Lauren Bacall had one state when the Fashion Institute of Technology wrote lately to inquire if it might turn hundreds of private garments she contributed about her design into an exhibit.
“Lauren said, ‘Yes, it is good, provided that it is high quality — Diana Vreeland design,'” remembered Valerie Steele, manager of The Museum at FIT.
Throughout her years, Bacall had not forgotten the trend editor who plucked her from a Seventh Avenue showroom floor and delivered her to the door via the pages of Harper’s Bazaar of Hollywood at age 19.
And next spring, Steele’s museum — with the help of FIT graduate students learning how to curate — will execute its guarantee in a show focused on five designers who helped define Bacall’s subtle seductiveness, her complex mixture of classic femininity and raw manly power in trend.
Bacall, who died at 89, was a style dear of a type that is unique. A model at 16, a regular wearer of layouts by Norman Norell and later a buddy of Yves Saint Laurent, she wore the garments — not the other way around.
“Yves actually epitomized this notion of effortlessness. It is like Yves never was trying overly difficult and I believe that occasionally is the hardest thing to attain,” said designer Peter Som.
“That gaze, the voice, the hair. It was simply that assurance. That was something that I believe men as well as women equally could relate to,” he said.
Among Som’s favorite Bacall trend minutes is an informal one from 1946. She is leaning in a picture on a bended knee braced on a stool near a hearth in loose turtleneck suit and a wool trouser. The pleats are sharp as well as the sleeves billowy. The single skin bared: Som’s feet -wedge coasts her piercing touch tide and sideward glance of long blonde hair took the look in a fresh way.
“Som was the reverse of Marilyn Monroe’s obvious sexuality, yet she still oozed sensuality out of every pore,” he said. “The garments are really so simple and so elegant, and they still feel today so important. They feel like clothes you kind of need to wear.”
In vogue, onscreen and away, Bacall was the grown up as a teenager, said others and Som.
Eric Wilson, the trend news manager for InStyle magazine, fondly notes her character turning the tables in the business when she played a designer in the 1957 movie “Designing Woman.”
“There is this dress, what is apparently a light gray sleeveless dress with a loosely covered halter top, also it turns out to be her wedding dress,” Eric clarifies.