Strange Flowers..my favorite blog
After last week’s gawp at courtesan Liane de Pougy, who better to provide sartorial guidance this week than Diane de Rougy, an enigmatic dancer spied at Cambridge in the 1890s.
Now, you’re reading this so I’m going to assume you’re a worldly, astute kind of a person, and you may well have divined that Diane de Rougy is an assumed name. Good for you. It was in fact the nom de guerre of one Herbert Charles “Jerome” Pollitt (1871-1942), whose act offered an hommage to the French courtesan while also burlesquing the wafty organza extravaganzas of another DDF alumnus, Loie Fuller. Little is known of Pollitt’s later life, but early on he provided a fascinating link between 1890s Decadents and 20th century occultists. He was a subject of Whistler, a friend of Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, and was veiled in organza-thin fiction by E. F. Benson…
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From the ever brilliant James Conway
Like her great rival La Belle Otero, French Belle Époque courtesan Liane de Pougy was a hugely popular postcard motif of the era. Their blue-blooded suitors may have showered them with gifts and hard currency, but the humblest admirer could buy a piece of the grandes horizontales (or at least their likenesses) for just a few centimes.
Pougy had a home-crowd advantage against the Spanish-born Otero, and her risqué profession was balanced in the public imagination by her sophistication and culture. And while she attracted clients every bit as prestigious as Otero’s, Pougy was much shrewder in shaping and using her image to her own ends. Like Ganna Walska in later years, Pougy embodied a conception of fame which appears eerily redolent of our own age. She complemented her magnetic beauty with a keen fashion sense, sporting a Marcel wave from the hands of the original Marcel (Grateau) himself…
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