With the Elizabeth Taylor auction just weeks away at Christie's New York (Dec. 13-17), La Liz fashion fever is in high gear. Which is why it's the perfect time to swing by Neiman Marcus and check out the trunk show of the spring 2012 collection by Los Angeles designer Barbara Tfank. She was inspired by the legendary screen siren who died in March, to create a dazzling range of hip-hugging sheaths with slashed necklines, taffeta cocktail dresses with lace-trimmed decolletes and dramatic palazzo pants.
Tfank got her start in Hollywood and has always been a film buff. (Her husband, Peter Markham, heads the directing department at the American Film Institute Conservatory). Lately, she's been rewatching lots of Taylor films, listing "Butterfield 8" and "A Place in the Sun" as favorites.
"When you look at Elizabeth Taylor in the 1950s and 60s, there's no question she was one of the most beautiful women to ever live," Tfank says. "Beauty has been given such a bad rap lately, with this need for everything to be perversely beautiful or screwed up. But the way she was dressed by [costume designers] Edith Head and Helen Rose brings to mind the pleasure you can get from seeing someone so well and appropriately dressed."
Tfank has been on the road doing trunk shows, and says she's been hearing the same thing from customers everywhere she goes: Yhey are craving femininity and beauty. "We're living in such a troubled world," the designer says. "And it's this idea of beauty as comfort."
Tfank started her eponymous label in 2001. Her clothes, all made from exquisitely designed textiles, have been worn by Michelle Obama, Angelina Jolie and Adele, just to name a few.
Barbara Tfank trunk show, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday, Neiman Marcus 2nd Floor, 9700 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 550-5900.
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Top photo: Elizabeth Taylor and her third husband, producer and showman Michael Todd, react after he receives a best picture Oscar for "Around the World in 80 Days." The photo appears in the Los Angeles Times book, "High Exposure: Hollywood Lives -- Found Photos from the Archives of the Los Angeles Times."
Bottom photo: Looks from the Barbara Tfank spring 2012 runway collection shown during New York Fashion Week. Credit: Bryce Pincham