Elizabeth Taylor could make a caftan look glamorous

384120 06: Actress Elizabeth Taylor Poses In An Old Film Still. Taylor Is An Award Winning Actress Who Has Appeared In Such Films As "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? And "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof." (Photo By Getty Images)
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Actress Elizabeth Taylor Poses in an old film still.
Getty Images

(CBS/AP) In her heyday, actress Elizabeth Taylor epitomized the words "movie star." She was always dressed like a star, with hair done, makeup on and lots of jewelry.

Famous for her violet, almond-shaped eyes, creamy skin, pouty lips and raven hair, Taylor, who died Wednesday at 79 from congestive heart failure, was kept in the public eye from her early years.

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"Every quality that we consider classically beautiful, she had," said Amy Keller Laird, beauty director of Allure. "She was sexy and girlish at once, she had both those qualities all through her life."

InStyle fashion director Hal Rubenstein claims Taylor's legendary strapless dress, designed by Edith Head in 1951, was the "blueprint for prom dresses of the '50s."

She also influenced lingerie styles after she wore a lace-trimmed slip in "BUtterfield 8," and even started a makeup trend when she wore black kohl eyeliner in "Cleopatra." Somehow, she even made caftans stylish in the '70s, Rubenstein said with a laugh.

Rubenstein said he had the pleasure of meeting her a few times. "As a child, she was eerily beautiful - she never had a child's face, and as a woman, she was unmatchably beautiful," he said.

"In person, the most striking thing about her was her impeccable features, but her broader appeal, the one the world saw in photographs, was her overall glamour," he said.

"When she walked into a room, she just had the most amazing presence about her." added designer Elizabeth Emanuel, who is best-known as Princess Diana's wedding dress designer but who also made several looks for Taylor, including caftans. "She was just incredible."

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The big studios trained her to always step out the door as glamourpuss Elizabeth Taylor: She wore the role of movie star at all times, and she didn't apologize for it.

"She was an incredible beauty and she had an awareness of her own beauty. Even those we think are great beauties today play it down and speak modestly - there's always something they don't like and they apologize for it, but she never did," Rubenstein said.

True to keeping her movie star appearance, Taylor owned and gladly wore her many pieces of statement jewelry, unlike today's stars who borrow or store them.

At the Oscars in 1970, she asked costumer Head to create a gown that would show off her necklace, ending up in a blue gown with a very low V bustline.

"Elizabeth Taylor was a style icon who always followed her own unique and daring fashion vision," said Jamie Cadwell, director of the Diamond Information Center, a trade organization. "Her love of jewelry was unsurpassed, and women everywhere continue to be inspired by her incredible collection."

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Her longevity as a style influencer is proven by the longtime success of her fragrance collections launched with Elizabeth Arden. Her fragrance, White Diamonds, which followed 1980s-era Passion, was one of the original celebrity perfumes, and has been a beauty-counter best-seller for 20 years.

The fragrances will continue, according to a company statement. "Our best tribute to Elizabeth Taylor will be to continue the legacy of the brands she created and loved so much," said chairman and CEO E. Scott Beattie.

"White Diamonds is still one of our readers' favorite fragrances. The fact that hers has stood the test of time, even though every hot celebrity has a fragrance, says a lot about her as a beauty icon," said Allure's Laird.