Re-creating Old Hollywood Glamour: A Touch of Marilyn

It was 0C when we opened the windows this morning, only to be greeted by fog, wind and general gloom. I got it into my bullheaded photographer’s brain last night that I wanted to re-create the iconic white window shot of Marilyn Monroe from the 1955 movie The Seven Year Itch and nothing was going to dissuade me from it.

Ideally I should have placed an order for the perfect morning sun to shine down on my model as stood by the window, but St. Peter was all out of sunshine and his account on Amazon has been blocked. Failing that, we pushed ahead with it, with usual parameters: natural light only, little to no props, and the whole shoot is under ten minutes. No fuss, no mess. Not to mention that I had to shoot and run to an appointment.

This is what resulted, and I start the series off with the photograph that launched it all:

These little lockdown2020 projects are a lot of fun, especially with then self-imposed parameters. I’ve been working with negative space for a while now, and my natural tendency is to slide into black, so for a change I went in the opposite direction. What exactly led me to choosing Marilyn Monroe in particular? I’m not a fan at all, but her tragic story and beauty fascinate me from different angles. She is the epitome of resilience gone wrong, and the baseline of glamorous femininity. Keeping all this in mind, the springboard for the concept was the colour white, thinking of her legendary white dress, and then I stumbled on the images from the aforementioned movie.

Marilyn Monroe got me thinking about why we need a touch of glamour in our daily lives – in spite of the fact that I stay at home most days and write from my precious little corner, I still go through the motions of getting up at the same time, follow a structure in my day and most importantly, dress up. I don’t cut any corners, and get ready for the day as if I am going to the office, which means doing my hair and make-up, and choosing jewellery for the day. No, I don’t think it’s over the top at all, because it is precisely during these bizarrely unstructured times that we need a little sparkle and cheer in our lives. Why combine doom with more gloom and just work yourself into a depressive corner?

For some, indulgence sinfully materialises as a chocolate bar, perhaps a tub (or two) of ice cream, or a huge bowl of your favourite noodles. For the sake of your own mental health during these times, don’t hold back. Smile with your heart, think with kindness, and indulge in whatever simple pleasures you can lay your hands on. You need it, and your soul hungers for it.

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