Sunday, January 8, 2012

Queen of the Wardrobe Change

"That time? O times
I laughed him out of patience; and that night
I laugh'd him into patience; and next morn,
Ere the ninth hour, I drunk him to his bed,
Then put my tires and mantles on him, whilst
I wore his sword Philippan."

- Cleopatra (from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra)

The Macedonian, Cleopatra VII,  was the last Pharaoh of Egypt. A Master self-promoter she presented herself, despite being wholly Greek, as the reincarnation of the Egyptian goddess Isis.
She seduced her most likely conquerer, Julius Caesar, and in one or so nights she seeded an heir that would protect her and her empire, seemingly becoming pregnant on command (gots to got a plan!). She even managed to commit suicide in a sexy way (worthy of hundreds of oil paintings depicting the titillating moment that asp meets breast.)

Cleopatra is a role of a lifetime, most obviously because of the accompanying wardrobe. Today I obsessed a bit over old Hollywood's vision of the royal, and the vintage starlets who got to portray her.
An exquisite Vivien Leigh (Caesar and Cleopatra, 1945)

A Cheeky Sophia Loren (Two Nights With Cleopatra, 1964)
A demure, composed Piper Laurie (Caesar and Cleopatra, 1959)

Debra Paget (Cleopatra’s Daughter, 1960)
Liz, in the film that launched the affair that brought us the Burton diamond. Despite his purportedly calling her a "fat, little tart" on the set, he later said "her mind is like a poem". (Cleopatra, 1963)

Claudette Colbert in Cecil B. DeMille's camp-filled Cleopatra (1934)

Unknown Actress as Cleopatra on the cover of De Heldinnen der Liefde (1927)

Theda Bara (Cleopatra, 1917)
Thandie Newton's homage to Bara for a Virgin Media Shorts promotion.


  1. How did you like HBO's "Rome"? I adored the costumes and sets as much as the stories!

  2. I haven't seen it. There are, like, 30 good shows out there I just can't cram in even with TiVo.

  3. We watched it on DVD from Netflix. It's the only show I've watched each episode twice in a row - once without the commentary then with it.