Mission: Empire State of Mind

Mission: Empire State of Mind

August 20163730Views

Ben-Hur and Ancient Rome Inspire Royal Style

On my radar is upcoming film Ben-Hur, adapted from the 1880 novel “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ” by Lew Wallace. It’s a remake of the 1959 film of the same name starring Charlton Heston (The Ten Commandments). To coincide with its release, I’ve been tasked with a mission to uncover looks that capture the essence of the film and Ancient Rome. The film follows the life of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a prince falsely accused of treason by the Roman army. While the plot of the dethroned prince sounds absolutely intriguing, on my mind is the regal dress of Ancient Roman women. Some may be drawn to the alluring style of modern royals Kate and Pippa, but I’m intrigued on how a socialite in Ancient Rome might dress today, and designers she might favor.


Throughout history, fashion has often served as a signifier to one’s station in life, and Ancient Rome is no different. In Ancient Roman society, an individual’s status was evident by what they wore. With looks influenced by Greece, Egypt, and India—wealthy Roman women had a distinctive style featuring draped garments, empire waist silhouettes, and long tunics. They also wore togas, but they were primarily reserved for men.

Color was a factor too. A reddish purple hue ranging from a bright magenta to a deep burgundy was the color of choice for high society ladies. They also ostentatiously adorned themselves with glitzy accessories including decorative sandals, golden jewels, and a hair band or crown. The higher a woman’s social rank, the more ornate her hair would be with curls and some type of headdress.

To complete their look, cosmetics were also a priority. Everything from skincare to makeup was used, such as face masks and eye shadow. The eyes were the emphasis and given a smokey look. It is rumored that they used charred rose petals and a mix of ground blue and green minerals for eye shadow. For the lips, it was all about red, which was possibly made from beetle juice, beeswax, and a hint of henna.

Burberry Prorsum Fringed Herringbone-Jacquard Wool-Blend Cape | Elizabeth and James ‘Greer’ Asymmetric Layered Brushed Silk-Satin Dress | Valentino ‘Rockstud’ Embellished Leather Sandals | Rosantica ‘Cleopatra’ gold-tone quartz headband | Kenneth Jay Lane Serpent Ring | Christian Louboutin Beauty Sheer Voile Lip Colour in Mexicatchy | Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette Colour-Coded Eye Shadows in The Rebel

Release date: August 19th

Image source: Paramount Pictures

The Chic Spy

The Chic Spy

Hello Agents of Chic, I'm your source for chic style and entertainment intel on fashion, film, and pop culture. From fashion trends and beauty products to movie reviews and celebrity interviews, I'm on a mission to uncover the chicest. A few faves on my radar include whimsical clutches, embellished flats, and gourmet macarons.

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