For nearly all of her career, Jennifer Lopez has reminded us that no matter what she achieves and how famous she becomes, she remains true to herself. She’s still Jenny from the block, so to speak. And leading up to her CFDA Fashion Icon Award—a recognition that will place the 49-year-old Bronx-born artist in an elite squad along with supermodel Naomi Campbell, the late editor Franca Sozzani, and fellow music legends Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Pharrell Williams—it seems evident that this consistency plays a significant part in what’s gotten her to this place.
“Jennifer has always been on the short list to receive this award,” says CFDA president and CEO Steven Kolb. “Fashion is very much about confidence in what we wear, and that is Jennifer.” Diane von Furstenberg, the CFDA’s former chairwoman, adds, “Jennifer Lopez is a pro in every way.”
Of course, as professional as Lopez is, her path to the CFDA Fashion Icon Award is also paved with decades of amazing collaborators, including designers and stylists who’ve inspired—and been inspired by—the multihyphenate talent.
“When you hear the name Jennifer Lopez, you picture a certain singular style—inimitable, of her own,” Zuhair Murad says. Like many A-list celebrities, Lopez has worn Murad’s complexly beautiful couture designs countless times, but the designer insists that she always adds a distinctly unique quality. “The fact that Jennifer wears every look with complete confidence, in my opinion, combined with her experimental style, shapes her influence on style and pop culture in general. She has both the taste and the personality that form a trendsetter, which in turn makes people look up to her and follow her style.”
These qualities date back to the very start of her career, and few of Lopez’s former team members can attest to that more than Andrea Lieberman. Now known for her L.A.–based line A.L.C., Lieberman styled the young dancer turned actress turned singer for 10 years, beginning in 1998. (Yes, that includes putting Lopez in the Versace dress.) “She’s always had an incredible sense of self and always embraced everything strong,” says Lieberman. “She lives it so passionately and so committed to her own vision, and she’s fearless. She truly loves beauty and glamour; it’s a part of who she is.”
Today, Lopez is styled by the duo of Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn. Together they’ve continued to make unexpected, headline-breaking fashion choices (those Versace over-the-knee boots that resemble baggy jeans, a mirror-mosaic Tom Ford dress at the 2019 Oscars, or a fringed Versace dress-and-cap combination for this past Met Gala, for example) while sticking to elements of Lopez’s style. Think more-is-more shine and daring silhouettes for the red carpet, and tailored minimalism with hints of streetwear for a luxe approach to performer off-duty. In all, it still feels very much like the fresh-face talent the world met in the late ‘90s.
Ahead of her 2019 CFDA award, some of Lopez’s past and present collaborators—including Giuseppe Zanotti, Sally LaPointe, and Michael Costello—discuss the looks that made her a true fashion icon.