Overeager makeover artists, devilish little brothers, and occasional Dexter fans have long enjoyed dismembering the world’s favorite doll. By contrast, Brooklyn artist Margaux Lange, 30, describes herself as “an Art jeweler who re-Members Barbie fondly.” She doesn’t tear up dolls for the sake of destruction, or for anti-Barbie social commentary. Rather, she reassembles Barbie parts into joyful jewelry: heart pendants made of Barbie busts, earrings from eyes or smiles.
New Yorkers can visit Margaux's studio this Saturday night, September 26, as part of the Morgan Arts Building Open Studio event featuring more than 25 artists (and an open bar). For details see Margaux's blog.
DG: You credit Barbie with fueling your creative life growing up—an unusually positive way of writing about an often-controversial plaything. What did Barbie mean to you as a child?
Margaux Lange: I used to be obsessed with Barbie dolls as a kid. They played a pivotal role in my development as a tool for acting out and exploring the human relationships in my own life, as well as the fantasy lives I imagined. My experience with Barbie was uniquely positive in this way. Barbie can be a source of empowerment through exploration and imagination. Each child's experience with the doll is unique and I believe there's a value in that.
I would spend hours crafting many precious details for my Barbie dolls and their miniature worlds, such as: pillows, stone fireplaces, food items, clothing, accessories, etc. Playing with Barbie dolls helped to develop my dexterity and strengthened my attention to small detail: skills imperative to the art of jewelry making.
DG: How did you get started “fondly re-membering” Barbies?
ML: Barbie made her debut in my artwork in high school and then again in various incarnations throughout college where I studied fine Art (The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD.) I started to focus more on jewelry making during my junior year, and I became interested in incorporating found objects into my metal work. Because I had done artwork with Barbie in the past (drawings, sculptures, etc) it felt natural to try her out in the jewelry realm. It was an unusual idea with a strong personal connection for me, so it felt right. The Plastic Body Series Jewelry Collection continued to grow from there.
DG: How has your relationship with Barbie changed since you played with her as a child?
ML: I had no desire to cut up all my Barbies as a kid, thatʼs for sure! So that has certainly changed. As a child, I would look at a doll and she would instantly transform in my mind into the imaginary personality I had dreamed up for her.
Now I look at a doll as I would any other material: I think about how that piece of plastic is going to be transformed in an interesting, wearable way.
Iʼm also able to intellectually step back and examine the impact Barbie has had on our society from all angles now. I certainly didnʼt think about any of that as a child so of course that has changed as well.
DG: What do you think makes Barbie glamorous?
Barbie is a quintessential icon of glamour. Sheʼs intriguing and appealing on many levels, not to mention she owns the biggest wardrobe on the planet, has a multitude of cars, shoes and accessories, and has had every possible career you can imagine. I think that makes her pretty glamorous.
DG: How has the changing face of Barbie over the years influenced your work? When Mattel alters Barbieʼs face or body, do you relate to Barbie in a different way?
ML: No, I wouldnʼt say that the way I relate to Barbie changes when Mattel rolls out a new style, but it does change my work. For example, Mattel made some major changes to Barbieʼs body in the year 2000 when they introduced the new “belly-button models” which had wider hips, a more shapely bum, and for the first time, a belly button and a smaller chest. Because her new bust size was smaller than the original Barbieʼs, it happened to be the perfect size and shape for making my Have-a-Heart Necklaces, which are now a prominent piece in my production line.
DG: Barbie is the quintessential blue-eyed blonde, but some of your pieces (the bust hearts, for instance) play with different skin tones. Is Barbie actually more varied than we think of her?
Barbie is a lot more varied than people assume. There is quite a lot of difference in skin tones, body styles, hair colors and facial features as well. Itʼs interesting however, that when we think of “Barbie: the icon” an image of blonde hair and blue eyes is what comes to mind.
DG: When talking about your work, you mention the vast impact that Barbie has had on our society. What do you think is the most important impact Barbie has had over the last 50 years? Do you think her impact has been more positive or negative?
