Marlene Dietrich and her iconic top hat and suit She was an icon of the Weimar Republic, a Hollywood star, a refugee, a humanist — and a woman who knew when it was time to exit the stage.
In the last century, she was often remembered as a sex symbol or a Hollywood diva.
To mark the day she was born, on December 27, 1901, it’s worth taking a fresh look at a woman who was far ahead of her time — and today seems more modern than ever before. 1. Love whomever you like
Marlene Dietrich had relationships with both women and men. This was never a secret, but it was men who were generally mentioned by name.
Her lovers were glamorous: successful American actress Tallulah Bankhead; the unique Joe Carstairs, whose real name was Marion Barbara and who lived openly lesbian in the early 20th century, gaining renown as as an eccentric racing boat driver.
Dietrich didn’t make a big issue out of her bisexuality. When Austrian-Swiss director and actor Maximilian Schell asked her about sex with women a few years before her death, while he was making the documentary "Marlene" (1984) about her, she replied succinctly, "Oh, you know, there’s a man, and there’s a woman, and then he lies down on her, and then it just happens, right? — It’s the same thing with two women."
A woman who openly and naturally loves both sexes — that was and remains revolutionary in a public realm even today. Marlene Dietrich (l) with chanson star Edith Piaf (r): Dietrich’s daughter was convinced they were lovers Dietrich also had asexual relationships: She fell in love with American writer Ernest Hemingway, who reciprocated her affection. They, however, only lived out their longing by exchanging letters. 2. Gender rules exist to be broken
Dietrich turned clothing items previously reserved for men into fashionable articles for women — thus transforming herself into a style icon.
In her first Hollywood film, "Morocco" (1930), she kissed another woman while wearing a tuxedo. This had never happened before on screen, neither the kiss, nor the woman in the tuxedo.
Privately, she often had herself photographed in pantsuits, wearing a tie. In this way, she appropriated male fashion piece by piece, after a typical male top hat had initially contributed to turning her into a sex symbol: One of the most famous photos of her depicts her in suspenders and donning a top hat. It is a scene from the German film "The Blue Angel" (1930), which made her famous. Marlene Dietrich’s life: from Berlin to Hollywood, and back
At the same time, she never stopped wearing dresses or makeup. In photos today, she is shown primarily in a suit, but Marlene Dietrich felt equally comfortable in both fashion worlds, whether in a golden off-the-shoulder dress or a snow-white pantsuit. Incidentally, some fashion dictionaries list "Marlene trousers" as a separate entry. 3. Keep a close eye on politics — and stand up for democracy
Unlike other contemporaries in the Weimar Republic, […]