Dress Like Carmen Miranda: Unlikely Style Icon for SS17

Brazilian film star and singer Carmen Miranda wearing fruit headdress and flamboyant outfit

Carmen Miranda was a film star and singer, instantly recognisable due to her flirty costumes, but perhaps not your typical style icon. However, the Brazilian Bombshell, forever associated with fruity accessories and flamboyance, is a major inspiration for Spring/Summer 2017. Not for her the little black dresses worn to death by everyone else…

Shoe designer Charlotte Olympia (who also has Brazilian roots) created an entire collection driven by Carmen Miranda’s unmissable style staples. I also spotted several pieces worthy of the great lady at Coco Fennell, Dolce & Gabbana and Marks and Spencer. Pack some of these pieces in your suitcase and your jet-setting will have an extra dose of fun.

Carmen Miranda inspiration for spring summer 2017 fashion including high heeled shoes, floaty ruffled top and Google Doodle
You don’t have to wear fruit on your head, but it helps.

Above, left to right, product images: tropical watermelon stud earrings, £55, Marc Jacobs (veryexclusive.co.uk); Tropicana embellished sandals, £525, Charlotte Olympia (charlotteolympia.com); bird print shell top, £25 (marksandspencer.com).

Left to right, Carmen Miranda images: That Night in Rio (1941); Google Doodle celebrating her career; US postal stamp, issued 2011, part of the Latin Music Legends series illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Read about how Lopez created the stamps here.

How to Channel Carmen Miranda for SS17

Channel your inner Carmen by night with multi-layered jewellery, a colourful headscarf or a fruit-print dress, and wear with lashings of mascara and lipstick. In the day, pick one hero piece to pair with smart basics, such as a vibrant printed top or skirt, and liven up your outfit.

Tropical fruit prints in style of Carmen Miranda including scarf, bikini top, ruffle dress and leaf-shaped slip-on shoes
Though these items are a bit zany, they’d be great for a summer holiday and they’re lightweight enough for a long weekend away.

Above, left to right, product images: fruity dress, £115, Coco Fennell (cocofennell.com); verdant slippers, £534, Charlotte Olympia (charlotteolympia.com); tropical print bikini top, £22, Oasis (oasis-stores.com); small Eye of the Leopard silk scarf, £95, Silken Favours (libertylondon.com).

Carmen Miranda: A Short Biography

Carmen Miranda (1909-1955) was born Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha in Portugal, but raised in Brazil. She started her career as a club and casino singer and, after being talent-spotted, spent 10 years making a steady stream of Brazilian records and appearing in both documentaries and films. However, when Hollywood and Broadway came calling, Brazilians turned against her and claimed she was a sell-out, reduced to a stereotype.

In contrast, Americans fell in love with her music and look, labelling her ‘The Brazilian Bombshell’: a pocket dynamo at only 5 feet tall, and the all singing, all dancing star of films such as That Night in Rio (1941). She made some of her costumes by hand, influenced by the flamboyant streetwear of Brazilian women.

Carmen Miranda fashion including fruit iconography, cherry straw bag, kaftan and playsuit.
If you’re not up for full-on outfits, just try adding a bag or phone case to give a nod to Carmen Miranda.

Left to right, product images: Kerrie petite tropical print jumpsuit, £20, Boohoo (boohoo.com); tropical black kaftan, £8, Primark (primark.com – instore only); black Dauphine iPhone 7 case, £135, Dolce & Gabbana (store.dolcegabbana.com); pink tropical iPhone 7 case, £115, Dolce & Gabbana (flannels.com); straw bag with cherry detail, £28, Glamorous (asos.com); Parakeet large necklace, £150, Tatty Devine (tattydevine.com).

Left to right, film stills: Weekend in Havana (1941); Copacabana (1947).

Feeling shunned by the country she adored, Miranda actually spent 14 years away from Brazil, mixing film roles with nightclub appearances. However, she will always be associated with Brazilian culture and music, and her tragic death aged just 46 was marked with a period of public mourning in Brazil. In Hollywood, you can find her star on the Walk of Fame, and visit Carmen Miranda square at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Orange Drive.

So, will you be adding some fruit, flowers and ruffles to your suitcase this season? Go on – I dare you.