One of the greatest perks of working in Washington, DC is being able to visit the Smithsonian Institute whenever I have a little time. During one of the unseasonably warm days that we experienced last week, I felt inspired to go to one of the museums during my lunch break.
I decided to stop by the National Portrait Gallery, since it’s close to my job and I haven’t been there in years. The Kogod Courtyard used to be my favorite place for eating lunch.
This time, however, I didn’t come to eat lunch. I was there to view the Marlene Dietrich: Dressed for the Image exhibit. I’m a fan of Dietrich’s work and how she lived an unapologetically authentic life off-camera. I came for the photos but stayed for the story of Dietrich’s life.
The brochures available for visitors have a beautiful, dramatic photo of Dietrich on the cover.
This striking white pantsuit was so intimidating to the French that Dietrich was threatened with arrest if she dared wear it on land.
Those threats of arrest were empty: Dietrich wore a different pantsuit when disembarking the Europa and was greeted with flowers from the French police.
Dietrich as Catherine the Great in The Scarlet Empress (1934)
Her undeniable acting talent, her anti-Nazism stance, and her consistent image maintenance throughout her career made Marlene Dietrich a star. However, it’s her legacy of living life on her own terms that make her an icon.
I highly recommend that you check out this exhibit if you’re in the Washington, DC area. It will be at the National Portrait Gallery (8th and F Streets, NW, near Chinatown) until April 15, 2018, so get there as quickly as you can!