Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fashion Behind The Scenes And How To Get There

The actual work of fashion is work.  If You Have To Cry Go Outside by Kelly Cutrone, every issue you can find of Vogue and W, Womens Wear Daily and anything Suzy Menkes has ever said or written are the minimum requirements. Beautiful technology to troll through You Tube and queue up years of fashion shows and interviews. Not often mentioned is the ability to be gracious and lovely on whispers of  sleep and memories of food during fashion weeks and certain other times of the year. The dearth of sherpas is real and I defy every pretty pair of heels that has wavered stuck on a loose bit of a cobbled street bearing as many belongings as a small donkey to not have cried a little because she (and he) will probably never have one. Cried outside (thank you Kelly), of course; stopped immediately because of mascara issues (are they really waterproof, any of them?)

I'd loaned clothes to stylists and wardrobe people from my Sunset Plaza shop to be shot by Herb Ritts, Greg Gorman, Michael Childers, Helmut Newton and Davis Factor often very happily because I knew the clothes would come back when promised and in pristine condition. And much of the time someone at the shoot would fall in love with the clothes and just keep all of them (sending a nice fat check: clothes were not free back then.) Very few European designers had sample collections to loan and the stylists needed to have very, very good relationships with stores.

Melvin Sokolosky had done fashion photography since the '50's and so I signed up for his class in fashion photography at UCLA. He'd behaved very badly on a shoot to a friend of mine while another friend adores him. Two all day classes at UCLA and the following weekend a studio shoot. Maybe twenty people were there taking notes and asking fashion questions. Strange indeed to hear my classmates hunger for stories about models, designers and fashion editors. Suddenly he stopped talking and grabbed a roll of kraft paper: we were all to cover the windows letting the unrelenting sun in. The kraft papered let kisses of golden light pool and we grabbed cameras to shoot with that exquisite light. All the camera talk about settings were over: it was only about the light. That was the lesson. Magic of light: that was what mattered.  

The model stood still while the makeup girl, stylist (ah, the stylist), several photographers assistants and the class stared at her. Off to makeup and then oh so carefully into a Yohji Yamamoto kimono dress: a two hour process. She emerged to a four hour shoot before breaking for lunch. The amount of do nothing, stand still just waiting, is unbearable for many and that's the way it is. Similar to the rush to get seated at a fashion show only to wait an hour or so. The same on set when an actor is done with his scene and yet not free to go: hello crafts table and red licorice.

If this had not been for a UCLA class, the stylist and her assistant (intern perhaps) would have spent four-five days shopping. Taking a digital (ah, the polaroid of back then) of the possibilities and all accessories to winnow the selection. The assistant would be sent back to make arrangements with the store, anything from a signature and a PO number or payment to be refunded if it met all of the requirements of being pristine and returned by the agreed upon time. The collection would be assembled to show advertising people, the photographer, the model or celebrity, possibly the makeup and hair people. In some exacting (that means annoying) circumstances, there would be test shots. If a studio were behind the project, the stylist could get by on a Purchase Order and authorization letter: if not, the full amount might be charged to a valid credit card and the only way to get the money back would be to adhere to the terms. My store didn't have the stock to lend things out that weren't coming right back: the purpose (oh innocent simple days) was to sell things.

The stylist carts (her assistant rather) everything from tape and pins to spot cleaning solution and always an ironing setup. Things will be tried on in a hurry, discarded (NOT on the floor, please!!) and inventoried again and again. Any little losses will be charged to the stylist. The assistant's assistant, a p/a, may be sent out to return the things that won't be used. Thousands of dollars (that's without borrowing fine jewelry, which is rare because, umm, it's fine jewelry) borrowed. On a TV or movie shoot where there are multiples of outfits and accessories, the used things are dashed to an overnight dry cleaner. Carting things and knowing where everything is a big thing. Working stylists hardly ever show up in heels and dainty dresses: it's work.

Suddenly it's over and the stylist checks for any makeup smudges or worse. It's all about returning things immediately to avoid paying for them. And stretching the patience of a store, mine anyway, was not done. Never.

I sent an assortment of evening bags on memo with a stylist for an Oscar contender. Something went wrong and the lot were stolen from her car. A check was delivered the following day. No discounts, but genuine sympathy. That's never supposed to happen.

