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Monday, October 29, 2012


What a night!  Since moving to Los Angeles, I've become accustomed to seeing celebrities here and there.  But Saturday night at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) was something else.

The LACMA  Art + Film gala is now in its second year running.  Started by the incredible duo of Leonardo DiCaprio and Eva Chow, this event is causing quite a buzz around Los Angeles that makes the museum stand out in the eyes of all.  This year, the honorees were artist Ed Ruscha and film-maker Stanley Kubrick. And what another outstanding duo they made (though Kubrick wasn't there in body, he most surely was in spirit).

The party started off with red carpet entry and cocktails.  I waited in line for the red carpet moment while Tom Hanks stood patiently behind me.  During the cocktail hour, after squeezing past Sean Penn to grab a glass of champagne, I had a great spot close to the New Orleans jazz band where Evan Rachel Wood took the stage to sing.  She has a great voice and a sultry persona on stage.  It was a nice segue to exiting and heading to dinner.


We packed into the large space for dinner for 550 guests, with long rectangular tables filling the space.  I rather liked that the decor was to a minimum.  All glassed in, the space gave views of the incredible campus that is LACMA - and I always like when guests are almost forced to remember why they are there.  Raising money for a County museum that provides programming to countless visitors and students each year. The table decor was very simple, with small floral arrangements mimicking the stage background of flowers, a la Christian Dior's wall of flowers at the SS 2013 Couture show in Paris.
Ruscha's "The Back of the Hollywood Sign" 1977
"The Standard" 1966
After a short film showcasing the works of Ed Ruscha, the artist came and gave thanks to the audience. I felt at home with his Oklahoma accent explaining how he came to be and some of the inspirations for his most well-known works.  Transforming what some may think as the mundane, he creates interesting, thought-provoking pieces that have become more than pop art.

Tom Hanks took the stage next, introducing the great Steven Spielberg.  Hanks was funny and comfortable, and he was able to relax the audience even more.  And of course Spielberg was just exquisite as he spoke about the great Stanley Kubrick, telling stories of their early days together as directors.  I felt as if I had entered the secret Hollywood club that I should never be allowed into.  Spielberg's admiration for Kubrick was apparent, and he seemed to really glow while talking about his relationship with Kubrick.  The night just got even more powerful when Kubrick's widow, Christiane Kubrick, spoke about his process of film and its simplistic genius.  To be within twenty feet of all of these artists was an honor and something not to be forgotten.

Florence, on stage with the Dior-esque back drop
Florence + The Machine.  Florence came out from nowhere like a Greek Goddess coming down to visit.  Her voice was beyond haunting, and she embodied pop artistry at its best.

With Monique Lhullier and hubby Tom Bugbee, both of us in Lhullier
Can't forget our Feathered Friend, Cameron Silver: best looking table there!
Steps to the courtyard
Dessert, champagne, scotch and cognac outside in the courtyard
Seeing the exhibition was the main attraction.  Walking through the courtyard and into the main building, I made my way to see film clips, costumes from films, set designs, Kubrick's personal chess set, cameras and more.  Beautifully displayed in a modern way, LACMA married the concept of 'film is art', which is what the evening was really about as the museum is adding a film wing to the museum.  The show has been traveling around the globe, so if you get a chance to see it, I highly recommend that you do.  What a special experience I had, to hear stories from Kubrick's friends and actors, including Jack Nicholson, before eyeballing the final piece de resistance.  What a night.

I left with the DVD Collection of Kubrick.  First on the list: Barry Lyndon that I've never seen...
Ruscha, "The End" acrylic on canvas 1991

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dita + Decades = Decadence!

Dita Von Teese is indeed a style icon.  She alone has brought back an extreme glamour look dripping with sex appeal.  Her taste in clothes is impeccable, and she embodies perfection - perfecting the art of blending vintage and modernity.  I have never seen her look bad or make a wrong choice. It makes sense that Dita would continue her love affair with fashion and style and create her own style line.  The other night I was able to see her clothing line, make up line, brooches...  Of course it is all vintage inspired, so it also made sense that the line was launched and sold exclusively at Decades vintage boutique on Melrose in Los Angeles.
Dita with Cameron Silver and Jeff Snyder

Decades was transformed by the always amazing designer Jeff Snyder, and it felt as if you were walking into the world of Dita.  Upstairs was like being inside her own dressing room, with a selection of some of her favorite costumes, luggage, and feather fans.

