If there's one thing we love to do here at ELLE (aside from eat an entire box of truffles), it's champion women. From up-and-coming activists to legendary feminist mavericks, a sorry-not-sorry attitude has the power to inspire and galvanise.
One fearless female who continues to fascinate is Gabrielle Chanel. Having a revolutionary effect within the fashion industry, the world-renowned designer remained defiant in the face of setbacks and introduced a new feminine style that is just as covetable today as it was 50 years ago.
"I have chosen the person I wanted to be and am" — Gabrielle Chanel
In celebration of her brilliance, the French house has launched Gabrielle Chanel, a new fragrance dedicated to the iconic couturier. You can try it for yourself at Espace Gabrielle Chanel, an immersive pop-up that runs until 24th September. From a kaleidoscopic tunnel to interactive workshops, Gabrielle's universe has been transported to the heart of London's Mayfair — and you won't want to miss it, trust us.
So are we going to take this opportunity to herald some of our favourite empowered women? Damn right. Get ready to feel inspired...
1. Gloria Steinem
She's been tirelessly fighting for gender equality for more than 50 years, but Gloria Steinem's passion shows no sign of abating. At 82-years-old, the legendary journalist, author and icon of the women's liberation movement continues to help with the good fight.
It was in 1969 that Steinem's essay for New York Magazine, 'After Black Power, Women's Liberation', famously heralded the second wave of feminism, and her magazine Ms. has served as something of a feminist bible.
"Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry" — Gloria Steinem
Today, she still dedicates her time to making sure women everywhere keep their eyes on the prize, passionately co-running a series of organisations such as the Women's Media Centre, which advocates for more women in the media, and Donor Direct Action, which links frontline women activists to funding.
As if that wasn't enough, she takes part in numerous feminist protests around the globe. In January this year, she joined five million women in marching for gender equality and delivered a rousing speech that will no doubt go down in history. In short: bravo!
2. Emma Watson
She first graced our screens as Hogwarts' resident Muggle, Hermoine Grainger, and now Emma Watson is one of our favourite feminist icons.
She's become globally renowned not only for her impressive acting career, but also for her powerful campaigning for gender equality.
As UN Goodwill Ambassador, Watson delivered an impassioned speech, reclaiming the word 'feminism' for the benefit of all and launching a revolutionary #HeForShe campaign. Talk about being wise beyond her 27 years.
That's not to mention Our Shared Shelf, Watson's feminist book club, as well as her friendships with Justin Trudeau and Gloria Steinem – who she invited to an advance screening of Beauty and the Beast for her feminist stamp of approval.
Emma, we applaud you.
3. Patty Jenkins
The director behind Wonder Woman is kicking ass in a man's world and we're all for it. Patty Jenkins's venture into the superhero genre proved the importance of—and need for—women-led films.
The movie, which chronicles the origin of mythical Amazonian warrior Diana is officiallythe first successful superhero movie with a female lead. Wonder Woman exceeded expectations and broke box office records worldwide—it's now the highest grossing domestic superhero origin release ever, and the highest-grossing live-action film directed by a woman.
Naturally, the next step for a film of this breadth is a sequel and Warner Bros. recently confirmed that the second installment will be released in December 2019. Proof that Jenkins truly is a wonder woman.
Beyond that, the long-term financial impact of Wonder Woman's stunning box office success will hopefully mean more films starring women, directed by women, will be coming to a screen near you in the near future.
4. Kristen Stewart
Ever since Kristen Stewart starred as an angsty teenager in Twilight, she's been catapulted to super-stardom and better yet, she's stayed there.
Stewart quickly broke the tween mould and made her own kickass brand of cool, all served up with some sassy side eye. Along the way, she picked up a slew of awards, including the BAFTA Rising Star in 2010 and a César for 'Best Supporting Actress' (making her the first American actress to do so).
Earlier this year, she added more strings to her ever-growing bow by directing a short film titled Water and co-authoring a research paper on artificial intelligence. Yes, really.
Stewart can also take credit for upping the profile of LGBTQ issues. She refuses to be defined by labels, doesn't give a damn what anyone thinks and her openness about sexuality has been an inspiration for many. 2017 has also marked a new politically engaged stage in her life and she fearlessly used the SNL stage to hit back at Donald Trump's slut-shaming tweets.
The 27-year-old's compelling badass persona makes her the ultimate ELLE cover girl — as well as Chanel's long-standing ambassador. You can currently see her breaking out of a gauzy cocoon and running full-steam into a wall of Gabrielle Chanel bottles for the House's latest fragrance film. All the while, Beyoncé's ballad 'Runnin'' makes for an empowering soundtrack.
Can you think of anyone better to epitomise Gabrielle Chanel's rebel-at-heart attitude? Nope, us neither.
5. Malala Yousafzai
From being shot for going to school to becoming the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai is a pure inspiration, and a force to be reckoned with.
Growing up in a briefly Taliban-ruled area in Pakistan, Malala was not allowed to go to school. She was gaining prominence worldwide for speaking out against the regime when a member of the Taliban attempted to kill her in 2012.
"We realise the importance of our voices only when we are silenced" — Malala Yousafzai
Thankfully, Malala survived and the murder attempt, that was an attack on her life and voice, only amplified her message. Since then, the fearless activist has set up Malala's Fund and sold 1.8 million copies worldwide of her autobiography, I Am Malala.
She has vowed to not stop fighting until all children go to school, and, on top of that, she's just got a conditional offer for PPE at Oxford University. Not bad for a 20-year-old.
6. Priyanka Chopra
Not satisfied with conquering Bollywood, Priyanka Chopra is the 35-year-old star and previous Miss World winner who upped sticks and headed for Hollywood.
Since her 2015 move, Chopra has gained worldwide fame (though she was already a household name in India), starring in the ABC show Quantico, which made her the first South Asian to headline an American network series.
2017 saw her make her silver screen debut in Baywatch—no biggie—and instead of simply being in front of the camera, she's begun producing too. Earlier this month, Chopra screened her film Pahuna: The Little Visitors, at the Toronto International Film Festival and used the opportunity to talk about issues close to her heart, including gender equality.
After two years in the international eye, she has been named the second most beautiful woman in the world (first place went to Beyoncé, naturally) and became a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador because of her relentless work for her charity, 'The Priyanka Chopra Foundation for Health and Education', which she donates 10 percent of her earnings to.
Is there anything this woman can't do?
Celebrate fearless females and discover the Gabrielle Chanel fragrance at Chanel's pop-up space at 27 Old Bond Street, London. ESPACE GABRIELLE CHANEL is open from 8th—24th September with no booking required. Visit www.espacegabriellechanel.co.uk for more information.
Join Sophie Beresiner, ELLE's Beauty Director, at ESPACE GABRIELLE CHANEL on 20th September from 4—5pm or 5—6pm for an exclusive interactive workshop. Session spaces are limited — book your place here.