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Clockwise from top left, Laura Bailey; Daniel Marks; Julian Vogel; Jasmine Hemsley; Cameron Attfield; Mimi Xu; Dominic Harris; Clara Amfo; Joséphine De La Baume

IDOL Talk

What – and who – is a true icon? We asked some of our favourite creatives.

Laura Bailey
Writer & model

“An icon is a barometer of our time. Patti Smith is the first person who comes to mind ­– as an artist and as an activist, I’m drawn to her music, her storytelling and her rebel heart. My most iconic fashion piece is a Chanel little black jacket; it was a present from Karl Lagerfield, and I’ve had it for nearly 20 years. It’s the most precious thing in my wardrobe by far.”

Daniel Marks
CCO of The Communications Store

“Donatella Versace would win the prize for my ultimate icon. In our 25-year history of working together, one of the most incredible moments was the Spring/Summer 2018 runway, where – as a tribute to her brother Gianni on the 20th anniversary of his passing – the ‘90s supermodels walked the runway to ‘Freedom! ‘90’ by George Michael, all dressed in gold. Iconic moments in fashion don’t happen very often; it was a huge honour to be there.”

Julian Vogel
CEO of communications agency ModusBCPM

“An individual’s icon status isn’t always immediately apparent. For me, it’s easier to think about icons of the past than those of the modern day. In fashion, there’s Yves Saint Laurent; in hairdressing; there’s Vidal Sassoon – whom I was lucky enough to work with.”

Jasmine Hemsley
Cookbook author & wellness expert  

“An icon represents a particular moment. For example, I’ve only ever bought one perfume: Géranium Pour Monsieur by Frédérie Malle. Just one sniff transports me to a certain period of my life, and memories come flooding back.”

Cameron Attfield
World Class GB Bartender of the year 2019

“True icons crave neither attention nor adoration – it’s what they do and how they do it that makes them iconic. Years ago, cocktails were something of a gimmick, but with time, innovators have pushed boundaries to drive their craft forward. Without minds like these, we bartenders would still be asked: ‘What’s your real job?’”

Mimi Xu
Sound artist & music director

“To be an icon is to be completely unique. It’s to have a left-field way of thinking that will leave trace in history. David Bowie is someone who knew how to reinvent himself; he was a performer, he was theatrical. His legacy remains incomparable. Like him, I have a Fender guitar – a bass, which was what I learned to play on. It’s an iconic object for many, including me.”

Dominic Harris
Interactive artist

“For me, an icon is someone who inspires us and elevates our appreciation of the world around us. What artist Olafur Eliasson has done is incredible. His work deals with human emotion, condition and experience. To me, he is the icon.”

Clara Amfo
BBC Radio 1 presenter

“Grace Jones, Prince, Siouxsie Sioux; these are the icons I look up to. They are absolutely, authentically and unapologetically themselves. Their devil-may-care attitude is iconic behaviour.”

Joséphine De La Baume
Actress, singer, film director & model

“An icon is an object of fantasy. It’s someone we dream about. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Lauren Bacall. She was so androgynous and elegant – a force of nature, who carried herself like a man but had the emotional intelligence of a woman.”