The Art And Beauty Of Glamour Modelling

In the previous article, we looked at how catwalk modelling is more than just fashion shows. Rather than brand representation, glamour modelling interests us in the art of self-representation. It also has a more niche market and largely differs in the relationship with its clients. The artists here being photographers, make-up artists, etc., rather than brands owners. Contrasting to fashion modelling, some might say glamour modelling is all about “taking off” your clothes. Hence, why it may not be surprising to hear the misleading assumptions the general public makes about glamour modelling. Today we shall explore a subset of glamour modelling: boudoir photography and pinup. We shall also demonstrate how glamour modelling celebrates femininity and beauty in all its artistic form.

Boudoir uses facial expressions to convey a message rather than body language in fashion modelling.
Glamour modelling is all about expressing sensuality and femininity. Taking inspiration from Marilyn Monroe’s boudoir/pinup shoot, Isabella recreated a similar photograph adding her own version of femininity to it.
Image by: Isabella Margarita Kucha

Glamour Modelling And Its Classic Hollywood Origins

Glamour modelling or glamour photography first emerged during the early 1900s during the war periods. Pinups were highly popular among soldiers throughout World War II. Then Hollywood took pinups a step further during the 1950s and 1960s. Artists such as George Petty, Alberto Vargas and Zoe Mozert further contributed to the commercialisation of pinups. Back then, glamour models were usually upcoming actresses. Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Jane Russell were the few pin-up models who popularised both glamour and boudoir photography. Pinup and boudoir occupied a variety of roles. Chief among them is to boost moral among soldiers during World War II. Pinup art was synonymous with aeroplane nose art as in the example below.

Famous artist George Petty designed and created Memphis Belle which eventually became a glamour modelling / pinup icon as a nose art.
The famous Memphis Belle nose art was originally created by well-known artist George Petty for Esquire magazine. The aircraft was also one of the first United States Army Air Forces heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions without a crewman being killed.
Image by Paul from United Kingdom – Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, CC BY 2.0 from Wikimedia Commons

Specialisation In Glamour Modelling – Pinup Vs. Boudoir

Both pinup and boudoir definitely share certain similarities such as women empowerment. Nonetheless, there are still subtle differences between them.

Burlesque performances directly inspired the creation of pinups. In fact, they used pinup images in business cards and photographic advertisements. Given its popularity, almost everybody embraced the culture of sharing pinup images in most everyday objects. Similarly to pinup, military recruitment during World War II also used boudoir images to encourage enlistment. The only difference was its intention as a gift to one’s romantic partner for private enjoyment. A typical set at a pinup shoot would usually be at pivotal locations, like diner’s or beaches. Whereas, considering boudoir literally means ‘bedroom’, it justifies the more intimate nature of the photographs. Unlike boudoir, pinup usually showcases a story and focuses more on the model’s personality and individuality rather than her sensuality.

This photograph ended up giving Betty the nickname: Million Dollar Legs. This photograph also ended up being the face of glamour modelling.
Betty Grable’s particular over-the-shoulder pose from her collaboration with photographer Frank Powolny ended up being the best-selling picture in World War II. In fact, this pose of her in a tight one-piece swimsuit was meant to hide her visibly pregnant belly of her first child.
Image by Frank Powolny – 20th Century Fox studio promo portrait [1] from Wikimedia Commons

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

As shared previously, commercial and catwalk modelling both share the intentions of selling something to the audience. Whereas glamour modelling is more personal and has more to do with how you represent yourself. It commands a niche market and has a very close working relationship with its clients, usually photographers.

In this feature, we invited Isabella Margarita Kucha to enlighten us on the true essence of glamour modelling. With a bubbly yet no-nonsense personality, Sarawakian Isabella enthusiastically shares with us the artistic value of pinup and boudoir. Differentiating itself from commercial and catwalk modelling, glamour modelling focuses on self-expression. The message the models want to convey is entirely through their body language and facial expression. It also plays around a lot with cosmetics and lighting techniques to dramatise the effects of the photograph.

Capture The Glamour Through Intentions And Angles

Intentions play an important role in determining the narrative of your portraits. This is because boudoir and pinup tend to have a socially constructed taboo surrounding them. Thus, really understanding your intentions while posing could speak volumes about your sensuality and femininity. As mentioned, people often assume and misjudge glamour modelling as posing half naked, or wearing nothing more than a piece of lingerie. However, Isabella believes that glamour models can exude femininity and evoke other emotions despite being scantily dressed. All done in good faith, by simply knowing and understanding your intentions. Not forgetting that the angles the photographer chooses are important too.

