Friday, June 20, 2008

Zoolander of the 19th Century

The last book I read was so disappointing that I had to wonder whether I shouldn't just slowly microwave by the light of the TV all summer. BUT THEN I started reading hella old-school Balzac's Cousin Bette. Monsieur Celestin Crevel was so the Derek Zoolander of the 1840's! For example:
  • "Most men have some habitual position by which they fancy that they show to the best advantage the good points bestowed on them by nature. This attitude in Crevel consisted in crossing his arms like Napoleon, his head showing three-quarters face, and his eyes fixed on the horizon, as the painter has shown the Emperor in his portrait."

Here's Zoolander from a VH1 Appearance for you too:

Carry on! Although I'd love to talk about "makeup tricks" of the 1840s, Professor Paula Cohen of Drexel University says that "during the 19th century, makeup ostensibly disappeared from the Anglo-Saxon world. Queen Victoria was a dowdy, didactic monarch, the sort of woman who never wore makeup and so decided no one else should. A painted woman during this period became a synonym for a whore or (just as bad) an actress." That sucks. to circa 1871 to a model called Alexa Wilding (great name!). The model-dressmaker Wilding rocked some tough lipstick when she showed up in "La Ghirlandata" by Dante Gabriel Rosetti. Lipstick is always a "must."

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