Archive for the ‘FILM’ Category

Accessing Audrey
November 25, 2009

I’ve been on a ’60s kick lately (even though I’ve been absent from the blog for a bit) and now comes the news of an auction of clothes largely from that decade from the wardrobe of the incomparable Audrey Hepburn. The big numbers are from Givenchy, her lifelong designer and friend, like the silk cloqué dress above from his autumn-winter 1966 collection that’s a most distinctive shade of blue. Seriously, the woman could even make a pastel look sophisticated. And as the catalogue notes, she ordered the dress (no loaners for Miss Hepburn!) for her publicity tour for Two For The Road, one of my all-time favorite movies.

Of course the auction includes loads of little black dresses, her trademark, and the story behind it is pretty rich. In 1951, Audrey, then 21, met Tanja Starr-Busmann, the 15-year-old daughter of a Dutch diplomat, in London where their families were neighbors. It was the start of a life-long friendship, and periodically Audrey would load up a big box with her haute couture cast-offs and send them off to Tanja. It really was a different world – Busmann even gave one of the Givenchy gowns to the nanny! Now all these years later, Kerry Taylor Auctions in London has acquired “the collection” and it’s set to go under the hammer on December 8, with half of the proceeds going to Unicef and the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund. Experts expect the sale to net north of $150,000, but authenticated Audrey pieces rarely come on the market and, after last week’s Yves St. Laurent sale where his old pots and pans went for $22,000, I think it’s anybody’s guess. I mean it’s Audrey Hepburn!

And then there is her wedding dress – for the marriage that never was. While she was filming the star-making Roman Holiday in 1952 in Rome, she sought out out the Fontana Sisters – renowned in postwar Italy for their full-skirted romantic gowns – to create her wedding dress. But as she finished the movie she called off her engagement to an Englishman and implored the sisters to give the dress away,”to the most beautiful, poor Italian girl you can find – someone who couldn’t ever afford a dress like mine.” (An impoverished farm girl, Amabile Altobella, wore it, stayed happily married and said the dress brought her luck.) Could you die?

Speaking of weddings, Audrey Hepburn also wore a lot of Valentino in the ’60s, and from his legendary Spring 1968 all-white couture collection there is a lacy vanilla mini, a version of the dress that Jackie O chose for her Skorpios ceremony with Ari. Val-hollah!

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3 (Designing) Women
October 12, 2009

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Little-known today, Robert Altman’s 1977 meandering masterpiece 3 Women came up the other day at a shoot when I remarked that our model reminded me of the young Shelley Duvall (“That’s a name you don’t hear everyday,” the photographer said drily.) Based on an actual dream of Altman’s, the story traces the lives of the trio (played by Duvall, Janice Rule and Sissy Spacek) as their identities begin to shift and then merge with each other until the boundaries disappear and, as movie critic Roger Ebert says, “the dream is perhaps shared by all three women, each one imagining the other two, each one lacking what the others possess.”

Oddly, he could have been describing the Spring 2010 collections of three other women in Paris last week, who I’ll call “The Chloé Sisters” – because they all came to prominence at the fabled French house.  Stella McCartney, her former assistant Phoebe Philo and her former assistant Hannah MacGibbon were all on the Paris schedule, the first time all three have had individual shows in the same season.  And all three are British imports, educated at  Central St. Martin’s, and all in their late ’30s.

McCartney, whose namesake line is part of Gucci Group, famously took the design reigns at Chloé in the mid-nineties, replacing none other than Karl Lagerfeld, survived the subsequent tempest in a toile, and revived the house with her blend of tailored jackets (owing partly to her time working on Saville Row) and floaty feminine pieces.

In 2001 she began her namesake collection and Philo was named head designer and took the line in a trendier direction with high-waisted trousers and baby-doll dresses 91ad4194b6d1eeb2and a series of iconic handbags, notably the padlocked Paddington, the pandemonium-causing “it ” bag of the decade. When she left in 2006, saying she wanted more time for her family in London, MacGibbon was next in line but surprisingly she opted out, also citing family as the reason. Chloé then bounced through two other designers, and it’s crazy-cool and counterfeiter-clamoring formula took a big hit.  Last year, MacGibbon was talked into coming back full-time to Chloé where she had been consulting, while Philo was named head designer at the also-shaky Celine across town.

