Recently, I’ve been focusing a lot on current style icons who have undeniably defined each era we’ve grown up with. So this week, I decided to throw a curveball and instead, take you back into time to introduce you to someone whom most of the world has forgotten, but was nevertheless just as (perhaps even more) influential to your wardrobe and fashion savvy as Madonna. Even if you haven’t heard of her before… Meet Marlene Dietrich.

Dietrich, born 1901, was a German-born American actress and singer who remained popular throughout her 65-year-career. Most say she was great at what she did – she’s even been proclaimed as the “greatest female star of all time” several times. 

But I’m going to put it out there and say that her success spurred from her breaking all the boundaries laid out for women in the 20’s and 30’s by constantly re-inventing herself. I’m also going to put it even further out there and say that she may very well be the reason we’re able to wear masculine garb today.

Dietrich famously donned mens suits in an era that called it ludicrous. 

In fact, if you were looking to give thanks to the person responsible for today’s structured high shoulder and tuxedo detailing from the likes of Balmain, Rouland Mouret and Calvin Klein, look no further. Dietrich started the trend back in 1920. 

Though you probably wouldn’t spot her name on a newspaper headline these days, Dietrich remains incredibly relevant to fashion as we know it today. She also remains a muse to top designers and an inspiration to fashionistas.

She once famously said, “I dress for myself. Not for the image, not for the public, not for the fashion, not for men.” During a time when the Hollywood starlet was all of prominence, it’s amazing how her nonchalant public image redefined the 20’s and 30’s altogether, placing sexuality, androgyny and fetishism on the forefront.

Here are some of the ways in which Dietrich still continues to influence fashion today:

AW 2009 looks for D&G, Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent, Chloe and Chanel

Christian Dior

Kate Moss for Vanity Fair

A project by famed photographer Giuliano Bekor.

So what do you think of Marlene Dietrich? P.S. Hold your tongues until you’ve seen this video please – I was obsessed with it while writing this post!

[Photo Credits: pacotraver, coolchaser, renatabatata, guardian, meaus, mimifroufrou, theglamourai, rohan, vanityca5e, thebroadroom, maddie-hayes, altfg, decodiamonds, alothmanblog, vintageclothing, stylehop, thefoodinista, seraphicpress, popieces, greetzfromtiz, nydailynews, urbanjane, bangkokpost]