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photo essay that explores the notion behind iconic glamour

Emily Marshall

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman is a modern example of classic beauty. Her facial features meets all ‘requirements’ in terms of what western society deems to be beautiful. She has a very filmic face, and is destined to become iconic.


It is important to note the difference in ethnicity when compairing iconic women from classical Hollywood to what is seen as beautiful now. Beauty is a fantastic representation of how society changes, how our ideals and trends change along with society. It is interesting to look at Beyonce as an iconic woman, she is an actress and therefore has a cinematic face, but is mostly known for her musical and dancing talents. Beyonce is a true representation of our modern idealogies, she is aesthetically beautiful, and is a very powerful, strong woman.

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly is a true representation of classic Hollywood beauty. It is here that the importance of blonde hair should be mentioned, as it is seen as the ultimate ideal in beauty. However the connotations of women with blonde hair can differ greatly. Grace Kelly was a respected, established actress, known for her graceful and demure nature. The representation of blonde is not always associated with these traits. It is interesting to note how important this is.

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse lived a tragic life, this seems to be a reccurent theme in many of the women chosen to be in this photo essay. Amy Winehouse wasn’t seen as a ‘classic beauty’ She developed her own iconic look. She wasn’t on screen, however it is important to include her as she has become such an iconic and inspirational woman since her death, her look takes influence from nineteen sixties glamour, which links to the earlier concepts of glamour and beauty, it provokes contemplation as to what the late 20th century bought for women.

Kate Moss Kate Moss’s look; ‘heroin chic’ defined the nineties again; Kate Moss is not considered a classic beauty but she is arguably one of the most famous ‘super models’. What is it about Kate Moss’s appearance that makes her so aesthetically pleasing? is it that she is considered beautiful, or that her structure is extremely photogenic. The way she looks greatly differs from the more ‘classic’ beauties this book will look at. She is most famous for her slim, boyish figure, that became a standard amongst fashion models after her. This new beauty ideal brought a lot of controversy surrounding eating disorders. It asks the question; ‘what happened that changed this ideal?’ as earlier examples of beauty show a much more feminine, ‘curvier’ figure.


Rihanna is known for her risque performances and costumes, however she is still considered very beautiful. Many of her physical attributes align with the classic representations of beauty. Perhaps third wave feminism enabled Rihanna to represent herself in a more sexul nature, or is Rihanna allowing herself to be objectified?

Marilyn Monroe Marilyn Monroe is the ultimate iconic beautiful woman; a sex symbol. Due to her having iconic photographs, (for example the infamous white dress shot) peroxide blonde hair (with a much different connotation to that of Grace Kelly’s) and her beauty spot. She also lived a troubled life, this seems to be a common theme for many of these women.


Adele is another important woman to include because she is a known representation of a strong successful woman, however differing from other women who are successful in music, Adele has not always conformed to the ideal look. Adele was known for being a larger woman, however in recent years has slimmed down and lost weight. Yet again, like many women mentioned here, Adele has taken inspiration from nineteen fifties and sixties fashion to create her glamourous look.

Audrey Hepburn Audrey Hepburn is another obvious woman to place in the book. She is considered one of the of most classic beauties ever, seen as the ultimate brunette. Much like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn had many iconic photos taken of her, for example, the instantly recognisable Breakfast at Tifanny’s shot

Dita Von Teese Dita Von Teese is seen as very beautiful. She combines the classic, vintage looks that are so popular and definitive today, with sexuality and nudity. Dita Von Teese is part of the neo-burlesque movement, a renaissance of risque dancing that celebrates the beauty of women.

Twiggy Twiggy is often coined as the first ever supermodel and a huge fashion icon. She is an image of sixties London. She was made famous by her pronounced eyelashes and short hair style that differed from the post-war fashions. Twiggy was made iconic because she stood out, her name; ‘Twiggy’ comes from her skinny twig-like figure, in the sixties this really wasn’t seen as a beauty ideal. However Twiggy was extremely successful.

Lady Gaga Lady Gaga also differs from most of the women in this book as she isn’t traditionally seen as beautiful. She is famous for experimenting with fashion and looks, to the point of mutating her face with implants. It is often mentioned that Lady Gaga appears to have taken a lot of inspiration from Madonna. The variety of ‘body modification’ available to enhance the way you look is astounding, the relationship between this and beauty is an obscure one.

Edie Sedgwick Edie Sedgwick was one of Andy Warhol’s ‘superstars’ she lead an extremely tragic life, and much like the aformentioned Amy Winehouse died early. however the way she looked was extremely influential and continues to inspire fashion today.


Madonna is responsible for many famous iconic looks herself, however it has been commented that she is reminiscent on Marilyn Monroe. Like Kate Moss defining the nineties, Madonna defined the eighties.


A look into iconic female beauty.

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