Said The Boy To The Girl: Laurel Pantin (@LaPantin)
An Essay on Beauty | Volume 1, No. 1 | New York City
by Brandon M. Graham [Published on February 27, 2013]
She is hands-down the prettiest woman in New York City, smart as a whip, and completely adorable. I could go on about her talent, how smart she is, but today I wanted to focus a bit on the way she looks, which is incredible, if you don’t mind.
If you look at a photograph of her, it’s very gripping. There are those iconic Sartorialist photographs by Scott and Garance, which are just great–really fantastic. I think those photos have lent themselves to be culturally anthropological in their undertones. Captured in the photographs are the physical and cultural development of costume and street fashion in lower Manhattan and at the center of it all, is Laurel. It’s beautifully done.
After evaluating a series of photographs of her, I’ve simply come to realize that there is an indestructibility about her look, especially when it comes to her hair. She’s worn it long, she’s worn it short and in both cases, it’s been just head and shoulders above the rest. She has the kind of beauty that is built for decades.
In front of the camera, she seems to be equally embarrassed and flattered that someone has asked to take her photograph. I think that is what humanizes her, endears her to us all, and makes her all the more attractive.
And when she smiles, for some odd reason (which I’ll discuss with my therapist at a later date), it reminds me of the sort of gleefulness only gleamed from childhood. Beauty can invoke the kind of anticipatory excitement of going to the cinema as a kid. It’s beautiful, it’s goofy, and uncontrolled.
However, there are times when I think fashion, and beauty alike, have often cornered a person into choosing between “seriousness/elegant” and the “playful/ordinary”. I’ve likened it to, going to concession stand, having only enough money for either something salty or something sweet and feeling torn about the decision.
But in the case of Laurel, there is this startling union of both salty and sweet. To put it delicately, she is a bag of M&Ms mixed into the perfectly popped box of popcorn. And for anyone who’s had popcorn and M&Ms, then you know what I mean; it’s the perfect blend. It’s true happiness. I think she embodies that notion.
Her beauty is understood before it is really comprehended. It’s nearly too wonderful for the world. In one paradigm she is this all-american girl, this all-american beauty from Texas. But in another, she reminds us that she’s not just Ralph Lauren, but that she’s Wildfang. And I think that’s an important distinction worth making here.
She is a mathematical proof, in which her beauty is this kind of inarguable truth. There’s absolutely no conjecture here on whether or not she is beautiful; it just is. The world is not flat, it is indeed round. It’s that very understanding that we bring here when writing about her.
Laurel, in a very particular way, reminds me of what “cute” grew up to be, when all grown up. Her look, though seemingly thrown together at times, is really, upon closer inspection, and perhaps even on a subconscious level of her own doing, a wonderful coupling of downtown chic and uptown elegance that has been fashioned meticulously, well placed, well polished, and carefully chosen like the words in an essay. Her choices are remarkable.
It’s really something to marvel at or to experience. I use the term ‘experience’ because I have often felt like beauty can and is experiential; it can inspire, it can violate, it can leave one elated, comforted or in some cases even heartbroken.
I think in a word, Laurel is contrast. She’s a Texan girl living in New York City (and loves the Chicago Bulls). She’s a women with a closet full of heels, but favors her white Chucks and has also run the New York City Marathon. She has beautiful long locks of brunette hair, but has in the stead (at least for time), chosen to lop it off, dye it blonde, and wear it boy-short.
I don’t know, I just think she’s swell. There's something almost experimental about the way she looks, and again, her smile carries this kind of animate expression too deep for words.
About The Author
Brandon M. Graham is a writer, author, and professor. At the centerpiece of his writing is film, literature, fashion, and design. He is the author of A Love Supreme: Amputated Feelings & Prosthetic Apologies. He has taught English and Writing courses at The New School in Greenwich Village and attends Columbia University. Graham currently resides in Manhattan.
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