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Glamour Gals and Their Getups

November 20, 1998|BOOTH MOORE

Co-author of "The Power of Style" (Crown Publishers, 1994), Annette Tapert pays homage to Hollywood's most stylish leading ladies of the 1920s and '30s in her new book, "The Power of Glamour" (Crown).

Swanson, Dietrich, Hepburn, Garbo and a handful of others defined the magic of stardom, but contrary to the common perception, they were not just a product of the studio system's "glamour factory." Tapert explains how these actresses were architects of their images, each with a distinct personality that asserted itself in the clothes they wore. Witness Katharine Hepburn's penchant for men's clothing, and Gloria Swanson's love of uneven lines (she often wore one cuff of a jacket trimmed in fur, or a long gown with only one sleeve).

A good gift for the clotheshorse on your list, the book is lavishly illustrated with photographs and filled with entertaining anecdotes. It's fascinating to hear how these women--not all natural-born beauties--overcame their physical flaws (often with the help of brilliant studio costume designers like Adrian). For example, Joan Crawford decided instead of disguising her football player-sized shoulders, to emphasize them with shoulder pads.

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