The most important impact she has had has probably been on the millions of little girls who have been drawn to Barbie as a way to understand, what is to them, a very abstract notion of “Womanhood.” Barbie is very unlike us as little girls, and yet under our complete control to manipulate and project onto her “adult-hood” in whatever way we wish. There is enormous power in that type of imaginary play.
However, thatʼs not to say thereʼs nothing to examine regarding Barbie as an ideology. Barbieʼs life of excess has certainly had its negative implications. Particularly the dollʼs emphasis on materialism, beauty, and fashion. We are a nation obsessed with beauty and youth, and Barbie is a direct reflection of our cultural impulses in this way. Plastic and forever youthful, she remains relevant and in-vogue. With each generation, she is re-invented as we see fit to define her. I wouldnʼt be surprised if she sticks around for another 50 years because of this.
DG: Other artists have made Barbie-inspired work, particularly work that deconstructs or takes Barbie apart, often in violent ways. Why do you think we have this urge to deconstruct Barbie?
Barbie is the most beloved and maligned of playthings. Rarely do we feel indifferent about her. I think the urge to destroy Barbie comes from this polarization. To some, she represents oppression in the form of unattainable perfection and unrealistic beauty standards. Thereʼs something cathartic about deconstructing a symbol of those ideals.
At times, my work has dealt with utilizing the doll as an archetype for critiquing beauty, materialism, and prescribed gender roles often associated with women in our society. Sometimes I aim to distance myself and critically evaluate pop culture in this way, and other times I wish to engage and participate in it. Much like my own experience with womanhood as a feminist: a series of rejecting and embracing.
DG: Who buys your work and why?
The Plastic Body Series is sought after by Art Jewelry collectors, Barbie nostalgics, and bold individuals who arenʼt afraid to wear jewelry that sparks a conversation. Some people respond to its humor and think itʼs clever and fun, or it feeds a sense of nostalgia for them. Some wear it as a feminist statement and others simply appreciate it because itʼs bizarre and unique.
I love that everyone brings his or her own baggage and reaction to the work. Itʼs indicative of their own relationship with, or feelings about the icon, as well as how an individual defines wearable jewelry. My goal has been to create Art that a broad range of people can relate to and I feel Iʼve been successful with this.
A background in fine Art gave me the foundation necessary for conceptual exploration in my jewelry work, however, it is my personal connection with Barbie that I credit for the success of this series. It's ironic that what I adored as a child has become the focus of my career as an adult.
DG: Where do you get your components? Do you buy used Barbies? New Barbies in bulk?
ML: I acquire all the dolls as second-hand objects; usually from yard sales, thrift stores, and Ebay. I also have a few friends across the country that are always on the lookout for me. I have thousands of “previously owned” Barbie dolls and parts in my studio from which to choose. It’s important to me that the dolls have had a previous life in the hands of a child. It's a crucial part of the story, the love, and the conceptual basis for the work. I also really like the idea that the dolls are being repurposed after they’re discarded and are contributing to Art, not landfills.
The DG Dozen
1) How do you define glamour?
Glamour is something or someone that exudes a particular allure, an air of confidence, style, uniqueness, distinction, beauty, and grace.
2) Who or what is your glamorous icon?
Besides Barbie? My grandmother was always very glamourous to me growing up. For instance, she would never dream of putting a carton of milk on the table as is, it always went into a “proper” carafe or something first. This seemed very glamorous to me.
3) Is glamour a luxury or a necessity? Luxury.
4) Favorite glamorous movie? I canʼt think of any... I tend to like horror flicks and indie films. Amelie is a favorite movie of mine, and glamorous in its own unique way I think, perhaps because itʼs French.
My engagement ring! Itʼs made with raw diamonds and yellow gold. Itʼs totally glamorous because thereʼs a big cluster of diamonds on the top and yet because raw diamonds look rough when theyʼre not faceted, it feels humble at the same time, almost like large grains of sparkling sand. Itʼs so unusual, and so me, I just love it.
