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Old 29th January 2009   #1
HSG
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Default Shannon Marie: Washingtonian


There is prettiness. Beyond that, there is beauty.

And then there is Shannon Marie.

The most thrilling discoveries that we make at The Judgment of Paris remain hitherto-unseen examples of Shannon's work. Of course, nothing could surpass the excitement of locating images from the latter phase of her career, when she was genuinely full-figured--and at the very peak of her beauty. But even locating new tear sheets from the initial straight-size portion of her career generates avid public enthusiasm.

The following images come from the August 1997 issue of Washingtonian magazine, a lifestyle monthly with a circulation of over 400,000 serving the D.C. area. To promote a cover story about "Great Skin," the magazine wisely enlisted the talents of a model who just happens to possess the most flawless complexion of any woman ever photographed.

In our Shannon Marie galleries, we have featured tiny versions of two of these pictures before, drawn from one of the model's agency sites. But here, fans can see them in their full-size glory.

Click to enlarge

Even as such a young age, Shannon Marie already exhibited the features that make her the most gorgeous of all models: a round facial shape; high cheekbones; a textbook-perfect mouth; delicate lips that are soft and full, but not excessively so; mesmerizing yellow-green eyes (the one eye colour that is even more attractive than sapphire blue); and of course, an exquisite peaches-and-cream complexion. Not even a newborn infant exhibits skin as flawless as this. And remember, these images predate PhotoShop, so the perfection shown here is wholly genuine, not a digital fabrication.

The model's gaze intimates an intelligence and maturity which belie the babylike softness of her appearance. Observe the mischievous wit that she suggests with the slight tug at the corners of her mouth. Notice the vibrant inner life revealed in her arresting glance.

How can any human being be blessed with so many extraordinary gifts?

Click to enlarge

But if anything, the following tear sheet is even more breathtaking. This could well be the most gorgeous headshot ever taken. Again, each element of ideal feminine beauty is vividly apparent, and the model's gesture may be the loveliest pose that we have ever seen. The way in which she gently touches her face gives the picture a lyrical quality. The look in her eyes is dreamlike. Many models attempt a "faraway gaze," but none have ever created an expression as deeply moving as this. It is a gaze of distant longing--what the German Romantics called Sehnsucht. Shannon appears to see past the temporal and glimpse Eternity. Every romantic feeling that the world has ever known is contained in this glance. If love had a single expression, this would be it.

Click to enlarge

Notice the model's disrobed state, which adds an element of tender vulnerability to the image. No physical substance, one thinks, could match the softness of this celestial skin. Her tresses are golden blonde--a natural hue, not a brassy counterfeit. The slight part of her lips adds to the ardour communicated by the image--at once serene, yet overflowing with feeling.

Click to enlarge

It would seem impossible that the loveliest of all models could also be the most talented, yet this is the case--for we have never seen any other model, straight- or plus-size, infuse an image with so much depth, thereby achieving such a profound effect on the viewer. But the world has never before or since known beauty such as this.

Click to enlarge

Another page in the "great skin" editorial is text-oriented, but includes a tiny picture of Shannon, an image that we have enlarged (hence the visible grain). It shows her enchanting facial contours, the miraculous curvature of her mouth--the most perfect mouth and lips ever seen--and those haunting yellow-green eyes. Admirers frequently liken plus-size models to princesses, but truly, only one model genuinely deserves that appellation. In fact--and this is the most extraordinary realization imaginable--Shannon Marie was more beautiful than any other plus-size model even when she was straight-size. The only girl even lovelier than this was Shannon Marie herself, when her figure blossomed and became more goddesslike.

The issue also comes with a gorgeous triptych on its "contributors" page. The photo on the right, another image from the issue's "great skin" photoshoot, again shows Shannon's poetic beauty. The swan-like gesture with the hands is elegant and graceful, the expression is captivating, and the complexion is ideally fair, with just a hint of a gentle flush. Here too Shannon looks at the viewer with girlish delicacy, yet one senses the brilliant mind behind those golden eyes, the roguishness in her smile. She is lyrically feminine, but not helpless, and her very softness gives her the security and self-assurance that come from knowing that all who look upon her must worship her, and give her their souls.

The middle photo, a behind-the-scenes picture from the cover shoot, is playful and fun, with Shannon flashing a laughing smile that kindles joy in the viewer's heart. Yet the image is painful as well because of how thin her figure appears. It is heartbreaking to see the model looking so tiny, especially since--as admirers know from her Alight.com profile--she punished herself terribly to diminish into this frame. The only comfort is knowing that in a few short years after this image was taken, she would blossom into full womanhood and attain her glorious curves, developing a figure that would be the equal in beauty of the celestial facial features shown here.

Click to enlarge

The image on the left, however, is rather different. It evidently predates this Washingtonian shoot, and may be the earliest picture that fans have ever seen of Shannon Marie--likely taken while she was still in high school. Rotated and viewed at a larger size, it gives the viewer the most natural impression of Shannon outside of her modelling identity. If fans have ever wondered what her high-school yearbook photo might have looked like, this could be it. But even in casual clothing, with a carefree hairstyle, and a lighthearted expression, she appears impossibly gorgeous. Her eyes have the heavily-lidded look that the Greeks revered--the languishing glance that they associated with the indolent love-goddess, Venus. She also seems . . . warm here, in a way that is unique among her public images. The singularity of this picture reminds fans of the astonishing diversity of her work--how many different personae she created, never duplicating the same look, never embodying the same character. And that is the highest skill of the model's art.

