3 Wedding Gowns For Liz Created By 3 Top Designers Which One Should She Wear?
If Liz Taylor ever feels that she hasn’t got a thing to wear—for her fifth wedding, that is— she need fret no more. All she has to do is take her pick of one of the three gorgeous creations on the preceding pages—designed exclusively for Photoplay by three of the world’s top fashion designers, expressly for Liz’ forthcoming marriage to Richard Burton—and her problem’s licked.
We’re not jumping the gun on a Liz-Burton wedding, either. True, at this writing, both happen to be married—to others. True, no divorce proceedings have actually been initiated. True, our principals are holed up in their adjoining suites at London’s Dorchester Hotel, talking to no one but each other. And Eddie Fisher claims he knows from nothing. And Sybil Burton is telling New York reporters that, although legally separated from Richard now, “I won’t give him a divorce. He won’t be Liz’ fifth husband.”
But we have sources close to this much-publicized foursome who insist that the no-wedding talk is hogwash—much like the stuff dished out at the time those first reports came through from Rome to the effect that “there is absolutely no truth to rumors linking Miss Taylor and Mr. Burton. They are simply co-stars and good friends.” Do you remember those denials?
And, say our sources about the current shrugs and/or denials: “Elizabeth and Richard are more in love than ever—passionately, wildly in love. And there will be a wedding. In proper time. As soon as a certain rather complex detail can be completely worked out . . .” The detail? Money.
To give Burton his freedom, Sybil reportedly has asked him for—and is getting—$1,500,000. (Says a close girl friend of hers: “She should get double, after what she’s had to put up with!”) To give Liz her freedom, Eddie reportedly gets a neat $1,000,000 from her “Cleopatra” take. As one of Eddie’s buddies put it recently: “You won’t see him in the picture, but Lord knows he sweated through every frame of it!” all of which adds up, at any rate, to $2,500,000—Love’s costliest wedding dress for Liz. There aren’t many that come higher.
But like the old proverb goes: “What’s money when you’re in love?—and rich?”
And on that note let us take leave of all financial details.
And get on to the wedding itself.
And to the bride—and the dress she will wear. Or, rather, should wear.
A special dress for an unusual occasion.
As envisioned by our panel of designers —the world-famous Sylvan Rich, Lilly Dache and Anthony Pettoruto—and sketched exclusively for Photoplay by one of the world’s top illustrators—Jon Whitcomb.
Our first designer, the soft-spoken Sylvan Rich—owner of Martini Designed Inc.—told us: “I think it is a shame—really—that in the films Elizabeth Taylor has made, so little attention has been paid to her clothes. By that I am not criticizing the designers who have worked with her. What I mean is that Elizabeth Taylor has never been set up as a fashion image, an exponent of fashion. Pictures just aren’t made that way these days, I guess. Times have changed.
“It was different in the Thirties. Stars of Miss Taylor’s stature would definitely influence the world by the way they dressed. A star like Joan Crawford, say—the great individualist, with the great new innovations. A star like Garbo—who introduced a new Standard of beauty that is still one of the most important influences on fashion and makeup today.
“Unfortunately, however, Elizabeth Taylor will not be remembered for her clothes.
“But that is off the subject somewhat. And to get on with it now—the wedding dress . . . I’d like to say first that in designing I always feel that the individual’s personality must be considered—and, particularly when a person is as strong as Elizabeth Taylor, that the clothes should be a complement to her beauty and her natural attributes rather than something that will detract from these attributes. So it should be with her wedding dress. A complement and a compliment.
“With some show business people I have designed for in the past—I stress. With others, I understress. For instance, for Sheila MacRae—Gordon’s wife—I go overboard. The girl has much gaiety about her, much joie de vivre, she’s a great clothes horse. And so, for her nightclub act especially, I design huge evening coats over dresses—what can be called a costume look— always sure to create a very spectacular effect. While with Barbara Britten, on the other hand, I play things down, so to speak, so that her magnificent lady-like quality is not tempered with. I always give Barbara a little shoulder-covering, for instance. I always do rather soft things with her, so as not to destroy that soft and very reserved quality of hers. It works out well.
