Finally, justification for our fascination with glamour!
From the late-18th-century courtesans and monarchs of England to the celebrity princesses and heiresses of the 20th century, the glamorous have never failed to capture our attention. If you’re like me, however, you may feel guilt over the amount of time you spend following the lives of Paris Hilton and Madonna. Thankfully, in Glamour: A History, Stephen Gundle takes a vapid topic and makes it meaningful, enriching our understanding of identity, prestige, and consumption throughout history and across a variety of contexts.
The book maps the origins of glamour, depicting its intimate connection with the roles of women. Whether inside castle walls, on the big screen, or in the pages of a magazine, women like Marie Antoinette, Marlene Dietrich, and Marilyn Monroe have influenced the construction of ideal womanhood and sex appeal through their glamour. Gundle also describes the role of writers, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, and fashion designers who help to construct glamorous ideals and illusions, and he links a desire for particular cars and occupations to a middle-class yearning for a glamorous life. Indeed, an overall theme across time is that glamour must appear accessible to the middle classes but still remain elusive and mysterious.
The book is very detailed and may be better suited for academic research rather than a leisurely read. And yet, if you want to justify watching entertainment news and feel better about coveting the products owned by your favorite celebrity, Gundle provides a strong argument for our desire for economic advancement and our fascination with glamour.