OPEN THREAD: The Quest For Japanese Beef

Lipstick on a mirror has never been so cryptic.
Publish date:
September 18, 2015
Elizabeth Taylor, books, open thread, lipstick, vanities

I'm intrigued by other people's vanities. Maybe it's because I don't have room for one in my narrow Brooklyn apartment—I'm a beauty editor who sits on the floor in front of her full-length mirror to do her makeup—but I think my fascination is more likely about the no-two-alike layouts of beauty products and tchotchkes, and what they may say about their owners.

I can't imagine how amazing it must have been for photographer Catherine Opie to be granted access to Elizabeth Taylor's home mere months before the screen legend died, and to get a close-up look at Taylor's vanity. It's one of several still lifes in Opie's new book, 700 Nimes Road, named for Taylor's address, and I can't stop staring at it.

The first thing that caught my eye was how the back row was lined with an array of her own White Diamond fragrances. No one actually believes celebrities wear their own perfumes, but if the mostly empty extra-large bottle of the original eau de toilette and several backup bottles at the ready (including White Diamonds Lustre) are any indication, Elizabeth Taylor might have actually been the exception.

Other notable occupants: jars of La Prairie products, well-used makeup brushes, framed pictures of Taylor's Maltese terriers, Daisy and Delilah, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, including a friggin' crown.

But perhaps the most interesting thing about Taylor's vanity is the mirror—specifically the fact that she wrote on it, with lipstick, "THE QUEST FOR JAPANESE BEEF."


Folks, could this be the greatest mystery of our time? What does it mean? Is there a sled named The Quest For Japanese Beef being thrown into a fire somewhere? And what lipstick did she use to write that?

As I prepare to lose sleep over this, I'll ask you these Open-Thready questions:

  • Do you have a vanity?
  • What's the last thing you wrote in lipstick?