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August 21 2014

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10 posts tagged "Diana Vreeland"

Lauren Bacall, R.I.P.

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Lauren Bacall

Actress Lauren Bacall, the husky-voiced, wavy-haired beauty known for such films as How to Marry a Millionaire and The Big Sleep passed away in New York yesterday. She was 89.

Bacall, who met her first husband and frequent co-star Humphrey Bogart on the set of To Have and Have Not, was not only a star on the silver screen, but in the style sector, too. In fact, Diana Vreeland is credited with discovering the actress during her tenure at Harper’s Bazaar. Bacall, or Betty, as she was called at the time, was introduced to Vreeland at the age of sixteen, and the editor instantly tapped her for a sitting with photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe. “I don’t want to change your look,” Vreeland told Bacall according to Amanda Mackenzie Stuart’s book The Empress of Fashion. The actress first appeared in Harper’s in January of 1943, and Vreeland put her on the cover in March of that year (below). Hollywood—or more specifically, To Have and Have Not director Howard Hawks—came knocking. And the rest is history.

harpers“Betty’s always been what used to be called a ‘good kid,’” Vreeland once said. “It’s rather a period phrase, but it’s the way I always think of her. I didn’t think about her—I loved her. She was my special friend. She’s always kept her own thoughts and her own dreams…she literally had nothing to offer but her existence.” In addition to her sultry presence, full red lips, and flawless figure, it is that genuine, true-to-herself attitude that makes Bacall an enduring icon.

Photo: Getty Images

Diane Pernet Loves Film, Fashion, and Zoolander

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diane-pernetFashion film is a curious genre. Oftentimes, the Style.com team is confronted with the typical pitch: a short little flick featuring haunting indie music, a pensive-looking model, a vintage bohemian ambiance, and, of course, a new collection. Sure, there are great ones (as evidenced by our Video Fashion Week series, which wrapped today), but more often than not, they’re cheesy and lacking in both plot and substance. However, according to former designer, renowned journalist, and A Shaded View on Fashion Film Festival founder Diane Pernet, this breed of cinematography is not fashion film at all. “Just because you’ve used a movie camera doesn’t mean you’ve made a film,” Pernet told Style.com. And she would know. Having launched her famed Paris-based festival in 2008 (it gets its name from her blog, A Shaded View on Fashion), Pernet now sorts through more than five hundred cinematic submissions each year before curating the lineup of films to be shown (and judged) during her grand event. As you can imagine, she’s seen the bad, the terrible, but also the spectacular.

Last weekend, thanks to a little help from the French Institute Alliance Française and Kering, Pernet brought New York its first taste of ASVOFF. She screened the festival’s greatest hits by the likes of Bruce Weber, Ellen von Unwerth, and Mike Figgis with the hopes of inspiring and enlightening her stateside fans. There was no competition element this time around, but Pernet, who’s as well known for her marvelously outré noir uniform as for her widespread work in sartorial cinema, hinted that she hopes to bring the full-fledged festival to the Big Apple next year. Also on her docket? The launch of a trio of perfumes, which debut on Style.com’s Beauty Counter this afternoon. Here, Pernet talks to Style.com about the role of fashion film, her frustration with runway shows, and why fashion flicks are so rarely taken seriously.

Oftentimes, fashion film is not taken seriously. Why do you think that is?

I think the reason it’s not taken seriously is that a lot of fashion photographers making films aren’t filmmakers. It’s their agents who are telling them, “You’d better get a video camera and you’d better make a film because that’s where it’s at.” And a film director has to think of so many different elements that you don’t think about in a frozen image. So a big problem is that some fashion photographers have a hard time making the segue. Of course, there are people who have made a nice entry, like Bruce Weber or Ellen von Unwerth who have been doing it for over a decade, or newer people like Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, and Inez & Vinoodh. But a lot of photographers are just making fashion photo shoots that move. That’s not a film. It’s a fashion shoot in motion and that’s not interesting. Not interesting to me, anyway.

A lot of fashion films that we see are almost a parody of themselves, with the indie music, the “deep in thought” models, the vintage vibe…With that in mind, what does it take to make a compelling fashion film?

