Postrel (The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness, 2003, etc.) offers a thoroughly researched, analytical, illustrated view on the characteristics, both keen and subtle, that qualify an object, person, event or location as glamorous.
Following publication of The Substance of Style, her detailed account of the increased value of aesthetics in popular culture, the journalist and editor turned her attention to the study of glamour. She leaves no stone unturned in her examination, touching on topics ranging from the intrigue of Michael Jordan to political failures, and she writes in equal measure about what glamour is and is not. Glamour, she argues, is not equivalent to luxury and cannot be bought; instead, it depends on the object in question and its audience's imagination and desire. "It is not a product or style but a form of communication and persuasion,” she writes. “It depends on maintaining exactly the right relationship between object and audience, imagination and desire. Glamour is fragile because perceptions change.” In two- to three-page sections, Postrel unpacks so-called icons and archetypes, including princesses, superheroes, makeovers and cities like Shanghai, and judges each on its illusory powers and pitfalls. The design and production of the text are appealing, due largely to the 100-plus accompanying images: photographs and paintings that evoke glamour throughout history and, in some way, spark readers’ fantasies while increasing the scope of understanding on the subject and its various contexts. Postrel cites innumerable sources, weaving quotations and vignettes into each of her chapters, and the result is exhaustive and wholly entertaining. For those interested in the evolution of glamour over the ages, as well as readers with a stake in marketing, this is a must-read.
Interesting topic, impressive execution and stunning visual accompaniments.