Unless, of course, they broadcast those personalities via their style. Their clothing and shoes and pearls/diamonds/Harajuku-esqe trinkets capture Polaroids of living, breathing people. Of human essence.
I've devised a list of eleven (because ten is boring) women in pop culture history who I feel most exemplify this rare ability to provide the public with a sense of who they are. Some are more well known than others, so don't be surprised if one or two names surprises you. (Pattie Boyd, who?) There are also a couple of names that I chose not to put on here because, well, they didn't seem to belong. (Norma Jean... sorry, dear. You deserve your own list.)
11. Edie Sedgwick
However, Edie had more to her than simply her social circles. She was an actress, a model, a socialite and an heiress, and throughout all of this, she dealt with a powerful addiction to barbiturates (sedatives). Unfortunately, this addiction resulted in her suicide in 1971. She has been immortalized by the likes of Dylan and Velvet Underground in music, as well as portrayed by Sienna Miller in 2006's Factory Girl.
Edie Sedgwick was not a model citizen; I certainly wouldn't want to emulate her life. But when defining a style icon, I decided to look past the grimier details and focus on what gave her so much staying power.
She had a great, avant-garde style that has stood the test of time. With her collaboration with Warhol, "Beauty No. 2," she became the underground film It Girl of the time, and according to imdb.com, was "compared to Marilyn Monroe."
In my book, when a woman is compared to the most glamorous It Girl in history, she's got It, regardless of her internal demons.
10. Pattie Boyd
But. In Pattie's case, her It-ness comes in two parts: in those who she associated herself with, and in her own rather invisible but ever-present influence on fashion.
Pattie Boyd became Pattie Boyd Harrison after marrying George Harrison (you know, the quiet one). She met the Beatles on the set of their first film, A Hard Day's Night, at the beginning of her success in the modeling industry. Harrison wrote many songs about her, but most well-known is "Something." Frank Sinatra called that song the greatest Lennon-McCartney composition of all time. Quite a compliment, if slightly misinformed.
After Harrison's womanizing antics overshadowed his deep love for her, Pattie moved on to his best friend Eric Clapton (you know, God) after he wrote several notes to her about his utter obsession over her. This love was practically doomed from the start, especially when Clapton told her that if she didn't leave Harrison he'd get intentionally hooked on heroin.
Though she felt trapped when his alcoholism flared, she still loved Clapton (though not so much as she did Harrison). Clapton showed his love in song: "Wonderful Tonight" and "Layla" are both about Pattie. So is "Bell Bottom Blues."
A muse for the musicians, but also for the fashion world, Pattie was one of the most successful models of the 1960's Swinging London scene. She modeled for Ossie Clark before Clark's rush of popularity. Twiggy even has said on numerous occasions that she based her iconic style on Pattie's.
Now a photographer and author, Pattie remains one of the most experienced models in the history of the business. She was a phenomenal model, and then a loving but abused wife, and now she is (finally) happy.
9. Blair Waldorf
In my opinion the best part of Gossip Girl, Blair has a personal style, and the audience will NEVER see her sway away from it. She is poised, neat and perfectionist, almost to a fault (see: bulimia in first season) as well as a genuine friend (on occasion.)
Blair knows how to dress. She knows how to set trends and she knows she's hot stuff. And she's got a hot boyfriend.
So, while I might get a little flack for giving this spot to Blair (why not Twiggy?) I stand by my belief that Blair Waldorf is an icon.
8. Grace Kelly
Just kidding. If you've seen Mogambo, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, High Society and The Country Girl, you know Grace had incredible talent in front of the camera.
She worked with actors like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant, who said about her: "Well, with all due respect to dear Ingrid Bergman, I much preferred Grace. She had serenity."
And I suppose that serenity (and her unwavering charm) won her the hand of Prince Rainier III of Monaco after meeting him at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955.
Her wedding dress was stitched up by three dozen seamstresses. But not only was Grace a stylish, classy princess, she was a humanitarian, too. During her reign, she created the AMADE Mondiale, which worked to ensure the "moral and physical integrity" and "spiritual well-being of children throughout the world, without distinction of race, nationality or religion and in a spirit of complete political independence."
What a lady.
7. Debbie Harry
With her bleach-blond, shaggy hair, deep vixen red lips and "cool sexuality," Debbie became quite the fixture/icon for the punk movement.
