Thursday, April 9, 2015

Lauren Bacall's Look: An Exhibit

Last week I stopped by the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York to see an exhibit celebrating the fashion and style of the late Lauren Bacall. The exhibit, Lauren Bacall: The Look, featured photos of the celebrated actress taken during her modeling career for fashion magazines, a display of her clothing by such designers as Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin, and a clip from Bacall and the Boys, a 1968 television show in which she modeled fashions from the Paris fall collection. I've always been a big fan of Ms. Bacall's look and appreciated the opportunity to take a peek at some of her clothing. I snapped a few photos from the exhibit to share with you.


My first encounter with Ms. Bacall was in the movie "To Have and Have Not." What always impressed me about Ms. Bacall's look was the contrast between her strikingly statuesque frame and her understated fashion sense. She tended to wear simple, comfortable clothing in rich and often sensual fabrics. She also liked outfits with classic tailoring and menswear-inspired details. Regardless of what she wore, the look was confident, but always easy-going and feminine. It's a look this over 50 woman aspires to.

Ms. Bacall gave the Museum at FIT a collection of 700 items between 1968 and 1986. Twelve pieces were on display in recent exhibit. One of my favorite outfits is an evening set by Norman Norell (circa 1958) (below). I love the simple, classic cashmere coat over the gold sequin-charged sheath.There's something a little dangerous about the mix of textures.

Here are a few more examples of clothing with ultra-simple lines...

Her look wasn't always so simple, though. A couple of dresses in the exhibit, like a pink Pierre Cardin molded mini-dress or a wrap dress with fringe (below), show a willingness to add a little whimsy to her look. The wrap dress reminds me of the 70s-inspired fashions I'm seeing in the magazines this spring.

“I am not a has-been. I am a will be,” Lauren Bacall once famously quipped. I thought of this quote as I walked through the gallery of her garments and fashion photographs. Some fashion icons seem to live on, inspiring new generations. Audrey Hepburn is one of these women. And I think Lauren Bacall is one, too. Ms. Bacall may no longer be with us, but she will continue to be a "will be" for future generations of women looking for style and fashion inspiration.

Unfortunately, Lauren Bacall: The Look has closed. However, you can still see Yves Saint Laurent and Halston: Fashioning the 70s, which runs through April 18th, at the Museum at FIT. If you're embracing that 70s look this spring, the exhibit might inspire you. There is also an exhibit entitled Faking It: Original, Copies and Counterfeits, running through April 25th.

For more quotes by Ms. Bacall, take a peek at Still Learning: Quotes By and About Lauren Bacall.