divine idylle # 7 : vanessa paradis

The ultimate divine idylle, Vanessa. Not only did her song inspire the feature but she also exudes an inner strength and fierce independence which encapsulates what the women I choose are all about.

From her precocious beginnings as a a doe eyed 14 year old singing ‘Joe Le Taxi’, to collaborations with irrepressible lady’s man Lenny Kravitz at the height of his career, to modeling intermittently for Chanel, her career has been as diverse as it’s been enduring. She’s blossomed and improved with age having seemingly not succumbed to the surgeon’s knife or the orthodontist’s handiwork, her gappy smile (much like that of Madonna’s) becoming a trend setter and bankable distinguishing feature.


divine idylle # 6 : peggy moffitt

Peggy Moffitt is synonymous with the look of the 60s, many would say she played a significant role in pioneering it. She started her career as an actress, but it was when she met and subsequently married photographer WIlliam Claxton that her life took a change of direction. Claxton had been photographing Rudi Genreich’s fashion designs since the mid 50s, and by the early 60s Peggy began modeling for him. She forged a strong relationship and later became his muse and collaborator.

Peggy was not afraid to be nonconformist, in fact, it was a brazen act of anti-establishmentarianism that catapulted her into the limelight, and gained her notoriety at a time when so many rules and mindsets were gagging to be challenged and reformed; she was one of the few models brave enough to model the topless bathing suit, or ‘monokini’. She was sartorially distinctive and experimental, her love of heavy eye make up and false lashes became her signature and she modified the classic bowl haircut and made it her own, known as ‘the five point’. She also featured in her husband’s video, ‘Basic Black’, the premise of which was to act as a showreel to enable Claxon to get advertising work, however, it is now widely considered to be the first real fashion video.

Both Genreich’s designs and Peggy’s look have had an enduring appeal, in 2003 a collaboration between Comme de Garcon’s Rei Kawakubo and Moffitt led to the revival and reissue of some of Genreich’s designs as part of the CDG collection for that year.

image and text sources: wikipedia, the new york times, flickr, google images

divine idylle # 5 : katherine ross

Katherine Ross was one of those women fortunate enough to have worked with not one, but two of the Silver Screen’s hottest men, and, in the storyline at least, was romantically involved with both. I’m referring to ‘Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid’, arguably one of my favourite films of all time, not least because of the eye candy on display (of both sexes) for its 112 minute duration. I can think of worst things than a Paul Newman/Robert Redford sandwich.

She also gave a sterling performance in ‘The Graduate’, where she treads a fine line between doe-eyed vulnerability and strength and tenacity, having been jilted by Dustin Hoffman who engages in an illicit affair with her mother, she goes on to swallow her pride and chooses to forgive him, fleeing from her wedding to another guy (chosen by her parents) to be with the man she loves when he interrupts proceedings. A scene later parodied to good effect by Mike Myers in Wayne’s World.

More recently she has carved out a career as an author, with several children’s books published.

Another Divine Idylle with an effortless beauty and beguiling quality, both aesthetically and in her acting capabilities.

images: google images

divine idylle # 4 : lio

Lio (real name Wanda Ribeiro de Vasconcelos) is a Belgian singer and actress. She was a French pop icon during the 80s, working with musical luminaries Sparks on ‘Suite Sixteen’, on which some of her previous songs from her original LP ‘Suite Sixtine’ were translated into English. She also worked with Etienne Daho and Jacno on other collaborative projects.

Her looks were a contrasting mix of coquette, ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ and overt sexuality. As I was compiling the photo montage I came across a couple of racy photo shoots, now comically dated with big 80s hair, stockings and suspenders and some strategically placed props, namely shower heads, mirrors, goldfish bowls and ken dolls! One of the more ‘tasteful’ images is featured above.

I discovered her by accident, as she played a leading role in a french film I saw, shortlisted for the competition category at the BA Film Festival. Impressed by her acting capabilities I became curious to find out more.

Yet it was her earlier incarnation as a bonafide euro pop act that really inspired me. Both her music and fashion epitomise the era, a perfect snapshot of the look and sound of the day.

images and text sources: google images, wikipedia

divine idylle # 3 : gena rowlands

Although a successful actress in her own right, it was as John Cassavetes muse, wife and leading lady that Gena Rowlands is largely recognised. Together with her husband, they revolutionalised the direction of independent American cinema. Yet both were forced to midnight flypost many of their films to drum up interest, such was the degree to which they were sidelined and eschewed by the mainstream film industry.

Rowlands had no qualms about tackling difficult roles. In ‘A Woman Under the influence’ one of her greatest triumphs, (for which she was nominated an academy award) she plays Mabel Longhetti, a housewife whose increasingly erratic and psychotic behaviour leads her husband with no choice but to commit her to a psychiatric institute. The film makes for uncomfortable viewing, for Rowlands’ performance is both convincing and deeply emotive. The film had a non existent budget after being rejected by all major studios approached, in effect Cassavetes was forced to remortgaged his house and Peter Falk gave $500,000 of his own money to the project. Rowlands was responsible for her own hair and make-up.

In ‘Opening Night’, her character is no less challenging. She plays a stage actress, crippled with self doubt and unable to admit she has issues with aging, in addition to a drink problem which renders her incapable of acting. Her performance has a similarly compelling and devastating effect on the viewer.

Gena continued to act despite her husband’s untimely death at 59 and later roles proved equally as diverse and engaging, notably in ‘Playing by Heart’ and ‘The Notebook’, the latter of which was directed by her son Nick.

Even now, aged 80, she retains an ethereal quality and beauty which are testament to the life she has led, both fiercely uncompromising and true to her beliefs. In a recent interview given in April of this year, she was quoted as saying “It’s why so many of these indie filmmakers, even now, ask me to do their movies. They know I’m indie. Always have been.”

images: google images

divine idylle # 2 : julie christie

Julie Christie is a woman who conveyed a subtle vulnerability in spite of her powerful and ostensible beauty. Warren Beatty, who dated her on and off for nearly a decade summed up this interesting dichotomy perfectly, when he described her as “the most beautiful and at the same time the most nervous person I had ever known.”
Despite her obvious bankable status as far as making films was concerned, Julie often shunned leading roles in more commercially viable projects in favour of smaller, yet critically acclaimed films such as Nicholas Roeg’s ‘Don’t Look Now’, a particular favourite of mine. Her progressive and somewhat chameleon approach to fashion is illustrated clearly in these pictures, consistent with a woman who knew herself and what she wanted to project, in spite of an underlying fragility.

images: google images

divine idylle # 1 : stevie nicks

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