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Old 11th June 2006   #1
Join Date: July 2005
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Default ''Yon solitary Highland Lass''

From Ford beauty Kailee O'Sullivan comes one of the most extraordinary test photos of the year, an image that presents Kailee in the most Romantic manner imaginable. This is one of those rare instances in which model, attire, setting, and photography harmonize perfectly to create a bona fide work of art.

Standing proudly in a field of wheat, and with the sky stretching off into eternity above her, Kailee seems to be the very personification of Nature at its most dramatic and beautiful. Her pose is appropriately confident, her expression self-assured. Her thick, wild tresses sway in the wind. The angle of the photograph positions Kailee above the viewer's eye level, giving him the sensation that he is looking up at her--that she is, in every sense, above him. She seems to belong to the sky as much as to the earth.

Her attire has a folkloric quality, entirely in keeping with the organic theme of the image, but it leaves her social status indeterminate. Although her bearing is aristocratic, she could as easily be the proud maiden of a rural village, a renowned beauty who knows that a higher destiny awaits her, and whose legendary allure inspires local bards to compose ballads in her praise.

In fact, the image specifically calls to mind a famous poem by one of the central figures of English Romanticism, William Wordsworth (whose work has been referenced on this forum before). Like his fellow Romantics, Wordsworth encouraged poets to look beyond Classical sources, and to draw inspiration from the English countryside and its inhabitants. A vision of a lone "highland lass" might relay as much transcendental significance to Wordsworth as a dream-vision of the goddess Venus might impart to a Neoclassical poet.

Wordsworth describes precisely such an epiphany in "The Solitary Reaper," published in 1807:

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?--
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;--
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

Like the viewer of Kailee's image, Wordsworth's narrator finds himself looking upwards at this solitary reaper--and in fact, the "lass" inspires him to ascend to a higher elevation ("as I mounted up the hill"), both physically and metaphorically. There is "melancholy" in the reaper's song, just as there is a nameless longing in Kailee's expression, but these yearning emotions make the song--and the image--that much more compelling. Kailee appears "solitary," as does Wordsworth's reaper, but neither is truly alone, for they both have an unacknowledged audience--the viewer of the image, and the narrator of the poem.

The narrator focusses on the song that the "highland lass" sings, but of course, he cannot reproduce her "music," and therefore, the poem's real emphasis is on the effect that this song has upon the narrator. Kailee's image achieves a similar effect, visually--with the model's unbridled beauty affecting the viewer in the same manner that the reaper's "melancholy strain" moves Wordsworth's narrator. Like the reaper's song, which lives on in the narrator's memory after he departs, the beauty that Kailee embodies will surely be borne in the viewer's heart "long after it [is seen] no more."

- "Behold her, single in the field . . ."

Last edited by HSG : 11th June 2006 at 07:53.
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Old 12th June 2006   #2
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Default Re: ''Yon solitary Highland Lass''

That picture shows just how much a stunning natural setting can contribute to the making of a glorious image. I'm glad that someone finally matched the feminine, unmodern fashions that have been so popular in recent seasons with a fittingly romantic setting. It reminds me of the Saks Fifth Avenue "Old World" promotion that got a lot of praise on this forum:

But because a plus-size model is involved this time, instead of incongruous waifs, the result is a true evocation of Old World aesthetics. This is the kind of image that fashion magazines would have created a hundred years ago, if they had existed at that time. I wish we saw more images like this today. "Romantic Vogue" -- now that would be a magazine I would buy.

Kailee looks so noble and even awe-inspiring in that image, but wholly feminine. It shows how powerful essential femininity can be, without resorting to any modern masculinization.

The Wordsworth poem really fits the image, with its passion and rich nostalgia ("battles long ago"). I love Romantic art and literature because it focusses on the extraordinary, not the ordinary, and discovers the greatness in the world around us.

I'm not fond of the compressed-looking waist in the top that Kailee is wearing, but I love the neckline, and the whole look is really eye-catching.
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Old 20th July 2006   #3
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Default Re: ''Yon solitary Highland Lass''

Kailee shares with Kate Dillon a tendency to seasonally alter her hair colour, from blonde to auburn to medium brown. And, also like Kate Dillon, Kailee's best look is achieved when her tresses are at their fairest.

