18 November 2009


Etymology: French
good-looking ugly woman : 
woman who is attractive though not conventionally pretty.
from mr. webster

I am a fan(a big one) of EMILY EVANS EERDMAN'S blog & this particular post stuck with me-JOLIE-LAIDE The Beauty of Imperfection. Read the entire post here.

I think SARAH JESSICA PARKER fits the bill, as you must know from my little augury quote:

There is no excellent beauty 
that hath not some strangeness in the proportion. 
Sir Francis Bacon(1561-1626)

I say Thank the gods for women like her in this day and age.

 SJP is on the cover of ELLE right now. see more here

excerpted here: all words are Emily Evans Eerdmans'
It is much more interesting to look at something that is slightly imperfect, slightly askew - whether it be a room (MC would purposely pull her curtains off one or two hooks) or a face. And who else but the French would come up with a term for this? "Jolie-laide" or "pretty-ugly" is hard to define, and perhaps, like many French expressions, isn't meant to be.

...the 1963 cover of Harper's Bazaar by Richard Avedon
model Danny Weil

"Mr. Worthington sent me the 1963 cover of Harper's Bazaar (top photo) which apparently caused quite a stir: "Only recently it occurred to me that there was an elaborate insider's joke going on~ Richard Avedon was channeling Diana Vreeland with this model's navy blue hair, makeup, cigarette holder (inside the magazine, the same model wore a snood). Then, Walter Winchell ran a squib which implied that the model was in fact not a real woman at all! It was never verified and has intrigued me ever since." (again from EEE)
Whether this be so- the resemblance is distinct- as are the gestures.

Of course! DV's world-always on our minds-was just reimagined in a recent HARPER'S BAZAAR featuring SJP as DIANA VREELAND. Read the story here.

Why don't you just dress up like DV? I am certain she would be highly diverted!

SJP channeling DV

Too bad Bazaar missed the opportunity to explore the DV-SJP likeness on its cover. Surprising? NO. Disappointing? YES.

SJP in a chintzly-lacking Garden In Hell.
The real DV divinely reclining in her own.

  Come now-Tell me what you think? JOLIE LAIDE? Who would you add to this beautiful LIST?


  1. My favourite kind of beauty!
    Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Katharine Hepburn... all the really great faces.

  2. jolie laide... the bestest of friends. the ones you admire. and after all is said and done, the most beautiful.

    and the jolie-men? they are the ones who give you that weakness in the back of the knees. they are the ones who just seem to know things...

  3. I really laughed by reading this! Yes a very strange term ! And yes I think it is typically French to use this words!


  4. May I suggest a man? Adrien Brody.

  5. la, so flattered - thank you for the mention!

    I think how fascinating we find the idea of "jolie-laide" says a lot about how compelling imperfection is...and how beautiful...

    Jill totally nailed it with her Adrien Brody suggestion, don't you think?

  6. This is really interesting. My husband has that Adrien Brody kind of look. He is tall and he turns heads in France, but not at all in the US. Vive la difference!

  7. My personal opinion is what the "pretty ugly" have to offer is intelligence and confidence. Perfection is symmetrical but jolie laide is assymetrical. It beckons. It hints of something mysterious, unknown. It requires an interactive relationship, not mere admiration.

  8. EEE- it is just so. I do think Jill- Yes,Adrien Brody is perfect & Debra-how lucky are you? Too pretty pretty men make me nervous & it is just as Soodie says! G

  9. I would think Angelica Houston may fall under the jolie-laide umbrella - and Barbra Streisand in her younger days, for sure!

    Suzanne on St. Simons

  10. gaye... I had this one bookmarked and you beat me to it. hahahahaha. you rock.

  11. I agree, thank gods and monsters for the gift of the jolie laide. Maria Callas I believe was one of DV's most divine of all her selected jolie laide. Vreeland seemed taken with them. AW

  12. Ulla- please I can not wait- it's your turn. Thank you for the link and I can not wait to read it.gaye

  13. Anon- Callas is the great one certainly- and such over the top in every wonderful way. la

  14. Alan Rickman. I can't even explain it.

  15. Janet- yes certainly true.

    Suzanne- Angelica Houston -& I might add one of my favourites all round.

    AW- Maria Callas- spectacularly so.

    thanks for all the comments. GT

  16. Love this post have been racking my brain trying to think of someone, nobody jumps to mind now but just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading everyone's suggestions, What about Edith Sitwell? would she qualify

  17. Beauty is suspect; charm is all.
    Not that it matters, but the term seems to be used much, much more in English. I think the approach to beauty is different and the idea doesn't need to be qualified so much in France. Maybe the fashion for the expression is a sign of opening to another aethetic.

  18. le, yes isn't charm what it's all about. Interesting, we(as in here in the States) want to categorize all things-don't we? You have an interesting perspective as a We over There! My attraction is always for the less than conventional, It is more than. G

  19. I was thinking of a more general public. There has always been an enormous terrain d'entente for artists and intellectuals between the US and France.(Part of why I ended up here!) I thought HBD's remarks were very well put - as usual!

  20. Helen- Isabella Blow most definitely! and of course Edith Sitwell. GT

  21. Diana Vreeland wrote in her diary as a child "I have always had a wonderful imagination, I have thought of things that never could be..." I hope you will all buy the biography "DIANA VREELAND" by Eleanor Dwight. Full of personal and family photographs, her upbringing, family history and about her magnificent "Garden In Hell" living room. View some of the photographs in the book on my website. Please be patient while it uploads: http://www.elizabethavedon.com/#a=0&at=0&mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=0&p=2

  22. I have always thought of perfection as boring...we need the imperfect and unexpected to hold our attentions. I think that even the Egyptians understood the concept. That said, right now I need a little perfection introduced to my living room and office--enough with the bohemian look (enough of the cr__)

  23. MJH, I could not agree MORE! Order is one thing-perfection is too obsessive for my own taste. pgt



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