7) Most glamorous place? Mendocino, California. I went there with my fiancé and we stayed in this amazing bed & breakfast overlooking the ocean. It was incredibly romantic and glamorous for us!
8) Most glamorous job?
Oh dear, I could provide you with a very long list of all the non-glamorous jobs Iʼve had! Picking the most glamorous is a bit harder. I guess Iʼd have to say that being a self-employed artist has been the most glamorous. Even though itʼs difficult at times, I love what I do and I know Iʼm really fortunate to be able to pursue my passion full time.
9) Something or someone that other people find glamorous and you donʼt? Smoking. Yuck!
10) Something or someone that you find glamorous whose glamour is unrecognized? A jewelry artist who is also a dear friend of mine, Kate Cusack: www.katecusack.com
11) Can glamour survive? I think there will always be glamour, although I think the way each generation defines it will continue to shift and change.
12) Is glamour something you're born with? No, of course not. All weʼre born with is our birthday suit!
As an occasional buyer of vintage Bakelite jewelry, I've always wondered why Scottie dogswere suchpopular subjects for brooches. Were they just easy to represent with relatively crude carving?
As this silver brooch, another from Deja-voodoo.com, demonstrates Scotties weren't just a Bakelite subject. They were popular in all sorts of media in the 1930s and 1940s. Why? Ellen Solway, who owns Deja-voodoo with her husband, supplied the obvious answer: Fala. Much more famous than Checkers or Bo, FDR's Scottie was so important to the president's public persona that a sculpture of Fala appears on the Roosevelt Memorial in D.C. The fame of Scotties lingered long enough to affect me as a first grader in early 1967, even though I'd never heard of Fala. Assigned to write about my dog, or the dog I would have if I had a dog, I decided my theoretical pet would be a Scottie. (A huge fan of The Wizard of Oz, I probably thought Toto was a Scottie.)
I asked Ellen about what attracts vintage-jewelry customers to pet images and whether certain breeds of dog are particularly popular. Her reply:
Greyhounds, bulldogs, and poodles are very popular in dog jewelry. The Japanese particularly like poodle jewelry. However, we sell a lot more cat jewelry than dog! We have six cats and I think that personally I am more drawn to cat jewelry than dog jewelry. For collectors, cat jewelry is pretty generic while dog jewelry is more linked to a specific breed. I have sold some very glamorous and beautiful dog and cat jewelry, as well as some very cute and bizarre pieces.
The remarkably detailed silver head to the right is a working whistle meant to be worn as a pendant. The man who bought it, says Ellen, was "beside himself when he received it."
For a slide show of dogs and cats in vintage jewelry, click here.
Posted by Virginia Postrel on July 11, 2009 in
Yes, this is an ad. But it's also fun to play around with even if you're coming up on your 23rd wedding anniversary (June 22!) and have no intention of replacing your engagement ring. Click the graphic to get started.
Posted by Virginia Postrel on June 04, 2009 in
After my previous posts I assumed I was through writing about watches, but then I discovered the internet site Watchismo.com. Watchismo was started by Mitch Greenblatt as a site to sell “the most unusual vintage watches and chronographs of the mid-century through the space age, everything that is ahead of their time, then and now.” Then Mitch’s brother Andrew joined the firm as they expanded to sell new watches that, on the whole, seem to make some kind of statement about watch design itself. (Many of the watches mentioned in my post on watches that emphasize design can be purchased at Watchismo.)
One of the unusual watches on the site is Robert Jones’ “The Accurate” watch, a timepiece whose hands read, “Remember, you will die.” This is a translation of the Latin phrase momento mori, placing this watch in the long tradition of artistic creations that remind people of their mortality. Both the silver and black versions of this watch are polished to a mirror-like finish, so whoever looks at the watch will see themselves reflected in its surface. This tradition dates back to Roman times when victorious generals paraded through the streets. Behind the general was a slave who would periodically say, “Momento mori,” or “Respice post te! Hominem te memento!”: “Look behind you! Remember that you are but a man!” (Most of us can think of people, especially politicians, whom we imagine might benefit from wearing a watch whose hands read, “Remember you are but a man.” Alas, Jones doesn't make that model, and, in any case, the people we would most like to give it to probably wouldn’t wear it.)
