Fashion

Steampunk Football

image4At LACMA on Saturday night, a girl in a white Victorian dress sat on a bench with her hands folded, looking pissed off. A photographer from the clothing company Clockwork Couture stood a few feet away.
“Want to sit in her lap?” the photographer asked me.
“I think I’m okay,” I said. The girl looked so familiar, I had to ask. “Have you ever watched True Blood?” I asked.
She stared at me. “I know what you’re going to say,” she snapped. “Lorena, right? I hear it all the time.” She looked coldly into the camera as it flashed.
I guess I don’t blame her for being pissed off. I would be too, if I had to pose with bystanders at the fourteenth annual LACMA Muse ‘Til Midnight event, where the clothing was Victorian, the food supplied was chips and salsa, and there was an open bar. The tickets were $40 for non-members, $25 for Muse members, and it was hard to see what all the fuss was about.
The event sounded great, in theory: a neo-Victorian dress-up night at the museum, coinciding with the Thomas Eakins and Catherine Opie show, Manly Pursuits. Eakins painted wrestlers and rowers in intimate situations in the late 1800-early 1900’s, while Opie currently photographs teenage football players and surfers. Connecting the two artists requires a stretch of imagination, but the show is a valuable statement about the forced efforts and vulnerability of masculinity.
However, the Muse ‘Til Midnight event didn’t have much to do with the show, or with anything at the museum. The event was described by a Yelp user like this: “A full line-up of entertainment with open bar in an unique environment for $25-$40? On a Saturday night? In Los Angeles? Even including parking? Do I need to keep asking rhetorical questions?” Unfortunately, the event became a Los Angeles situation in which too many good ideas were not executed properly, with too many people in attendance to leave such margin for error.
After waiting in a long line, guests were ushered into the museum’s main plaza where Dusty and the River Band played and video projections flashed on the walls. Two performers on stilts made their way through the crowd, surrounded by a thick circle of photographers, documenting the “insanity” for various nightlife blogs. Two stilt-walkers, a couple of dancers and some people in costumes didn’t seem like enough to justify paying $40, but let’s not forget about that open bar, which included “100% Agave Tequila, Blackheart Spiced Rum, Hpnotiq Liqueur, Pernod Absinthe, and FIJI Water.” It seems that people will spend any amount of money to get sloshed while wearing a corset.
Maybe next time, LACMA should make dressing up for the event mandatory, as the people who were wearing full neo-Victorian garb looked to be having the best time. Many people wore costumes from Clockwork Couture, a “steampunk” line that mixes Victorian clothing with modern touches, while others had improvised their own costumes. A thin blonde woman and her chunkier date wore matching top hats and lace-up boots, trailing long feathers behind them. Another woman wore a corset and a matching flowered neck brace, and many men (and women) sported fantastic moustaches.
At ten o’clock, everyone was ushered into a much longer line leading to the roof of the Penthouse suite, only accessible by an elevator. (Too bad for the claustrophobes.) The roof offered a nice city view of the Variety building, along with some mysterious devices, including a giant telescope and various contraptions used to “measure electrical phenomena.” A stage was set up for a burlesque show, and a dancer in chalky makeup tiptoed around the crowd en pointe as flashbulbs popped all around her.
Nearby, a man wearing suspenders rested his foot on a stack of pillows. “I sprained my foot, but this is awesome,” he declared, looking at the dancer. “Look at this. Look at her. Can you believe it?” I could believe it, though next time I would prefer to look at photos of the event rather than attend. Despite the congestion, chips and salsa, long lines and limited number of performers, it seemed like many people had a wonderful time. Never underestimate the power of a little absinthe.

- By Cassandra McGrath

For mose information about LACMA, and any upcoming Muse events, please visit www.lacma.org/membership/Muse.aspx, or call 323-857-6000.

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Posted in Art, Conceptual, Contemporary Art, Exhibitions, Fashion, Food & Drink, Museums, Music, Neighborhoods, Painting, Photography, The Social Scene, West LA No Comments »

Low Double Standards

IMG_0346-e1279000387395In the underrated classic Los Angeles film L.A. Story, Steve Martin fails to get a reservation at L’Idiot, a fictional hot L.A. restaurant with a line out the door, ticker tape reading the income level and importance of each dinner guest, and paparazzi at entry and exit. As Martin and his dinner guest leave, paparazzi back away, screaming, “Never mind! They’re nobodies!”

