Friday, 14 August 2009

So what exactly is Evil Glamour?

Evil glamour is an elusive term coined by Marianne Faithful to describe her good friend Annita Pallenberg. The image above of Annita sums it up perfectly from a photographic perspective: decadence, insouciance with the mundane, opulent surroundings & attire and of course an innate sense of what is chic, morally wrong and peligroso.
Elusive concepts case study: Yugen
In Japan, masks were often used in Noh theatre to express the elusive concept of YUGEN, a quality difficult to define but one which includes ideas of Grace, Darkness and Mystery .

One of things that marked me when I first came across a Noh mask exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum many moons ago was that Yugen could only be suggested and not defined.

My favoured suggestion comes from Shoetsu, a Buddhist priest, who inked:
“What we call Yugen lies within the mind..... it may be suggested by the veil cloud over the moon, or by the mist of autumn on mountainside.”
Zeami Motokiyo, the originator of Noh theatre provided this suggestion:
"To watch the sun sink behind a flower clad hill. To wander on in a huge forest without thought of return. To stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands. To contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds. And, subtle shadows of bamboo on bamboo."
So what is Evil Glamour?

Aside from Annita and Marianne, the concept of evil glamour can be conveyed by, for example: a 1930’s shanghai opium den shot by wong kar wai or an opium pipe carved out of moldavite which used to belong to an opulent outcast King.
Any of David Lynch’s fashion adverts -- from his YSL Opium ad back in the 80’s to the Gucci ad - convey evil glamour, as he fully understands the potent mix of glamour and evil (as demonstrated in Mullholland Drive) and knows how to create an unnerving sub-feeling around an otherwise aspirational image.
Kate Moss had an evil glamour about her during her Doherty days, but she may have lost some of her edge when Marianne Faithfull called her a “style vampire.”
In terms of London lingerie houses – coco-de-mer sure has an evil glamour air around their collection as well as all of the exquisite paraphernalia and lingerie they have sourced on our behalf.

Sometimes it is easier to define something by what it is NOT, so I suggest the following and am open to more suggestions:

Surely it can’t mean.....
What it might allude to ....
An iconic train journey through a snow-covered paysage which ends in disaster, torture and the Russian mafia going medieval on you (see film Trans-Siberian)
Boarding the Orient Express at Venice to meet your lover in England, for some afternoon delight and afternoon tea.
The whole glamour-babe-holding-a-series-of-guns video market
13 minute black-and-white erotic movie with Havana as a backdrop and the female lead smoking a cohiba in the opening sequence
Tights with a seam to make them look like seamed stockings on a Monday morning
Fully-fashioned seamed stockings with a Cuban heel brought to you by a cute American soldier during war time rations - worn on a Wednesday
Crotchless panties or body stockings worn any day
A beautifully tattooed nude body - any day
A designer copy high-street evening dress made from child-labour or exploitation of workers
A Chanel Haute-Couture couturier who pricks her finger once with her needle after hours of sowing the garment by hand
Conflict diamond jewellery
The cursed Blue Diamond
The Dahlia murder case – because although she looked real glam, the whole thing was too unsavoury (see Sam Kiley’s Unsolved Murders documentary)
Death on the Nile film and it’s stellar cast
A wasp getting into your champagne at a glam summer party held on someone’s estate
A scorpion crawling out of your Louboutin’s, which you left lying around in your riad in the North-African desert
Bad cleavage displays
The cleavage displayed by the actresses in the 1950’s film, The Zaragosa Manuscipt

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