12.9.12

Complex

The denim of complexions




What is your complexion? Can you answer this question unambiguously? I can't. Some days I'm a Hitchcock blonde, others a Sevillan gypsy. I'm all these women. My hair is a coppery tone of brown, like Monroe's before she hit the bleach bottle. When tanned, my fair skin can blend into Jersey Shore; life saving if I happen to be there during the bald eagle's mating season. As for my eyes, they are neither blue, nor green. Grey doesn't describe the color either. Pantone would call it Atlantic Blue. I have a neutral complexion. The denim of complexions. 

That's why models are typically light-eyed brunettes. Gisele, Arizona Muse and Karlie Kloss (the list goes on) share a size zero complexion that can fit any fashionable-to-the-minute look. The archetypal female, the Virgin Mary, is typically a combination of Northern and Southern. An undefinable beauty is relatable. The net is cast wide, unlike say in film. Actresses trade on individuality. They have titles before their names. The "Spanish actress", "redheaded actress" and so forth. What's more, the possessor of a definite complexion is always a fantasy, which makes the rest of us what, reality? The nice wife, to the exciting lover? 


I don't yearn for pinup simplicity though. In a sense, we have the best of all worlds. Fair brunettes can get away with just about anything. The flip side of creative freedom, is creative paralysis. If every color, in the words of Mrs. Beeton, "harmonizes with your complexion", what to wear then? I'm talking natural pairings, like gin and tonic. A dark beauty is heavenly in white. Blondes make black look like a universal uniform. Neons are natural on black skin and really, redheads have the most fun. With a denim complexion, everything looks great, nothing superb. 


It's genuinely tricky with makeup; we're tinkering with God's work here. Take red lipstick. For some complexions it's a definite no, for others it's a revelation. Gisele with red lipstick looks fine. Only fine. Blush. A vivid blush can be life affirming for a fair woman. On a golden complexion it's barely noticeable. Kohl. It's an a priori decision for dark-eyed brunettes. For us there are no a priori assumptions. 


One can always change face à la Katy Perry. That's rather defeatist. Alternatively, we can create our own palette, in the way Jack White does with his bands. Define our own liberating constraints. We should also re-think the terminology. What do you call a medium light-eyed brunette? Someone like the singer on the cover that album. Having re-named the type something other than "neutral" or "mixed", we can work on the pinup.