Western Costume

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Dude, where do I start?  It’s been around forever (100 years!), but for some reason it keeps popping up in the news.  It not only rents out tons of costumes for film, tv, commercials, etc. but it will also make you stuff from scratch!  I’m serious.  Bring in a picture and, zip! zip! they sew it up for you like those chubby mice in Cinderella.  But the mice ain’t cheap.  It’ll set you back about $400 for a woman’s dress, $800 for shoes (shoes!!!! a a pair of ruby slippers awaits), and about $1600 for a suit.  That’s just the labor, the materials and fabric you buy up front.

If you wish it, they will make it.

Designers, students, fashion fans, just go and drink it all in.  They also have a yearly spring cleaning sale to make room for new stock, and offer month long rentals for Halloween!

If you’re in LA, swing by and be inspired.

Photo gallery:

http://www.latimes.com/features/image/la-western-costume-20120615,0,1776503.photogallery

Video:

http://www.latimes.com/videogallery/70469768/Entertainment/A-hundred-years-of-Western-Costume

The story:

http://www.latimes.com/features/image/la-ig-western-costume-20120617,0,2936549.story

Their site:

http://www.westerncostume.com/wp/home

Everlane

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Is a $50 t-shirt worth $50?  Granted, it’s lighter, softer, maybe has a more flattering cut or neckline, but no.  It ain’t even close to being worth $50, even made here.  Everlane makes tees in super soft supima cotton, and because they have no brick & mortar stores, no sales people, there’s no overhead, and yes, they pass the savings onto you.

The only downside is that you can’t go try these puppies on, but hey, it’s a frickin’ t-shirt.  I’m sure it’ll fit fine.

Register and earn points towards a free tee.

http://www.everlane.com

La Dolce Vita

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Finally… A movie.  Yes, I’ve been up to my popped collar in personal deadlines, house guests, colds, playdates and whatnot, for what seems like foreveh.  But Netflix waits for no man… They charge you regardless, homie.  So, I should at least get this dusty one back to them, it’s costing me!

Seven vignettes.  Not necessarily in chronological order.  Groundbreaking structure.  Films like this remind me that nothing is new anymore.  In fashion or in film.  That’s kinda depressing, isn’t it?  This film is 52 years old, and it’s more “modern” than anything being release this summer.  What can I say about “La Dolce Vita,” that hasn’t been said?  I can’t, so I’ll just show you the goodies.

Fellini’s masterpiece opens with a helicopter flying through the air carrying a statue of Jesus.  No subtle symbolism.  Religion in the modern age = celebrity worship.

Ah, the sweet life, indeed.

Love the retro bathing suits.

Marcello Mastroianni, as Marcello, a tabloid reporter checks out a bevy of beauties sunbathing on a rooftop.  He tries talking to them, but can’t hear what they’re saying.

As you well know, this is the film that gave us the term, paparazzi.  I love Anouk Amiee’s detached, sophisticated socialite, Maddelena.

Marcello meets American actress, Sylvia Rank, Anita Ekberg, and deems her to be everything.  She is lust, love, home, hearth, all rolled into one.  And coincidentally, she also possesses the most intimidating cleavage in all of cinema.

Va-va-bazooms!

You can see where those Marciano brothers get their ad inspiration.

I just like this shot.

Don’t you just love Marcello?  Can’t help but flirt a little with the stewardesses.  How cute are their uniforms?

Sultry.

Then sweet.

She climbs a church bell tower with the press laboring to keep up.  Her dress has Catholic undertones with the black long sleeves and high collar along with the white fabric positioned at the neck.

Even though she is an object of lust, Sylvia remains childlike and innocent.  She represents big, robust American optimism and domination of the post-war era.

The most memorable image from the film is Anita Ekberg in this black strapless gown.  If you didn’t see the film you’d think it was a straight column from the waist down, but it’s not.  It’s multi-layered and multicolored chiffon.

The setting, with the fire, grotto, costumed partygoers, all remind you of the pagan decadence of ancient Rome.

Even her dance partner’s facial hair makes him look like Pan, the Satyr.

Sylvia wanders off.  This dress flows beautifully.

And here it is.

The moment you all have been waiting for.

She beckons Marcello to join her.

Marcello and Anita in the Trevi fountain.  She is a goddess, like Aphrodite emerging from the sea, and he is a mere mortal.  The water stops flowing, like a spell that’s been broken.  She is not a goddess, merely an actress, and stuck in her own dysfunctional relationship.

