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Fair Grounds, all day
Final day of weekend one
Bayou Beer Garden, 9AM
The most important meal of the year
Prytania Theatre, 10AM
1933 sci-fi horror classic
Saenger Theatre, 3PM
YouTube superstar comes to town
Marigny Opera House, 5PM
Feat. guitarist and composer David Sigler
Eiffel Society, 7PM
Lord of the Rings burlesque
Maple Leaf Bar, 7PM
Feat. Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Russell Batiste, plus a crawfish boil
Bar Redux, 9PM
NOLA-based Balkan band
Zeitgeist Arts Center, 9PM
Helen Gillet presents Belgian avant garde films
A Mink and a Smile
Three Decades of Blackglama Ad Campaign Revisited at the Ogden
Since the '30s, fur fashions have come to epitomize glamour, fame and fortune. Certainly Liz Taylor wouldn’t look like queen of the animal kingdom without her fox wraps, mink coats or rabbit hats more fit for Moscow than the movies. No one can deny the transformative effect of a good fur coat, elevating reasonable good looks into the regal realm.
In one of the most successful ad campaigns of the 20th century, a New York ad agency changed public perception of pelts with their Blackglama fur campaign, which pictured legendary celebrities clad in luxurious mink coats. Now, more than sixty of these black and white photographs will make their way from old magazine pages and billboards to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art for a Glama gala on March 16 celebrating advertising executive and Mississippi native Peter Rogers.
The exhibit features photos of a litany of iconic celebrities like Natalie Wood, Audrey Hepburn, Ray Charles, Betty Davis, Shirley MacLaine, Elizabeth Taylor, and Joan Crawford among numerous others. The photographs span the campaign's glory days, from 1968-1993.
“It’s easier to tell you who I didn’t do than who I did do,” said Rogers. “It’s all the famous stars of the glamour period.”
The preeminent mad man of his time, Rogers put some legwork into the campaign early on.
“I picked up every person and took them to the shoots,” he said.
But then it was time to let another pair of stems take the spotlight. Set against a blank background, the photographs capture nothing more than their personalities and their enveloping fur coats. In one image, comedian Shirley MacLaine, wrapped in mink, kicks her leg in the air. The coat slopes across an arm, exposing her shoulder, luminous against the dark contrast of fur. In another, Elizabeth Taylor looks out to the audience, one side of her face coddled by fur and the other by a large, diamond earring.
“You don’t have these kind of stars today,” said Rogers. “It was really all about glamour and all these stars. If you watch Turner Classic Movies you could still see them.”
After years heading Blackglama, Rogers has closed his agency, but the campaign continues. Now in the hands of a new agency, one vital difference separates the Rogers’ Blackglama from today’s Blackglama: the concept of a legend?
“They think that Janet Jackson is a legend,” laughed Rogers. From decades of sharing the same space with names like Joan Crawford or Audrey Hepburn he knows she’s not in the same league.
According to Rogers, before Blackglama, fur ads consisted mostly of women wearing fur in front of a Bentley.
“It was just a photo shoot, never a concept,” said Rogers, who coined the term Blackglama with his agency. “The emphasis was on the legend. They were so famous we didn’t use their name.” Anyone could recognize someone as big as Betty Davis without need for a nametag.
After posing, added Rogers, each sitter received their own custom mink.
“I don’t think there has ever been a campaign that has as many illustrious people pose for it,” said Rogers. “This is about 70 people who posed for it so it’s quite a collection of famous people.”
As if the fur didn’t speak for itself already, the tagline “What becomes a Legend most?,” hangs suspended above the star. That answer is clear: fur.
“Fur is back in a big way,” said Rogers. Despite being an animal lover himself he knows “you can’t stop women from wearing fur coats.” Plus, he somewhat laughs, minks are dangerous.
“If I go to the Louisiana Philharmonic and it’s a cool night, they’re all in mink,” said Rogers.
An animal lover and a lover of old movie stars, he’d never advocate killing an endangered species.
Opening March 14 and on view until June 30, there’s plenty of time to check out these familiar faces of the silver screen. Ticket information for the March 16 gala is here.
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Michael Weber, B.A.
B. E. Mintz