Our Top Female Inspirational Icons: Past and Present

Emma Watson attends the Women's march in Washington D.C. Credit- Jae Donnelly for DailyMail.com

Here at Positive Luxury we believe that everyone has potential to change the world. Small acts of brilliance, defiance and kindness can together create a butterfly effect and be a force for good.

We’ve picked out just a few of the women who inspire the work and lives of the Positive Luxury team – and chosen a key piece that matches their style, strength and achievements.


Emma Watson

At just 26, Emma Watson is already using her public profile to promote the issues she cares about. From her work as a UN Goodwill Ambassador to launching her very own feminist book club.

A woman after our own heart, Emma’s recently launched Instagram account @the_press_tour promotes her passion for sustainable and ethical fashion, sharing information about the outfits worn on her current press tour. All this alongside an illustrious career as an actress and model, of course.

Emma’s Key Piece: Emma Watson was spotted at January’s Women’s March on Washington wearing a chic Maiyet coat and is the proud owner of the Maiyet Sia East/West Shopper too. As a brand to trust built on social and sustainable values, we’re not surprised she’s a fan! 



Dame Zaha Hadid

In 2004, Iraqi-born British Zaha Hadid became the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, rewarding her fearless determination to excel in a male-dominated industry.

Zaha’s distinctive style was characterised by offset geometry and curved shapes, and gained her commissions across the globe – from the Guangzhou Opera House in China to the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Zaha’s Key Piece: We’ve chosen the Loewe Hammock Bag as the multi-functional form and innovative design echoes the signature style that made Zaha one of the greatest architects of the era.

Picture Credit: Steve Double



Gillian Anderson

Alongside her impressive achievements on screen and stage, Gillian Anderson is a friend of Positive Luxury and a well-known supporter of social and environmental causes. With a strong passion for human and animal rights, she works closely with PETA, Refuge and Greenpeace, along with her own charity SA-YES, which provides youth mentoring in South Africa.

Gillian also recently published We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere – written in collaboration with journalist friend Jennifer Nadal. The book provides an uplifting, yet practical, manual for change to help women improve their own lives and the world around them.

Gillian’s Key Piece: A keen fan of brand to trust Gabriela Hearst, we can imagine Gillian rocking this Louise Herringbone Silk Jacquard Gown on the red carpet – an iconic piece to accentuate her figure and her values.  

Picture Credit: Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock.com



Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel had already enjoyed a long career as an interior designer (she worked with nine First Ladies to decorate the White House), before she rose to fame as a woman representing the epitome of personal style. 

Known for her oversized glasses and arm full of bangles, Iris continues to work well into her 90’s representing major fashion labels alongside models many decades her junior.

Iris’ Key Piece: For a woman who loves statement jewellery from across the globe, it can only be the Springbok Cuff by Okapi.



Serena Williams

Serena Williams has been ranked as the best female tennis player in the world on seven occasions and won 23 Grand Slam singles titles. She has become a role model to many, not just for her dedication to her career, but also as a poster woman for the beauty found in strength and power.

We also admire her strength of character – in response to being referred to as one of the greatest female athletes of all time she simply replied: “I prefer the word ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time.” Atta Girl!

Serena’s Key Piece: A little known fact but Serena Williams is a qualified nail technician. We think she’d love Only Fingers and Toes nail polish – not only is it free from toxins, shares Serena’s values of supporting women and girls.

Picture Credit: Jimmie48 Photography / Shutterstock.com



Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie has become almost as well-known for her philanthropic work in humanitarian and women’s rights as she is for her prolific film career. Her work as a UN Special Envoy on behalf of refugees is particularly noted, which includes over forty missions to meet displaced people in more than thirty countries.

We particularly admire Angelina’s openness about her surgery to prevent breast and ovarian cancer. This bravery raised awareness about a difficult topic and inspired many women to consider their own health options.

Angelina’s Key Piece: Gilda and Pearl’s sensual lingerie and nightwear is inspired by Hollywood glamour, so seems appropriate for one of the sexiest women in film.

Picture Credit: Flickr/Foreign and Commonwealth Office



Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is an example of the American dream fulfilled, working her way up from a poverty-stricken childhood to becoming a media doyenne, multi-billionaire and generous philanthropist. She is best known for pioneering the talk show format – The Oprah Winfrey Show stands as highest rating show of its kind.

Oprah is celebrated for her philanthropic efforts, donating millions of dollars of her own money to causes close to her heart – from post-Hurricane Katrina relief efforts to providing college scholarships to hundreds of disadvantaged students.

Oprah’s Key Piece: For every pair of sunglasses sold, Karmoie donates a pair of corrective glasses to someone in need. A brand to trust that matches the style and generosity of Oprah.



Dame Anita Roddick

Dame Anita Roddick is best known for founding The Body Shop, a natural cosmetics company that was one of the first to prohibit animal-testing and promote fair trade ingredients.

Anita died at just 64, yet her ground-breaking work in the beauty industry helped shape many of the principles of ethical consumption that inspire purpose-led businesses today.

Anita’s Key Piece: As one of the first proponents of the natural beauty movement, we think Anita would have loved brand to trust Virginia Stone. Not only are the formulas good enough to eat, but a portion of sales is donated to environment rejuvenation projects. 



If you enjoyed this, you might like to read Brands that Care: Supporting Women and Girls or Reinvent Your Wardrobe Classics

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