Introducing our Original Icons. What is an icon? You may not know any of these women – yet. In their own special way they are (extra)ordinary everyday icons. They are not world famous (yet!) but are all the more important because of it. Every journey starts with the first step.
Be inspired. We felt that the freshness of the adidas Blue collection and Jeremy Scott’s playful and witty designs for adidas Originals by Originals, designed to be fun and bold, are the perfect backdrop for our iconic Volt/adidas collaboration.
Gemma Cairney | Broadcaster
Someone who excites me is someone where you hear about the project they’re working on and it intrigues you. I remember interviewing Erykah Badu. I felt scared and challenged, her eccentric character challenged me and put me through my paces!
My friends are my icons. Trevor Nelson is an icon to me, he let me in. And Fashion Director Cynthia Lawrence-John, I see her as both an icon and a guardian angel!
My goal is to end up doing the unexpected…never to know what’s going to happen. Maybe somehow teach others a small, yet life enhancing thing just as I’ve been taught by each and every person I’ve met. To know and love all my friends all my life…even when it gets rocky. To laugh a lot and dance a lot!
Yasmin | Singer/Songwriter
To me an icon is a unique leader, not a follower. Someone who carves his or her own way. Someone like Kanye West, who is both very controversial and very creative, someone who is willing to put himself or herself on the line.
I dropped out of Uni to pursue my music career, which was a very difficult decision at the time. However, never regretted doing this. I’m a Singer/Songwriter. My single was out January 2011, called ‘On My Own’.
I’m inspired by real life and real life situations. My wrist tattoo says ‘Amantes sunt amentis’, which is ‘Lovers are lunatics’ in Latin.
Misty Miller | Singer/Songwriter
To me an icon is someone like Kurt Cobain or Karen Carpenter. Both flawed heroes in their way. People are influenced by me, which is nice. People have even started to cover my songs, which is amazing! I’m very confident; even if I forget words I just improvise. Performing never fazes me.
My brother encouraged me to write when I was 8 years old. In a way he’s like an icon to me, a rock in my life, someone I can trust. I always wanted to be a singer.
Krissi Murison | Editor of NME
I feel the word icon has become cheapened; inasmuch that it has been bandied about to mean anyone famous. It really should typify integrity – someone who’d intimidate you if you sat with them. Patti Smith is definitely my icon!
I wanted to be a Music Writer. I learnt a great work ethic from my family and to take up every opportunity. My family never worried about my earning potential. Often when people are told it’s too hard that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. My gran was very inspirational; she went through tough times and had to grow up at a very young age.
When I was offered the job as Editor at NME and people said ‘You must be proud’, I didn’t feel I’d earned that yet. Pride wouldn’t be appropriate till at least a year down the line. The pressure was enormous and I knew I had to deliver, the expectations were high.
I’d love to write a book! That’s one of my goals, a huge undertaking to stick with.
Laura Dockrill | Poet
To me the word icon is usually female – yet arts wise I’m more inspired by males. People like Patrick Hamilton, Roald Dahl and John Cooper Clarke. You have to be inspired by their humanity as well as what they do arts wise. But to be a true icon you would be a woman – I’m very inspired by my mum.
I’ve been writing since I was 3 – used to copy my mum’s phone conversations! Conversations really inspire me; yes conversations are the best inspirations… Some times you see or hear stuff that is so inspiring you’re just not able to sleep!
I’d love to inspire a new generation to perform and write.
I’d love to be someone like Ricky Gervais, allowed to work across all platforms and allowed to do whatever he likes. To me he is an all-round artistic character who is asked about politics and much more.
Rosie Garnett & Keziah | Legal and Club Secretary of a Football Club
My mum – she adopted me when I was 3 months old. She wasn’t as affectionate as I’d wish. I’ve always felt independent and I’ve always had ambition. Values in life are paramount; I want to be an icon to my daughter.
I started athletics at 13 and I knew instinctively how to do this. I’d project success from an early age when I was training. Teachers at school always encouraged me. It’s all about focus and being able to get through the bad times knowing things will change for the better. It is important to be an inspiration to others.
My daughter is very important to me and I want to guide her in her career. My child needs to be able to look up to me.
CAMILLA DOYLE/ Charity Event Fund Raiser
People who worked hard to get to where they are and did it in a credible way. And beautiful people such as Camila Batmanghelidjh who is totally approachable despite of being the Founder of Kid’s Company. And Brigitte Bardot just for being utterly stunning!
