Category Archives: pop culture

currently: the uncompromising eartha kitt

eartha kitt with kittens

eartha kitt with kittens by gordon parks, 1952

a hotly anticipated new batman movie just came out, and everyone is still going on over whether or not anne hathaway was the right casting choice to revisit the role of catwoman. it happens any time a film touches a cult character, especially one that has spanned many decades and mediums… personally, i have yet to see the latest incarnation of catwoman in this film so i can’t judge.

Eartha Kitt as Catwoman c. 1960’s

Eartha Kitt as Catwoman c. 1960’s

in the meantime, however, many people have taken advantage of this batman pop culture moment to reflect on the various women who have been catwomen over the years, such as julie newmar. another one of the very first actresses to be cast as catwoman is the inimmitable eartha kitt. while she only took on the role for three episodes during the batman television series, her performance captivated audiences and remains iconic to this day.

every once in a while, i see a fantastic photo of eartha kitt pop up on tumblr. lately, it’s been a become more of a steady stream… here are just a few of my favourites that really showcase her style in the 1950s and 60s. i hate to be the kind of person who only posts photos of when an actress when she was young, but what can i say, i’m a sucker for 1950s fashion! there are some great ones from later eras you can find yourself, but i simply had to share my favourites.

Eartha Kitt, Amsterdam, Netherlands, c. 1962. by Ben van Meerendonk.

Eartha Kitt, 1952 by Gordon Parks

Eartha Kitt, June 1952, photographed by Gordon Parks for LIFE magazine

Eartha Kitt in New York City, June 1952, photographed by Gordon Parks for LIFE magazine

this entire photoshoot of her by the incredible photographer gordon parks is unbelievably charming!

Eartha Kitt, June 1952, photographed by Gordon Parks

Eartha Kitt, June 1952, photographed by Gordon Parks

Eartha Kitt dances during Dizzy Gillespie’s set at the Newport Jazz Festival (1954)

Eartha Kitt dances during Dizzy Gillespie’s set at the Newport Jazz Festival (1954)

eartha kitt photographed by carl van vechten, 1952

photographed by carl van vechten, 1952

uncredited/date portrait of eartha kitt (1950s?)

Eartha Kitt in Hamburg, 1950. Photo by Susanne Schapowalow.

but you know hear at à l’allure garconnière, i’m not about style over substance – eartha kitt had both in spades.  while i admire what eartha kitt wore, her words and acts speak volumes. she was a fiercely independent strong woman who spoke out against injustice. keep in mind she was all of these things at a time when being an outspoken black woman didn’t help already quite limited career opportunities.

In 1968, during the administration of US President Lyndon B. Johnson, Kitt encountered a substantial professional setback after she made anti-war statements during a White House luncheon. Kitt was invited to the White House luncheon and was asked by Lady Bird Johnson about the Vietnam War. She replied: “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot.”

During a question and answer session, Kitt stated:

“The children of America are not rebelling for no reason. They are not hippies for no reason at all. We don’t have what we have on Sunset Blvd. for no reason. They are rebelling against something. There are so many things burning the people of this country, particularly mothers. They feel they are going to raise sons — and I know what it’s like, and you have children of your own, Mrs. Johnson — we raise children and send them to war.”

Her remarks reportedly caused Mrs. Johnson to burst into tears and led to a derailment in Kitt’s career. The public reaction to Kitt’s statements was extreme, both pro and con. She  became publicly ostracized in the US.

she was also one of the earliest public figures to speak out against apartheid in South Africa. in researching her life online, i’ve also learned she faced discrimination for being light-skinned and mixed-race. her mother was african-american and cherokee, and her father was white. there is also a great biography of her over at classic vintage with a twist if you’re interested in finding out more.

Eartha Kitt for the Hill District Renewal Program, May 1966.

Eartha Kitt for the Hill District Renewal Program, May 1966. Photographed by Charles “Teenie” Harris

photographs can’t even begin to capture the energy and vivacity she had. take the time to watch this amazing video of her:

i hope you learned something new about an amazing woman!


