Famous dressing rooms of vintage Hollywood stars

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Petra Bjelica
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Vintage starlets: Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Elizabeth Taylor

The image of a captivating actress resting or dressing in front of a vanity table epitomizes the glamor of old Hollywood.

Today, the style of these actresses is fascinating, and many people wish to have their own personal space in the form of a dressing room or vanity table in their own homes. A touch of vintage glamor, as depicted in the old Hollywood movies.

Dressing rooms and vanity tables have been an important part of both private and social lives of affluent women since the 17th and 18th century. During the 19th century especially, toilet tables revived many past styles, such as Classical, Baroque, Renaissance and Rococo. But it is in the Art Deco historical period that the design of these personal spaces came to be of the utmost importance.

Marilyn Monroe

In the golden era of Hollywood, during the 1920s and 30s, the image of the femme fatale popularized this whole ritual of dedication to personal appearance.

The greatest movie icons like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, and Lauren Bacall had luxurious dressing rooms on film sets, where they rested and prepared behind the scenes. In the Golden Age of Hollywood, where everything was made to impress, the private spaces of these divas were sometimes as marvelous as the movie sets themselves.

Marlene Dietrich was famous for her opulent style and exhibitionism that manifested in massive mirrors and real zebra hides. But she had the down-to-earth habit to clean her dressing rooms from the top to the bottom by herself before using them. One of her unusual requests was to insist on the largest possible refrigerator that she used for carefully storing flowers that were thrown at the stage after her performance and were used all over again for the same purpose until the end of her show. Joan Crawford had a mini fridge – an unusual item in that time – which she used for keeping ingredients for complexion treatments such as lemons, ice cubes, and witch-hazel.

Marlene Dietrich

For Gloria Swanson, her skin tone was of utmost importance so she had special lights strong as those in the studio in order to keep it as perfect as on set. Elizabeth Taylor arranged to have the sitting area of the vanity room in her Bel Air estate wrapped in lavender-colored silk to match her purple eyes. Natural light was very important to her so her beauty table was surrounded with large windows, and in the middle, she had a floral printed armchair.

If you’re interested in creating your own version of a vintage dressing room, there are a few things you should look to include.

Vanity tables and dressing rooms are meant to look expensive. Include luxurious items, such as chandeliers, exotic flowers, perfume bottles, makeup, a soft ottoman, satin, silk, feathers, and other decorations. Most importantly, a great deal of light and a full-length mirror – maybe even more than one!

Elizabeth Taylor

It should be possible to emulate the glamorous style of the past for your own space while including some personal details. It should be a functional space, with enough storage for your clothes, shoes, and cosmetics. Crucially, it should be comfortable enough to allow an air of elegant nonchalance like that for which old Hollywood is known. Additionally, choose the fabrics and colors carefully to maintain a feeling of softness and light, including colors like champagne, pink, white, cream, and ivory.

These are just some ideas you can use. With a little touch of your own personal style, combined with inspiration from vintage Hollywood, you can achieve an aura of grace, beauty, and sophistication–a perfect place to recline with a glass of champagne!