When English society and celebrity photographer, Richard Young decided to pay tribute to Dame Elizabeth Taylor with his first American exhibition, the timing was sheer perfection. It is after all, the week of both the Oscars where I’m sure one of the silver screens greatest legends will be duly remembered today, and what would have been her 80th birthday tomorrow (February 27th).

Richard Young and Steven Webster

Richard Young and Stephen Webster

The place? One that the gem loving actress would surely have approved – jeweler du jour Stephen Webster‘s store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. In fact, Stephen caught the icon’s eye early on in his career when she asked him to design a ring and bracelet set with lavender chalcedony to match her renowned violet eyes.

Richard’s 18 exquisite images document the last 40 years of a life that captivated us all, including my favorite, a photo succinctly capturing one of the greatest love stories of a century, a kiss between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. “She saw me, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him just long enough for me to get the shot, then pointed her finger at me, and said enough,” dismissing the photographer so the passionate yet tempestuous couple could enjoy the rest of the evening without interruption.

Butterfield 8 and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are two of my all time favorite films, not to mention the epic Cleopatra. How could fellow Piscean nicknamed Jewels not be enthralled? Of all the celebrities I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my lifetime, she tops the list. Trust me, the woman lived up to every ounce of the legend. From child star of National Velvet, her infamous, often scandalous marriages (six to be exact), Richard Burton buying her the worlds largest diamond, and ultimately her tireless efforts to raise funds for research into finding a cure for AIDS. The woman had guts, loved, and lived life big. My admiration knows no boundaries.

Julie Anne Rhodes and Jerry Hall

Julie Anne Rhodes and Jerry Hall

I’ve known Richard Young for several decades myself, so it was an unexpected treat to attend the opening last Wednesday. I took a distinct pleasure in announcing upon my arrival, “for once I get to turn the camera on you!” As much as I enjoyed seeing Richard and so many of my friends, I couldn’t help fantasizing about everyone disappearing so I could play dress up with Stephen’s superlative jewels alone with Liz.

Richard Young, Jewels, Lady Victoria hervey, Amanda Kyme, Yassi, Jack English and Amanda Eliasch

Richard Young, Jewels, Lady Victoria Hervey, Amanda Kyme, Yassi, Jack English and Amanda Eliasch

The food was none to shabby either. Food by Design LA‘s passed trays of nibbles were nothing short of mini works of art in themselves. Quite tasty too – as you can see they disappeared faster than I could photograph!

Food by Design

Disappearing Food by Design

Don’t miss the exhibition or the sparkling eye candy – the photos will be up for the next five weeks, and 5% of all proceeds will be donated Elizabeth Taylor’s charity, amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. And please do tell me, what was your favorite Elizabeth Taylor film and/or moment?

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  • February 26, 2012
    6:33 pm

    I’m soooo envious that you had the opportunity to meet Liz Taylor!

    It seems Richard Young has extraordinary taste to have photographed both Liz Taylor and Julie Anne Rhodes.

    This post is such a worthy tribute to a woman that inspired me from such a young age to always try to make a difference and help others.

  • February 26, 2012
    7:39 pm

    A fabulous woman. Her wink in Cleopatra is one of my favourite moments in movies, period. She never gave up on her cause and still hasn’t. A true lady.

    • February 27, 2012
      9:32 am

      Did you see the wink in the memoriam they did for her last night Rachel? Made me think of you. Such beauty, talent, and enormous heart.

  • February 26, 2012
    7:05 pm

    I don’t think there are too many people in London Richard has not photographed – he’s pretty much a fixture at every party, but I’m honored to be in such esteemed company.

  • February 27, 2012
    8:08 am

    I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t really seen any of her movies other than bits of Cleopatra & National Velvet. Really should watch a movie or two on DVD some weekend. But, despite not seeing movies, always admired her for working for a cause, her dignity and sense of fun. A little mischief is good for the soul!

  • February 27, 2012
    9:34 am

    Oh Ruthee – you must rent some and have an Elizabeth fest!

  • February 27, 2012
    1:19 pm

    She was a woman full of beauty and grace. I absolutely love Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She was the perfect sassy and sexy Maggie (the Cat). Elizabeth was utterly breathtaking in Cleopatra. Have to confess that I’ve never seen Butterfield 8. I’ll have to work on that.

    • February 27, 2012
      1:26 pm

      Agreed – drop dead gorgeous in Cleopatra, and she defined Maggie the Cat! Butterfield 8 won her her first Oscar – well worth viewing!

  • February 27, 2012
    1:45 pm

    Three beautiful ladies with beautiful smiles: Elizabeth, Jerry & Julie Anne

    • February 28, 2012
      9:25 am

      What an honor to be in that group! Thank you.

  • February 27, 2012
    2:15 pm

    She was great in Cat and in her later career I think she was absolutely brilliant in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. AMAZING.

    And she became such a tireless fighter for AIDS research. It’s wonderful when someone with so much influence puts it to good use!

  • February 28, 2012
    9:27 am

    They were both brilliant in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe, but I find it hard subject matter to sit through. It was an AIDS benefit I first met her at, and I really didn’t want to wash my hand after shaking hers!

  • February 28, 2012
    9:28 am

    … but I did.