Lauren Bacall was a real “looker” in the most fashionable sense of the word and soon The Museum at FIT will devote its galleries to her esteemed style with “Lauren Bacall The Look.”
Five months after the Academy Award winning actress’ death at the age of 89, FIT’s School of Graduate Studies will help unveil the first exhibition dedicated to her career and signature elan. On-screen choices such as the hot pink Norman Norell wool coat Bacall wore in the 1964 flick “Sex and the Single Girl,”as well as off-screen ones like a black silk Emanuel Ungaro pantsuit are among the garments that will be on view when the monthlong show bows March 3.
All of the selections were culled from the 700 items Bacall donated to the museum between 1968 and 1986. Museum visitors will be greeted at the entrance with the 1943 Louise Dahl-Wolfe photo of a then 19-year-old Bacall that Diana Vreeland used for a Harper’s Bazaar cover. The New York-bred actress was in tight with Norell and other influential designers like Pierre Cardin, Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro and Marc Bohan. So much so, that she convinced that quartet of talent to join her in a 1968 CBS television special called “Bacall and the Boys,” which spotlighted their fall collections. Photos of the fivesome will be on view as well as a few of the ensembles she donned for the show such as a fuschia Pierre Cardin dress with 3D pyramid shapes, ostritch feathers at the wrists. Her fearlessness about fashion and confidence will also be evident in a silk jersey Christian Dior gown with ostritch feathers accenting the wrists and hemline. Another bold statement will be Norell’s “subway coat,” a seemingly modest tan coat that has a gold sequined lining a coordinating sequin sheath dress.
Of course, “The Look” would not be complete without examples of her menswear-inspired style including wide-legged pants, high waistlines an kerchiefs tied at the neck as a wink as men’s ties. A myriad of photos of Bacall will line the galleries, and organizers insist that her chicness never waned even as the decades passed. The striking beauty actually started out as a teenage showroom model in 1941 at the long-since-shuttered David Crystal and sam Friedlander collections. As much as she became a style icon, Bacall never took to the modeling life, telling WWD in 1996, “I was a terrible model. I was terrified and bony.”