Je ne vois pas la femme cachee dans la foret

[Anouk Aimee - all images from a Google Images search]

I've been dreaming of cheekbones. Of the women I wish I resembled.

Ever since seeing Anouk Aimee in La Dolce Vita, she has risen to the top of my "style icons" list. It's an illustrious list, Audrey and Grace Kelly are at the top comfortably and irrevocably, but there are other, sometimes nameless faces that have earned spots on that list. There's the art student who had the most covetable wardrobe of black sweaters and beat up boots; Irina Lazareneu, the girl I passed in the street who wore bright orange with panache and subtlety; a handful of chanteuses who exude the coolness I'll never have; and then there are a string of beauties who I admire for their cheekbones and the way they can wear short hair with a touch of the gamine and a dash of the tomboy (Jean Seberg may be at the top of this list).

Catherine Deneuve and Nico

I love Anouk in both La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2; her sadness and frustration; her glamour even in nonchalance; her untouchable quality. There's a silence about her, as if much is kept bottled up but that the bottling is infinitely preferable to some maelstrom of hysteria.

[Marina Perez - Sartorialist ]

The woman-child myth is one that must have some truth to it, as it has proven so infernally hard to shake. It's a topic of much interest to me, and not one that can be easily addressed in a medium such as this. But why is there such a glamorization of women who are less human and more fairy? I'm thinking of Breton's Nadja; of the Surrealists' Gradiva; of Cortazar's La Maga; even of Holly Golightly; that unattainable, magnetic muse figure. But who is that woman? She can't be more than an ideal, can she? Or is that some some too-secular cynicism speaking from my own failings and insecurities?

She was to be the hysteric, unchained spirit; hysteria, the ultimate feminine unveiling. Hysteria removed all of the trappings of law and society, the restrictions that separated the female from her "natural state." Women were/are thought to inspire, to be some sort of bridge to a world where creativity flows and the word elemental takes on meaning.

[Magritte: Je ne vois pas la femme cachee dans le foret]

Again, I do not know this woman. I cannot imagine what it must be to be her. I have no bond with her, no similarity. This of course does not prevent the possibility of her existence, but it does help to explain my fascination with the idea of her existence. Is she simply insane? A half-human? More sylph/sprite than person? Does she question her existence?

I have no way of knowing. I imagine that such a creature wouldn't spend time writing circles around the thoughts she wished she had; she wouldn't turn her back on sentimentality or emotion or passion; she wouldn't shrink from an audience for fear of disapproval. But she would be too much.

Even the Surrealists, so interested in finding her, had to give up: For artists/writers like Breton, the Nadjas in his life were altogther too human: not enough of the ‘free spirit’, the femme-enfant close to the realm of the unconscious, and too much a part of this world, subject to its strife and sadness. He, with many, seem content to continue failing in the pursuit of some ideal muse, the Gradiva who led the artist forward on a never-ending path of inspiration.

I prefer a bit of silence I think. Discipline or temperance. Moderation in decision and action. And I think that all those real women who are billed as "muses" etc. are admirable and beautiful and much more complicated than the interviewers would have them be.