How to dress like ...

November 02, 2013

Vivien Leigh



Without ány doubt one of my favorite Hollywood silver screen actresses! As a little girl I gasped at her in Gone with the wind ... but then; who didn't! She and Scarlett 'O Hara became intertwined forever. It is said only England could have produced Vivien. She was the perfect English rose. Beside her beauty that I admire -which she herself saw as a handicap and a nuisance as people almost only saw her beauty instead of her recognizing acting skills- she means alittle bit more to me than just that. She and I suffer(ed) from the same mental illnesses and when I read about Vivien battling it, it made me feel less lonely. Recently I bought a biography about her in which I am eager to start but first I have to finish the biography about Grace Kelly.

I have once written a  'How to dress like ...' before and that was about my favorite actress Ginger Rogers. I thought I might make one about Vivien, too!


Vivien Leigh, born Vivian Mary Hartley in India to British parents in 1913, november 5th was seen as exotic woman, and it was the fashion magazine Vogue who labeled Vivien as the "little gypsy". Although Vivien's greatest passion in life was performance, she had also an amazing taste in clothing. And ofcourse, she was stunning! She was photographed by the world's greatest fashion photographers of her time such as Cecil Beaton, John Rawlings, Louise Dahl-Wolfe and George Hoyningen-Huene to name only but a few.

Among the designers that Vivien favored were Schiaparelli, Lanvin, Molyneux, Dior, Mainbocher, and Balmain. Vivien liked to go with the current fashion trends instead of fighting against them.

In Vivien's own words she said she liked her clothes just like herself. She never bought any model, but she had it sized and discussed with the designer. She didn't liked suits so much as dresses and coats because she was little. Vivien was only 5'3". Vivien liked plain quiet tweeds for the country with very bright blouses and sweaters, she tells Vogue in 1935.


Vivien knew how to work an outfit and even at home she always looked stylish. At the end of the 1930s her style became more natural as would be the style in the 1940s. Vivien liked to keep it simple but she liked to add little eyecatchers such as brooches, pearl necklaces, gloves and hats. Vivien Leigh liked to upcycle things! A good example of that is a belt that she wore in 1939 and that showed up again in 1950.


In wartime Britain women had to make do and mend and that included famous people. Vivien, however, managed to make simple looks fabulous. She liked a few very good clothes which were made to last. Her preferences were simple things and large brimmed hats which make her fragile, pointed little face appear even smaller. Vivien thought of wartime London as absorbingly interesting.

When Christian Dior launched his 1947 spring haute couture line which was instantly dubbed the "New look" and which would change the fashion world forever, Vivien was asked her opinion on the new silhouettes; she told the press that she thought it irresponsible of the French couturiers to introduce such an extravagance when rationing was still very much alive in England. But nonetheless now that it was already there, she couldn't help but like it. She became a big fan of Dior and often flew to Paris for personal fittings at his salon.

Vivien Leigh often wore her dark brown hair in a center part, curled, and shoulder length. Her makeup was simple and her eyebrows worn thin. Vivien often emphasized her lower lip with lipstick as she was afraid that it would be too thin.



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5 Comments

  1. Absolutely excellent post! She was a truly captivating, but it's her acting - her range of roles and the ability to portray so many different emotions and scenarios over the years with conviction and heart that makes me love her most of all. The fact that she could also dress to kill, doesn't hurt of course, either. :)

    ♥ Jessica

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  2. Absolutely excellent post! She was a truly captivating, but it's her acting - her range of roles and the ability to portray so many different emotions and scenarios over the years with conviction and heart that makes me love her most of all. The fact that she could also dress to kill, doesn't hurt of course, either. :)

    ♥ Jessica

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  3. There's no person that radiates more than enchanting Vivien Leigh.
    Yes, I've said "enchanting". :D
    Because, she enchanted me when I was a toddler. That's the first time I've seen her magnificent performance in "Gone with the wind" (a film I keep coming back to, and an ending that keeps putting me into deep thoughts). Her glowing presence pulled me in, her eyes made me tell my mom this:
    "Mom, can I change my name?"
    I wanted to be named Vivien - because I believed (I was 5) if my name was as gorgeous as hers, I myself might grow up to be an enchanting lady with magnetic personality.
    I don't know about the magnetism of my persona nowadays.. but I keep trying to steer myself to be more "Vivien"-ish.

    Stellar post, darling.
    Hug.
    Marija

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  4. I adore Vivien Leigh; she's so interesting, I could read about her all day. So beautiful too.

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  5. Oh, remember Vivien Leigh from when I was a child. I was truly enchanted by her beauty!
    I loved to read about her in this post. I learn so many things through you Lindsay Lane!
    Thank you :-)

    Miss Beta xx

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