Story: Nick M.
Photos: Getty, Loew’s Inc., Fox, Paramount 

This month, Heritage Fashion looks at the lives and careers of four legendary beauties of Hollywood

Vivien Leigh

Tragic beauty Vivien Leigh

Born in India, British actress Vivien Leigh rose from the stage and screen in England to superstardom in Hollywood with her role as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939), winning a Best Actress Oscar along the way. With a sensual and mesmerizing charm, Vivien Leigh went on to play several notable leading parts, some alongside Laurence Olivier, with whom she had a passionate and tempestuous romance.

Leigh and Olivier were both married when they met but began an affair that eventually led to both divorcing their respective spouses and then re-marrying each other. Their relationship became a two-decade Hollywood love story full of drama and eventually heartbreak.

Leigh died in 1967, at just 53 years old, from tuberculosis. These days, Vivien Leigh is still remembered as the embodiment of strong-willed women who aspire to love and be loved.

Marilyn Monroe

Bombshell Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was the epitome of the Hollywood blond bombshell, noted for her platinum hair, red cherry lips and Venus-like physical curves. In the 1950s, she was became an icon of world cinema and a top sex symbol of the era.

Marilyn Monroe rose to heights of fame and acclaim from a troubled childhood in which she was orphaned at a young age. By the beginning of the 1960s, the  star was facing personal difficulties with health problems and relationship turmoil. In 1962, Monroe was found dead, at the age of 36. Over the decades, conspiracy theories from murder to an accidental overdose have emerged about the Hollywood legend’s tragic death, but no conclusive proof has ever been found.

Audrey Hepburn

Hollywood Princess Audrey Hepburn

In the 1950s, Audrey Hepburn was placed on the other end of the spectrum from Marilyn Monroe. With a slender build and pixie-ish demeanor, the British actress became a different sort of style and beauty icon.  She won an Oscar for her performance as Princess Ann in romantic comedy Roman Holiday (1953), but her defining role came in Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961). Her star turn as New York socialite Holly Golightly created an indelible impression in the annals of style, with Hepburn unforgettable in her “little black dress” by Givenchy and pearl necklace.

Hepburn became a symbol of sophisticated and chic beauty and has remained an icon and inspiration for subsequent generations of women. While fashion trends come and go, Hepburn’s style has simply never gone out of style.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor – Violet-eyed beauty

Hollywood has had countless beautiful stars but there was something almost otherworldly about Elizabeth Taylor, particularly due to her stunning eyes, which had a rare purple color. Starting as a child actress at age nine, the British-American star had a career that spanned decades and which won captured the hearts of filmgoers as well as serious critical acclaim. Taylor won a pair of Best Actress Oscars, for her roles in Butterfield 8 (1960) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966).

Despite her radiant beauty, Taylor had a famously tumultuous love life, cycling through an astonishing eight husbands. She got married for the first time at 18 to the heir of Hilton Hospitality Group – Conrad Hilton Jr. However, the marriage just lasted half a year. Over the course of the next 40 years, she got married, divorced and remarried anew, even marrying her frequent co-star Richard Burton twice.