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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dolce and Gabbana Couture in Capri: That's Amore!

Sirens Rock in the Bay of Napoli in Capri - where the Odysseus sirens  sang.  Let the seduction begin...
The moon.  Humans have been hunting for the power of the moon for as long as mankind existed.  Perhaps it's the unattainable that drives us to bay at certain times of the month, or perhaps it's the pureness of its beauty on any given night that begs us to look up and see its shape.  The moon protects us, haunts us, inspires us and enlightens us.  No wonder one of the most famous songs of the world is centered around the moon:  That's Amore.  I remember the scene from Moonstruck when Cher's character finally gets that she's truly in love with Nicolas Cage's character.  Was the moon to blame?  I had my own pizza pie moment this summer.  Only this time I fell in love with Dolce and Gabbana.

It's hard to explain how a couture fashion show looks when it takes place nestled in the rocks of the famous La Fontelina beach club overlooking the water.  How there was not the usual paparazzi that swarms the event hunting for celebrity.  How being nestled in the rocks of beautiful Capri could be the place of such extreme beauty.
The first dress off the boat with gold crown
I sat with friends on the front row wearing a 1950s Vintage dress by Edith Small (from the most amazing LILY et Cie in Los Angeles) and flats - the dress code had been 50s60s Italian Riviera La Dolce Vita.  I objected to the idea of flats at first, but once I walked the hundreds of cobble steps down I was thankful.  Plus even Anna Wintour wore Tods loafers… Opera tenor arias started as these small boats approached the cliff very close to where we were sitting.  And then the BAREFOOT models - in glorious hand-painted gowns - one by one disembarked and walked the non-existent runway around the rocks.  It was the most stunning moment in fashion I've seen. 

All of the jewelry was real - no costume here
After the gowns exited, the other models came from a more modest entrance.  But the clothes were equally as exciting and beautiful.  I don't think my jaw ever closed.  

Lynx in Capri - let the furs begin
I tried this fur vest on - beyond beautiful - and taken away from the bloomers, very wearable 
This tunic was sold that night!
Hand-painted striped dresses - I'll be looking out for these in ready to wear  for resort
Hand-painted be-jeweled umbrella with mink handle - luxe
Black did make the runway a few times...
Capri lemons and fur - quite the combination

 And then there was the finale.  Stefano and Domenico greeted the ball gown to final walk only to have models start climbing the rocks to position themselves against the cliff of Capri, fortified by beauty and pride.  Such dramatics could never have been repeated anywhere else.  This was a happening.  This was Dolce and Gabbana. 
Dolce and Gabbana take their bow
The collection against the formidable rock of Capri
After the show we were all to be seated for dinner.  This took a bit of time as the Italians may not quite be known for their organization.  I sat with a friend on the lower level of the restaurant close to the sea.  I had no idea that I would revisit this spot several times over the next two weeks of my vacation.  Darkness set in and the moon lit up the sky.  A stupendous, bright, large full moon.  Did they plan this whole event around the timing of this spectacular moon?  I wouldn't doubt it.  More boats came in, this time lit up with fairy lights and what looked like a bridal party.  Oh yes, the Dolce and Gabbana Bride! And then the fireworks.  And the moon.  And friends.  And music.  

Stefano and Domenico wave to their bride

I'm not sure if the moon put a spell on me that night or not, for I have never been a huge lover of Dolce and Gabbana.  But I will tell you that I most certainly fell in love that night.  Spending time in Capri, ensconced in its smells, its colors, its food, its beaches, its people made me truly understand the vision and the passion of what Dolce and Gabbana put into this collection.  I left humming Vita Bella and having the excitement of soon taking a piece of Capri with me to Los Angeles.  That's Amore.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Inside The Met Gala 2014 Zoo: Charles James Beyond Fashion

The 2014 Metropolitan Museum Constitute Gala was a stunner.  The exhibition is dedicated to the dresses of Charles James, an English-born designer who moved to New York in 1940.  This year was the year for the artistry of couture, the glamour of fabric, and the power of the female form.  
Giant rose sculpture of James figure with de-constructed dress 
Wearing Alexis Mabille couture: corseted bustier with skirt in white silk jersey and grey satin jacket
The Vogue greeters

Cocktail hour with velvet sofas, champagne and the beautiful Met Museum
Co-Chairs Sarah Jessica Parker and Bradley Cooper introduce the evening  
One of the perks of a Friends of the Costume Institute corner table,  the "backstage" view
The room was filled with gardenias, including table top
Frank Ocean performed with an all female orchestra in top hats 
After party at the Boom Boom room at The Standard Hotel
Best date ever!  With Alexis Mabille leaving the after party
Though The Met Gala has become a zoo of celebrities and hype, this exhibition is truly worthy.  The intricate detailing of these dresses is inspiring and transcendent.  My hope is that all of the press and chaos that now surrounds this event actually bring into the museum the hoards of people who pour over the fashion and glamour of it all.  This is a world-class museum with the most amazing collections and exhibitions, and I only can hope that the art does not get lost in the crowds.  

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Life of Privilege

The art of Eric Buterbaugh never goes unnoticed.
(Photo courtesy of Stefanie Keenan
I live a privileged life, and I always have.  I was privileged to attend an elementary school where music and art were just as important as math and reading.  It was a privilege to attend a public fine arts high school where I studied chemistry and English literature but also studied dance, acting, art and music practically in one day.  I was privileged to attend an all woman's college to focus on political science and dance and acting.  It has been a huge privilege to have every one of my education experiences filled with academics and arts.  And it is the blend of the two together that made those experiences so special, so challenging and so memorable.

