I laugh everytime I see this drink coaster. It advertises Fat Tire beer in a way that parodies all beverage ads that suggest that if you choose the right drink, you will soon find yourself surrounded by hot women dressed to kill.
We all know that holding this beer bottle does nothing for this guy’s attractiveness. Yet while we laugh about that, we also realize that we all have made numerous purchases in hopes that the product would make us more socially attractive. And some of these purchases were probably hopelessly naive.
Solanah: Everyone will give you a different answer, but I define it as anything made approximately 20-80 years from now. Antique is anything older than 80 years old, and newer than 20 is second hand.
DG: Who does wearing vintage appeal to?
Solanah: A variety of different people, whether they are interested in alternative fashion or want to outwardly express their interest in nostalgia.
DG: What do you think of mixing vintage and contemporary pieces? Do you ever wear contemporary outfits?
Solanah: I love it, and yes, I do! Though the farther I get into vintage fashion, the more difficult it is for me to mix decades. I admire it on other people, but often find myself feeling a bit “off”. Lately I’ve been trying for a more classic look by mixing vintage and modern garments. And I do wear modern jeans and cozy sweaters pretty regularly. I’ve been loving some classic/modern fashions lately and hope to balance some with my vintage wear.
DG: Beyond the character of any specific garment, is there something glamorous about the idea of “vintage”?
Solanah: There is something glamorous about vintage, and I think it reaches back to the image women used to live up to. It was very glam, very ideal, especially if you’re talking about the mid-century. Even in camping gear women were supposed to be perfectly coiffed and pretty. At that time it was oppressive, but I think women are starting to own glamorization again. They choose it because it makes them feel good, not because they are expected to be glamorous 24/7.
DG: You’ve said that you “love to be authentic” in your style. What makes your style authentic?
Solanah: For me it means “real.” Not so much about having all the items in an outfit perfect, right down to the correct dates, but more of wearing things the way women wore them originally. And wearing what they really wore, not what Hollywood portrayed. I love slacks, and sweaters with the sleeves rolled up, and comfortable shoes like loafers and flat boots. For me, that’s authentic, because I feel more connected to the everyday woman.
DG: Some people treat vintage as an overall fashion look, some as a lifestyle, and some as simply the characteristic of a given piece. What’s your approach?
Solanah: I would say a little of each! For me it can and often does take over my entire outfit, and others it’s and accent, or a nod to yesteryear. As far as lifestyle goes, I have adapted some old fashioned ways of life into the modern world.
DG: What does dressing in vintage mean to different groups of people? To you?
Solanah: It can mean very different and often opposing things to different people. Some people, mostly those in western religious communities, view it as a traditional, and modest form of dress. It re-enforces traditional gender rolls. This situation seems like a minority.
For the most part vintage is a rebellion against the negative aspects of modern society. Not to be confused with completely turning back the clock, but rather bringing forward the attractive, and leaving the negative behind. Lately fashion had quite a few hiccups, when viewed objectively it’s so confusing and really has no collective foundation. I think people crave clarity and originality, and vintage fulfills that. It’s also something that is obtainable for all social classes, it can be found in high end boutiques, or discount thrift stores.
DG: What are some of your favorite vintage garments?
Solanah: Casual wear is my favorite find. Slacks, denim, sweaters, and coat. Though I have a huge and never ending collection of 1940s hats, I just can’t say no to them.
DG: In 20 years, today’s clothes will be vintage, at least by some definitions. Can you imagine yourself wearing any of them in 2033?
Solanah: This is a really tough question, because on one hand we have so much in terms of clothing, it’s difficult to imagine it being treated the same way we treat vintage clothing today. Right now much of our decades of clothing is rare. It was made of natural fibers, which can decay and be recycled, these garments have an expiration date. But clothing today is completely different. The fibers are so synthesized or combined with natural fibers, there really is no organic circle of life for these garments. We’ll have them for much longer than what we’ve been previously accustomed to, and I think they may come back into our wardrobes as necessity more than anything. What else are we going to do with all these garments? They won’t die.
DG: Is wearing vintage more popular among younger people (however you want to define “younger”)? If so, why?
