Feminine desires past and present in an exhibition, a biography, and a book of poems.
Triple ruffled at the wrist, her lace-gloved hand, cocked—index and thumb extended, covers the lower half of her face above which two dark eyes dare. Punctuating their span, the eyes emphasize the scalene triangle of negative space between her two fingers. The hand, a mask itself in covering, holds the face as if it were a mask—the situation of the double mask. All the while, the eyes float behind both. Oh, Dilon read on. Odilon Redon. This geometry of vogue would be enough to make de Honnecourt swoon . . .
These thoughts rushed through my head as I saw Lisa Cohen’s All We Know: Three Lives. Two of the three women the book explores would probably agree that a good cover is almost everything, this would be one-time fashion editor of British Vogue, Madge Garland, and the much misunderstood socialite Mercedes de Acosta. The third, Esther Murphy, was more active in politics and pontificating than appearances…though, all three women were political in some right by uncompromisingly being who they were; minorities at the center of the culture of their time. Their lives do intersect, and where not directly, their circles do. By bringing these three together, Cohen provides a much needed window on the changing expectations and roles of pre- and post-war (lesbian) women, society, and fashion.