Style in film: Elizabeth Taylor in ‘Suddenly, Last Summer’

Elizabeth Taylor's style_Suddenly Last Summer

The white one-piece swimsuit Elizabeth Taylor wore in Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and based on the play of the same title by Tennessee Williams, is one of the most iconic swimsuits in the history of film. A nod to a glamorous past, a piece that will never go out of style. Even if the film is in black and white, the contrast between her tanned skin and the white tank suit is striking. While vacationing in Europe, Elizabeth’s character, Catherine Holly, is asked by her cousin, Sebastian Venable, to wear an alluring white maillot in order to attract his would-be lovers. Needless to say that she succeeds and, furthermore, this image of Elizabeth has stood the test of time to this day.

Before August is over, I wanted to turn to another movie that is great to gather summer style inspiration from, even if to a less extent than La Piscine and Bonjour Tristesse. As Catherine Holly, a young woman institutionalized for a severe emotional disturbance that occurred when her cousin died under questionable circumstances while they were on summer holiday in Europe, Elizabeth Taylor steals the show from both Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift and she is as glamorous and beautiful as only an old-Hollywood star could be.

costumes in Suddenly Last Summer

Elizabeth Taylor's style - Suddenly Last SummerElizabeth Taylor's style Suddenly Last Summer

Elizabeth’s costumes were designed by Oliver Messel. He is one of the most celebrated English designers, whose work as production designer overlapped the world of costume, set design and architecture. Messel was also the art director for this movie, having created those dramatic sets. Elizabeth’s style in the film is simple and enduring and I think Helen Rose’s words perfectly apply to her look here, as well as in many other films: ‘If you have a magnificent jewel, you put it in a simple setting – you don’t distract from it with a lot of detail.’

Above she is wearing a sheath dress, it might have been black. I love the slit neckline and the short sleeves: those details and the brooch are the only embellishments the dress needs. Below, in simple white blouse and pleated skirt cinched with a belt, accessorised with pumps and tote. Both looks are as classic as you can get.

Elizabeth Taylor's style in Suddenly Last SummerElizabeth Taylor's style Suddenly Last Summer 7Elizabeth Taylor's style Suddenly Last Summer 6

But it’s the summer outfits that stand out. Besides the white swim suit, there is also this striped number that, although not having a statement status, is a classic. The clothes Catherine wore at the seaside pretty much sum up what summer beauty should be. Is there anything more you need that great bathing suits and a gorgeous sun dress?

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And here is this dress with fitted bodice, A-line skirt and matching belt that came in a beautiful shade of green which can be seen in this publicity still. Green was a favourite colour of Oliver Messel’s and one of the legacies he left was “Messel green”, his trademark shade that he often used in his interior designs. This is one of those shots that I wish they were in colour, because of the beautiful contrast between the green of the dress and her tan. She wore the dress with simple bangles and hoop earrings and white flat sandals with thin straps. It’s one of the most iconic looks of the fifties and it has become an intrinsic part of screen history.

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Elizabeth Taylor's style Syddenly Last Summer

photos: screen stills captured by me, from the DVD edition included in this collection | production credit

Posted by classiq in Style in film | | 8 Comments

Forever in blue jeans

classic summer look

“I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes.” (Yves Saint Laurent)

You can’t really improve on these words.

I wish you a wonderful weekend, as relaxed as a look like this always makes me feel!

photo: Arty Filles

Posted by classiq in Style | | 9 Comments

Summer reads

summer reads



This week my newly ordered books have arrived. I needed more reading material for the summer. I’ve already read Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse. I finished it in one sitting, because I couldn’t put it down. It’s the perfect summer read. Sagan seamlessly takes you to a different time and place with her wonderfully composed, flowing writing and her words have a merciless candour, not like anything I’ve read before. This has become one of my all-time favourite books.

I’m now diving into Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. A Passage to India has been on my wish list for a long time and I am anxious to start that one too. I loved David Lean’s movie and I imagine I will enjoy the novel much more. As for Out of Africa, I read it only in Romanian some years ago and I can not believe it’s taken me so long to get an original version. If only we could read all our favourite books in the language they were written in. What are you reading this summer?

photos by me (2 & 3 taken on our recent road trip)

Posted by classiq in Books | | 10 Comments

Summer styles: Jil Sander 2010

jil sander spring 2010-6

A raw, earthy elegance. Summer classics like shirt dresses, safari dresses, linen pencil skirt- and pant suits, chic shorts and light coats, utilitarian jackets, little white, nude or black dresses, they all came roughly-cut, with unfinished edges and sheared and frayed hems. I haven’t overlooked the lace-up rope sandals and those rustic platforms either. Beautifully engineered pieces, each detail carefully considered, but feeling undone and easy to wear. That’s what I find fascinating about these clothes: they breath summer.

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photos: 1,5,6,13, / 2-4,7-12,

Posted by classiq in A moment in fashion, Fashion, Summer styles | | 12 Comments

Beautiful Bucharest: Cărturești Bookstore

Classiq-Carturesti Bookstore Bucharest

It’s time to take you to another one of my favourite bookstores in Bucharest. Cărturești is a name you hear often on the lips of people interested in art and culture and beautiful living. The charming place I’m presenting today was one of the first concept stores in Bucharest. There are more Cărturești stores in Bucharest and all over the country today, but I think I will always prefer this very first one, located on a sidestreet downtown, Edgar Quinet. I like that it’s small and intimate and has such a beautiful design and every time you visit you feel like you’ve discovered a hidden gem.

Classiq-Carturesti Bookstore Bucharest 6

Beautiful Bucharest-Carturesti

Carrying a nice selection of books, from fiction to design, history, art and travel, as well as films, music, stationery, delicatessen, tea and teaware, it also used to have a tea-room in the back in the beginning. It was a completely new sight on the city’s landscape. Reading was fashionable again and books were presented in a new light and beautiful setting and Cărturești soon became and has since been one of the most sought for cultural spots in Bucharest.

The tea-room is no longer there now (I will soon share a newer location, café and tea-house included), but the atmosphere is still so cosy and welcoming and the wood, painted ceiling and lovely interior design (both by Bianca Predoi, architect, painter, prose writer, stage designer and playwright) and dim lights add and play on the warmth and ease of the place.

Classiq-Carturesti Quinet Bookstore

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Classiq-Carturesti Bookstore 5

This is also where my then future-to-be husband and I bought our first film collection. It included three Hitchcock movies on VHS. We were in faculty then and were starting to discover our common passion for films. We would spend the afternoons in cinemas going to every film showing and the rest of our spare time discovering the classic cinema at home. So there is also a sentimental value attached to this wonderful little place: we can say that our hobby and now vast collection of classic films originates from there.

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Classiq-Carturesti Bookstore 4

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Classiq-Carturesti Bookstore Bucharest 3

Address: 9, Edgar Quinet, Bucharest
Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 9-20 | Saturday: 11-18

photos by me

Posted by classiq in Beautiful Bucharest | | 7 Comments