By the last two decades of the twentieth century, Hollywood had shed many of the trappings of glamour that had characterized it in the 1930s and 1940s. Only on select occasions, such as Oscar Night, does the modern-day movie industry seek to dazzle its public with a glittering gathering of stars dressed to the height of elegance? If Sharon Stone is sometimes referred to as the only current star of the old type, it is largely because she made it her business from the 1990s always to present herself as elegantly groomed, perfectly coiffed and sexually alluring. Yet the image of the stars of the past and their lifestyles is still strongly evident in contemporary commercial culture. Perhaps more than anything else, the Hollywood golden age constitutes the benchmark for what today is understood as alluring and glamorous.
On numerous occasions fashion magazines feature models made up and photographed in black and white as Lauren Bacall, Marlene Dietrich or Ava Gardner. Moreover, in recent times, Pretty Polly tights has deployed in advertisements images of Rita Hayworth, while Mercedes and World of Leather have used Marilyn Monroe, Elena Mirò Ava Gardner, Luciano Soprani fragrances Hedy Lamarr and Gap Steve McQueen. All these images refer back to the period between the 1930s and the 1950s, when Hollywood cinema conquered the world and shaped the collective imagination with its stories, style and stars.
Variety of media
The ‘glamour of Hollywood’ was precisely an image that was constructed through a variety of media: the films themselves, still photographs and portraits, publicity material and press and radio coverage of the lives and loves of the stars. In reflecting on this image, two elements deserve particular attention. Sex appeal on the one hand and luxury on the other constituted the cornerstone of Hollywood’s strategy to capture and hold mass interest.