Louise Brooks

Who: Louise Brooks, silent film actress; flapper who popularized the iconic bob haircut; film critic; Nov. 14, 1906-Aug. 8, 1985

Why She Dazzles: Her look is iconic in film history—shingled black hair with red lips, which started a trend of women imitating her signature bob. She represented the glitz and glam of the Roaring Twenties and partied in style like Fitzgerald’s leading ladies, drinks included.

Why You Need to Know Her Today: Louise left Hollywood in 1938 because her studio wouldn’t give her a raise, and she wouldn’t give in to studio pressures of men wielding their power over her. Executives subsequently blacklisted her for her intellectual independence and outspokenness.

Louise struggled to find work after her lightning career in Hollywood ended. She became a sales girl at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City and later became a film critic. She wrote about her observations of the business and famous actors, and challenged the behavior and perspectives of Hollywood moguls. Her collection of essays, Lulu in Hollywood, showcases her wit and intelligence in a candid memoir.

What She Would Say—Because She Said It Then: “A well-dressed woman, even though her purse is painfully empty, can conquer the world.”  

Picture of citrine drop earrings by Andrea Leitch
Film historian Henri Langlois said, “There is no Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks!” *Jewelry by A New Lady

 

What She Would Wear to a Movie Premiere Tonight: Sparkling earrings in amber-hued citrine, her birthstone, made for A New Lady. The height of her fame in the 1920s was an era of drop earrings and dropped silhouette dresses. Gatsby glam celebrated art deco style, symmetrical and simplistic with lots of decorative gold.

Picture of a greeting card of 1920s Vogue magazine cover
“The New Yorker” published an essay about the fashionable Louise Brooks in 1979 called “The Girl in the Black Helmut.”

 

What She Would Send to Her Friend: Fashion illustrations from the Jazz Age appeared on Vogue covers in the 1920s. Razor-sharp bobs and cloche hats emerged on models in scarlet lipstick and drop waist dresses with a loose, straight fit. Fun fact: One of Louise’s essays published in Vogue magazine in 1982.

Picture of the Berlin Cathedral at twilight
“Pandora’s Box,” Louise’s most famous film, is known as one of the greatest in German cinema.

 

Where She Would Instagram: Berlin. Louise filmed Pandora’s Box here when she played her most famous character, the seductive Lulu. Pandora’s Box was one of the great masterpieces of the silent film era, yet it was originally controversial due to its sexual context and the introduction of one the first lesbian characters in movies. Louise’s character mirrored her real life; the men (and women), the fashion, the booze, and her international rise to fame as a showgirl.

Tweet This: Louise Brooks was a featured dancer in Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway in 1925, which kicked off her entertainment career in the silent film industry #anewlady

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