It would be an understatement that 2016 was an eventful year. In the United States, we saw one of the closest races in recent history between the Democratic and Republican parties; more diverse models hit the runways in many high-profile shows; body positivity messages were prevalent in messages across social media; the Prime Minister of Canada continued his reign as a media darling; and much more.
At FAJO, we did our best to sift through all the news and hype to pick our most influential and newsworthy women this year.
1. Michelle Obama
The exiting First Lady of the United States has had a constant, strong, smiling presence beside President Barack Obama. Over the past eight years, she has shown grace and poise from political rallies and White House dinners, to even appearing on popular TV shows like Parks and Recreation as herself in 2014.
Making history as one of the most educated First Ladies of the United States, she also broke boundaries in her fashion choices with bold colours, classic styles and understated beauty. Let’s just say she leaves some pretty big shoes to fill.
2. Lady Gaga
At just 30, Lady Gaga has reinvented herself once again in 2016, surprising fans and critics alike. From her ground breaking and award-winning role in the American Horror Story franchise (as a tragic vampiric creature in Hotel and an ancient spirit in Roanoke), to releasing her fifth studio album Joanne, eventually topping the nation’s charts, it has been a great year professionally for Gaga. She also campaigned for Hilary Clinton and settled her (supposed) feud with Madonna, praising her for her work in the music industry.
Though as much as her professional life soared, her personal life was not out of the tabloids. Breaking up with long-time beau Taylor Kinney of Chicago Fire fame, and admitting she suffers PTSD to the world (caused by a a sexual assault she suffered in her 20s), this has been a very emotional year for her.
3. Felicity Jones
The pint-sized actress seemed to be in a movie every month this year. She starred in Inferno, opposite Tom Hanks in the latest Dan Brown thriller, as well as portrayed a dying mother in A Monster Calls, a film based on the bestselling children’s novel by Patrick Ness, which shows a boy coping with his mother’s cancer and imminent death.
After men stole the show in sci-fi for decades, Jones starred in the latest instalment of the Star Wars saga, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Without giving too much away, her character is fierce, loyal and steadfast in her mission, giving little girls and boys everywhere another strong female character to look up to. At only 5’3”, she stands her ground against the other cast members, portraying both vulnerability and strength.
Since receiving critical acclaim for best actress in A Theory of Everything, Jones’ career has continued to grow, with diverse subjects and choices. Who knows what she will pick next?
4. Margot Robbie
With an infectious attitude and a hard to miss million-dollar smile, Margot Robbie continued to shine in 2016. She starred in multiple films, including her portrayal of a sassy British journalist in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot opposite Tina Fey; an earthy and gutsy performance as Jane Porter opposite Alexander Skarsgard in The Legend of Tarzan; and her most famous (or infamous) turn as the scene-stealing Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, becoming a clear standout in a stacked cast, which included Viola Davis, Jared Leto and Will Smith.
Robbie also became the face of Deep Euphoria of Calvin Klein and hosted Saturday Night Live. Her outfit choices on the Red Carpet continue to turn heads, with deep Vs, cut outs and curve-hugging looks. Her personal life continued to soar in 2016 too, tying the knot with her boyfriend, Tom Ackerley, in a secret, low-key wedding in Australia.
5. Meghan Markle
One of the newest faces on our list is Meghan Markle. Best known for her role as Rachel Zane on Suits, a character she has portrayed since 2011, she has also appeared on many other shows, including CSI: NY, Fringe and 90210.
She not only released a clothing line in partnership with Reitman’s Canada in fall 2016, but has also taken strides in her humanitarian work, becoming the Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada.
Markle has also become the latest love interest of the royal bad boy, Prince Harry. It will be interesting if she will become a force in the fashion world like Princess Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in the near future. Her Instagram feed and the fashion choices showcased on it are absolutely fabulous!
What can we say about Beyoncé? A runner-up for Time’s Person of the Year in 2016, Beyoncé continued her world dominance once again and started 2016 with a bang with her performance of Formation at the NFL Superbowl 50 Halftime Show. She dominated with her World Formation Tour (which was nominated as one of the best world tours of the year).
After releasing her sixth album Lemonade, fans waited a week until she stunned the world with a one-hour film on HBO. A total surprise, the song contents spurred rumours of a break-up and cheating scandal between he rand Jay Z. Simply letting the rumours fly about “Becky with the good hair”, Beyoncé continued to collect awards and nominations.
