A few weeks ago, I caught two Bette Davis films, Dark Victory and Now, Voyager. I have to admit, I've never been a Bette Davis fan in the remotest. But in these two old movies, incredibly, the whole range of womanhood flows out from her: tenderness, forcefulness, wisdom, fear, love, loneliness and, of course, passion. All of it tempered with her unusual forthrightness and independent strength. She's magnificent. The acting is great. But I have to admit that the clothing is equally fantastic.
In beautifully chic, close-fitting silhouettes and dark, rich gowns (by costume designer Orry Kelly) that draped in sophisticated fashion across her form, Davis was the height of restrained glamour. That's something that never goes out of style. I actually think a Bette Davis of today would have plenty of good options to pick from. Donna Karan's 2009 fall/winter collection (elegant draped jersey pieces in black or a bold primary color), to begin with. Fluidity undergirded by assertive elegance.
Right: Donna Karan 2009 Fall Collection via style.com
A deceptively simple, silk Bottega Veneta sheath, like the ones designer Tomas Maier sent down the runway for fall, would be perfect. Some of his dresses--with their polish and luxe sensuality--are signature Bette.
Right: Bottega Veneta 2009 Collection via style.com
And finally and most definitely, a modern Bette would look to Paris-based, Australian designer Martin Grant for strong new classics that give old stand-bys (like the skirt suit or the little black dress) a subtle kick in the pants. I can already see his exquisite voluminous blouse on her...
Right: Martin Grant 2009 Fall Collection via style.com