It doesn't take long for the hard-working (overworked?) assistant to be noticed and soon enough she's showing her own raw assistant/intern how it's done. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Golden Globe Tweets

Angelina Jolie in a Stunning Versace  Dress!
Ahhh brangelina has arrived! Angie is gorg in green, love that she chose a color not black
I'm convinced Angelina Jolie can "glamour" ppl like the vampires do on True Blood.
Wish we could have seen Angie's hair up w/ SO much (regal) dress. Suppose—come to think of it—her St. John campaign was not entirely inapt.
Both Emma Stone and Claire Danes are wearing custom Calvin Klein gowns at tonight's GoldenGlobes ...
Julianne Moore is killlllling me. Gorgeous. SO fashion. Must be Lanvin.
This just in: Hailee Steinfeld's awesome dress is Prabal Guring. New movie star wears new fashion star. #LOVE
We caught up with Helena Bonham Carter on the red carpet. She attributed her shoe fashion statement to "indecision."
Scarlett Johansson paired her Elie Saab SS11 gown with Jimmy Choo's Vespa platform sandal at tonight's GoldenGlobes ...
So if not Julianne: who is Tom Ford dressing for the Golden Globes?
Globe-ettes, stop with all the fishtail hemlines. We geddit, Hollywood's a sharkfest, you live in goldfish bowls. Metaphor over and out.
Another MarchesaFashion moment on the stunning Amy Adams.
Spotted: Miss Kelly O, Giuliana Rancic and Eva Longoria all rock long Zac Posen dresses on the Golden Globes red carpet 
Every rose has its thorn: what do you guys think of Natalie Portman's Viktor and Rolf frock at the GoldenGlobes? 

WHOA Halle Berry is glorious! Some Dorian-Gray-Benjamin-Buttons craziness. There must be a portrait of her looking old and fat in her attic.
Did a golden globes memorandum go out 4 everyone 2 wear the same shade of green?Kind of bothersome. after the 3rd dress it loses its lustre.
Platinum Emma Stone on the best part of being blond: “People don’t really recognize me. It’s fun.”

Where did this green thing COME from.... Mrs Prada's influence, perhaps? 
Michelle Williams: What..WAS that?

OMG Anne Hathaway looking sublime in long-sleeve backless sequin ARMANI ! #Contender #GoldenGlobes

Scarlett reminding me of Kate Hudson in that bizarre Stella McCartney (i think) and corkscrew curls

Why does Christian Bale fight his own hotness SO MUCH? WHY? 

Who is Alexia Chung and why is she on the NBC Globes team? A frumpy schoolmarm, why would we listen to what she thinks of the fashion?

I admit it: I love the tweeting about the Golden Globes. Sampling about five delicious minutes of tweets, later tonight I'll flip through a slide show of what they wore. A few - only a few - horrified the twitterers. Halle Berry wearing Nina Ricci (can that collection be anything but dainty and pretty?), Michelle Williams and Natalie Portman are sharing spots on the gasp-OMG-why list.

The complete list of winners right here.

Ramiro Perez: Very Near The Spot That Kelly Cutrone Once Worked As A Tarot Card Reader

On a sunny day like today in Venice, very near the spot that Kelly Cutrone once worked as a tarot card reader and Jack Kerouac squatted in a flophouse, the boardwalk was packed. The man parading his three turtles in tiny glass houses, the woman with three young children strolling with a fierce green parrot posed on her shoulder and the man hawking the Freak Show, free for children under six, bald and sunburned were no more curious than the pelicans shrieking on the roofs on the honky tonk buildings.

Tables of cheesey 2.00 trinkets, henna tattoos, a different tarot card reader, a vendor with Banksy prints (photocopies from the internet) and then there was Ramiro Perez earnestly talking to women about the healing nature of a bracelet, a talisman. Hand wrought pieces of ordinary materials, nothing was precious or refined. Maybe it seems strange that my first thought was that his pieces would show so well against a  black Yohji Yamamoto dress and my second thought was the memory of discovering Herve Van Der Straetten twenty years ago in Paris: the language of craft that transcends the material.

Mr. Perez sits patiently on the boardwalk waiting for customers. He is bemused by me asking what shops he sold; he waves a hand and says he wouldn't like that. His work is not usual: these are artifacts  imbued with his gentleness, that he believes will empower the wearer. Talismans.

