Entertainment :: Books

The Power Of Glamour

by Daniel Scheffler
Contributor
Wednesday Dec 11, 2013
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What is glamor, really? Is it that thing you cannot really name that makes something shiny, new and attractive? Or is it deeper and more ethereal and magical than that? Or even deeper: Is it innate, and just cannot be named but must be felt? Virginia Postrel, the intellectual, presents the most comprehensive argument (albeit from so many different sources) with her evergreen "The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion."

You’ve seen that woman on the street, and not just in Paris; she walks with a knowing manner, she lifts her heels higher, she tilts her nose in the right way and swooshes her hair in the most minimal yet effective way, and then lands her glazed look on you just for a second. But that second leaves you feeling totally underdressed, inappropriate and unglamorous. Well, she knows glamor, but did she read it in a book or learn it from her mother? Or is it something she was born with, and could perfect for the rest of her life? It’s that woman who sucks you in and reminds you that you want to uplift yourself from ordinary to extraordinary, if that means to be extraordinarily ordinary.

Glamour: we know it to be false, but feel it to be true.

Postrel sees it like this: She defines glamour as "nonverbal rhetoric" that "leads us to feel that the life we dream of exists, and to desire it even more." And that is where she lets her latest book go wild. From the Chrysler Building, to Apple products, all the way to Kate Moss and the like. Glamour has, in her telling, three essential elements: "a promise of escape and transformation" (letting people project themselves into a desired situation); "grace" (hiding or removing flaws and distractions); and "mystery" (leaving some things to the audience’s imagination). And you couldn’t say it better than that -- even if you tried.

So if you wondered why you were dazzled by that woman in the street, or your breath was taken away when you saw that flick of fabric on a hotel bed in Stockholm, or just the smell of the Diptyque store threw you over the edge, now you know. It is just because you want to belong there; to swim forever free in that beauty.

"The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion"
Virginia Postrel
$20.09
Simon & Schuster

by Virginia Postrel

Daniel Scheffler is a writer who spends his time in New York, Cape Town and India. Follow him on Twitter @danielscheffler

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