The Ideal Woman

Jacqueline de Cloët. A born feminist and fashion journalist with a background in criminal psychology, Jacqueline holds a prestigious degree in literature which, ironically, she refuses to use advantageously in her career, let alone have framed and hung in her Californian-inspired office space. ‘Degrees are simply printed prizes; it’s tacky and distasteful to display them’ she claims, along with ‘I don’t need inked reinforcement or compliments to feel fulfilled’.

A part-time art auctioneer, Jacqueline always wakes before dawn and drinks a strong coffee with a dash of unsweetened almond milk, on the terrace of her recently renovated apartment in 16th arrondissement of Paris. Jacqueline then organises her desk, fishing out the important notes and scribbled pieces of paper from the day before. As I was sat there between a Daniel Arsham sculpture and a Mathieu Lehanneur ocean table, I ask Jacqueline how she spends her (fleeting) spare time between front row seats at Miu Miu shows and overly critical essays on Prada’s reintroduction of noughties pieces. Jacqueline claims to be delving into Portuguese poetry; Pessoa to be exact. Typical.

As she frantically looks for her trusty writing pen, I ask her who her biggest inspirations are. She quickly, and unabashedly, replies ‘No one’, a grin gracing her pale face. I probably should have seen this one coming.

Nobody?’ I insist.

No, I find encouragement in respectable or admirable figures, but not inspiration as such’.

If not who then, what?’, I persist.

All art forms I suppose, but mainly music.

How about literature?’ I ask.

‘Not really. At least not at the moment’, Jacqueline replies, whilst adding a ‘Ah ha, my pen!’, to then continue with ‘The written word is the holiest and most tangible form of expression, but books don’t inspire me, they don’t seem to be able to trace the blueprint I am constantly looking for. Sounds, on the other hand, do.’  

Jacqueline spends her summers as a music photojournalist, documenting the pitfalls and ecstasy of the music industry. In other words, Coachella and Glastonbury become her playground. She claims to have chosen this hobby-turned-job, as ‘most musicians want to be seen, especially rappers. The insecure creative always wants to be analysed and romanticised, so that’s where I come in.’

Jacqueline is the type of woman who owns an ornate liquor table but is teetotal. A woman who carries a pack of cigarettes in her handbag but has never smoked a day in her life. The type who pays for theatre tickets but always leaves halfway through and who has kept all of her four engagement rings, ‘one for each season’, as she would put it. Jacqueline is the type of woman who believes vegan pancakes are a waste of time (and coconut flour); who lights candles at midday, buys winter coats in May and who always makes reservations under a pseudonym. 

Jacqueline’s originality exudes cliché. She is the type of woman who appreciates the indistinct. Jacqueline is the type of woman who prefers holding the takeaway coffee cup rather than the liquid caffeine inside it. Jacqueline prefers the vase rather than the flowers, the pots rather than the plants. The match rather than the flame. The seemingly insignificant extras rather than the heroic protagonist. The acknowledgement page rather than the chapters as ‘it says more about the author than the entire book’. Jacqueline prefers the idea of love rather than the shared sink, joint bank accounts and obligatory prenups. Jacqueline is the type of woman who has furniture imported from Italy and who takes improv classes on a Thursday. She most likely grows her own oregano and collects precious Japanese pottery.

One of her desk draws is full of sage burners despite her not believing in luck. Jacqueline is the type of woman who refuses to get a tattoo claiming, ‘you don’t put a bumper sticker on a Tesla’. Jacqueline is the type of woman who wears a black mini dress to do housework and who reads up on Orange County wine, ‘just in case of it comes up in conversation’. The type who doesn’t believe in God but will quote scripture when provoked. The type of woman who thinks Tiffany’s is overrated, who buys fresh eucalyptus each Monday at the local market and who books flights after the January sale. The type of woman who thinks country music is the most accurate representation of the quotidian but will never admit to it publicly. Jacqueline is the type of woman who never cooks with both onion and garlic (it’s one or the other), and who creates mood boards from Architectural Digest scraps. The type of woman who thinks there is no excuse for having wallpaper in your house (it’s passé), who never reveals what she ate the night before and who drives only when ‘excruciatingly necessary’.

Jacqueline is the type of woman who collects herbal pillow mist sprays and Mexico travel guides despite never having been to South America. Perhaps that’s why. She is the type of woman who thinks a roast dinner shows a poor attempt at “cooking”, who always prints out her travel tickets despite having the app downloaded, who believes nothing will save us and who believes everyone should have two lamps in each room and at least two dogs, (not necessarily per room in the latter case).

A night owl, a disbeliever in fortune telling, a trustworthy party planner, Jacqueline is the type of woman who skateboards whilst wearing chiffon dresses. The type of woman who thinks belts are for children and the colour lilac for primary school teachers. The type of woman who watches Woody Allen movies in secret and whose house has taken on a minimalist Wes Anderson meets Gucci affair. The type of woman who thinks headbands should be banned, who stretches each morning to the sound of Tibetan chanting, who thinks white wine is for women over fifty, who claims Flaubert is too easy to decode and God too good to be true.

Jacqueline is the type of woman who will never be caught dead in polka dots, who never drinks sodas and who thinks a woman’s perfume should change every six months. Jacqueline is the type of woman who thinks tribute bands are sad, who drinks espresso after each meal regardless of the hour, and who is constantly redesigning her underground library.  

Jacqueline is the type of woman you’ll never forget.

I certainly didn’t.   

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