Hats, Smoke, And Androgyny: So Why So Little Glamour?

Woman with hat and cigarette Our mystery woman didn't generate the 10 possible captions required for prizes, but eight readers did contribute some excellent ones. So we've decided to let you pick a winner anyway. Vote below.

Readers were split on whether the photo is glamorous, but a majority thought not. Seven out of 25 voted it not at all glamorous (1 out of a possible 7), with 13 out of 25 giving it a 3 or less.

Given the stylistic elements--a hat, a cigarette, and an androgynous face--this is an interesting result. These are all traditional markers of glamour. Take this photo of Marlene Dietrich, for instance, or this more feminine one. Head coverings, cigarettes, and androgyny all create an intriguing bit of mystery, drawing us to look more closely. In the right hands, a cigarette will not only produce a veil of smoke--at once concealing and calling attention to the smoker--but also amplify the smoker's grace, another essential component of glamour. So why doesn't La Femmina here appear more clearly glamorous?

One reason, I suspect, is that the photo is too calculated. It's obviously a pose and, hence, lacks the effortlessness associated with glamour. But the main reason is that it doesn't arouse projection or longing. She does not draw viewers into her world. The photo inspires humor, not desire. Longing is as essential to glamour as mystery or grace, and it cannot be created merely by assembling standard props.