Sunday, May 29, 2011
L'Amour Fou ...The Crazy Love: A Story Of Piere Berge And Yves Saint Laurent But Surely Not The Only Story
I left the matinee of L'Amour Fou sadly, understanding for the first time the language of ennui: the feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction, the demon that crept in to seize joy from the brilliant, dazzling Yves Saint Laurent. Pierre Berge as his lover, partner and finally protector becomes an observer, even of his own life, as he prepares the collections of riches, serious art, objects and rare examples of furniture to be inventoried and packed for perhaps the most important auction ever at Christie's. The bidding went wild, competitive, frenzied; a chair selling for $28,000,000.00. Pierre Berge is shown walking in alone, sitting alone; a duty of some kind is being carried out.
Once upon a time, Yves Saint Laurent had come to Christian Dior so very young and eager, smiling at life. Soon his own house and an awareness of the changing world and that street fashion was important to understand. It was with kindness, something that he radiated early in his career, that he launched a Pret a Porter collection, the first designer of the Haute Couture to do so; it would be produced by factories owned by Didier Grumbach's family. In the way that things move as they will, Didier Grumbach has become President of the Chambre Syndicale and Federation Francaise de la Couture.
Riches, mansions, fabulous friends, excesses and a gnawing pain as Saint Laurent withdrew more and more; when he gives up drinking and the drugs, he is alone with his work while Pierre Berge watches over him somberly, seemingly emotionless. There's no stop button, no bell, no help at all.
Saint Laurent in his long white coat at his atelier contemplative, sketching, his bow at the end of the show until the final one, Catherine Deneuve supporting him. His collections are mere flashes, perfunctory, simply illustrating his work sparsely, a stingy rendition, unsatisfying; the Mondrian collection is a counter point to the Mondrian works they acquired, now being sent off to auction. The Russian collection flashes too quickly to allow the impact of that seminal collection, arguably his best.
Like an index to be checked off, a very young Saint Laurent had fun with a q&a, a moment for Betty Catroux's darkness and the hilarity he yearned for in LuLu de la Falaise, her fondness and compassion genuine, the houses, the gardens, the art, the scenes in clubs, always smoking, ever more introverted; it's shown and then the next scene, no small moments, almost impersonal.
I'm sure this is an allegory for the Pret a Porter that grew and grew alongside Saint Laurent's influence as a designer with his own shops. The YSL Rive Gauche was made in the Mendes factories that belonged to Didier Grumbach's family. It was Didier that brought Ossie Clark, Emmanuelle Khan, Jean Charles de Castelbajac and Issey Miyake to the historical Createurs et Industriel fashion show in Paris to be manufactured in his factories. The "little hands" of the Haute Couture gave way another level of fashion: industrialization.
The context of watching a simple albeit plodding documentation of the life and death of Saint Laurent witnessed by Pierre Berge, a man who thrust his hands in his pockets and walked heavily - alone, with the loss of Alexander Lee McQueen to suicide, Christophe Decarnin of Balmain replaced after being hospitalized for months with a serious kind of depression and the devastating implosion of John Galliano caused by his depression and addiction was heavy and hard. It's not easy to understand the kind of pain that destroys lives. And why others escape this blight. I don't understand at all.
Pierre Berge was asked if Saint Laurent would have swept the collection of their lifetimes to auction and he said no. No, Saint Laurent would have missed his treasures, each one.
Didier had once asked Charles and me if we could buy the collection for their South Coast Plaza Rive Gauche. I remember the gleam of the brass elevator marked with the YSL imprint taking us directly to the showroom; wood tables, racks of clothes, fitting models ... the usual. We worked easily, really just for the satisfaction of being buyers of Saint Laurent. Later on that trip we walked into the Valentino showroom that wouldn't sell to us and sat boldly at a table, beginning to write quite a nice order before we were discovered, Marco Rivera's finger wagging at us. We were buyers of Giorgio Armani which was produced in the same factories as Valentino and we thought we might have pulled it off.
