Can You Find the Hidden Clue in “Ten Down: One Across”?

Laird Borrelli-Persson
<h1 class="title">Model in a Gilt-Embroidered Greatcoat, Vogue</h1> <div class="caption"> NEW MORNING COAT; AUTUMN-RED NAILS: Ten coats of red by Revlon; finger-tip finery, a new autumn colouring. One coat of brown across your shoulders. Greatcoat for a special Sunday morning, for dinner at home. Of Juilliard wool, scattered with gilt embroidery, faced with red-orange wool. To wear beneath it—a gold lamé bodice, trousers of brown tissue faille. By Martini. Cabochon sapphire earrings dangling with gold tassels; 14-K gold pencil. Both Cartier. Revlon’s new nail enamel and lipstick—“Cinderella's Pumpkin.” </div> <cite class="credit">Photographed by Richard Rutledge, <em>Vogue,</em> October 1, 1947</cite>

Model in a Gilt-Embroidered Greatcoat, Vogue

NEW MORNING COAT; AUTUMN-RED NAILS: Ten coats of red by Revlon; finger-tip finery, a new autumn colouring. One coat of brown across your shoulders. Greatcoat for a special Sunday morning, for dinner at home. Of Juilliard wool, scattered with gilt embroidery, faced with red-orange wool. To wear beneath it—a gold lamé bodice, trousers of brown tissue faille. By Martini. Cabochon sapphire earrings dangling with gold tassels; 14-K gold pencil. Both Cartier. Revlon’s new nail enamel and lipstick—“Cinderella's Pumpkin.”
Photographed by Richard Rutledge, Vogue, October 1, 1947

This story is part of a series, Past/Present, highlighting images and articles from Vogue that have personal significance to our editors.

Usually the first Monday in May is a butterflies-in-the-stomach day as the anticipation for the party of the year swells to a fever pitch. An event tailor-made for extroverts and peacocks, it’s also wonderful theater. This year a sort of open invitation has gone out, so depending on your mood, it’s time to channel your inner Cinderella and dress for the ball, or grab a front-row seat.

It occurs to me that more than half of Cinderella’s well-known tale isn’t about the actual ball at all. The story is about longing—for romance and for justice, each close but out of reach—and that’s why it is gripping. Now, when the abundance of spring is juxtaposed with a dark reality, it is the sweet melancholy of daydream believers that catches my attention. The imagination opens doors to places that are out of time. Similarly, concentration on a single task can bring one to the flow state, one that is untethered from all things material.

I’ve always admired the model in Richard Rutledge’s 1947 photograph, “Ten Down: One Across” for being rapt by the task at hand, a crossword (one of my favorite distractions). The serenity of this image is compelling; in style and composition, it might be linked to the late 19th-century paintings of James McNeill Whistler, who loved a lady in deshabille. These days are also all about at-home wear, but on the more dressed-down end of the spectrum. I wouldn’t say no to accessorizing my Zoomfit with earrings and a gold pencil from Cartier. Would you? The key, at least for me, to this image is the makeup. On her lips and nails, the model wears a shade called “Cinderella’s Pumpkin”; a reminder that there are many ways to be transported in style.

“Ten Down: One Across,” photographed by Richard Rutledge, was published in the October 1, 1947, issue of the magazine.

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Originally Appeared on Vogue