The Man Named Slim

Never give a woman

anything she can’t

wear in the evening.

Oscar Wilde



Slim Aarons wasn’t born photographing beautiful people. He started as a combat photographer during World War II. After years of witnessing death and destruction first hand, he vowed to live on the sunny side of the street and determined that his mission would only be to photograph “attractive people in attractive places doing attractive things.” Sound like my kind of life!

His first stop was the farthest from reality he could imagine getting: Hollywood. Aaron’s pictures of high society introduced the world to all sorts of gorgeous locales, deliberately standing far from his subjects so his camera captured their surroundings. He thought of himself as a photojournalist and a storyteller so his subjects are usually seen in their milieus–their gardens, offices, living room, with their books and pets. Despite all the glamour, the opulence, however, Aaron remained detached, never wanting to be a member of the jetset.

His archive (including those on this page) is now owned by Getty Images so the public could enjoy how he documented society during his time, allowing the likes of us from the reality TV generation, the relief of revisiting my favorite stylish and gracious eras. Thank you for the inspiration and lots of good fun in the sun, Slim!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite iconic inspiration.








 Credit: Hulton|Archive by Getty Images

Credit: Hulton|Archive by Getty Images


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of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

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Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

The Art of Arousal

I don’t know the question,

but sex is definitely

the answer.

Woody Allen

Inspiration for my work comes from a variety of art, friends, fans of this blog, as well as the women I photograph who share their enthusiasms. A surprise gift that warmed my winter is this  delightful book that celebrates sex as a powerful creative force. Dr. Ruth Wertheimer’s The Art of Arousal is a collaboration between a serious art historian and a woman who was converted to the religion of art late in life, proving to herself that there is no deadline for pursuing new directions.

Among the features in the book is a favorite painting, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’ Odalisque with Slave. Of all Odalisques, I love this for her relaxed and carefree abandon.


Like me, 18th century French painter Jean Honore Fragonard sought to indulge his client’s whims and fantasies. When the baron de Saint Julien commissioned him for a painting of his mistress: “I should like to have you paint Madame on a swing. You will place me in such a way that I would see the legs of this lovely girl.” Fragonard responded, “Ah! Monsieur, it is necessary to add to the essential idea of your picture by making Madame’s shoes fly into the air.”

The mere sight of a décolletage, the nape of a neck, the curve of a woman’s back can give intense and satisfying pleasure. In Admiration, Degas lends humor to the ridiculous positions a voyeur doesn’t mind being in for a glimpse of his goddess of the moment.


Robert Colescott, a contemporary American artist, portrays himself as the great Henri Matisse painting The Dance. Colescott asks the viewer “What if Matisse were a black American and if Matisse’s models were thick of waist, long of leg and with shocking bleached blonde hair, would we consider them beautiful?”


William Wegman is a contemporary artist who dresses up his family of Weimaraners to photograph them in humorous situations, challenging our stereotypes of human behavior. This photo is named after Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Posed as a slinky studio nude, with one leg coyly lifted to suggest s sultry modesty, she bares not one breast but eight. She knows, as does her master, that eroticism is largely in the mind of the beholder.


If my photography isn’t obvious yet, seduction and flirtation are my favorite pets: Longing fueled by chivalrous courtship and restraint. Imagination and playfulness used to stoke desire.  Thoughtful creativity and surprise employed in the pursuit of one’s beloved. Today’s teens would do well to learn the art of conversation in creating an engaging intimate space amidst a crowd. But before you think I’m a prude…

Octave Lassaert’s lithograph Don’t Be Cruel! shows how intimacy provides a safe space for exploring fantasy–or as an exercise in empathy? Here, the woman makes an advance lifting his skirt while he implores her to take it easy.


Above all, I am a romantic so the business of kissing is my favorite subject, next to gazing into the partner’s eyes and tender touching– with clothes on!  The Stolen Kiss painted by Margaret Gerard (Fragonard’s sister in law) tells the urgency of a moment when someone can walk into a situation that should not be.


Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your Valentine gift inspiration.


Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

The Goddess of Creation

Live your life

as if it were

a work of art. 

Rabbi Abraham Heschel


L’Shanah Tovah!  The Jewish New Year brings to mind the quote above.  I love the metaphor that like art, I create my life from chaos, messiness, not knowing better, with an eclectic mix of influences.  In honor of some of my favorite people whose birthdays and new beginnings seem to cluster at this time of year, I dedicate these musings on their life choices that have inspired me as I create my own work of art–some realizations, some questions that I’m sure has echoed in the beautiful mind of Goddesses through the ages:

What’s the fun in life without our imperfections?

Must happiness depend on owning whom or what we desire?

If we must wear “busy, busy, busy” as a badge of pride, what does such busy-ness cost us?

Whom do I allow to decide what is enough for me to want and need?

When we feel like jumping in to rescue someone in apparent hell, is it possible that (s)he may actually be in his/her version of heaven and have no wish to be saved?

Alone is not necessarily lonely.  Just as being in a relationship is no guarantee against loneliness.

A day without laughter is wasted.

True love is the gift we give ourselves. And may the giving of it be satisfaction enough so we need not become beholden to the binds of ingratitude, lack of appreciation, or unrequited love.

When fairytales spare us the details of “happily ever after,” it leaves the HOW to our imagination.

Anyone who insists you owe them your honesty simply wants to control and judge you–for your own good, of course! 😉

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share what you’ve learned from your favorite people.







© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Beyond Fashion


You can never be overdressed

or overeducated.

