In 1944 the 12 year old Elizabeth Taylor captured the heart of a nation as the jodhpur-rocking girl in National Velvet. From then on, until 2011 when she died aged 79, she was rarely out of the papers and magazines. Her many awards, Oscars, marriages and tireless charity work saw to that. But it was her flawless beauty that led her there. ‘The face of a graceful angel’, wrote a reporter in 1950, and there is no doubt that her luminous violet eyes and beautiful face have been etched on our subconscious. In 1989 she was given the Life-Time Glamour award and looking back at her huge portfolio of pictures it’s easy to see why. At the peak of her career she smouldered in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and was mesmerising in Who’s Afraid of
Her personal style was appropriate for her time and her figure, and her striking looks fitted perfectly with the fashions of those decades. Taylor always played the star for her public – her job and status demanded it. Lunch, drinks and dinner were all dressed for. Halston was one of her favourite designers and we see her photographed in evening dress at galas; in Couture and wearing her famous jewels. When in Rome shooting Cleopatra she met the newcomer, Valentino, and he always credited the moment for launching his label. Edith Head, the costumer, said she was not easy to dress being only 5 foot two and extremely curvaceous. But Head forged the look Taylor long maintained, figure hugging ensembles featuring plunging necklines to accentuate Taylor’s triple assets: a chiselled face set off by lavender blue eyes, a voluptuous bust line and narrow waist. Her death marked the end of a glamorous Hollywood era.
By Vanessa de Lisle - www.thefashioncupboard.com