When in excess, neither cocktails nor caftans express the most refined of taste.

But for me such excess is the allure of Dame Elizabeth Taylor. Uninhibited by rules that tethered the average woman of her time, she rushed forward in a heady pursuit of pleasure that often left appropriateness in its wake. Sure, sometimes there was a backlash—cocktails and caftans being exhibits A and B—but “La Liz” owned up to both her passions and her missteps. Always with her head held high. She lived as a dame even before being anointed such.

I’ve been wondering when this unabashed attitude toward living would return to vogue. Recent news from WWD presents hope that it’s time for a renaissance. The paper reports that Taylor is the inspiration for a 72-page collaboration between Carine Roitfeld and Mario Testino for V magazine’s September issue.

Taylor “had the kind of elegance that went far beyond clothes,” says Roitfeld. Which of the many faces of Liz will most inspire the Roitfeld-Testino partnership? Here’s a look at a few.

“It’s Tuesday, I Love You”: Or How to Build Your Jewel Collection

According to Taylor, when not drinking or brawling, a day with the Burtons could begin with Richard proposing, “Let’s go for a walk, I want to buy you something.” Her collection had begun much earlier–husband Mike Todd proposed with a 29 carat ring that Taylor called “an ice skating rink”. Pictured, Taylor wears the 33.19 carat Krupp Diamond; this was to be followed by the pear-shaped 69.42 carat diamond that came to be known as the Taylor-Burton Diamond. The life and times of her extensive collection is chronicled in a surprisingly amusing read, Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry. After a worlwide tour, Christies New York will be auctioning Taylor’s collection this December.

Glam Drops Keep Falling on my Head

The action of the 1963 Burton-Taylor star vehicle, The V.I.P.s, took place primarily in an airport. Taylor wanted to wear an evening gown. She was placated by a raincoat, not just any raincoat but one lined completely in fur. (Mann asserts that this was a first.) Givenchy designed the costumes for the film, but an uncredited Pierre Cardin is generally credited for this garment.

Vixen White

Taylor’s curves were truly magic–turning virginal, utilitarian white into a color of stark seduction. Below, in Suddenly Last Summer and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.


A Face Made for Technicolor

Not for her the natural look, Taylor had a face made for Technicolor. Did she “need” makeup? Of course not, maquillage is not bread or water. But the carefully sculpted 1950s face seemed to embody her spirit. Indeed, in How to Be a Movie Star, William Mann proposes that Liz’s eyes were first christened “violet” during a spurt of advertising for violet-colored eye shadows.

Cleopatra: Patron Saint of Hollywood Bank Accounts

“I’ll do it for a million dollars plus ten percent of the gross,” Taylor joked with Twentieth Century executives casting for Cleopatra. The executives bit (unfortunately, so did the movie), and her profit made industry records and set new standards.

“I’ve Been a Broad All My Life, So Being A Dame Seemed a Natural Extension”

This is the Liz I most admire. The one who had burping contests with Rock Hudson, and won. Visually, this Liz probably won’t make V‘s pages but it wouldn’t be the dame without the ‘tude.

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