New York Fashion Week: Barbara Tfank


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‘Into an age of perky, unthreatening blonds she came, a brunette whose voluptuous face was mirrored in the unconstrained curves of her body,’ designer Barbara Tfank wrote in her collection notes. ‘With her dark brows, violet eyes, full lips, full body and frank gaze, she could look like no one else.’

The one woman who fits the description is the late, great Elizabeth Taylor, Tfank’s inspiration for her spring collection. When Tfank moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s, it was to pursue a career in costume design. So it’s understood that she has spent a lot of time studying the details of clothing on-screen, and on screen sirens, who learned (or were taught, in Taylor’s case) how to play up every feature.


Tfank did her homework when it came to her collection’s leading lady, finding a muse to bring a new sexuality and attitude to her designs.

The hip-hugging sheath with a dramatic slashed neckline was the opener. It came in white silk or black pique, but also nude jersey. With three-quarter-length sleeves, the jersey version looked very modern and very Michelle Obama. (The first lady is a fan of Tfank’s designs.)

A black taffeta cocktail dress was positively coquettish with stand-up lace trim bordering the decollete, as was a black pique bustier worn with palazzo pants in a fabulous floral print featuring birds-of-paradise and other exotic succulents.

Other pieces evoked Taylor’s girlish side: a fit-and-flare dress in a shocking pink, outsized floral print and a white eyelet ruffle blouse tucked into a black pencil skirt.

The star’s jet-setting lifestyle was represented too. The height of chic off-duty clothes? A gold caftan tunic in weightless silk organza, paired with cheeky gold brocade capri pants.

Tfank was even able conjure Andy Warhol’s portrait of Taylor with exploding floral prints and acid brights.


If anyone is ever interested in making an Elizabeth Taylor biopic, they know whom to call.


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-- Booth Moore