The clothes, all dresses, are simple and beautiful.  Dita was wearing my favorite one, a long floral clingy number that is playful yet sexy.  I also really loved a simple black dress that leaves a lot to the imagination - an idea that has somewhat become lost when you think of most fashion today.  Sometimes coverage and a slim silhouette is more enticing than the strapless, short numbers. (don't quote me on that...)

I am in love with the Trench Coat.  Who isn't?  We all need this coat!!! Whether it's raining or not, this is a coat for all body types and all ages.  It is a classic, timeless piece that remains feminine and alluring.

The ultimate hostess
Amber Hackett sat down for a little Dita-izing with Dita's new makeup line

The launch was a fun LA scene, with lots of characters and great people watching. We ladies tried our best to release our Inner Dita, wearing the black liquid liner and red lips.  I donned a 40s modern do, and wore one of my favorites, a vintage Givenchy black crepe dress.
My hero, Charlotte Olympia
But for me, I had two other highs that night, besides being surrounded in the utter beauty and sensuality of Dita's "closet".  I most enjoyed meeting shoe designer Charlotte Olympia.  I am slightly obsessed with the shoe line right now, and seeing her in person and getting a chat in was just the best.  Dita even commented on my shoes, and I was happy to tell her that they were Charlotte Olympia. I was also able to speak with Luca Guadagnino, the writer/director for the I am Love or Io sono L'amour (which just sounds so much cooler in Italian).  Beyond humble and quiet, he was open to speaking of his film and listening to me drone on and on about how much I love it.  If you haven't seen it, go download it now!  Have tissues at hand...

The eclectic world of Dita Von Teese is transfixing and magnetic.  I enjoyed spending just an hour or so in her realm and fantasy.  I suggest everyone go and check out her clothes on the Decades website.  Or at least get a little Dita with beautiful red lips and black liner.  Pull out those vintage grandmother brooches, and you are set for a little Teese-ing!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

American Ballet Theatre celebrates the American Spirit!

Some things in life are better than others.  Some wines are better, some restaurants are better, some days are better.  This week I attended a ballet gala that was better than others.  American Ballet Theatre's Opening Night Gala on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at New York City Center was truly a gala of perfection and balance, under the brilliant Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie.

The night opened with Mark Morris' Drink to Me Only within Thine Eyes (1988).  We can thank the great Mikhail Baryshnikov for commissioning this work for ABT during his tenure as Artistic Director. It is such a different and stand out part of the repertoire for the company.  Danced in pointe shoes, and very balletic, the ballet has a certain modernity and swiftness on stage.  The stunning white and airy costumes, designed by Santo Loquasto, brighten the work as if grounded angels have arrived to dance.  Morris' early works are so uplifting and fluid - it was the perfect way to begin the night.

Two Pas de Deux followed. The first was exquisite.  James Kudelka's Cruel World (1994) is an abstract work focusing on the idea of man's control over women.  Set to the music of Tchaikovsky, the quiet duet is filled with sexual tensions and releases, eerie trance-like moments and the most subtly beautiful dance movements.  Julie Kent, original to the role, danced this night, and she stole the night for me.  Her delicate quality was mesmerizing.  I don't know the work of Kudelka, but I am surely going to try to see more.  And I'd love to see the complete ballet of Cruel World.  (the pas is on YouTube:

Stars and Stripes by George Balanchine was next.  Balanchine's Americana pieces are usually not my favorite, but on this night it was a perfect moment to catch a breath (not for the dancers) and have some fun.  Danced by 2 soloists, not principals, Daniil Simlin took the stage with fury.  He was magnificent in his Coda, and though his surprising round of leaps ended in a fall inside the curtain, the audience gave an audible gasp and loud applause.  And the end of the Pas led us all to a more festive intermission...

Champagne at Intermission: as chic as our guests
The star of the night was the 70th Birthday presentation of Agnes de Mille's Rodeo.

