Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dust Off Those Gossamer Wings

There's an ancient proverb that we are meant to walk with a note in each pocket. One is to say that for us the world was created and the other, ah the other: we are but a grain of sand in all the universe.

There's something so humble and wonderful in Frank Sinatra's letter about a reluctant pop star. Sometimes it is just that simple, "Man up". My kid saved this on his desktop which of course makes me happy. 

Barbara Marx Sinatra and her best friend Bea Korshak were customers, shopping in little white tennis dresses while Beverly Hills teetered between provincial resort neighborhood shopping and a tourist mecca. They shopped very well and very often. Bea's husband knocked on the locked back door. I unlocked it to find George Raft and Sidney Korshak half hidden by their hats pulled forward blocking the doorway. Sidney silently counted out a stack of hundred dollar bills and left. Sometimes a salesgirl would call Bea to let her know about a new shipment. When Sidney answered the phone he simply hung up the phone.

My mother had told me a story about driving through a Beverly Hills canyon late one night with my father and getting lost, she in a silk print dress that she'd let me play dress-up in when I was very little. They'd parked and walked to a doorway. Rudy Vallee came out to give them directions. My mother's eyes sparkled every time she told the story.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bidding For Good #winning

What does the Kentucky Derby have to do with Betsey Johnson and Chambord Liquor??

The two Derby fantasy hats will be auctioned to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Coalition. One will be auctioned off at Bidding For Good and the other on the Facebook Like page of Chambord Liquor.

Collaborations are good and fantastical pink Betsey Johnson hats do not come along every day.

But I am very excited to have found the Bidding For Good site, which has auctions for many places from schools to research centers. Just bookmarked it and am looking forward to exploring it. This is a good thing.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Karen Lamm

You hear a song, remembering something, and smile. Emotions, people, memories are there and you hit replay to get it all back.

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham walking in the shop together. Liza Likins returning to pick up their armloads of clothes.

Christine McVie too, delicate, sometimes with Mick Fleetwood. 

I remember Karen Lamm the most. We'd become friends. Beautiful, funny Karen. Dennis.

 The storyline in Playgirl Magazine, styled by Judith Dan.

"The party's over.
You don't want to go home.
Where do you go?"

Goodbye Bijan Pakzad

Bijan Pakzad opened on Rodeo Drive in 1976 with a simple mission to become the world's most expensive store for presidents, royalty and rock stars. By appointment and with a receptionist at a discreet desk instead of the traditional cashier, his own perfume (and billboards), periodically guards protecting his storefront. Beverly Hills was a sleepy rich people's town, neighborhood shops and plenty of white t's and tennis rackets, drinks at the Polo Lounge and dinner at The Bistro, expensive houses and an alert police department stopping people and cars that didn't look like white enough from entering Beverly Hills. Stopped while black was as true as the black waitresses at Hamburger Hamlet on Beverly Drive back Then.

 A confluence of political circumstances, a deposed and very ill Shaw, had sent very cultured, very educated and very wealthy Persians fleeing to a similar climate of sunshine and money: Beverly Hills in the '70's. Gucci had stopped closing for lunch, Fred Heyman's butler greeted every woman with a "you're the most beautiful woman in the world" and Herb Fink of Theodore's sold the skinny T's and jeans of the South of France while offering to sell his store for a white Corniche. Jurgensen's was the pink grocery store on Beverly Drive, next to a hardware store, that delivered to the service entrance of the gate hillside homes. Maids in uniforms also purchased on Beverly Drive at a fairly large shop next to Beverly Stationers and Phil's Poultry, signed as they shopped for the houses without the required service entrance.

Bijan's aspirational dreams swept into Beverly Hills bringing a wave of rich Texan blond wives opening shops for designers based on sketchy interpretations of Judith Krantz's Scruples, a story of fashion and sex in of Beverly Hills loosely based on Charles Gallay and Giorgio's (both totally believed the book was just about them: it was). Judith Krantz did purchase her book tour wardrobe at Charles Gallay, by the way.

Jerry Magnin's former wife Erin opened a YSL Boutique on Camden Drive; it failed. Marilyn Lewis,  who owned the Hamburger Hamlet chain, took that for her Cardinali Boutique; a brief stay.  Jerry Magnin's men shop on Rodeo Drive carried Ralph Lauren's Polo ties, the beginning of Jerry's transition to the Ralph Lauren boutique he owned. Donald Pliner owned Right Bank on Camden (his wife Lois left him to marry Jerry) with Maud Frizon, Basile suite that Diana Ross and Carly Simon bought by the pound. 

Ruby Bretzfield, a buyer at I. Magnin's, lost her husband Sam to Nancy Jean, an ice skater. Sam backed Donald Pliner's RBCC shops while banned from designer fashion shows in Europe. International Set, Sam's company, made fast copies of designer clothes. He offered thousands for fashion show tickets to try to slip in unrecognized. Somehow Sam was appointed Representative to The People of Bangladesh, a post Nancy stepped into after Sam's death. 

Camden Drive with Mr. Chow's Restaurant and Charles Gallay (ahem). Betty Dorso and her husband Dick, a former talent agent, had opened a small boutique selling eccentricities and monogrammed velvet slippers after being a Diane Arbus model near Alan Austen. Norma Kamali took that space before her divorce and move to New York to open OMO (on my own). Roots took it next while doing the mens shoes in American Gigolo in which Richard Gere did the first full frontal nudity scene. 

Indie shops were shoved out in the gentrification and globalization and there are few who dream of opening the world's most expensive store. Just another street of designer boutiques similar to any other city's tourist and designer shop district. Business, just business.