I always use this as an example because it’s something everybody knows: A Therapy, Roman Polanski’s 2012 film for Prada. That’s an excellent fashion film. I personally like a narrative. I think you need a narrative if you’re going to hold somebody’s interest for three minutes. CO’s She Said, She Said [2013] by Stuart Blumberg, which won best acting in my festival, is a great example. It had a wonderful story. After my festival at Centre Pompidou, I got an e-mail from a digital person at LVMH that said, “Now that is a great way to show fashion.” Fashion film is not about just selling the product—it’s about creating an atmosphere. It’s a story. A great fashion film needs the same criteria as a feature film. Does it take you somewhere? Does it have some kind of emotion? And humor is always great. People in fashion need humor.

Does it upset you that so many brands are dubbing these moving photo shoots “fashion films”?

I get about five hundred submissions [for my festival] every year, and an awful lot are in that category. I think people still don’t have a grip on what a fashion film is—they still believe that if someone’s moving in front of the camera, it’s a film. So that’s a little depressing, but it’s getting better. People are starting to realize that it’s not about, like, here’s the shoe, here’s the dress, here’s this. It’s not an animated lookbook, for God’s sake. It’s a film.

Do you think that fashion film can stand on its own as an art form, or will its primary purpose always be to showcase a product?

I think it can stand on its own. There are a lot of fashion films that are made by actual filmmakers that are not just about a product, even when it is for a product. We have to move away from [product-centric fashion films] because they’re not very interesting. You want something that’s going to make you think. It’s just not about being pretty—it’s got to be more than that.

You were really the first major champion of fashion film. How did you come to be so passionate about it?

Well, my background is in film. That’s what I have my degree in, and I’ve always loved film and I’ve always loved fashion. I think from the first Walt Disney movie I saw in a drive-in, the fantasy of films just captured me. And as far as clothing, I was a designer for thirteen years. I think the real seed of it, though, was planted when I moved to Paris at the end of 1990. My first job was working on a feature film as a costume designer, and I realized how directors are really afraid of fashion. Of course, some directors, like David Lynch and Peter Greenaway, got it. But most are afraid that the fashions are going to take too much importance. But really, fashion is supporting the character, and it can be very subtle. Most directors just don’t understand fashion or they don’t give it the credit that it really warrants. That really made me think about the relationship between fashion and film.

Do you think the fact that directors like Martin Scorsese and Wes Anderson, who have made films for Dolce & Gabbana and Prada, respectively, have elevated the practice to higher regard?

Absolutely. That’s why we like to always have one of our films presented at Cannes because we want more directors like that to be involved. I just met Alejandro Jodorowsky’s son, Adan Jodorowsky, who made this incredible film, The Voice Thief [2013], with Asia Argento. We’re going to put it in the next edition of ASVOFF. I want to always raise the bar, and I want more real directors. I think that’s important.

Do you think that something originally pegged as a fashion film could evolve into something that ends up being a mainstream feature?

Yeah, I hope so. I’d love that. And why not? Take Wes Anderson. I haven’t seen The Grand Budapest Hotel yet. But I think there are directors whose features you can call fashion films. We had William Klein two years ago as a special guest, and that film, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? [1996], was a fashion film. Or what about Zoolander [2001]? I love Zoolander. That’s a fashion film. I thought it was really interesting. And I love some documentaries, like the one on Diana Vreeland, The Eye Has to Travel [2011]. I loved that film. I thought it was really inspiring.

How do fashion films make us look at garments differently than a fashion photograph or a runway show does?

Fashion films are a dream. They’re all about desire. You’re seeing the garment in 3-D. I love a frozen image, too, so I’m not against print. I think there’s a value to that, and they can be something really beautiful. Fashion films are just another way to show fashion—not the only way. I’m not saying that fashion films are going to take over runway shows, because they’ve always been the most efficient way to show fashion, even though now, I think, for the most part they look pretty last century. I don’t think that will change right away.

Do you think it should change? Should we move away from runway shows?

I’d be happier to see more films and installations. I think so many fashion shows shouldn’t even happen. You spend so much time going from one end [of a city] to the other just to see things walking up and down the runway. If you’re going to take us somewhere, like Alexander McQueen used to or like [John] Galliano did in his day, or sometimes other designers like Rick Owens or Haider Ackermann do, there’s something special and emotional about a show. There’s a mood. But I don’t see that a lot anymore. I’ve talked to Rick Owens about this, and he likes the “tribe” experience of a show, but if you ask me, the main point of a lot of these fashion shows now is just to see who’s sitting in what row. I mean, who cares? I think they’re not necessary.

