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2 posts tagged "Rex Huntington"

Los Angeles’ Renaissance Woman Appreciates Both Boarding And Burlesque

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If you prick Liz Goldwyn, does she not bleed L.A.? It’s not simply that her genes are as haute as Hollywood gets (her iPhoto of her grandmother Frances Howard is by Edward Steichen, for Pete’s sake), or that’s she’s as glamorous as all get-out with her red lips and her Lanvin. She’s also a serious student of the city’s history—or at least that part of it that pertains to street life. In early November, Goldwyn transformed the Hearst Suite of Los Altos Apartments (where the tycoon William Randolph Hearst installed his mistress Marion Davies in the twenties) into a nineteenth-century brothel for a one-night-only art/film installation called The Painted Lady. She’s fascinated by all aspects of prostitution, high and low, male and female. “In the early days of Los Angeles, the madams had real power,” Goldwyn explains.

Her fascination has spilled over into other aspects of the commercialization of sex. Burlesque, for instance. PrettyThings, the 2005 film and book that Goldwyn made about burlesque queens, has now provided the unlikely inspiration for her latest project, which is all about an entirely different kind of street sensibility. She’s designed a range of skatewear for Altamont using images from vintage burlesque designer Rex Huntington. As much as Goldwyn’s current look channels hyper-sophisticated cocktail culture (MAC Cosmetics commissioned acapsule collection of Deco-inspired makeup bags from her), she insists she was once all about Big Brother magazine, Fuct, and the Menace Skateboard crew, as she explains in the video above. If vintage currently means classic couture to her, it used to be Vision Quest and Bones Brigade T-shirts that jived her buns. In the grand L.A. reinvention-required scheme of things, that makes her a genuine West Coast Renaissance woman.

An Old-School Skate Fan Tries Her Hand

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First things first: “I don’t skate, ’cause I wear high heels and fifties dresses and can’t even recall a point in my life when I wore jeans, unless you count the dead-stock black and yellow Gianni Versace cheetah-print, high-waisted ones that I will definitely be rocking come fall,” says Liz Goldwyn, the L.A.-based filmmaker, writer, historian of burlesque, and now, skateboard designer. “So me on a skateboard would only work in theory…”

But theory vs. practice didn’t stop her from designing a new skate deck, which is now available exclusively at Opening Ceremony. The limited run grew out of a commission by an art collector, who wanted a deck. Goldwyn settled on a pair of legs in homage to burlesque, and in particular the late Rex Huntington, whom she calls “one of the greatest burlesque costume designers of the 20th century.” (He’s profiled in her book Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens.) Huntington designed for all of the most famous strippers of his day (with a sideline business making wardrobes for drag queens), and at his death, bequeathed Goldwyn his archive of designs, sketchbooks, and even celebrity measurements. The legs on her deck were inspired by an “American Girl” pinup of Huntington’s—complete with red-white-and-blue star pasties.

And while she may not be a skater herself, Goldwyn is every bit the fan (and a big collector of decks, too). “I am a Cali girl and grew up skate-obsessed,” she says. “I read Thrasher and Big Brother (which was the coolest, defunct San Francisco magazine—very punk anti-authority, and every issue was a different size, super-collectible). I had pictures of Salman Agah and Jay Adams pasted into my journals. I collected Vision and Bones Brigade, T-shirts and stickers. There used to be the raddest skate paraphernalia you could buy—that kids could actually afford! Now it’s pretty commercial, and I think it’s time to bring back those great graphics, so thought I would try my hand at it, as a fan of the sport and the culture that has surrounded it.” Her handiwork will run you $200 at Opening Ceremony’s L.A. and NYC stores.

Photo: Courtesy of Liz Goldwyn