Solanah: I think simply because people don’t want to look like they’re still wearing fashions from their heyday. It can be difficult to pull off, but honestly I think the older you get, the better you can wear vintage! I’ll always remember an elderly woman I saw walking down the street who was dressed to the nines in a 60s suit, pillbox hat, and matching gloves, pumps, and purse. She was the best!
DG: What’s your favorite era? Is that because of the styles, the history, the culture, or some combination?
Solanah: My favorite era can be defined as the years controlled by the second world war. It appeals to me for so many reasons, much of it not being fashion related. Mostly to do with the short taste of liberation women experienced, and the strength they showcased before being forced back into the home. I admire what they did with what little they had, and how they dealt with the hardships and tragedies. This was reflected in the styles adapted, I really love the make do and mend and DIY aspect of the war era, as it’s something I can be creative with.
DG: You’re well known not only for writing about vintage fashion but for modeling it in fashion shoots on your own site and also for the store you used to work for (that’s actually how I first became aware of you). What’s the secret to a good vintage fashion picture? How important are the poses you strike to how you feel about the outfit?
Solanah: In our shoots we tried to emulate a lot of original fashion portraits from magazines and ads. They really showcased the garments well, and I think there’s a certain strength in “striking a pose”, rather than the very casual, candid poses we see a lot of today.
DG: What do people who wear vintage fashion have in common (if anything)?
Solanah: The most obvious is a love for the past, but I have found many vintage enthusiasts are very involved in various forms of fantasy, fiction, and escapism. Or “geeky” interests, if I could put it simply. Fantastical television shows and movies, comic books, anything that diverts away from the confines of the modern world. I think it has to do with how different people deal with the pressures of modern living, there are those who adapt well and embrace it, and those who need to step back and slow down.
DG: Wearing vintage every day seems like a lot of work--just for the hair styling alone. What’s the most challenging part? Time-consuming? Satisfying?
Solanah: It can look as though that’s the case, but compared to a modern woman’s beauty regimen, it probably takes about the same amount of time and effort. Most vintage wearing women do wet sets at night and wake up with curls. Whereas a non-vintage woman might spend most of her morning curling or straightening her hair with a heat device. When I do that it takes me about a minute or two to do my hair in the morning, but looks like it took an hour. It takes the same amount of time to get dressed comparatively, and I keep my makeup simple: tinted moisturizer, eyeliner, powder, lipstick. I do love getting dressed up, in stockings and hats, and heels for lunch with friends or a cocktail party. Feeling that kind of glamorous is nice every now and then, the kind where you really put in effort and it shows.
DG: Who inspires your look?
Solanah: Fellow vintage lovers, WWII women workers, old family photos, really any “real” people. I don’t take much inspiration from the airbrushed publicity shots of movie stars, because that type of style just isn’t a huge part of my lifestyle.
DG: Who do you consider glamorous?
Solanah: The type of women who has a certain something alluring and enchanting. She doesn’t necessarily have to look glamorous, or live a glamorous life, but she does hold her head high and has the confidence of an individual in charge of their own life and loving it.
DG: What’s your most glamorous place?
Solanah: My dressing table is my most glamorous place. It’s where the magic happens.
Glamour icon? London-based model, DJ, and scene-maker Alejandro Gocast is making an impressive go at that status. I first stumbled across Gocast on Facebook, as part of the revived New Romantic club scene in London that I’ve long admired and written about here on DeepGlamour. Arising in the early 1980s, the New Romantics represented a creative, dressed-to-impress music and style movement, post-punk, post-disco. Now, more than 30 years later, Gocast is one of a new generation of New Romantic club kids. And he cuts a spectacular image in modeling and club photos. I interviewed him exclusively for DeepGlamour.
CH: How do you describe what you do? I think of you as a model, a glamorous nightclub personality, and a DJ. But give DG a fuller picture of what you do?
Gocast: I would describe my career as an eclectic one. As well as being known for what you have mentioned in the London scene, I also have a career in luxury events management. My life is not a simple one. It can be challenging at times keeping up with schedules, appointments, club nights, friends, family—the list is endless, but then again life is for the living.
