Friday, 18 January 2008

Call me Madame

Madame Wellington Koo by Horst P Horst, 1942.

In the early part of the Twentieth Century it became fashionable for Chinese women of rank to be addressed as Madame.
An Aesthete's Lament has profiled one of the chicest of these women, Madame Wellington Koo (nee Oei Oui-lan). I think these portraits of her by Horst certainly prove the point.
In our globalised and politically correct society, allure has been traded for acceptance in the name of equality. An inequitable transaction, in my opinion. Madame Koo, and a few other women like her, was, and is, a perfect example of how to preserve one's essence while meeting the world on an equal, and exquisitely shod, footing.

Now playing: Madeleine Peyroux - La Javanaise
via FoxyTunes


An Aesthete's Lament said...

I am blown away by the beauty!!!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Don't you think it would have been much more splendid if Horst had posed Madame Koo against a Coromandel screen or reclining on a Qing daybed, instead of furniture that could easily have been borrowed from the Ritz?

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

The portrait used in the Horst exhibition at National Portrait Gallery was spectacular! One of the few in colour and in a very large size.

No, that might have made her look like some eastern odalisque and a poor representation of a modern China. And as formidable as Horst could be, I don't think he might have had the choice. Ha!

Social Sins said...

Madame Wellington Koo was an absolute gem, a paragon and a tour de force... I have her novel, 'No Feast Lasts Forever,' its not only riveting but spell binding! MWK rivaled the likes of Madame Chiang Kai-shek and was a fabulous forerunner of not only fashion but setting the model precedence for Asian Women the world over! FunFact- my Gran actually knew MWK, uncertain how close she was to MWK, I knew that they ran in the same social circles in SH, London, Paris and NYC. To whomever posted these photos, I not only thank you kindly but thank you in a sense where you are educating others in terms of history, fashion & culture. MWK is one Doyenne who has literally fallen into the cracks of SOCIAL HISTORY! (Seriously, I thought I was the only one under 30 who knew of her ladyship!)

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

SS - thank you. It would be a travesty if Madame Koo, and the few like her, were to be completely forgotten.
I chose to profile her as an addendum to the wonderful an thorough post An Aesthete's Lament did. Sadly the link is no longer active.