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RIP.....Lauren Bacall: A Fashion Tribute and My Father's Zurich Switzerland Airport Lounge Meeting

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The Look: Lauren Bacall

Yesterday, Lauren Bacall passed away at the age of 89 after suffering a stroke at her longtime home in The Dakota overlooking Central Park in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The legendary film and stage actress was known for her sultry looks and deep husky voice. I also remember her as a Fashion Icon.

Midriff-Exposing Glamour: Lauren Bacall

Anytime I think of Muses that have inspired me and keep inspiring me as a fashion designer, Lauren Bacall is on the top of that list. She always exuded a strong, confidence and devilish sexy style yet you still knew, wherever she went, who was in control. I also have a short little story about my "Three Degrees of Separation" from the legendary Lauren Bacall, a little story about my father meeting with her at an airport lounge in Europe in the late 50's--it's pretty good, so for that you'll have to keep reading to the end of the blog...

But first, let's talk about The Legend... 
Born Betty Joan Perske, her parents divorced when she was five and Betty took on her mother's surname, Bacal, but--as the story goes--added the extra 'l' so people could pronounce it correctly. Her career began with teenage modeling and later went on to stage and screen acting. Her director on "To Have and Have Not" Howard Hawks suggested--no--told the then Betty, to change her name to "Lauren". Done and done, as they say. She was nominated three times for an Emmy, won a Golden Globe, two Tony Awards and an honorary Academy Award.

Don't Mess With Me Fellow: Lauren Bacall's "The Look"

Lauren Bacall's smoldering, confident expression--the down-turned face and up-turned eyes (see pic above)--earned her the nickname "The Look". Ironically, Bacall has said that she originally struck that now infamous look because she felt insecure.

The Loves:
Cocktail Hour: Bogart, Bacall and Sinatra

In 1945 Lauren Bacall married Humphrey Bogart. She was 20 and he was 45. He called her "Baby" naturally. Their marriage--which lasted until his death from cancer in 1957--cemented her, and them, as THE Royal Couple of Hollywood.

Bogart and Bacall: Wedding Day, 1945

Jet Set: Mr. and Mrs. Bogart, traveling in style

What A Threesome: Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe

Shortly after his death, Lauren Bacall began dating Frank Sinatra: 
Light me up: Frank Sinatra and Lauren Bacall

Sinatra proposed to her but ended the relationship once the proposal story had been "spilled" to the press. She later married actor Jason Robards Jr. from 1961-1969. In her autobiography, she has said that the marriage ended because of his alcoholism. Bacall had a son and daughter with Bogart and another son from her marriage to Robards Jr.

The Fashion Muse:
Jersey Goddess: Lauren Bacall, 1940's

The "marriage" between Lauren Bacall and Fashion began very early when she began modeling during her teenage years for fashion magazines such as Harper's Bazaar and Vogue before her acting career took off...

Lauren Bacall on the cover of Harper's Bazzar, 1943--The Cover that Changed Her Life

During all her years in Hollywood, she worked with all the iconic Costume Designers including Milo Anderson, Travilla, Edith Head and Norman Norell, who all costumed her for films such as "How To Marry A Millionaire", "Sex And The Single Girl" and "Young Man With a Horn" among others.

Never Met a Strong Shoulder (pad) She Did Not Like: Lauren Bacall

Effortless Chic: Lauren Bacall,  Harper's Bazaar 1957

Lauren Bacall was known for her Structured, Tailored looks and Menswear-Inspired fashion but also combined it with sexy vamp-glamour looks. It was evident that Bacall knew the power of Fashion and what it could convey.

Zebra Chic: Lauren Bacall gets "exotic"

During the 60's and 70's, Bacall became (naturally) a Muse to many of the top Couturiers. She was also a paying Haute Couture client. Whereas nowadays Hollywood actresses get a $100,000 gown loaned to them for FREE, Lauren Bacall actually wrote checks, darling. And the Couturiers loved her back...

Designer and Muse: Yves Saint Laurent with Lauren Bacall

Yves Saint Laurent and Bacall developed a powerful relationship, both as designer-client as well as friends. It was inevitable that the fashion designer who is credited for putting women in pants, would eventually meet the one-and-only Lauren Bacall and they would have mutual admiration for each other. She was a client of his for many, many years.

Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture evening ensemble--Fall/Winter 1973 Collection--Cardigan embroidered with gold, gray and silver; sand colored chiffon blouse and gray flannel pants--Made-to-order for actress Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall, Yves Saint Laurent and Bacall's daughter Leslie Bogart--both mom and daughter clad in matching Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture

Couture Shopping: Leslie Bogart and mother Lauren Bacall, Paris 1960's

Lauren Bacall with Pierre Cardin

Lauren Bacall being fitted by Pierre Cardin  for a Pierre Cardin Couture dress, 1968

Lauren Bacall with Parisian Couturier Pierre Cardin with French actor Alain Delon holding Bacall's daughter Leslie  

And now onto my dad's cute story of having a "Run-In" with Lauren Bacall:
My father, James Verreos (and yes, that's me!)

My father was a Diplomat and worked for the U.S. State Department from the 1950's-1970's. During this time, he had many duties abroad. Between 1954-1959, he was a Diplomatic Courier assigned in Frankfurt, Germany. On one of his many trips, he was at the Zurich International Airport Lounge en route back to Frankfurt via Swiss Air (pre-jet age!) carrying secret diplomatic "pouches" when a woman sat next to him...

The woman struck up a conversation asking my dad if he was an American and what he was doing in Zurich. After hearing that distinctive throaty voice, my father realized that THE Lauren Bacall was A) sitting next to him, and B) was actually talking to him! After my dad told Bacall that he was a Diplomatic Courier, she subsequently asked if it was "as exciting as people think it is". My dad joked "No, not as exciting as it is portrayed in 'the movies'". Soon--he remembers--one of their flights was announced over the lounge's loudspeaker and their quick conversation was over. To this day, my dad recounts the story with a smile on his face. Thank you Lauren Bacall for making my father's day and for being a Style Inspiration to his son.

RIP Lauren Bacall

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