Filed under currently, fashion, pop culture, Uncategorized, vintage

recommended reading: on self-portraits

ode to tamil

ode to tamil (self-portrait) by julia caron

over the years, i’ve made it quite clear i have a particular fondness for self portraits. initially, i was drawn to many images i’d come across in art books, visual arts classes, and museums, without even realizing my favourites were, more often than not, self portraits. francesca woodman, frida kahlo, and cindy sherman come to mind as artists that made a huge mark on my life, my aesthetics, and my own (quite limited) photography. it was only over time and personal curiosity that i came to learn they were all self-portraits. cindy sherman’s untitled series, woodman’s ghostly incarnations, and frida kahlo’s powerful paintings are all reflections and representations of themselves… or at least, of a certain aspect of themselves.

a self-portrait taken by eve arnold in the 1950s

Eve Arnold, Self-Portrait in a Distorted Mirror, 42nd Street, New York, 1950.

for some reason over the past week, i’ve come across many a link which has forced me to revisit and remember what it is i truly love about self-portraits. eve arnold, an influential photographer, passed away last week. while most people quickly started circulating her portraits of marilyn monroe, i took a moment to revisit her work. it is startlingly curious to see which photographs we remember her for, and why. i was surprised to see how beautiful this “Self-Portrait in a Distorted Mirror, 42nd street, New York” was, which i’d never come across before. when we google image search her name, marilyn monroe’s face comes up before hers. how sad.

to top it off, i’ve also come across two fantastic articles on self-portraits. let’s start with wayne bremser’s reflections on the most popular photographs of 2011. it quickly shifts gears from a “best of” type list into a thoughtful reflection on fame, portraits, and consent. the contrast of a famous celebrity’s leaked nude self-portrait contrasted with a relative unknown woman’s posthumous self-portraits makes this point quite clear. this is the line that really struck me:

Vivian Maier was the least famous person in the world, the self-portrait was the only way to document her own existence; nobody else was going to do it for her.

there’s something brutally honest about that statement; for those of you in the known about vivian maier, you’ll known she’s the “unknown woman” whose life and photography came to light only after her death. the spotlight shone brightly on her work in 2011, so it is fitting that her images are part of the most important and memorable of the last year, even though most were taken many decades earlier. i strongly recommend reading the article in its entireity, as i think bremser has touched on something that most other photography “best of 2011” lists missed altogether in their pandering to the status quo and propaganda machines.

vivian maier - self-portrait, 1960

Vivian Maier, Self-Portrait, 1960

a day after coming across that article, i found this one while trying to find proper credit on tumblr for this image. Mirrors, Masks and Spaces: Self-portraits by Women Photographers in the twenties and thirties by Herbert Molderings & Barbara Mülhens-Molderings totally made my saturday. i printed it out and poured over it while drinking an afternoon cup of tea… here are some of the passages i underlined:

The woman’s break with her oppressive pre-war image, her new liberties and her new vocational prospects, the shape and scope of which were still extremely unclear, found expression in the multitude of self-portraits taken by female photographers of the 1920s in an attempt at defining and asserting their new identity.

can i get behind that? fuck yeah. there is a lot in this article of the flapper “garçonne” persona of liberation and the direct correlation of the desire to document ones face, ones self. the power of being able to be both creator and subject is something that has infinitely appealed to me over the years, and i am endlessly grateful for the self-timer function on digital cameras for allowing me to explore that. but for someone like myself, born in 1985, to reflect on what it meant for the very first female self-portrait photographers and artists in the 1920s and 30s? wow, how eye opening.

