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Eva Peron – Style Icon Evita

December 31, 2016

Although possibly not one of the first people you automatically associate with fashion. Argentinian former first lady, Eva Peron has become an international figure in popular culture. Her persuasive attitude, passion and rags to riches story lead the way for Eva’s short yet influential life to become a Hollywood blockbuster. This hit film reflected on the popularity and love for an iconic women in history.

Eva Peron’s’ beginnings

After living a life of grinding poverty as a young girl, Eva Peron is now considered to be an inspiration and a legendary fashion icon. At the tender age of just 15 Eva moved to Buenos Aires – Argentina’s capital, where she became a successful actress and radio star. Her success led her to meet Peron, soon to be president of Argentina. A year after they met they were married, making Eva the First Lady. Eva did a lot of work for the lower classes and campaigned for women’s rights. ‘When the rich think about the poor, they have poor ideas’. She wasn’t afraid to hold the hands of lepers, or to kiss people suffering from diseases. This made her the most loved woman in Argentina.

Eva Peron – Style choices

Eva took great care with how she was dressed, she felt she owed it to the people to always look glamorous. One special room in the palace was devoted to her furs, another for her hats, and another for her perfume.  At one point, it was noted that Eva had worn 306 dresses in less than a year. Apparently Eva’s collection of jewellery was the largest owned by any woman since Cleopatra! As she did lots of work for the lower class, many designers, for example Dior, would hide the fact they designed for Eva, worrying this would annoy some of their most elite clients. She was loved and loathed in Argentina. Some of the upper class thought of her as a hypocrite ‘for wearing Dior and diamonds whilst allying with the poor’. Though the majority of the lower classes found her an inspiration with her “rags to riches” story.

Eva Peron Museum - image credit: Víctor Santa María Flickr CC

Eva Peron Museum – image credit: Víctor Santa María Flickr CC

Eva Peron – Passion and influence

When Eva was just 33, she fell ill with uterine cancer. She was never told of the seriousness of her illness, she was only told she had anemia. Although its was evident she must have sensed that something was wrong because she doubled her efforts, working like a woman who knew the clock was ticking. A ballot box was even brought into her hospital room so that she could vote for the first time. The truth of Eva’s illness was kept, not only from her, but also from the people of Argentina. As her life slipped away, Eva’s speeches became more violent, filled with passion. ‘Answer violence with violence’. If one of us falls today, five of them must fall tomorrow.’

Her last public appearance was at Peron’s second inauguration. She was not seen again until after her death, when the nation passed into a mourning that wasn’t seen again until the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

Eva Peron – The film Evita

18 years later, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber released ‘Evita’, a popular musical, starring Elaine Paige and David Essex. The release of the hit single ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ made Eva internationally famous. The subsequent film starring Madonna upset Argentinians, feeling her provocative nature was unsuitable to play a woman many consider to be the Latin American equivalent of the Virgin Mary.

Evita posters - image credit: alister Flickr CC

Evita posters – image credit: alister Flickr CC

Eva Peron – Style icon

After her premature death, Eva still has influence over the fashion industry. A 2010 collection by Jorge Ibanez was inspired by Evita; with fabulous ball gowns, hats, diamonds and lookalike models. The whole show oozed Eva’s glamour, and there was even a dramatic ending. Valeria Lynch, the first Argentine singer to play Eva in the musical sang ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ on a balcony overlooking the catwalk – wearing an Ibanez suit of course. Upon being asked what he would have designed for Eva if she were still alive today, Ibanez replied without hesitation “I would have made her a black velvet dress with a touch of crystals.

Eva Peron was an inspiration. She broke new barriers for women, showing them just what a woman could achieve.  She gave hope to the poor who had none, and gave them a future. Whilst maybe not being as well known as Marilyn or Audrey, many believe she is one of the world’s most influential women and renowned fashion icons.

Buenos Aires - Palermo: Museo Evita - Eva Perón's dresses - image credit: Wally Gobetz

Buenos Aires – Palermo: Museo Evita – Eva Perón’s dresses – image credit: Wally Gobetz

 

 

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