Not quite a fashion film. It is disquieting, I think. The sadness Saint Laurent lived with was pervasive, eating away. Terrible.
My pine work table is ten feet long and littered in books, Alice Drake's The Beautiful Fall amongst the lot, photo albums, two computers, one laptop, rolls of quarters for parking meters, note cards with notes that once meant something and an unused Staples Reward Certificate in the amount of 10.00 along with my white fingerless gym gloves and two cameras, one digital and one film.
Mary Rae McDonald, Karen Lamm, Rina and Adam Shankman cozying up on a loveseat, long-haired babes from the late '80's including me, Helena (she of the Helena Club funded by Jack Nicholson whilst living on the Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty complex) and Carole Childs (a rock n roll legend who just happened to date Bob Dylan for eleven years), Angelo and me (my hair, Angelo, what were we thinking??) in a Susie Becker dress she had made for me with five fittings (that would be Haute Couture, yes??),
Memorial Day and memories, the perfect time to try to organize thousands (over 38,000 actually) online photos scanned into iPhoto.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Yes, that's my gorgeous cousin Heather surrounded by children. She is doing something extraordinary with her life and her happiness shows. As it should.
When Heather was in college, she made belts. Beautifully handworked and drop dead chic, any belt she delivered to Theodore's on Rodeo Drive sold out. Immediately. Nice, yes? Ambitious girl making fashion products? Yes to all of that. But this is not your ordinary Heather, no. All the money from the sale of the belts was sent to an orphanage in Vietnam.
Not that long ago, Heather started another business. Ties. Bowties. Bespoke and exquisitely made, available on her website FIGS Ties. Heather hasn't changed really. With each tie sold, she purchases a school uniform for a child in Kenya where poverty rages and children cannot afford the required uniform. That's pretty incredible, isn't it.
I sent my gorgeous cousin a few questions because I can't imagine how she gets it all done. Lots done actually. Her answers are below. Yes, I am very proud of what she does.
I just did a quick Q and A- let me know if you have any other questions or if this is what you wanted? xx00hh
Q & A
Q: How do you begin these projects with the marketing, manufacturing and selling?
A: Making a FIGS tie always begins with selecting and importing the highest quality fabrics and translating our designs into production. The fabrics come from Italy, Northern Ireland, Britain, Australia - and are then hand sewn by our tailors in New York and Los angeles featuring our signature leather tie keepers and red bar tacks.
Q: How did you find the way to donate a uniform with each tie sold?
A: Donating a school uniform to a child with the sale of each tie – Threads for Threads – is the heart of our company. As such, it is so important to us that the communities we serve are a part of the process and are behind the mission as much as we are! By employing tailors from the areas we help; and embracing personal relationships with our school communities, FIGS isn’t just a Los Angeles-based operation – it is global.
Q: The cashmere project - when did this start and what made you think of it?
A: FIGScashmere arose out of our resolve to fill a void in the scarf world for ridiculously soft cashmere. Scarves have always been a mainstay of my wardrobe and it seemed like a natural progression for FIGS’ offering of neckwear. They are a staple of basics and add a third dimension to an outfit. – it’s 100% ridiculous.
Q: Tell us about your recent trip to Oxford.
A: I am so fortunate to have received a scholarship to study at the Oxford University School of Business. I recently returned from my studies with the Finance Programme for Senior Executives and had an amazing experience. Tre-cool.
Q: Do you have help with the projects?
A: Team FIGS is behind every tie, each step of the way. We have an energetic group dedicated to seeing each tie serve two interwoven ideals – revitalizing the concept of dressing for success by supporting a child’s education, one tie at a time.
For ever tie sold, FIGS gives a uniform to a child in need.