a self-portrait taken by Marianne Breslauer, « Die Fotografin » , 1933

Marianne Breslauer, « Die Fotografin » , 1933

In a self-portrait taken in 1933, undoubtedly the most erotic self-portrait of a woman photographer of the 1920s and 1930s, this Berlin photographer (Marianne Breslauer) poses, with her cable release in her hand, as a young woman obviously skilful at the game of concealing and revealing. She has deliberately opened her fashionable, fur-trimmed housecoat in order to view her beautiful naked body on the ground-glass screen of the camera. As she is standing to one side of the mirror, her face is hidden by her hair, heightening still further the subtle eroticism of this photograph. Her gaze into the viewfinder of the camera, as though refusing to look herself and, by the same token, the imagined viewer in the eye as she performs her exhibitionist act, seems modest and outdated compared with the erotic self-portraits of women photographers today.24 At once narcissistic and voyeuristic, this self-portrait is less an occupational portrait of the kind intended for publication – we know of no publication of this photograph prior to 197925 – than a private study of a young woman photographer using her professional skills to explore, and take delight in, the eroticism of her appearance.

i’m not going to lie, this definitely put me in mind of some of my own attempts (and failures) of playing with that erotic gaze in the self-portrait… the vast majority of which i have chosen not to share with anyone. but it is powerful to think that what seems like such an innocuous, tame image today went unpublished (and perhaps unseen) for over forty years, because it was too scandalous? because it was always intended to be private? in the era of taking photographs with cell phones and instantly sharing them online, tweeting them with instagram, this seems unheard of. but another aspect this put me in mind of were some of the questions i asked when writing about katie west‘s nude self-portraits back in 2010. why are women, especially young women, so overwhelmingly shamed and judged when they choose to share nude photographs of themselves online… even if they are the ones creating those images themselves? contrasting the digital era of self-portraits with the social mores of the 1930s is definitely intriguing, to say the least.

how many of these photographers were mostly taking photos for themselves? how many, like vivian maier, probably never thought they would have an audience of thousands, even millions? reading and reflecting on all of these questions has already been quite fruitful for me… but i still feel like most of my ideas are a bit half-baked. one day, i’d like to get to the point where i can reflect on the role fashion bloggers and “what i wore” outfit documentors play in the evolution of the self-portrait, of the digital camera as a mirror… but i think my brain has got a lot of digesting to do before it can help me articulate what i mean by the political implications of those things. in the meantime, my heart will jump a little bit each time i see a beautiful self-portrait or read an amazing article reflecting on just what self-portraits can mean. i hope you enjoy them as much as i did.

may 2010as always, click the photos for credit and sources.

recommended readings:

navel gazing:


Filed under currently, pop culture, self-portraits

2011 in review

for those of you who have been following my adventures via livejournal for the past decade, you know i’m quite fond of taking the time to look back and reflect on the last year this time of year. it’s not so much about “the new year” for me, but moreso about taking stock of what i’ve accomplished in my private life in semi-public ways… my birthday is on the 26th of december, and one of the (few) advantages is that i feel more like i’m reflecting on my year than a compulsory calendar year pros/cons list, you know? i usually do that in friends-locked posts on livejournal, but this time around i thought i’d make a more “public” version.

on top of that, i’m also finding that as social media grows and changes, in the era of endless scrolling and constant connectivity, it’s really hard to find links you’ve shared over the year. so this is a combination of a personal archive for me and a best of the year for you! get ready! it’s a doozy. i’ve tried to keep it as fashion focused as possible, but you should know by now how all of my interests run into and over each other. enjoy!

january 2011


  • my best femme iris came to visit ❤
  • delicious food and fun craft nights with sarah
  • celebrated my belated birthday with some of my all-time favourite people
  • went to visit simon’s aunt and uncle in their beautiful home in the country, walks in the woods

recommended reading:

  1. What is Glitter Politic? by Majestic Legay (january 11th, 2011)

february 2011

  • tried lots of winter survival tips, like writing letters and making mulled wine
  • had my fantastic family come visit for carnaval in quebec city
  • participated in fa(t)shion february

recommended reading:

  1. fa(t)shion february and unfashionability by j. bee at sassyfrass circus (February 1st, 2011)
  2. living single at crunk feminist collective (February 7th, 2011)

march 2011

  • played with the new 35 mm holga camera karina gave me (as pictured above and in april, may, june, july photos)
  • went to the sugar shack!
  • really really wanted to chop all my hair off
  • read a whole lots of zines

recommended reading:

