Thursday, October 23, 2014

Eve Got a Bad Rap: Marcel Boucher and the Garden of Eden

This is the story of my birthday, a Marcel Boucher brooch, and how it caused me to think about the Garden of Eden and how Eve got a very bad rap indeed.
It was my 44th birthday and I was happier about it than I've been about a birthday in a while. I feel like this is a time of new beginnings for me. In the past year, Beau and I got engaged. We found a lovely little home to share with his two boys. Yes, I became a step-mother and it's going surprisingly well. I was able to find a good trauma therapist and, since I'm not working, see her regularly and go really deep with my healing. And my disability claim was finally approved.
This is me moving forward, accepting my disability, and figuring out where my life is going from here.
On a less profound note, I was also excited to find out what present Beau got for me. I'd been sending him hints, almost all vintage jewelry, for months. I figured, if I sent him enough hints, whatever he got me would be a surprise. Plus, it gave me an excuse to look at lots of vintage jewelry online.
The day my present arrived in the mail, I could hear Beau's, "WOW!" as he opened it, even though he was downstairs and several rooms away from me.
Brooch and earrings by Marcel Boucher

This is what caused his exclamation: a Marcel Boucher demi parure of brooch and earrings.
I discovered Boucher, who once designed for Cartier, several months ago when I paid a whopping $42 for a brooch without his name on it. That's a lot for me to pay for a piece of costume jewelry but it was so beautiful and so well made that I didn't hesitate. I went home and did some research and figured out that Boucher was the designer. Since then, I've acquired several of his pieces, but this one is the largest and probably the best.
He had several styles but his most recognizable is this trademark optical illusion of a swoop and swirl of rhinestones that must be very tricky to make. I think it gives his work an organic feel, like flower stems and blades of grass.
Boots: Ecco; Hair clips: Stylized; Belt: boutique; Skirt, shirt, earrings, and brooch: vintage; Engagement ring: Britton Diamonds; Pinky ring: heirloom; Right hand ring: Birks   

Of course, I had to concoct an outfit with which to wear it right away ...
... even if all I was doing was going to local café. On my birthday, I'll sparkle if I want to!
Sparkle? I think I actually glowed a bit, don't you? I was happy, which is not all that common for me.
I even walked a painful extra block and a half to photograph my outfit and my new parure in a garden that nicely echoed the design of the earrings and brooch.
Like a little girl who keeps flouncing her skirt around because she's so excited about it, I kept staring at my brooch, which produced the rather unsophisticated effect of my looking like I was repeatedly gazing at and touching my bossoms.
Oh well. Whatever.
To really emphasize the blade of grass theme, I hurt my back a bit by clamouring up into this little flower bed. Only later did I notice the interesting geometric echo of the lines in my skirt and earring with the lines formed by the grasses. It all looks a little Art Deco to me.
But I was reminded even more of Eve and the Garden of Eden.
Eve was the original nature girl, I guess. And here I was, unconsciously mimicking her, complete with "God lighting" ...  
... just like in the Garden of Eden ...
... plucking at tree fruits in dappled light ...

... just like Eve.
I do think the Garden of Eden must have had grasses and flowers that grew jewels, don't you? C.S. Lewis first gave me the idea for "fresh picked," edible, growing jewels in his children's novel, The Silver Chair. The prince's primary temptation in the novel is abandoning his people so he can live in that garden and eat that jewel-fruit to his heart's content.
Fruit, temptation, a beautiful garden? Lewis was never terribly subtle or secretive in his creation of Judeo-Christian allegory, was he?
Maybe I'm not either, but, I swear, as I looked at these photos, biblical images just seemed to bloom from them. I think here I look oh so pious and demure and innocent, like Eve ...
... before the fall. Then she got her fateful idea ...
... to pluck the forbidden fruit and taste it for herself.
But I've always thought that Eve got a bad rap. Of what was she really guilty? Wanting to have the knowledge of good and evil? Shouldn't everyone have that knowledge, if for no other reason than to avoid perpetuating evil?
Was she guilty of intellectual and spiritual curiosity? 
Was she guilty of wanting to know about God's creation, all of God's creation, even the forbidden fruit?
Was she guilty of taking a keen interest in all the beauty in this brand new world?
Aren't these good things? In Jewish tradition, a questing mind and soul are positive traits.
Yet all this is said to have caused the downfall of "mankind" and led people to see women as guilty of original sin. Sometimes even the snake who tempted her is portrayed as female! 
The reviled female, the vain female, the female in need of constant control by men, the female whose beauty is a source of endless temptation to men.

Eve got a bad rap.
Be proud of your curiosity. Be proud of your own beauty, and enjoy the beauty in the world, whether it be a Boucher brooch, or a particularly tempting fresh fruit. I think it's a kind of faith to find beauty in the world, even when you do know about its evils, and no matter what the Bible says.


  1. Oh Charlotte, I'm so happy for you! Happy Birthday!!
    Your brooch is huuuuge. And the earrings mimic the curve of your ear perfectly.
    And of course you do a clever use of scene, clothing and allegory.
    Many *happy* returns :-D
    Xo JJ

    1. The brooch is really better worn on a winter coat but I was too eager to wait.

      The sad news is that my back went out quite badly the next day so the whole next week was awful. Sigh.

  2. Happy birthday ! First time I read you were about 40, I was really stunned, I thought you were 27 or 28 :) Sure you must have a magic secret for this :)

    About Eve, one can ask himself was she that happy in her perfect garden ? If she accepted the apple knowing it was forbidden, there was obviously a lack of something in her life. To me, that story means we are on God level now : we know what is good or bad according to His principles, and then we are responsible for our actions.

    I really enjoy when you pick a subject to develop with your own pictures. I don't know a blog like yours elsewhere in the blogosphere :) Thanks for it

    1. My secret for looking young is mostly just genetics. Everyone on my paternal line looks young. I do eat a very healthy diet too, and I've always stayed out of the summer sun because I'm so white that heat makes me feel ill. But mostly, it's genetics. If you look closely, you can see some grey hairs.

      I like your point about Eve being unhappy in the garden. I hadn't thought of it that way before. I too think it's better to know the difference between good and evil than to be ignorant.