by Myroslav Melnyk
A.P. of art
In the scientific discourse of the early 21 ST century, the most researchers connect the concept of “glamour” with a total consumer cult and consider that it is “the spirit of the time”. Glamorous life demonstrates numerous of movies, TV shows, fiction and glossy publications, it is analyzed in numerous monographs and scientific articles. Such a comprehensive coverage of this phenomenon makes the word “glamour” fashionable. Many authors speculate it to attract the broad public’s attention. So the concept of “glamour” is not very clearly defined and it’s studying remains relevant.
Among the most influential scientific researches glamour can be identified in the work by Steven Gundle “Glamour: A history” (2008), where the author consider the evolution of glamour in different socio-historical conditions . An interesting approach to the understanding of the topic sends Dmitry Ivanov in the monograph “Glam-capitalism” (2008). The author stresses that in the beginning of the 21ST century glamour turns into the fundamental logic of the society functioning . In Ukraine academic research of glamour only begins and presented in a few articles. Summing up, we can state that in theoretical studies of the glamour phenomena the emotional approach prevails over the scientific analysis.
The most profound analysis of the word “glamour” we can find in the article by Iryna Kazimirova “Associative aura of the concept of “glamour” (2009). The author defines the modern interpretation of glamour as the certain quality, which makes the objects and peoples look not what they really are. It connote with artificiality and illusions, deliberate external shine. The scientist identifies the following substantive components of the glamour as shiny clothes, crystals, massive jewelry, fur, hats, bright accessories, small dogs, brilliant makeup, fake nails etc. Kazimirova accents that the glamour is linked to the social and property status (la boheme, elite, “golden youth”) and, especially, with the world of fashion and beauty, glossy magazines, show-business and Hollywood stars, which is defined as the “glamorous world”.
The substantive components of the glamour are shiny clothes, crystals, massive jewelry, fur, hats, bright accessories, small dogs, brilliant makeup, fake nails etc.
The glamorization of the society connected with the flourishing of bourgeois culture in the 19TH century, when the bourgeoisie claimed its social status by imitating the symbolic codes of the aristocracy. But nouveau riches not only copy the cultural samples, they also create the new, mainly with the elements of artificial and theatrical luxury. This conspicuousness differ the glamour from the aristocratic standards. Marginal social classes (courtesans, actresses, dancers, mannequins) use the glamorous goods to hide their “low” origin. So at the end of the 19 TH century the rapid development of fashion and beauty industries was started. The luxury becomes more accessible and the improvement of cosmetics allows creating the “appearance of beauty”.
More opportunities to create the illusion of the beauty come from the cinematograph. But in the beginning of the 20 TH century it was guided by the principles of the Victorian puritan morality. The poor heroes prevailed on the silver screen. Young Mary Pickford attracted the audience in the film adaptation of the bestseller “Polliana” with the idea “It is better to be poor but honest”.
The screen images glamorization began in the late 1920 – early 1930-ies. That time Europe was recovering from the consequences of the First world war and the invention of the Lumiere brothers was most effectively used the in the United States, where the largest world center of the cinema industry – Hollywood – was organized. This “dream factory” has become the main “sweet life” guide.
The crash of the New York stock exchange (1929) was not prevented the Hollywood development because cinema remains the most accessible, the most popular and the most mass art. That time fashion has come to the cinema so close that the screen became the basic fashion trendsetter. Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Mae West, Carol Lombard and Marlene Dietrich were the most glamourous stars of 1930 – 1940-ies.
However, time has changed. The Second world war strengthen the influence of Hollywood on fashion, but it changed the public ideas about the ideal woman. Glamorous “goddess” began to be ousted from the screens of more down-to-earth girls. Betty Grable, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell brought the new erotic elements into fashion: tight sweaters, swimwear, shorts. They gives the new erotic meaning to the glamour.
Since 1947, together with the dreams of a bright future, glamour returned to the fashion by the Christian Dior’s New Look. The precious silks, corsets, hats, jewelry, cosmetics and perfumes turn a woman into an unreal beautiful creature. It is the paradox that in the 1950s-1960s, the cinema images was not really luxurious: the “stars” have started to play diverse roles and often radically changed their looks in the real life. They wished to be like the “next door girls”.
Beside this, fashion deglamourization thanks to the post-war development of low-budget European cinema: Neo Realism in Italy, New Wave in France and Free Cinema in Great Britain fully update the cinematic language in order to show the “real life”. The main characters of the films were the “common” students, workers or unemployed peoples. Dressed very simply, the young Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Jeanne Moreau, Brigitte Bardot embody the new beauty standards without the glamour, which instantly became the fashion trend.
“La dolce vita” (1959) by Federico Fellini is the significant film for understanding the evolution of the society perception of glamour. The title of the film characterizes the style and philosophy of wealth. But the director demonstrates the futility of the bohemian life with all the easy accessible pleasures. One of the main heroines – American star Sylvia (Anita Ekberg) – danced without the shoes, bathed in the fountain wearing the evening dress and embodies the children’s spontaneity instead of the glossy glamour.
Glamour came back in the fashion and cinema only in the 1980s with the most popular TV-series “Dallas” (1978 – 1991), “Dynasty” (1981 – 1989), “Santa-Barbara” (1984 – 1993). The costumes of the heroes were luxury and overwhelmed by decorative elements and massive jewelry.
Film stars of the 1990s are mostly not so glamorous: popular Meryl Streep, Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Jodie Foster, Julia Roberts show democratic casual style on the screen and in the real life. The indicative examples of this are the stars’ looks on the most glamorous presentation – Oscar awards: in 1992 Foster appears in a gray pants suit, and the following year Stone caused admiration, wearing a simple white shirt.
In the beginning of the 21ST century the Red Carpet become the most powerful promotion event: fashion houses and jewelry companies compete for the right to make the celebrity glamorous.
The street fashion is also glamorous, but it’s mostly eclectic. The most popular sport-glam style is represented with sparkles on t-shirts, jeans and sweaters.
The most visible eclectic glamour on the screen was shown in the TV series “Sex and the City” (2000 – 2010), which costumier Patricia Field has received two Emmy awards for costume design. The heroines of the film demonstrate that eccentric designer dresses and shopping can be the modern substitute for happiness.
In the real life vulgar and available glamour associates with the kitsch and causes irony. The glamorization resistance becomes the successful strategy in fashion: there are such ironically-hybrid stylistic trends as the trash-glam, the gothic glamour and the glam-punk. They are based on contrasts and, in general, make fun of conspicuous luxury consumers.
Another way to resist the fashion glamour is the returning to the natural simplicity and, we believe, it’s the most relevant to the spirit of the 21ST century.
List of sources used
- Gundle S. Glamour : A History / Stephen Gundle. – Oxford University Press, 2008, 464pp.
- Иванов Д.В. Глэм-капитализм / Дмитрий Иванов – СПб.: Петербургское Востоковедение, 2008. – 176 с.
- Казимирова І. А. Асоціативна аура концепту «гламур» / Ірина Казимирова // Мова і культура (Науковий журнал). – К.: Видавничий Дім Дмитра Бураго, 2009. – Вип. 11. – Т. Х (122). – с. 23
Я художник 🙂 (my art works)
Myroslav Melnyk )