Roman ruins. Decadence.  Modern life empty of meaning.  The next vignette, he meets up with his friend Steiner who represents cold intellectualism devoid of religious faith.  Fellini, raised Catholic, may have felt torn between being an intellectual, and being a devout believer in Christ and everlasting life.

The vignette with the Madonna sighting turns religion into a hoax morphing into a cash grab.  The truly devout end up looking like fools.

I just like all their glasses.

Marcello escapes his suffocating girlfriend, Emma, hiding out at a seaside town, trying to write his novel.  He meets Paola, a young waitress and is taken with her beauty and innocence.

This has nothing to do with fashion, but I love the how the window coverings let light pass through to form a pattern on the floors and walls. Great idea for a restaurant or a boutique.

The next vignette Marcello’s father visits him in Rome.  They are not close but Marcello wishes he knew his father better.  Family is disconnected from his life, and he despises his girlfriend.  He is truly alone.  His father tries to hook up with one of the dancers, but can’t, um, perform.  Marcello sends him home.  Is this his fate?  To be old and still chasing after showgirls.

Cabaret dancers in flapper gear.  Love the black and white dresses.

The next vignette Marcello tags along with Nico, playing herself, to a grand aristocrat’s estate outside of Rome.

OMG. I totally forgot Nico was in this!  How fab are these two together???  I always thought of “La Dolce Vita” as older than it actually is.  But this reminded me it’s right before Swinging London and Hippies in America.  Nico really pulls your focus ,and puts you exactly in that end-of-Don Draper era.

The party at an old Italian aristocratic family shows the old societal class structures crumbling like the ruins of the Roman Empire.

Incredibly wealthy and incredibly bored, nothing’s really changed.

They walk back to the castle after a night of casual sex and ghost-hunting.

The next vignette Marcello finds out Steiner shot and killed his children and then himself.  This seems to send him off the deep end.  If someone who Marcello revered, and looked up to, and seemingly possessed everything he himself wanted: a beautiful family, a loving wife, a beautiful house and children, intellectual respect, couldn’t find happiness in life, how could he?

The next vignette shows Marcello indulging in debauchery of rock star proportions.  He’s ready to sell his soul to the highest bidder.  He’s with a group of revelers to celebrate a middle-aged woman getting an annulment.  His pitiful desperation to keep the party going while everyone else knows it’s time to go, symbolizes his own refusal to grow up, stuck in eternal adolescence.

After the owner of the house kicks them out, the gang spots a beach in the distance. Something about this group of people in the forest seems almost magical.

It’s framed in such a lovely way, and tracks along…

… As they run to the beach.

We follow behind them, as if we’re part of the party.  You can see how these party people start morphing into his later films as exaggerations, caricatures, carnival-like folk.  What they call Felliniesque, in his later films.

They witness the fishermen pull up the carcass of a prehistoric sea creature. It’s eyes open like it’s seen eons come and go, underscoring how little time we humans have on this planet.

The last shots mirror the opening shots. Marcello talking to a girl in the distance, unable to hear her respond. This time it’s the angelic Paola, the waitress from the seaside cafe. Is it his innocence and youth he can’t connect with?  Or maybe he’s finally growing up, letting go of his youth.

If anything, this film is a study in contrasts.  Modern Rome vs. ancient Rome.  Powerful vs. weak.  Respected writer vs. reviled tabloid journalist.  Madonna vs. whore.  Decadence vs. innocence.  Clingy Emma (girlfriend) vs. Aloof Sylvia (dream girl).

It’s complex, glamorous (even if self-reflective), and intellectual.  Very rare to find that these days.

In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, at LACMA

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This was such a great show, and exposed me to artists I hadn’t heard of before like Alice Rahon, Remedios Varo, Gertrude Abercrombie, and Helen Lundeberg.  I think surrealism suits women well.  It’s dreamlike and fantastical, full of symbolism and enveloped in feminine mysticism.  It concluded May 6th, but a book is available at lacma.org.

http://shop.lacma.org/products/in-wonderland

Frida represents, of course. Sorry for the bad angle, couldn’t get a better position.

Alice Rahon, self-portrait and autobiography, 1948.

Alice Rahon, close-up of Ballad for Frida Kahlo, 1956-1966.

Alice Rahon. Mercy for the Judas Effigies, 1952.

