Photo: Fairchild Archive
The loss of Elizabeth Taylor earlier this week induced not only fond remembrances—including our own—of the world's last Old Hollywood star, but also a wave of commentary about her impact as a style icon. Because, as the Times' Cathy Horyn points out, Taylor's "kind of style had nothing to do with luxury or imprisoning taste, but it had a great deal to do with living." Taylor was a star with a realness about her, albeit an incredibly beautiful realness, that was bafflingly both aspirational and rooted.
"In a way, though, the Elizabeth of the mid-'60s through the early '70s -- a period encompassing her first marriage to Burton and the making of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" -- is the one who is burned into memory," Horyn writes. "Here is the vulnerable, all-too-human goddess in slacks and sandals at Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, putting on her makeup; or in zesty, if unflattering, hot pants and white boots in London, or wearing diamonds as she plays a game of dominos on a set in Italy."
And speaking of diamonds, how can we not mention the stunning jewelry collection Taylor amassed? Since her death, the collection has been estimated to value around $150 million—in no small part due to her 69.42-carat Cartier diamond and her 33.19-carat Krupp diamond, both given to her by two-time husband Richard Burton.
But Taylor's legacy extends beyond diamonds (even White Diamonds). Among her great loves were her charities. At an event to raise money for AIDS research, Taylor took off the emerald and diamond engagement ring Burton proposed with and auctioned it for $240,000. Doing so, she said, ""Please know that it is not easy for me to give it away. It is only my commitment to AIDS that persuaded me to let it go. My love is inside that ring forever." —Phillip B. Crook