  1. Helpful tips: How not to be a boorish body-policing jerk by Leslie Kinzel (March 22nd, 2011)

april 2011

  • torn between my desire to devote myself entirely to writing and journalism… and being paid a living wage.
  • bike rides and visits to lévis to see sarah
  • thinking a lot about apartment renovations
  • working really hard!

recommended reading:

  1. On Punk Pants: Duration, Devotion and Distinction by mimi thi nguyen at Threadbared (april 4th, 2011)
  2. passive aggressive status updates: a fine example of girl hate by amber forrester at fight boredom! (april 27th, 2011)
  3. I was here then i wasn’t here then i went somewhere then i came back then i went away then i came back and now i’m going again to paris to read books and be alone by Jenny Zhang at Fashion for Writers (April 27th, 2011)

may 2011

  • visited my sisters in ottawa
  • saw austra and bumped into an old friend from 8th grade! isabelle!
  • met amber at slutwalk in montreal
  • hahaha “planked”

recommended reading:

  1. The Faux Vintage Photograph by Nathan Jungerson at The Society Pages (May 11th, 2011) *** this may be my favourite piece of non-fiction writing of the year****
  2. Slutwalk March or not march by Harsha Walia at Rabble (May 18th, 2011)
  3. Things to do if you are a hustling class artist or other person with no trust fund or much of an economic safety net by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (May 23rd, 2011)

june 2011

  • launched three major projects i had been helping work on since the fall
  • fell in love with biking once again
  • was kind of bummed about sarah leaving, but decided to make the best of it
  • took so many rolls of film!
  • spent a lot of time thinking about and planning a certain incredible event

recommended reading:

  1. Pointing out small-scale problems at better living through beyoncé (June 3rd, 2011)
  2. Understanding Vancouver’s Hockey Riot by Dave Zirin at the Nation (June 16th, 2011)
  3. Communities of care, organizations for liberation by Yashna Maya Padamsee (June 19th, 2011)
  4. wedding day as a celebration of love, not of coupledom by me at simon et julia (June 21st, 2011)

july 2011

  • left my job at exmuro feeling satisfied and accomplished
  • chopped off and donated 14 inches of my hair
  • made my very first radio documentary on that very subject
  • had dinner with and was reinspired by neil bissoondath

recommended reading:

  1. Sustainable Style Series via jesse anne o (july 26th, 2011)

august 2011

  • had the most incredible party of my life aka got married!
  • saw so many wonderful people, morgan, my sisters, everyone
  • slow danced with nicole brossard
  • went for a roadtrip in the eastern townships

recommended reading:

  1. Moving toward the ugly: a politic beyond desirability by Mia Mingus at Leaving Evidence (August 22nd, 2011)

september 2011

  • started working nearly full time in radio + loved it
  • beginning of my weekly writing dates with karina at librarie st-jean
  • biked 60 km with simon!
  • went without power for nearly eleven days (!!!) after post tropical storm irene

recommended reading:

  1. An Open Letter to my local Hipstersby Sarah Hunt at Media Indigena (September 20th, 2011)
  2. Urban Outfitters is obsessed with Navajos by Adrienne Keene at Native Appropriations (September 23rd, 2011)
  3. Unintentionally Eating the Other by Minh-Ha T. Pham at Threadbared (September 12, 2011)
  4. Antifeminist Frills by Eline at A Fluffy Blog (September 22, 2011)
  5. Fashion is a feminist issue by Greta Christina (September 2nd, 2011)

october 2011

  • celebrated karina’s birthday
  • first halloween in ages i didn’t dress up (i was sick & busy)

recommended reading:

  1. Occupy Together in the age of conspiracy by Syed Hussan at Rabble (October 13th, 2011)
  2. Fauxgress Watch: “Born this way” by Rachel at Social Justice League (October 10th, 2011)
  3. An Open Letter to Urban Outfitters on Columbus Day by Sasha Houston Brown at Racialicious (October 10th, 2011)
  4. Fat babes illustrated by Natalie at Definatalie (October 23, 2011)

november 2011

recommended reading:

