While celebrities are a dime a dozen today, they weren’t in the early days of Hollywood’s ‘20s-’30s infancy and so stars like Greta Garbo were both film and fashion icons to people like you and I.
Garbo was perhaps the most loved film actress of this time along with handful of other female stars (Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich and Jean Harlow are others) who besides great acting skills, were influencers to 1930s fashion because designers reproduced what they wore in movies for their collections.
That’s why ‘30s style (unlike flapper fashions of 1920s clothing) is so glamorous, ethereal and in a lot of ways as mystical as the movie mavens themselves. The hard economic climate called for fantasy fashion that like film, removed women from the troubles of the times to a land of romanticism and magic far, far away. [9 photos]
Garbo is as much an inspiration today as she was 80 years ago. Her vintage style felt so modern for the time and if you dig deeper into Garbo’s biography, you’ll learn that as a woman she was quite independent and forward-thinking for her generation as well.
Born in Sweden as Greta Lovisa Gustafsson, the young actress was discovered by American movie executives after acting in the 1924 Swedish silent film The Saga of Gosta Berling.
MGM lured the non English speaking 20-year-old to Hollywood in 1925, where she began a highly successful career but despite the public’s infatuation with her, a highly private personal life, too. After acting in 24 films over her illustrious career, Garbo unofficially retired from the movie industry in the 1950s and led a secluded “normal” life living in New York City, where she died at age 84. She is quoted as saying, “It wasn’t that I wanted to be alone, it was that I wanted to be left alone.”
Exploring photos of Greta Garbo for this post revealed that the 1920s and 1930s silver screen starlet didn’t need to smile to make a photo beautiful. Her striking features were (and still are) enough to capture the attention of anyone who comes across her pictures. Garbo sat for portraits from some of the most famous photographers, who used light, shadow and Garbo’s natural style persuasion to set the mood and let her true beauty stand for itself.
Give each of these photos a moment’s pause to feel the intensity of Garbo’s darkly set eyes. It’s thanks to those eyes that perhaps she didn’t feel the need to smile in most of her portraits and why for those who acclaim her, Garbo defined the power of silent femininity.
Which of Garbo’s silent smiles are your favorite?
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