CH: Where are you from? Your Model Mayhem profile says you are from Latin America, with parents of Mexican and German descent, respectively. How old were you when you moved to Britain?
Gocast: That is one tricky question. I am actually British, although I was born in Mexico. I have lived in London since a very young age. However, my mother language is Spanish, therefore (unfortunately) I do not have the honor of speaking with an English accent. My “genetic” background has indeed German from my dad’s side and Mexican from my mother’s. I hope this all makes sense.
CH: You have such a distinct look, one that I would describe as exotic and androgynous. Not what most people might think of as a typical male model. How would you describe your style image? And how did you discover and develop that image? (Did you get started in the new New Romantic club scene in London, or was it some other inspiration?)
Gocast: My image definitely started in the London club scene. I used to go out to “normal” clubs and bars, but always feeling that I was not quite suitable for them, I started to look for a more arty environment and played around with different looks, which I still do. Since I have always had a thing for the New Romantic style, I decided to become “re-born” into a new way, more in sync with my inner personality and my personal opinion in life, which is a very simple one: be who you are.
CH: What musicians and bands are atop your current playlist? What musicians and bands are lifelong favorites?
Gocast: I have a wide range of taste when it comes down to music, and also quite extreme. I go from hardcore metal to Kate Bush. My personal music player is full of extremes. I do not really focus my attention to one artist or band. Since you asked, a few on my playlists at the moment are Garbage, JLo, Amanda Lear, Tribal House, Korn, Dead or Alive, Donna Summer, Kate Bush, Siouxie and the Banshees… see what I mean?
CH: You've worked with numerous artists and designers. Perhaps one of my favorite of your collaborations has been with Marko Mitanovski, a favorite designer of Lady Gaga. When I first viewed his fashions, I was truly astonished - they are strange and intriguing and elegant. Anthropomorphic creatures in black and white. How did you come to model for Mitanovski?
Gocast: I met Marko at one of my clubs, “THE FACE.” He was a guest there, and the moment we met we knew we would be working together. It was the right chemistry and we also get along really well. It is indeed a pleasure to work with him. I can’t wait for his next collection! I love his dramatic design style.
CH: Is there a designer you wear most often right now?
Gocast: I wear a lot of pieces from various artists, and it is just a question of blending and matching them to create my night-out style. I recently worked with Dane Goulding, who designed for the Spice Girls. He has some truly amazing pieces.
CH: You've been in a few fashion-art short films. I thought "The Dionysian" released in 2011 was really beautiful, and you looked darkly enchanting wearing lace and a high collar. And enormous spidery eyelashes. What was that experience like? What sort of direction were you given in the film, in terms of posing or projecting a certain image?
Gocast: This film was shot in London, in December. It was a very cold night and the director knew exactly what he wanted. Since we shared the same vision, I fit perfectly in the film. This film is going to an exhibition in Paris this year. I have worked behind and in front and the camera for a few years now, and the experience is always the same for me, exciting and always looking forward to seeing the final creation.
CH: You starred in another fashion/art film called "Perform Nijinsky," which was produced by the very talented cabaret performer Mr. Pustra. Clearly the film was something of an homage to the early 20th-century Ballet Russes legend, Vaslav Nijinsky. Can you tell DG more about that film project?
Gocast: Pustra is a good friend and I am also an admirer of his work. Together with Dorota Mulczynska, the vision of a morphed early 20th Century Ballet Russes was created into a short film, celebrating and honoring Nijinsky.
CH: Do you often do your own make up for photo shoots and club nights? Or do you more often work with a make up artist?
Gocast: For photo shoots I do work closely with Stephanie Stokkvik, a Norwegian high fashion make up artist. I have learned so much from her. If you have time, have a look for her on the net—she is amazing! When I go out, I normally “paint my face” on my own.
CH: Who is your top style icon?
Gocast: I am afraid I do not have one.
CH: When you travel around on everyday errands, to the grocery and laundromat and whatnot, how do you look and dress?
Gocast: You would not recognize me, that’s all I call say. I try to go under the radar when out and about on my personal life in order to give some space to myself and my close friends and family.
CH: When you aren't working, what do you do for fun?
