From classic Hollywood icons who empowered generations of women through the silver screen, to brave and bonafide activists fighting on the frontlines for female rights, join me in celebrating these 10 famous feminists, a glimpse into their roles in combatting the patriarchy, and how they set the gold standard for head scarf fashion while doing it!
One of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century, Frida Kahlo has gone down in history for her powerful and deeply personal self-portraits, as well as for her truly unique and expressive sense of style.
Scarves were a significant part of Kahlo's fashion statements. They were often worn as headpieces, wrapped into turbans and braided throughout her hair. These scarves beautifully complemented Kahlo's traditional heavily adorned Mexican wardrobe, serving as a symbol of her deep connection to her heritage and a bright reflection of her strong sense of self.
Frida Kahlo's headscarves became an essential part of her visual identity, as they added to her mystique and unique appearance. They also contributed to her feminist and nationalist image, as she used her style to express her cultural pride and to challenge traditional gender norms of the time.
While irrelevant to scarf fashion, it can't go unmentioned that this feminist icon was also a proud member of the disabled community. Much of her painting was filled with intimate reflections on her struggles with her body and chronic pain. Two of her most famous pieces, in fact, are a painted body cast and prosthetic leg, both of which were worn by Frida.
When classic Hollywood headscarf looks come to mind, it's likely you'll conjure visions the of Grace Kelly's timeless style.
Kelly, also known as Princess Grace of Monaco after her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco, was an American actress and fashion icon of the 1950s. During her Hollywood career, Kelly portrayed strong and intelligent female characters. She was known for her sophistication, poise, and intelligence, which stood in stark contrast to the typical female stereotypes prevalent in Hollywood during that era.
Grace Kelly popularized the use of silk scarves as a chic and versatile accessory for looks both casual and formal. Be it tied sweetly around her neck, draped expertly as a headscarf, or even folded into a stylish belt, Kelly's ability to effortlessly incorporate silk scarves into her ensembles added an air of sophistication and glamour to her looks- and continues to inspire fashion elevation to this day.
Singer and Civil Rights Activist
Nina Simone, born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights and gender equality activist. She was a highly influential figure in the world of jazz, soul, and blues music.
Throughout her legendary career, Simone not only made significant contributions to music but also earned a reputation for her distinctive style - which of course included her unforgettable headscarf fashion.
Nina Simone often wore headscarves both on and off the stage. Her headscarf style reflected a sense of elegance, sophistication, and most impactfully, cultural pride. She utilized her headscarves as a means of expressing her African heritage and boldly celebrating her identity as a Black woman.
Singer and Entrepreneur
Recognized globally as of the most influential and successful artists in the music industry, Barbadian singer, actress, and entrepreneur Rihanna has also made a significant impact in the world of fashion, in both her inclusive intimate apparel brand Savage x Fenty and in her own personal aesthetic.
When it comes to headscarf style, Rihanna settles for nothing short of statement looks. From chic turbans to attention grabbing head wraps, she effortlessly elevates every outfit. Rihanna's headscarf style showcases her creativity and fearlessness in experimenting with different looks, making each appearance a headline worthy fashion moment.
Hip Hop Artist
Celebrated for his eclectic sense of style, hip hop artist A$AP Rocky has grown to be a fairly prominent figure in the fashion world.
Unconcerned with tired style rules and gender expectations, Rocky's fashion and scarf style are barrier breaking. One particular look red carpet look from 2019 has garnered an excess of media attention, and for good reason. This particular look, one topped off with a snake print Gucci head scarf worn Babushka style, made headlines left and right.
This scarf style, one that is typically expected to be worn by a grandmother, sent a strong message when worn by a rather masculine, cis, and heterosexual Black male. Making such a statement is unsurprising coming from Rocky, as he is often seen throwing his middle finger to toxic masculinity- in both his fashion and in his public relationship (and fatherhood) with famous partner, Rihanna (see their sensational 2022 British Vogue cover for context, where he gently nurtures their young child in the background of the shot while Rihanna confidently take the lead).
Hollywood Actress and Human Rights Activist
Throughout her career and personal life, Audrey Hepburn showed a commitment to empowering women and challenging traditional gender roles. She broke barriers as an actress by portraying strong and independent female characters who defied conventional stereotypes.
As far as her style is concerned, silk scarves were an integral part of Hepburn's signature look. Her scarf style exuded elegance, sophistication, and a touch of playfulness, perfectly complementing her classic and timeless fashion choices.
Ironically, though she is remembered largely for her style and beauty, Hepburn was an active humanitarian who always emphasized the importance of inner beauty, kindness, and self-confidence over superficial appearances.
Women's Rights Activist
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and women's rights.
Through her advocacy and bravery in speaking out against the Taliban's repressive restrictions on education for girls in her hometown of Mingora, Swat Valley, Pakistan, Yousafzia has gained global recognition.
Yousafzai's simple and elegant headscarf, known traditionally as a hijab, is an essential part of her identity and cultural heritage as a Muslim woman. She chooses to wear the headscarf as a personal expression of her faith and as a symbol of modesty and respect in accordance with her religious beliefs. Yousafzia can be found pairing her hijab with both customary Pakistani outfits as well as modern western clothing.
Yousafzai's unwavering commitment to empowering women, even in the face of life threatening circumstances, has procured her numerous awards and honors, including the prestigious 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Through her actions and leadership, Yousafzai has become a symbol of courage, resilience, and the undeniably transformative power of education for girls and women globally.
Singer and Music Producer
Ever vocal about the societal pressures faced by women (note her 2016 No Makeup Movement), singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer Alicia Keys incorporates head scarf styles into her wardrobe regularly.
Alicia Keys is known for embracing a natural and comfortable look that often includes wearing headscarves. Her head scarf style reflects her commitment to self-expression and breaking away from societal beauty norms. This style not only exudes a sense of confidence and grace but also serves as a powerful symbol of embracing cultural diversity and promoting individuality. By choosing to wear headscarves, Alicia Keys emphasizes the beauty of self-acceptance and encourages women to embrace their natural beauty, free from societal expectations.
Yuna is a Malaysian singer-songwriter who gained international recognition for her evocative blend of pop, R&B, and soul music.
Known not only for her captivating voice, Yuna has become revered for her distinctive and empowering headscarf fashion. As a Muslim woman, she embraces her faith and cultural identity by wearing the hijab (headscarf) as part of her everyday style.
Through her music and fashion choices, Yuna has become a symbol for Muslim women, breaking stereotypes and inspiring others to embrace their identity and style unapologetically.
Another of the most prominent artists of the 20th century, Georgia O'Keeffe was known for her groundbreaking contributions to modern art, particularly her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes. These painting, most specifically those of flowers, are often interpreted as a celebration of female sexuality.
O'Keeffe dressed with a distinct personal style, often comfortable and practical garments in flowing silhouettes and neutral colors schemes. This minimalist and monochromatic approach to fashion well complimented her artwork. O'Keeffe's head scarf styles also fit this theme, normally solid colors of textile wrapped across her forehead and tied in the back to let its long ends hang loose.