This is work to treasure and collect. I don't know whether Mr. Perez will sell at Colette in Paris, Brown's in London, Maxfield in West Hollywood or just under an umbrella at Venice Beach. I wish the photos captured the sensuality and importance of his work.

Actually, those necklaces would set up a Rick Owens dress perfectly.

The Way Of The Hand.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tom Ford

Tom Ford spent ten years at Gucci as Creative Director taking its sales from 230 Million Dollars in 1994 to about 3 Billion Dollars in 2003. He did a dramatic exit with tons of money and images of sex, exemplifying what power and excess looked like. 

Sex and controversy and fashion and with his unbuttoned to there shirt, and did I say money, straight to Hollywood and CAA, an Oscar nomination for Colin Firth in Tom's A Single Man, the killer 45.00 lipstick with his initials and a private fashion show that made other designer's forays into collaborations with H&M seem very cheesey.

His table at Mr. Chow's was next to mine. He looked just like all the photos I'd seen of him.  I wanted to ask him something but really what to ask? Lynn Wyatt, beautiful, blonde, rich and happy, was at his table and I could have dished with her for hours about her haute couture collection, jet setter days and Texas oil men. I could have asked if he sent Christmas cards to Dawn Mello but that would have been rude. I smiled and ignored him, embarrassed by how came to his table to greet him. 

Those early collections, I think, were so emotional: the velvet jeans, the 3,000.00 blue jeans with feathers and embroidery, lace dresses, silk blouses cut to there just like his, tight dresses, VIP rooms at the boutique, Carine Roitfeld by his side. His private show celebrating his first collection for women with his label was private and rather well thought out: an intellectual collection not available to the press until a certain time, modeled by his very, very famous friends. Very expensive clothes and yet lacking emotion and heat. 

Just a quiet whisper and did I mention that the clothes are very, very expensive. 

It would be a beautiful thing for Tom and Carine to work together again, I think. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"Property Belonging To Jennifer Jones"

I absolutely winced when I read this: the Bonhams Sunset Auction of Property Belonging To Jennifer Jones. It's a Sunset Auction January 16 at 10. One presumes 10am and annoyed at the omission of the a.m. or p.m: that's so thoughtless. The hauntingly beautiful Ms. Jones won the 1943 Oscar for The Song Of Bernadette, was nominated for four more, and then there is the  Norton Simon Museum. Bonhams has less important auctions: Sunset Auctions are for bargain hunters and decorators, a handful of collectors.  Galanos, Hermes and Louis Vuitton pieces have starting prices below what a novice seller on eBay would do. Michael Taylor furniture with aged and beautiful carpets: a very elegant and eclectic mix. Seriously, why wouldn't her son, Robert Walker Jr., have called Sothebys or Christies? Hermes anything is snatched up at those auctions before the gavel slams down with three "I'll take it if they don't pay up quickly" buyers behind the winner.

Property from the Estate of Jennifer Jones 
My mother Jennifer Jones passed away last Christmas [2009]. She left this life as she lived it, with radiant beauty. For these last six years, my wife and I and our two small children were fortunate enough to be able to care for her and she showered us with blessing and laughter in return. Mother's generosity knew no bounds and during her life she gave away much. It pleases me greatly that some of her remaining treasures may find homes with others who also loved and admired her.

The previews are January 14, 15 and 16. The opening bid

Lot No: 7934W

Property from the Estate of Jennifer Jones
Two Louis Vuitton black Epi leather hardside suitcases
Each with paper label to interior with serial number 976348 or 1006921, enclosing removable tray.
width of each suitcase 31 1/2in; height 20 1/2in; depth 10 1/4in

Estimate: $1,000 - 1,500 

Lot No: 7933

Property from the Estate of Jennifer Jones
An Hermes gray ostrich 'Kelly' handbag
height 8 3/4inl; width 12 3/4in; depth 4 3/4in

Estimate: $1,000 - 1,500 

Lot No: 7932

Property from the Estate of Jennifer Jones
A collection of Hermes accoutrements
daybooks, evening bags, belts, etc.
various dimensions

Estimate: $400 - 600 

Lot No: 7908

Property from the Estate of Jennifer Jones
A Galanos black silk and blue lace evening dress

Estimate: $300 - 400 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tom Ford, Carine Roitfeld, French Vogue And The WPA

To educate people about this complex issue.
To move people emotionally.
To motivate people to action.