Gocast: I am a bit of a geek. I own a PS3 and a whole bunch of games. I enjoy also watching horror movies with friends.
CH: What is your dream vacation destination?
Gocast: My other half loves traveling, and I have been lucky to have been to and seen some amazing tropical paradises. My favorite places.
CH: Do you have favorite perfumes/colognes?
Gocast: Yes, I am currently about to finish “Un Jardin Sur Le Nil” by Hermès, and my next fragrance will be from Diptyque Paris.
CH: What are your go-to make up and skin care products?
Gocast: Any good moisturizer does, really, not any favorites in particular.
CH: What professional goals do you set for yourself? Are there particular photographers, artists, or designers you long to work with? Or, do you have something else in mind quite different from what you are doing now?
Gocast: I am shooting a few more fashion films this upcoming year and planning on starting some sketches for my own collection. However, I must keep this under wraps. I am pretty much open to work with anyone - as long as the chemistry is there, anything is possible.
CH: What are your New Years Eve plans?
Gocast: I am spending New Years Eve with a good friend of mine. She runs a club in Bricklane, from which I will also be throwing another infamous club night soon. It is a very intimate space with limited capacity, which is just what I like.
New York Times style writer Christine Haughney profiles my friend Joan Kron, who covers plastic surgery for Allure, in this feature and interviews her in the first segment of the video above. (See Joan's DG Q&A here.) "Plastic surgery," says Joan in the video, "is the last subject in style that hasn't really gotten new journalism."
"This is something that women don't share. So very early on I decided I would tell the truth. I would tell the truth about my age. I would tell the truth about surgery—that I had it. And people are so shocked. Then it made me very popular. I can be sitting there quietly at a dinner party and somebody says, 'Joan covers plastic surgery.' And then--bam!—I'm surrounded."
An excerpt from the profile:
“I never lie about my age. I tell everybody about my age because I don’t think women have enough role models,” Ms. Kron said as she leaned back into her living room couch. “Maybe, because I’m getting like these old ladies who just don’t care and tell the truth.”
It’s not just Ms. Kron’s age that makes her stand out along the supple-skinned halls of Condé Nast, where few reporters, editors or executives — except perhaps for 85-year-old Si Newhouse and the 92-year-old New Yorker contributor Roger Angell — appear to have passed the threshold of midlife. Ms. Kron has chronicled how the plastic surgery industry has grown up over the last two decades from a cottage industry to a $10 billion one last year. “The field has exploded,” said Linda Wells, Allure’s editor in chief. “It’s an area that both fascinates and confuses readers.”
Burlesque star Dita von Teese (née Heather Sweet) has said that she didn’t wait around to become beautiful – she remade herself to become beautiful. She transforms her facial features with pale foundation that covers never-to-be-seen freckles, red lipstick, winged eyeliner, and a tattooed beauty mark. She wears corsets that artificially constrict her waist. And, as a natural blonde, she dyes her hair an inky black and sculpts it to Veronica Lake perfection. She explicitly embraces artifice, which I deem a welcome alternative to the prevailing notion of natural-as-beautiful. As we discuss makeovers here on Deepglamour.net, I think one type of makeover deserving of attention is temporary, extreme transformation. Often the goal of a makeover is to become a prettier version of oneself, but sometimes the goal is akin to achieving an altogether different persona.
For performers like Dita, the transformation is clearly for professional reasons as much as personal. Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Boy George, Prince Poppycock, and many other celebrities established a distinct public persona through exotic makeup, wigs, hats, and clothing. But extreme makeovers aren’t just for professional performers. In fact, anyone can achieve a dramatic transformation for the sheer enjoyment of it. And there are many subcultures and hobby interests that embrace costuming for special events. Less often, people choose an exotic look for everyday wear.
