n°6/ The Unexpected Iconic Line

February 2012

by Nathalie Azoulai


At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much to connect the English writer and the American rock star. Yet, look at their long faces, almost permanent lack of a smile, their heavily gay entourages – Vita Sackville-West, for one; Robert Mapplethorpe, for the other – and their intense relationship with poetry. Then there are all the mentions that the rock star, Patti Smith, makes to the writer, Virginia Woolf.
Physically, then, they shared the same androgynous romanticism, as well as a similar litheness that hints at femininity held in check by depression or anorexia. Two women disturbed by artistic creation; artists whose physiques suggest that creativity and physical development do not mix. Patti wears men’s clothes, mainly in black, with her hair long and flowing, over her fluid body shape, for style that’s artfully négligée. It’s a look her friend Ann Demeulemeester cultivates and which inspires her. The youngest member of this line is perhaps Charlotte Gainsbourg, rocking actress and pop singer, who herself is half-English… Just fancy that!


Patti Smith

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Ann Demeulemeester

Willy Vanderperre

Robert Mapplethorpe

Virginia Woolf