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Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

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Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis in Feud: Bette and Joan.

I don’t know what we would have done without fabric painting. Since it was too time-consuming to locate the good vintage fabrics and prints, we relied on CADFab digital printing to replicate the fabrics we needed, From Baby Jane’s floral dress to Bette Davis’ 1978 Oscar caftan. 

Katie Saunders – Costume Supervisor on the television limited series, Feud: Bette and Joan.

Ms. Saunders was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Feud.

Congratulations to the winners in the costume categories last night.

Period Series: Michele Clapton – The Crown 

Contemporary Drama: Alix Friedberg, Big Little Lies

Variety/Non-Fiction/Reality: Zaldy Goco, RuPaul’s Drag Race

 

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IMG_20170821_171928Your new hat is small … and round … and deep … made of melusine … the silky soft felt that is this year’s fashion sensation … in the subtle shades of a degas painting … flattering and romantic … from a collection … millinery, second floor. 

Agnes Farrell, fashion director & advertising director at Bullocks Wilshire, 1930s-1960s.

Speaking of a Degas painting, there’s a little more time left to catch Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. On now through September 24, 2017.

Click here to read my review.

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The (tarnished) copper and terracotta tower of Bullocks Wilshire, meant to be seen far and wide.

Art of every kind has a double job to do. First, it must be pleasing in itself. Second, it must present a faithful picture of the times in which it was produced. Good art – the kind of art that lasts for ages – always does just this. It invariably mirrors life as it is being lived. Through the art that is being produced today, future generations will come to know us. 

Jock Peters (1889-1943), Danish born architect.

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I found this quote in Bullocks Wilshire, a book by Margaret Leslie Davis which tells the tale of the impressive Art Deco building built in 1929 to house the upscale department store Bullocks Wilshire (pictured above).

Mr. Peters was the interior designer for the building and I would say that he certainly created an environment that reflects the aesthetics and values of his time.

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Art Deco elevators doors on the first floor.

Located on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, the famous department store had to have been the most fabulous of shopping experiences back in the day. Five floors of impeccable Art Deco design with attention to detail using materials including marble, copper, brass, crystal, and all kinds of exquisite wood. Murals inside and out by artists of the day reflected the building’s overall theme of transportation and commerce.

There was the Tea Room, the Studio of Beauty, a lounge for the ladies and a smoking room for the gents. Each department had a different Art Deco clock. Hollywood costume designer Irene sold exclusively at Bullocks Wilshire in her own department. Clark Gable bought his riding gear in the Saddle Shop. Angela Landsbury worked at the cosmetics counter before her big break in the movies.

Over the years, the building’s interior changed as styles changed. Things were covered up and painted over. Bullocks, Inc. which owned and operated several stores, merged with San Francisco’s I. Magnin in 1944. Many years later Federated Department Stores took over and then, sadly, in 1993 Bullocks Wilshire closed thanks in part to shifts in the immediate neighborhood and a decline in retail sales. The building remained unoccupied until Southwestern Law School purchased it in 1994 and immediately started a complete renovation.

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One of the many Bullocks Wilshire clocks.

On a recent visit to Los Angeles I was lucky enough to take a tour and I tip my hat to Southwestern Law School for their dedication to and appreciation of the beauty and integrity of this amazing historical structure.

 

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That’s me! In the Louis XVI Room,  which was designed to feel like Marie Antoinette’s boudoir.  This was one of two “period” rooms where ladies sat comfortably while mannequins modeled the latest fashions. There were no racks of clothing back then. Perish the thought!

Have I piqued your interest? Would you like to take a look-see yourself?  The building is not open to the public on a daily basis but twice a year in the summer there are tours. Click here for details. 

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Matt Bomer and Lily Collins in The Last Tycoon.

Who’s watching The Last Tycoon on Amazon? I have only seen the pilot but I’m hooked.

It seems there’s a run on period series lately. It started with Mad Men then Downton Abbey, The Crown, The Feud, Outlander … did I miss any?

Those of us who love all fashions vintage are thrilled to be able immerse ourselves in the fabulous costuming of these series – finding endless sources of inspiration for our own creations.

Costumer for The Last Tycoon is Janie Bryant, who reached commercial success with her work on Man Men. She tells WWD that after eight years on that show she was ready for something different. Another era will do!

She says:

Everything about the Thirties is so different from the architectural, minimalist Sixties. The cuts, the parts of the body that are accentuated, the color palette. The Thirties is about being very soft and dusty, and silk charmeuse-y. Really, it is about the facade of Hollywood that the studios created, and all of the glamour that entails. They made sure the actors were untouchable.

The Last Tycoon is based loosely on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel set in 1930s Hollywood. Bring on the glamour, the hats, the gloves, the impeccably dressed characters from movie moguls to stagehands to homeless Okies. I always enjoy seeing how poor people are costumed in period pieces. It must be a challenge as such people sported cheaper and slightly outdated versions of what the upper-classes wore. So any costumer has to strike a balance of a character trying to look their best with shabby clothing. There are interesting nuances to convey.

For the upper-crust main characters, Ms. Bryant was inspired by Hollywood stars of the era, such as Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, Ginger Rogers, and Fred Astaire.

The costumes in The Last Tycoon are a visual treat. In particular Lily Collins – Phil Collins daughter – who plays Celia Brady is well suited to the 1930s, with a trim figure perfect for knit dresses and big eyes with full brows, which cannot be hidden under those adorable small hats of the era.