Last evening I had the privilege of hosting a dinner for P.S. Arts at my home in Los Angeles.  I recently joined the Board of Trustees to this incredible organization, and it is most certainly my privilege to be even a small part of what they do.  Public schools in Los Angeles and throughout California have lost almost all their arts education funding.  P.S. Arts provides professional art teachers of all genres in underserved elementary schools throughout the Los Angeles area.  These teachers from P.S. Arts work in the schools all day, all year.  Reaching poverty level students who would never have a chance to take a ballet class, learn a music scale or hold a paint brush to canvas, P.S. Arts is enhancing the lives of over 15,000 children each year.  I urge you to take a look at the facts of what P.S. Arts is doing and the impact that arts education has over students (  And P.S. Arts is truly a map for how to bring arts education into your own community: arts education, a privilege that should be allowed to every child in the United States.  

And what a beautiful night we had as the skies shone down upon us to celebrate and learn more about P.S. Arts and its endeavors.  I am beyond grateful for my parents giving me the gift of arts education in my life, and I was surrounded by people who feel the same.  That was a privilege indeed.  

Hubs with the man that makes it happen, Patrick Herning, and the reason I have the privilege of being involved
(Photo courtesy of Stefanie Keenan
Our guest speaker and former student Allison Luengas with Mort Gleberman, Rona Sebastian, Krsten Paglia (Executive Director) and Jennifer Leitch
(Photo courtesy of Stefanie Keenan
My mentors!  Maria Bell (President at Large) and Joshua B. Tanzer (Chairperson of the Board)
(Photo courtesy of Stefanie Keenan
The amazing staff with Executive Director, Amy Shapiro
(Photo courtesy of Stefanie Keenan   
The ladies that make it happen:  Julia Sorken, Pamela Bergman (Immediate Past Chair), Leslie McMorrow and
Maria Bell
(Photo courtesy of Stefanie Keenan
Delta Airlines has been an important part of this year as well.  Beyond a corporate sponsorship, they also sponsored the dinner including an elegant menu from their Executive Chef and a wine pairing by their Sommelier for International travel.  My vegan plate was fresh, beautiful and tasty; and I have two new wine favorites:  Ramey Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 (we were told to taste it in ten years) and Copain Pinot Noir "Les Voisins" 2011.  
(Photo courtesy of Stefanie Keenan

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Modern Women meet Tea and Morphine: Women in Paris

I attended an all women's college, Converse College, in Spartanburg, SC.  This school opened in 1889 when women had as few rights and choices as African Americans at the time.  I started my freshman year in 1989 - one hundred years later.  Then, I had no real understanding of what being a woman entailed, what hurdles I would face later in life.

I found the beautifully eerie exhibition at The Hammer Museum, Tea and Morphine: Women in Paris, 1880 to 1914, to be especially poignant.  Focusing on morphine use during La Belle Epoch is quite mesmerizing, but focusing on women's use during the time is both alluring and sad.  I learned that women were the majority of morphine users, while most of the artists during the time were men depicting these women.  There is only one female artist in the exhibition, Mary Cassatt; her Tea drypoint of a woman listlessly drinking tea in her own self-induced haze.  The connection between suffering prostitutes and high society ladies is clearly drawn, and it's something for us all to consider as women.  Class only separates us with brick and mortar.
Profil de lumière (Profile of light) 1886
Odilon Redon
Au bar (At the bar) 1897
Georges Alfred Bottini
*society ladies at the bar - something most of us can relate to
Ces dames des chars a l'hippodrome 1883-85
The ladies of the chariots at the hippodrome
James Tissot
*an image of the "modern woman" wearing headdresses similar to our own Lady Liberty by
Frederic Auguste Bartholdi
Mary Cassatt in the Louvre Museum of Antiquities 1879-80
Edgar Degas
Tea 1890
Mary Cassatt
*I just love the depiction of Cassatt by Degas compared to Cassatt's depiction of a woman having tea,
 stoned in her own world
Rayons de chaussures (The shoe department) 1895
*unfortunately this shop girl and many like her could not afford to live on their wages alone, so often they doubled as prostitutes - this unknowing wife engages with the shop girl as she is most likely making another "sale" with the husband.  again, the line of class divided in such a sad way for women.
The Moulin Rouge 1895
Eugene Delatre
*the forlorn prostitute on the streets of Paris in the rain
Morphinomane (Morphine addict) 1897
Eugene Grasset
*perhaps the most gruesome of the show, a woman numbing herself for reasons unknown - most likely a prostitute blocking the reality of her life.  at the time morphine could be smoked, drunk or injected
Now, at 42 years old with an almost 12-year-old daughter, I am only beginning to understand the importance of women's relationships.  Not only about fun, shopping and gabbing (though those things I most certainly do appreciate), women need to support one another no matter the differences we have.  While mildly down after seeing the exhibition (even with the lovely pastel walls and serene quality to the gallery), I was also inspired.  Inspired to understand that we as women should respect and support.  And I had a true realization of how far we have come as women and how much further we have to go in regards to the treatment of our own gender.  La Belle Epoque, The Beautiful Era, may not have been as beautiful as we think.  I look forward to our own era of true equality for women and watching our daughters enter a truly beautiful world.  Shoes and all.