June 17, 2008

From white to tan, with curves

Five centuries after the Renaissance, white-powdered faces have given way to golden tans all over the body (no strap marks, please!). Botticelli’s Venus and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa gave way to 1950s and 60s icons like Sophia Loren, Gina Lollabrigida, and Claudia Cardinale (my namesake, but no other similarity, alas), all still with round breasts and buttocks and long hair -- not necessarily blonde. Today, Monica Bellucci is a contemporary representative of the world attraction of this kind of beauty standard. She was named the most desirable woman in the world in a men’s survey a few years ago (www.AskMen.com).

From central Italy (Umbria), she embodies the best of the beauty standards of North and South Italy, which are historically different. If Florentine and Venetian women were blonde Botticellis, Southern Italians have always exalted classic Mediterranean beauties -- curvaceous, full-lipped, dark-haired and sultry. Northern Italians instead gravitate to "European" standards with fair skin, light eyes, and chiseled features à la top model-turned-singer-turned-wife-of-French-president Carla Bruni or slender, long-limbed prima ballerina emeritus Carla Fracchi. Bellucci has both: full lips, fine features, sparkling Latin eyes, slender body and seductive curves.