  1. Not every girl is a riot grrrl by Lindsay Zoladz (November 16th, 2011)

december 2011

  • visited trenton for the first time of the year
  • took a lot of time for myself
  • said goodbye to my best friend karina as she headed off to sudbury
  • celebrated my champagne birthday with lots of sequins and glamour and fun

recommended reading:

  1. Why the “Native” Fashion Trend is pissing off real Native Americans by Lisa Hix at Collector’s Weekly (December 1st, 2011)
  2. Make your own stuff by Maranda Elizabeth (December 3rd, 2011)
  3. “Hello, I Love you” or “Why Fashion Blogging Smells like Raw Fish” by isabel at hipster musings (December 23rd, 2011)

phew! what a year. a new pair of glasses, three haircuts, tons of babes and incredible amounts of personal challenges and accomplishments. it took me way longer than anticipated to put that together. i’ll be sharing my favourite music of the year elsewhere in the next month or so, and best things i’ve read/seen in 2011 but i think those articles should sate your palates for the time being.

what were some of the best things you read or saw this year? i love lists! share yours with me. here’s one of my all-time favourites:

Woody Guthrie’s 1943 “New Years Rulin’s.” Found in one of his journals dated January 31st, 1942.

Woody Guthrie’s 1943 “New Years Rulin’s.” Found in one of his journals dated January 31st, 1942.

goodbye 2011! hello 2012!


Filed under politics, pop culture, Uncategorized, vintage, what i wore today

Expecting a bit mo’ from Movember

The month of November has drawn to a close, and with it, Movember’s legions of moustachioed folks end their campaigning… not only will the sightings of moustaches drop significantly, but the amount of times I am asked what i think of the “awareness” campaign will hopefully taper off.

Ah, what a lovely, complicated, recurring question. I had planned on responding to it myself, but before I knew it my badass friend Iris had already tackle the issue quite succinctly. In her editorial “Mo Awareness, Mo Problems” she covers everything from the very heteronormative narrow approach to addressing men’s health issues to the badass moustachioed folks ignored in Movember’s hall of fame. But don’t let me speak for her, read it yourself:

A large portion of the money raised by Movember goes to Prostate Cancer Canada, which is funding some extremely worthwhile initiatives, but some of this cash goes back to Movember itself, which seems to be paying largely for slick graphic design and gimmicky branded merchandise.

While I don’t want to minimize the importance of cancer research, I have my doubts about whether Movember is the best vehicle for a men’s health movement. Though popular, “moustache awareness” has been marketed so strongly that the causes it stands for can seem like an afterthought.

screencap of the movember website that reads "merchandise"

screencap of the movember website that reads “merchandise”

If you look hard enough on the Movember website, past the ads for beer, motorcycles, and razors, you’ll find that the campaign encourages men to get physical exams, eat healthier diets, stop smoking, and drink in moderation. But rather than using their marketing dollars to make it cool for men to eat salads, the Movember website unhelpfully tells you the volume of beer that a one-month old moustache can absorb.

It doesn’t talk about access. Movember imagines that men don’t go to doctors because they “just can’t fit it into their schedule.” The campaign assumes that the largest barrier to health care access is men’s reluctance. This ignores other significant factors, like the availability of healthcare or insurance coverage; the ability to see a queer or trans-positive healthcare practitioner; the ability to access healthcare in your first language, or if you work a night shift, or a variety of other reasons including the accessibility and affordability of healthy foods.

It’s cisnormative. Movember’s prostate cancer focus has expanded to encompass “men’s health awareness” generally. Still, not all men have prostates. Cervical cancer is also a “men’s health” issue – does an awesome job of providing info for trans guys who need paps. There are also lots of guys – trans and cis alike – who can’t grow facial hair, but that doesn’t make them less manly.

It’s heteronormative. The moustache plays a huge role in queer style and iconography, but Movember’s celebrity Hall of Fame is super straight (Dr. Phil, Mr. Potato Head, Ned Flanders, Ron Jeremy), except for Freddie Mercury. Where’s John Waters? Tom of Finland pinups? Le Tigre’s JD Samson? (Julia adds: Frida Kahlo!)

