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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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Spotlight

Margiela's Heavenly Scent

Mark Borthwick Discovers the Elysian Fields Within The Maison’s New Perfume

Renaissance man Mark Borthwick presents a fittingly abstract short to herald the arrival of fashion house Maison Martin Margiela’s second perfume, (Untitled) L'Eau. A self-professed admirer of Margiela’s deconstructivist garments, Borthwick took inspiration from the fragrance’s naturalistic notes of Mandarin orange, curly-leaf mint, Amalfi lemon, buchu essential oil and African orange flower, taking the viewer on a journey through an idyllic spring garden, as seen from the inside of the L’Eau bottle. The London-born, Brooklyn-based director, photographer, artist and musician cut his teeth shooting for the likes of AnOther Magazine and The Face before expanding into art and film; he has since brought his trademark saturated color and blown focus aesthetic to collaborations with Mike Mills, Sonic Youth and Chloë Sevigny, among others. NOWNESS talked to Borthwick about the connection he feels with Maison Martin Margiela, and the importance of being a nonconformist.

What was the inspiration behind the film?
I guess there’s an essence, a central sense that inspired me towards the smell. The stepping-stone was trying to immerse myself in the poetry of this collaboration of smells and essences. 

Was there a story you wanted to tell?
If anything it was about trying to let go of any kind specific narrative, of anything that was literal or tangible. It was really just about a sense of freedom. There was the direction from the perfume itself though. It has this delightful summer breeze feeling that transpires the various essences and herbs.  

What interested you about working with Margiela?
The first Margiela show in 1988 completely blew my mind. From a fashion and styling point of view it was breaking ground. It suggested that you could continually push yourself to see things in a different way and not have to conform in order to participate in the industry.

Is there a thread that connects your different creative outlets?
In the end it all comes from you; everything you do is a sense of expression, everything you say, any kind of action you participate in. I would to hate to say that one is more important than the other. I feel like today, especially, I can’t do one without the other because they all thread and weave together.

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Spotlight

Pampered Pets

Inspired by Isaac Mizrahi's Poodles, We Launch Our Competition for Scene-Stealing Furry Friends

Hot on the heels (or, paws) of last week's annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Isaac Mizrahi sent a parade of dyed-to-match poodles down the runway for his fall 2011 presentation. Sporting pouf 'dos to top off a series of pastel tea dresses, models clutched what might be this season's It accessory: pups made over with lavender, bubblegum pink and tangerine coats. Mizrahi was inspired by a childhood memory of his mother's apricot poodle Pom Pom, who sported pink toenails and a rhinestone collar. "When I was a kid, French poodles were the fanciest things imaginable," says the designer. Today we present images shot backstage at the show, which wrapped up NYC Fashion Week in a colorful bow.

Can your beloved pet out-glam these canines? NOWNESS invites you to upload a photo of your furry friend looking its finest—be it Siamese kitten, Irish wolfhound or Shetland pony—and submit the image (shot by you) via the form below. Include your pet's name and breed; you will receive notification when the image is live on the site. Submissions and voting is open from today until March 1, 2011, and the top ten most popular images, as voted by users, will be in included in an album on the NOWNESS Facebook page. For terms and conditions of the submissions project click here. To vote now, click here.

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