“In Elizabeth Taylor’s case, then—particularly for a wedding—I would not stress her glamour. I would want to make the dress a background—yes, that’s it—a background for her glamour and beauty. Her beauty alone is, after all, so spectacular. She is certainly one of the most spectacularly beautiful women of our era. And I think that the traditional bridal dress is one of the most beautiful costumes a woman can ever be seen in. And that is why I choose traditional for her. . . . By the way, this has nothing to do with the fact that Miss Taylor has been married before. This is simply the way I visualize her as a bride. Although in her case I would do something a little more extreme than for basic traditional since she has to have something worthy of the publicity that is bound to surround her marriage.
“Traditional, of course, implies white. In Miss Taylor’s case, I would not do her in dead white. I see her as not stark. But rather I would do her in slightly off-white. Or in antique white satin. In a gown cut simply, to fit the figure closely. With the back flowing from the shoulders and ending in a train—long—about four yards long.
“In the headdress, and possibly on the dress, too—I would use some magnificent starched heirloom lace. Very beautiful. Very valuable. From France, say. Or Belgium. As a Symbol of— well, the richness of the woman. A lovely headdress—diadem-shaped—from which hangs a simple veil of silk tulle.
“For jewelry—I would suggest pearls, and pearls only. Pearl earrings. The kind of thing I feel Elizabeth Taylor would wear on such an occasion.
“The hands, of course, should be gloved.
“And for flowers—well, I almost would visualize her carrying a prayer book instead of a bouquet. Of course, this is up to her—a choice of how she wants to use her hands. But I would suggest a prayer-book. With. possibly, a single white camellia attached to it. To me the camellia is symbolic of the Drama, and, consequent1 y, of the actress in the woman; and, too, it is one of the most elegant of flowers.
“That’s the word, yes—the key word here. I would want to make Elizabeth Taylor look extremely elegant for this, her wedding.
“I know, there are people who immediately will say that she cannot look elegant—that she is shortish and voluptuous and that her body does not lend itself to the elegant look. But this is not true. It is true that she isn’t the typical model type—you know, the starved figure —the fashion ideal.
“But Elizabeth Taylor is typical of the feminine ideal.
“And there is an inherent elegance in that. And that is the kind of elegance that I would like to stress here. . . .”
Our second designer, Mme. Dache— the chic and charming, the irrepressible and very-French Lilly, who said to us the other day: “I awoke at 4:20 this morning and I saw it—immediately—this beautiful wedding dress I would design for Elizabeth.
“I saw first the headdress. A hooded cape, really. Which would cover the lower half of the face. Because she must be a little coy, Elizabeth. A little demure. A little afraid of the world, almost ashamed to the world because of all the publicity of this past year. Except, of course, that the eyes will show—just those beautiful violet melting eyes, those mysterious eyes—and those eyes will say, ‘Yes, I do care—but still I am myself!’ The effect is pristine in feeling. In fact, to add to the pristine, we will fasten the cape at the side of the face with a bouquet of lilies-of-the-valley. Yes? For a note of ingenuity. And, to contrast, on the other side of the face an earring will show. Very large. And loaded with jewels. She’s mad about jewels, as you know. Jewels—she adores them. So—gold and yellow diamonds.
“About the dress now—I envision it made of silk chiffon. Vibrant orange. With a bodice, draped, Empire. This, too—pristine. And then, again for contrast—for a feeling of the double entendre—I see . . . the pants.
“Yes. Pants! Which peer charmingly from beneath the dress. Knee pants of— leopard. They must be leopard. To signify the whole Roman affair with Burton. When she wore the leopard so often. In the restaurants, the nightclubs, the cafes . . . Of course, there was nothing discreet about the way she wore it then. She had the whole head of a leopard on her head for a hat—it looked. And she carried a leopard bag, large—carried it all during this ‘quiet’ love affair in Rome. And the coat—so completely leopard. But now, for the marriage, the effect will be softened. And we will use it only in the pants. And—perhaps—as a border to the headdress. Yes—that will be nice, don’t you think?
