Has there ever been a more alluring look than that of a lady’s vamping eyes behind lace? Take, for instance, this gorgeous Edward Steichen photo of Gloria Swanson. 90 years later, I’ll bet the look wouldn’t feel as dangerously sexy without that film of lace hanging between our grim reality and the illusion of perfect beauty.
Through generations of cultural controversy, the veiled woman has been revered as a creature of wonder. Google searching the phrase veiled woman - you are immediately fed lines about the glory and sacrifice of the veil. Some revere, some revile. Overall, everyone has a powerful response. It can’t be denied that the veil has significance that can be tackled with about a million different adjectives.
I admit to my many well documented fashion follies. I had my grunge phase, my riot grrrl phase, my druggy shoe gazing baby doll dress plus big eye glasses wearing stage, horribly fashioned raver days, a few neo-hippie in techie fabric minimally modern years, hipster looks, electro trash hooks, and some very expensively heeled New York fashionista moments…but my grandmother’s generation had something I have not until recently been sporting… a look that has stood the test of decades. It can not be argued that there is power in a well cut suit, hair that is set once a week, and the ultimate French Blusher.
I became obsessed with the endlessly sexy young sister of the veil, the French Blusher, many years before I actually worked up the nerve to start wearing them. I sought out crumbling and ripped blushers in the corners of small town antique stores and wondered over the supreme style of my grandmother’s generation. A few of the blushers I have, too covered with dust and breaking apart to ever be appreciated on a lady’s head again, carry with their scent of magic and lust some questions. Did the ladies who wore them purposely tear holes in netting near their mouths so that they could smoke long cigarettes without pushing aside veils (it seems, looking at many old blushers, that they did)? Did the veils manage to prolong the hours of a date before kissing a suitor? Was a veil appropriate before 6? Was a veil appropriate without gloves? I will probably never know the full story of the French veil and all of it’s rules (or abandonment of rules) in my grandmother’s lifetime. But I have been committed for the last year or so to recreating the magic for myself.
When I declared to my fiancé that I was going to wear a veil at our wedding, he balked. Veils, to him, symbolized oppression of women. A veil at a wedding, in particular, seemed an archaic idea. I guess that, in this time of endless cultural revolution, when the veiling of women in the Middle East is seen by my demographic as arcane, his only appropriate response would be one of total modernization. Naturally I wanted to be exactly the sort of bride he wanted to see walking down proverbial aisle towards the beginning of the rest of our lives… but the type of bride I pictured myself as being was wearing a blusher, beaming at him from behind that slip of netting. In the end (of course), I did what I wanted- because a girl like me only has the chance to get married in a veil once. Here I am on the left in my bridal veil, with my friend, hairstylist and teacher, Norman, behind me. The photo on the right is of my husband and I later that night, at our reception.
I glad to report that I am not the only girl who has felt the need to top herself with this most glorious of accessories. New York’s 2009 Fall Fashion week featured all sorts of designers who are happy to top heads loudly. Cynthia Steffe made her girls instantly glamorous with a jaunty bun on top of their perfect heads, and a classic blusher around the eyes. I think that what I like most about this particular blusher look is its simplicity. Looks like this should prove to any woman that raucous glamor doesn’t necessarily have to come with a cost of time. Add a few accessories to a simple ‘do, and you can suddenly find yourself with a seriously attention grabbing tribute to vanity.
If you’re feeling as if there’s too much rocker in you to be such a lady, please turn to last month’s Diesel Black and Gold show for a more rugged look without risking a loss of sex appeal. I loved their torn netting headbands and blushers, and hope to somehow incorporate the feel of their show into my look this fall. Luckily, I have several months to figure out my execution…