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March 25, 2014

Southern Belles

From Gone with the Wind to Debutante Balls, a Cross-Generational Look at Beauty in the Deep South

A little under 75 years ago, David O. Selznick’s adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind delivered Scarlett O’Hara in all her Technicolor glory, imprinting forever the notion of the Southern belle: the feisty beauty with a honey-laden accent, done-up in yards of antebellum dress, on the hunt for a husband. By exploring Scarlett’s proverbial stomping grounds in and around Atlanta, Georgia, Tim Richmond and James Nutt’s documentary short Southern Belles discovers that, while the plantation no longer remains, the front porches, hospitality, grace, and etiquette persevere.

Often beneath the genteel exterior lies a strong, refined woman to be reckoned with—but presentation is still paramount. Stepping out in loungewear sans makeup or anything deemed less than respectable is a definite no-no. Equally important is their renowned, friendly hospitality. Southern ladies are exceptionally welcoming and adore entertaining. This is where the warm climate plays its part. Pleasant spring times and forgiving falls. When people are comfortable going in-and-out of doors, serving sweet tea, hosting evening garden or pool parties and the like. But on the flipside, regardless of age, many Southern women agree that one should be weary of artificiality, particularly when the mannerisms are overdone.

Today’s belles are inevitably more independent, liberated and better-educated than their predecessors. The life goal of solely seeking out an MRS degree is, slowly but surely, fading. “Long ago we were taught that we could either teach school if we wanted a career, or be a nurse or perhaps a secretary for some big shot,” notes Louly, one of the narrators from today’s short. “Things have certainly changed but the core values of the Southern belle, such as strength and graciousness, still exist.” —Lee C. Wallick

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Fleurs d’Excès

Dior Haute Joaillerie's Victoire de Castellane Unveils Her Botanical Sculptures at Gagosian Paris

For her debut solo art exhibition Fleurs d’Excès, Victoire de Castellane remade the Gagosian Gallery in Paris into an imagined Eden. NOWNESS was given exclusive access to the wearable, one-of-a-kind jeweled sculptures prior to the show's opening. “In real life I don’t like flowers,” De Castellane reveals. “I can’t get attached to something that dies so quickly, so I make flowers that live forever.” Created from precious materials including lacquered silver, white gold, nephrite jade, rubies and smoky quartz, the flora are named according to the artist’s fictional classification system—with monikers such as Heroina Romanticam Dolorosa and Crystalucinea Metha Agressiva—to connote the illicit pleasures of mind-altering substances while hinting at their potential peril. Parisian-born De Castellane discovered her calling at the tender age of five when she took apart one of her mother’s charm bracelets to make a pair of earrings. After 14 years of designing costume jewelry for Chanel, in 1998 she joined Dior to launch the house’s Haute Joaillerie department. Facehunter's Yvan Rodic was there to shoot the show's opening and private after-party hosted by Larry Gagosian and Giovanni Testino; click here to see images from the Paris Fashion Week event.

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Rainbow Warrior: Delfine Bafort

The Belgian Model Turns Chameleon Under the Tropical Palette of Francelle Daly

KT Auleta conjures equatorial extremes in her latest beauty film for NOWNESS, transforming model Delfine Bafort from dewy jungle innocent to fierce tribal warrior with the aid of celebrated NARS makeup artist Francelle Daly. Auleta’s vision was for the cosmetics to mimic the differing qualities of light in a day: soft and misty morning sunshine turning to hyper-real bright colors at noon, and a fade out to black when night falls. “I wanted it to feel organic, but with a fantastical edge,” explains the photographer and filmmaker, whose work has appeared in Vogue, Elle and The New York Times’ T Magazine. Referencing real-life body-painting traditions, Daly turned to Phyllis Galembo's Maske, a book on African and Caribbean carnival costumes, as well as to the work of Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock for their color blocking and brush strokes.


The Givenchy menswear Spring 2012 collection, which features tropical prints in fresh, bright colors printed kaleidoscopically onto crisp white and army green fabrics.

Mise en scene
A tropical jungle construct in studio C at Fast Ashleys, Brooklyn. Ferns, ginger lilies, heliconias and Bird of Paradise flowers were brought in from American Foliage in the Manhattan's plant district. 

Shoot time
10am to 2am—mirroring the morning, noon and night concept of the film.

Belgian model Delfine Bafort of Ford models—chosen for her bright blue eyes, dancer’s fluidity and acting credentials (last year she starred in Vincent Gallo’s Promises Written in Water). 

War paint 
Multicolored NARS eyeshadow pigments mixed with Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. For the last look, Shiseido Black Mask and Clay all over the body, red pigment mixed with clay on the hair and NARS Black Moon Eyeliner for the eyes.  

One nude thong from American Apparel.

Special effects
Misters, smoke machines and coconut oil.

Crisis averted
It was 100 degrees on the day of the shoot. Combined with all the HMI lighting, this caused one of the breakers to melt. The fire department was called and all lighting had to be rerouted.

“Jomo” by Hector and Nate, remixed with samples of tropical bird song.

Mineral water, Diet Coke and, eventually, beer.

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