Cues on Glamour from Federico Beltrán Massés

Cues on Glamour from Federico Beltrán Massés

Like style, the concept of glamour is a difficult one to define. We often associate it with having expensive things, but that feels too easy. I used to associate glamour with the feeling I had being in certain places or spaces, and it's true that there's an ambient glamour one instantly feels in certain magical spots around the world. But over time, I've come to see all of that as an externalization of the concept of glamour, which actually exists within us, and which we have the ability to carefully hone and nurture no matter where we are and no matter what we are wearing. Importantly, I have come to believe that glamour is a way of being, particularly when no one is looking. Because true glamour, perhaps like genuine style, is an indulgence exclusively for ourselves. 

More practically, though, what makes a woman glamorous? Is it a way of thinking? A way of seeing the world? A certain poise? An element of mystery? I am always searching for inspiration to help me with my seemingly endless questions on the nature of all things style related, and I very often turn to art for it. When I discovered the artwork of Federico Beltrán Massés I instantly felt the painter's intuitive understanding of glamour in his portraits of women in the early to mid 1900s. It's hard to pin down exactly what makes his paintings glamorous, which is why they make for a good study on the subject. 

“I don't mind being burdened with being glamorous and sexual. Beauty and femininity are ageless and can't be contrived, and glamour, although the manufacturers won't like this, cannot be manufactured. Not real glamour; it's based on femininity.” 

― Marilyn Monroe

“Ordinary women never appeal to one's imagination.They are limited to their century. No glamour every transfigures them. One knows their minds as easily as one knows their bonnets. One can always find them. There is no mystery in any of them.” 


― Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray

Feature image: Portrait of Lady Michelham, 1929

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