(Un)Dressing Decadence: Masquerade and Murder in Mascara


  • David Melville Wingrove


It opens on a blue vista of sea. A white villa looks out over the waves and glows in the evening light. A woman comes out, encased in a tight-fitting white trouser suit. She climbs into a car and drives off. The sea remains, its waves stretching out to the horizon as in a painting by René Magritte. Night falls. We see the woman driving in close-up, her face lit pale yellow by passing cars. We may recognize her as Charlotte Rampling, the cinema’s perverse glamour icon par excellence. Yet her image here is altered, her hair cropped short so she resembles an androgynous boy. Her throat rises from the up-curving collar of her white suit, which encases her like the sculpted calyx of a lily. One earring dangles from one ear. Its white geometrical swirls suggest a sculpture by Constantin Brâncuşi.