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Style Icons: the 40s
Written by Stephanie Mariani   
Vivienne Leigh, Ava Gardner, Ingrid Bergmann and Rita Hayworth all conjour images of wonderful 1940s glamour. AskBronny investigates the star style of the 40s.
Much of what we remember about 1940s fashion surrounds Hollywood glitz and glamour. It was an era where elegance and beauty dominated the catwalks and  movie screens with the finness and star quality from women of that era. Naturally, it was the Europeans who kicked off a fashion frenzy in the 40s and designers in the US went abroad to get inspiration from French couture.  

Highlights from this era in fashion included narrow hips, padded shoulders, austere silhouettes and hats! Yes hats were big way back in the 40s. Upon returning back home, American designers developed the separated and coordinates concept to create the illusion of having more outfits – this would probably been the origins of what we now know as layering. Wrap dresses were popular in the 40s and so were turtle neck tops and ruffled skirts. As far as shoes were concerned, wedgies were in! Yes those beautiful wedge heels you have in your wardrobes were around way back in the time of your grandparents or parents! Women of the 40s were also wearing gloves, brooches and bandanas to accessorize themselves. Hair was long and very neat and makeup was simple – liquid eyeliner, matte red lips and false eyelashes.

Prominent ladies from this era included Rita Hayworth, Vivien Leigh, Ava Gardner and Ingrid Bergman. These actresses gave more than exceptional acting to the world - they also revealed the very best of 40s fashion making them icons of their time.

Rita Hayworth
Known as the ‘Love Goddess’ and ‘the best dressed girl in Hollywood’, Rita Hayworth’s name just rolls off your tongue. She was famous for wearing silks, satins and off the shoulder gowns that made her a star attraction. French designer Jean Louis was responsible for Rita’s wardrobe and hence created her elegant image. The designer knew every detail of the actress’s body and knew what to accentuate. It was help from Jean Louis that helped Rita become a timeless fashionista.

Vivien Leigh
Her most famous role was as Scarlett O’ Hara in Gone with the Wind but Vivien Leigh‘s other famous role was being a fashion icon of the 40s. Known for always being dressed elegantly, Leigh was known for her chic, stylish and feminine look which many women emulated. It was her hair in Gone with the Wind that took on a following of its own – she had it gathered up in a snood (which is a hood or hairnet that is worn over long hair). Women around the world wanted hair just like hers making her a true fashion icon.

Ava Gardner
One of  the most beautiful actresses of her  time, Ava Gardner is remembered for her elegance and sleek style. She often wore strapless dresses and gowns. Her trademark was long sexy gloves and lots of  jewelry. She wore clothes that hugged her figure including fitted skirts and wide belts which seem to be a la` mode at the moment!  

Ingrid Bergman
As Isabella Rossellini’s mother, Ingrid Bergman style transcended onto her offspring. Ingrid chose to adopt a natural and fresh look during the 40s which made her one of the rare actresses who chose to avoid the Hollywood make-over. For this, she indeed became an icon of the 40s.

The 40s will forever  be embedded in history thanks to elegant and luxurious fashion creations. Style icons like Rita Hayworth, Vivien Leigh, Ingrid Bergman, and Ava Gardner indeed helped 40s fashion flourish and sew itself into the fashion timeline.

It was an era about looking exquisite – something AskBronny can always help you with. For any other info on other style icons, just AskBronny or check out our article What Makes A Style Icon

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