Cleopatra Queen of Egypt: Fashion & Style Influence

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Cleopatra Queen of Egypt: Fashion & Style Influence

Cleopatra’s name stands out amidst history. Depending on who you ask, this was because of any number of reasons. Sometimes she enjoys the distinction of being the last true pharaoh of Egypt. Other times people credit her as being the woman whose beauty enraptured the known world. Still yet others would see her as the woman who stole power from her brother and that eventually had to pay for her crimes. Each of these perspectives is true to varying degrees and helps contribute to why she is such an enduring figure long after her death. Cleopatra’s beauty is what most people remember though. Its legends continue to inspire many of us to find the best ways to care for our skin and to figure out how to touch on the idea of her legend. It is little wonder that her influence touches beauty and fashion even to this day.

A Silver Boost
There is one thing that needs to be clarified before we go any further. The actual Cleopatra did impact the fashion and beauty industry. Her legacy was carried to the Western world on the wings of Tutankhamun’s legend and the obsession with Egypt it inspired. The legend of the last pharaoh being a powerful woman was a striking image. That she was supposedly beautiful and was credited with having a hand in a Roman civil war simply by virtue of her beauty only made her all the more alluring. This wasn’t enough on its own to inspire beauty and fashion though. The legend of Cleopatra reached Hollywood though and the film industry latched onto it. This lead to multiple cinematic interpretations of Cleopatra that gradually cemented both her and the idea of Egyptian beauty into the collective Western consciousness. Cleopatra may have worn a gold mask to bed, but it was a silver screen that magnified her legend.

The Scent and Flair of Fashion
Perhaps one of the ways that Cleopatra’s legend inspired the industries was the emphasis perfumes. Scents are a powerful complement to any outfit and can make a distinct impression when the outfit alone might not be enough. Cleopatra, like other powerful Egyptian women, was fond of utilizing fragrant oils to ensure she smelled beautiful when entertaining dignitaries and others. The memory of this survived through multiple sources. Combining this with her dedication to overall presentation helped to cement her reputation as a beauty. Cleopatra, as a child of multiple cultures, drew on all her heritage to create distinctive outfits that made her stand out even more. The idea of these designs complemented by rich golden tones continues to appear on runways to this day. Most years you will see outfits utilizing geometric patterns or angles that we instantly recognize as having an Egyptian influence. Thank Cleopatra.

Woman wearing traditional Egyptian dress

Presentation Was And Is Everything
Another reputation that Cleopatra had was one for putting on a show when it was necessary. She did what was needed to ensure people both knew who she was and had no doubt of who was in charge of the situation. This lead to elaborate displays of power and beauty. One legend says that she offered to treat a Roman to the most expensive meal in the world and when the man scoffed, Cleopatra had a large pearl and a pitcher of vinegar fetched. She crushed and dissolved the pearl in the vinegar and drank it in front of the man and he conceded the point. Fashion is eternally associated with knowing how to frame the show and set the tone. Cleopatra’s mastery continues to play a part in the shows of today. No one necessarily uses the shows these days to proclaim themselves a goddess, but that sense of opulent display remains.

The actual Cleopatra’s legend continues to inspire people to this day. It is a bit harder than we might like to separate the real woman from the cinematic interpretations of her life. Some of them have set such an example that you can see their influence both in fashion designs and the manner in which the industry puts clothing on display. It does leave the question as to whether Cleopatra herself can be said to be the influence in that case. For some reason, it seems certain that a woman who once dressed herself as a goddess to impress others would consider imitation to indeed by the sincerest form of flattery.

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