Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Inspired By Literature: Oscar Wilde

After purchasing a full bottle of my new favorite perfume, Serge Lutens De Profundis, it occurred to me that the author whose work served as the inspiration for the fragrance had yet to be featured on Getting Cheeky. That author is, of course, Oscar Wilde. Wilde is a persona whose reputation seems to proceed him. As alive now (at least to me) as he ever was, his works including but not limited to Salomé, The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Ernest are full of startlingly true quotes and maxims that seem as applicable and true now as they were when Wilde first put pen to paper in the late 19th century.

Like many, I have always gravitated to The Picture of Dorian Gray. Within this novel Wilde deftly conflated a 19th century English setting with the spirit of the conte fantastique as well as the general sense of excess and luxe occurring in the French literary scene during la Belle Époque. For this reason I find the novel incredibly unique. I'll give nothing away about the story except to say that the irony of the fact that I'm writing about it on a beauty blog is not lost on me. Fortunately for me I do not have a portrait of myself stashed in an upstairs room ...

(Top to bottom): Tom Ford Black Orchid and Wild Ginger Lipsticks

I'm sure I need to provide little explanation for my inclusion of the celebrated Serge Lutens fragrance De Profundis (review here). Inspired by Wilde's work of the same name, this pensive and incredibly complex fragrance reminds me of a walk through Père-Lachaise on a rainy, wet day. Perhaps you may be visiting Oscar Wilde's grave, a favorite of mine for it's uncommon beauty and the lure it seems to have for many visitors. Before you ask, I have indeed kissed it! (If you are unfamiliar, I've posted a picture on Getting Cheeky here).

As far as makeup is concerned, I envision shimmering "cold" shades paired with fiery reds particularly in association with Salomé. Complex tarnished gold (a statement when linked with Wilde's work if you begin to think about the implication of a precious metal that has been sullied), shimmering taupes and greys meant to exaggerate the angles of the face and fierce red lips all contribute to my understanding of Wilde's woman: a character with almost unrealistic exaggerated beauty to the extent that to behold it may, in fact, be somewhat terrifying.

(Clockwise from top center): Rouge Bunny Rouge Abyssinian Catbird, Chanel Notorious, Le Métier de Beauté Corinthian  

Wilde's works seem to grapple with opposing views of beauty and vanity. On one hand, the general idea seems to be that beauty for beauty's sake should be appreciated/celebrated as such. In the Portrait of Dorian Gray we are told that "Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty." Nevertheless, I can't help but feel as though there is a certain fallacy about the beauty described in Wilde's works. For this reason I wanted to select shades we use to beautify ourselves that are far from the "natural" look otherwise celebrated in Wilde's era. Shimmering graphite, ghostly putty and a purple as complex as the nebula all seem appropriately false yet beautiful in and of themselves.

(Left to right): Chanel Le Vernis 529 Graphite, 559 Frenzy, 583 Taboo

Which Oscar Wilde work is your favorite? If you were to compare a cosmetic or fragrance to the works of Oscar Wilde, which would you compare with which and why?