Those who love 1910’s/1920’s cinema as much as I do will recognize what I was attempting with the above self-portrait (cropped from a Polaroid shot with my 320 model land camera). It’s my modern-day homage to the iconic photograph of actress Gloria Swanson, taken by Edward Steichen in New York, 1924. In the historic shot, Steichen held a piece of delicate black lace in front of Gloria’s face. She poised herself upon her folded hands, her gaze intense, playing the part of an animal in hiding, carefully watching her prey and waiting for her moment to strike. It became one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century.
The photo never could – nor should – be duplicated EXACTLY. Realistically, there’s no way to get your hands on that particular type or pattern of quaker lace…and let’s face it, no one could ever fill Gloria’s shoes. Still, I went to extra pains to get several key elements to match: I had to have the right turban for my head, the makeup had to accentuate certain features, the eyes had to have the same level of intensity, and the mood of the steady huntress had to prevail. It took hours before I got a shot I was happy with.
I tried several laces with different patterns, but none worked — they don’t make them as THIN as they used to, so my lace fabrics with an all-over pattern completely covered my face to the point where you hardly see it at all. I had to use a unique piece of lace fabric that has VERY LITTLE patterning, and I had to be creative about where I placed the patterns in front of my face. I decided I would place one very large sequined floral pattern to highlight and frame one of my eyes, while a smaller one appears to rest upon my opposite shoulder.
Below is the ORIGINAL photo by Steichen:
Gloria Swanson was one of the most successful and beloved of the silent movie-era actresses. She was also a fashion icon, singer, producer, and — in my opinion — one of the most stunning women who ever walked the earth…
Oh, the GLAMOUR!! They just don’t make ’em like that anymore! Actresses today pale in comparison.
Thank you, Gloria, for the beautiful movies and images you left behind.
As for the rest of us: we can dress up, pretend to be as fabulous as you…
and take a Polaroid 😉
Until next time, xoxo… Jenn, TPA