This Women’s Day we celebrate the women in the world of fashion and beauty who inspire us every day. From pioneers, creatives, and icons to brilliant entrepreneurs. These style mavens have flung the doors wide for the modern female sophisticate who wants to control her own destiny.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. We just ran out of word-space! We decided to start by looking back to learn from the women who paved incredible paths that remain a source of admiration and inspiration to us today.

I think we have a really interesting mix of women here, including a little known South African locally, despite her prominence in New York. So, read on and be inspired to get out there and do your thing!

But first, enter our stunning giveaway…



The women we mention below have had a big impact on the fashion and beauty industry and the world. We’d love to know who inspires you, our reader. Kirsten Goss, is one of the leading jewellery designers in SA and an inspirational woman herself. She has kindly offered to give away a pair of her beautiful onion earrings worth R1290 this women’s month.

Here’s how to enter:
1. Follow Kirsten Goss on Instagram, click here to visit her profile

2. Follow Equilibrio on Instagram, click here to visit our profile 

3. Go to COMMENTS SECTION below this post and tell us who the most inspirational woman is in your life. Also give a very short explanation why.

And you’re entered!
The first prize is a pair on Kirsten Goss Onion earrings in the colour of your choice (gold, rose gold or silver). The runner up will win a stunning Votivo fragrancing hamper.

Winners will be announced on 31 August 2018.


Inspirational women in fashion and beauty


Pioneering Hair-Care Entrepreneur


Born Sarah Breedlove, Madame Walker created a line of specialised hair-care products for African-American women. She is said to be the first female self-made millionaire in America! Madame Walker quite literally, defines the “rags-to-riches” tale of success.

I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. From there I was promoted to the washtub. From there I was promoted to the cook kitchen. And from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations….I have built my own factory on my own ground.”



Avant-Gardiste Business Women and Iconic Designer


One of the earliest female entrepreneurs in fashion, Jeanne Lanvin, opened a millinery house in 1889. Later inspired by her daughter, Lanvin began creating lavish dresses for little girls. Very soon, Lanvin was making dressed for their mothers. By the 1920s, her line expanded into sportswear, furs, home décor, lingerie, menswear, swimwear and fragrance, making Lanvin the first designer to see the potential of a lifestyle brand.



Founder of a Global Cosmetics Empire


Rubinstein formed one of the world’s first cosmetic companies. Her business enterprise proved immensely successful and, later in life, she used her enormous wealth to support charitable enterprises in the field of education, art and health. “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.”



Designer and cool chick


The ultimate classic designer, Coco Chanel defined the notion of investing in staples that would last a lifetime. The little black dress. The tweed jacket. The statement cocktail necklace. Perhaps her most notable contribution though was freeing women from historically, restrictive clothing. Chanel introduced jersey fabric, typically reserved for underwear, throughout her collection and was also one of the first fashion designers to create boxy, shorter pieces that were easier for women to move about in. She elegantly crafted a bridge between style and practicality for the modern women.

Her design credo was so wonderfully simple: “Fashion fades; only style remains the same.”



Innovative Couturier


Elsa Schiaparelli was an Italian fashion designer. Along with Coco Chanel, her greatest rival, she is regarded as one of the most prominent figures in fashion between the two World Wars. Schiaparelli’s signature hand-knit trompe l’oeil sweater began her career in fashion in 1927. It was an instant best-seller and defined her style: high-end, well-fitting pieces with a twist of the unexpected. She was the first to use zippers as a visible statement piece. Her unique style landed her a cover for TIME magazine, the first female fashion designer to ever earn the honour.



Mother of the Modern Bra and Publisher


Caresse Crosby, born Mary Phelps Jacob, patented the first modern bra in 1914. She was also a publisher who published some of the early works of many authors who would later become famous, among them Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, and Charles Bukowski. We have so much to thank her for! She led a superbly fascinating life culminating in her purchasing and living in a 15th-century castle north of Rome until her death.



Cosmetics Pioneer and Business Genius


Inspired by her chemist uncle, Queens-born Estée Lauder began working with him to mix lotions and skin products. In 1946, she co-founded her eponymous cosmetics company with her husband, Joseph Lauter. In 1953, she created her first fragrance, Youth Dew. Unlike the popular French perfumes at the time, it was a bath oil and perfume all-in-one. Along with her other products, it became an instant success, establishing her relevance in fashion. Lauder was the only woman on Time magazine’s 1998 list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century. She once said, “I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard.”

Inspirational women of fashion and beauty


Fashion Designer and Icon

Born 1946

Once married to a German prince, DVF is one of the most powerful women in the fashion industry today. Her knitted jersey wrap dresses made waves in the international fashion world when they first launched in 1974. Many declared DVF’s success as revolutionary as Coco Chanel’s creation of the little black dress. Since then, she has continued to grow her brand on a global level where her it is available in over 70 countries with 45 free-standing shops worldwide.



Billionaire Fashion Designer and Businesswoman

Born 1949

In 1978, as the youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada, Miuccia took over the company’s esteemed leatherworking brand and started its transformation into a modern fashion powerhouse. With the help of her future husband, Patrizio Bertelli, Prada began updating the company’s merchandise with designs she’d developed herself. Prada began gaining popularity in 1985, when she unveiled a series of black nylon handbags and backpacks with understated labeling—a stark contrast to the logo heavy clothes that dominated the fashion world at the time. Four years later, Prada, who has no formal fashion training, introduced a line of ready-to-wear women’s clothes. In 1992, she introduced a new, more affordable label called Miu Miu. Three years later, the company unveiled a line of men’s clothing. The company has continued it’s stellar upward trajectory and in 2014, she was listed as the 75th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.



