Keighley Rockcliffe, Fashion Department '14
December 20, 2011
Filed under Archive
When thought of, Cleopatra attains an air of mystery, an intoxication that has drawn in professor after poet after playwright. Her legacy is immortalized, encased in an ember fused by her remarkable sense of fashion.
As an Egyptian monarch, Cleopatra was worshipped, thought of as a goddess along with the rest of her family. This, no doubt, fueled her fixation with beauty. Cleopatra’s extraordinary knack for reinventing herself made her a sensation among Egyptians, Romans, and much of the Mediterranean. Word of her glorious costumes spread far and wide. Her styles set marvelous trends that created an era of luxury.
Most styles associated with Cleopatra involve a golden chain headdress worn about the hair almost as if a wig. Another distinctive trait for Cleopatra’s designs was a white flowing dress that knotted at the breasts. The Egyptian Queen introduced unique hairstyles and jewelry. One of her most famous items was her pearl earrings. Valued at more than a couple of homes, Cleopatra’s earrings have intrigued many for ages, not just for their beauty, but their story as well. To win a bet, Cleopatra dissolved one of her pearl earrings in vinegar and then swallowed it. Once the most treasured pearls in existence then became a new and exciting spark to jewelry’s impact on culture. Another of her trademarks was the serpentine armlets that wrapped themselves around her arms. The irony in that is Cleopatra supposedly committed suicide by having a poisonous snake bite her in the arm. Makeup became popular under Cleopatra’s influence, especially around the eyes. She tended to wear thick kohl eye shadow, making her eyes really stand out. Balancing out her
white draped attire, Cleopatra would adorn some flares of vibrancy with colorful belts, necklaces, and bracelets. At times, she would wear imperial purple outfits, dressing herself in all dazzling purple. Occasionally her desire for vibrancy would consume her whole ensemble. As though an internal fire, brought out by her alluring personality, enveloped her with bright and glittering gold, making her outfit a work of art. A costume most known for this striking style was the Garb of Aphrodite. A shower of gold from its intricate headdress to its necklace and gown, it was an ensemble fit for the goddess of beauty for who it was named. Cleopatra, knowing the splendor of her masterpiece, used it to seduce Marc Antony, a Roman leader who wanted her dead. An amethyst ring from her mother was said to have bewitched Antony into falling in love with Cleopatra.
Many myths have erupted of the enchanting affect her style had on her audience, but sadly, after her untimely death, the extravagance, the magic, faded away. No matter her reasons for wearing such ornate and beautiful clothes, whether for political savvy or an intense longing to feel attractive or just to wear what she thought was pretty, Cleopatra made a permanent impression on the history of culture and fashion.