When I discussed status and power watches, I mentioned that their advertising is typically tied to vehicles with powerful engines and athletes who dominate their fields. This is “serious” stuff, so the design of chronographs tends to be tradition bound. This mold was completely broken by the French designer Roger Tallon with his LIP Chronograph Mach 2000, originally designed in 1973. This fun watch with it’s colorful function buttons is as refreshing now as when it was first released. LIP watches are now being marketed in the U.S.A. for the first time, and watchismo.com is the representative.
Many of LIP’s designs reference other designs. There are, for example, a TV series and a Fridge series, and these have overall shapes corresponding to their names. These watches, designed in the mid 70s, remain astonishing modern, a testament to the effectiveness of good industrial design.
Tallon’s LIP Mach 2000 Moon watches were designed in 1973, and look like watches that would have looked great worn in the first Star Wars film, released in 1977. A new model, the “Dark Empire,” looks perfect for Darth Vader.
The industrial design angle is referenced in some watches by taking it over the top. This is case with Retrowerk Watches, which use antique-looking finishes and attach compasses, pistons, or levers to their unusual designs. Other watch companies, such as Rebosus (their RS002 Chronograph is pictured here) produce huge watches that look like an industrial machine when strapped to your wristes. Big watches have been a recent trend, and many of these have been gathered together in a big watches collection at watchismo. (It is here perhaps that readers may wonder if the firm’s decision to call itself “watchismo” is ironic or self-revealing.)
The selection of vintage watches is fascinating, and, because of Mitch Greenblatt’s interests, you can see many examples of watches that achieve digital readouts with mechanical numbers. In human experience, time flows sporadically, flowing quickly when we are engrossed, tediously when we are bored, and disappearing entirely when we sleep. Some of the watch designs at watchismo play with the concept of time by using unusual displays. Botta watches only use one hand. Nooka watches express designer Matthew Waldman’s interest in showing time in a variety of unique ways.
The origins of watchismo as a company for vintage watches, often emphasizing modern design, sometimes shows in their choice of contemporary watches. A good example is the Quiksilver Baron Copper Auto watch (shown in the photo), which is one of their most popular watches. Many things about this watch remind me of art deco styling: the colors, the vertical grooves, the facets at top and bottom, the graceful shapes, and the brown leather band. When I first saw this watch on their site, I assumed it was a vintage watch rather than a new one. It makes a fascinating contemporary tribute to an elegant, glamorous style.
Posted by Randall Shinn on May 31, 2009 in
In previous posts I’ve discussed watches as erotic glamour and as symbols of status and power. But men may sometimes wish to wear a watch that reveals their eye for exceptional design, and this is especially true of architects, designers, artists, and men who simply love good visual design. Traditional watch design, while intriguing to watch collectors, can seem rather boring to someone wanting to make a strong statement about design itself. To that end, a watch with a unique shape and distinctly modern look (like the Rado Cervix shown here) makes a bold statement.
In the realm of watches as design, the cost of the watch is relatively unimportant. This Rado is moderately expensive, but this is partly because this Swiss company's design philosophy emphasizes “incomparable surfaces,” and they use expensive, extremely hard materials such as ceramics and space age metals to make their watches both beautiful and difficult to scratch. With design-oriented watches, the materials used are integral to the design, and, just as some of the most beautifully designed objects in my music studio are colorful plastic containers and waste baskets, some design-oriented watches make use of plastic in vibrant colors (I’ll give an example later).
