Lauren Bacall was one of the last glamorous stars of Hollywood’s golden era. She never became a fashion icon nor was she associated with one particular fashion designer the way Audrey Hepburn was with Givenchy. When you think of Lauren Bacall, you think of the woman not her clothes. Fashion commentator, Robin Givhan describing Bacall fashion style wrote, “Bacall didn’t really have a signature frock that defined her style. There was no equivalent of a ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ little black dress in her repertoire. She wore grown up clothes – nothing prissy or obviously sexy.” Rosemary Feitelberg quoted Isaac Mizrahi in her WWD article ‘Designers Remember Lauren Bacall’ as saying “There was never too much makeup. The hair was never too high. You only noticed her in the dress.”
She often wore the clothes of Norman Norell and Yves Saint Laurent, two very different design styles. Bacall had an impeccable sense of her own individual style. She was never a fashion victim. She wore her clothes with a comfortable confidence and a sense of self. She mixed the sporty with feminine elegance to create a style that was casual, feminine, glamorous, and subtly sexy.
Next spring the New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology will exhibit some of the seven hundred outfits Bacall donated to the museum. The exhibit will focus on designs from the 1950’s and 60’s by Norman Norell, Marc Bohan for Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, Ungaro, and Yves Saint Laurent.
If Lauren Bacall had an easily identifiable fashion style it was confidence in her own sense of self. The lesson we can all learn from her is to be true to oneself and honest in one image.