Style File: Greta Garbo
Posted on 10 January 2017
Whilst enjoying an illustrious career on the screen, Swedish actress Greta Garbo also became an icon for many women looking for wardrobe inspiration. Garbo became renowned for her androgynous dressing which also conveyed practicality and elegance.
Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson in Stockholm, Sweden. As a teenager she studied at the Royal Dramatic Theatre's Acting School, before being scouted by the prominent Swedish director Mauritz Stiller to play a principal part in his classic film ‘The Saga of Gösta Berling'.
From there she went on to become one of Hollywood’s most sought after leading ladies. Starting off in silent films before crafting a career that soared throughout Hollywood’s golden era.
On screen, Garbo pioneered what is now known as classic 30s style in sequin head wraps, fur coats and slinky evening gowns. Her soft, wavy hair and thin, arching eyebrows were daring and fashion-forward for the time. They sparked desire in the hearts of the women of the era, starting a must-have trend.
In her private life, Garbo preferred to dress comfortably, wearing Oxford men's shoes, tailored shirts, silk ties, formal trousers and her - now iconic - string of pearls. She opted for the confidence of comfort, keeping her silhouettes relaxed and her colour palette simple, allowing for her timeless beauty to make every outfit unforgettable.
Her almost conservative style of dressing was completely juxtaposed to the extravagant, often outlandish, costumes that she would don for her movies.
The man behind many of Garbo’s gowns - worn both on screen and on the red carpet - was designer Adrian Adolph Greenberg, better known as simply Adrian. Adrian was a costume designer on some of the world’s most iconic movies, most famously designing the ruby slippers in 'The Wizard of Oz’.
Garbo can be seen wearing one of Adrian's most lavish pieces in 'Mata Hari’ (seen above), in which Garbo portrays a notorious World War One spy. The long, shimmering gown, embellished with beads and draped in scarves and the matching embellished headdress and long, dangling earrings give the entire garment a very Egyptian feel. The opulent ensemble cost $2,000 to make and reportedly weighed over fifty pounds. Today, the garment would be worth over $29,000.
Garbo decided to retire early, retreating from the public eye and enjoying a life of privacy until her death in 1990. She will forever be remembered for her astounding acting, endless charisma and celebrated timeless style - whether she was dressed to be seen or dressing just for herself - Garbo’s influence on fashion (and on women) was inescapable.