A Return to Glamour

February 18, 2011

Text by Cheryl & Jeffrey Katz

Maybe it’s a reaction to the prolonged economic downturn. Or maybe it’s something as simple as a slight boredom with too much beige linen and distressed wood. Regardless of the reason, we sense a desire in the air for a little more glamour.
During January’s Golden Globe Awards—you can always count on Hollywood for a dose of glamour—Chrysler aired a commercial that asked: Where’s the glamour gone? The spot, shot in black and white, featured a fair share of feathered boas, opening nights, limousine drivers, tuxedos and top hats.

The commercial got us thinking. Maybe glamour is simply not a modern idea. Perhaps it can be framed only within the context of nostalgia. After all, ideas of glamour are often connected to the past. In the 1930s and ’40s glamour was a butler mixing cocktails at a shagreen-covered cabinet while a woman in a body-hugging satin gown reclined on a velvet fainting couch. The 1950s and ’60s brought the kind of glamour associated with sunken living rooms, extravagantly long, low sofas, space-age chairs and loads of chrome.

But certainly glamour’s touchstones—elegance, luxury, extravagance, lots of shine and very little color—don’t have to be old school. Toward the end of the commercial a velvet-toned voiceover asks: Isn’t it time to get it back? Absolutely! Here, then, we present a few objects that might help bring glamour back, 2011-style.

Photo descriptions, left to right, first row:
Breathe What could be more glamorous than decanting a beautiful 2005 burgundy, with its gorgeous fruit flavors and strong sense of terroir, into an equally beautiful wine decanter? In the Empire style, the aptly named Malmaison from Christofle features a delicate frieze of palm and lotus leaves around the neck of a silver and crystal decanter. 8 ¾"H. $730. CHRISTOFLE, BOSTON, (617) 542-2080, WWW.CHRISTOFLE.COM

Floating on Air It’s a rare material that’s transparent and airy but still has presence. Lighter and more shatterproof than glass, acrylic furniture first gained popularity in the middle of the twentieth century; the current interest has been reignited by designers like Philippe Starck and Jonathan Adler. The Gdansk desk by Spectrum Limited comes in two sizes and can be custom-sized. 36” x 20” x 32”H, $10,350; 48” x 20” x 32”H, $11,250. D SCALE, BOSTON, (617) 426-1055, WWW.DSCALEMODERN.COM

Behold the Turtle Cast from bronze, the Terrapin lamp, originally designed by Tony Duquette for a penthouse in Honolulu, is topped with an outrageous finial that sports a Murano glass center. Backlit by a single 40-watt bulb, the shell is supported by an intricate laser-cut column. 9½”W x 6”D x 24”H. $11,880. BAKER FURNITURE, BOSTON DESIGN CENTER, (617) 439-4876, WWW.BAKERFURNITURE.COM

Fringe Benefit Silver-gray. Mink. Cashmere. Need we say more? It’s probably not the blanket you’ll want to use for a tailgate party or a picnic, but casually tossed on a sofa or at the foot of the bed? That’s glamorous! The throw is 100 percent cashmere with a mink border. 55” x 75”. $16,000. FRETTE, BOSTON, (617) 267-0500, WWW.FRETTE.COM

Photo descriptions, left to right, second row:
Good Timing What’s more glamorous than a quick trip to Paris or a weekend in LA? Wherever your next vacation takes you, slip the small and compact Atlas Travel Alarm Clock into your carry-on to ensure you’ll never be unfashionably late. $400. TIFFANY & CO., BOSTON, (617) 353-0222

Industry Standard In her book American Glamour and the Evolution of Modern Architecture, the architectural historian Alice Friedman argues that the aesthetics of midcentury modern architecture reflected an increasing fascination with “glamour.” As a leading modernist architect and furniture designer, Mies van der Rohe elevated industrial-age materials to an art form. His MR chaise, with its leather and cowhide straps on tubular stainless steel, is as glamorous today as when he designed it in 1929. 23½”W x 47¼”D x 37½”H. $7,247. ADDO NOVO, PORTLAND, MAINE, (207) 221-2780, WWW.ADDONOVO.COM

Into the Deep Indulge in a luxurious soak in this spacious bathtub from Waterworks’ .25 collection. The glamorous white matte tub is beautifully sculptural and elegantly simple. 70”L x 40W” x 29H”. $9,857. DANBURY, CONN., (203) 546-6265, AND BOSTON DESIGN CENTER, (617) 951-2496, WWW.WATERWORKS.COM

Wake Up and Smell the Roses… and the black-currant leaves when you light the Baies candle from Dyptique. Since opening its Boulevard Saint-Germain shop in 1963, the Paris-based company has become a world-renowned purveyor of fragrances and luxury candles. 2.4 OZ., $28; 6.5 OZ., $60. ROGUES GALLERY, PORTLAND, MAINE, (207) 773-4900, WWW.ROGUESGALLERY.COM

Photo descriptions, left to right, third row:
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall Who’s the sunniest of them all? Despite its name, the Rain mirror by Ironies shines in glass and metal (your choice of bronze or brass). 29”D, $5,610; 34¾”D, $5,985. STUDIO 534, BOSTON DESIGN CENTER, (617) 345-9900, WWW.S5BOSTON.COM

Glamour Puss If a Hollywood siren could be depicted as a piece of furniture, John Lyle’s Edwin table would fill the bill. Like long, lanky gams in stiletto heels, the table’s bronze legs support a seductive shagreen top. Shown here with a gray shagreen top and white bronze legs, the table is available in a number of shagreen colors or in French limestone. $4,600. FURN & CO., BOSTON DESIGN CENTER, (617) 342-1500, WWW.FURNCO.US