June 14, 2011

Influencers of Our Time

Designers and artists have always been recognized as the cultural shakers of society. Whether it is through a song, a garment, or a photograph, creative talents all over the world have made lasting impressions, providing a memorabilia of the past, or igniting change for a better future.

Today, we highlight several visionaries whom we believe are history makers of our generation. Although their skills, passions, and backgrounds may vary, each individual featured below have all worked extremely hard, fully committed to their beliefs. Whether you love them or hate them, it's more than likely that you know their name. And while we can think of a dozen more to highlight, this is just a small handful of people currently in the spotlight. So in no particular order, here is what made the list.

photo via: Yahoo.com

1. Steve Jobs
Apple Inc CEO, Steve Jobs plays a big role in revolutionizing the digital future of which we already live in today. And just when you think that Apple has done enough, they do it again. At this year's annual Worldwide Developer's Conference, Jobs unveiled the Apple's iCloud and an updated version of the Mac OS X Lion. Changing the way we experience the Internet, the iCloud is a unique tool that not only stores data, but also offers a music service, and syncs information from one source to the next. The Mac OS X Lion also has 250 new features, with innovative multi-touch gestures using powerful hardware.

photo via: NY Times

2. Lady Gaga
"Pop singer" is too small of a description to describe Miss Stefani Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga. More than just a world-wide music sensation, Lady Gaga is one of the leading cultural icons of today. With her multimillion-selling albums, 10 million twitter fans, innumerable accounts of front page fashion choices, and dozens of side projects, Lady Gaga is far from the type of woman who disappears into the crowd.

But what is most respectable about her is that she is defiantly self-driven with a killer work ethic. Unlike many other singers today, Lady Gaga is known for never lip-syncing, and always 100 percent in charge of everything that she does, whether it's writing songs, choosing outfits, or directing performances. At age 25, Lady Gaga seems to show an extremely unordinary sense of self confidence, achieving far beyond what many have only dreamed of.

photo via: Dazed Digital

3. Kwok Mang-ho
A performance artist based out of Hong Kong, Kwok Mang-ho is often named the most eccentric and unconvential of his country. In his 30 year career, he has produced a wide number of performances, sculptures, paintings and installations. Pioneering the experimental art movement, he was the only one of his kind creating new forms of self-expression in the '70s and '80s, while the rest of Asia was more focused on realist traditions. Through his work, which he calls "Frogtopia," he hopes to create a cross-cultural bridge to join the East and the West. 

The Hong Kong Pavillion at the Venice Biennale celebrates his work, featuring his high-density living environments made out of unconventional objects, reflecting the contradictions and consumer society of Hong Kong. 

photo via: NY Mag

4. Carine Roitfeld
One of the most powerful figures in the fashion industry, Carine Roitfeld is widely acknowledged as the definition of cool. A former stylist and late editor-in-chief of French Vogue, Ms. Roitfeld holds a "cult status as the queen of the 'French Vogue look.'" Unlike most editors, Roitfeld is more interested in art than business, known for racy, sometimes controversial campaigns, completely opposite of what commercial money-making glossies are looking for.

In a recent lunch interview with Financial Times, Roitfeld comments how fashion shows today are less fun than how it was 10 years ago. With so much money involved, she notes, "...the designer has to produce a great show that will sell clothes but also keep the name of the brand high to sell the perfumes. Sometimes you can really feel the business behind the fashion show." Although Roitfeld left her position at Vogue awhile ago, she is busy collaborating with Barneys on its autumn campaign, including its catalogue and window displays. As Barneys New York Creative Director Dennis Freedman quotes, "Carine is a one of a kind talent. She is both a muse and an inspiration. She has extraordinary individual style and infectious passion."

photo via: Telegraph

5. Kanye West

Love him or hate him, Kanye West is always making headlines. And while we aren't always proud of some of his choices, such as his remarks at the MTV Video Music Awards, we have to give him credit for never giving up. A self-proclaimed fashion enthusiast, besides music, Kanye West's other love lies in fashion. "King of the front row," Kanye West has been spotted in some of the most renowned Parisian design houses, possibly gathering inspiration for his upcoming men and women high-end collection.

With a studio already set in Paris, West is currently at work in revisiting his career in making clothes. In 2009, he took on an internship at Fendi, and designed a range of trainers for Louis Vuitton. And although his "Pastelle" fashion line in 2009 was announced but never released, Kanye West is taking a stab in fashion one more time, and hopefully it's something worth noticing.

photo via: Met Museum

6. Alexander McQueen

In his nineteen year career, Alexander McQueen dedicated every minute to his collections. A master of conceptualizing culture, politics, and identity through clothing, McQueen will forever be remembered as a fashion genius. A close friend of fashion icon Daphne Guiness, McQueen attracted more muses than any other designer. Perfecting the balance of beauty, life, and death, his clothing is often regarded as a work of art. An expert craftsman, artist, and a true master mind, McQueen has left a legacy that could never be replaced. Entitled "Savage Beauty," an extensive collection of his work is currently on display at the MET.

photo via: NY Times

7. Guy Laliberté
Co-founder and owner of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté is one of the most powerful and influential men in the entertainment industry. With humble beginnings as an accordian-playing street performer, today Laliberté currently manages 22 productions all over the globe, reaching all continents except Antarctica, with revenues expected to reach over $1 billion by next year.

And although his career is inspiring, Laliberté is also the founder One Drop, a foundation dedicated to raising awareness on water-related issues. With a mission to provide safe drinking water all around the world, the foundation organizes projects in dozens of countries in partnership with Cirque du Soleil. Laliberté is also one of the very few lucky people who was able to travel around the world, and his photographs from space will be displayed and sold to raise money for his foundation.


  1. Fantastic article, would love to re-post on Hall Five

  2. Vanina HandjiyskJune 15, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    Excellent article! Thanks for sharing it :)

  3. I certainly think that celebrity has become a key aspect towards cultural significance. The ability to successfully market one's image and the focus on making people into a brand, a commodity, an enterprise is the fuel propelling their success. The ones on your list are not only talented, they control and craft an image of heightened visual creativity to ensure we see their greatness i large terms made intimate with the technology we have today.

    Anyone else want to add to this discussion? i'm curious on your interpretation of this subject matter.

    Unrelated, my blog:

  4. This is a very informative article. It is definitely important to be informed of who in our time in our society is making an influential impact and how it effects us as individuals.


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