Ms. Collins is no stranger to the show’s sets. She tells WWD that Greystone Mansion (used as her character’s family home) was a childhood playhouse since her mother was quite active in historical building preservation. I was happy to see featured the Biltmore Hotel as I stayed there for the first time on a recent visit to LA. It is quite the period building (opened in 1923) with grand ballrooms, marble columns, murals, and a fabulous tile-lined pool. Indeed the Biltmore was one of the original venues for the Academy Awards.

Now that I’m all about The Last Tycoon, I want to see the 1976 version with Robert De Niero, costumes by Anna Hill Johnstone who also costumed The Godfather, Ragtime, and Dog Day Afternoon. She was nominated for two Academy Awards.

Time for a little compare and contrast.

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Degas, The Milliners. 1882.

For those of us who love our hats the current exhibit on at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco is a must see.

Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade is an exploration of hats in Paris reflected in the works of Impressionists including Degas, who himself came from a fashion oriented family, Renoir, Cassatt, Manet, and Toulouse-Lautrec among others.

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Degas, Portrait of Zacharian. 1885.

Each of these artists took an interest in the making of hats and the women who wore them. Among the 40 works of art are images of milliners at work, hat shops, and women in conversation donning spectacular chapeaux often draped in ribbons or topped with colorful plumes. But what about les hommes? They are represented as well looking oh so dashing in top hats, bowlers, and boaters too.

The array of paintings come from Musée d’Orsay, the Art Institute of Chicago, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the St. Louis Museum of Art and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Hats were an essential accessory at the time for both men and women. Business was booming with 1000 milliners working in the city of Paris during the hat’s peak, 1875-1914. The hats themselves were glamorous as were the ladies who wore them, but for the milliners and shop girls life was hard work and long hours – a part of the story Degas in particular wanted to tell.

Degas_MKT_38I liked seeing the large and beautiful posters of the era by Toulouse-Lautrec, selling products with ladies in hats. In each room there are also display cases of hats. A collection of 40, including boaters and bonnets, bowlers and everyone’s favorite – the Picture Hat, which has a very large brim and is often adorned with lace, silk flowers, feathers, birds, you name it!

The exhibit is a manageable size allowing for a second walk-around, if desired.  The day I visited I was a little taken aback by what I fear might be a growing trend in museums – selfies and photos of oneself taken by another.

There was an older woman all dolled up in a hat, who asked other attendees to take a photo of her in front of EVERY SINGLE piece of work in the exhibit. My friend and I were looking at one painting when this woman walked right in front of us and stood by the piece, posing for a photo completely oblivious to our presence. A group of young girls were darting around taking selfies in front various works. It was an interruption to our experience and I have to wonder if these photo-hounds have any real interest in art.

I understand that museums are trying to appeal to everyone and apparently allowing selfies is one way to get people in the door, but at what cost? I think we have a problem when it becomes all about the viewer and the art is simply a background for someone’s photo.

That aside, as an appreciator of art and museums, and one mad woman for hats, I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibit.

Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade on now through September 24, 2017 at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.

Click here for more details.

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nipar-bonnie-370wNot a believer in idle hands, my grandmother presented me with a small sewing box when I was nine years old. She taught me rudimentary hand stitching, cross-stitch, embroidery, and how to darn holes in socks. Soon, I was making clothing for my dolls out of her old aprons. A year later, she announced we would move on to the sewing machine. I felt a thrill of adventure as she pulled down the hideaway ladder in the upstairs hallway and we climbed to the attic sewing room, complete with a large cutting table, bins of fabric and patterns, and nestled close to a dormer window, an old Singer sewing machine with a knee pedal. This room became my haven growing up. My grandmother was the first person to recognize my passion for clothing and design, and foster my creativity. I will always be grateful to her for teaching me how to sew.

Bonnie Nipar, Hollywood costume designer.

Ms. Nipar shared her story with the recent edition of The Costume Designer (the official magazine of the Costume Designers Guild, Local 892). Her work can be seen on television shows Grace Under Fire, Dharma & Greg, and recently Are You There, Chelsea?

 

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yujawang1_erichcampingphotocreditIt’s hard to find clothes because I’m so petite. In my twenties, I’d put on my tight Herve Leger dress and heels, and it looked like I was going to the bar. Concert goers think, Classical music – it’s really serious. There are lots of rules, and the dress code, which I broke, was one of them. It’s irrelevant to what we’re doing. It’s just a piece of cloth, but once it’s on my body, it boosts my confidence, and that translates to the music. 

Yuja Wang, concert pianist.

There is a dress code for classical music performers – black. I have seen all versions of  black on performers from very elegant dresses in lace to bland slacks and sweaters.

Fashionista Ms. Wang is tossing all that aside and donning what she pleases, often very short, very tight, and in color. I hate to see the black tradition disappear, however, it seems from what I read about Wang, that a little fashion spice suits her personality and passion for playing.

Having said that, I do think Wang pushes the envelope a little too far when she chooses dresses like the one on the photo above. Come on! It’s no longer about the music with those slits. The shoes are what I call Stripper Shoes, which are fine for clubbing but not for weddings, christenings, elegant affairs of any kind including classical music concerts.

I suspect that the all black policy is intended to place the music first even above the performer. It’s true that colorful clothing really does stand out and may be distracting. There’s nothing wrong with a little sex appeal on stage but actually, I think passion for the music takes care of that.

 

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