First choreographed for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (who had taken residence in New York during World War II), this ballet was one of those great collaborative moments of dance in the 1940s.  The magical combination of choreographer de Mille, composer Aaron Copland, and set designer Oliver Smith.  We were presented with a documentary video, Rodeo@70, featuring old clips from the original production and new clips of ABT rehearsals.  Peppered with interviews with a quirky and quick de Mille (who danced the original lead role), the video gave us insight of how important the work was and still is.  It's the story of a cowgirl finding true love in a master cowboy and friend.  I found it to be a piece on feminism, with this girl working hard to fit in with men, to be their equal.  The sets are still modern in their simplicity and Americana genre.  The stage literally glows from within as the curtain rises.

Xiomara Reyes was delightful as the pining cowgirl.  Her strict ballet training was left at the wing as she humored us with movements of riding a horse and hoe-down circles.  It's a story of happiness and tale of "just be yourself and you will succeed".

The repertoire was perhaps the most balanced for any ballet company I have seen.  The nod to ABT's history and courage in the 1980s was smart and reverent.  And bringing in an older work like Rodeo and making it modern (due in large part to the wonderful costumes of Santo Loquasto) was a treat to an eager and hungry audience.  We all left satisfied and happy.  And talking about dance.

Of course the dinner after was beautiful.  The Pierre ballroom is a magnificent gold, and the brown and white gingham tablecloths and yellow sunflower arrangements complimented well.  Frederic Franklin (original cast member/cowboy of Rodeo) joined in the festivities.  Steak was served as the main course - reminding us of the Copland score we had just heard and all remembered from the "Beef: it's what's for dinner" commercials.

Some things in life are just better than other things.  This was one of those things.

Friday, October 12, 2012

2 Days in LA, from Art to Fashion to Art

Los Angeles is an interesting town.  When most people think of LA, they probably think the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman's Chinese Theater, swimmin' pools, movie stars...  But once you start to peel the layers off this lovely onion, you can discover some true beauty and some fascinating people.
Jenny Wu in front of her own design (photo courtesy of Stefanie Keenan)
This week I first found myself at The Los Angeles Antiques Art & Design Show, benefitting the Decorative Arts and Design Council for LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).  Held at the Barker Hangar of the Santa Monica Airport, this hangar was transformed into a haven of lovely chairs, sparkling silver, hung paintings and exquisite chests, clocks, rugs, bronzed horses etc.

I went with Christine Chiu, my partner in crime for the evening, and as we first stepped in, we discovered this beautiful stand.  I think I will have my dream Paris apartment look like this...

I went on a mission to find a dining room table for my new LA house.  After all, Thanksgiving will be here at any moment, and I just can't imagine my family from Georgia eating on the floor.  I saw a few nice pieces, but nothing quite right for the room.  I did, though, find this stunning 1950s French Desk from EPCOA.  This might just make my office perfect...

All in all, I skipped buying antiques this night.  Keeping the desk idea for later.  But Christine and I did manage to shop the antique jewelry counter.  I came home with a charm bracelet of large cat head with all the fish and mice he could devour.  And Christine scored a beautiful Buccellati inspired cuff.

The next morning, I was off to The Blue Ribbon luncheon and presentation of the Ralph Lauren Collection for SS13, courtesy of friend Judy Chang.  Held at the most incredible home of Carla and Fred Sands, the event was tented in the backyard with the catwalk running through the center.  Carla, the new President for Blue Ribbon, was poised and well-spoken as she explained that The Blue Ribbon is a charitable support group raising funds for the Music Center of Los Angeles, which includes Los Angeles Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Master Chorale and Center Theatre Group.  Raising over $70M, it prides itself in bringing in over 700,000 fifth graders to the Music Center.

The clothes were typical Ralph Lauren.  It was as if we were transported directly to Spain or Santa Fe, NM.  There is one thing that I respect and like about Ralph Lauren: the line is always American in style.  From sportswear to evening wear, Mr. Lauren's clothes celebrate the American spirit, heritage and all her offerings.

The splendor of living in a city like Los Angeles is that you can be moments away from a fashion show like this, a small art gallery, a large art museum or a dance performance premiere.  But the best part could be having spacious gardens that can house striking, over-sized sculptures.

Los Angeles.  It surprises me each day.