Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Claudia Cardinale – Italy has produced more than its fair share of voluptuous, cat-eyed bombshells. But there is one Italian beauty who often gets overlooked, especially outside of Europe – the elegant and delightfully angular Monica Vitti. The first time I saw Vitti on film was in the 1966 spy spoof, Modesty Blaise. She was skipping around dressed in an abbaya, hand in hand with an Arab oil sheik . ‘I must see more of her!’ I said to myself, bewitched. I’ve seen many Vitti movies since then, and read several Modesty Blaise books as well, but this strange and silly film will always hold a special place inside my little Persian heart. Here’s how to get Modesty’s fabulous spy girl look:
Don’t start infiltrating those diamond theft rings just yet. Slip these four basics under your gun-belt first.
1 Mediterranean Complexion
Get out that terracotta bronzing powder! A deep, olive complexion is what you’re aiming for here.
2 1960s Beehive
It doesn’t matter whether you go blonde or brunette, curly or straight – but if honeybees don’t try to colonise your hair, you’re not doing it right.
3 Sophia Loren/Persian Eye
Almond-shaped, glinting and marvelously feline. Be generous with that liquid eyeliner!
4 Mysterious Backstory
Peter O’Donnell’s original inspiration for his Modesty Blaise character was a striking, young girl whom he came across whilst he was stationed in Persia during the 1940s. ‘To this day I can see in my mind’s eye the smile she had given us and the sight of that upright little figure walking like a princess as she moved away from us on those brave skinny legs,’ O’Donnell would later recall. Similarly, in the comic strips, Modesty is a nameless girl who escapes from a displaced persons camp in Greece. She remembers nothing from her past and wanders the Middle East and Mediterranean, learning the skills of survival that later make her an international woman of mystery.
It’s not so much what you wear – it’s how quickly you can get in and out of it that counts.
Worn with black patent leather boots and a gun strap, this will be your go-to spy girl uniform.
2 Black Mac
To show off that sexy, scorpion tattoo. (Trivia: both Modesty and Monica are Scorpios.) A pair of black fishnets, a belt and black patent leather pumps are all you really need with this one.
3 One or Two Avantgarde Pieces
Space suits, geometric collars, over-sized Artemis cuff bracelets, you can get as elaborate as you like here.
4 A Touch of Mod
Mod for Modesty.
Go the Extra Mile
1 Become an Expert Archer
2 Invest in One or Two Bombshell-Friendly Spy Gadgets
3 Become an Arab Oil Sheik’s ‘Son’
4 Perfect the Kiss-Me-Through-a-Hole-Just-Kidding Punctured Collar Manoeuvre
5 In the Event of an Emergency, Remember the Prostitute in the Window Disguise Is Foolproof
6 Inspire Future Generations of Italian Comic Book Fans