Over the next few weeks, I am going to be presenting you — my dear readers — with a selection of my very favorite stylish and accomplished women; weekly muses, for your inspiration and delight! I have chosen each of these delectable ladies for both their beautiful minds and individual approaches to fashion. As icons, they inspire me professionally, personally and sartorially.
My current spirit animal is by far erotic writer, diarist, poet and master seductress, Anais Nin. (It would have been her birthday on February 21st! So happy birthday, darling!) Before the days of Lena Dunham totally owning it all over the media, Nin was writing beautiful and confessional personal essays in her diaries and exploring the female sexual experience in her novels and short stories. Nin also starred in a series of films, including appearing as fertility goddess Asarte in the 1954 Kenneth Anger movie
Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.
Nin famously said: "I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths, and a great fear of shallow living." And she lived up to expectations. When in 1977 she died of cancer, her ashes were scattered over Santa Monica Bay in Mermaid Cove. If you havn't gathered already from the rest of my writing, I love a good mermaid.
I read Anais Nin whenever I feel like I need to connect to my femininity — when I need reassurance that my sensitive nature is a positive attribute. Or simply, when I am seeking absolute inspiration. My relationship with her, through the medium of her writing, is almost sisterly. I think of her as the big sister I never had — or an older friend — as she offers me poetic guidance through her incredibly quotable discourse.
She's also a way more intelligent and fulfilling alternative to your more mainstream erotica, if you know what I mean!
So in honor of my favorite birthday girl, here are some Anais Nin inspired finds to channel your inner poetess.
The Comforting Little Black Dress
"I'm restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again."
H&P Pocketless Dress, $111, Etsy
Anais Nin's style — at least judging from the few stunning black and white images there are floating around the webosphere — reminds me of that of an off duty ballet dancer. It is laid back, playful, sexy — but not "too sexy" — and with a nod to her French-Cuban-Danish roots. There is something comfortably theatrical about the pieces she wears in her portraits. If you want to channel Miss Nin, you best get yourself some black staples. I recommend Holroyd & Pickles' ethical, zero waste jersey pieces. With their chic signature envelope necks and slouchy elegance, their pieces embody a utilitarian poetry.
The Revealing/Concealing Lace Dress
"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."
Britt's Holiday Dress, $696, Free People
One of the things I find most inspiring about Anais Nin is that her sex appeal stems from her intelligence. As a conceptually inspired lingerie designer, fledgling writer and eternal scholar on the subject of male/female relationships, this is something that I aspire to embody myself. Like her writing, Nin's clothing reflected her ability to seduce in a subtle and thoughtful manner. Never sartorially nun-like nor dippy, Nin was geisha-like and played with "reveal and conceal" in her dress. This limited edition piece by Free People captures Nin's delicate ability to balance provocation with demurity.
The Dancer's Gown
"Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one's courage."
Gypsophila Dress, $160, Etsy
Nin's stylish feminine simplicity shines through in this silk full length dress by Holroyd & Pickles' sister brand, Gypsophila Pickles. Delicate straps and a dance costume inspired silhouette mirror perfectly the delicate gown worn by Anais Nin above.
The Floral Swimsuit
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
Vintage Vacation Swimsuit, $182, Sea Folly
Shorties, $77, Trashy Diva
Let the sea breeze play with your slightly tussled hair (but don't forget your SPF 50 sunscreen to channel Nin's flawlessly pale skin) in a vintage inspired swimsuit as you read Children of the Albatross and daydream next time you take a vacation. Seafolly produces many retro styles that flatter all figures and channel Anais Nin's refined seductiveness.
"I, with deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me as a woman."
Muscs Koublai Khan perfume, $182, Coined "the sexiest perfume," Serge Luten's Koublai Khan fragrance is a heady animalistic blend of musk and softer, subtle florals. The decidedly intimate scent has been likened to the scent of naked skin: Warm, sensual and a little bit dirty. I imagine Anais Nin would approve.
The Hair And Makeup
"Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country."
Key items for achieving Anais Nin's signature look are a good eyebrow pencil, kohl pencil, copious amounts of mascara and matte red lipstick.
As for your locks, wave your hair using a skinny styling iron and tuck underneath an elastic headband, to create a low rolled updo.
And finally, once you are decked out in true Anais Nin style, take a listen to:
"Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayls. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings."
Anais Nin never shied away from the darker recesses of her imagination; she was openly vulnerable and sensitive. She believed in the importance of seeking true emotion and through that, "ecstasy." Through her complex love life, she never tired of seeking "real" love or delving into its depths to learn from its secrets. I feel this beautiful piece by Little People truly sums up her soul-searching and quest for romance. With its haunting, vintage voice samples echoing the era in which she was most prolific, you can drift off into your own fantasy world.
Images: Flickr/bakroots, borinakopcic; Giphy; Instagram/Courtesy Users; Courtesy Brands