Under the Microscope: Celebrity Plastic Society

Who does glamour best?

Widely published, Letizia Ortiz – or Princess Letizia of Asturias – did it in summer 2008 . . . and seemingly for medical reasons. In place of the slightly curved nose which made her face recognizable, a thin, straight little nose appeared overnight. The wife of Prince Felipe, the Spanish heir to the throne, also seems to have a more refined looking chin. Spanish newspapers like “El Mundo” or “El Pais” – which appear to follow a voluntary censorship and usually don´t publish negative information about the royal family – at least dared a ‘before and after’ picture story proving Letizia´s changes. “Definitely”, the attentive Spanish journalists detected, “Letizia had plastic surgery.” The official statement of the royal family came quickly: an operation of the deviated royal nasal cartilage had been necessary. Letizia had breathing problems. That´s all. No word about aesthetical corrections. Everything was brushed under the carpet. Typically Spain? Not really.

Typically celebrity fits better – and maybe typically glamour. The glittery-flashy society is arguably a herd of cardsharpers. But it is tough and laborious being in the public spotlight. Letizia is glamorous but she also has to be glamorous. As an ex-TV presenter and Spain´s future queen she leads a fairytale life. The question is what´s the price to pay for this? And is glamour something acquired or innate? Online dictionary Wikipedia´s definition says that glamour is “an especially pompous appearance or profiling in public, silhouetted against the daily grind and the average.”

Originally the term “glamour” described the magical spell of evocation. Hereby one thinks about fashion designer John Galliano – but is flashy a synonym for glamorous? Someone who´s glamorous has to resist public attention like nobody else. A person mingling in the elite of showbiz suffers a reciprocal pressure of expectation that can provoke pain. Therefore many inhabitants of the glamour world take up all arms available in order to remain news worthy and appealing to the public. Clothes, shoes, hairstyle, make-up and accessories are some bloodless tricks of the glitzy people. Physical defects and symptoms of old age can only be fought by plastic surgery. Drugs like alcohol and cocaine – or anorexia and gluttony – can temporarily “cure” self-doubts, mood swings and crises. Having such a lifestyle for many years, to remain part of the glamour scene, is an explosive mix, which can lead to a process of self-destruction if overvalued.

But there are some exponents of real glamour: people who possess innate characteristics to magically attract public interest. Without logical explanation. Manners, gestures, hairdo, clothing, appearance and the sound of the voice: everything fits together perfectly. One good example is the glamour icon Jackie Kennedy, who died in 1994 – adored by our lifestyle expert Adrienne Cullen (pages 104-108). Aristotle Onassis, who already had everything (including opera diva Maria Callas), couldn´t resist Jackie´s allure. Wherever she appeared, the public held its breath.

A modern-day Jackie is French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who even imitates the famous widow of JFK´s dress code on state visits. But glamorous people are not supposed to copy. Let´s just say that Carla sometimes wears similar things to those worn by Jackie Kennedy. Possibly, Carla is only pretty and trivial minded – but many people believe she can be sophisticated. She’s certainly a specialist in selecting a partner. She also makes music, but few people are familiar with it. No matter what´s in her beautiful head: Carla has a fascinating charisma, not exhibited for a long time for a First Lady. In public the paparazzi gather around her like mosquitoes around a shining street-lamp at night.

The stylistically undefinable pop artist David Bowie is another exponent of innate glamour. His accomplished play with make-up and gender roles, and his perfect flirting with the camera, have seduced millions of music lovers around the globe.

“One´s own life becomes a work of art” is another part of Wikipedia´s glamour definition. At this point, the two current political leaders of the UK and Germany must step off. Britain’s Gordon Brown is so insignificant and pale that some believe that sunshine boy Tony Blair is still prime minister. German chancellor Angela Merkel needed a special make over by celebrity coiffeur Udo Walz to gain anybody´s attention at all. In spite of this, her tough unfeminine behaviour and her plainness still bore us. Only insiders know that she´s got a First Husband. Nobody has ever seen him and nobody even knows his name.

Who´s glamorous in Mallorca? German real estate tycoon Matthias Kühn is near the mark. His bright play to the gallery is deliberately performed. Kühn always seems to know when and where to show himself along with whom. And he airlifts clients with his impressive helicopter for transport. Not bad. German hedge fund manager Florian Homm, absconded in September 2007 (reported by Financial Times Germany, amongst others), also had something special. He brilliantly played the role of the cigars smoking lord of the manor. Unfortunately his high-risk business crashed down one year ago.

The eternal insular council president and now Balearic parliament president Maria Antónia Munar is the glamour lady of local politics. But on closer inspection Mallorca´s political diva is very honest and conservative instead of sexy-seductive like Sharon Stone, her secret archetype, as whispered in the local media scene. Beware! That´s copying again. In the island´s British community the McManaman couple can be mentioned. Victoria and Steve are glamorous, but also very understated and discreet. It´s a pity that Virgin boss, billionaire Richard Branson, discarded the island. But the Hollywood glamour couple Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones remain. Every summer they spend some weeks in their Mediterranean hideaway S’Estaca near Deià. But they avoid publicity on Mallorca, and that’s not really glamorous, now is it?