Glamour Puss

Yet another (repeated) life lesson to never judge a book by it’s cover…

Art Center College of Design is a private college located in the hills of Pasadena. The school is situated above a wealthy old-money neighborhood filled with beautiful homes and is a stones throw away from the Pasadena Rose Bowl. Art Center has a reputation of being the best design college in the country and quite possibly the world. Anyone in the world of art and/or design knows of Art Center and it is the envy of many.

As a private college, the school was not surprisingly very expensive at the time and is even more expensive now. I don’t know how anyone could afford to attend Art Center these days, but I guess everything is relative and that same sentiment was pondered back then. Students who attended Art Center were often students with undergraduate degrees from other institutions. As such, the average age of Art Center students was 27.

In order to attend Art Center, one needed to submit a portfolio of all original work. Acceptance into the school was based solely on ability and potential and, at the time, the school kept its population capped off at 1,500 students. The institution was selective with their student body, and they knew it. Students who did not attend Art Center for monetary reasons or otherwise would sometimes refer to Art Center students as ‘Art Center snobs’, or ‘elitists’. Those words never came to my mind as a student of Art Center as my closest friends to date are those I attended Art Center with alongside.

In 1982 I was fortunate enough to gain acceptance, and attend Art Center. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design in 1986. It is incredible to think that I attended the school so long ago, 34 years. Yikes!

The Art Center student body was global. These were students who typically came from affluent families although becoming friends with peers would never outrightly reveal their background. They were real people, albeit real people with seemingly endless funds.

There was this one girl that my Product Design close friends and I would see from time-to-time and she did not ‘look’ like any of the other students on campus. Reason being is that while we were all sleep deprived and dressed as casually as possible for the rigors of our school day, this girl was always dressed ‘to-the-nines’. She was beautiful. Long painted nails, ‘done’ hair and make-up, everything. And she always looked as if she was ready for a fashion photo shoot. Glamour Puss, we later found out, was an Illustration major so that was certainly not a surprise given her ‘look’.

This girl’s look earned her the name ‘Glamour Puss’ from someone in our close knit group of friends. On any given day, one of of might say “Did you see what glamour puss is wearing today?” One particular article of clothing that stood out to us were the pair of hot-pink cowboy boots with high heels and long tassels. From our perspective, we just couldn’t understand how she could dress so nicely since us product design students were pretty much in the shop daily and becoming dirty from the work.

Our reference to Glamour Puss was never with the intention to be cruel, it was just one of our ways to have fun with one another. Something to laugh at, and with between the group. Of course looking back now, this type of inside mockery is not at all kind.

One of eight Trimesters required the Product Design students to take a graphics class. We would learn all about proportion and font use as it pertained to presentations and advertisement. It was an awesome class. Class students were generally non-ID (Industrial Design/Product Design) students and as such the mixture of majors in the class was quite diverse.

My friend Elizabeth and I sat at the front row of tables on our first day. We had arrived to class a little early and were excited to be in a class that was very different from what we were used to. Just before class started, in walks Glamour Puss. She looked as if she were walking down a runway, only she had a smile. The look that Elizabeth gave me when glamour puss sat right next to her was one I will never forget. Her head whipped in my direction and both our eyes popped. We were now in a class with Glamour Puss.

As we all learned from the diverse and typically-affluent background of Art Center’s student body, Glamour Puss was no different. She was real, and she was friendly. She started chatting it up with Elizabeth right away and with myself as well and we learned that her actual name was Martine.

Martine was French-American and spoke fluent French since both her parents were native Franciscans and lived in France. Martine’s English was without accent since she had received most of her education in the U.S. and had travelled abroad many times while growing-up.

Ever good-humored in her character, our circle of friends soon shared with Martine the ‘pet-name’ that we had always called her. It was no surprise to us that she loved the pet-name and it quickly became a term of endearment with us all that was never taken in negative light.

Due to Martine’s friendly demeanor, she easily became part of our circle of friends. So much so that Irene and I were ultimately invited to her spectacular Beverly Hills Hotel wedding, and later to her and new hubby Paul’s house in Beverly Hills for a party. This house party was one like no other that I had ever attended as it included valet parking with tux-ed men and indoor white carpet.

There are people in one’s life that come and go, for whatever reason. Martine and Paul were keepers, because they were real. Real because affluence was never a barrier with Martine. It just was who she was and we loved that in her. Ever glamorous, Glamour Puss.