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Insta-Gratification

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In the age of Instagram, all it takes is a smartphone to achieve a photo finish, be it filtered or #nofilter-ed. That’s why Style.com’s social media editor, Rachel Walgrove, is rounding up our favorite snaps and bringing them into focus. See below for today’s top shots.

Friday, January 31

In celebration of its #ArtMatters window installation, Bergdorf Goodman has surrendered its account to the visual masters behind the #BGWindows.

It’s hard to pick just one. Riccardo Tisci went on a sharing spree, uploading new photos of Erykah Badu, the face of Givenchy’s Spring ’14 ads.

If our flooded e-mail inboxes weren’t an indication, this photo from the MBFW account reminds us that fashion week is just a few days away.

Cheers to the weekend. Make this one count.

And let us say, Amen. Continue Reading “Insta-Gratification” »

Did You Get The Memo? Diana Vreeland In Her Own Words

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Memos: The Vogue Years

“Our cover situation is drastic…We are on the verge of a drastic emergency.” So reads the first entry in the latest Diana Vreeland tome, Memos: The Vogue Years. Compiled by Vreeland’s grandson Alexander (the husband of Lisa Immordino Vreeland, who directed The Eye Has to Travel), the book features more than 250 of Vreeland’s infamous notes from her time at Vogue, which she’d dictate over the phone to her secretary while puffing on cigarettes in a wicker chair in the bathroom of her Park Avenue apartment. This, Alexander told us, was her preferred mode of communication. “She didn’t believe in meetings,” he said. His assertion is backed up by Diana’s memo to the Vogue team on page fifty-nine, in which she considers holding a meeting about the “controversial” topic of dress lengths, but resolves, “Usually, when we have meetings, we don’t get ideas and views from people.”

But it wasn’t just her staff whom she’d confront about everything from the importance of pearls and bangles to her annoyance with the mistreatment of her initials in her editor’s letter (above), to the necessity that Vogue‘s spreads “never, ever copy…any kind of coiffure that is reminiscent of the 30s, 40s, 50s,” via her rapier dictations. The book—which is available now from Rizzoli—also includes her correspondences with the likes of Richard (or Dick, as she called him) Avedon, Irving Penn (to whom she complains about lackluster tulips), Cecil Beaton, Cristobal Balenciaga (above), Halston, Veruschka, and beyond. Continue Reading “Did You Get The Memo? Diana Vreeland In Her Own Words” »

Red Suits You

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Red suits from Thom Browne and Haider Ackermann, and LeBron James

From the runway to the street to the closets of sports stars, the color red has found its way onto the current sartorial playlist, especially—and excitingly—across men’s suiting.

“Red has great energy and signifies a decadence other colors can’t,” Barneys New York’s general merchandise manager and executive vice president Tom Kalenderian told Style.com. “Remember Diana Vreeland’s famous red chinoiserie walls—didn’t she once say, ‘I want this place to look like a garden, but a garden in hell?’” After hearing Vreeland’s take on the hue, who wouldn’t want to wrap himself up in Haider Ackermann‘s ruby-toned sleeveless Spring ’14 waistcoat, Roberto Cavalli‘s oxblood shawl-collared stunner, or Thom Browne‘s cherry-red generalissimo uniforms?

Just off the runway, our intrepid Tommy Ton lensed red peaked-lapel blazers from Firenze to Paris. One fellow stood out in particular, pairing his vermilion jacket with a medium-grade chambray shirt-and-tie combo underneath. And finally, at last week’s ESPY Awards, a number of athletes hot-stepped it down the red carpet in matching wares: Chicago Bears’ wide receiver Brandon Marshall in a Hugh Hefner-esque burgundy smoking jacket; San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a simple scarlet sport jacket; and the King himself, the NBA’s LeBron James, in a muted carmine tux whipped up by L.A.-based tailor Waraire Boswell. As Kalenderian keenly noted, “Making a statement is the new normal.”

Photos: Go Runway.com (Thom Browne and Haider Ackermann); Getty Images (LeBron James)