Monday, October 25, 2010

What Is Glamour?













































The subject of glamour came out of a conversation last Saturday with my first and best American friend who lives in Paris. Our telephone exchanges, according to our Reasons-For-Living-In-France, are long, confusing, non-sensical and, oh yes, long.

They may believe our chats are non-sensical, but that is only because unlike the two of us, they are not blessed with monkey brains. We start a normal conversation in which a word triggers a different thought and we veer off in another direction and on and on it goes. I'll spare you the details and the detours.

In the midst of one of our digressions the other day, she said to me, "You know the word 'glamour' is absolutely verboten in the world of magazines these days, in fact you have to be careful even using it in conversation." 

"What are you talking about?" said I.

Then I argued glamour has nothing to do with bling and bad taste, glamour is exciting, fascinating, and is not related to the economy or money or status or any of those dreaded topics that can lead friends into real arguments.

"I know, I know, I agree with you," she said. "I think of glamour as something out of the 30s or maybe even the 50s." And off we went on that tangent.














































Meanwhile, I think of glamour as something entirely different -- epoch-less and ageless, but rare.

Let's begin with the Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary definition (we might as well start with the lexicology experts, n'est-ce pas?): Glamour -- "the quality of fascinating, alluring, or attracting, esp. by a combination of charm and good looks." And, "magic or enchantment. . ."

There we have it, another one of those "I know it when I see it," qualities. It seems to me a glamourous woman (or man for that matter) has a star-dusted aura about them, but I can think of few celebrities today I would call glamourous. Maybe it's because I think glamour also entails mystery and we know waaaaay too much about celebrities.

Talk about too much information.

Also, God-given beauty for me does not equal glamour. I think Catherine Deneuve for example is beautiful, I don't find her particularly glamourous. (I'm sure many of you disagree.)
























Pictured here are a few women who come to mind when I think of the word "glamour." If more come to me in the middle of the night -- and perhaps you'll help me --  this will become a two-part series. Top to bottom: Dame Helen Mirren; Christine Lagarde, France's finance minister; Kristin Scott Thomas (I think she has some magic); Catherine Nay, journalist and biographer; and of course, Ines de la Fressange strolling with her two daughters.

Ed. Note: I thought this was going to be easy, finding glamourous women. I've stayed away from politicians and adhered to women who are still on this earth -- no easy task -- and wish I could have thought of more. Help!

25 comments:

Deja Pseu said...

I know what you mean, and would agree with all of your choices here. There's a restraint, a subtlety required for glamour. Glamour sparkles but isn't flashy, and involves a certain degree of wit and intelligence.

of sage and sepia said...

I absolutely agree! I also love the fact that all of these women are "of a certain age" - no young, pouty, pop-tarts loaded with bling and personal baggage hauled out for public viewing. Helen Mirren, Kristen Scott-Thomas and Juliette Binoche - soooo glamourous!!

James said...

You are absolutely correct. To be glamorous one must have many qualities.

Tabitha said...

It always surprised me that this is a Scottish word, meaning as you say, to bewitch.
I have a love/hate relationship with the word. I love the glamourous stars of yesteryear but it's it's always the stock adjective that people use to describe me and I hate it. If I've heard it once I've heard it a million times. It makes me feel utterly worthless and that I have nothing to offer but my outer carapace. Oh to be called witty or intelligent or successful but no always the g word.

LPC said...

I think of glamor as style with a sultry polish. And the young 'uns these days go all boho, which means polish is few and far between:).

Gretchen said...

Oh, Tabitha, think of the G word as a compliment from folks who likely have an extremely limited vocabulary, as well as a limited ability to discern and acknowledge the range of qualities they find admirable. So, instead, they lump the intelligence, wit, and luminosity into one word: glamour. Meanwhile, to add to this very good list of publicly known glamour women, how about Kate Winslet as a candidate? Diana Krall?

Belle de Ville said...

Like Tabitha wrote, I believe that glamour has something to do with bewitchment. It is a short lived ephemeral quality.

Last night I finally got around to watching "The September Issue" and was struck by how unglamorous everyone was at Vogue. Talented, hardworking, creative, yes, but glamourous most definitely not.

Even the great film stars of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s were glamorous in their films and official publicity shots. I doubt that they were all that glamorous in their daily lives.

Anonymous said...

Penelope Cruz
Marissa Berenson

IMO

Lily Lemontree said...

Love this post, I am in total agreement with you! As always your choices for women of glamour are spot on!
Hope you are having a smashing start to your week!!

Duchesse said...