Click to enlarge

It is a testament to Shannon's enduring popularity that still to this day, nothing generates fan excitement as much as new examples of her work. Last year, a post about Shannon Marie's appearance in Seventeen magazine (published less than a year after this cover story) initiated one of the most popular threads of 2008. Even more thrilling would be discovering more photographs from her legendary career as a plus-size model, but even in these early images, her unparalleled beauty was vividly apparent. She was already the most gorgeous of all models, and her supremacy would only increase in subsequent years.

A teenager fresh out of high school when her career began, Shannon is still younger than most of the models working today. The industry lost its greatest starlet when she put her career on hiatus, but at least fans can treasure the enduring legacy of her incomparable work . . . and perpetually yearn for her return.

(Click images to view larger.)

- Fairest of them all . . .


Last edited by HSG : 29th January 2009 at 03:55.
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Old 29th January 2009   #2
Emily
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Default Re: Shannon Marie: Washingtonian

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSG
The look in her eyes is dreamlike. Many models attempt a "faraway gaze," but none have ever created an expression as deeply moving as this. It is a gaze of distant longing--what the German Romantics called Sehnsucht. Shannon appears to see past the temporal and glimpse Eternity. Every romantic feeling that the world has ever known is contained in this glance. If love had a single expression, this would be it.

I agree. This image tells a whole story. It allows for any number of dramatic interpretations. And Shannon herself takes my breath away. "Dreamlike" is such an apt word, because she really does look like an ideal brought to life, a fantasy set down on film, as if someone recorded one tiny flash of a waking dream.

Shannon definitely became even more gorgeous when she was fuller-figured, but the facial beauty was already here in this picture. And oh, that complexion! I was amazed when I clicked on these scans and looked at them full-size. Her skin is a miracle. It's the type of complexion that never ages. I'll bet Shannon still looks 18 today, with skin like that.

Loveliest of all -- no question.
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Old 30th January 2009   #3
M. Lopez
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Default Re: Shannon Marie: Washingtonian

The main tearsheet from the article, with Shannon looking to the side, is incredible. I don't think it's humanly possible for anyone to be more beautiful than that.

In terms of narrative, I like to think that Shannon was actually gazing at her own reflection in that picture, in a mirror that was just off-camera. She was looking at herself, and was just as enraptured by her own beauty as anyone else who sees this picture must be.

And I don't think I've ever seen the colour of her eyes so clearly before. What a unique and beautiful shade - and so light. They're bewitching.
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Old 1st February 2009   #4
Kaitlynn
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Default Re: Shannon Marie: Washingtonian

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Originally Posted by M. Lopez
She was looking at herself, and was just as enraptured by her own beauty as anyone else who sees this picture must be.

I like that way of putting it. That's the fascinating thing about beauty when it exists at the superlative level of Shannon's- it intoxicates both the person who has it, and the person who admires it. That's why artists often painted Venus gazing at herself in the mirror- because to see a goddess adoring her own loveliness is, itself, beautiful. She must be as astonished by it as anyone else is. Can you imagine seeing such beauty every time you look into a mirror? I can't even fantasize what that must be like.

Her skin is luminous, like it's lit from within.

I really like the bottom photo too, the casual one. She looks so relaxed there, in a way that only appears again in her later photos, when she was plus-size. I think that's another reason why, although she was already a goddess here, she became even more attractive subsequently: because she stopped punishing herself and could eat normally and enjoy life, finally achieving peace with her appetite and her body.
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Old 4th February 2009   #5
Hannah
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Default Re: Shannon Marie: Washingtonian

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSG
The singularity of this picture reminds fans of the astonishing diversity of her work--how many different personae she created, never duplicating the same look, never embodying the same character. And that is the highest skill of the model's art.

Yes. That's so true. I wasn't fortunate enough to read MODE when it was in print, but looking over Shannon Marie's galleries, the variety and diversity of her work amazes me. Someone so gorgeous - really, more beautiful than any other model, at any size - could easily have rested on "pretty," and still have been the best. But no, she changed up her look dramatically from shoot to shoot, even when plus-size fashion wasn't being particularly experimental.

I think it's a more than a shame, it's a tragedy that the industry didn't capitalize on her abilities as much as it should have. She could have been the "breakthrough" model who showed the fashion world just how gorgeous a plus-size model could be. She is easily as adept at posing as Kate Dillon or Crystal Renn. Yet since she's far more gorgeous than either of them, she could also have connected with the public better. No one, looking at her, could have denied that full-figured women can be awesomely beautiful.

She was ahead of her time, and I still wish she would return, especially with the curvy look that she had in her last campaigns, when she was fuller-figured.
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Old 8th February 2009   #6
Graham
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Default Re: Shannon Marie: Washingtonian

While all of the models' images on this forum are consistently beautiful, most of them invite a single appreciative viewing, and then you go on to a different thread. That's not a criticism. After all, as fashion images, they're meant to make a single impact.

But with Shannon Marie's pictures, there's something beyond that. I find myself coming back to this thread time and again, and re-visiting her galleries more often than those of any other model. It's hard to say why, except that there's more beauty, more creativity in her pictures than in the work of any other model. They make a more lasting impression. Perhaps that's the difference between images that are merely pretty, and those that rise to the level of art - the special draw that the latter have, which makes them live on in the memory, and connect to the viewer in an emotional way, as Shannon Marie's do.
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Old 14th February 2009   #7
HSG
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Default Re: Shannon Marie: Washingtonian

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Originally Posted by Graham
But with Shannon Marie's pictures, there's something beyond that. I find myself coming back to this thread time and again, and re-visiting her galleries more often than those of any other model.

Fans of Shannon Marie may enjoy seeing that her galleries have now been updated to include the various images that we have discovered and posted on the forum since her pages were first created. Her work continues to dazzle all admirers of timeless beauty.

O&U advertisement in Mode magazine, May 1998.

- First gallery . . .

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