With the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, Lorraine Haigney looks at a long career that defined fashion
On March 24th, reports that Dame Elizabeth Taylor had passed away were met with a sense of disbelief. The reaction is understandable; Taylor, after a 65-year career, seemed to have become a permanent fixture in Hollywood.
Trying to comprehend her passing is comparable to the disassembly of the Hollywood sign or having the walk of fame cemented over. The loss of the violet-eyed beauty is tragic, but her legacy, both as an Academy Award-winning actress and fashion icon, is something to be celebrated.
Taylor was only 19 when she starred in A Place in the Sun (1951), in which she played the role of the seductive other woman. She soon garnered attention and recognition from the public as both a talented actress and a silver screen beauty.
In the leading role as Cleopatra, in the movie of the same name, Taylor sported over 65 costumes, a record at that time, including a dress made from 24-carat gold cloth. Her blunt hairdo, short fringe and eccentric eye make-up is an iconic Hollywood image.
Taylor became the pin-up girl of Hollywood. She was refined and stunning in her dress as well as being seductive and provocative and her style, like her personality, was big, bold and brazen.
She sported tight-waisted dresses that accentuated her curves – a contemporary cut for formal wear still today, and was never shy to experiment. Whether it was boasting ostentatious head pieces, sporting a turban, or the bold use of brightly coloured makeup, Taylor was on the cusp of a fast-evolving world of fashion.
The actress’ glamorous lifestyle and taste was exemplified by her lavish jewellery collection. She was immensely passionate about it, going as far as to write a book entitled My Love Affair with Jewellery.
Taylor was rarely seen without a grandiose display of diamonds adorning her thin frame, which were regularly showcased just above a plunging neckline. Her affinity for large, loose curls hardly ever wavered and has inspired modern style icons such as Katy Perry and Dita Von Tesse.
Taylor’s diamonds, dresses and perfectly applied makeup seemed almost as much as part of her as her violet eyes, porcelain complexion and jet black hair. She never appeared looking less than perfect, favouring luxurious gowns and gems over casual attire. Her natural elegance and poise accentuated her style and ensured that the star would be forever remembered as the epitome of Hollywood glamour and refinement.