The late Elizabeth Taylor was known for her extreme beauty, her many husbands, her two Oscars and her chic style. Born in 1932 Elizabeth Taylor lived through some of fashions most glamorous decades, which helped shape her killer style!
The 1920s and 1930s had seen the liberation of women’s fashion with shorter hemlines and loose fitting dresses, even trousers – and actresses of the 30s such as Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich would have influenced the young Elizabeth Taylor enormously. Coco Chanel would have been an early fashion favourite, as the designer pioneered comfortable yet incredibly stylish clothes for women.
In the late 40s fashion took on a more structured, sophisticated look following the war, with Christian Dior leading the way with his ‘New Look’. Worn by the likes of Veronica Lake and Rita Hayworth, the Dior label became an instant hit. By this time Taylor had become a star following her performance in the film National Velvet in 1944, and she signed a long-term contract with MGM, which brought her both fame and money.
She entered the 1950s as a young woman of wealth and could therefore afford the designer fashions of the era. Dior was a leading name in the 50s and labels such as Balenciaga, Balmain and Givenchy had emerged on the fashion scene. The style of the 50s was demure and ladylike with a bit of sex kitten thrown in for good measure. Nipped in waists were key, and big full skirts, kitten heels, little cardigans and dramatic sunglasses defined the era. Elizabeth Taylor’s slim curvacious figure suited the fashions perfectly and her beauty only served to highlight everything she wore. Taylor was also a big fan of designer sunglasses, and in particular she was fond of cats eye shaped sunglasses and oversized lenses. Of course these style of sunglasses were very popular in the 1950s and the 60s among women and are copied to this day. The recent fashion for vintage style sunglasses has seen Tom Ford, Prada and Dior all produce homages to the feline shaped lenses of the Fifties. Taylor’s film ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ is a great portrait of 50s fashion.
The 1960s was of course the decade of the mini skirt, as popularised by Mary Quant. Fashion became more colourful and fun, and the sophistication of previous era’s was laid to rest. Elizabeth Taylor’s most talked about movie ‘Cleopatra’ was released in 1963 and it was at this time that she met Richard Burton. The combination of the popularity of the film and the couple’s celebrity ‘power’ elevated Taylor’s status and as such she became a definitive symbol of the 1960s. Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglasses made their mark in the 60s and stars like Audrey Hepburn helped popularise their style.
During the following decades, Taylor’s acting roles began to dry up and she concentrated her efforts into raising awareness and money for HIV and Aids victims. To this day she is considered one of the worlds greatest humanitarians having raised in excess of $100 million for Aids related charities.
For all her charity work, acting and lovers, Elizabeth Taylor will always be remembered for her incandescent beauty and her incredible style.
Audrey Hepburn, Balenciage, Balmain, Christian Dior, Cleopatra, Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Taylor, Givenchy, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, National Velvet, Rita Hayworth, sunglasses, Veronica Lake