“This, by the way, is not all meant to be extreme. Because Elizabeth can wear anything—absolutely anything, my dear. Her clothes are never too quiet or restrained. Her dresses recently, for instance, are very short. And decollete. And the colors are always strong—bright reds, blues, greens. But she never looks ridiculous. She always looks beautiful.
“Do I know Elizabeth? Let me say that I have served her. She has bought things here at the salon. I haven’t sized her up, however. I can’t in so short a time. But I think she is absolutely exquisite.
“She is, yes, of course, also one of the most-criticized women of our time.
“They say she is spoiled, Elizabeth. But why shouldn’t she be? I mean to say, how could she not help but be? She has been spoiled ever since she was a child. She was a child actress, star—and you can imagine what that must be like. Anyway, I think the word spoiled is wrong in her case. I think she is not spoiled—but comble. You know? Endowed by God with everything—form, magnificent face—everything—so that she is bound to be unique . . . different . . . apart from the rest.
“That she acts like a modern Cleopatra as some people say—well, I think it is difficult for her not to be tempting to men. I imagine that there are not many men on earth who would not think it a marvelous caprice to know Elizabeth Taylor! And Burton—as for him, I can’t see how a man who plays love scenes with her as they d id for so many long months on “Cleopatra,” how he could not help losing his head over her. Why, those exquisite eyes of hers, that expression of magnetism—I think she could look at that wall and the wall would melt!
“It seems to me inevitable that the affair with Burton came about. They worked on this long movie together. And she especially, the lead in the movie, the heroine—she worked so hard. And she was so exhausted when she gol home. And the man with whom she had shared her experiences of the day was no longer with her. And sometimes, two people, actors, who work together—they can be tighter than a husband and wife. And sometimes she must have gone back to that villa and to Fisher and found him a stranger.
“I think Elizabeth has met a good man in Burton. In that he seems to dominate. As Todd dominated. Not to say that Fisher or the other husbands were necessarily weak. Fisher, especially—with him, I think that he was just so much in love with Elizabeth that he seemed to be weak. It was the same with Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller, for instance. Sometimes, I remember—on a Saturday—Marilyn would come here to the salon to shop. With Miller. And he would stand around, waiting, waiting. waiting for her to choose something. With patience. As many other men or husbands would not do. And I thought to myself: ‘It is not that the man is a weak man—it is just that he is so much in love with this woman that he will do anything for her!’
“And so it was with Elizabeth and Fisher, I think. At least, that’s how it seems.
“But. of course, in the long run, this is an unnatural role for a man to play—and there was the split-up. With Elizabeth deciding that she wanted things differently.
“And about this-—when people say she does not care about what she does—I think she does care. And that is why I am doing the veil over half the face. To me, you see, she is young. And inexperienced. She does these things without thinking. She is of an emotional disposition and a passionate nature. And that is my idea of the dress—the ingenuity that covers the sexy part. The demure plus the irresistible. The contrast. I repeat—the double entendre.
“So that when Elizabeth stands still in this dress she looks pure, and other-worldly, much as some figure in a painting.
“And then the change comes when she moves—a-ha!—she shows everything!!”
We spoke lastly to Anthony Pettoruto—hailed by many as the finest of New York’s young designers—who told us:
“First of all, I would be completely opposed to Liz Taylor wearing anything traditional for her wedding to Burton. Not because it wouldn’t be ‘proper’—I don’t go along with these people who claim she leads a wicked life; I mean, I have morals like everybody else—but I think Liz is just as ‘good’ and just as ‘bad’ as most other people. And not because I’m against seeing her in white—she’d look great in a white linen suit, say. or a white wool suit. But—well, I just don’t go for traditional or white in this case because Liz Taylor’s Liz Taylor—and she should look as glamorous and sexy as possible, wedding or any other time.