And her influence continues today. She is a face of MAC's Viva Glam VI campaign, tours with the Donnas, and well... Look at that photo and tell me one current celebrity who is attempting to be her. Taylor Momsen, right? If celebrities today want to emulate a celebrity of yesterday, chances are that celeb of yesterday has It.
She has a great look, and could very well be one of the most original/unique music artists (in terms of style) today. Of course, she's not Lady GaGa, but... well, I'll get to her later.
After the Chris Brown situation, Rihanna simmered down in the public eye. But one bit of ballsiness that I found awesome was the tattoo of a gun that appeared shortly after the incident. She's since spoken out about domestic abuse in the media and worked for the promotion of the issue.
Rihanna doesn't hold back. Even when she makes mistakes (and she does, in my humble opinion, from time to time) she embraces what she does and what she wears, and she works It better than most of us can.
Tulle. Fluffy hair. Lace gloves. You name it, Madonna's done it. Her videos for Like a Virgin and Like a Prayer made waves in the eyes of conservatives, but this was exactly what Madonna wanted: to shit all over the last generation.
She posed nude in Playboy magazine, and then there's Sex. Well, no one can deny her risk-taking abilities. She continues to take risks (sometimes just for the sake of taking them) and is probably the most successful female artist of all time.
And of course, she played the diva of all divas, Eva Peron, in Evita. Is there anyone who doesn't think Madonna's got It?
4. Lady Gaga
She's a really talented musician. Having started the piano at around age four, she studied classical piano in NYU and fuses that knowledge into her popular (and acoustic) hits. As a singer myself, I appreciate her voice. In short, she's pretty damn talented.
Lady Gaga stands up for what she believes in. She spoke and sang "Imagine" by John Lennon at the Human Rights Campaign dinner earlier this autumn, and later marched in the Equality March for gay rights.
Oh, and if I still haven't convinced you that she belongs at #4, how about this: Alexander McQueen digs her. 'Nuff said.
3. Kate Moss
Of course, she is most known for her small frame. "It was just the time. It was a swing from more buxom girls like Cindy Crawford and people were shocked to see what they called a 'waif'. What can you say? How many times can you say 'I'm not anorexic'?" Kate later said of her skinniness. And of course she just recently used the term most people deemed quite inappropriate, "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels."
Kate has been involved in more serious controversies, however. The longstanding rumor in Britain was that Kate used cocaine on a regular basis, and the tabloids got proof in 2005 when photos of Kate snorting lines of cocaine at a Babyshambles concert were leaked to the press. Labels dropped her as quickly as possible, and it seemed for a time that she was done.
Coke-gate certainly put a dent in her image (not that it was ever a wholly clean one) but Kate came back in full vigor. She left her musician boyfriend Pete Doherty and continued to work major labels, like Dior. Alexander McQueen defended her, along with her industry friends and fans, by wearing a shirt with the words "We love you Kate" inscribed on it.
Since then, she has designed a clothing line with Topshop, appeared in a Comic Relief skit and is still working as a very successful supermodel.
2. Elizabeth Taylor
My favorite movie of hers is Cleopatra, but she's done so much more: Raintree Country, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer are just a few of her greatest performances.
She has been married eight times to seven husbands, and understandably so. When you look like Liz Taylor, marry the entire male population, I say!
1. Audrey Hepburn
Miss Hepburn (I feel weird calling her Audrey) defined class. She was a kind-hearted lady with style. Skinny jeans! The make-up! And while she enjoyed and appreciated fashion, she favored simple, sensible clothing to haute couture.
Here's just a few reasons why she is the It Girl:
- Her humanitarian efforts includes such extensive work with UNICEF that she won several awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, due to this work. On her genuine care for the children involved, a UN photographer said that "the kids would have flies all over them, but she would just go hug them. I had never seen that. Other people had a certain amount of hesitation, but she would just grab them. Children would just come up to hold her hand, touch her – she was like the Pied Piper."
- She was lifelong friends with Givenchy. Yes, that Givenchy. Anyway, he loved her so much that he designed that iconic LBD featured in Tiffany's.
- She is one of only three actresses to win Best Actress awards from both the Tony and Academy Awards.
- Cary Grant on Miss Hepburn: "All I want for Christmas is another picture with Audrey Hepburn."
- Hello, Breakfast at Tiffany's?