24 Iconic Women Who Have Rocked Our World

Francesca Rice
by Francesca Rice

To celebrate our 25th birthday, Marie Claire asked acclaimed photographer Rankin to shoot the women who've rocked the last quarter century, with the rising stars who are following in their footsteps. Everyone from Vivienne Westwood – the grand dame of British fashion – to Bridget Jones's Diary author Helen Fielding and TV queen Davina McCall were included. You need to see these stunning images...


Dame Vivienne Westwood is so much more than a fashion legend, she's also an active political protestor – just check out her outfit, showcasing a picture of US soldier and WikiLeaks informer Bradley Manning. She's also passionate about climate change. 'We have to get on the streets – make ourselves visible! – to change this very big problem,' she told us.

Find out why Vivienne Westwood is the most inspiring woman in fashion.


Sadie Williams is certainly a design talent to watch. Currently flexing her creative muscles in the Marc by Marc Jacobs offices, she was employed by Katie Hillier and JW Anderson before she had even graduated from Central Saint Martins.



Helen Fielding created Bridget Jones
 in a newspaper column, all the way back in 1995. The author's success has been stratospheric – the series has sold more than 15 million books and inspired two films. But Helen can have her own Bridget moments too. 'How Bridget of me!' she said after losing her bag of Spanx on the shoot.


Despite her success, award-winning author of After The Fire, A Still Small Voice and All The Birds, Singing Evie Wyld still runs a bookshop in Peckham. 'The regular income keeps me sane,' she laughed.



Sheridan Smith has a fair few awards on her mantelpiece – she bagged a Bafta for last year's Mrs Biggs and an Olivier for Legally Blonde. She was so nervous before shooting with Rankin that she had to have a glass of white wine. She loves her life, but would maybe like to 'find a fella along the way. That wouldn't go amiss.'
Watch the actress chat exclusively to Marie Claire during the Rankin shoot.


Joanna Lumley is one of Britain's best-loved actresses, and the keeper of several legendary television roles (Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous, anyone?) with three Baftas to her name. 'Oh, poppet, I didn't ever think of this as a career,' she told us during the shoot. 'I didn't have a clue how it should be or what I would plan to do.'



Davina McCall and Laura Whitmore had only just met on the day of the shoot, but loved goofing around together to the sound of Justin Timberlake's Suit & Tie. Davina credits her grandmother for inspiring her work ethic: 'She was the type of housewife who'd be outside mowing the lawn in her petticoat,' she told us.



Gillian Anderson is most famous for her role as FBI agent Scully in cult Nineties series The X Files, but most recently we've been glued to our screens watching her as Stella Gibson in BBC Two's gripping thriller The Fall. 'I honestly think playing Stella is my career highlight - and everything else I did before simply informed that,' she told us.



Anyone who watched the phenomenally successful Broadchurch will recognise the super-talented Jodie Whittaker. During the Rankin shoot, she told us: 'I never wanted to be famous, never wanted to be rich, but I always wanted to act.'



Karen Anne (who was chosen by Christopher Bailey to appear in the 2011 Burberry campaign) is currently busy songwriting with music powerhouse Sharleen Spiteri of Texas, who (can you believe?) released their first single, I Don't Want A Lover, 25 years ago. 'It doesn't feel like 25 years. It's still really fresh and new and I'm excited about working with great writers and musicians who are friends more than anything,' Sharleen told us.



Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper is a political heavyweight, who cites her main inspiration as Harriet Harman. 'If you go back 25 years to when Marie Claire first started, there were fewer than 50 women MPS in Parliament. Now there are about three times that many and that's because of the work people like Harriet Harman have done.'



Once the youngest member of the House of Commons, Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson was inspired to enter politics after reading Body Shop founder Anita Roddick's book Business As Usual. 'As a management student, I was really taken by the idea that business can be a force for good,' she said.



'It's no surprise I am where I am,' celebrity make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury told us. 'I've worked bloody hard, If you put the work in and have a vision, you can achieve whatever you want.' Bright young thing Lotten Holmqvist has been mentored by Tilbury for the last three years and clearly has nothing but praise for her icon. 'I've never met a more ambitious woman. Ever.'



Restaurant kitchens are testosterone-filled hothouses, the hours are long and the conditions are harsh. But all that hasn't stopped Michelin star-winner and protégée of Gordon Ramsay Angela Hartnett, MBE, or Lisa Allen, executove chef of the Michelin-starred Northcote Manor, who told us: 'You've got to stand up for yourself. It's only once you've proved you can do the same as them that you get their respect.'



Shockingly, only one in five solo voices on the radio is female. Arguably the most famous of those voices is that of Jo Whiley. Her illustrious 25-year career has seen her interview everyone from Amy Winehouse to Madonna. Following in her footsteps is rising superstar DJ Alice Levine, who last year was picked to present the late-night Radio 1 slot made famous by John Peel.



Having created accessories for everyone from Luella to Victoria Beckham, Katie Hillier's influence on what your handbag looks like has been huge. Her recent appointment as creative director of Marc by Marc Jacobs shows just how powerful she has become.



Hot on the heels of Hillier is rising shoe designr Sophia Webster, whose covetable debut collection has been snapped up by Net-a-Porter.



Founder of Browns boutique Joan Burstein (or Mrs. B, as she's affectionately known) is a trendsetter who counts Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, The Rolling Stones and Diana Ross as loyal customers. She has consistently built on her legendary brand with the introduction of Browns Focus (young designers) in 1997 and Browns Bride in 2004.



Laura Larbalestier is the current buying director at Browns and hopes to have her own boutique one day. 'But I won't be able to use my surname like Mrs. B,' she tells us. 'Larbalestier is a bit of a mouthful.'


See all our icons and read the full interviews in Marie Claire's October 25th birthday issue, on sale now. Got a tablet? You can now download Marie Claire magazine straight to your iPad, Kindle (just search the store for 'marie claire magazine'), Nook or Google Nexus.

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