Facts (of course any other salient facts, like your museum association, etc)
- Clinton Global Initiative tie maker
- Whitney Museum of American Art collaboration with artist Charles Ledray
- Tom Colicchio’s Craft Restaurant collaboration
- we do weddings and custom ties for individuals
Sunday, May 22, 2011
THE sole purpose of my in-basket this week seems to be to goad me into looking at fashion from the Cannes Film Festival."
A very good journalist who can take an acerbic stab at fashion that is tired or derivative, can become rhapsodic about spending time in Azzedine's kitchen (been there, en famille and it is a nice respite from the business of fashion) and can make language dance in staccato phrasing is emphatically tired of the emails from fashion designers. Bitingly criticizing some "designer froth" as being aging and noting that it takes a great pair of legs to pull off hot pants while bemoaning the flood of emails and photos from Cannes, perhaps not aware of the irony in the statement that "because of the duration of Cannes, and the number of events — not just the premieres and the AmfAR AIDS gala on Thursday, but also daily photo calls and parties — the festival has outpaced the Oscars in style." Perhaps a reason for a crowded inbox.
The work of sorting invitations to runway shows, scheduling a showroom visit, viewing videos and lookbooks in the fashion capitals of the world is, umm, the job. It's work. It's damn nice work, I think.
Maybe it is all too much every now and then. Take a nap, get a facial, go to a yoga class.
Kindly refrain from bemoaning the process and get interested again. Show don't tell and remember that there's always someone new that would slap their manicured fist down and ask you to scoot over because she wants to see every single photo. Every email. Everything.
Your readers do want to see the photos, read your delicious agnostic critiques and sigh over a slim foot in a hot red stiletto or black hot pants or chuckle at an overdone starlet.
Sleep is restorative and if that doesn't work, well .. someone else will.
There's something honky-tonk about boardwalks. Here in Venice there's flophouses mingling with architected houses that weigh in with a several million dollar price tag. Bicyclists with helmets, skaters that might have a marker stuffed into their socks, mommies pushing swings not high enough for toddlers who love the swoosh and freedom of flying up to the sky and drug/drink addled homeless in varying states of decay. Tucked into doorways and under bushes, church steps and sometimes the middle of a sidewalk, they rest, half hidden under a blanket. Luckier ones rile the city up by living in their cars or small trailers. It's colorful in the daytime in a raunchy third world, noisy way but the beach and the ocean are too elementally beautiful and captivating and so throngs fork over 20.00 a sunny weekend to park to pay 12.00 for a hot dog and a diet coke. A place that Kelly Cutrone read palms long ago, before the very cool p/r gig, the TV show and two books.
You get used to the homeless as quickly as the sightings of Bruce Willis. Churros and designer pizza, flipflops and Lanvin ballets. Gentrification is held at bay, barely.
I live on a walk street two blocks from the beach, parking is in the alley behind my house. My neighbor's house is blue and she parks under a mature lemon tree. It could be somewhere in the South of France and is very removed from the fracas and raunch of The Boardwalk.
A man was reading a book and eating a sandwich in the shade of that pretty tree last week, half-hidden by her silver car. Maybe a worker, I thought. A few hours later I backed into my parking spot under a pepper tree and he was still there, half-hidden under a blanket. I walked over tentatively, my fingers ready to tweet for help to Venice311.
His face was gaunt. Incongruously, white Ed Hardy (I know, Ed Hardy???) sneakers poked through the edge of the blanket. They were immaculate, a sort of heartbreaking surprise.
"Ma'am, don't be afraid. I'm an Iraqui vet. I'm hungry .. I need help."
I ran inside and returned with a bottle of water and an organic green salad from Whole Foods. He looked at the healthy greens and then at me. Ah, not a salad eater ...
Venice311 knows everything that goes on here and how to get things done. I sent a tweet ... who should I call for help. Antoine stood up, a slight man clean shaven and neat. He was so skinny. I drove him to get a hamburger. He waited patiently outside, telling me he was ashamed that he wasn't dressed well enough and didn't want to be around people. Venice311 and I came up with an emergency plan. She drove her large SUV to my house to park. A large roomy back area and a sleeping bag for the night.
