fifty "Best-Dressed over 50" by The Guardian. In 2018, Mattel created a Barbie doll in Apfel's image, making her the oldest person to ever have a Barbie made in her image, and finally In 2019, at the age of 97, she signed a modeling contract with global agency IMG. Per Allure, “Apfel has modeled for M.A.C. and Kate Spade ad campaigns, appeared on the cover of Dazed & Confused, and was the star of a Vogue Italia spread, all during her 80s and 90s.”

Age is no deterrent for Iris Apfel and she continues to give herself fully to what she loves. "I'm very passionate about what I do," Apfel told CNN, "I put my heart and soul (into things) and it feeds me. I push myself until I can't anymore and then come back again for more.” Speaking to WWD, she said, "I don't think a number should make any difference and make you stop working. I think retirement is a fate worse than death. I love to work, and love my work. I feel sorry for people who don't like what they do. I do it now to the exclusion of everything else. I meet interesting, creative people, my juices flow and I really have a fine time."

Karl Lagerfeld: Don’t Compare Yourself to Others, You’re your Own Brand.

Karl Lagerfeld was a German creative director, fashion designer, artist, and photographer best known as the creative director of the French fashion house Chanel, a position held from 1983 until his death this year. He was also creative director of the Italian fur and leather goods fashion house Fendi. He was recognized for his signature white hair, black sunglasses, fingerless gloves, and high, starched, detachable collars.

In the 1980s, Lagerfeld was hired by Chanel, which was considered a "near-dead brand" at the time since the death of designer Coco Chanel a decade prior. Lagerfeld brought life back into the company, making it a huge success by revamping its ready to wear fashion line. He was a branding genius. Lagerfeld integrated the interlocked "CC" monograph of Coco Chanel into a style pattern for the fashion house. He has been quoted to say “Logos and branding are so important. In a big part of the world, people cannot read French or English--but are great in remembering signs.”

Karl Lagerfeld didn’t wait on the approval of others. In fact, In 1993, Anna Wintour walked out of his Milan Fashion Week runway show when he employed strippers to model his collection for Fendi. He wanted to keep pushing the boundaries of his creativity and was only happy when challenging his work against itself. He said, “I'm never content with what I do. I live in a sort of permanent dissatisfaction. I think that's the secret to doing things well…. Personality begins where comparison ends.” 

Gianluca Isaia: Confidently Break the Rules

Gianluca Isaia is the CEO for luxury brand ISAIA known for their contemporary, yet traditional suiting and tailoring inspired by Capri, and island in Italy’s bay of Naples. MR Magazine describes him best: “The man is known for his outgoing personality, charisma, charm, somewhat eccentric personal style, irreverent advertising, beautiful clothing, fabulous parties, and an uncanny ability to connect with people, Gianluca Isaia is the epitome of Italian elegance and effervescence.”

In an interview with Artful Living, Isaia has said, “A lot of ideas come to me when I’m spending time with the consumer. I think everybody can give you something. For example, young people don’t care about rules and sometimes create great novel style. They don’t even know how they got there. The younger generations are more free, independent and creative than we were.” He further explained, “When I started working, you had a suit — you never wore the jacket without the pant. That was the rule. Then, several years ago, men started wearing a blue striped suit jacket with a pair of jeans in a great way. That is a rule that has been broken for me….Rules do not exist. I am completely against rules. Dressing is an art, and all the best artists have broken all the rules. Otherwise art would be finished.”

This idea of breaking rules has been a constant for Gianluca Isaia. When asked by MR Mag in 2018 on tips for men to look their best, he said “Be comfortable in your own skin. Be confident. Don’t try too hard to be perfect. (There is no such thing). Make sure your clothing fits you properly. And if you’re not sure – ask for help! Lastly, don’t follow any rules.”

Natacha Ramsay-Levi: Overcome Self-Doubt With Action

The New York Times describes Natacha Ramsay-Levi as, “The first Frenchwoman to take the helm at Chloé since Martine Sitbon in 1987, Ramsay-Levi was raised on the Left Bank in a literary family (her father was a book and magazine editor) and now lives in the Second Arrondissement with her 5-year-old son, Balthus. She pursued her childhood fantasy of becoming an archaeologist by getting a history degree before enrolling at the esteemed fashion school Studio Berçot in 2000. There, she quickly became known for her obsession with Ghesquière, Balenciaga’s then-creative director.”

As a protégé of Nicolas Ghesquière, Ramsay-Levi worked as his right-hand at Balenciaga for more than a decade. When Ghesquière joined Louis Vuitton, Ramsay-Levi followed, taking up the role of design director. In March 2017, Chloé announced Ramsay-Levi would be the next creative director.

With her history degree, Ramsay-Levi almost didn’t enter the fashion world, but wanted to scratch an itch. She was on the verge of signing up for a sewing class to indulge her hobby when a friend convinced her to apply to Paris’s prestigious Studio Berçot. “I didn’t even know how to draw when I arrived,” she recalls, “and I had a real complex about it.” Despite her insecurities, she pushed forward and made intentional moves propelling her to the successful role she now holds at one of the premier French fashion houses.


Franca Sozanni: Don’t Shy Away From Your Convictions

Franca Sozzani was an Italian journalist and the editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia from 1988 until her death in 2016. In addition to nurturing the careers of who would become the most important fashion photographers of a generation, Sozzani was also known to have a strong perspective based on her convictions.  

Franca Sozzani was known for including topics and issues in her magazine which other fashion publications avoided, such as domestic violence, drug abuse and recovery, and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010. Issues of her magazine included "The Black Issue" (which featured only models of color), "Makeover" (dedicated to the exploding phenomenon of plastic surgery) and most recently "Rebranding Africa". Photographers worshiped her for the unheard-of creative control she offered. She allowed them to choose their subjects and their models, and frequently nudged against (or gaily traipsed beyond) the limits of convention or decorum.

The New York Times wrote, “Accordingly, her magazine — though it showed clothes, and plenty of them — never shied from the reality in which her readers lived. Her irreverence could border on the heretical…Another way is to break the mold and surprise and provoke and sometimes disturb your readers. That’s a much harder way to do it, and it’s much harder to do well, and Franca did it better than anybody.” Despite the risks associated with speaking out about her convictions, she continued to do so.

 “When you take risks, it means that you know every month, people are there to judge you,” Franca Sozzani told Interview Magazine in 2012. “Some months are good; some months are bad. When you make a mistake, they call you immediately. And when you do something good, they send flowers to the stylist.”


Like these iconic muses have exhibited, it might take time to learn to be comfortable in your own skin, but the journey of self discovery is well worth it. We’d love to join you in celebrating unapologetically YOU- no shame, no regrets, no fear. We invite you to join like-minded individuals through our events and conversations on social media. Need to explore your specific style options? Set up an appointment with our expert Personal Shoppers today!

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