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L'Amour Fou

Despite being characteristics in themselves, love and passion are often defined through a host of other features, including compromise and sacrifice as well as the unearthing of qualities previously unbeknownst to its host, like profound irrationality and unrelenting desire.

As lovers attempt to take charge of their emotions, their passion manifests in a variety of ways, resulting in a vast and diverse array of sentimental art and literature, pop hits and romance dramas. This Valentine’s, we explore five different ways lovers have conveyed their insane passion.


Edward VIII abdication for Wallis Simpson

The magnitude of one’s love and commitment can be determined by what one would give up, rather than what they wouldn’t. Think of the phrase “I’d give anything”, a hyperbolic statement made to indicate the speakers fervent desire. But words are merely words. So, in 1936, when King-Emperor Edward VIII announced that he would renounce the throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who was divorced from her first husband and was then pursuing the divorce of her second, it was a grand romantic gesture that demonstrated his willingness to endure the religious, legal and political objections raised in the name of love. The couple remained married until Edward VIII’s death 35 years later.

Billy Joel’s ‘Uptown Girl’ for Christie Brinkley

If anyone has proven that producing and releasing a love song as a sure way to land a girl’s heart, it’s Billy Joel. The American musician released Uptown Girl in 1983 — which quickly became a pop hit worldwide — to convey his infatuation for the American supermodel Christie Brinkley, who stars in the music video and whom the singer married two years after the hit’s release.

Passion for Fashion: Carrie Bradshaw buying Vogue over dinner

Is there any other relationship more shatterproof than the one between a fashion and its enthusiasts? Love and passion are often understood as emotions directed towards another person, but Carrie Bradshaw’s character in the iconic television series Sex and the City shows us that fashion always takes precedence. In the episode “The Real Me”, Carrie is on a date with a fashion photographer, Paul Denai, when she openly admits to sacrificing dinner in exchange for a copy of Vogue, telling her date: “You know when I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I would buy Vogue instead of dinner. I just felt it fed me more.”

Romaine Brooks and Natalie Clifford Barney’s “Villa Trait d’Union”

When the painter Romaine Brooks met the American novelist and playwright Natalie Clifford Barney at one of Barney’s grand garden parties on a Friday evening in 1914, no one, perhaps including Brooks and Barney themselves, could have imagined the imminent romantic unrest that was to envelope their existence. Brooks, a loner who embraced monogamy, was a stark contrast to the extroverted Barney, who enjoyed social jockeying and frequently engaged in a polyamorous relationship with other women, such as Élisabeth de Gramont (a descendant of Henry IV of France) and Dolly Wilde (niece of Oscar Wilde). This placed a strain on their relationship, inciting feelings of jealousy on Brooks’ end, which she channeled into her paintings of the different characters she met at Barney’s many parties, like one of the Italian heiress and socialite Luisa Casati and another of the Russian dancer Ida Rubinstein.

Between the two lovers, however, was a lesson that when opposites attract, love becomes an exercise in compromise. This was best exemplified in their “Villa Trait d’Union”, or the Hyphenated Villa, a summer home built in the south of France that addressed both their needs as individuals and a couple. Composed of two distinct wings, with Brooks working at one end and Barney at the other, the house came together into a central dining and living room where the two could convene whilst maintaining their individual spaces.

A Humble Confession: Notting Hill

Aside from the grand gestures and narratives that have come to encapsulate the idea of what love and romance should look, feel or be like, its reality is more often than not established by a series of small and arguably mundane acts: beginning with a simple and straightforward profession of one’s emotions.

A shining on-screen example of this occurs in the 1999 film Notting Hill, when Julia Roberts character Anna Scott professes her love to William Thacker, played by Hugh Grant, by saying she is “just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

The feeling of being in love has been known to interrupt any sense of rationality, causing one to resort to vain and oblique methods of communicating one’s true emotions. In that sense, it’s worth acknowledging the courage involved and clarity required by Scott, or indeed any individual in love, in making such a statement.