It helps to identify the opposite of glamour, frumpiness or indifference.
Glamour magnetizes, we are attracted by its aura of beauty (thought the person need not be classically beautiful), sexuality (though no sex need be offered) and charisma.

Also, I have only rarely heard a poor person described as glamorous; the props that support the impression are of very good quality- see your photos.

And glamour can be a temporary effect; I've seen some people look completely unremarkable, then style up to glamour. Michelle Williams is an example; I walked by her on the street, just another busy mum, and on the red carpet she was drop dead glamorous.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with sentiments as expressed. I rather
strongly dislike beauty defined by
stereotype that is largely defined by lack of individuality or wisdom. May I suggest that this would be an appropriate entree to a discussion of sophistication as it applies to one's hair? Perhaps a discussion of the French idea of chic when it comes to shorter hair and older women? Americans seem to have lost this concept in translation...

"All things French" said...

I would equate glamour with elegance - I guess that's why a lot of stars are beautiful but not glamorous -they lack that certain style which often comes from the way they speak, the way they walk and the way they wear their clothes. Glamour is a whole package.
Princess Grace, Audrey Hepburn, Jaqueline Kennedy were very glamorous. As for Catherine Deneuve - well I think she's gorgeous but maybe you're right about the glamorous bit.
~Dianne~

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Tish, you forgot someone here....YOU. Chère, you exude glamour in that ALL that you say, observe, critique and love composes a far more complex characteristic. It is like READING FLUENCY (I am speaking like the teacher that I am). It doesn't just mean how many words per minute you read. It means accuracy, expression, fluidity ALL the foundation for COMPREHENSION. Glamour is the icing on the cake, but without the other components, it is tasteless. You dear, are all of the necessary elements. 'Nuf said....

Beth Hazelton said...

Bon soir, Tish! You have hit the nail on the proverbial head. In American magazines want to label anyone in a gown as glamourous, but I wholeheartedly agree with the others herein. It is not just a look; it is the air of mystery, a bit of mystique, that look in her eye that we don't know half of what we think we do...that epitomizes glamour to me.

gucci 2011 said...

Although I do agree with your post, I have my own reservations.

BigLittleWolf said...

Fascinating post. With your definition on hand, it is hard to narrow down the list of elegant women, and even stunning women, to those who have that "je ne sais quoi" which equates to glamour.

Definitely some intangibles in the mix. Rather like with charisma.

Ruth in LA, said...

I can only vouch for my former mother in law who was an actress in the 40's. She always dressed appropriately for her figure and age and was always glamorous. They did stage publicity shots, but even in her late 80's she's poised and polished.

The great beauty is her aqua eyes --- absolutely captivating.

Marsi said...

Fun to think about. I think Christy Turlington is glamourous. She has so much humanity and never lost sight of herself when she was at the top. And gorgeous? Beyond.

xoxoxo

Sarah said...

Interesting topic, and while I appreciate glamour when I see it, it's not something I strive for per se. Perhaps it's that I live a rather pedestrian life (housewife vs movie star) and I am utterly content to strive for good grooming, tasteful, appropriate clothes and interesting pursuits. When I look at glamourous women, I am inspired of course. They are always women of a certain age. The youngest of them being Natalie Portman.

Pearl said...

It strikes me that glamour connects to style, and its distinction from fashion. Many of these women are not focused on the fashion of the moment but in their own integrity of self-expression. Often, the older women have the same hair and makeup they have had for decades. They have aged with dignity and attention, but without an obsession with "youthiness." They are open to thigns beyond their own beauty routine. I would add Audrey Tatou, Marion Cotillard, Paloma Picasso, Christine Amanpour, Michelle Obama.

Mary said...

Ooh, you all have those glamourous women nailed. How about adding Susan Sarandon? I, too, live a pedestrian life but with all the media pics floating around I try to enliven my wardrobe and "look" whenever to add a little spice to my look. One doesn't want her friends to know exactly what to expect at that next meeting or lunch date!!!

Rubiatonta said...

I aspire to be glamourous, but I'm afraid I'm too earthy and direct -- devoid of mystery, perhaps. Though now that I'm d'un certain age myself and learning the joys of listening as much as I talk, I may be getting closer...

Russian Chic said...

Dear Gretchen,

Diana Krall is my neighbour.While she has many wonderful qualities, being glamorous is NOT one of them.

Russian Chic said...

Being glamorous from within and hiring a stylist to make you look glamorous for on stage/screen appearances are NOT the same thing. Authentic Glamour can NOT be bought.

Fashion, Art and other fancies said...

A singularly stylish woman is more difficult to find nowadays than a 'glamorous' one. I can't stand the word 'Glamorous'...

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