Thinking about fashion icons, thousands of images of incredible ladies start whirling in my mind. Total mess. Which of the many who have gone down in history for a reason or another, could actually be recognized as an icon? What does this word mean? Why are they so influential? I tried to find an answer to these apparently easy questions and I’ve drawn a conclusion: an icon is not necessarily a famous person emulated and loved only for his or her style and look. A symbol, an example, why not, sometimes a mainstray has to have more. That more that we would love to be or have but don’t have the courage to show. Why do we estimate a person? Because she or he mirrors our perspectives, our dreams and our ideals. That’s how a Woman, who can definitely be called an icon, came to my mind. Charlotte Rampling, a goddess with an enigmatic gaze, reflection of her mysterious and unintelligible soul. Daughter of Anne Gurteen, painter, and Godfrey Rampling, ex-olympic athlete and an army officer, Charlotte, born 1946 in England, has always been bound to the european lifestyle and ideal, so that she will never leave the continent, even for work: “I wanted to act in different languages, in different countries, but the USA weren’t for me. I felt that my points of view were much more european.” A polyglot actress, introverted, always looking for provocative, psychologically destabilizing roles, like the one of Lucia Atherton in “The Night Porter” directed by Liliana Cavani in the 1974. A scandalous film for many, revolutionary for others, it talks about a sort of sadic relationship between a girl who survived the concentration camp and the former Nazi-SS guard who works as a porter in a hotel in Vienna. Known as the raciest film of the italian cinema, it also inspired the world of fashion, as seen in the autumn/winter 2011 collection designed by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, set in a dark hotel, with ladies coming out an ancient lift, wearing handcuffs adorned with diamonds, peaked varnished military caps and leather black gloves, which remind clearly the most famous fetish scene of Lucia dancing for the german officers.
You remember probably Kate Moss hitting that runway with a cigarette in the hand and a cat-like tread, but nobody would beat lady Rampling. She’s the “femme fatale par excellence”.
Before becoming the emblem of seduction, Charlotte was renowned in the sixties , as she represented perfectly the spirit of the Swinging London. It was in the 1966 that she acted in one of the most popular films of those times, “Georgy girl”, directed by Silvio Narizzano.
The beginning of her career could have been perfect, but a tragedy changed her life forever: Sarah, the little sister, committed suicide. That fact showed the most resistant part of Charlotte’s character: “We had always been very close. I think she was more conventional than me. She didn’t have my wildness or my strength, I always have. I can blank things out, cut people out and I know that I can go and live in a cave alone if necessary.” Sarcastic statement? No, because she actually did it. After her sister’s death she spent ten days in a cave in Lanzarote, alone, surrounded by nature, darkness and thoughts. It is impossible not being bewitched by a woman who takes a decision like this. Where did all that iciness (maybe only apparent) come from? The point is that her nonconformity enchanted everybody and keeps on doing it. Even Woody Allen, who directed her in “Stardust Memories” in the far 1980, declared that Charlotte was the perfect woman.
How can I say he’s wrong? Lady Rampling has everything: tenacity, intelligence, courage, a strong individuality, a sensuality which melts her coldness and a timeless style, built on simplicity and elegance, bound by a rare feminin masculinity, result of the boldness necessary to break the rules, proving that even a woman can wear a tuxedo and still be charmante. “If you’re going to be sheep and follow everybody, do it. Become another fabricated face, but it’s heart breaking.”
Her self-confidence and the belief in difference, brought her to pose totally naked with and for Juergen Teller, in 2004 and 2009, respectively at the age of 60 and 65. The umpteenth craziness of Madame Rampling: “When a camera i scrutinising you, you go into battle with it. Or not necessarily into battle; you’re in relationship with it.” First model and then a big passionate of photography, she always gave great importance to the emotions transmitted in the photos which portrayed her. That’s why she collaborated only with the best experts of that branch, like Peter Lindbergh, Juergen Teller, Cecil Beaton, Jacques Bosser and Helmut Newton. Everlasting shots, like her unique beauty.
Today, at the age of 69, after more than a hundred films, a life lived between fears and depression, without even a small retouch, Charlotte Rampling is still a Woman who can impress those who see her. As she once said: “I was looking forward to getting older to have more understanding. That’s why I’m not afraid of the wrinkles, because they reflect the woman I am.” It was this woman who has been awarded few days ago at the European Academy Awards with the Best Actress and the Lifetime Achievement Awards, dedicated to her longtime partner who passed away this year.
A true Lady, who has seen the life heartedness of the youth, the depression, the fame, the solitude, the love and the passion for her job which actually is her everyday life, but most of all, she has known herself. A step that many can’t do and therefore are obfuscated by the omologation which doesn’t permit to realize and reach the highest expression of the self.
Take inspiration, but be proudly yourself to achieve the thing nobody will never steal you, your personal and unique, I.