I am very energized and positive about my job, and very lucky that I do something I love so much. I am very proud to be working for Help the Aged. I would love to be the next Camila! The respect she rightfully gets and the work she has done. I’d like to be the best at my game.
The attitude I got from my family is keep smiling! Don’t take anything too seriously. Despite this I am passionate about my charity especially because it isn’t perceived as ‘cool’. When I ran the marathon in 2010, I just cried throughout, it was so moving.
Sophie Epstone | Founder of Trekstock Charity
To me an icon is someone who makes a difference on lots of different levels. Someone like Vivienne Westwood, both a Fashion Designer and Campaigner. Or Jeremy Gilley of PEACE ONE DAY, an organisation he started from nothing. It was one of his events at the Royal Albert Hall that got me started 3 years ago. His organisation grew in a really organic way.
The lyrics of Devendra Banhart always cheer me up when I feel down.
I want my charity to make a difference. I don’t just want people to hand over a quick £10, I’d much rather they got involved and were part of the change. I feel I’m a tiny but important cog in the wheel. Someone who engages people in the process and make them feel a part of it. I get people to take part by talking to them, treating them as equals. Famous people appreciate me asking and have always been kind.
If you want to help, don’t just donate. Instead raise awareness, work as an intern, and give your time at festivals. Because we are small we’re very flexible, it’s very easy to become part. And because we’re so small, almost every part of the donation goes to improve research. When you know that one trial alone can cost £68,000 per year to run it becomes imperative to raise as much as possible. My goal is £200,000+ per year.
Katie Knox | Assistant Hair Stylist
My friend dresses up for club nights and to my mind he’s a total icon!
I am definitely very inspired by looks I see around London, people on the street or on the bus – that is what gets me buzzing. Seeing them gets ideas flowing that I translate into my personal style.
Being a successful Hair Stylist, having freedom and creativity!
Imogen Chapman | Musician and Fashion Photographer
Björk. She is definitely iconic in looks, her act, everything about her is unique. To qualify as an icon you have to be completely different, outrageous and strange!
I’ve been very lucky to have support from a variety of people and SHOWstudio.
I want to continue being creative, first and foremost as a musician but also as a Fashion Photographer. I see both as ways of purging emotion.
Chantell Walters | Womenswear Designer
Björk and Erykah Badu are both amazing and different icons.
I admire people who aren’t frightened to be different. You should still be aware and mindful but at the end of the day just do things for you.
My mum was very glamorous and she didn’t raise me to look ordinary! I’ve always been fascinated by clothes. I started making designs when I was 10. Made my first collection at 17. Doing a Foundation course was wonderful, really inspired me. I did my degree at LCF as well, something that had been my plan since I was 14. I am a hard worker. I learned most from being out in the industry. Gavin Douglas was a great inspiration to set up my own business, which I did in 2009 with a loan from the Prince’s Trust.
Nada El Dahab | Student & Fashion Assistant
Inspirational people who’ve taken it upon themselves to do something different.
Not necessarily a movie star…anyone can be an icon, you just have to be convinced and committed!
I don’t specifically do any one thing – I am many different things, depends on the setting! Student one day, Fashion Assistant the next, an Intern, a daughter and someone who is creative!
My mum was and is very influential. She has really shown me how to be independent. She had 5 kids and ran her own business – two factories and a shop! Tough love has taught me to be who I am. I really appreciate and need criticism in order to move on in my game. Constructive though, not destructive!
To carry on doing what I am doing now – to be free to be creative wherever I end up working as long as it’s with my dignity intact and through hard work!
Zara King | Marketing Student/Blogger
An icon doesn’t care about what other people may think. They embrace who they are. They are confident. Nina Simone is an icon to me. And Jane Shepherdson. She is someone who sticks by her morals and has integrity.
I never met my Grandmother but I love looking at old photos of her. She comes across as a mystery to me; she had cancer and was very strong. I find her very inspiring.
I know that I want to do something I really enjoy; I don’t ever want to feel I HAVE to go to work! I know I am very lucky to have the freedom to have this as my goal!
Shola Hood | Student & Intern
An icon influences and inspires emotion even if just the one person responds to this.
My personal icon is Karin Dreijer Andersson. Her music touches me. Lyrics are beautiful. Her aim is not to be a huge success and this makes her all the more real.