Bijan's yellow Rolls screamed money and dreams. He died Thursday night at Cedars Sinai. He did dress the presidents, royals and rockers he'd wanted to. Champagne dreams and a yellow Rolls on a small street in Beverly Hills.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy Spring Day Of Red, Fire Breathing Dragons And A Year Of Good Luck

Spring Festival is today. A Chinese custom to repay the gods and celebrate good harvests begun in the ancient days of the 21st Century B.C. A year of love and romance for young people who serve a whole chicken with all its parts, little red pouches of coins for children and fireworks at night.

Cooking and new clothes come earlier, the lovely preparations for a holiday. When I was small, my mother took me shopping for Easter. A pink dress, a little straw hat with flowers or cherries and white gloves. White nylon socks with lace and spiffy black patent Mary Janes while her nipped waist dress, a small ode to Scarlett O'Hara's cinched in days, swished as it brushed her nylons and with her freshly Prelled hair and Maybelline cake mascara, a little face powder on her lips as she layered Revlon's cherry red lipstick and off we went to church to watch a procession, with heraldry and blessings. The nuns were quite fond of my divorced mother who rather cheerfully had offered to drive them to the market or a doctor, even though they uttered a little prayer as they entered her car.

It's good to celebrate even if the pretty pink is tucked in memories and your closet is lush with black and white. A pink cardigan will do.

If you eat a little fish today, you will have abundant luck all year. Lovely to know that.

The new clothes part is particularly interesting to me, along with the luck of course.

Abundance and new clothes. Happy Spring Day.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Romance of A Little Black Tulle and Roses, A Sinewy Arm and Gold's Gym

Gold's Gym in Venice is mythic and I've been back for two weeks. Long ago, it was a scruffy, stinky, steroid-taking mess and hardcore bodybuilders posed and bulged. It's air conditioned and there are several hand-purifier dispensers scattered around thoughtfully, towels are usually brought to wipe sweat off a seat and sometimes you can spot Bruce Willis (insanely cool) or Hulk Hogan posing for pictures. Ellen Barkin trained here before her Ron Perlman fiasco. It's a kinder place with nice cars in the parking lots but there's still a spot for mean motorcycles gussied up.

My copy of Robert Maplethorpe's Lady, Lisa Lyon is tattered somewhere. I don't bring bags of cereal to the gym anymore or carry a list of what machines to do that day. Being strong would be nice, I think.

Beauty comes in all shapes but a beekeeper hat with a flower becomes dangerously romantic. Mary McDonald made them for me with yards of tulle and flowers. Daniel Storto's glamorous hand made gloves would be necessary too. A little fantasy and three sets of twelve. My little white leather weightlifter gloves are not my mother's little lady gloves.

More photos of Robert Maplethorpe's exquisite work.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Way I Remember ... Julie Anne Rhodes And A few Other Moments

 Julie Anne Rhodes (her award winning blog is Jewels From The Roving Stovewas sleeping in my bed. I'd flown home from Paris arriving at LAX and plucking suitcases from the trolley,  hoping that US Customs would ignore me and let me walk outside to hunt for a taxi. It was about midnight when I unlocked my front door, leaving my luggage in the kitchen, petting my elderly sleeping dog and very ready to brush my teeth and slip between the cool white sheets in my bedroom. Just as I did, I startled. Why was someone in my bed?? Julie Ann smiled and sat up. Angelo, who was no doubt sleeping soundly in the back house, has tucked her in. She'd flown out alone and I'd forgotten to let Angelo know when I'd be home. Angelo had been on the road with Duran Duran and gotten very close to Julie Anne. 

I asked Julie Ann if she could sleep somewhere else and she immediately got up, kissing me good night. Angelo's house had a guest room and she'd be cozy back there.

Julie Ann said that's not the way it happened. I think she's wrong. We do agree that every time she flew out here,  we'd immediately pile into my car to pick up Popeye's Chicken on Hollywood Boulevard. And eat it on the way back.

I drove from Venice Beach to Beverly Hills, a black silk ruffled dress (very Black Swan) over All Saints jeans, to meet her for lunch and to visit a designer showing pieces from Summer  Fall '11 in the penthouse at the Hotel Lux. Stefanel is an old Italian house known for working with knits, passed from the father to the son who had grown the venerable company to over 500 stores in Europe. The company had worked with Calvin Klein and Romeo Gigli in the '90's and now is looking at America as a new market. Mario Testino is doing the campaigns and there is a ton of money involved in the revamp of Stefanel from a classic Italian house with good quality but rather staid designs to a younger, hipper fashion customer. The kind of girl who gets her picture taken, I think.

I chatted with their Italian p/r girl who'd come from Dolce & Gabbana. The Santa Cecelia leopard and gilt showroom was now Domenico and Stefano's offices: everything changes. She couldn't confirm the rumor that D&G will be shut down. She was traveling with the Stefanel collection to meet with stylists, people from William Morris and CAA; no plans to meet buyers or press which vaguely confounded me, but it might have been the sun. The precise business plan did elude me. 

I walked to the edge of the balcony for a panoramic view of Rodeo Drive. A warm day with tourists in shorts and sandals, snapping photos against the glimmering yellow Rolls Royce parked below. My memories of it were long ago; I remembered a street of resort boutiques, a Gucci that closed for lunch, Fred Heyman kissing the ladies walking into his store while his butler offered each customer a glass of wine and a "you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen." Herb and Norma Fink's Theodore had moved to Camden Drive near Mr. Chow's and now the bright white shop at the corner was a Missoni boutique.  I wouldn't miss this version ... but the other was wonderful.  Stories, so many stories.
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