[Interview] Angelique Noire: The Modern Black Pin-Up
Decades before the video vixen and the supermodel, there was the pin-up girl. Popularized by Alberto Vargas paintings that appeared in in Esquire Magazine in the 1940s and 1950s, the pin-up girl became an iconic symbol of beauty and femininity from that era. She decorated the noses of bomber planes and titillated homesick soldiers in their barracks during WWII. If you remember the old Tex Avery cartoons with the wolf that whistled, howled at & brazenly pursued his female prey, it was the pin-up prototype that captured his fancy. As you can imagine, women of color were not widely portrayed by the Vargas pin-up ideal during that time. Even now as modern women and entertainers like Dita Von Teese embrace the vintage look of the pin-up in their personal style and persona, we just don’t see many women of color who partake in this particular aesthetic of style. Enter Angelique Noire, a Black model who has taken her love of 1940s and 1950s fashion and adopted her own pin-up persona as a way to reconcile Vargas’ omission of women of color when his images were originally popularized. When you look at her pictures, she captures the pin-up style and sensuality in such a way that you can’t tell if her photos are from the present day or from a long-lost collection from that era. Whether it’s her flawless complexion, her seductive eyes or her brilliant smile, we dare you not to fall in love. Luckily for you, The Well Versed has the scoop on Angelique Noire after the jump.
The Well Versed: What drew you to the pin-up style of modeling? Tell us more about the Angelique Noire persona.
Angelique Noire: Since a very young age, I would watch classic movies and listened to jazz. The class, elegance, sophistication and femininity that I witnessed exuding from the screen were somewhat hypnotic. In essence, Angelique Noire is the manifestation of my love for the 1940s and 1950s style.
TWV: Where does your inspiration for your look come from? Who do you look up to style-wise?
AN: My inspiration mostly comes from the classic movies of the 1940s and 1950s, Vargas pinup girls, vintage Vogue magazine covers/editorials, and vintage Barbie.
TWV: How have you been received as a Black pin-up model? What kind of modeling did you do primarily before making the foray into pin-up style?
AN: I believe I have been received pretty well from people of all nationalities. It’s not like there are a plethora of Black pin-up models that I can compare my successes or popularity to. I have pretty much gone public with this persona since July 2011, yet I feel so far behind. The sky is the limit in the successes that the future holds, but at times I feel like things aren’t moving fast enough. There’s a lot of ideas that I want to share through videos, photos, and illustrations, but everything takes time. I haven’t stopped mainstream modeling, so pin-up modeling is just another avenue of expression. At least with pin-up modeling I can control many angles of what I do moreso than I can with mainstream modeling.
TWV: Who are your favorite designers? What was your most memorable photo shoot?
AN: There are so many beautiful clothes that are created daily, but I have various reasons behind naming my favorite designers. The first being Yves Saint Laurent. Though he is no longer living, I truly admire the classic elegance of his creations. I also admire the fact that he was the first internationally renowned designer that used Black models for his fashion shows starting in 1962 and continued to do so throughout his career in spite oppositions. He even went so far as to use ONLY Black models in some of his shows, which even in this day and age I don’t see major high fashion designers doing. Most times designers (even today) MIGHT use a Black or Asian model or two which is appalling. An interview Yves Saint Laurent did many years ago which is viewable on YouTube, sealed my adoration for him when he poetically articulated his admiration for Black models. Then there is Oscar de la Renta. This man oozes sophistication, and his love for creating elegantly clad woman constantly leaves me in awe. Finally, there are 2 Los Angeles-based women designers that I adore. Laura Byrnes of PinupGirlClothing.com and Angela Dean of DeanZign. Their styles are different, but they share the ability to create designs that interpret the style of the 1940s and 1950s fashions that I absolutely love. These women also have great personalities that I get to experience firsthand.
TWV: You have natural hair styling videos on YouTube. What has your experience been like as a model with natural hair? Who was/is your hair inspiration?
AN: My experience as a model with natural hair varies. I decide based on experience which castings are suited for me to show up with natural hair. Otherwise, I show up with wigs and a hair piece. I do this to save time and sanity when dealing with hairstylists that don’t know how to work well with natural hair. Most of the time hairstylists are adding hairpieces to the models anyway, I just come with options. My hair styling inspirations are derived from vintage photos of film actresses and models. I try to create shapes that I can adapt to my natural texture which I see in those vintage photos.
TWV: What are your best attributes? What do you wish you could change?
AN: I am constantly complimented on my smile, so I have to say that this is my best attribute. Sometimes I make fun of my behind (or lack thereof) because it’s the miniaturized version of the stereotypical Black woman booty.
TWV: Take us through a typical day for you.
AN: A typical day depends on whatever my mainstream modeling calls for me to do. When I have a job or castings to attend for that day, then I adjust my plans to accommodate doing my job/castings. When I don’t have jobs or castings for the day, then I have a plethora of other plans I make to get whatever tasks I want to get done in addition to doing all that is entailed in raising my children. Every day is different – far from being typical.
TWV: What do you enjoy doing during your down time?
AN: I enjoy playing word games like Words With Friends, Hanging With Friends, and/or Scramble.
TWV: What are you currently obsessed with?
AN: I have started to draw again. I have been creating shapelier cartoon-like versions of myself with the various hairstyles I like to do. I admire Alberto Vargas pin-up art, but finding pin-up art that shows women with dark skin is challenging. Since I couldn’t find what I wanted, I just started drawing what I like. It also gives another activity that I can do with my kids. I do my sketches without color, and then make copies which my kids enjoy coloring and adding their own details. As a matter of fact, my son added heart earrings and bracelet on one of my sketches, and I ended up keeping his input.
TWV: What is something that people don’t know about you?
AN: I endured marital rapes, physical assaults, and verbal degradation for years that I kept hidden by not reporting the incidents or telling people about, even after divorcing. As a result of a series of events that forced me to begin admitting these ugly truths years later, I learned valuable lessons in the midst of the backlash that I received. I can empathize with the reasoning behind so many women who fail to report these acts of violence against them. I have also learned that failing to make these reports, and failing to get help is not only hurting themselves but also allowing their aggressor the opportunity to continue this behavior toward other women if he is not exposed.
Now that you’ve gotten to know Angelique Noire, keeping up with her is easy because she’s all over the ‘Net. Visit her website and check out her modeling portfolio, friend her on Facebook, or “Like” her FB fan page. You can also follow her on Tumblr, Twitter or Pinterest and check out natural hair styling tutorials on her YouTube channel.