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“The contrast between what is glamorous now and what was glamorous in the days of Cary Grant and Norma Shearer says much about how American society has changed. Glamour used to present an idealized version of adulthood. Now it presents an idealized version of adolescence. In the old days, glamour was all about unattainability, i.e., fantasy projection. These days, it has become unthinkable that a major Hollywood director might echo Cecil B. DeMille, who instructed Edith Head’s department at Paramount to make clothes “that make people gasp when they see them. Don’t design anything anybody could possibly buy in a store.”

Today glamour is tied to the idea of shopping to maintain the illusion that you are (a) kind of famous, or (b) on your way to being famous, or (c) essentially the same as famous people, because you share the same taste in home furnishings, core values and dog shampoo. Some of the stars with whose dog shampoo brand we may be intimately acquainted don’t even appear in the movies, or at least not often. They may appear in TV shows that aren’t so much TV shows as a chance to observe celebrities in their natural habitats. Which kind of resembles ours. Mainstream magazines have transformed themselves from facilitators of idol worship to guides to glamour consumption.”

From an article a few years ago in the LA Times that I wish I could find on their site again, but I can’t. From the article, The Allure of Illusion (thanks Christinia!).



  1. September 6, 2008 / 10:01 AM

    I really like this post. Interesting article.

    I also think that many people are looking to buy style, because they are insecure in their own. They copy whatever a starlet has worn or a catalog displays on its front cover, and call that style.

    I think both glamour and style come from the inside. Otherwise, it’s just a mask that we wear. Of course… those studios back in the glamour days… well, they manufactured everything about their stars’ lives, from the dresses they wore to the vacations they enjoyed to the people they dated.

    There’s a glamour in that, too. The glamour of a magic spell being woven in the glare of a spot light.

  2. ElegantSniffNo Gravatar
    September 7, 2008 / 5:16 AM

    I think it’s one of those sad situations where you have to follow the money 🙁 The income stream for the Hollywood studios came from selling tickets that showed people dreams. The income streams today for TV and other mass media comes from product placement and advertising – i.e. selling the actual products on the shelves such as dog shampoo.

    I don’t like either way of viewing the world. Ultimately, it stifles the creativity of the creative people that make it all happen. Just look at the falling figures for reality TV here in the UK…

  3. September 8, 2008 / 8:19 AM

    Your mum looks so beautiful!