Oscar Wilde


Iconic photograph by Cecil Beaton of 10 of Charles James’ designs

© Conde Nast


Charles James, the most influential couturier of the 1940’s and 50’s, is largely unknown to the general public though his revolutionary designs have graced the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country.  Recognized for his genius in the magical use of color and artistic drapery, he started out creating the legendary Gypsy Rose Lee’s breakaway striptease costumes and is best known for his gloriously sculpted ball gowns.  I share his great love for the theatrical, the grand and the magnificent!

This week, the Met’s Costume Institute launched an exhibit of his life and designs:  Charles James: Beyond Fashion. Curator Harold Koda describes James as “one of a handful of designers to have changed the métier of design. Christian Dior has credited James with inspiring his New Look. And Balenciaga said, ‘James is not America’s best couturier; he is simply the world’s best.’ When you have the two perhaps most important male designers of the mid-20th century endorsing you, you can understand that it’s something of a lack that the general public is not aware of this man’s work.” James invented the spiral-cut taxi dress, the figure eight shirt, the puffer jacket, the no cup bra, and a waistline that expanded with your meal. Koda told, “[He] was really radical. He treated the creation of clothing as an art”–combined with the exacting precision of structural engineering it seems.

Admire the genius of Charles James at the Met’s Beyond Fashion until August 10, 2014.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how your life is an art.


Elettra Wiedeman in Charles James four clover gown at NYC Met Costume Institute

Elettra Wiedemann in James’ Clover Leaf Gown at the exhibit’s opening night

(Photo by Hannah Thomson)


Charles James haute couture gowns



Charles James Tulip Gown

The Tulip Gown


Nancy James in one of her husband’s creations

 Charles James by Cecil Beaton 1943

Charles James pinning a model

photo by Cecil Beaton © Conde Nast



Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother



What Would Grace Do?

I have to be seen to be believed.

Queen Elizabeth ll

_S5A7955Grace-Kelly-Look-Powerful-G0ddess-Sharon Birke

Vogue’s April issue featured a tribute to the movie The Rear Window.  Nicole Kidman angles for an Oscar with the movie Grace of Monaco this December.  That Hermes bag is still highly coveted over half a century after Grace Kelly was first seen with it.  Starting out as a model before charming Hollywood and capturing the heart of a Prince, Grace Kelly’s signature style of neatly pinned hair and pale tailored outfits endures.

Her Royal Highness inspired the timeless portraits of this Powerful Goddess here. Even Grace would kiss the ground this woman walks on for being a down to earth inspiration of generosity and joy.  If you were lucky to be blessed by her friendship, you’d be even more impressed to know that this lovely queen of her domain does not delegate the care of her own hearth and home.

For those who want to behave, flirt and live like Her Highness, What Would Grace Do? is in bookstores now (Gotham Books, $26).   Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add to this list of Her Grace’s movie classics:

  1. High Society.  Her musical comedy starring Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.
  2. High Noon. Kelly does a Western with the conflicted Gary Cooper.
  3. To Catch a Thief.  As Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite muse in her Hollywood days, Grace stars in these 3 classics.
  4. Dial M For Murder.  Another Hitchcock film.
  5. Rear Window. Arguably one of Hitchcock’s best, Grace stars with Jimmy Stewart.

_S5A7926Grace-Kelly-Look-Powerful-G0ddess-Sharon Birke

_S5A7927Grace-Kelly-Look-Powerful-G0ddess-Sharon Birke

_S5A7964Grace-Kelly-Look-Powerful-G0ddess-Sharon Birke

_S5A7943Grace-Kelly-Look-Powerful-G0ddess-Sharon Birke

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

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Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother


Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn?

If I’d followed all the rules,

I’d never have gotten anywhere.

Marilyn Monroe

The Marilyn Monroe Look by Sharon Birke

The solo play Jackie off Broadway is a witty yet disturbing exploration of submission, power, and the hypocrisy of everyday life by Elfriede Jelinek.  When I think of Jackie’s respectable public persona, I can’t help wonder how she denied her Marilyn inside.

From Pamela Keogh’s book Are you a Jackie or a Marilyn?  Timeless Lessons on Love, Power and Style:

Jackie and Marilyn came of age in the 1950s when socially acceptable roles of women were few.  Yet they both moved beyond the strictures of their time to become icons. In terms of style, Jackie and Marilyn are opposites–light and dark.  Day and night.  Sophistication and playful naiveté. If Jackie symbolized well-bred propriety, Marilyn was sex.  While this way of thinking dictates that women are one of the other, the fact is that most of us, really, are a mixture of both.

The Jackie woman is strong, intelligent, socially impeccable, well married, and likely a mother who takes care of others.  The Marilyn Gal is vulnerable, emotionally unpredictable, enjoys sex and high living, celebrity, glamour, fake lashes and champagne.  She has seen both the glamorous and unseemly sides of the world so she is understanding of the foibles of human nature.  She takes people and situations as they are:  hoping for the best, but not that surprised when things don’t work out.  Plus, you know she’s got a few gorgeous photographs of herself stashed somewhere.

…like this Powerful Goddess here! by the Women’s Project Theater runs until March 31, 2013 at the New York City Center.  You’ll love Tina Benko–a powerhouse of a solo performer!!!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how you channel your inner Jackie and Marilyn.


The Marilyn Monroe Look by Sharon Birke

The Marilyn Monroe Look by Sharon Birke

The Marilyn Monroe Look by Sharon Birke

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

The Marilyn Monroe Look by Sharon Birke

Another big Thank You to Wendy Boiardi for glorious makeup!


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