The term icon is by now beyond iconic. It’s one of those words that’s tossed around so regularly that it’s almost lost its meaning—which is the opposite of what an icon is supposed to be. Icons are supposed to stand for something. Icons are supposed to be the embodiment of ideas, aspirations, and values. Icons are supposed to be guiding lights.
This cover portfolio explores what it means to be an icon in the making. All of the subjects are age 30 or under. It’s a demographic of people whose lives have been shaped by some very particular forces. If you’re 30 today, then you were born in the early ’90s, when the internet was nascent. You’re old enough to have witnessed 9/11 (and probably even watched it on TV), but you were not old enough to have been able to fully process it. When you were in your mid teens, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and a financial crisis were upending the world. You remember your early 20s well because they were captured (and filtered) on Instagram. And then a pandemic, climate collapse, movements for social justice, TikTok, vibes…
That’s why people like the ones below, who’ve embraced who they are and are eager to push the world forward, are so important. Icons today know how to lead but also make space for others to do the same. They’re driven to succeed, but they also invite others to share in their success. They’re kicking doors open but also making sure that everyone has an opportunity to walk through them. To be an icon in 2022 is to let go of the old definitions of what it means to be an icon and invent your own.
These artists, athletes, musicians, actors, writers, and activists are not only charting a path forward, they’re also making space for others by bringing new ideas, perspectives, and experiences to the table with a generosity, hopefulness, and vision that’s both inspiring and inspired. Read on to meet all of Harper’s Bazaar’s Icons for 2022.
“I’d like for people to know me as someone who gave back and lifted up the community he’s from.”
Jack Harlow, Rapper, 24
“I want to open doors for young women everywhere, to push the boundaries of what art is considered to be and who gets to be in art spaces.”
Qualeasha Wood, Artist, 25
“I’d just like to be remembered as someone who loved his friends, his family, the world.”
Oscar yi Hou, Artist & Writer, 23
“I want a world where everybody can experience joy. I want a world where you can live your life and thrive, not just survive.”
Xiye Bastida, Climate-Justice Advocate, 20
“I want my legacy to be as an artist who told the truth.”
Givēon, Singer & Songwriter, 27
“I know what it feels like to be that little girl who struggled and needed music for therapy and for inspiration.”
Saweetie, Rapper, 29
“Alice Coltrane was a Black jazz musician who really represents the sort of life that I would like to live, where my work and my personal values are aligned.”
Asha Grant, Owner of the Salt Eaters Bookshop, 29
“The people I think of as icons weren’t icons just because of what they accomplished or added to humanity but for the way they lived their lives.”
Tomi Adeyemi, Writer & Storyteller, 29
“Grace Jones is an icon to me. She is someone who ushered in gender-nonconforming visibility as a Black woman at a time when that was not revered or considered beautiful.”
Indya Moore, Actor & Model, 27
“An icon to me is someone who acts without permission, without waiting to be told that it’s okay to be themselves.”
Moses Sumney, Musician & Artist, 30
“The best piece of advice I’ve received is to be grateful. My mom gave it to me, but also life taught me to be grateful every day for everything.”
Mika Schneider, Model, 21
“My therapist gave me one of the best pieces of advice ever, which was ‘compare and despair.’ If you compare yourself to people, you’re always going to feel this sense of emptiness.”
Ella Emhoff, Artist, Model & Designer, 23
“I wish I could have met God himself on the first day, when he created Earth. I’d say, ‘Hello. It’s Ziwe from work.’ ”
Ziwe, Writer & Comedian, 30
“One of my all-time icons is Michelle Kwan. She was a trailblazer for Asian American figure skaters and really set the path for future generations to follow.”
Nathan Chen, Olympic Figure Skater, 23
“I think that in order to be an inspiring person, you have to be interested in inspiring people.”
Jadé Fadojutimi, Artist, 29
“I don’t think anyone ever really feels like they’ve made it. I don’t think that ever happens. It definitely hasn’t happened for me.”
Emma Chamberlain, YouTuber & Podcast Host, 21
“I don’t ever really celebrate the things I’ve done. I enjoy them, but I’m never really satisfied. I think that’s what keeps me going.”
Evan Mock, Model, Actor & Skater, 25
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN EDMONDS; STYLING BY KELLY-ANN HUGHES, SAMIRA NASR, & YASHUA SIMMONS
Amanda Gorman, Mika Schneider, Givēon, Moses Sumney, Jack Harlow, Tomi Adeyimi, Asha Grant, Saweetie | Styling: Yashua Simmons: Hair: Johnnie Sapong at Salon Benjamin for Leonor Greyl; Makeup: Grace Ahn; Manicures: Emi Kudo for Chanel Le Vernis; Production: Eric Jacobson at Hen’s Tooth Productions; Set Design: Jesse Kaufmann.
Hailey Bieber, Ziwe, Ella Emhoff, Emma Chamberlain, Evan Mock, Indya Moore, Oscar Yi Hou, Qualeasha Wood, Nathan Chen | Styling: Samira Nasr: Hair: Evanie Frausto for Redken; Makeup: Raisa Flowers for M.A.C; Manicures: Gina Edwards for Dior Vernis; Production: Eric Jacobson at Hen’s Tooth Productions; Set Design: Jesse Kaufmann.
Florence Pugh, Xiye Bastida, Jadé Fadojutimi | Styling: Kelly-Ann Hughes: Hair: Shon Hyungsun Ju; Makeup: Alex Babsky; Manicures: Jenni Draper; Production: Fabio Mayor and Ella Knight at Mayor Productions.
Video 2: Director/Producer: Amanda DiMartino; Shooters: Adam Finnman, Felix Schmilinksy, Ryan DeVita, Alfredo Castellanos, Kelsey Smith, and Adam Rowland; AC: Jennifer Hook, Manu Amler, Kevin Kim, Lyma Rodriguez and Hannah Carpenter; Sound: William Rich, Duncan Ettie, Xiao Han, Arjun Demeyere; Editor: Chris Davies; Colorist: Mykhailo Huk.
This article originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of Harper’s BAZAAR, available on newsstands August 30.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.