From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Glamour originally described a magical-occult spell cast on somebody to make them believe that something or somebody was attractive. In the late 19th century terminology a non magical item used to help create a more attractive appearance gradually became 'a glamour'. Today, glamour usually denotes the impression of attraction or fascination that a particularly luxurious or elegant appearance creates, an impression which is better than the reality. Typically, a person, event, location, technology, or product such as a piece of clothing can be glamorous or add glamour.
Virginia Postrel says that for glamour to be successful nearly always requires sprezzatura - an appearance of effortlessness, and to appear distant - transcending the everyday, to be slightly mysterious and somewhat idealised, but not to the extent it is no longer possible to identify with the person. Glamorous things are neither opaque, hiding all, nor transparent showing everything, but translucent, favourably showing things.
The early Hollywood star system in particular specialised in Hollywood glamour where they systematically glamorised their actors and actresses.
Etymology and usage
- an item, motif, person, image that by association improves appearance
- Witchcraft; magic charm; a spell affecting the eye, making objects appear different from what they really are.
- A kind of haze in the air, causing things to appear different from what they really are.
- Any artificial interest in, or association with, an object, or person, through which it or they appear delusively magnified or glorified.
- Alluring beauty or charm (often with sex-appeal)
The original meaning of the word "glamour" was the act of casting a spell over someone, particularly to change how things appeared to them. The primary modern meaning of the word relates to fascination, charisma, beauty, or sexual attraction. People, or their lifestyles, can be described as glamorous. Although most words which end in -our in British English are spelt with -or in American English, "glamour" is an exception with the "u" usually being retained. This may be due to its original being Scottish rather than French or Latin. The alternative spelling "glamor" is sometimes used in American English, but not as frequently. (see American and British English spelling differences).
History of glamour
A glamour was originally said to be a spell cast by a witch to make somebody see things in a different way. Late in the 19th century the common meaning shifted to being applied to ordinary objects and jewellery without connotations of supernatural, merely upon the effect that it has on appearance. This is a sense used in this article and to some extent is the way that it was used by the early Hollywood system.
"Glamour doesn't just happen, people don't wake up in the morning glamorous." - Virginia Postrel
Early Hollywood movie stars were often seen as particularly glamorous, this was due to the operation of the early Hollywood system where extensive methods were used to make the stars glamorous. For example photography was done in rooms which had been specially painted to flatter the skin tone of the actors and actresses, and attention was paid to hair and clothes. Notably this was successfully done with:
- Marlene Dietrich
- Grace Kelly
- Hedy Lamarr is quoted to have said "Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid."
- Sean Connery
- Marilyn Monroe
Glamour icons are people that are thought to epitomise glamour, that have an individual style that makes them more attractive.
- Queen Elizabeth II
- Naomi Campbell
- Stella McCartney
- Claudia Schiffer
- The Dowager
- Aishwarya Rai
- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Glamour photography is the photographing of a model with the emphasis on the model and the model's sexuality and allure; with any clothing, fashion, products or environment contained in the image being of minor consideration. Photographers use a combination of cosmetics, lighting and airbrushing techniques to produce the most physically appealing image of the model possible.
Many forms of architecture employ glamorous motifs to enhance the appearance of what may be otherwise mundane buildings.
The Art Deco style is generally considered to be a glamorous one.
- Style - dressing according to a school of thought
- Beauty - attractiveness
- Elegance - simple grace and dignified propriety
- Sprezzatura - to appear as without effort
- Glam rock - a type of music where the musicians used outrageous glamours such as platform shoes and outrageous hairstyles
- Glamour photography Photography which shows a model, often nude or seminude
See also II
- Glamour International Magazine
- Glamour photography
- Glam rock
- Glamour (magazine)
- "The Glamorous Life", a song written by Prince, and recorded by Sheila E.
- Glamorous, a 2005 album by Denise Ho.
- "Glamorous", a song by Fergie.
- "The Price of Glamour" a short story by Steve Berman involving the need of Victorian fairies for a powdered substance, glamour, to hide their existence and survive.