Consider Aimee Elizabeth, a young lady from the Washington, D.C. area. Currently, Aimee sells cosmetics for a living. But on her own time, she designs and sews elaborate costumes for costume play, or “cosplay,” events. Themes and inspirations include: Gothic Lolita, Disney, cyber and “perky Goth,” FX make-up, Japanese and ancient Egyptian culture, mythology, urban legends, and horror films. (For more on cosplay, see this DG Q&A with photographer Ejen Chuang about his book Cosplay in America.) Naturally a green-eyed, fair-skinned brunette, Aimee Elizabeth created a colorful cosplay persona she calls “Laydee NekoAmi Chan.” She has executed dozens of costume looks that include theatrical makeup effects, colorful horns and grand hair ornaments, doll-like Asian-inspired dresses and petticoats, and enormous platform boots.
In far-away Sweden, another creative lady, a wife and mother, has become something of a Facebook and YouTube sensation. Whatever “Adora Batbrat” might look like sans make up, one can only guess. But the self-described “Martha Stewart of Goth” regularly posts public images of her “make up of the day,” which involves sharply stenciled brows, elaborately swirled and dotted eye make up, false eyelashes, face jewels, and freaky contact lenses. Her light color hair is tinged in colors that vary from cotton candy pink to lilac to light green, and usually topped with a crown or headdress. She also sports tattoos and permanent vampire-like fangs, conjured up by her dentist.
Adora Batbrat seems to have simply decided to embrace an extreme makeover as a matter of daily life rather than profession. “I never could have figured out so many kind people wanted to be part of my life and let me share theirs but I'm very happy about it, and you are all most welcome,” she tells her Facebook fans. “For those who just think I look cute and know nothing about me, I'm a Swedish alternative model, a Goth make up guru at YouTube, loves electro music. I'm a mother of 3 kids.” (She explains her makeover philosophy over on her blog.)
What I admire about people such as Dita von Teese, Aimee Elizabeth, and Adora Batbrat is their glamorous vision for beauty and self-transformation and their will to achieve it. It’s not for everyone, nor even for most of the people most of the time. Yet it’s inspiring to see that anyone who desires to re-imagine themselves can create a delightful, fleeting illusion.
When I turned in the manuscript of my book (now titled The Power of Glamour, with publication set for next November), I thought I’d get a makeover, for two reasons. The first was practical. I’d been on a sort of hair-dressing strike and hadn’t had a haircut in nine months or seen a colorist in nearly two years. The second was intellectual. The makeover is modern glamour—or glamorous modernity—distilled to its essence: transformation made possible by expertise.
Glamour isn’t a style. It’s something you feel. You’re flipping through a magazine and suddenly feel transported: that dress, that room, that vacation spot, those shoes—something speaks to you, pulls you into the scene, and makes you feel that if only you inhabited that alternative reality, life would be perfect. That’s glamour at work. It makes the ideal seem attainable.
To an audience gazing at before and after pictures or the “reveal” scene in a movie or reality show, the glamour of the makeover taps two longings: to be beautiful, certainly, but also to be truer to your inner ideal. The outward transformation signifies, and enables, movement toward a better life.
But what if you just want to look better? And what if the expert you trust with your public self makes you into someone you don't identify with? Movies and reality shows play that tension for drama and laughs. In the dramatic reveal in Miss Congeniality, the once-slovenly FBI agent Gracie Hart struts out of the aircraft hanger where she’s been worked on by a dozen pink-clad beauty experts. She swings her perfectly styled tresses and attracts admiring male stares with her short, skintight dress. But the new Gracie—who looks remarkably like Sandra Bullock—is as grouchy as she is beautiful. The makeover wasn’t her choice, and she hasn’t embraced her new persona. “I am in a dress,” she growls to her amazed partner. “I have gel in my hair, I haven’t slept all night, I am starved, and I’m armed. Don’t mess with me.”
Thinking about the possible results of a real-life makeover, I knew I wouldn’t wind up looking like a movie star or supermodel. But I worried that I might not look like myself. Makeovers and I didn’t have a happy history. The closest thing I’d come to “before and after” were the beauty treatments I got in the run-up to my 1986 wedding. When my mother treated me to a makeup lesson at a modeling school in my South Carolina hometown, I repaid her generosity by freaking out at the heavy-handed results. The new look seemed to represent everything I wanted to escape by hightailing it out of the South. And when I had my hair styled for my bridal photos, I spent the ride from the hairdresser to the photographer combing out my hair and complaining, “I look like a country music singer!”
