Our unhealthy obsession with all things “celebrity” always makes me a tad uneasy particularly as anyone who has enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame in the bright media spotlight is routinely overnight awarded the esteemed title of “star”; a term which is liberally thrown around these days like confetti. I have always held the belief that it is something which is earned over time with genuine talent rather than an automatic reward for a brief appearance on a reality television programme.
I associate the term “star” with the golden glamorous age of Hollywood when Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and my particular favourite, Ava Gardner graced the silver screen. The frocks were classically stylish and a glimpse of shoulder or cleavage was considered daring. Their private lives were discreet no doubt strictly controlled by the film studios PR departments endeavouring to make their stable of actors behave in accordance with the stringent morals clauses in their contracts. One has to ask whether their inaccessibility made them more attractive and enigmatic to the public than the readily available intimate details of those now featured between the glossy pages of magazines.
I frequently admit to not knowing anyone headlining the showbiz pages of a national newspaper and magazines but then again neither will I be rushing out the door anytime soon to buy any celebrity endorsed products. I do, however, wonder about their influence over impressionable and gullible young people.
It appears that column inches in national newspapers are guaranteed in exchange for fewer inches when it comes to attire. Surely most celebrity party organisers nowadays must be unsure what to print in the dress code section of an invite; dress optional? Is less really more? Have many publicity hungry celebrities made a deal with the devil by exchanging elegance and integrity for sensational headlines? Regrettably, we live in times where an indiscreet picture can earn someone a substantial pay-day from salacious tabloid newspapers therefore encouraging outrageous behaviour from many. Sadly, it may not be long before some celebrities attend parties and nightclubs entirely naked and not only will it have become the norm but as jaded tabloid readers we will no longer care.
Here’s a much-treasured picture of my teenage mum with the actress Beryl Reid (best known for The Killing of Sister George) who during this particular public appearance clearly knew the importance of an elegant fashion statement and was mightily upset when someone cut a four-inch square out of the back of her magnificent dress as a memento.