The Movember campaign also explicitly argues that moustaches are sexy, without ever acknowledging queer sexualities and relationships. The website’s “Mo Facts” include statements like “Women are more attracted to men with Mo’s.”

This absence is especially conspicuous in a campaign that focuses on prostates. If the aim is to get men to get annual physical exams, it would be especially useful to lessen the perception that someone’s finger in your ass (whether that finger is your doctor’s or your lover’s) is an experience to be avoided. No homo, right bros?

It misses opportunities to debunk sexist ideology. The idea that only men have moustaches is propped up by a lot of sexist marketing and patriarchal bullshit. Ask any woman who has bleached, shaved, waxed, or lasered her face – or who has felt pressure to do so. Women with facial hair have been displayed as “freaks” in circuses. Movember dismissingly mentions that “some Eastern European” women have moustaches, which is a harmful stereotype in itself. Check out J. Bee’s “Femme a Barbe” zine for more on women & other bearded gender outlaws.

Movember (somewhat defensively) states that men are “indifferent” to their health and need to step up their game to catch up with the “women’s health movement”. Of course, the underfunding of necessary programs or research relating to anyone’s health is a situation that should be improved.

Still, the framing of this conversation leaves out larger discussions about gender and healthcare that would likely be more effective than the “men are scared of hospitals” model that Movember uses. There is a “women’s health movement” because historically, women weren’t included in medical studies and so research regarding their health was underdeveloped. For instance, the symptoms of a heart attack are different for cis women than cis men.

As well, women’s bodies are often pathologized as unwell and treated as public. Women are pathologized as being sick even when the symptoms are often due to their social location – we don’t have “hysteria” anymore, but we do have similar stigma about shit like PMS. Men, especially typically masculine, macho, “bros” like the ones targeted by Movember, are thought to be by definition healthy and normal. It’s good that Movember aims to discourage the “it’ll all be alright” attitude, but it seems unlikely to be effective without also critiquing the “bro” stereotype.

It centres white dudes. When Jarvis was on campus scouting for Mo Bros, he told us that after hours of looking, he found an overwhelming number of participating white guys and very few POC participants. The official Movember website is similarly problematic, though they do sell licensed Snoop Dogg t-shirts.

It leaves out environmental factors. Healthy lifestyles are important, but can only do so much. Curing cancer for good will likely involve pressuring governments for better environmental regulations that limit the use and exposure of carcinogens beyond what individuals can do on their own.

What do you think? Personally I think she’s hit the nail on the head (but I’m biased seeing as she is my best friend).

While i’m on the topic of moustaches, though, here are some more awesome links:

Majestic Legay posted this video on November 1st of this year. So much of what they had to say rang true for me, namely being a “hairy french canadian” and getting teased. I don’t quite remember exactly when I stopped removing facial hair, but suffice to say these days I’ve embraced the little face fuzz I do have. I think it is slightly linked to the first times I did drag, where I had less work to do to highlight my sideburns, eyebrows, etc. It’s different for everyone, but I think we spend far too much time and effort hiding our facial hair and avoid conversations about it like the plague. Perhaps critical folks can reclaim movember to start discussions around how hypergendered facial hair is? and admire the badass femmes and queers who fuck with those notions around the attachment of moustaches and beards to traditional notions of masculinity? That is a campaign I can get behind.

majestic moustache

Two of my favourite moustachioed babes, majestic legay and jessie dress (founder of fa(t)shion february)

No Shave November No Matter Your Gender
art by katy did not

In the end, I can’t really write off Movember entirely. It’s got some real good aspects, and as a fan of moustaches on people of all genders and presentations, I personally can’t complain about the increase in sightings. I just think there’s a lot of work to be done before it’s something I can enthusiastically support. When we can start talking about cancers without having to brand them as girly! pink! = breast cancer and moustaches! virile! rugged! = men’s health/prostate cancer, I’ll be one happy camper. Until then, though, I’ll high-five these badass critical folks like iris, j. bee, and majestic for their insights and awesome work.




