80th Golden Globes Fashion: Elizabeth Taylor – Her Mystique & Her Style
“Success is the best deodorant.”
If anyone knew the art of success, it was four-time Golden Globe winner Elizabeth Taylor.
In 1952 Elizabeth Taylor co-starred in the Golden Globe-winning Drama: A Place in the Sun, which could just as easily describe Taylor’s time in Hollywood.
The National Velvet (1944) child actress went on to dominate the headlines for more than five decades. The British legend was the very definition of beauty and glamor and helped pave the relationship between stars, designers, and jewels.
Indeed, her relationship with jewelry and design houses helped define today’s red carpet and the relationship between Hollywood and Haute Couture.
There’s a salacious secret that Elizabeth Taylor attended the Moscow Film Festival in a Miss Dior gown in 1961 and was surprised to see another Hollywood beauty, Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, in the same gown, but with a different colored belt. Taylor’s was blue, Lollobrigida’s red. The doubling up of the same gown on different superstars at the same event made headlines. However, HauteLeMode notes that the house of Dior confirmed making Taylor’s gown – leaving the creation of, dare we suggest, the other gown, to be an emulation of rather than an actual Dior.
However, when it came to jewelry, Ms. Taylor, aka ‘Liz’, was in a league of her own.
Jewelry is so synonymous with the Butterfield 8 star that her motto might well have been: “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”. Marilyn Monroe may have sung about the glittery gems, but it was Elizabeth Taylor who proved the point as the men in her life paid homage to the woman she was by lavishing the most stunning jewels on the great beauty.
Such was the magnitude of Elizabeth’s collection that a relationship developed between the talented actress and the House of Bulgari that spanned her lifetime. Indeed, for the woman who was married eight times, twice to Richard Burton, some might suggest it was her most enduring relationship.
Although the pairing of Bulgari and Taylor pre-dated 1962, that was the year when she flew to Rome to film Cleopatra. While shooting, Elizabeth and her costar, Richard Burton, fell passionately in love, though both were married to others at the time.
The notoriety of their affair and his penchant to indulge her love of jewelry heightened her legend. The two are rumored to have snuck off between filming to the shop of Gianni Bulgari and it was not unheard of for Elizabeth Taylor to be found ensconced in his shop swapping stories prior to filming.
That friendship and fascination with Taylor/Burton cemented the relationship between jewelers and stars that is still seen on the red carpet today.
Above: Mike Todd, award-winning film and theater producer, was rumored to have been the love of Elizabeth Taylor’s life. A mere 26 years old, Elizabeth was indulged by her husband with gifts from the jeweler Van Cleef and Arpels two days before he flew off to visit Harry Truman en route to New York. Not feeling well, Liz stayed home. Tragically, her third husband’s plane crashed shortly after the take-off, leaving the beauty forever questing to recapture the lost love.
In 1957 the couple attended the 14th Golden Globes. Dressed appropriately for the times, Ms. Taylor has a fur stole draped over her shoulders. Her bodice has a plunging neckline, her hair shortly cropped and from her lobes – diamonds. Note the massive ring on her hand.
Ms. Reynolds‘ – photographed with the couple (r) wears a full fur coat. Her hair was pulled up in a high bun with hair adornment. Her dress has a more demure neckline.
Above: (l) The young Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet that made her a star. (r) As the decade closed the wide skirts narrowed for a more form-fitting pencil skirt. The shoulders are slightly exaggerated to offset the narrow lower silhouette.
Above: It was while shooting Cleopatra that Richard Burton fell in love with Elizabeth Taylor and lavished her with jewels.
Above: The short-cropped hair was popular among many actresses of the time and was emulated by women in the general population. The single strand of pearls is a staple of fashionistas, even today.
Above: At the 1958 Golden Globes. This is interesting: the crown, the balloon skirt, and a train? Only Elizabeth Taylor could carry it off, but it’s an adage to the line: less is more.
The woman in the background is simplicity itself.
But back to Ms. Taylor – don’t you love those shoes?
This cocktail dress is fascinating, although below the knee it has a train. Her shoes have jewel embellishments and her head is adorned with a crown.
Above: In the mid 50s high waisted trousers were the rage. A narrow belt cinches the waist. In this photo from Giant the trousers are paired with a simple shirt, striped to elongate the torso. The hat to fend off the sun.
Below: Simmering passion seethes in Tennessee William’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The costumes cling to the form, exaggerating the wanton, frustrated desire. The white dress with it’s deep V-neckline and soft skirt was the height femininity.
Above: Although Elizabeth Taylor wore wigs and extensions for films, she kept her hair short for most of her life.
For Little Women (r) Miss Taylor went blonde – to much outcry from her fans.
Above: Suddenly, Last Summer is another Tennessee William’s play made into a film. The soft drape of the blouse shows up her form, the white contrasting and playing up her brunette beauty.
Below: Her great beauty is offset by her fur hood. Once again, the white accentuating her coloring. The soft fur was perfect for her face. The gloves were less typical of the 1960s, which would become the decade of mini skirts and freedom.
Above: Classic style is forever – and this sweater could be from today’s wardrobe. The soft texture, crew neck, and large buttons are a staple of the knowledgeable woman’s essentials.
Below: In 1966’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf Taylor was supposed to portray an aging beauty. We’d like to suggest any reference to age be removed – she is a woman going through emotional challenges. Although the age reference reminds us how limiting life was for women of that era, and that the relegation of a woman in her 40s to the ash heap of life must have been damaging and restrictive.
The performance holds up, today.
The hair is longer, but still short, curled with big curlers, and glamorous. The gray streaks, manufactured. The total: stunning.
Above: Few people can carry off the extreme headgear of the two photos.
(l) Her perfectly balanced bone structure is on perfect display. The bodice barely contains her form.
(r) Both the headgear and collar draw the eye to her incredible beauty.
Below: In 1985 Elizabeth Taylor received the Cecil B. deMille Award. Her hair is ‘done’. Short and coiffed with product. The dress is embellished so the eye is drawn down, in a slimming askew applique – both subtle and specific.