Live from FUSE 2013: One Collective Glamour


Virginia Postrel on the subject of Glamour. 

Virginia wrote "The Substance of Style" which is still one of few books which flew in the face of existing design momentum. Design as a practice was sick of being subjected to the "style" department, Virginia made a contrarian and elegant argument in favor of style. 

The book should be on every book shelf where the word "design" is used.

She now takes us on a test drive into the world of Glamour. It is often uncomfortable for an audience to participate in a contrarian test drive. When the world is moving toward transparency, Virginia talked about translucence. 

Here are some of the items she put in the ears and minds of the FUSE audience. 
First, Achilles was the original war hero portrayed as glamorous. Aviators portrayed as glamorous. 

What is glamour?
– An illusion "known to be false but felt to be true."
 Depends on audience response.
 Not something you have, something you feel.
 Fragile.

Glamour is like humor.
– It can occur spontaneously. 
 It can be crafted.
 The audience's reaction determines whether it works.
 Too much scrutiny destroys it.

Nonverbal persuasion taps into what is lacking, not in the form of a need but rather a want. The idea, "life would be perfect if I lived in that house."

Why are windmills on McDonald's cups? Throw some turbines in there and it will have "green" glamour. Windmills are glamorous, yes windmills. Obama, he was the glamorous candidate. People project onto him what they desire in their country. 

The elements of Glamour. 
– Promise of escape and transformation: emotional core.
 Grace: the central illusion, effortlessness, hiding all the flaws.
 Mystery: defining perceptual quality.

Grace: Glamour is effortless as it appears to be without effort, even though we know it's hard. The harder we know it is, but the more effortless it seems, the better.

Grace: Specifically dark-room grace is the idea of having an image, then fixing it up. Like the fact that you never see a lamp cord in an ad. Or the Joan Crawford photos,  she was covered with freckles but they are all taken out, and not by Photoshop. Even a paparazzi photo of "wind-blown Jackie", cropped to focus on her, is spontaneously edited to design glamour. 

After all Virginia gave, the final and the most memorable point was just this:

Ralph Lauren never went to Africa, but has a clothing line designed around glamorous images of Africa. And, when asked, Ralph said he would have never designed the line in the same way if he had actually been to Africa.  

Glamour is not about revealing "real" but rather about deeper aspirations in the human spirit. Glamour may be seen as bad in today's economic and environmental conditions, but Virginia made a persuasive, professorial argument for the rest of us to take a new look. 

Thank you, Virginia, for "being a silly dancer" in front of all of us. Impressive.


Aaron Keller
Managing Principal
Capsule

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