Monday, 13 September 2010

Quote of the Month

Elinor Glyn, inventor of ''It''

...strange magnetism which attracts both sexes. He or she must be entirely unselfconscious and full of self-confidence, indifferent to the effect he or she is producing, and uninfluenced by others. There must be physical attraction, but beauty is unnecessary. Conceit or self-consciousness destroys ‘It’ immediately.

Glyn, Elinor, It, Macaulay, New York, 1927, pp: 5-6, in Roach, Joseph, It, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 2007. pp: 4

This month's quote comes from Joseph Roach's book It, but comes from the pen of Elinor Glyn, the often ‘’in-famous’’ socialite, author, screen-writer and lover of Lord Curzon and (here comes the fashion connection) sister of the couturier Lucile. Am currently working on a paper to be presented at the 2nd Global Conference Critical Issues: Fashion at Oxford University next week, and in researching this have been re-thinking again about how cities go about presenting themselves on local, national or international stages. What they all seem to have in common is a search for an ''It Factor'' that helps to set them apart from their competitors. Glyn is perhaps the instigator, or certainly one of the first to define what the ''It Factor'' meant, i.e. ''sex appeal'', and in turn as starlets of stage and screen before them, so too are cities and even local neighbourhoods are seeking to define what makes them appealing, and indeed, ''sexy''. The so-called ''soft'' elements of culture are certainly a part of this, including fashion, yet other economic and practical elements, such as investment and transport, also play an important role. Yet as in Glyn's assertion here, it appears that this ''It Factor'', however it is harnessed and portrayed, needs to be un-self-conscious, without the city (or the person) appearing to try ‘’too hard’’. As many city councils, indeed national governments, sometimes fail to realise, it is actually very difficult to ‘’invent’’ or ‘’import’’ culture in attempting to generate such an ‘’It Factor’’ to appeal to either a local audience or to those from outside, such as business investors or tourists. Rather than developing its magnetism from the ingredients of a generic formula, instead each city needs to delve into its own character, separating out what is appealing and necessary to produce this. Different kinds of ‘’It Factor’’ appeal to different kinds of audiences , but it is up to the different segments of city to work together to produce this in a holistic sense, since any hint of ‘’fakery’’ is likely to be as damaging to a city’s perceived image as having none at all.

Clara Bow, the original ''It Girl''

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