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- GABRIELLE RAY -
CECIL BEATON DESCRIBES GABRIELLE RAY
Taken from "The Glass Of Fashion" by Cecil Beaton



"Gabrielle Ray was not a talented actress, not even a good dancer, but her parakeet features were not without possibilities. By sheer cleverness she was able to fascinate an audience and make it susceptible to her self created prettiness. She metamorphosed herself into a sort of Maude Goodman nusery picture book unreality, with masses of soft, silky curls falling about her raised head and a straw hat hanging over her shoulder from a ribbon. The effect was as though butter would never melt in her mouth, yet there was an intriguing perversity about such excessive prettiness. Gabrielle Ray was the precursor of the Marie Laurencin school of pink-and-white feminity."

"Lily Elsie, the star of the operettas in which Miss Ray appeared, was to tell me many years later of some of her collegue's experiments in make-up. A past mistress of pointillisme, Gabrielle Ray would, for her stage appearance, put mauve and green dots at the edges of her eyes, with little red and mauve dots at the corner of her nostrils. As meticulously as Seurat working over one of his canvases, she shaded her eyelids and temples in different colours of the mushroom, while her cheeks were tinted with varying pinks from coral to bois de rose. The chin was touched with a hare's-foot brush dipped in terracotta powder, and the lobes of the ears and the tip of the nose would be flicked with salmon colour. Thus painted Gabrielle Ray appeared before the audience enamelled like a china doll. Perhaps better than any other actress, this dancer knew how to pose for a photographer. Doubtless she was one of those forerunners of photographic facial surgery, for she would have a piece of silk thread held under her nose by assistants who stood at either side of her, uptilting the nose just the amount that she wished. With little talent but much imagination Gabrielle Ray, during her brief career, turned herself into a small work of art."

Taken from "The Glass of Fashion" by Cecil Beaton first published 1954.


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