For as the cunning nymph with giddy care
And wanton wiles,conceals her study'd hair;
(...) While with unseen design and cover'd art
She charms the sense and plays around the heart.
Richard Payne Knight
Who is the figure who has been both infuriating and fascinating critics since the 18th cent.? From Stendhal, to radical feminists, the coquette has been an (not so) easy target.
Accused of being a degenerate product of a rotting aristocracy and court etiquette, a poster child for capitalism and consumerism, the coquette has been often portrayed as a dangerous creature by 18th century authors: the coquette might avoid marriage. Or she might act ostentatiously in public when women are not supposed to. She might say something no one is expecting. How to confront this being? How to tame it?
She is unpredictable, that is why she is considered dangerous,and at the same time appealing throughout the ages.
This undefined, unpalpable allure has been reinventing itself, from generation to generation.
The girl you from time to time get a glimpse of, that combines so perfectly a certain air of mystery, with the right amount of childish playfulnesss and a timeless elegance and politeness that she seems she has just stepped out from another era. She is pleasing to the eye and she seems like a pleasing girl herself.
Yet, she looks cool. She looks modern, without being on trend from head to toe.
In an era of teens doped on Gossip Girl , J-Pop and artistically neutral artists like Taylor Swift, hypersexualized pop singers like Nicki Minaj and Gaga., and female celebrities who drag with themselves the burden of being role models are caught on camera stumbling drunk from clubs and showing their panties to the world, the coquette becomes once again inspiring to designers. A miniature sized Polly Pocket clutch with an irreverent print, like those created by Olympia Le-Tan, the kitty flats designed by Charlotte Olympia, Tocca's miniature perfumes, Repetto's comfortable heels, Paul & Joe make-up collection and packaging, Guillaume Henry's Carven proper girls, pastel colours, gentle beadings and prints, little floaty ruffles and miniaturization have been seen gracing the catwalks echoing again the distant sugary pink powdery days of Marie Antoinette's Versailles.
But when breaking into elements this character, we find in its essence a theatrelisation of the self. Finding the right perfume, the right comb, the right shoes, the right jewellery becomes a playful quest fueled by a gentle lightness and detachment from conventions. She plays with time, with memories, and details. The details. She might wear a perfume that has become old fashioned, but she revitalizes it and brings it back to life again. She might wear a men's perfume, and she becomes intringuing, troubling. She might wear a children's perfume and again she is unsetlling.
She is not explict about her sexuality, but she uses her charm to impose herself.
The coquette doesn't let the circumstances of life, l'ennui, the conventions take her away from her way.
The coquette is not interested in the expensive, super rare to find objects. She preferes bio skin treatments, organic fruit and vegetables bought at open air markets. She indulges in doing good to her.
She is artificial, but not superficial.
Long live the coquette and civilized frivolity.