This time, I chickened out. I got a basic trim, went back to my old colorist, and waited for my editor’s comments—which, quite unintentionally, reopened the subject. As I revised the manuscript, I decided it needed a short sidebar on “The Makeover.” Along with research that included movies, books, and reality shows, I wanted to interview someone who did them.
Fortunately, Diane is not from the Eddie Senz school of bossy makeovers. After talking with me a little about what I wanted in my hair—longish and blonde with a white streak, but not one quite as large as nature supplies—she proposed putting a bit more color next to my face and blending a highlight and lowlight with the white. Cutting the length so that it hit my shoulder blade would give the hair movement—a clever idea if you don't want to go above the shoulders.
These days, hairdressers tend to concentrate either on cutting and styling or on color--and they certainly don't do makeup. But Diane Gardner knew at an early age that she wanted to do it all. "I thought that in order to transform someone you had to do all three services," she says. "Because you have a vision, and then someone else takes it away from you when they do one of the other services."
At 19, she moved from New Jersey to Manhattan to hone her skills. She started with color, training at Louis Licari's La Coupe salon on Madison Avenue. With Licari's grudging permission, she then "moved downstairs" to apprentice with Antonio da Costa Rocha, who, she says, not only taught her how to cut but "how to style in a very glamorous way."
The trick, then, was to learn makeup. Fortunately, Trish McEvoy, then an aesthetician, was a La Coupe client. She offered to teach Diane makeup in exchange for doing her staff's hair. After that beginning, Diane apprenticed with makeup artist Sandra Bocas (now also a fine artist). "Sandra took me into a lot of places I never could have gotten into," she says. "I started doing TV commercials and runway makeup with her, and I loved it."
But, she recalls, "now that I had all three [skills] nobody would hire me, because I wanted to do all three." She started her own salon in New Jersey and later, at the urging of clients who were socialites from La Jolla, moved there, eventually migrating north to Los Angeles. In 2002, she set up her website at MakeoverSpecialist.com--just in time to catch the makeover-TV show craze. She did some work for shows like Movie and a Makeover and Fashion Emergency, but mostly she pulled in new clients who'd Googled "makeover" after watching their favorite shows. At the peak of the craze, she might do 42 makeovers a week.
Nowadays, most of her clients are regulars, but she still gets one or two makeover Googlers a week. During a break in my own makeover (which you can read about later in the week), I interviewed Diane about her experiences.
Virginia Postrel: Where do your makeover customers come from? Are they brides?
Diane Gardner: Weddings are a big part, but not the majority. The majority come from the Internet. I put my website up in 2002, and that was the peak of the makeover TV shows, so everybody started Googling “makeover,” and that’s how people have found me.
VP: So when people come to you for makeovers, what are they picturing?
Diane Gardner: Usually they don’t have a vision in their mind. They don’t know how they could look their best, but they want to trust me to give them what looks best. The number one request is to look natural. Everybody wants to look natural. And youthful.
VP: So why would they come to you for a makeover as opposed to say going to their usual hair stylist, or going to the MAC counter at Bloomingdale’s?
Diane Gardner: They usually come because they want to treat themselves. Sometimes a life-changing event has occurred. Sometimes it’s just that the kids have gone off to college and now it’s time for them, the women. Or it could be a young girl that’s coming out of college and now she wants to look like a young professional. Sometimes men will come for a makeover because they want to meet girls and want to look their best.
VP: How is the sort of makeover you do in real life different from a movie makeover or a reality show makeover?
Diane Gardner: I teach people to sustain the new look that I’ve given them. It could be in the form of regular color services. The makeup regimen is something that they can repeat over and over again and know that it’s going to look the same every time they do it themselves. And they can come back to me for regular haircuts.
VP: In real life, do people usually keep the look?
Diane Gardner: They usually keep it. A lot of times they’ll come back to me and say, “How does my makeup look? Am I doing the right thing? Does my skin look as good as it could? What do you recommend?” Or sometimes they’ll come back and say, “I love what you did. Let’s try something a little different,” usually in the form of a haircut.
VP: How often do you do makeovers?
