Tag Archives: Jacqueline Kennedy

The Wisdom of Pearls

Pearls are big news this season in the beauty world, with Chanel and Guerlain both paying tribute to that most flattering of jewels in their spring make-up collections.  How better to complement a pearl-inspired make-up than with the real thing? Here, then, is a selection of stylish ladies who knew how to work their strings of pearls. Josephine Baker (sometimes nicknamed the Black Pearl),  knew how to get mileage out of her beads – both offstage (above) and on (below). Given that she made her name on the Paris stage, there’s a good chance that some of these pearls came from the boutique owned by one Mademoiselle Chanel ..

Silent movie icon Louise Brooks got in on the pearl trend when she played Lulu in Pandora’s Box in 1928.

By the 1940s, multi-strand necklaces which sat at the collarbone had become the “in” way to wear pearls, and, as screen siren Hedy Lamarr demonstrates here, it was particularly effective with a black chiffon. Anything else would have been too heavy-looking..

In the 1950s, a single strand worn high at the neck was a favourite way of wearing pearls, especially if you wanted to achieve a demure, ladylike look – which is clearly what a certain Miss Monroe was going for in this next photo.

And Elizabeth Taylor (almost) managed to deflect attention away from her low-cut dress with her ladylike single strand of pearls..

Of course, the reason for pearls becoming so strongly associated with a ladylike look was the fact that they were – along with white gloves – a key component of the signature style of Grace Kelly, the Hollywood star who became a real-life princess. Here she is in one of her beautiful Edith Head gowns from Rear Window (1954), a film in which her character’s chic wardrobe was designed to reflect the star’s own.

Jacqueline Kennedy was another American aristocrat who was known for her penchant for pearls – simple jewellery to complement the unfussy lines of her much-admired clothes.

Just when pearls were at risk of becoming too conservative a style choice, along came Sophia Loren – whose bib-like multi-strand was clearly a favourite, as she was often photographed wearing it.. If anyone could inject some va-va-voom into the art of wearing pearls, she could..

These days, anything goes – pearl-wise. Heaping them on to create a mess of pearls has become a statement-making way of of wearing them. Sarah Jessica Parker worked this look in Sex and the City but I don’t think it’s been done better in recent times than by the singer Rihanna whose pearls were the talking point of the Inglorious Basterds premiere in 2009.


But the pearly queen of them all – the woman who stayed true to the jewel throughout her life and who is still teaching us how to wear it- was Coco Chanel (pictured below with Serge Lifar in 1937) who was layering real and faux pearls of different sizes from early in her career. Vive les perles!

(c) Lipnitzki / Roger-Viollet


1 Comment

Filed under Style

French Beauty Ideals

I’m in a French frame of mind today – what with it being Bastille Day. So I thought I’d share some of the words of beauty wisdom that I’ve received from two leading French make-up gurus whom I’ve interviewed in the last couple of years.

Both Laura Mercier and Terry de Gunzburg are charming, vivacious and sexy older women who graduated from the legendary Carita beauty school, and made their names as top make-up artists in the 1980s before launching their own lines of cosmetics. (Of course, for de Gunzburg, there was also the small matter of her creation of a “magic wand” called Touche Eclat at YSL ..)

It’s perhaps unsurprising then to discover that they share a similar beauty aesthetic – one which really highlights the difference between how French women and their British and/or American cousins view themselves, their looks and their sex appeal, as they go through life.

Asked to name the movie actresses whose looks she most admired, Laura Mercier said:  “I’ve always had a fascination for people who are not obviously beautiful … Obviously beautiful women like Catherine Deneuve absolutely don’t move me. Yes, she’s gorgeous in Belle de Jour but she has never moved me. However,  I am completely fascinated by the Italian actress Anna Magnani (right; 1908-1973) who can be gorgeous. Sometimes she can be not so beautiful but she’s always so intense. The personality is to die for – I mean, big dark circles, the nose and the teeth. I’m fascinated by that, by all faces. Everybody has the potential to be beautiful.”

Another of Mercier’s beauty heroines is the stylish, but not conventionally beautiful, octogenarian interior designer Andree Putman.  “She looks odd – she has adopted, completely adopted, a make-up and a hairstyle that’s always asymmetrical. I mean, she really goes for it. She imposes a personality. It’s not just about being perfect and symmetrical – it’s also her talent and her personality. Thank God! Beauty’s not like that. Paloma Picasso (below)  is another example. Even if you take Jackie Kennedy (left), yeah she was beautiful but she was not obviously beautiful. Her eyes were very far apart. If you look into the details, you see that they’re not perfect but that’s what makes us all unique. The defect can often become an asset.”

Terry de Gunzburg agrees. “I’ve always said: ‘ J’aime les defaults dans les grands oeuvres. ‘ [I like the flaws in the masterpieces.] I think that some wrinkles and fine lines can give you an internal beauty.”  She named as one of her favourite beauty heroines, whose face she had made-up while she was at Carita, the grande dame of American cinema Lauren Bacall. “I prefer the face of the older Lauren Bacall to the face of the older Goldie Hawn,” she said, recalling Bacall’s own view that she had “earned every one of her wrinkles”.

Laura Mercier sums up by saying:  “No-one can say Catherine Deneuve and Grace Kelly are not beautiful but, to me, they’re slightly boring, they’re a little bland. I like a little more hot pepper..”

* Laura Mercier’s range is widely available. Visit www.lauramercier.com to view her products. By Terry is available in Space NK stores in the UK. Visit www.spacenk.co.uk

1 Comment

Filed under Beauty