Beauties: Julianne Nicholson

Gamine with a gun? I caught an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent the other night, and found myself having a hard time following the plot, so taken was I with new cast member Julianne Nicholson's look. The haircut is perfect, and the sparing makeup is, too. Freckle-faced actresses usually wear a lot of pancake to achieve a more generic, porcelain look: Lara Flynn Boyle and Lucy Liu come to mind. Nicholson's shorn, willowy grace reminds me a bit of Jean Seberg or Audrey Hepburn, but I think there's even more to parse here, because instead of playing straight gamine, Nicholson is toying with so many disparate symbols and attitudes: she's at once butch and graceful, delicate and tough, boyish and womanly, worldly and precocious.

It is not an 80s androgenous look ala Annie Lennox, either. If 80s androgeny was about being neither male nor female, but a generic, genderless blur, it strikes me that Nicholson's variation on theme is more about picking and choosing from the best of the masculine and feminine palettes to create something unique, personal and original. This is for me what the conversation on beauty is all about: how a look like this can make you think and feel anew about individuality and identity.

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