The fashion world looks back on Lauren Bacall
"Wearing a 50-year-old Fortuny dress proved how smart Lauren Bacall was," he said. "A smart Jewish girl from the Bronx who knew Norell as well as Loehmann's. She's our reference for what smart looks like. Look up 'smart' in the dictionary — you'll find her picture."
Style and beauty expert Mary Alice Stephenson said Bacall helped redefine beauty and femininity in fashion.
"Bacall made it sexy for all women to wear casual clothes. She would wear them in such a glamorous way," she said. "She played up her makeup, hair and jewelry, all while wearing pants, button-down shirts, knits and flats."
There were few who so successfully managed such a sexy masculine edge while also being capable of full-on glam, Steele said.
"She wore the dress or the pants. They didn't wear her," she said. "Some of what she wore didn't look prim but it might have on others. Sometimes it was conservative-looking, but she wore it with such panache. It was a combination of Hollywood feminine glamour and masculine, androgynous insouciance and power. The only other person I can think of who could do that was (Marlene) Dietrich."
Bacall was never elevated to muse for any one designer. Plenty, though, were touched by her style over the decades: Bill Blass, Perry Ellis, her friend Yves Saint Laurent, Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren among them.
Karan, in an email Wednesday, pointed to Bacall's sophistication and strength as someone who "inspired us all, especially those of us in the fashion world."
Lauren said in an email that Bacall's fashion legend relies on glamour that is "beautiful, bold and independent."
As Som put it of his standout favorite that has Bacall at that fireplace in trousers and sweater: "It's kind of a butch pose, you know, but she was just so cool.
"She was a real dame, an old soul even back then, with an innate sense of how to wear things, or not. How she carried that off was magic."
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