Monday, October 28, 2013


Vicomtesse Jacqueline de Ribes

What is the talisman that the arch-sphinx, she of Giza, guards invincible between her paws, holding the desert at bay these thousands of years?  What is the center of mystery which certain women carry within them, making any corner where they may choose to be always the watched one, any simple monosyllable their lips let fall among a crowd of chatter, always the One that is heard?

Plain or beautiful to the literal eye - never merely either - to come within their orbit is to be drawn toward their difference, magnetized by their steady, vital ambience.  In whatever mood, they move spare and classic as the great dancer, their farthest fingertip on a precise arc from the gravitational core.  Their speech, however human, seems surrounded with echoes from some arcanerecess. where they refresh themselves on an elixir personal to them, whose locale they will never divulge.

Marella Agnelli

In an era of baroque surface splendour, frippery rebounds from them; their style is not purchasable.  Cover them with bowknots and they would still look forth undisturbed from their inviolable center, their Capuchin calm. Maquillage alone will never explain these occult irises; they belong to women who are sloe-eyed to the soul.  The sense of their own entity abides with them, changeless, unquenchable.  In the burning-glass of the public gaze their privacy burns the brighter, is never consumed.

Gloria Vanderbilt

Princess Lee Radziwell

Suzy Parker

Comtessa Christina Paolozzi

Richard Avedon's photographs give external expression to this hidden, invincible quality of certain feminine beings.  Shine a lamp in the face of this one; already that light, brilliant yet veiled, is turned back on you, is hers.  Two others, couchant serene as cats in the integrity of self, let the world lean forward to see its own shape in their pearl black eyes. One stretches the long arrow of herself toward the cup of enigma that is hers alone.  Another is bound only by the awareness of her own boundaries - Primavera seeing her own nimbus clear.

Maria Eugenia Lee

This is their talisman; in a day where every luxury is easy except that of identity, they possess the ultimate secret. Like their great prototype, they will hold our interest with it, forever.

The Sphinx Within
Harper's Bazaar April 1960
Photography: Richard Avedon

... all things femme fatale

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