About Face: Surrounded by kardashians, we long for yesterday’s grand dames

Illustration by Christina Ung

Glamour is highly subjective. For some, it conjures images of luxury cars, private jets and exotic locales; for others, it’s a quality anal bleaching. However you define glamour, one thing is certain: It was a hell of a lot easier to maintain a glam life back in the day.

The word “glamour” is rooted in magic and spell casting because it’s all about creating an illusion. This is difficult in a world where girls post on Facebook about “having cramps,” and nearly impossible for celebrities. Between TMZ’s unforgiving “sun gun” burning the retinas out of starlets’ eyes, tabloid magazines screaming “Guess Whose Cellulite?” and omnipresent camera phones recording celebrity meltdowns that make Chernobyl look like a minor gas leak — presentday divas are about as mysterious as a colonoscopy.

Today’s celeb fashion isn’t glam; it’s confusing. After seeing Lady Gaga rock a meat dress, I donned a frock made entirely of chicken and pork. I was shunned; I forgot one can’t wear white meat after Labour Day.

It’s also easy to bag on all the plastic surgery in Hollywood. True, I think some actresses should be prohibited from having any more procedures, the same way it should be illegal for Nicolas Cage to make every movie he’s offered. Thank goodness Lisa Rinna finally had her giant rodeo clown lips downsized so Sean Penn can no longer use them to build shelters in Haiti. But who can blame them?

They know we own 65-inch HDTVs so painfully crisp you can see a pubic hair on a bat. Pores appear so large they could safely house a colony of sea monkeys. No wonder everyone in L.A. lets themselves be cut open like hairless lab rats. Maybe there is some merit to taking the fat from your butt and injecting it into your lips — that way you can kiss your own ass for the rest of your life. Yes, glamour belonged to old Hollywood. It thrived in the early days of television where ingenues appeared on 12-inch black and white TV sets. The reception was horrible and everyone smoked in every scene, creating a billowy mist that obscured flaws.

Old-school fashion was fabulous and functional. Giant shoulder pads, paired with enormous hats and monster eyebrows, are slimming. No one wore sweatpants with the word “Juicy” written across the tuchus. Give me Gloria Swanson’s turban over Christina Aguilera’s bedazzled diapers and fishnets any day. Also, men were always in tuxedos. Now if you see a dude in a tux, he’s your waiter.

The celebs of the past wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without first applying makeup with the panache and subtlety of a drag queen. These femmes fatales spoke in a mysterious, staccato manner, with their conversations peppered with words such as “swell,” “malarkey” and “cat’s pyjamas.” That I have no idea what half of those expressions mean just adds to their glamour.

Yup, these fabulous, sassy dames — armed only with red lipstick and witty comebacks, and protected by copious amounts of Vaseline on the camera lens — outglammed today’s stars and all their tramp stamp, tell-all, sex tape glory. The Kardashians just can’t keep up.

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