Well, as they say, with no further ado – to the runways. Looks like it’s going to be a sexy and self-assured spring for Stella (friend Gwynie Paltrow must be drooling), her signature jackets sporting a rollicking ruffle, her man-trousers topped off with light and lacy no-frills halters and her party flounces slip-sliding away. All the way to the bank.

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Over at Celine, Philo “wears the pants” with a starkly luxurious leather T-shirt, befitting the investment pricetags and her own intention to clear the decks design-wise this season. So it’s all neutral nuances, the only softness coming from soft white cotton pieces paired with severe dark leather. And her night-time is the right time for a tall-drink-of -water slinky cooler.

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MacGibbon’s collection (her second) for Chloé puts her tomboy spin on these same design codes. Personally, if I never hear the term “boyfriend jacket” again, it will be too soon. But that’s her opening gambit, followed by L.L. Beanery: couture workshirts, hunting-worthy stirrup pants, foul-weather Macs and, in an Nottingwood Forest detour, wool capes.  For spring. It all seemed pretty dark and stormy until, at last, the sun broke blazingly through, in delicate white flounced dresses (that could easily go toe-to-toe with anything Karl ever did for Chloé). With kitten heels no less.

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Call Her Anna
September 22, 2009

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The September Issue, the documentary about Vogue, Anna Wintour (seen above in a scene with photographer Mario Testino) and the making of the magazine’s largest-ever September 2007 issue, brought with it a ton of publicity, culminating in her appearance on David Letterman’s show just before Fashion Week. Finally the film has opened in LA (and it expands across the country this coming weekend) and, for all you Anna-philes out there, the movie reveals some amusing and arcane remnants to ponder about the legendary editor.

1. Anna doesn’t like black! I had never realized this before but think, quick, have you ever seen her photographed in a little black dress? And she isn’t very partial to it in the pages of her magazine either. In one segment, Anna’s palpable gloom is hilarious as YSL’s designer Stephano Pilati determinedly tries to assure her that the muted morass of his new collection includes some murky green and red. She doesn’t see it (and, really, neither do we).

2. Anna lives in a cottage! Or rather, a ersatz cottage inside a Village townhouse with goldenrod decorator-sponged walls (so ’90s!), pretty painted pottery and a jumble of coats hanging in the entryway. I don’t know why I was so surprised – her ex-husband was an academic, not the corporate type like Miranda Priestly’s withering spouse in The Devil Wears Prada. But in contrast with her chilly, walk-the-plank office….

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3. Anna loves prints!  You can take the girl out of England but you can’t take England out of the girl, apparently.  Her uniform is unvarying – a print dress (often Prada) worn with or without a cardigan.  Add fur at the slightest hint of a breeze. Delicate Manolos in summer (no lumbering Louboutin platforms for her!) and sleek boots in winter. More often than not, she accessorizes only with what appears to be a very fine vintage citrine necklace. Customarily a floral print gives your run-of-the-mill fashionista the worst kind of the heebie-jeebies so it’s kind of perversely wonderful that they’re the unvarying uniforn of the queen.

Coco
September 15, 2009

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Doesn’t that picture make your heart stop a little? Last week brought a real treat – I was invited to a premiere screening of Coco Before Chanel, the story of her life before she found her fame and fortune as a designer (the still, above, is from the end of the film). From the opening sequence at a orphanage where she and her sister are abandoned – and where the nuns’ severe black habits and starchy white wimples foreshadow Chanel’s own eventual aesthetic – through her years at a dance hall and later as the scheming but ultimately irreplaceable guest of her country-squire patron, director Anne Fontaine provides one gorgeous scene after another. And if that’s not enough for fashion fans, Coco’s Parisian triumph at the end of the film is staged with rare pieces from the Chanel conservatory.

0002791f10drBut the movie is much more than a fever dream – Audrey Tatou perfectly embodies Coco’s rebellious nature and particularly French prickly personality but charms you all the while. Introducing the film, Fontaine said she would “be a little sad” if the audience didn’t like the film. No chance of that when the movie opens later this month.