Annabel Lee: How I Imagine Poe's Prettiest Gothic Angel Looked

The overall look is a little ‘80s Helena Bonham Carter meets Gothic flapper.
Avatar:
Beth
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
68
The overall look is a little ‘80s Helena Bonham Carter meets Gothic flapper.

“You look scary,” my father told me. Granted, it was Halloween, but I wasn’t wearing a costume. 

I was simply wearing my new, stepping-out-of-my-comfort-zone, dark plum lipstick; Maybelline Limited Edition Fall 2013 Color Sensational Lipstick in Midnight Plum, to be exact. 

He continued to tell me that I looked “dead” and like “one of those Goth kids.” I didn’t let his comments deter me, though; I wore the lipstick off and on through the winter. The shade is a cool, almost-black-blue purple that its name captures quite nicely. It’s very pretty, but it does have a certain mysterious depth and darkness.

I wanted to create a look that built off of that darkness. Through a series of conversations and an extended stream of consciousness, I came to the conclusion that the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe would round out my inspiration. There might have been some wine in that process, too.

poe_profile_beth.jpg

I’ve been geographically connected to Poe since my childhood. He was stationed at Fort Moultrie in Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina (just outside of my hometown) when he was in the army, and later set “The Gold-Bug” there. He also spent a semester at the University of Virginia, where I majored in English literature and ogled his Lawn dorm room. There might have been some wine involved in that venture as well.

I’ve always been kind of drawn to his dark, macabre, Gothic poems and stories. I was not a “Goth” in high school, but I wore big, black boots, wrote poetry, and enjoyed bands like The Cure, Cocteau Twins, and Joy Division. I was probably what other people called a poser, as I also did things like play organized sports and shop at J.Crew from time to time. Just the same, I would gladly spend weekend afternoons reading Poe, Baudelaire and Wilde, imagining myself as a waifish cemetery hanger-outer in a Smiths song.

Poe loved to write about beautiful dead girls, and perhaps his most famous is “Annabel Lee.” Poe writes of a youthful love in a seaside town, cut short by jealous angels who steal Annabel Lee away. The speaker then lays himself down on her grave, again, much like a Smiths fan.

It was many and many a year ago,

   In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

  By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

   Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,

   In this kingdom by the sea,

But we loved with a love that was more than love—

   I and my Annabel Lee—

With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven

   Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,

   In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

   My beautiful Annabel Lee;

So that her highborn kinsmen came

   And bore her away from me,

To shut her up in a sepulchre

   In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,

   Went envying her and me—

Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,

   In this kingdom by the sea)

That the wind came out of the cloud by night,

   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love

   Of those who were older than we—

   Of many far wiser than we—

And neither the angels in Heaven above

   Nor the demons down under the sea

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

Fore the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams

   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes

   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

   Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,

   In her sepulchre there by the sea—

   In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Most people believe that the poem is about Poe’s wife, Virginia, who died just two years before he wrote it. In Charleston, where I spent my early years, there is a local legend about an Annabel Lee (or Anna Ravenel, depending on who's telling it) who fell in love with a sailor of whom her father did not approve. She eventually died of yellow fever before the sailor could return to rescue her, and her ghost wanders the cemetery of the Unitarian Church looking for her lost love. Charlestonians claim that Poe must have heard the story while stationed at Fort Moultrie, and some even insist that he was the “sailor” who fell in love with Annabel Lee.

The supposedly haunted cemetery

The supposedly haunted cemetery.

No matter the inspiration, we are left with a vision of a bright-eyed, darkly romantic maiden turned friend-o’-the-angels, and a love’s memories in moonbeams and stars shining down on a seaside sepulcher.

poe_products_beth.jpg

I used NP Set Calming Pre-Foundation Primer and Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation to create the most even canvas that I could. Usually I save my Urban Decay De-Slick Mattifying Powder for the greasy summer months, but I decided that a matte finish would add to the air of tragic Gothic maiden.

Midnight Plum (two coats), Midnight Plum (one coat), Peaches blush, High Beam highlighter, Metallic Peach (with primer), Metallic Peach (without primer, Double Dare, Native, Midnight Blue

Midnight Plum (two coats), Midnight Plum (one coat), Peaches blush, High Beam highlighter, Metallic Peach (with primer), Metallic Peach (without primer, Double Dare, Native, Midnight Blue

The Metallic Peach looks more true-to-life in a differently lit shot. Ignore the goosebumps, please.

The Metallic Peach looks more true-to-life in a differently lit shot. Ignore the goosebumps, please.

I tight-lined my upper lids with black kohl liner and smudged a bit onto the lid at the lash line as well. Using my finger, I pressed L’Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in Midnight Blue onto my entire lid and into the outer corner of my crease.

The Infallible Eye Shadow is just that, and if you wait too long to blend, it sets. So blend immediately instead of taking a bunch of photos.

The Infallible Eye Shadow is just that, and if you wait too long to blend, it sets. So blend immediately instead of taking a bunch of photos.

Then I used a brush to blend Stila Eye Shadow in Native into the crease, stopping below the brow bone.

This is what even looks like on my uneven eyelids.

This is what even looks like on my uneven eyelids.

Using an angled brush, I applied the Midnight Blue to the outer half of my lower lash line. Then I smudged Stila's Double Dare into the inner corners and down into the blue.

poe_lowerlids_beth.jpg

I received Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eye Shadow in Metallic Peach for Christmas, and I have had a lot of fun playing with it. It comes with a little bottle of liquid primer, and the objective is to mix a bit of the shadow with the primer until you have a creamy bit of product to glide onto your eyelid. I find that without the primer, the shadow has a flaky texture, but ultimately it is easier to blend. With primer, the shadow is easier to apply and to create a more uniform color. It’s a bit messy, but the result is pretty mesmerizing.

For this look, I used the primer. (You can use any shimmering loose pigment or cream shadow for this step.) After mixing the product, which feels like a little ritual in itself, perhaps not unlike mixing an absinthe, I used my finger to press it into the inner two thirds of my lid.

poe_foil_beth.jpg

I finished the eyes by adding a bit of the foil to the lower lash line and using Black Radiance Clear Mascara/Brow Tamer to my brows and lashes.

Yeah, my pupils are two different sizes. Spooky?

Yeah, my pupils are two different sizes. Spooky?

I applied my Midnight Plum lipstick with a lip brush. I focused the color on the top lip, adding a second coat for added definition. On my lower lip, I stopped the color just before my lip line. 

Then I blended Cover Girl Clean Glow Blush in Peaches to the peak of my cheekbones. I also used Benefit High Beam on my cheekbones, blended up under my eyes, to add to the overall angelic shimmer.

My Daniel Ash impression.

My Daniel Ash impression.

To complete the look, I coaxed my hair into a mess of curls. After spraying individual sections with rose water (not necessary, but a very Romantic kind of thing to do) I rolled them with cheap, pink foam rollers. Another nod to my South Carolina childhood. 

I wrapped a piece of white tulle around my head as a nod to the maiden theme, aiming for Victorian but ending up with something a bit New Romantic.

I almost look like a consumptive angel.

I almost look like a consumptive angel.

The overall look is a little ‘80s Helena Bonham Carter meets Gothic flapper. It’s not so much an accurate historical representation than a conglomeration of a handful of my influences. I think it could easily be tightened up into a wearable look or scavenged for bits and pieces for another look.

poe_hand_beth.jpg

Do you have a favorite poem? Any requests for more interpretive literary beauty?