With high-design watches the designer is crucial, and many of the most stylish watches are produced by companies that also market jewelry, clothing, and accessories. The Italian design company Alessi is typical of this. When you go to their watch design site and click on “designers and models” you are shown photos of the 18 designers and architects who have designed watches for them. By clicking on the designer, the watches they designed are revealed, and they are wonderful in their variety. (The watch shown below is one of them.)
Other interesting companies emphasizing design include the Danish firms include Skagen and Danish Design and the Italian firm Movado. The Swiss company Mondaine has designed watches based on the modern clocks used in Swiss railroad stations.
As one would expect, Japan is producing interesting watch designs. Seiko sponsors a yearly project for new designs. Issey Miyake is a Japanese fashion firm that produces watches, and their site is another that features the designers themselves (hovering the mouse over the gray rectangles reveals the watches). They use watch movements produced by Seiko, and it is not uncommon for companies whose emphasis is design to use movements produced outside the firm, often using Japanese quartz movements.
This is the case with two interesting American companies. One is the San Francisco/Tokyo company TOKYObay and the other is the Encinitas, Calfornia company Nixon. While TOYKObay’s orientation is more toward the traditional fashion world, Nixon’s orientation is to the world of surfers, snow boarders, skate boarders. By paying serious attention to this market, Nixon has become a successful, worldwide company.
Here’s part of the Nixon company statement, which is both irreverent, and deeply committed:
We make the little shit better. The stuff you have that isn't noticed first, but can't be ignored. We pay attention to it. We argue about it. We work day and night to make the little shit as good as it can be, so when you wear it, you feel like you've got a leg up on the rest of the world. We believe that you deserve a lot of respect. When you choose to wear a watch,...you deserve to have something that reflects your entire package....Dammit brothers and sisters, you can't slap on an off-the-shelf piece and consider yourself you. Can you?
The model shown at left is the Nixon Outsider. This is not a watch you would wear to a board room meeting, and that is precisely the point. Although the name “Outsider” likely refers to the integrated electronic compass, it also seems to symbolize the outsider attitude of a culture that focuses more on riding on recreational boards than sitting on company boards. (Many Nixon watch models are hard to come by. Some are made in limited editions, and boarders quickly snap them up.)
Such markers of style work remarkably well, and not just with watches. I recently purchased a stylish pair of Bevel eyeglasses, designed in the U.S.A. and manufactured of titanium in Japan. While wearing these I sat down with my wife at a pub bar to grab a quick meal. The man next to me asked if I was an architect. When I said, “no,” he said, “You’re wearing architect glasses.” He told me that he designed software for architects, and from years of experience he knew how much attention they paid to the little details of visual design (the “little shit,” as Nixon watches put it).
Some design companies seem to have said to designers, “You design it and we’ll figure out how to make it.” No wonder many architects and designers have welcomed the chance to design watches that they themselves would like to wear--watches that reveal how deeply they care about style and distinctive visual design.
As mentioned in a recent post, mechanical chronograph wrist watches are symbols of status, power, and conquest for men that can afford them. One of the most interesting blogs about watches is Ablogtoread.com, and as was once posted there:
A lot of the time I wake up and want to wear a serious "show me the money" watch. That isn't about glitz, but rather about "I am going to go out and conquer the day!"
Some history is required to explain why some watch makers are "show me the money" brands, and why these watches are usually mechanical. Making an accurate, portable mechanical clock is extremely difficult, but the need for one was critical. The invention of the marine chronometer in the 18th century by Yorkshire carpenter John Harrison revolutionized marine navigation. It has been argued that the building of the British Empire depended on the dominance of the Royal Navy, and that this dominance occurred during a period when the ships of the Royal Navy had marine chronometers and their opponents’ ships did not. Accurate chronometers later proved crucial for aviation navigation, and they are useful for land warfare. During World War II the American watch company Hamilton perfected the mass production of accurate wrist watches and shipped more than a million of them overseas.