After my initial instinctual reaction of horror and dread about the children wearing haute couture with extremely glamorous hair and make-up and the parents who would permit this, I thought about The Child Labor Project and its mission statement.   Julia Dean launched this working with renowned photo editors after photographing the heart-rending poverty of children living at risk in India: in the tradition of the earlier WPA Farm Administration photo-journalists of the 1930's, her Tides Project sent photographers to live with a family for thirty days to document the children: the purpose was to educate and inspire a conversation because the easy answers may not have been the right answers.

Carine Roitfeld and Tom Ford did the same thing showing the surreal world of young girls being sexualized and the reaction was intense. Intense in that it is wrong to do this to children. The stylized and glamorous photo shoot capturing a tired and used look did its work. There was anger and repulsion.

The images of older women flaunting their bodies without hiding the marks of time in clothes that call attention to themselves shocks and entices you to a second look, more closely. These women are not victims of fashion, they were not used carelessly: they challenge another perception. Helen Mirren has a coy sexuality that is accepted and admired in ways that the aged beauties choosing something brazen and hard cannot have.

The December '10 issue of French Vogue, and many of Ms. Roitfeld's editorials, provokes and inspires a conversation.

The images of young children doing dangerous work at a tender age provokes and inspires a conversation


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award: They Like Me, They Really Really Like Me

One of my favorite gorgeous bloggers, Cupcake  from Fashion Tarts has dragged me back to blogging; thank you, thank you. And surprised me with the wonderful (black is so my favorite color) Stylish Blogger Award. It's a lovely, thoughtful way to come back from my hiatus that was a bit longer than I'd thought it to be. The tradition of accepting this award (I do, I do) carries the obligation of revealing seven things and passing this on to seven stylish bloggers.

1. Loree Rodkin writes the most brilliant, funny, pithy, sweet updates on Facebook and that is why I stole one which became the name of my blog and, ahem, my book-in-progress. I did ask her, of course: she kindly allowed this. It exactly says everything about my life in fashion.

2. Ssssh. I daytrade; waking up when it's dark and dashing with a cup of coffee to my computer. Biotech mostly because it's alchemy. Biotech and Apple mostly. I think of stocks as dresses on a rack that I have to sort through, preferring designer dresses stocks.

3. I can only do things at the last minute when there's tons to do and then it's necessary to hyper-concentrate. I also think once you're out of school that ADD rocks. And I watch cute cat videos.

4. I have been humbled by pre-school moms and think everyone in fashion would benefit from it (once, not more, oh no). At a fancy pre-school event at Henry Jaglom's house (he'd been a Christmas customer and everyone in my store adored him), I volunteered to help set up. The box of cap and T's to sell needed to be unpacked and displayed on a table. I did it. Another mom "fixed" it and told me it would be better like "this." I thanked her.

5. I miss Angelo DiBiase every single day. I really do. And Tina Chow. Just a few years later, it would have been so different.

6. I have always had children. Always ... Back in a 2-seater and happy about it (except for the leaks in the soft-top of my '88 Mercedes 560SL.) Oh, I added five years to my age (older was cooler) from fifteen to twenty-five.

7. I totally agree with Nora Ephron about necks. Sigh. I think if you treat yourself as a dearly loved leather chair, which requires moisturizer, a little more stuffing, buffing, very little sunshine, you will live long and well ... with turtlenecks.

8. No surprise here that of them all it's Azzedine and John Galliano that are better than the rest.

And with the greatest glee and excitement, I pass this on with all pageantry and excitement.

Eilis Boyle of the Silent Story Teller  congratulations on the sheer beauty of your world

Julie Anne Rhodes of The Roving Stove congratulations on your stories in your blog

Helen of the Luxe Chronicles congratulations on your musings

Wendy of Wendy Brandes congratulations on recovering the Most Swear Words Award

Stacy of Taffeta Darlings congratulations on the first anniversary of your blog

Tracy of Pop Trash Beauty congratulations on dealing with very serious issues, and having fun

Laura of Sighs and Whispers congratulations on your photography and sense of fashion Then

Special thanks to Bloglovin for making it possible to keep track of the blogs I love.
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