Diane Gardner: A new client will come to me for a first-time makeover a minimum of once a week, and that’s someone that will find me on the Internet, on Yelp. There was a time when I was in Beverly Hills and the makeover shows were running where I would book 42 makeovers in a week.
VP: What spurred that interest? What were they looking for?
Diane Gardner: I think it’s the glamour. I really do. Because when you were watching those shows—and there are still some of them on television—they go from Plain Jane—of course they start with no hair, no makeup, no hair color—to looking absolutely glamorous.
VP: Right. And they think, “That could be me.” So having this expert treatment is part of the glamour of it.
Diane Gardner: And the enjoyment. I think it’s an indulgence, because a lot of women really don’t take care of themselves, they take care of other people first.
VP: Are there any particularly memorable makeovers that you’ve done that you can talk about?
Diane Gardner: When I moved to L.A. in 2000, I sought out a wedding coordinator I found in the Yellow Pages. She said to me, “I don’t hire new people. You’re from out of town. I don’t know your talent.” And I said, “But you have to give me a shot, you have to give me a chance. I know what I’m doing.” Finally she booked me a bride. She sent me up to Malibu, and she never told me that the bride had had her face burned and had missing eyelashes and part of a missing eyebrow with the burn scar. I walked in the door, and I thought, “Oh, I know what she’s doing.” [laughs] So I did this girl’s hair and makeup, and put on eyelashes and painted in some brows, and did her hair and made her feel absolutely stunning and gorgeous and beautiful, and she was so happy.
VP: So you passed the test.
Diane Gardner: Another of my most memorable moments was in March 2006. I got a call from that same wedding coordinator, and she said, “You have to come to this home in Beverly Hills. Drop what you’re doing, drop your client, you have to come here now. Her Majesty Queen Noor is here for a fundraiser. She’s coming from Larry King’s studio, and I know that you know the difference between television makeup. And she’s greeting 200 guests tonight.” And she goes, “But I don’t know how to tell her that.” So I told my client, “Listen, do you mind if I run?” And my client understood.
I get to this particular residence and I’m briefed by awoman who tells me what the protocol is. She introduces me to the queen, tells me I have to refer to her as “Your Majesty,” and of course you don’t speak unless you’re spoken to. Well, I took one look at her and she had pancake makeup on. And she’s one of the most stunning women I’ve ever seen. But her hair was heavily sprayed, and her makeup was way too heavy to be greeting guests in person. So it was difficult for me to say, but I did it anyway. She came in and she said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I know they hired you, but my hair and makeup is done.” And I said, “Your Majesty, I see that, but it’s television hair and makeup, and so I’d like to—” And she looked at me and at first she was taken back by that. And I said, “It’s just that you’re presenting yourself to the public face-to-face, and television makeup’s completely different.” And then she just turned around and said, “OK, do what you want.” But then she questioned me about every little thing I was doing. As a queen would. So this is my most memorable makeover, because it was done within a one-hour period of time. She looked absolutely stunning afterwards. And when she looked in the mirror she understood.
When Mademoiselle ran the first before-and-after beauty feature in 1936, the magazine enlisted Paramount Studios makeup artist Eddie Senz to transform Barbara Phillips, a nurse who described herself as “homely as a hedgehog,” into something resembling a Hollywood star. He was not tactful. “Your face is too narrow and—er—well your neck’s too long,” he told Phillips. He was even blunter with the anonymous subjects he transformed for the regular column Mademoiselle started after the makeover was a huge hit. “Once a young woman built on these lines would have been described as pleasingly plump,” he wrote in one column. “But let’s be realistic and point out that she’s short, fat, stocky, and missing in attractive feminine curves.”
For all his lack of tact, Senz did know how to change people’s looks. While at Paramount, he so dramatically transformed Frances Farmer that, her biographer Peter Shelley writes, “she did not recognize the person who looked back at her from the mirror.”
Toward the end of World War II, the Office of Strategic Services (the predecessor to the CIA) enlisted Senz to suggest how Hitler might disguise himself, by changing or shaving his hair (and mustache, of course), growing a beard, or wearing glasses. Although supposedly unknown until a Der Spiegel report in the 1990s, Senz’s work was actually reported, with concept photos, by The New York Times in October 1944. Senz told Victor Schiff, who wrote the story, that the hardest challenge would be to hide Hitler’s piercing eyes, “the most remarkable I have ever seen.”
