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July 07 2011

Heavenly Hollywood – in pictures

Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Grace Kelly ... Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits – at the National Portrait Gallery – celebrates Hollywood's golden age

July 01 2011

Elizabeth Taylor: photos from her private album

Photos from a new book published this week containing rare, unguarded snaps of the star, who died in March aged 79

April 30 2011

March 23 2011

Elizabeth Taylor: style icon

Fur, diamonds and eyeliner – the glamorous actor was a Hollywood star to her very core

The term style icon has become so devalued in recent years to have become almost meaningless, but Liz Taylor is one of the very few women who can lay claim to having a truly iconic look. In her 79 years she went through several marriages, billions of dollars of diamonds, gallons of eyeliner, hundreds of Dior couture commissions and fluctuations in look, but her style remained constant: unapologetically glamorous, a Hollywood star to the core.

In the 50s she was voted the Most Beautiful Woman In the World and she holds the record for the most appearances on the cover of Life magazine: eleven in all. It was then that she set the template for her Hollywood-on-steroids look. Her wardrobe was filled with lavish fur coats and jewels so over the top that they looked like paste. Her fur collection gave her a larger than life appearance that Lady Gaga should be envious of. In the days before stylists rendered the red carpet anodyne, Taylor excelled at film premiere glamour.

The climax of her career came in 1963 when she and her future husband Richard Burton began their affair on the set of Cleopatra. It coincided with a screen look so iconic that the beauty industry is for ever thankful – no one wore black eye kohl better than the violet-eyed Taylor.

In the 80s, taffeta gowns that would make the wardrobe department of Dynasty weep with envy were a Taylor hallmark. In recent years she owned the glamorous loungewearlook by continually being photographed in palazzo pants and bejewelled kaftans. Fashionable no, but distinctive certainly.

Her style was aided and abetted by a body that Burton described as "a true miracle of construction and the work of an engineer of genius". It is unlikely that her bikini shots – a highlight being a leopard-print cantilevered work of beachwear wonder – would have had quite the same impact had she not possessed what Burton termed her "apocalyptic breasts".

Fashion designers the world over are for ever in debt to Taylor. The image of her wearing a lacy slip, her hip pushed out, is surely the template for the entire work of designer Dolce & Gabbana. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

When Hollywood stars were portrayed as gods

Exhibition of super-glamorous photographs will show big-name actors in the years when film studios ruled their lives

Nearly 70 super-glamorous photographs harking back to the days when film stars radiated, glowered and sizzled are to go on show this summer at the National Portrait Gallery.

Called Glamour of the Gods, the show will examine how Hollywood stars were created between 1920 and 1960, a period when studios controlled every aspect of their actors' lives.

The pictures are from the London-based John Kobal Foundation and include portraits of Marlon Brando, Rock Hudson, Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.

The photographers include George Hurrell, Laszlo Willinger, Bob Coburn, Ruth Harriet Louise and one of the few Britons working for the studios, Davis Boulton.

There will also be previously unseen studio portraits of actors including Clark Gable, Joan Crawford and Carole Lombard – and film stills including Lillian Gish in The Wind, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Swing Time and James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.

The show, organised by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in California, will explore pre-paparazzi times when the studio star system meant actors were always depicted as impossibly glamorous and inaccessible.

Glamour of the Gods: Hollywood Portraits is at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 7 July to 23 October.

Photograph: George Hurrell © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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