Liz Taylor’s slip

In Famous people, Lingerie on March 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Take one length of silk satin, some ecru lace, add one of the most beautiful women who ever lived and you have a truly iconic garment. Liz Taylor’s slip in Butterfield 8.

Or, come to think of it, Liz Taylor’s slip in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

For as long as I can remember, the image of her in those petticoats has been for me the very essence of true womanhood. Femininity at its most powerful. And with no more flesh on show than you’d see at a cocktail party.

I must have been quite a young girl when I first saw those films, randomly catching them, as you did back then, on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I was entranced. I still am.

I watched Butterfield 8 again last night, as a tribute to Ms Taylor, who died on Wednesday, and was breathless with admiration from the opening shot.

By the moment when she’s trying the fur coat on over the slip, I was practically hyperventilating. Then she waltzes out to get a taxi in that combo, plus the perfect pointy gold pumps, of course. Cinematic bliss. I am woman, hear me roar.

Between hot flushes of worship I was trying to analyse what makes Liz’s slip so astonishingly amazing. Mainly her body, of course, the perfect hip to waist ratio, ideal boob size, also her skin, so deliciously dewy on the shoulders, but really it’s the fit of the thing.

That was a made-to-measure slip, for sure, with some kind of fiendishly clever firming undergarment on the stomachular/derriere area. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d stitched her into it.

It makes me want to rush immediately to Paris and have one fitted at Sabbia Rosa*.

The all-white slip in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is very nearly as good. It fits as beautifully and is only just a tiny bit less divine than the satin and contrasting lace of the other. Glorious against her tan.

And thanks to Tennessee Williams, that film also happens to have one of the best scripts in history (‘You no-neck monsters!’), the legendary white Grecian dress – and Paul Newman. I’ll be watching that tonight.

I’m sure those films were what inspired Helena Christensen’s fabulous vintage slip with a vintage cashmere cardie over the top look, which remains my favourite style moment of the 1990s. I worked that combo as hard as I could in my gorgeous Collette Dinnigan versions (all of which I still have…).

And in that same decade I went to a fancy dress party in just my black silk slip (bought in Hong Kong), pointy pumps, red nails and a big hair do, in my own little homage to Gloria Wandrous and Maggie the Cat.

I probably looked hideous, but I felt all woman and had a wonderful time. So thank you Miss Taylor for being an inspiration to us all. For all that – and the legendary fund- and awareness-raising for AIDS charities, she will be much missed.

And never equalled.

* Sabbia Rosa is the glorious lingerie shop where Madonna, Naomi and every other beauty you can identify by their first name alone buy the slips of chiffon they call underwear. They have a made-to-measure service, but nothing as vulgar as a website.

I used always to stay in a hotel a few doors up and while I would always look in the windows like a hungry dog, was too shy ever to go in. When I win the lottery, it will be one of my first stops.

Sabbia Rosa, 71-73 rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris
tel: +(01)-45-48-88-37

  1. Oh I’m riding nicely along your train of thought with this one!
    Speaking as someone who actually sees potential in silk and lace thermals for an erotic vignette, I agree that the wondrous Miss Taylor looked fantastic in that silkslip/fur coat combo, did she not? The ideal outfit for a sulky pout and a heated argument!

    It’s a powerful image. I’m currently wearing my own modest lingerie homage to a 1980s French Elle mag; long sweater and white lawn camiknickers – damn it – it’s still in my mind!

    Now I too hanker after thinner-than-your-veins straps on a wisp of a bit of silk. Sigh.
    Thank you for your article. Now I realise I’m not alone…..

  2. I’ve got to track down some movies (hoping pay tv runs a marathon soon), but I’ve been wearing my own homage to Dame Taylor in the form of fabulous eyebrows. 🙂

  3. Beautiful, after my mum died I found a treasure trove of incredible silk slips, all ferreted away when she became a housewife and mother, wish I had any photos of her wearing them, so much luxurious self love in wearing just a slip

    Also we love Tennessee Williams in this house, Maggie the Cat and Blanche Du Bois are essential characters for every girl/woman’s education (in my humble opinion)

  4. Elizabeth Taylor was so beautiful and larger than life – she will be missed. I think Paul Newman was the most handsome man who has ever lived. They made a great couple in Cat on a hot tin roof.

  5. Thank you Maggie. A great tribute to a beautiful woman.

  6. Both Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Butterfield 8 were on tv in Aus last night. I watched them both and like you, was totally mesmerized by the slip and the white dress. Next time I go anywhere I’m wearing a white dress like that. Even if it’s just to Coles. Too beautiful.

  7. Thanks Maggie,
    She was so beautiful, she took one’s breath away. Sad to see the last photos though – we’re lucky to be able to watch those films and see her as she was-glorious femaleness.

  8. So glad you did an Elizabeth Taylor tribute! Thank you.

  9. Oh Maggie, you took the words right out of my mouth! I watched Cat on a Hot Tin Roof last night and was captivated by just 3 costume changes. The pencil skirt into that glorious slip.. I was all a flutter. Then the slip is covered by the most beautiful white dress ever seen. How is her waist so impossibly tiny? Cinched to perfection by the white belt. How breathtaking was she? I did a number of ab crunches in salute of her tiny waist and avoided the easter eggs I have hidden away, so entranced was I by her figure. Lovely post about a wonderful woman.

  10. Watch this with a box of tissues. She was beauty personified.

  11. Somehow it seems the last real movie star is gone.

    So beautiful, so glamourous- and those marvelous slips! However it’s constructed, without her figure and skin, and amazing face nothing like that is possible.

  12. I love that slip look, and I love, the reality, that she’s probably wearing some kind of serious girdling/shapewear underneath!

  13. Aren’t slips so stylish – bring back the slip!

  14. Hi Maggie, last night i went to the French Film Festival which is playing here in Canberra and saw Beautiful Lies, in which Nathalie Baye plays Audrey Tautou’s mother. Nathalie ends up walking through the streets of … Nice, maybe or Marseille – not sure where it is set – in her slip with a long cardigan over the top, barefoot, secretly following the young man who she thinks is admiring her from afar. I’m not sure if the director was referencing the Elizabeth Taylor slip scenes, but they really didn’t compare! I just liked the synergy of your column with this film. Cheers!

  15. Hi Maggie,
    What a lovely tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. It sure is time slips come back onto the fashion radar!
    Inspired by your post I created this one last night (have linked to you on the Liz Taylor pic – hope that is ok!)

    • Oh yes, we love links! Thank youxxxx ps will look when I have two minutes, right now I feel like I have slipped through a hole in the space time continuum….

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