A regal and sumptuous gold gown for diva Liz Taylor
It was designed to evoke the idea of a mythological being, the phoenix, a bird consecrated to the Egyptian god Ra, and has itself become a symbol. The precious dress worn by Liz Taylor in Cleopatra, a film directed in 1963 by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, is perhaps the most iconic of the entire film, but it is only one of 65 costumes designed for the actress by costume designers Renie Conley, Vittorio Nino Novarese and Irene Sharaff, for a budget of about $195,000.
The gowns, which earned one of the four Academy Awards the film won, were made following historical accounts, yes, but repurposed following the style of the 1960s film industry. Everything is exaggerated, loaded, opulent. Snakes, stars, scarabs: every detail refers to Egyptian symbolism, but the pinnacle is reached with the precious dress completed by the famous cloak designed to resemble the wings of a phoenix.
It is the most iconic outfit in the film, and probably in Elizabeth Taylor's career, which Cleopatra wears both during her entry into Rome and in the dramatic scene in which the queen of Egypt seeks death by being bitten by an asp. The cloak, made of 24-karat gold, is composed of thin strips of leather covered in gold enamel and decorated with thousands of beads that design the wings of the mythological bird. Underneath, a dress also gilded, with the bodice reproducing the shape of the feathers.
A legendary look complemented by a sumptuous headdress decorated with semiprecious stones and sequins. Unforgettable then Liz Taylor's violet eyes framed by an intense black kohl: after the release of the film, the bistré-eyed makeup became a trendy makeup, as did the jewels, loaded and colorful, and the maxi dresses inspired by those worn by the actress. Proving that Cleopatra's style left its mark. A lasting appeal: the gold cape worn by Liz Taylor was sold at auction in May 2012 for just under $60,000.