As seen in the first photograph, glamour modelling uses facial expressions to convey a message rather than body language in fashion modelling.
Similarly to the first picture, this picture was also taken as inspiration from Marilyn Monroe’s shoot.
Image by: Isabella Margarita Kucha

Even we as the general public know how much angles affect the way we look in pictures. Apart from understanding your intentions, Isabella emphasises the importance of establishing a good rapport with your photographer. The photographer and the model should be on the same page about what intentions they’re trying to portray. To do that, setting a good angle would assist to project the intended narrative through the photograph. Isabella also pointed out the very fine line that separates tasteful boudoir or pinup shoots with cheap trashy images. The latter usually turn out to be Not Safe For Work (NSFW).

In Confidence, Every Woman Is A Queen

It’s hard to imagine how showing one’s skin in front of a camera seems easy to do. Asian cultures abhors exposing too much of one’s skin. Some people view it as losing one’s dignity, or reducing women to nothing more than a sexual object. When asked to comment, Isabella believes that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. She also reminds models to take ownership of their bodies.

It’s easy for the general public, like myself, to perceive what glamour models are. But do we honestly know what really goes on inside them, or the challenges that they face? The most important takeaway from glamour modelling is that it empowers you to be confident and comfortable in your skin. When that happens, people will learn to respect the work you do, and appreciate it the way that you do. The best part about glamour modelling? There are no requirements at all!

Glamour: Empowering Women Through Feminine Confidence

Since we’ve talked about what glamour modelling is, let’s look at how glamour modelling also celebrates femininity. For the longest time, men have preconceived expectation of women’s bodies. And women have a tough time living up to these sometimes unrealistic expectations. Due to that, most women lack the ability to express themselves or their bodies. For the longest time, society raised women to fear exposing too much skin, and be ashamed of their bodies. As a result, women learnt to be wary of attracting the wrong kind of attention.

“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.”

Simone de beauvoir, French existentialist philosopher and writer

Glamour modelling promotes the idea that women hold the power to express themselves with their bodies. It provides a space for women to feel proud of their bodies. Glamour modelling allows women to liberate themselves from what the society perceives them to be. And most importantly: women should know their worth and never have to apologise for being a woman. Over the centuries until present time, women have normalised the patriarchal standard and brought to light the true meaning of being a woman. We should start by respecting ourselves and our bodies in order to fully embrace the femininity within us.

Other than doing glamour modelling, Isabella also enjoys having fun with her shoots by collaborating with makeup artists and new photoraphers.
This photograph was taken for a themed photoshoot called “Spirit Of The Sea” which is said to be the tale of two lovers. It featured makeup artist Bunny Bimba‘s work, with Isabella as the sea goddess and Joel Dana as the sand king.
Image by Wajah Hunting

Interested To Explore Glamour Modelling?

Apart from doing shoots, Isabella also finds herself picking up an interest in photography. Instead of just being the subject for a shoot, she’s switching the roles up by being the photographer instead. She recently founded Borneo Art Collage which is a private Facebook group. The group aims to discover talents, particularly in the Borneo region, who have an interest in venturing into glamour modelling. The reason?… Society often overlook Bornean talents. Most of them simply go unrecognised. Hence, Isabella has taken it upon herself to help these models achieve their goals. Furthermore, Isabella believes that professionals in the industry should mentor and provide guidance to new talents. Sharing is, after all, caring. Isabella is constantly on a lookout for new talents, especially if you’re from the Borneo region. You can reach out to her via her Facebook, she would gladly answer your questions.

Looking for some inspiration or tips on pinup poses? Here is a video that can give you just that!

So does it mean that the key to a model’s success is to be either curvy and stick thin? Not necessarily so… In the next episode, we’ll be looking at plus-size modelling. It’s surprising to know that plus-size modelling has its fair share of criticisms, although it’s often overlooked.

Kimberly WONG

About Kimberly WONG

Communications major, with a passion for reading, Kimberly (Kim for short) has a knack for learning new languages. Having worked in various industries helped her to further polish her linguistics skills too. Loves a healthy discussion about anything under the sun.

5 Replies to “The Art And Beauty Of Glamour Modelling”

  1. Pingback: Plus-Size Modelling: Is There Such A Thing? - Espoletta

  2. Thank you for the wonderful and well constructed article. I hope and pray more will understand the essence of glamour modelling is about loving oneself. Kudos.

  3. Hi, loved this article. I have always been an advocate of plus size modelling but I always get negative comments. I will be sharing this to people this article.

    • Hello, thank you so much for taking the time to read. 🙂 I too, am an advocate of plus-size modelling so stay tuned for the next article which would be about precisely just that, I hope you’ll enjoy it!

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