The Miranda Look: Turbans

Museu Carmen Miranda

With all kind of fruits hanged on the top of her head--including bananas-- Carmen left a strong image in her fans thanks to the variety of colors and objects in her turbans.

The Carmen Miranda Style
Carmen Miranda was so special that she created her own colorful, yet incredibly elegant, look based on the clothes typically worn in Bahia. She was a small, bubbly woman, with big green eyes and a huge smile, and she created a famous on-screen look that could only be compared to the costumes worn by Marlene Dietrich or Marilyn Monroe.

“I have never followed what people say it is 'fashionable'. I think that a woman must wear what fits her. That is why I created a style appropriated to my type and my artistical genre.”
Carmen Miranda

Her Turbans
Carmen Miranda's turbans were inspired by the clothing worn by Bahian women serving food in the Praça Onze in Rio de Janeiro since the beginning of the 20th century. As Carmen had worked as a milliner as a young girl, she created her first turban for the film "Banana da Terra" ("Banana of the Land," Sonofilmes, 1938), in which she performed the Dorival Caymmi song "O que é a baiana tem?" ("What Is It about Bahian Women?").

Baiana's Turban from Copacabana movie (1946)

Turban embroidered with pearly sequins worn by Carmen Miranda. Topped by fruit basket embroidered with sequins and beads. Among the fruits: pineapple, bananas, grapes and strawberries. Around the basket, red fruits of plastics and green leaves embroidered with sequins. On the right side hangs a bunch of grapes embroidered with sequins.

Turban of feathers and fruits

Turban in white lace, embroidered with small silver sequins worn by Carmen Miranda. Encompassed by two small baskets with arrangement of colored fruit of mass and feathers of rooster in the green color. Leaves green in fine fabric and yellow in felt. In the upper part, wire rods with mirrored stones and star-shaped sequins.

She then started wearing her Bahia-style costumes in her performances, with the turban becoming her trademark. In 1939 she went to the United States and became internationally famous for her Bahian outfits after wearing her turbans on Broadway and in films.

Turban with flowers basket

Turban embroidered with silver studs worn by Carmen Miranda. Topped by basket embroidered in beads, rhinestones and sequins, in silver, red and blue colors. From the basket come stylized flowers of beige nylon embroidered with golden sequins. From the left side hang rows of beads in the colors silver, red and blue.

Baiana's Turban

Turban in gold lamé embroidered with gold sequins worn by Carmen Miranda. Encased by nylon basket, metallic threads and gold sequins. In the basket, green leaves with sequins of the same color, bananas embroidered and with applications of gold, green, red and blue sequins and golden metallic threads. Plastic bananas painted yellow. The banana arrangement hangs over the right side.

Black Turban

Turban of black embroidered tulle with sequins of the same color worn by Carmen Miranda. Topped by arrangement of embroidered flowers with black sequins, net of plungers and large silver beads. On the set holder, black satin. From the right side, part of the arrangement hangs.

Carmen began using different materials and themes in all her turbans to add to her exotic look.

Acrylic turban

Turban worn by Carmen Miranda, in silver lamé covered by four layers of fringes with mirrored colorless beads. Engraved by arrangement of volutes in colorless acrylic, with application of colorless and mirrored stones. On the circular base of the scrolls, bun application of brown hair strands.

Turban

Turban with application of green sequins worn by Carmen Miranda. Encased by arrangement of flowers, leaves and buttons with sequined application in the colors green, blue, red, gold, pink and rhinestones. At the top of the cap, leaked circle. Cotton lining.

Baiana's Turban

Turban embroidered with silver sequins worn by Carmen Miranda. Topped with nylon basket arrangement and silver sequins with leaves and fruits with embroidery and sequins application: oranges, apples, bananas, pears, strawberries, grapes, pineapple and others. A bunch of grapes hangs on the right side.

Braided turban

Cotton turban worn by Carmen Miranda. Fabric with geometric patterns: stripes and V drawings in red, brown, gold and beige. In the superior part, braid formed by rollers of the same fabric wrapping around the circumference. Upper circular opening. Dark cotton lining.

Turbans were such a big part of her life that she even began wearing them on social occasions.

An interesting bit of trivia is that, while she was living in the United States, her turbans were copied and worn by several women, including actresses. This was mainly during the period that the United States was involved in World War II, from 1941 through 1945, when there was a shortage of shampoo and hair-care products. Carmen's turbans provided a practical and elegant solution.

Social turban in a similar shape to the one Carmen wore when meeting the French singer Edith Piaf.

Social turban for gala balls

Turban in silver lamé embroidered with pearls, colorless stones, blue rhinestones and silver beads worn by Carmen Miranda. Embroidery on floral decorative motifs. In the back, three layers of purplish purple tulle, with applications of silver sequins, blue and colorless rhinestones. Two strips of lamê for mooring. Cotton lining. In the lining, label with the inscription Baldwin, in cursive, blue letter.

Headbang in damask fabric

Headband in black, gold, blue and green damask fabric used by Carmen Miranda. Two scrolls on the sides, embroidered with gold sequins, green, purple and pink. Finish in gold metallic lace. Tie in brown velvet.

She designed most of her turbans herself and they always had some sort of personal twist, even when commissioned from a stylist.

Braided turban

Turban in beige fabric and golden metallic threads forming stripes worn by Carmen Miranda. In the superior part, braid formed by rollers of the same fabric wrapping around the circumference. Cotton lining.

Hollywood Walk of Fame Turban

Turban in beige fabric with stripes of gold metallic threads worn by Carmen Miranda. At the top, the fabric forms a kind of twisted bun lining a piece of acrylic blanket. Weft of straw lining.

Headbang

Headband in yellow, golden and black damask fabric used by Carmen Miranda. On both sides, scrolls. Embroidered by black, pink, purple, yellow and blue sequins. The black sequins form scales. Finish in gold metallic lace.

Brocade turban with red stones

Turban worn by Carmen Miranda, in white and silver brocade, draped. In the upper part, support in cylindrical format, in the same fabric, with a net of colorless beads, red stones of different sizes and shapes and rhinestones, forming rosacea. On the forehead, garland of pearls with pendants in red stones and rhinestones. In the lining, label with the inscription Baldwin, in cursive, blue letter.

Her turbans were inspired by those worn by Bahian women and they were made from lamé, cotton, silk, muslin, brocade, or velvet. Some were decorated with precious stones, sequins, and straw or glass beads.

Look at me and tell me if I don't have Brazil in every curve of my body.

CARMEN MIRANDA

Credits: Story

Carmen Miranda Museum
César Balbi

Anita Mantuano Arts Foundation of Rio de Janeiro State/ Rio de Janeiro State Department of Culture
André Lazaroni

Museum Superintendent
Raphael Hallack Fabrino

Curatorship
César Balbi
Vivian Fava
Laura Ghelman
Clara Paulino

Composition
Laura Ghelman

Photography
Cerne Sistemas

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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