Andreas Nilsson is a Film Maker who I also really like.
I love all elements of the fashion industry… My dream is to one day live in Paris and to build my own house.
Emelie Hultquist | Fashion Assistant & Student
An icon to me doesn’t have to be a specific person, I take inspiration from nature, city and life – everything and everybody around me.
I get influenced by people around me, people I love and people who dare to go their own way.
One person who inspired me a lot is the illustrator Liselotte Watkins, my goal in life is to move fashion forward in a personal way just like she does.
Daphne Selfe | Model
I looked the word up in the dictionary and realised we don’t actually use the word in it’s ‘real’ religious context any longer. I guess in my day the model Barbara Goalen was a sort of idol but of course she was impossible to emulate! My mother was very outgoing and up-to-date, very much an inspiration. She made sure I always toed the line and made the most of myself.
You didn’t really have idols or icons in my day…one just did it. I didn’t really think it was anything special. The photographer Gilbert Adams was the one who set me off. Taught me what to do in front of the camera. I’ve taken other people’s advice. I was brought up to behave myself, be on time and not mess about.
Life pulls you in various directions. If things come at you, you must take the opportunity as it comes. That has turned out rather well for me actually.
Emily Crane | Materiologist
To me an icon is huge! An individual who has created such depth and amazement that they deserve to be on a pedestal.
Right now I’m trying to get funding for a PhD in my chosen subject, which is taking waste and turning it into useable materials. The bubbles in a bubble bath initially inspired me, wondering if they could be frozen? They can…it turns into a delicate lace.
Emily Perowne | Student & Intern
Anyone who is passionate yet unassuming. I’m always very inspired by music and lyrics. When I was younger I wanted to be a Primary School teacher – guess I wanted to inspire other people!
My goal is to work in Fashion/Media/Magazines. Right now I want to learn more from work experience!
Ruby Goe | Singer/Songwriter
To me an icon is someone who is inspiring, who breaks boundaries and sets standards. Someone like Diana Ross or Grace Jones. Who is exciting and full of talent and style. Their image feeds through to their music. They keep changing yet stay true to their essence.
My mum died when I was very young and my dad raised us 5 kids. He is very proud of me. There was always music around me as I grew up. I remember free styling over jazz music at 4 – 5 years of age.
My best experience so far is opening for the Black Eyed Peas at O2 in May 2010. And designing jewelry, which sells at Kabiri under the name BYRO!
Sara Shamsavari | Artist
The word ‘icon’ brings to mind someone elevated but I think everyone has the potential to be an icon.
Icons do spectacular things, yet icons can come from humble beginnings. It’s not always predictable whom or what makes an icon. To me an icon creates a positive change. Icons make a difference; they are leaders, doers and thinkers. In my eyes artists are leaders.
On the highest level both politics and arts are about love – because it is about humanity and human rights. The idea of loving one’s neighbour. If you love someone you wouldn’t want to inflict pain and suffering on them.
My aim is to work across disciplines. One of my icons is Hussein Chalayan, a Middle Eastern artist who has avoided being pigeonholed. He is a designer with the heart of an artist and the mind of a scientist yet very humble. When I look at him I feel there’s room for people like me. It takes courage to put something out even if it’s not perfect – sometimes it is too important an art piece to keep to yourself even if you aren’t totally happy with the execution. Flexibility and adaptability is also important. Aim to become better and to grow. Everyone we look up to has qualities and strengths that we share. We all have the same potential. The reason theirs resonate with us is because it’s already part of us. Inclusiveness and sharing is of paramount importance – anyone who excludes is not really an icon.
Photographer Andreas Bleckmann
Fashion Cynthia Lawrence-John
Hair Takashi Sano @ Phamous Artists using Bumble and bumble
Makeup Andriani @ Phamous Artists using Givenchy
Words by Anna Bang
TagsBarbara Goalen, BYRO, cynthia lawrence john, Devendra Banhart, Erykah Badu, Gavin Douglas, Help the Aged, Hussein Chalayan, John Cooper Clarke, Kabiri, Karen Carpenter, Karin Dreijer Andersson, Kids Company, Kurt Cobain, London College of Fashion, NME, Patrick Hamilton, PEACE ONE DAY, Prince's Trust, Ricky Gervais, Roald Dahl, SHOWstudio, Trevor Nelson, vivienne westwood,