Yolandi Viser of Die Antwoord
This was an easy one for me – choosing unusual beauty icons is something that sort of comes naturally to me. Ever since i can remember, i’ve leaned towards the unusual when it comes to my beauty heroes. Not for me, the girl-next-door, homogeneous sort of beauties my peers seemed to aspire to. Even as a little girl, when my friends all wanted to be Brooke Shields, I thought Blondie was the pinnacle of beauty.
I loved – and still love – her strong, wide facial structure, her high, prominent cheekbones, her big, intense eyes and direct gaze. And admitedly, it’s partly her attitude that’s so appealing. She wasn’t a shy, shrinking violet. Even back then, i was attracted to strong, intense beauty.
And we can’t talk intense beauty unless we talk Grace Jones. If anyone turned my idea of beauty on its head for me as a kid, it was her. With her cool hair, tailored men’s suits with the huge shoulders, coloured contacts, and androgynous style, she was – and is – a creature totally unto herself;
I still remember seeing her in this goofy vampire movie when i was in high school – rather redundantly named “Vamp”, actually.
It was, of course, a completely stupid film – but she was fabuluous in it – just being her singular self. I completely fell in love with her after seeing that movie, and have loved her ever since – and thus began my lifelong love affair with the androgynous look, as well. I went home and buzzed my head an inch short that year and bleached it white blonde for the very first (but certainly not the last) time – and picked up my first modeling job, as a result! Thanks, Grace – you’ll never know what you did for me.
It was thanks to Grace that when i was in high school, while everyone else tried to emulate Tiffany and Madonna, i discovered 80’s underground music – and my world changed. It’s like i had found something i didn’t know was missing. And the fashion! It was incredible. As for who i emulated? That was easy – i wanted to be Siouxsie Sioux. I even did my makeup like hers. Like, every. single. day.
To me, the whole soft, pretty, Brittany Spears, Cindy Crawford, Kim Kardashian, et al, sort of “beauty” has always been boring. I find it singularly uninteresting. I prefer a little edge, a little strength, a little balls to my beauty. Don’t get me wrong, back in the 80’s during the heyday of the Supermodel, i thought Christy Turlington had one of the most exquisite faces i had ever seen. I’m not completely blind to normative ideals of standard beauty, like, at all. But i much preferred the freakishly tall, ice-queen blonde, sylph-like, Valkyrie beauty of Nadja Auermann:
Yet another unusual beauty from the rather boring bunch of Supermodel crop in the 80s and 90s was Jenny Shimizu – the tattooed, pixie-haired Japanese beauty who definitely stood out amongst the predominantly European faces – she was so badass:
And there are just as many inspiring beauties today – lest you all think i’m stuck in the past! One of my current favourites is the the angelic, childlike Yolandi Viser of Die Antwoord:
Yolandi has got one of those faces that seems to belong on an elf or a pixie, not a thirty-something year old woman – and she has a voice to match. The female singer of the weird, undefinable South African art-pop/rap duo Die Antwoord has more fun with her hair and her look than anyone i know;
You’ll find her frequently using coloured contacts and fun, crazy anime-like outfits and hair in their videos to create a look that is uniquely hers. I love that she’s not afraid to look weird, scary, foolish, and even “ugly”, by some people’s definition of the word – all the while singing in a childlike, angelic voice that is all her own. Which to me, makes her all the more beautiful. Go on with your Bad Self, Yolandi.
Then there’s Eva Green. If you don’t know who Eva Green is, Then you need to drop whatever it is you’re doing, turn on Netflix, and search “Penny Dreadful”. She’s the super-intense whip-thin babe with hair like a raven’s wing, and blue-green eyes that will burn a hole right through you;
Every time i watch Penny Dreadful (and i won’t tell you how many times that is, because frankly it’s a bit embarrassing), i cannot keep my eyes off this woman. She’s got this intensity that just oozes from the screen, grabs you by the throat, and throttles you whilst you sit on your bed, laptop in balanced on your thighs, trying not to spill your wine…er.
She’s definitely not your average beauty – not the kind of girl to make you soup or bake you cookies. More the type of girl to break out the Ouija board and put a hex on you. She’s mysterious and intense, and Oh, so very French…with just a hint of dangerous.
And speaking of “danger”, nobody has ridden that ragged edge better than my girl, Tilda Swinton. Her bohemian role in “Only Lovers Left Alive”, where she plays a globe-trotting Vampiress, is just one of many interesting parts that have enthralled me over the years. She’s one of my favourite actresses, and i think she’s just beautiful. She’s never fit into the mainstream’s idea of beauty, and has never tried – opting for the androgynous look more often than not – and it certainly suits her;
Tilda has flouted Hollywood’s rules of beauty for decades now, and looks amazing doing it. Surrounded by silicone-filled bimbos who look like carbon copies of each other, she’ll often show up at events with a bare face, and her hair stuck up in a faux-hawk. She’s absolutely fabulous.
This is Andreja Peijic. She was the world’s first completely androgynous Supermodel, working the catwalk in both men’s and women’s fashions before coming out as Trans-gender several years ago. Now, she’s one of the world’s top Trans models, undergoing sex reassignment surgery in 2013. And she’s way prettier than me – even before the surgery. Now, she’s like the world’s most perfect woman. Eat your heart out, Ms. Jenner.
I love that first picture so much, even though she’s moved on and had the surgery, because his face is so feminine, and the body masculine. It’s just stunning and unexpected. Of course every picture of him/now her is stunning.
And finally, we’re going to go back in time again to my personal style icon, Edie Sedgwick. I’ve loved her look ever since i can remember – her easy, effortless clothes – black leggings and simple top. Her short, blonde pixie cut. Her cool, black liquid eyeliner. Her tiny, thin little dancer’s body. Her style was made for me, so i’ve shamelessly appropriated it with reckless abandon. I think it’s timeless. She was unusual then, and she’s unusual now. Rest in Peace, dear Edie.
Edie was an artist, and Muse of Andy Warhol, admired for her singular sense of style – often prancing about his many star-glutted parties wearing simply a pair of tights and striped shirt – and was an integral part of his whole Silver Factory scene in NYC. Sadly, Edie had her issues – after a long struggle with drugs, she passed away in 1971.
Ok, so nobody does Edie like Edie, but i gave it a shot – to be totally honest, in a sense, i’m giving it my best shot every day – she IS my style icon, after all. I adore the simple everyday dance-wear outfits – it was she who inspired me to flit around in my dance clothes after class as a style-statement; the cute babydoll dresses for summer (which are pretty much the only style i have); the black evening dresses that look amazing on her lithe frame (she – and Audrey Hepburn – taught me all about the Little Black Dress); and most importantly, she taught me that i don’t have to fuck around with long hair to be feminine.
In fact, all these women taught me something about femininity and individuality – i have never fit into a mold, or been one to fit in, just in general. When i was younger, this used to upset me – but women like these showed me that it’s OK to be a freaky Luna Moth in a world obsessed with butterflies.
So, thanks, Ladies. You’re all Fucking Beautiful to me.
XO – Monday