Bronx Fashion Throwback Thursdays: The Late Lauren Bacall

Bronx Fashion Throwback Thursdays: The Late Lauren Bacall

The Bronx born and raised beauty, known to the world as Lauren Bacall but to her family and childhood friends by her birth name of Betty Joan Perske, passed away last August at the age of 89.  She was the last surviving icon named in Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ list of Hollywood legends — all of whom are gone now.

From 1968 to 1986, Bacall donated over 700 items to The Museum at FIT and now, which were put on display in an exhibition called, ‘Lauren Bacall:  The Look’ back in March of this year.

Calling her a legendary icon is an understatement as she graced the silver screen and was always dressed with a style of her own.

Norman Norell, coat and two-piece dress designed for Sex and the Single Girl, wool, rhinestones, 1965, USA. Gift of Lauren Bacall. Photo: Eileen Costa/The Museum at FIT

Norman Norell, coat and two-piece dress designed for Sex and the Single Girl, wool, rhinestones, 1965, USA. Gift of Lauren Bacall.
Photo:
Eileen Costa/The Museum at FIT

According to The Museum at FIT’s brochure on the exhibition:

“Her mother taught her how to look her best on a limited budget, by emphasizing simple silhouettes and quality garment construction. As a young girl, Bacall admired designer fashions in the windows of the stores along Fifth Avenue; a few years later, she wore them as a model. She was introduced to Vreeland in 1942 and started appearing in Harper’s Bazaar. “I began to be aware of fashion,” Bacall remembered of her time at the magazine. “I noticed what she [Vreeland] wore, which were always the simplest things.”

By the early 1950s, Bacall was a major Hollywood star, and she had begun to develop relationships with leading fashion designers. She regularly attended presentations by couturiers in Paris, including Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy. Bacall later quipped, “From the day I could afford it, I shopped too much.”

New York Magazine writes of Bacall:

Lauren Bacall, like many Old Hollywood stars, was made, not born. Her trademark downcast look wasn’t a come-hither ploy but rather a result of nervousness in front of the camera. Her voice, while naturally low, was exaggerated — director Howard Hawks made her pull her car over on Mulholland Drive and shout into the canyons to make it huskier. And her regal bearing belied an ordinary, middle-class upbringing in the Bronx. But her love of fashion was one thing that wasn’t the creation of a studio — even as a young woman, she bought Norman Norell’s designs on steep discount in Brooklyn, and she would later go on to have a close relationship with the designer, who costumed her for 1964’s Sex and the Single Girl. Bacall was also friendly withYves Saint Laurent and Emanuel Ungaro.

Even a year before her death, she still carried herself with such grace and still was always fashionably dressed. In an article in the Daily Mail, they wrote about Bacall: “Proof that TRUE beauty lasts for ever: A year before her death, Lauren Bacall posed for this unflinching portrait. And, says Sandra Howard, every line on her proud, defiant face is a lesson in how to embrace growing old.”

Not bad for a girl from The Bronx, huh?

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