Over the years there have been many leading ladies who have caught our eye, thanks to their vintage signature style and defining film roles. Their private lives also attracted enough attention to make them worthy of becoming such Hollywood legends in the first place, and their legacy still lives on today.

While fashion has always played a major role in the movie world, it’s the actresses that ultimately make an outfit or haircut stand out both on and off screen. Laura Terry looks back at some of the greats and the movies that defined their style.

Elizabeth Taylor: Cleopatra

Clearly still an influence today if the on-trend black eyeliner flicks are anything to go by, the beautiful Liz Taylor simply dazzled in the title role about the Egyptian queen. This film of course marked the start of the very public affair between Taylor and Richard Burton- a factor which affected box office takings. Nevertheless, Taylor ’s performance was flawless, sporting daring togas and metal jewellery, teamed with a mane of glossy black hair and turquoise coloured eyeshadow.

Audrey Hepburn: Roman Holiday

In the role that won her an Oscar and set her on the path to Hollywood greatness, it was also this film that cemented Audrey as a rising fashion icon too. While filming her next film, Sabrina, the starlet was sent to see a then up and coming fashion designer named Hubert de Givenchy, who was initially disappointed that it wasn’t Katharine Hepburn he was to be dressing. Of course he later went on to form a close friendship with the star and dressed her for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, creating one of the most iconic pairings of the 20th century, and giving us that delightful image of the star munching on a pastry in her Givenchy evening gown.

Katharine Hepburn: Morning Glory

The classically beautiful and outspoken Katharine Hepburn sparkled on screen in this movie as a struggling actress desperate to make it to the big time. It was a role that earned her the first Oscar of her career; eventually walking away with another three of the 12 Academy Awards she was nominated for. Not afraid to challenge both her fellow actors and society’s norms, she was one of the first women to wear trousers in an age where it was not considered ‘proper’ to do so. Declaring that she felt comfortable in men’s suits, she would often appear in meetings dressed in a masculine way, paving the way for a whole new generation of women to experiment with fashion.

avaAva Gardner: The Barefoot Contessa

Arguably best known for her hectic love life off screen, Ava Gardner (right) is still regarded as one of the most prominent actors of her time today, thanks to her canny choice of film roles. Many consider this movie to be her most significant role, as her character spends a great deal of the time barefoot- a trait that Ava herself championed. Aside from her barefoot fetish, this was the film where Ava really shone as something of a fashion icon, sporting off-the-shoulder gowns, fur wraps and lashings of diamonds, all topped off with her signature red lipstick.

Fay Wray: King Kong

That platinum blonde hair and elegant beauty just made us fall in love with the gorgeous Fay in her best known film, King Kong. Although the role was originally meant for Jean Harlow, scheduling conflicts meant that Fay got her chance to shine in a part that earned her the reputation of the original ‘scream queen’. Naturally dark haired, Faye donned a wig to play the role of Ann and was even approached to appear in the remake shortly before her death, leaving us in no doubt how defining a role King Kong really was for her.

One Response

  1. Tonia

    It’s Katherine Hepburn every time for me – her style has an irresistable pull towards it.