Style File: Marlene Dietrich
Posted on 04 July 2016
Actress and icon, Marlene Dietrich, was known for her sultry, sex appeal and voracious appetite for life. She dominated the silver screen throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Since her death in 1992 Dietrich’s influence on the fashion industry has only grown stronger, drawing inspiration from her iconic costuming and unique personal style; she once told a reporter, “glamour is what I sell, it’s my stock and trade”.
Born in Germany, Dietrich originally pursued a musical career but moved into the film industry in her teens. She began to explore traditional feminism and what it meant to be a woman within society. Dietrich was nominated for her first and only Oscar for her role as the cabaret singer Amy Jolly in Josef von Sternberg's 1930’s film ‘Morocco’, in which she dressed in drag and kissed a woman. At a time where homosexuality was still illegal in many countries to see a leading lady openly seduce another women - whilst wearing mens clothing - was scandalous. But Dietrich confidently broke down societal barriers with elegance and vivacity.
Dietrich challenged the accepted notion of what it meant to be feminine. She is most famous for her androgynous style and penchant for menswear. She wore distinctive, and now iconic, three piece suits which not only revolutionised but redefined women’s fashion. She is often credited as the woman who made trousers acceptable for women to wear. She once said, "I dress for myself. Not for the image, not for the public, not for the fashion, not for men."
Dietrich’s look took cues from German Expressionism and Art Deco, contrasting light and dark with her immaculately curled hair, sharp suits, and flawless makeup. The actress oozed classic Hollywood style, often choosing to adorn her enviable figure in luxe pieces from Dior and Lanvin, always accessorised with fur. No matter what she was wearing, Dietrich loved to top her outfits off with a chic hat. Whether it was a cloche, fedora, beret or top hat, she rocked each one with a natural, nonchalant confidence.
Whilst there are many things about Marlene Dietrich to draw inspiration from; her power suits, screen siren make up, luxe accessories, the most important lesson we take from Marlene is that the right attitude is everything. With the right attitude, you will never fail to look (and feel) amazing!