The stylings of the arresting voice that was Eartha Kitt, step into the spotlight for this week’s Style Icon edition. Sassy, alluring and daring in personality, we explore the exteriors that draped this self-tilted ‘sex kitten’ of Santa Baby fame.

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The most exciting woman in the world.” – Orson Welles.

Eartha Kitt’s African American, Cherokee and German heritage lent her pre-possessing feline characteristics, which gave her aura an edge. With cat-like eyes and a captivating pearly smile; her style was defined as classy, desirable and quite racy. Described as a “feline songstress still on the prowl,” even in her later years, you couldn’t forget Eartha’s unmissable fierce confidence and poise.

I am the original Material Girl” – Eartha Kitt.

The triple threat – she could sing, dance and act, an especially impressive quality in her hey day – was often seen in leopard print, and was partial to luxury though not disillusioned by it. Whether a slinky printed gown or opulent catskin furs, she wore them with regal grace. And she sure loved her minks!

A signature style of hers was the floor-length split silk and velvet gowns that she frequently wore, interchanged with mid-length dresses. When she wasn’t on stage in her much loved glitzy get-ups, Eartha favoured comfy staples of wool cardigans and jumpers, turtle-necked pullovers paired with pearls and skirt suits.

Eartha toed the line of grace vs sex appeal distinctively. Taking pride in her laudably toned pins, Kitt always included doses of sultry glamour to her ensembles with a peek at her gorgeous legs. Her sex appeal went beyond this however, emanating from her fearless persona and outspoken, firm beliefs not to mention her smouldering charm. Her beauty picks were frequently au natural with emphasis on the brows. With this said, Kitt was one to pick a bold lipstick – usually a red hue, to accompany the soft pinkish blush on her cheeks.

I don’t have to have the biggest house or the biggest car or the longest mink, but quality of life is really glamorous.”

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Thankfully Eartha’s illustrious career in film saw her take up the role of Catwoman in season three of the popular 60s television show, Batman, one which set the mark for future catwomen to come. With her enviable super-petite frame, she rocked the hell out of these leather bodysuits!

French flair was apparent in Eartha Kitt’s tastes, noted for her singles C’est Si Bon and I want To Be Evil, she was sensual and this carried through from her music to her style.

My recipe for life is not being afraid of myself, afraid of what I think or of my opinions.”

A sparkling example of longevity, her career spanned over sixty years and saw her win many accolades for her performances on the stage, on the small and silver screens as well as on Broadway. She naturally progressed onto the Cabaret stage where Eartha’s image became even more glamourous with fringed accents on her dresses, glittery embellishments and risqué embroidered outfits.

She had this gigantic mink coat that engulfed her tiny frame, and a dazzling smile as she glided down the sidewalk.”

Experimenting with her hair more in her riper years, Eartha was known to usually rock a short crop varying in volume over the years. Whilst acting as Catwoman, she favoured a strong ponytail with braided accents and bolder make-up choices. In her later years, Eartha could be seen revisiting these bolder make-up picks over her usual nude look.

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Just put a chaise longue under me and let me go.”

Glamorous until the very end, Eartha Kitt was the precursor for sultry sex appeal, for fierce pop culture queens and the ‘triple threats’ that came after her. Her iconicity rings true through to the sensationalized lyrics of today, and the animal print motifs and feline silhouettes that continually inspire the catwalks of this generation and probably beyond.

Credits:
Essence
iVillage
Harper’s Bazaar
oldhollywoodglamour
Associated Press

 

Words by Laura Arowolo.

 

Previously: Hunter S. Thompson.

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