MADRID – Eva Peron defined an era, a way of doing politics without holding a position, and a style that was ornate and ostentatious. She even dressed in overalls if the occasion called for it. All of this was a bid to reach the people, to be present, indispensable and eternal.
A centenary has passed since Peron was born. Next month it’ll have been 67 years since she died. But the former first lady of Argentina is as present as ever.
She was a woman who moved the masses, who knew how to exert her influence, who wanted power and love, and a way out of a childhood that was plagued by hardship, exacerbated by her father’s death.
She was clever, a skilled negotiator, who used her image in the same way a general might rally his or her troops on the battlefield. Fashion came naturally to her, and she was able to use it to bolster her image and ignite passion in others.
“She was always up to the minute,” says fashion designer Lorenzo Caprile, who considers that Melania Trump could be her modern-day counterpart. “Always wearing the big brands, impeccable,” he said of the American First Lady, although without her social clout, Caprile added.
French designer Christian Dior was behind a lot of what Peron wore, including after her death when her body was dressed in one of his creations for her final goodbye. Dior famously said during an interview that the only queen he had ever dressed was Eva Peron.
Though she also wore garments by Argentinian designers, Peron “knew how to carry off French trends to perfection,” says Caprile, adding that her followers, the most exacerbated populists, had wanted to see her turned out “impeccably.”
Seeing Peron on the balcony of the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, her arms open as if she wanted to hug all those present on the square below, was an “aspiring” moment for her admirers, a moment that proved that anything was possible, getting to the top from the bottom.
Her splendor shone at a time when Hollywood was populated by its greatest icons, which she used as a “tool” to turn herself into an “ideal,” a model above any kind of valuation, Caprile says. “She never veered off character.”
Like the movie stars, she took great care over her public appearances, her hair playing an important part in her look.
It was colored blond by Carole Lombard, and she rarely wore it down. When she did, her wavy locks resembled those of Rita Hayworth in her role as “Gilda” (1946).
But it was her up-dos, like those of Olivia de Havilland or Joan Fontaine, that turned her into a fashion icon.
Caprile says Peron’s style was ostentatious and rich, and “many of her supporters saw themselves in her.”
She was one of the main political protagonists of the 20th century and “used the weapons that she herself crafted to turn herself into a legend of the masses,” Caprile said.