What is the synonym for femininity ?
We don’t ask ourselves any more the question when we met Caroline Vreeland or Josephine Skriver.
Two women in tune with their sensuality.
Caroline and Josephine are beautiful because deeply connected with whom they are. Encounters…
Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris. In a sumptuous suite, on a coat hanger hangs some lingerie, the most beautiful and delicate imaginable.
When I enter the bedroom, she’s there, still in the midst of a photo shoot. She plays with the pillow. Her beauty is staggering, and her resemblance to Marilyn Monroe is stupefying. The hair, of course, counts for something but above all it’s the extraordinary femininity, sensuality that this woman exudes. She embodies, undeniably, every man’s dream.
But the photo shoot is ending, and we shake hands. We go to where there is calm, in a large, white tile bathroom, illuminated by daylight, which appears pale beside her.
Being a woman…
Is the most powerful thing
in the world.
Where does this light come from, seen in certain people’s faces? Caroline Vreeland is a mesmerizing beauty with unsusual charisma, and it is difficult to imagine that someone of this nature could carry any scar. But there are some, even if you have to wait to hear what she recounts in order to believe it. For there, we see only charisma to a crazy degree, and intelligence that is out of the ordinary.
The celebrated Diana Vreeland, the great empress of style, fashion and arbitress of elegance, remains an icon for her talent, its breadth and her editorial choices at Vogue; they are indeed in line here. She is a great-grand mother to whom, amongst other bouts of genius, asked Bert Stern to photograph none other than Marilyn Monroe. The actress died, in any case that is the official version, shortly afterwards. And the series of photos, therefore, got mythically named the “Last Sitting”. The last photos that show, behind her playful look, a woman amidst despair but, above that, a real profundity, that of a woman who understands, especially the game that we expect her to play – one of uber-femininity, of coyly smiling, the ravishing idiot on the whole, while she is probably one of the most intelligent actresses in the history of cinema. It’s her trade-off, not to show too much of what she thinks, and that she thinks. It’s at this expense that she is portrayed in the nude, often in the nude, in fact. In certain photos of Bert Stern, one sees upon the stomach of Marilyn a large scar, at least eight cm, perhaps ten. A recent appendicitis. When Diana Vreeland saw the scar, she declared that a woman is beautiful by her scars. Are those not the most profound words ever pronounced about women’s beauty?
There is only
one very good
life and it’s the
life you want
and you make it
There it is, a sublime plant, devilishly voluptuous, with a sunny, clear and wonderful face. All this sudden life to devour, this joy that she no longer expected, this force also which takes roots, one must not forget this part. Caroline Vreeland has forgotten about studying – to live! – and heads to Los Angeles. There, she makes all heads turn and realizes that beauty is a party and a power. The reconciliation with herself is immediate. Even if her chest size is so considerable, omnipresent, that it is impossible not to stare at it. And she goes back and forth between loving it and not loving it.
Scars, Caroline Vreeland has one, she says, on her forehead – oh, really? Where then? – You have to look closely because it’s not easily seen, not even, no, not at all seen, in fact. What we see, above all, is light escaping from her translucid eyes, the texture of her skin that is more than perfect, the senseless mouth, and the blond curls. Imagination awakes, and the image of Marilyn Monroe is called upon. Wearing only a white robe, which gapes open at the shoulders, a glass of Scotch in hand, ravishing, she evokes another scar, one invisible, the absence of her father. It’s when she speaks of the little girls and the adolescent that she was. This strange sentiment of being so skinny that jeans don’t even hold up on her, the girl that is too little, the girl not yet formed, to whom no one pays attention. Late blooms are those that give the most beautiful flowers. The difference is that there is time to develop depth, a sense of the interior which comes with the feeling of being nobody, or not being able to find one’s place where on is. It was at just eighteen years of age that Caroline Vreeland grew, that her femininity revealed itself, and all of a sudden she found herself with an impressive chest size, out of the ordinary, that all eyes turned towards her – that the woman in her at last arose, and that “all changed” for her.
Being a woman, she says, is the most powerful thing in the world.
“Once you learn to love the things that you originally thought were awkward or ugly about yourself,
and once you realize that those things are the beautiful things,
it’s easy to love yourself.”
She loves all the parts of herself, she says, even those that are not perfect. What is not perfect? Her crazy breasts, she confides in peal of laughter. And to retell her beginnings as a model, a bathing suit shoot for Italian Vogue where no one believed that she could have such a chest size, obviously a problem for the team, and she ended up being sent home before any picture was taken.
There are people
without audacity, and then
there are the others.
The others, like Carine Roitfeld, a woman who is never satisfied with what is said and what is done and always goes further, a woman who thinks for herself, invents her world, her own references, knowing, daring, fearing nothing, ever. She is the fairy godmother of our story. During a shooting, when Caroline Vreeland, worried about the size of her breasts, tried to minimize them, to hide her chest, Carine Roitfeld said to her –
“no, anything but that, the whole subject is here,
these are your breasts.”
