Tamara de Lempicka, Style Icon

Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980) was a style icon for the ages. The Polish painter depicted people with her own unique chiseled, geometric look with a heavy art deco flair and rose to fame in Paris in the 1920s. Think: expert shadowing that made faces look like they were made of carved wood, and lucid colors and texture that helped the robe-like fashions echo visions of Greek togas flowing in the wind.

And as if that wasn’t enough–the makeup itself should be studied in her work. Particularly when it comes to her self-portraits. Tamara de Lempicka was not just a painter, she was a maximalist eccentric icon who documented her own look through the lens of her self-portraits.

Take, for example, the infamous Autoportrait (Tamara in a Green Bugatti). This painting was commissioned by the German fashion magazine Die Dame for the front cover. The chic little riding helmet is something to behold and really looks like it’s straight out of a Prada runway show. But beyond that, we can see the artist’s fine attention to lighting and details that feel so wholly envisioned only through the gaze of a woman: the finely drawn-on brows, the bright rounded little lips and the hazy, almost purple smoke effect on the lids. It’s pure chiaroscuro heaven.

At the time, the portrait was a statement of empowerment. In reality, she actually owned a modest little yellow Renault, and it would have been somewhat rare to see a woman driving a luxury car in Paris in the 1920s.

Tamara de Lempicka, style icon and painter, would go on to have a historical career in a fine art setting as well as in fashion magazines like Harper’s Bazaar. She was often seen out and about with the highest ring of social circles in Paris, with Salvador Dali and other artists.

What her characters wore in her paintings riffed off of the fashion happening at the time with an incredible, futurist viewpoint that took a little bit from the surrealists and a hint from the cubists and turned it all in something else. At the same time, Tamara de Lempicka’s personal style was equally influential. She was often seen wearing similar makeup styles to the masterpieces depicted in her portraits. As for her outfits, she opted for severe suiting or sheer, gossamer-like column shaped gowns, pleated blouses, chiffon and tulle tops, beaded and embellished sweaters, dramatic hoods, and plenty of pearls. Like the women she painted, she was a vision.

Photos via Wikipedia, Britannica, The Collector, and more

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