At the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, the opening of “Dennis Hopper: Double Standard” felt more like a cinematic tribute to Los Angeles stereotypes than a serious exhibition. Before passing away at the age of 74 due to complications from prostate cancer, Dennis Hopper had an uneven career in art, mostly dedicated to imitating his slightly older artist friends. But at the opening, it didn’t seem to matter.

The opening was much more exciting than the show itself. Curated by Julian Schnabel, the exhibition drew an eclectic crowd from all corners of the city, everyone obsessed with the scene moreso than with Hopper’s art. Wearing gowns of peacock feathers and skintight high-waisted bandage shorts, guests took pictures of people outside, pictures of themselves, and pictures inside the gallery. Waiting by the bar, a woman wearing six-inch red high heels whispered to me, “Just to let you know, Diane Keaton and Liv Tyler and the lady who used to be married to Charlie Sheen are inside. Diane Keaton! I almost peed my pants!”

Inside, Diane Keaton was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps she was obscured by the giant fiberglass sculpture of a Mexican waiter looming in the entrance, which might have been a cultural symbol of fear, or stereotypes, or something. Either way, it rang hollow. Hopper began his artistic career with painting in the 1950’s. Some early abstract pieces on small canvases show promise, or at least, the promise of promise, which fades later on. Equally unsuccessful works use found objects and graffiti, including an early drawing of a woman with a mustache scribbled above her upper lip. As commentary on femininity and pop culture, it falls flat and graceless.

Hopper was most renowned as a photographer though, and the black-and-white photographs from the 1960’s are the best part of the exhibition. In one of the loveliest pictures, a young, golden Jane Fonda wears a bikini and aims a bow and arrow into the distance, full of promise. Other subjects include Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ike and Tina Turner cheerfully posing with a giant inflatable Coke bottle.

After the year 2000, however, Hopper reproduced some of these earlier photographs to billboard size, with garish results. “I kind of hate this,” said one woman, standing next to a giant black and white reproduction of Andy Warhol, who is holding a droopy iris flower and oozing self-importance. The piece seems preoccupied with itself, more like a painting in a Hollywood comedy about the L.A. art scene rather than actual art.

And after looking at the umpteenth photo of Warhol, the title of the show begins to make sense. One wonders, did Hopper’s creativity lead to his fame, or was his fame a result of his access to renowned artists and celebrities? Are the two qualities really inseparable from one another? Was Dennis Hopper’s artistic fame a double standard? After all, Hopper starred in everything from Easy Rider and Blue Velvet to “classics” like Speed and Super Mario Bros., and dabbled in all types of art, equally embraced for his creative eccentricity as he was exiled for his drug use. But Hopper’s cinematic career was more interesting than his artistic one, and as a big survey exhibition, the show sells Los Angeles short. The art scene in the city is much more complicated and intriguing than this exhibition gives it credit for, and MOCA must have access to many more talented artists.

But as the night wore on, no one at the opening seemed to care. The guests stood at tables outside, drinking from clear plastic cups, and everyone watched one woman yelling and dancing to DJ tunes by herself. A plump MOCA photographer leaned against the wall, waiting to capture the L.A. moment.

- By Cassandra McGrath

“Dennis Hopper: Double Standard” is on view at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA until September 26. For more information, please visit www.moca.org, or call 213-626-6222.

Posted in Art, Conceptual, Contemporary Art, Downtown, Exhibitions, Fashion, Mixed media, Museums, Neighborhoods, Painting, Personalities, Photography, The Social Scene No Comments »

Burlesque Part II: Cherry Boom Boom!

KeyClub_14-1When my friends first dragged me to a Cherry Boom Boom show late one night at the Key Club on Sunset, I was more than reluctant.  I’m the type of girl who fights for women to keep their clothes ON in the entertainment industry.  More depictions of powerful women prosecutors, professors and presidents please; not more docile eye candy for the power-bloated male.

But what I discovered at the Key Club that night broke through my ridged outlook of propriety and introduced me to a new era of women’s comedy, creativity, and right to strut their stuff.