Given this history, it is not surprising that manufacturers of prestige watches like Omega, Rolex, TAG Heuer, Breitling and others advertise this association with marine and aviation navigation. They also use images to connect to airplanes, trains, and racing and luxury ships and cars. Breitling, for example, frequently uses images of military planes, and also has an association with Bentley automobiles. And any male athlete who is a highly dominant figure in his sport may be approached to represent a luxury watch company. Thus the ads for Tiger Woods and TAG Heuer suggest that wearing a their watch implies you are “made of” the same dominating stuff as Tiger Woods.
Ironically, in the 1970s mechanical watches were quickly outclassed in accuracy by quartz watches. A typical quartz watch is accurate to 1/2 second a day, and rated quartz watches can be accurate to within ten seconds a year. Highly accurate mechanical watches can be accurate to about 1/10 second a day, but this kind of accuracy in a mechanical watch comes at enormous expense, especially as you add “complications.”
Complications are watch functions other than telling you the time. Typical complications are date functions, stopwatch functions, lunar phases, and so on. To give an example of the relative costs of adding complications to a watch using electricity versus purely mechanical means, consider the Citizen Campanola Grand Complication. This watch is discussed in detail at ablogtoread, and there he estimates that this complex watch (which sells for approximately $3,000) would cost $80,000 if duplicated as a mechanical watch.
Much of the work on the Campanola is hand done, with attention to finishing details that would rival any luxury watch. But for years neither Citizen nor Seiko attempted to sell their high-end watches outside of Japan. They realized that in places like the U.S.A. they could not compete with the brand snobbery associated with luxury watches. They faced the same issue that Toyota faced in trying to compete with Audi or Mercedes Benz. In the U.S.A., Toyota was known mostly for making well-made, but relatively inexpensive cars. So Toyota created Lexus as a division of high-end automobiles. Likewise Citizen has created Campanola as a separate division in order to market this watch. (The watch that ablogtoread first reviewed was labeled Citizen, but now the watches are labeled Campanola. After all, what CEO would want a watch that suggested he was an ordinary “citizen.”)
Once upon a time owners of mechanic watches might have taken comfort that if a worldwide catastrophe stuck while they were out on their yacht, causing all electrical battery supplies to vanish, their mechanical chronometer would still allow them to keep accurate time. But now there are quartz watches that use light (or pivoting mechanisms that move when the watch is worn) to power storage batteries, and thus they never need replacement batteries. So owners of those watches would still be able to tell time (and most likely more accurately too).
Because of their accurary and advantage in production costs, quartz watches now account for the majority of watch sales. Because of their tradition, high price, and mystique, mechanical watches still retain top status as collectibles. But even the luxury brands now use quartz movements in some of their watches, and who knows if future generations will care that mechanical watches might at one time have helped conquer the world. As reader belle de ville pointed out relative to my last post on watches, jewelers don’t yet know whether the cell-phone, iPod generation will bother to wear watches at all.
The world of men’s watch advertising is frequently about status. Accurate mechanical chronographs with many functions are expensive (four figures and up), and brands like Rolex, Omega, Breitling, and TAG Heuer make much of their long association with aviation, auto racing, and yachting. Their watches often have names like Yacht Master, Seamaster, and Speedmaster. Associations with famous athletes are common, such as Tiger Woods and TAG Heuer. Movado makes both stylish dress watches and sport chronographs, so it is not surprising that Tom Brady is used in their ads, given that he is both a star quarterback and the well-dressed husband of model Giselle Bunchen.
Few companies have dared to advertise watches as objects of erotic desire, but Breil has had fun doing this. Their watches have glamorous names like “Milano”and “Eros.” One of their representatives is now Charlize Theron, and in the TV ad below, she sees one of Breil’s watches, which launches a series of erotic fantasies involving men’s hands.
Breil also markets jewelry and fragrances, and in one of their ads a priest giving confession is overwhelmed by a young woman’s adornments. In their “Don't Touch My Breil” ads, eroticism grows more obvious. In one a photographer is more obsessed with his model’s watch than her. And in a spy fantasy a woman graphically demonstrates her prowess with a gun to warn him about touching her Breil.