I let Antoine into my house for a shower, telling him sternly that if Papa Bear, my 120 pound Bernese, sensed that I was anxious at all, he would promptly eat Antoine. He accepted that with another sweet "yes, ma'am."
The next morning Venic311, Antoine and I sat at my kitchen table. He'd been in the Navy for eight years, the last two in Iraq and was being treated at the Veterans Administration in Long Beach for PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome). Someone had laced a cigarette with crystal meth a few months ago and he'd stopped taking his medication. He'd found his way to Venice and hung with a small group of addicts and drunks who slept on the wide steps of a nearby church, staying together for protection. A quick downfall, and maybe the speed of it saved him.
His grandmother in Louisiana had brought him up; he'd been too ashamed to call her for help. I handed him the phone and he made the call, a hard thing to admit to this much-loved woman that he'd gone awry. Hard calls must be made and the relief was apparent before he began chatting happily. Happily ...
The lovely Venice311 had made several calls and was ready to take him to the Clare Foundation, a place that won't turn away someone who needs a hand and to detox. He was accepted into their 30 day program.
This is a very touching story with an outcome that sadly doesn't happen with most homeless addicts. Maybe it was inbred, that particular care of his Ed Hardy shoes and his appearance, that saved him. He didn't want to be the homeless junkie living under a blanket.
He may very well go back to finish training to be an MRI technician. He called yesterday to thank me .. "thank you, Miss Madeleine." And immediately let me know that he didn't think he could become a vegetarian, very politely. Candy, pringles and gatorade if you please.
Hope by the beach. I do have to talk to him about Ed Hardy, when he's healthier. Ed Hardy???????? Would I have been able to do more than turn him over to someone else if I hadn't appreciated the care he'd given his Ed Hardy's? In which case, fashion made the day!!
Sunday, May 1, 2011
A gathering of flamingos is a flamboyance, there's a flock of birds, a school of fish, a litter of puppies, a pride of lions and then there is the Heritage Luxury Auction.
Hermes Hermes Hermes .. The matte crocodile Birkin at the top has a 76,000.00 beginning bid (actually it's 90,820.00 with the buyers premium). A collector's dream and actually far less than Jane Birkin's Birkin auctioned to raise funds for the survivors of the Japanese Disasters at a sweet 167,000.00.
Drowning in Birkins ... and extreme luxury.
(umm, authentic and actually all are substantially less than those rather questionable ones on eBay ..)
Three billion people may have watched the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, happy at another fairy tale and hoping that they live happily ever after. The memories of the other Royal Wedding, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, dashed that fairy tale to bits with her visceral unhappiness, the nasty divorce, Prince Charles' middle aged public infidelity and the inexplicable loss of Diana.
The delicately beautiful Sarah Burton attended to Catherine's train before the pomp and ceremony of the wedding, something a mother or a best friend might have done. A million blogs and news stories were rushed with photos and reviews of the dress, Sarah Burton's dress. Extreme fascinators were dissected along with the appropriateness of the guests ensembles and two kisses on the balcony, not just the obligatory one.
And the same three billion people need this fairy tale to have only happy beginnings and a long happy life.
My friend Janet sent me the trailer to Tom Shadyac's documentary I AM. Mr. Shadyac as a very successful Hollywood major movies director (Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty) could sit back and make blockbusters as he liked but after a serious bicycle accident he sold his 17,000 sq ft house moving into a trailer park in Malibu and hit the road with a four person crew to look for what was wrong with the world and maybe how to fix it. Looking for windmills of a different color as over and over he discovered that we humans have deep connections, deeply caring about one another and wishing happiness for others.
We, roughly three billion of us, care very much about the fairy tale in process of Prince William and Catherine. Happily ever after would do nicely.
Umm, there is some question about the depth of caring about a few of the fascinators. One could say that we three billion strong hope that those tall beige ones are promptly lost, never to be seen again.