But first, let’s look at “fasionista.” This word first appeared in Stephen Fried’s 1993 biography of supermodel Gia Carangi. He invented it as a way to refer to the entourage surrounding supermodels at a photo shoot. The “fashion” portion of term is obvious. Less obvious is the “-ista” part. Fried said that he stumbled upon that particular suffix while researching his 1993 book. He had been reading a lot of late ’70s and early ’80s newspapers and magazines in order to write about the life of Gia Carangi, and he kept seeing articles about Sandinistas, followers of the Nicaraguan political party.
The –ista suffix comes to English from Latin. The derived English variant of this suffix is –ist, used in words like “machinist,” “apologist,” “Darwinist,” and “novelist.” These types of words describe a person in relation to an activity, item, principle, or doctrine. The Spanish version of this suffix, –ista, became fashionable in English in the 1970s due to heavy news coverage of Latin-American revolutionary movements.