Senz’s sense of patriotic duty extended to nearly pro bono hair styling in the 1960s. When LBJ became president, biographerRandall B. Woodswrites, Johnson told a “dumbfounded” Senz, “I’m a poor man and I don’t make much money, but I've got a wife and a couple of daughters, and four or five people that run around with me, and I like the way you make the look....This is your country and I want to see what you want to do about it.” A compliant Senz accepted transportation costs and a $100 bill to style the hair of the three Johnson women and a bunch of secretaries.
Although billed as a Hollywood makeup artist, for most of his career Senz made his living through savvy publicity that drew clients to his New York salon. (Here are his 1940 “beauty tips for office girls.”) He took a simultaneously bossy and skeptical approach to beauty standards.
“Beauty is all a matter of concept,” he toldNew York Times reporter Joan Cook in 1961. “In this country, beauty generally means an oval, Nordic sort of face. We’ve been brainwashed to think our standards are the only standards. Who are we to think we have a priority on beauty knowledge?”
Confronted with a client, however, that relativism disappeared, often along with the client’s eyebrows.“For many of my customers,” he told Cook, “my work consists of mentally superimposing the ideal face on top of theirs and then adding or taking away until the illusion of similarity has been achieved.”
The English essayist Joseph Addison asked it in 1711 after a frustrating night at the opera, when all the pretty ladies seemed to have politics on their mind. Instead of congregating in the front--the better to put on a show for their male admirers--they arrayed themselves according to partisan allegiances: Whigs on the right, Tories on the left, and a dwindling number of "neutrals" in the middle.
The ladies' left-right symbolism (reversing today's left and right just as Americans reverse the European conventions of blue and red) didn't stop with seating charts. It extended to artificial beauty marks, like the ones Hogarth depicted on prostitutes in Marriage à la Mode (top) and A Rake's Progress (above), which were the height of fashion. The patches began as a way to cover the effects of smallpox or syphillis, but eventually became simply a style--with political meaning. Whigs patched on the right, Tories on the left.
Writing in his infuential daily newspaper The Spectator, Addison mocked this partisan patching, noting that the intersection of style and symbolism could create confusion.
whatever may be the Motives of a few fantastical Coquets, who do not Patch for the Publick Good so much as for their own private Advantage, it is certain, that there are several Women of Honour who patch out of Principle, and with an Eye to the Interest of their Country. Nay, I am informed that some of them adhere so stedfastly to their Party, and are so far from sacrificing their Zeal for the Publick to their Passion for any particular Person, that in a late Draught of Marriage-Articles a Lady has stipulated with her Husband, That, whatever his Opinions are, she shall be at liberty to Patch on which Side she pleases.
I must here take notice, that Rosalinda, a famous Whig Partizan, has most unfortunately a very beautiful Mole on the Tory Part of her Forehead; which being very conspicuous, has occasioned many Mistakes, and given an Handle to her Enemies to misrepresent her Face, as tho' it had Revolted from the Whig Interest. But, whatever this natural Patch may seem to intimate, it is well known that her Notions of Government are still the same. This unlucky Mole, however, has mis-led several Coxcombs; and like the hanging out of false Colours, made some of them converse with Rosalinda in what they thought the Spirit of her Party, when on a sudden she has given them an unexpected Fire, that has sunk them all at once. If Rosalinda is unfortunate in her Mole, Nigranilla is as unhappy in a Pimple, which forces her, against her Inclinations, to Patch on the Whig Side.
Like the self-professed vegetarian who turned out for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, some former critics converted to patching once it was turned to partisan use. Wrote Addison, "I am told that many virtuous Matrons, who formerly have been taught to believe that this artificial Spotting of the Face was unlawful, are now reconciled by a Zeal for their Cause, to what they could not be prompted by a Concern for their Beauty."
Style is not glamour, however, nor vice versa. The real glamour in this story is what Addison sought at the theater: an escape from partisanship into a world of beauty.