By Brooke Bobb. Photos: Courtesy.
Elizabeth Taylor’s public persona was a study in contrasts: She dressed lavishly in couture clothes and brilliant diamonds befitting her status as a film icon, but was also a tireless philanthropist and advocate, both relatable and forthright in her causes. In the book 700 Nimes Road—named for Taylor’s Los Angeles address—photographer Catherine Opie explores this connection between Elizabeth Taylor the star and Elizabeth Taylor the person through intimate and at times poignant “indirect portraits” of the icon’s life at home, including shots of movingly personal items like a pair of Taylor’s red baby shoes. Opie, whose portrait work typically explores the relationships of individuals to their social or political communities, spent six months capturing some 3,000 images of Taylor’s residence. (The number was edited down to 129 for the book.) The photos were taken just before and after Taylor’s hospitalization and eventual death in March 2011.
Opie never took a portrait of the actress and in fact never met her during the process. For her, the caring, down-to-earth spirit of Taylor was very much alive in these inanimate possessions. As the late Ingrid Sischy wrote in 700 Nimes Road: “Despite her stratospheric fame, Taylor was always deliciously regular in so many ways. Her materialism should never be confused for shallowness.” Put in Taylor’s words: “You can’t cry on a diamond’s shoulder, and diamonds won’t keep you warm at night. But they’re sure fun when the sun shines.”
Above, 12 touching photos from 700 Nimes Road in celebration of what would have been Taylor’s 85th birthday.
This story originally appeared on Vogue.
More from Vogue: