LOVE/ TATE

Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - Style -

Look­ing at any im­age of Sharon Tate, the viewer is struck not only by the sym­met­ri­cal pro­por­tions of her exquisite face and her tran­quil ex­pres­sion, but also by a la­tent vul­ner­a­bil­ity in her im­mense brown eyes and wide, warm smile. The ap­palling and ar­bi­trary na­ture of her death has de­fined Sharon’s mem­ory in pop­u­lar cul­ture since 1969, but now her mur­der — which shocked Hol­ly­wood and halted the fren­zied mo­men­tum of the Swing­ing Six­ties — is the least im­por­tant nar­ra­tive in a new ex­hi­bi­tion that aims to re­store her to her right­ful place as a pop cul­ture icon and muse for de­sign­ers, artists and film-mak­ers who are still in­spired by her mag­netism to­day.

The Sharon Tate show at the New­bridge Mu­seum of Style Icons is one of the most in­trigu­ing ex­hibits in its his­tory, span­ning a col­lec­tion of per­sonal pos­ses­sions, fash­ion and pho­to­graphs that be­longed to the ac­tress and model, which were re­trieved from her home by her father af­ter her death. The items are a se­lec­tion from over 100 to be auc­tioned by Julien’s of Hol­ly­wood on Novem­ber 17, from the es­tate of Tate, which has been guarded by her sis­ter De­bra since 2000. The auc­tion has been the source of acute in­ter­est from col­lec­tors, mu­se­ums and the gen­eral pub­lic due to the tragic cir­cum­stances of Tate’s death on Au­gust 9, 1969, when the ac­tress and four oth­ers were bru­tally mur­dered by the Man­son Fam­ily at her home on 10050 Cielo Drive in Bene­dict Canyon, LA.

Martin Nolan, the ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Julien’s, has man­aged many auctions in his ca­reer but has rarely seen the lev­els of in­ter­est gen­er­ated by the Sharon Tate auc­tion. He ex­plains: “Peo­ple are fas­ci­nated by Sharon Tate. She rep­re­sented the Swing­ing Six­ties. There was that ter­ri­ble, ter­ri­ble, tragic day when she was robbed from her fam­ily, from the world, but we’re not fo­cus­ing on that at all. We’re fo­cus­ing on 26 years of a fun life, an amaz­ing life, that she en­joyed and we’re look­ing at her le­gacy. I think New­bridge are brave to be the first to put their hands up and say they would do it. It is a mu­seum of ‘style icons’ and Sharon Tate was a style icon and con­tin­ues to be one.”

He adds: “De­bra, her younger sis­ter, is fi­nally let­ting go be­cause she re­alises she can’t con­tinue to take care of these items for­ever and she also wants peo­ple to be re-in­tro­duced to Sharon, to see who she was, learn more about her, see all the amaz­ing life and fash­ion state­ments.” De­bra has stated pre­vi­ously: “I wanted to give a flavour of the per­son be­hind the scenes — that is why I put in al­most ev­ery­thing.”

Next year will mark the 50th an­niver­sary of Sharon Tate’s death and al­ready re­vived in­ter­est in her is build­ing, prompted by the three films slated for re­lease in 2019, about or fea­tur­ing the ac­tress. These are Michael Pol­ish’s Tate with Kate Bos­worth, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hol­ly­wood star­ring Mar­got Rob­bie, and Daniel Far­rand’s The Haunt­ing of Sharon Tate, fea­tur­ing Hi­lary Duff.

Sharon Tate was eight-and-a-half months preg­nant and mar­ried to the film di­rec­tor Ro­man Polan­ski at the time of her death. To­gether they had been the epit­ome of cool — a cos­mopoli­tan 1960s cou­ple with homes in LA and Lon­don, a so­cial cir­cle that en­com­passed Hol­ly­wood, mu­sic, aris­toc­racy and the art world, and a bohemian life­style that re­flected a blend of Swing­ing Lon­don, West Coast lib­er­al­ism and the hippy rev­o­lu­tion of the era. Peter Evans the pho­to­jour­nal­ist said of them: “Cool, no­madic, tal­ented and nicely shock­ing… they be­came part of the anti-Es­tab­lish­ment es­tab­lish­ment. They be­came rich but never re­gal.”

Sharon Tate was the old­est child of a mil­i­tary fam­ily and had the typ­i­cal tran­si­tory life­style of a “mil­i­tary brat”. She was quiet and re­served as a child and teen, de­spite win­ning nu­mer­ous beauty pageants. De­scribed by her fam­ily as shy and lack­ing in self-con­fi­dence, she nev­er­the­less had pres­ence and an aura of poise and el­e­gance.

As she ma­tured, her strik­ing beauty drew at­ten­tion and while liv­ing in Verona, Italy, she ap­peared as an ex­tra in

Ac­tress Sharon Tate’s per­sonal style epit­o­mised the Swing­ing Six­ties, but her life story was over­shad­owed by her bru­tal death, writes Rose Mary Roche

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