Perhaps the most erotic of all of their ads is the one below. By rubbing his Breil watch, a man in a bar somehow sensually stimulates a woman sitting some distance away. He is amused by her response until she turns the tables by rubbing her own Breil watch. (Incidentally, her necklace is also by Breil, and is featured in different cuts of this ad.)
With shoppers in a frenzy preparing for DG's four-month anniversary on December 25, we asked a number of contributors to recommend glamorous gifts that don't require braving the malls. Save gas and aggravation. Let your broadband do the walking.
Carmindy I am obsessed with Ippolita jewelry. Just one plain gold hammered bangle is so fabulous and the gift of gold these days is a safer investment than anything else! This is for any women with expensive taste who likes chic simplicity instead of over-the-top bling.
The other gift I would recommend is a stocking stuffer and it's Plumeria Blossom incense by Maui Lani Incense. This is my favorite flower and I have never seen this scent anywhere else.
Mauviel Copper: Nothing says "serious cook" like French copper. It's the kitchen equivalent of mine-cut diamonds--everything else looks more expensive. I think the jam pan is actually the most useful--centerpiece, drinks cooler, logs for the fireplace.....
Jackie Danicki, who was interviewed by DG here, is the director of marketing for Qik and blogs, with Hillary Johnson, at Jack & Hill.
Tom Ford for Men cologne. Tom Ford has been unstoppable this year, both at the helm of his eponymous high-end clothing and accessories line and at the center of his full-court press both behind and in front of the camera. One of the most sensual (and arguably glamorous) images of the past year was the sight of a Tom Ford cologne bottle pressed invitingly into the recesses of a woman's pelvis by her red lacquered nails (Jungle Red, no doubt). Sex sells, and for that reason alone, this cologne should go flying off the shelf. But more importantly, it actually smells wonderful. With just a few strategic squirts, you can undo one more button on your shirt, bare your immaculately-manscaped chest, and begin a Holiday party filled with models and bottles.
Ren Mayblossom and Blue Cypress Balancing Facial Cleansing Gel. I love ridiculous products for my skin, and the more outrageous the claims (unicorn horn! chirically correct molecules! fair-trade alpha-hydroxy!), the more excited I become. In the case of Ren's wonderfully-effective cleanser, I can delight in the absurd ingredients (mayblossom? blue cypress? I'm sure these foods promote proper unicorn horn growth!) and experience noticably cleaner, fresher skin. Also, I can torture my husband that I spent $32 on "soap" that can only be used on one part of my body.
Groomzilla is the nom de plume of a newlywed Los Angeles attorney who chronicled his adventures in gay wedding planning in a series of DG posts.
Another movie with glamorous Art Deco sets is the original version of The Women, starring Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, and Rosalind Russell--especially the fashion show scene. I've been playing both these films on a big screen without the sound, and they are like art installations.
Sigerson Morrison for Target Lustra D'Orsay Pumps: Siegerson Morrison is a terrifically expensive, wonderful shoe brand that I usually drool over but can't afford. If you're not giving this to yourself, consider it for your hip sister or sis-in-law. It's funky and fun and can be dressed up or down. And for those who think these capsule brand promos don't offer the goods, think again. Everytime I've worn my Lela Rose for Payless or Target's International Go collection clothes, I've gotten compliments, so they do deliver.
Also for your friend/sister type, a fun cocktail ring that screams FAKE is fun for the holidays (and don't limit yourself to wearing it on the traditional ring finger). Try this Zirconite enamel ring: great with the little black dress or even jeans and a cute top. If they're not into rings, this can be a fun stocking stuffer:
For your more erudite friend, boy or girl, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster is one of the best fashion books I've read in a long while. But warning to glamourpusses: it breaks down the myths behind the magic. Trust, after reading this, you'll NEVER scoff at Target capsule collections--in fact you might think of them as just as good as high-end brands.
Paige Phelps is a Dallas-based writer and regular DG correspondent.