Nail Polish Revolutionary and Style Maven

Born 1949

In 1981, Essie Weingarten took 640 pounds worth of her namesake nail polish to Las Vegas. She left samples of her 12 original colors in the most luxurious casino hotels and salons, and within 10 days everyone called her back to place an order. Word spread around the world, and Essie was a major hit. Her complex approach to color, including vibrant shades, nudes, and metallics, expanded new possibilities beyond the traditional nude nail.

And that’s what’s it is about — inspiring other women who would love to do something, but never had the guts to do it. Go for it, baby.”



Journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Vogue since 1988

Born 1949

As Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, Anna Wintour transformed the magazine into a cultural phenomenon. She popularized high fashion for a new generation of women when she was brought in as editor in 1987—her first cover pictured a carefree pregnant woman mixing high and low fashion with lots of costume jewellery. Wintour shifted the whole culture of fashion into something young women were inspired by, making Vogue a mainstay for a new demographic. Her focus has always been on fashion as a lifestyle.



Journalist and Editor-In-Chief of Vogue Italia


Franca Sozzani was the groundbreaking editor of Vogue Italia. As a huge supporter of the democratization of fashion, she regularly styled fast fashion with luxury on her pages. She was also instrumental in supporting all ethnicities and sizes when it comes to models. Sozzani featured multiple plus-sized models on covers, devoted an entire issue to all-black models and an issue of L’Uomo Vogue to African culture.

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Writer and Critic


The influential South-African writer created an intersection of fashion, art, and culture that still exists in popular publications today. As the editor of Artforum, she featured a model in a bodysuit by Issey Miyake on the cover in 1982. She began writing for The New Yorker on fashion and photography before becoming Editor-in-Chief of Interview. Until her recent death, she worked as a Contributing Editor of Vanity Fair, merging some of her trademark topics together with celebrity culture, and interviewing everyone from Madonna to John Galliano.



Cofounders of Clique Media Group/Who What Wear and Media Empire Builders

Both born 1980

When Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power founded Who What Wear in 2006, they began with one post a day related to celebrity fashion news. While other blogs centred on personal style or street shots, Who What Wear provided all the details when it came to what Nicole Richie or Kate Moss were wearing. Kerr and Power seamlessly mixed editorial and shopping content before many other blogs and websites, and continue to publish celebrity-based fashion content today. Read more about how this power duo built a Media Empire from a fashion website here.




(RELATED POST: What every woman needs on Women’s Day)



Comments (10)

  1. Cirsten Van Den Heuvel

    My mother is my inspiration and motivation
    I love my mom because no matter what she goes through she comes out stronger no matter how bad things turn up in her life she’s got away to pick herself up again and get through it. She brings comfort when there’s sadness, she brings joy where you feel there’s no hope. She’s always there one step away. She sacrifices everything for her children and expects nothing in exchange for the loves that she gives. She’s eternal, a angel a gift from God.
    I love my mom because no matter what she goes through she comes out stronger no matter how bad things turn up in her life she’s got away to pick herself up again and get through it. She brings comfort when there’s sadness, she brings joy where you feel there’s no hope. She’s always there one step away. She sacrifices everything for her children and expects nothing in exchange for the loves that she gives. She’s eternal, a angel a gift from God.

    • Michelle Doyle

      Awesome Cirsten! Your mom sounds like an amazing lady.

  2. Lisa Tarr

    My sister
    shes accomplished so much on the “road less traveled” I am so inspired by her and proud of her!

    • Michelle Doyle

      Thanks for sharing Lisa!

  3. Thea lennox

    My best friend for more than.38
    .years. whos.looking after.her sister’s kids she looked after her parents until they passed away best m, grandmom and [email protected]

  4. Brenda Fernandes

    My mother is my inspiration she has passed in 2006 but I still speak to her when I don’t know what to do .
    She had the following traits which I try to emulate
    Highly Intelligent
    Well mannered
    Never fought or was rude
    Calming effect on people with her awesome radiating positive energy
    She epitomized the art of being a true woman

    • Michelle Doyle

      Thanks for sharing Brenda

  5. Nicole Naicker

    Definitely my mom ,she is a struggle icon,being a single parent at ayoung age and working really hard to support her kids,she is a upstanding,kind ,caring and understanding lady who never ceases to amaze me with her unselfish acts

  6. Janel Sunderlall

    The most inspirational woman in my life is my mum. Shr taught me to love myself, to be confident and to dream big as i would be able to accomplish anything i desire. She taught to that i should push the boundaries and treat people with respect and courtesy as we are all one. My mum has been my moral compass. I didn’t need to look to any other woman for inspiration as i had my mum with me inspiring me everyday.

  7. Brenda Fernandes

    My friend Judith she is a hospice nurse fighting her own battle with cancer for the 2nd time ..she has used up all her annual and sick leave but still goes to work with a smile and uplifts and assists her patients .I admire her tremendously

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