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Jackie Kennedy Onassis

In an age when the word is grossly overused, they remain icons: Elegance embodied, high fashion at the dawn of the television era, with charmed lives and striking beauty.

Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis still hold sway over today’s tastemakers; their names are shorthand for the looks at the root of modern style, many years after their respective deaths.

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Grace Kelly

One of the world’s most coveted handbags — the Hermès Kelly bag — is named after Grace Kelly, and has become a symbol of understated, ladylike luxury. When Jackie was a Kennedy, she popularized the pillbox hat and skirt suits. When she was an Onassis, it was the glamorous oversized dark sunglasses worn with yacht-appropriate attire. The pearls and black dress that so many women use as their cocktail party uniform, that’s all Audrey. It was in Breakfast At Tiffany’s that Hepburn also wore black plastic Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses, ushering in a new look of eyewear that had largely relied on thin metallic frames until then.

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Audrey Hepburn

"They are the triumvirate," designer Michael Kors declares. "All three of these women were about clean, sharp lines so you notice the woman first. And they’re very archetypal types: If you’re fine-boned, you see Audrey Hepburn and say, ‘That works for me.’ If you’re sporty and angular, you see yourself in Jackie Kennedy, and for patrician and classic, you automatically think of Grace Kelly." Fame, especially with the growth of TV, let Grace, Jackie and Audrey have a worldwide audience, and they all made fashion approachable, so it didn’t seem like an only-for-insiders pursuit, Kors says.

"People look up to them and people think of them as glamorous," says designer Tommy Hilfiger, who wrote the forward to the new book Grace Kelly: A Life In Pictures" (Pavilion) and helped choose the cover photo. "The glam factor is important in this world of entertainment, fashion and style — it still makes them exciting after all those years."

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