the word ‘Glamorous’

Nothing is glamorous these days. Dresses are not glamorous, women are not glamorous, men are not glamorous, movies are not glamorous, nothing is glamorous. In the age where everything is exposed, discussed, documented, photographed, written or captured on film, the concealment that anything glamorous requires, is now a paradox.

Glamour to me means mystery, transcendence and distance. It’s always been a synonym for something that cannot be quite captured or understood. The word is somewhat similar to the Italian word ‘sprezzatura’ defined by Italian courtier Baldassare Castiglione in The Book of the Courtier published in 1528. According to him, ‘sprezzatura’ means “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”. The same applies to glamour: it should appear effortlessly dazzling, as if magic.

Internet, it seems, has made everything available to us whilst transparency, openness and information sharing are the key words in today’s entertainment, business and creative cultures. Subsequently, we know everything about everything – at least we think we do. No longer is a fashion image in a glossy magazine, a beautiful dress or a film actress on the silver screen just that – an image, a dress or an actress – as now, we are exposed to the layers underneath that destroy the illusion of glamour.

There are the celebrity magazines that tell us what stars look like without make up (sans Max Factor, the original Hollywood make up artist to the stars and film), what they do in their private lives even down to the detail of the cellulite count on Kim Kardashian thighs. No longer is it enough for magazines like Vogue or brands like Chanel to do their job in providing us fashion, now they have to expose the inner workings, the behind the scenes and the technique that make glamour, all in the name of further ‘engaging’ with their audiences. Contrary to the myths that appears on the surface about perfection and glamour, they are more than willing to expose their unglamorous glamour making skills – how Sienna Miller’s mouth no longer looks too big with the help of Photoshop as discussed in The September Issue documentary or how Lagerfeld in fact does not do absolutely everything to keep Chanel running evidenced in the Signe Chanel documentary.

Before I knew anything about it, fashion to me seemed glamorous. Now, with years of education, industry experience and time spent on thinking about it, fashion is anything but glamorous – just a series of clothes, images and ideas. I’m not nostalgic about the word and the idea, but perplexed about our need to see behind the curtain. In the age where it seems that everything is accessible, available and easy, I yearn for days when I was obliviously ignorant to the realities of fashion and could enjoy it for the face value (even if they are distorted representations).1 But then again, glamour really isn’t on anyone’s agenda anymore – it’s more important for everything to be HOT, COOL or CHIC, not glamorous. And being cool now means having to share.

The death of glamour is not a bad thing, except of course for the magazine with the same title. Judging by the standards projected by the covers of Glamour, perhaps they could change it to Slutty, Cheesy or Just Boring, glamour it ain’t.

 

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