Academic in tone, yet fast-paced and readable, this book explores glamour as both concept and commodity. From Marlene Dietrich to Madonna, the evolution of glamour is analyzed alongside its relationship with pop culture, celebrity, advertising, and fashion (surprisingly, being glamorous was not always considered en vogue). Images of perfume ads from the ’20s are interspersed with accounts of the less-than-pretty aspects that came with upholding such an ideal: think class issues, Orientalism, and extensive cosmetic surgeries. Dyhouse explores the political implications of mixing up glamorous principles with conventional ideas of femininity. Cohesively balancing perspectives on how these notions could be both restricting and liberating for women, she inspires questions for further debate. Encapsulating a century of cultural history in about 170 pages is tough though, and her own analysis feels as if it is just skimming the surface of what could be discussed. Upon finishing the book, I felt as though I could easily consume another hundred pages on glamour.
By Carol Dyhouse (Zed Books Ltd)
Reviewed by Anna Fitzpatrick (originally published in Worn Fashion Journal Issue 12)