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Louise Brooks (November 14, 1906-August 8, 1985)

There are lots of people who have been referred to as “style icons” throughout the ages, but really no one compares to Louise Brooks, whose image and style radically transcended her impact as strictly a silent film star.

She made at least four classic films (Beggars of Life, Pandora’s Box, Diary of a Lost Girl and Prix de Beaute) and 13 lost or less-than-exceptional ones; inspired two comic strips, Dixie Dugan by John H. Striebel and Valentina by Guido Crepax, who also used her image for the masochist O in his illustrated Story of O.

As a trained dancer who worked with Martha Graham as a teenager (when the picture of her was taken), Brooks pioneered a naturalistic style that was not well understood by directors and studio brass in its day, but is artistically more durable than the expressionistic styles of Gloria Swanson and Lillian Gish.

She was a reader and a thinker, and eventually a writer. And a bitch, and an alcoholic. Beauty smoothed her path in some ways, and made it harder and lonelier in others. She wrote a novelized version of an autobiography, named it Naked on My Goat after a passage in Goethe’s Faust, and then tossed it down an incinerator. She was caustic and bitter and hilarious and smart, as well as fantastically beautiful. None of this brought her happiness.

For a more thorough account of her remarkable life, which also included dating Charlie Chaplin just after he released The Gold Rush; turning down the Jean Harlow role in The Public Enemy because she hated Hollywood and William Wellman, even though the role would have made her a major star of the 1930s; encounters with the wealthy and famous, and believing herself a failure  until being rediscovered in the 1950s, get your hands on Barry Paris’ extraordinary biography HERE.

Hand embroidered portrait, naturally dyed 100% cotton background, 100% cotton thread in black frame. ‘Cause the eyes have it.


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