A very inspiring show.  It made me want to paint again.

“Inside the Script” digital books

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Warner Bros. has released four titles of ebooks in their new “Inside the Script,” series.  “Casablanca,” “Ben-Hur,” “An American in Paris,” (Leslie Caron! Gene Kelly! Gershwin!) and “North by Northwest,” (Cary Grant! Icy Eva Marie Saint!).

They’re chock full of candid photos, production notes, interactive costume gallery, movie posters, set designs, and behind-the-scenes photos.  Crack for you film fans.

They’re available on ibookstore, Kindle, and Nook.

Tomboy Style: Beyond the Boundaries of Fashion

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Lizzie Garret Mettler, a freelance writer who’s written for the LA Times, Bon Appetit, and the Huffington Post, took her tomboy blog and turned it into a book.  It chronicles the past 80 years and how women have taken masculine aspects and made them fit their look and lifestyle.

Being a tomboy myself, I can’t wait to get it.

I put her blog on my blogroll.  Check it out.

Birdsong

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Aaaaah.  Tragic love stories.  Why do we love them so???  “Birdsong,” based on Sebastian Faulks’ novel of two star-crossed lovers during WWI.  He is English, Stephen Wraysford, Eddie Redmayne, and she is French, Isabelle Azaire, Clémence Poésy.  He is young and naive, she is young, but married.  It aired on PBS in America, in two parts.  If you missed it, you can catch it online at pbs.org.

Such a feminine jacket, the lapel, and fitted waist.

Love the lace.

Such a beautiful shot. You can tell by the framing, they will embark on something secretive.

Isabelle going to feed the workers. Her red sash hints at her passionate streak.

It's like a painting.

This one as well. Could be an impressionist's work.

Isabelle and Stephen's first touch.

Isabelle has the most gorgeous hairstyles. Bravo to hair and makeup. Nothing looks overwrought, just effortless softness.

I love the tiny braid! Makes it very modern, in a way.

Another painterly shot.

And another. Isabelle leads Stephen to her room, red skirt, passion to follow.

Isabelle doesn't tread lightly into this affair. This is intentional. Another great hair shot.

The interiors of the Azaire manse are elegant and impeccable.

Beautifully shot by Julian Court, and directed by Phillip Martin.  It reminds me of “The English Patient.”  An illicit affair, with a tragic end.  We watch the lovers consumed by their passions, and shed tears at their tragic end.  Eddie Redmayne is especially good in this.  His Stephen goes from lovestruck to shellshocked and everything in between.

Kaleidoscope App

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Remember when there was a gap between when something was happening (and it was cool) to it getting adopted by the mall masses (and it was def waaay over).  With the internet and street style blogs that gap got wafer thin, and now it’s gone.  Thanks to stuff like the new Kaleidoscope App.

Tech start up Inporia teamed up with Details magazine to construct an turnkey lookbook.  They scope out the most covetable looks, send the pix to their team of elves which dissect each component and link it to a site (to one of their retail partners, coinkidink?, I think not) so you can buy something similar if not exactly the same,

http://www.details.com/style-advice/perfect-wardrobe/201204/details-kaleidoscope-coachella-shop-menswear

http://kalei.do/

If trends get adopted and dropped with such lightning speed, is it really a trend?  It reminds me of a Vanity Fair article I read recently that said there was nothing new anymore fashion-wise.  Everything has been done, and we continue to just recycle decades.  I’ve felt that way for a while.  I think what evolves now is the styling, how you wear it.  Maybe this is the start.  Maybe this is the end of trends.

Letterboxd

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You are a quiet bunch.  Loyal readers, but quiet.  I’ve only had a few comments on this here blog.  If you ever have a hankering to discuss films with your homies (and not just listen to me twatting on) check out Letterboxd.com.  It’s a new site devoted to discussing films, new, old, in production, in development, etc.

As if we need one more thing to do... Hell, I did it anyway.

You can keep an online diary, rate films, review films, save films to watch later, you can follow each other (that just sounds funny), import your viewing history from Netflix, and launch streaming videos.  Whew.

Ute Lemper

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Maybe because I’m still thinking about Charlotte Rampling singing Marlene Dietrich songs…

Ute Lemper.  Is she so fantastic, or what?  So striking, so fierce, so German.

Do you think Marlene would approve?  She’d probably be a wee bit jealous.