Still, from her jaw-dropping and curve-hugging dress at the Met Gala, to the gorgeous yellow frock worn in Lemonade, Beyoncé continues to slay and dominate both the fashion, music and business worlds, with an estimated net worth of $265 million. A Queen she is. A Queen she will always be.
7. Hilary Clinton
The Democratic leader and President-hopeful stood her ground in the one of the most close presidential races to date in the United States.
Becoming known for her powersuits and many outfits by renowned designers, such as Armani, she was, perhaps, the strongest, toughest woman of the year.
8. Alicia Vikander
Alicia Vikander continues her reign on the silver screen with her last two films, starring opposite Matt Damon in the latest installment of the Jason Bourne series and opposite her real-life partner Michael Fassbender in The Light Between Oceans, based on the novel of the same name.
Bringing a different style to the Red Carpets, Vikander’s unorthodox style is European, colourful and interesting. She does always make an impression, and with two more films set for 2017, you can expect to see Alicia in a theatre near you.
9. Taylor Swift
Let’s face it, Taylor Swift has often displayed her personal life out on social media and in the news, and this year was no different. Taylor made headlines for both her picture-perfect romance with DJ Calvin Harris, and its inevitable demise. Her subsequent short fling with Tom Hiddleston also made headlines, leaving many to speculate about the age difference and when the relationship officially started.
Swift continued to rub elbows with other famous blondes, cementing her friendship with Blake Lively, even borrowing Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool costume for her annual Halloween party. Named one of Forbes’ 100 highest-paid celebrities, her net worth has been estimated to be $250 million.
Swift’s style also evolved, bringing a sophistication in her late 20s that we have not yet seen, while almost always paired with a strong red lip.
10. Kim Kardashian
Kimmy, Kimmy, Kimmy. From a slew of semi-naked selfies, to the backlash of said selfies, the social media powerhouse continued to dominate on all her platforms. Her fashion choices have also varied, but have remained the same – skin tight and hugging each curvaceous asset just so. Her children have also become standard on her feeds, as well as the jewelry received from her husband.
Kim, unfortunately, makes our list due to the questions raised about social media after the attack she suffered during Paris Fashion Week. She was bound, gagged and robbed, while pleading for her life, and made international headlines. This moment shed a light on the dangers of sharing so much personal information on social media (especially for celebrities). Since the robbery, Kardashian continued to make the daily tabloids due her husband’s hospitalization; has withdrawn from social media (the main way she kept in touch with her fans); and Keeping up with the Kardashians has gone on hiatus.
We will see what happens for this social media darling in the near future, especially as she slowly makes her way back from such a traumatic experience.
11. and 12. Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner
From co-hosting the 2016 MTV Movie Awards to walking the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Paris, these two models continue to dominate not only the runways, but also social media and reality television.
Kendall Jenner has one of the top 10 Instagram accounts in the world (with almost 68.8 million followers) and continues to bring in viewers in her role on Keeping up with the Kardashians.
Hadid, named the International Model of the Year by the British Fashion Council in 2016, also continues to dominate the fashion industry, having designed a capsule collection for Tommy Hilfiger, becoming the global brand ambassador for the company, and hosting a variety of awards shows.
The girls continue to make headlines for their outfits, on and off the runway and on the Red Carpet.
13. Herieth Paul
Discovered in Ottawa and represented by Angie’s Models and Talent International, Herieth Paul has made great strides in the fashion industry this year.
Now based in New York City, the young Tanzanian-born model has since become the face and global spokesmodel of Maybelline, walked in major fashion shows all over the world, and most recently walked the Victoria’s Secret runway with Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid. She also won the Model of the Year Award at the Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards this year. Go Herieth!
Feature image credit: eggeegg. Other photo credits: Felicity Jones: DFree, Michelle Obama: stock_photo_world, Margot Robbie: Featureflash Photo Agency, Meghan Markle and Alicia Vikander: Helga Esteb, Kendall Jenner: Andrea Raffin, Hillary Clinton and Beyonce: JStone, Lady Gaga, Gigi Hadid and Taylor Swift: Tinseltown, Kim Kardashian and Herieth Paul: Ovidiu Hrubaru. All from Shutterstock.com.