“That’s why I’ve created the Cleopatra wedding dress for her.
“First, the name Cleopatra alone is suggestive of glamour, sex. Second, the whole mood of Cleopatra is certainly very close to Liz’ heart right now; and, too, I think people would expect her to maintain some sort of Egyptian feeling for a while. Third—and most important—what better style to signify her love for Burton, the man she met and fell head over heels in love with while making the picture.
“Color? I’d make it yellow. Yellow on yellow. I don’t know why. It’s just the first color that comes to mind for Liz. Though I must admit—for a moment there—I did think of pink first. But then I figured that was just a little bit too cliche.
“Fabric? I’d use flocked chiffon—velvet woven into chiffon, that is—so that the effect is warm, yet transparent.
“As for the headdress—I’m not a hat man myself. But I think that for her wedding, Liz should definitely have her head covered. Something Egyptian-styled, of course. And so here I’ve designed this—well, babushka with a wire band, I guess is the easiest way to describe it. Of the same material as the dress—and using a velvet band to match the flocking in the dress.
“The dress itself, I thought at first, should be Empire in style. But then I thought no, Liz might be too heavy in the midriff for this. So let’s cut the Empire. Though let’s not cut the decollete. But instead keep it very very decollete. Because Liz’ bosom is, let’s face it. one of her great attributes. And something she’s constantly showing anyway. I mean, I haven’t seen her in an afternoon dress where there wasn’t half the bust exposed. And I think this is the way it should be in my dress for her. Chesty. Revealing. The kind of thing worn by a woman who enjoys upsetting men. The kind of thing Liz is always wearing.
“One thing that I would want, however—is for the dress to be very uncluttered. And I hope Liz would go along with this, for a change. Because, let’s face it, she doesn’t have the best taste in clothes. At least, not to me she doesn’t.
“I’ve liked Liz, admired her, ever since I was a kid, let it be said here. I’m only a few years older than she is and you might say we grew up together. I saw her in “National Velvet,” I remember—I was about sixteen, seventeen; she was about fourteen—and I was so impressed with her beauty that I actually wanted to sit down and write her a fan letter.
“Also, despite what you hear about her—and who knows what to believe anymore?—I maintain that Liz is a sweet girl. I’ve seen her a few times, at pretty close range, and the sweet and even kind of serious expression on her face has always surprised me. I mean, I feel that if we were ever to meet, she’d be—well, she’d be nice—and there isn’t much more you you can ask from a person.
“But to get back to that other issue—Liz and fashion—I think she’s sadly lacking here. To me—and I’ll be honest—she has emphasized her figure too much when she’s been overweight. And, overweight or not, she is generally careless in the way she dresses. Unkempt. Disheveled. Windblown-looking. And, sometimes, she even looks as if she’s slept in her clothes. And this just isn’t right for a girl in her position. In fact, it isn’t right for any girl.
“But especially with someone in the limelight—well, I feel you should be a fashion plate, a style setter, if you’re constantly in the public eye. Girls like Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn—these are fashion plates. If you saw the Academy Award show this year, you’ll remember Joan Crawford walking out onto that stage in the dress completely covered with sequins and beads, and looking like Joan Crawford should look, like you expect her to look—that’s a fashion plate. And. more subdued, Olivia de Havilland on the Awards show, in her lovely gown. the semi-fitted A-line dress in that elegant fabric—another fashion plate.
“But with Liz—with all her money, with all her exposure—she just puts something on, it seems. With a defiance that goes against that inner sweetness I feel about her. As if to say to a world that’s always chiding her. ‘I don’t care what I look like—because I’m too confident of my beauty to care!’
“Well, there may be some justification for this attitude, psychologically—but I don’t think it helps Liz’ appearance any.
“And you know—someday, if I ever do meet her—I think I might just tell her this.
“Or maybe, after they’re married—Burton will. Somebody should!”
Liz and Burton are in 20th’s “Cleopatra,” and M-G-M’s “Very Important Persons.”
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JULY 1963