Roitfled insisted that she be entirely herself, that she be proud. A magical encounter, a miraculous one, what allowed her to understand that a defect is in not a defect but a particularity which signs an identity, that you only have to know how to see this particularity, to love it, to be proud of it, and even to show it off, as if to better affirm who you are.
What Caroline Vreeland love are stories. Above all, those that spring from encounters that she prefers when they are tête-à-tête. She wants to touch people, evoke an emotion. There is sadness in her, as well as joy. She questions whether she needs to carry this sadness in her to bring forth her art. Sometimes, people are astonished to find such a marked difference between her, joyful one night at dinner or a party, and her songs that are melancholic, or downright painful. There is, as she says, a dichotomy. But it what she is, pleases her. And, being generous, she wants her songs to be a comfort to those who hear them.
If we don’t make
ourselves, no one
is going to do it
When Marilyn returns to the conversation, she mentions acceptance.
“Marilyn was searching for acceptance.
When you don’t have that early on,
it becomes the most important thing.”
Caroline didn’t have that from her father. It’s an impossible quest, she admits, but we can accept it and get over it. Of the body of Marilyn, she describes it as
– the absolute symbol of femininity, a round body, full, which reminds us to what degree a non-skinny body is sexy and feminine, and more interesting.
Diane Vreeland remains her guiding mastermind, in many ways. From this fantastic great-grand mother she holds to her mantra:
“There is only one very good life and it’s the life you want and you make it yourself.”
She’s getting there, gently. It took her some time to understand, but she gets it, now.
“If we don’t make ourselves for ourselves,
no one is going to do it for us.”
Independent, self-affirmed, brilliant, burning, hypnotic – adjectives to describe always fall pale. The difference with Marilyn, I see it : here, no simpering. Caroline Vreeland is fully herself ; there is no game, no renouncement, and no compromise. A look at her, hardly 20 years old, a shattering maturity and lucidity, her drink in hand, breaking out in laughter in this bathroom, you say to yourself that the whole world is soon going to fall in love with her. And that cinema was made for her.Caroline Bongrand
Josephine Skriver grew up in Copenhagen.
She had, as a teenager, no consciousness of beauty – what is beautiful, what is not, is she beautiful, all of this didn’t touch her, these considerations didn’t exist in her universe, whereas she possesses, on the other hand, an important consciousness of the size.
For a good reason : she was for a long time a tiny girl, “the tiny one”, the smallest of her group of friends, before growing suddenly, and in her late teens, like a character of tale, to become very, very tall. Her biggest interest is football. She is a real tomboy. Moreover she had very short hair. It is necessary to say that her mother doesn’t cultivate particularly the femininity, she is a tomboy as well – says Joséphine. Her family is not really traditional: her parents are both gay and very open about it.
Add to it that it is a Danish family, people renowned for open-mindedness and tolerance. So, Joséphine is an extremely opened being, endowed with a real empathy and a sympathy for minorities, wherever they come from or who they are. It does not incline her to the femininity nor to the sensuality that strikes anyone looking at pictures of her.
She got noticed during a sports trip in New York. A scout suggests her to be a model – no way she said. She had no interest in this. But fate is stubborn, and everywhere where she goes, scouts of models’ agencies notice it again and again and approach her. No, she always said no. Until she told herself that there might be something there. Considering the possibility to make some money – of being so made of the pocket money – what teenage would be reluctant to it – she accepted. Very curious by nature, Joséphine enjoys discovering a world of which she ignored everything. She is immediately appreciated. It gives her more confidence in herself. She confides a feminine body, becomes aware of her femininity, and shooting after shooting, the photographers, stylists, make up artists teach her, according to her own words,
“to feel sexy”
and to completely pick up her feminine identity. It is thrilling, and it is powerful.
I am a
For her, the body reflects the interiority. Believer, and a fervent one, she is grateful for the body that God gave her, who makes whom she is. But this femininity did not remove her one ounce of her personality, and she feels free, completely free to be herself, i.e. to continue to express, off the shootings, her tomboy side. The neither isn’t in opposition with each other, they are both complementary facets of whom she is.
“I am a free spirit.”
She is interested in all kinds of religions, likes the difference in individuals, and even, to woo it. She remains fascinated by all which makes an individual what he/she is, and by what gives him/her his/her confidence.
“It can be new jeans, or walk stark naked, or another way of making up. What gives confidence to people is always something different, specific in each.”
And she insists on the relativity of the beauty. According to cultures, countries, criteria of beauty are different, even absolutely brought into conflict. Here a very thin woman, there unlike very generous forms, curves.
“To be a plump woman, generous, it means in certain cultures well to eat, that is to be prosperous, and that’s what there low is the most attractive.”
“the important, it is to be satisfied with oneself, if we love ourselves, we are beautiful.”Caroline Bongrand