Nevertheless, the following new test photograph, showing Kailee with brown hair, is one of her most stunning images to date. The expression is mesmerizing--intense and soulful, but with lips formed into an irresistible pout, testifying to her youth. The round beauty of her facial features has never been better presented. The colours in the image compliment each other perfectly, from Kailee's sapphire-blue eyes, to her candy-pink lipgloss, to the flaxen colour of her top, all balanced by the vibrant emerald green in the background.

And even though we see only a hint of her wardrobe, the styling for this image must be deemed a stroke of genius. The top is delicate and feminine, exhibiting generous decolletage (decolletage which is teasingly hidden by the edge of the image). The ensemble is a textbook example of the "body-as-fashion-accessory" principle of plus-size styling, inasmuch as Kailee wears no necklace, because the fair canvas of her own person is the real fashion accessory. The gentle but intense sensuality of the image is achieved by the manner in which the top frames Kailee's shoulders, focussing the attention on the softness of her figure, and on the fact that she exhibits no visible clavicle--a particular detail that poets throughout history have praised as betokening ideal feminine charm (as we have discussed in recent posts on medieval beauty). And note how the top hangs only very loosely on the model's shoulders, demonstrating that eye-catching effects are achieved not just by what a model wears, but by how she wears it.

* * *

For good measure, here is another image of Kailee, again engaging the viewer with her characteristic, beguiling pout. The eyes are hauntingly beautiful, and the wardrobe casual, but possessing a whisper of sensuality in the open neckline.

Kailee is a breathtaking young talent, beautiful beyond description, and blessed with a remarkable facility for posing. Her expressions have serenity, but also communicate surging emotion just beneath the surface. She commands any viewer's attention, and we look forward to seeing what future masterpieces Ford's most promising rising star will produce.

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Old 20th July 2006   #4
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Default Re: ''Yon solitary Highland Lass''

Kailee looks very beautiful in that yellow blouse. I wish there were more pictures from that photoshoot. I love her expressions and her self confidence.
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Old 21st July 2006   #5
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Default Re: ''Yon solitary Highland Lass''

Originally Posted by renata
I wish there were more pictures from that photoshoot.

Kailee fans are in luck. Here is another stunning photograph of the model in that airy top.

Note how, in the previous image, Kailee's expression was direct and alluring, while here, her demeanour is more dramatic and romantic (bearing comparison with some of Barbara Brickner's recent tours de force, on the Nordstrom site). It is remarkable, and thrilling, to see how much vulnerability Kailee reveals in her images.

But even more astonishing is the following image, which is one of the most gorgeous depictions of plus-size beauty ever created. The cut of the dress is ideal for framing the model's curvaceous figure, and the daring yet chic neckline is extremely flattering for opulent decolletage. The print is a traditional rustic colour and pattern, and the way in which the red contrasts with the lush background shows why this design has been a favourite of the countryside for ages, defying all trends to become truly timeless.

Nothing could be more fitting as a setting for such a comely model dressed in so feminine a manner than this elegant natural environment. Its loveliness surpasses that of any agrarian landscape, and more closely resembles an Arcadian dreamworld--thus consummating the image as a vision of transcendent beauty. And yet, the model is not merely an ethereal angel, but breathes with a flesh-and-blood reality, underscored by the slight flush that renders her fair complexion and fresh features even more attractive. And although her wardrobe is exquisitely soft, the self-possession in the model's gaze--betraying an irresistible touch of vanity--testifies to her awareness of the power of her own beauty.

Any plus-size retailer that can effect the creation of images as gorgeous as this will not only earn the boundless loyalty of its customers--and of full-figured women the world over--but will also help initiate a lasting change in public perceptions of true feminine beauty.

Last edited by HSG : 22nd July 2006 at 18:19.
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Old 24th July 2006   #6
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Default Re: ''Yon solitary Highland Lass''

I think I liked Kailee with blonde hair best. There was just something so sweet and timeless about that look on her. I also liked her in auburn tresses, which reminded me of the hair colour of Botticelli's Venus.

But I have to admit that the styling for these latest tests is breathtaking. Junior plus-size models are still too rare, but those who are the most popular (Christina, Kelsey, Kailee) are so beautiful and talented. I wish the industry would feature them more often.
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