Natacha Rambova was a costume designer, set designer, and occasional performer in 1920s Hollywood. At the age of 19, she had established herself as a costume designer for Hollywood films. In Manhattan, New York City, she also ran her clothing boutique.
She began her career as a dancer, performing in New York City under Russian ballet choreographer Theodore Kosloff. Rambova’s costumes and set designs were highly innovative, influenced by Art Nouveau and Art Deco. As a dancer and a set designer, she introduced the Art Deco style to Hollywood for the first time.
Rambodova was one of the very few women working as a head art designer in film productions in Hollywood during the 1920s. After being impressed by her work, Russian film producer Alla Nazimova offered her a position on her production staff as an art director and costume designer. Immediately after collaborating with Nazimova, Rambova designed costumes and acted as the art director for the comedy film Billions (1920). During the 1920s, she also designed costumes for many other films.
Fashion critics describe Rambova’s clothing designs as a fusion of Renaissance, 18th-century, Oriental, Grecian, Russian, and Victorian fashion. As a designer, she often dressed in the style of her designs, and her style was also influential. She wore her hair in coiled “ballerina style” braids with dangling earrings and calf-length velvet or brocade outfits.
When she was 17 years old, Rambodova fell in love with a Russian dancer and choreographer, Theodore Kosloff. After a few years, their relationship deteriorated, and he tried to kill her with a shotgun. The gun fired into Rambova’s leg, and the bullet lodged above her knee.
In 1921, Rambova met actor Rudolph Valentino on ‘Uncharted Seas’ filming, and the two fell in love. Valentino and Rambova moved in together within a year, despite Valentino’s still marrying American film actress Jean Acker. On March 14, 1923, they formally remarried at Crown Point, Indiana. In 1952, Rambova and Valentino divorced.
Rambova married Alvaro de Urzáiz, a British-educated Spanish aristocracy, in 1932, and they remained married for 25 years.
Later in life, she shifted her focus to Egyptology, a subject she became a published scholar in the 1950s. Academics have also noted her interpretive contributions to Egyptology. Contemporary Egyptologists and historians have recognized Rambova’s scholarly contributions as significant. During most of this period, she taught astrology, Egyptology, and other occult subjects in New York.
Natacha Rambova’s death
Rambova developed scleroderma in the early 1950s, which significantly affected her throat and made it difficult for her to swallow and speak. Furthermore, she grew delusions, believing she was being poisoned, and stopped eating, resulting in malnutrition. Additionally, she was diagnosed with paranoid psychosis due to malnutrition.
Rambova’s cousin, Ann Wollen, moved her from her home in Connecticut to California to help take care of her as her health declined rapidly. Rambova died at the age of 69 on June 5, 1966. Her ashes were scattered in a forest in northern Arizona after she was cremated.
Below are some fabulous photos of the Young Natacha Rambova.