With all due respect to the lure of perfume and jewels, some of us spend most of our glamour budget on books. Here are some favorites.
Woman in the Mirror: 1945-2004: A book of Richard Avedon's iconic photography is appealing enough, but this one has the bonus of a lengthy essay by the brilliant fashion critic and art historian Anne Hollander. Not just a coffee-table book.
Athlete: Some people think great athletes can't be glamorous, because they too obviously work hard. Walter Iooss's photography finds glamour as well as grit: great faces, great bodies, great moves. (With a four-figure budget, you can buy a signed print of his magnificent Blue Dunk photo of Michael Jordan through the New York Times store. Hence the NYT logo marring the illustration here.) For the lover of sports, photography, or both.
For travelers, art lovers, and people who wish they traveled more or knew more about art, Alain de Botton's The Art of Travel is an entertaining read that smuggles in a remarkable amount of cultural education. After discovering it in London, I bought copies for several family members.
Finally, I never miss an opportunity to plug my favorite book about glamour (though I'm not sure anyone else thinks of it that way): Michael Chabon's Great American Novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.
For people who want to counter the "Do you have an iPhone?" question with a "No, but I pack a M8" answer: the Leica M8. Nothing makes me wonder "Just who is that person" more than a Leica M8. Tucked discretely under one's arm, or brandished boldly across a chest, the M8 is a soft-spoken yet potent beacon of technological glamour.
TAG Heuer Men's Monaco Automatic Chronograph Watch: If the names 911, R8, M3, or GT-R make your heart race, this is your timepiece. McQueen wore one, and it's named after the most glamorous kingdom left in the world. Royalty, speed, sex, adrenaline, and crisp, elegant aesthetics, all together on your wrist.
Diego Rodriguez is a partner at IDEO, a professor at the Stanford d-school, and a regular DG contributor.
Salvador Dali perfumes The Dalissime [Nancy's husband] Din and I originally bought for Hillary [Johnson, his sister] back in 1997. When I literally could not keep my nose out of her neck, I bought myself some. It's very feminine, as in, men go gaga for it.
I also really, really like the Laguna, which is "fresher," faster, and always make me feel very racy and ready. Also, can you beat these bottles? No, you cannot.
The stationery set: This is the perfect fashionable gift for young romantics, or for glamour gals who still remember when Casablanca was first released. Because there’s nothing more glamorous than sending a goodbye forever note to a lover on your own stationary, except maybe sending the next note…
The personalized child's calling card: A super-cute stocking stuffer for those just initiated to the world of glamour (or for their fashionable moms). Personalized children’s calling cards are a chic way to make introductions and organize play dates. Stylish, convenient, and they make you feel all grown up, in a good way.
Anne Stewart is a Cleveland-based writer and graphic designer who recently wrote a DG post on the cover art of hip-hop mixtapes.
I like to give people very pretty mother-of-pearl Korean business card holders like this one on Ebay. Here is a similar product on Amazon by Swarovski - pave crystals. They don't seem to have a lot in stock so maybe it's last season's. There is a zebra print one and a leopard print one. You need to exercise caution with animal prints, but I think these cases hit glamour and not tacky.
I've got a theme: I like pretty card holders that aren't just these plain boring things. I've even attached a pic of the one I carry.
Also, I'm big on nice pens. I use Waterman fountain pens exclusively (I've been a fountain pen fiend since middle school and cut my teach on how to use them when they made the cheap ones with colored ink). Anyway, I know Amazon has a good selection of those. For those who are scared of ink leaks there is always a nice fountain pen. Either way, a nice pen is distinguished, stylish and definitely glamourous. This is the one I use now. But, yeah, I've got a few of them.
A vivid canary diamond, weighing 102.56 carats, is expected to bring around $10 million in a Hong Kong auction. Sotheby's says it's the largest fancy colored stone they've ever sold. Set with white diamonds, the pendent can be also worn as a brooch, which makes it practical, as well as slightly ostentatious. It's not exactly a triumph of the jeweler's art.