Filed under body hair, pop culture

style icon: silent film star louise brooks

over the years, many people (online and off) have asked me who my style icons are. i don’t really like idol/hero/celebrity culture, and so i’ve always managed to avoid answering the question. plus, i always prefered admiring “real people’s” styles, like my friends, as opposed to celebrities i’d never met (who more often than not have a team of stylists orchestrating how they present themselves) and consider my own personal style a mishmash of influences… but! if we re-word it, i can make it work for me. if someone asked me, “which historical figure has had the biggest influence on your taste, style and aesthetics?” there are three or four faces that come to mind.

one of them is louise brooks.

you may not know her name, but you most likely know her face… or at least her trademark bobbed haircut. there is, of course, debate around whether or not silent film stars like colleen moore and louise brooks can be credited as having “started” the trend of the bob, or if they are simply responsible for having popularized an already quite popular hairstyle… but that’s another story.

louise brooks was born in 1906, in cherryvale, kansas. as a young woman, she loved literature, dancing, and the cinema, and soon all three would become major parts of her life. she worked as a dancer before lighting up the silver screen, and after she ended her acting career, she opened her very own dancing studio. as she aged, she continued longstanding letter writing friendships with friends and fans. but that is just a small window into a long, full life. she is probably most remembered for her role as lulu in G.W. Pabst’s 1929 film Pandora’s Box, which also happens to be one of my favourite films.

i could go on and on about her, but i’d rather recommend you watch her films and read up on her yourself. personally, i’ve been smitten with her since i first saw her on the screen when i was in my late teens, and soon after came across barry paris’ biography of her. i wouldn’t quite call it love at first sight, but i quickly realized it was more than her gaze and her face that so entranced me.

Louise Brooks autographed picture- “Dear Winston- These earrings are a bit extreme-even for the 1920’s.” “I wish I still had that bracelet. I adore that dress-such an interesting pattern. Sincerely Louise Brooks”part of the deep fondness i have for louise brooks is that she was such a intelligent, whipsmart, and yes, gorgeous, person… over the course of her entire life. in fact, the most interesting aspect of her, in my opinion, is her life as a whole, not just the short decade in which she was a celebrity. many writers bemoan the fact her acting career was so short lived, but if you hear what she recounted in hindsight in the 60s and 70s, she never sounds bitter or angry about it. hollywood wasn’t a particularly friendly place for outspoken and badass ladies (then, and we could argue even still, today). instead of just moping about it, she lived the rest of her life, opened a dance studio, watched movies, read, and wrote. independent, savvy, passionate, unapologetically sexual, brimming with wisdom and wit. this autographed photo shows a bit of that side of her. signing autographs in 1979 for a picture taken in the 20s, and being nostalgic in a healthy way, all the while acknowledging she was always a bit of a black sheep, a little ahead of the curve.

and that’s why her style, the photographs of her short career, have entranced me so. here are just a few of my favourite louise brooks outfits.

film still from pandora's box, 1929, g.w. pabst

i don’t know what it is, there’s just something about her i’ll always admire and hope to one day emulate myself. maybe it doesn’t need explaining. so obviously, over the years, i’ve tried in vain to emulate brooks. unsurprisingly, i jumped at the first chance i got to do it for others. back in 2007 i participated in amelia raley‘s vintage vivant project. one of the assignments was to take a “star portrait”:

Submit a photo of yourself that mimics a photograph or artwork from 1920 – 1949. Include one portrait of yourself, and the original photo you’ve based your submission on.

julia posing as louise brooks

it’s not quite perfect, but i’m still pretty proud of how it turned out.

clearly i’m not the only critical fashion lover enamoured with her, either! one of the folks over at the always wonderful WORN journal even shopped up this image of her:

aaaaaaand i’ll leave you with this lovely gif. how can you resist that smirk?

a .gif of louise brooks looking queer as fuck. hot damn that smirk/smile of hers!

happy birthday, louise!



Filed under hair, pop culture, vintage