Although the leggy ladies of Cherry Boom Boom do embrace some of the imagery of the 1950’s pin-up girl, they are a bevy of powerful 21st century women whose passion and power will overwhelm you and leave you grasping at your seat.  The group combines nouveau cabaret dance vignettes with the gimmicks and humor of old time burlesque and a healthy dose of ‘don’t mess with me!  I’m proud of my body and who I am’. The Boom Booms’ intelligence, flair for storytelling, skill with a whip, and perceptive comic timing, enliven and enlighten the genre I had labeled as ‘stripping’ and judged so harshly from outside the Key Club doors.

Artistic Director and choreographer Lindsley Allen created the group two years ago and began touring small LA venues with the show.  They got such a buzz that Allen was invited to choreograph and co-direct a piece for Dancing With The Stars, starring Cherry Boom Boom and featuring Carmen Elektra. Allen, one of the original Pussycat Dolls, received her BFA in ballet and has had a successful career as a dancer and choreographer.

Cherry Boom Boom’s new show, “The Rendezvous”, opening at the King King Hollywood in May, also utilizes Allen’s background in Commedia Dell’Arte, the 16th century Italian clowning style. Allen studies commedia with Tim Robbins’s world-renowned theater company, The Actors’ Gang, and she chose to bring elements of that style to “The Rendezvous” to utilize the unique characters each of her dancers developed over the past year.  Rather than being a typical dance review, “The Rendezvous” brings to life the timeless commedia story of the thwarted LOVERS.“You get to go on a classic journey,” Allen explained, “All the dance numbers support the story.  I’m so excited to bring dance and commedia together. This show is a love affair between my two favorite worlds”.

The King King’s performance space is ideal for the piece. The multi-leveled stage, VIP lounge seating, and bar accentuate Cherry Boom Boom’s fusion between nightclub cabaret and Broadway show. You will definitely see me in line at the King King, this time dragging some new skeptics along with me.

- By Stephanie Carrie

“The Rendezvous” will perform at the King King on the last Thursday of every month, May-October.  Opening night is Thursday, May 27th.  Doors open at 8pm for a 9pm show. Be sure to stay for the dance party afterwards! For tickets www.kingkinghollywood.com or call (323) 960-9234.

Advance tickets highly recommended.

http://www.cherryboomboom.me/

Posted in Art, Bring Your Flask, Dance, Fashion, Music, Musical Theatre, Neighborhoods, Performance, Personalities, The Social Scene, West Hollywood No Comments »

What’s What in the Art World at Large (And What To Do in LA)

yves_saint_laurentWe may be geographically far from, well, everywhere in the world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep up with all the arts endeavors across every which pond.  So here’s a bit of news (for the very serious and elite readers) and a bonus round of what’s going on in LA that really deserves your attention (for those who care about little outside LA county).

First, a stop in Paris at the Petit Palais.  The Parisian museum brings to the fore the artistic achievements of none other than Yves Saint Laurent.  Curated by Florence Muller and Farid Chenoune, the exhibit, called Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective features gowns, menswear, some of the designer’s treasured personal items used in creative pursuits, and it highlight themes used throughout the many collections in Saint Laurent’s illustrious career.  One ticket to France, please! {Global Post}

Onto Italy.  In Milan, our very own Placido Domingo’s Operalia competition has commenced.  Founded in 1993, Domingo’s opera competition is meant to find the cream of the crop amongst new talent in opera.  The singers represent not only a range of vocal categories (from coloratura soprano to the lowest bass), but also an array of countries around the world.  The competition ends May 2 (this Saturday), so you’ll have a new vocalist’s career to follow starting Sunday, May 3rd.  We have a feeling it will be meteoric.  {Culture Monster}

Not to shower the French with too much attention, though they don’t mind, Sotheby’s has made quite the announcement prior to the upcoming auction season.  The storied (and once thought lost) private collection of legendary Parisian art dealer Amrboise Vollard is set to meet the auction block.  His career was spent promoting such up-and-comers as Picasso, Cezanne, and Renoir and Vollard’s collection includes not only paintings, but such enticing items as prints, drawings, and artist books.  The sale will be held in London on June 22, so brush up on your British colloquialisms.  {ArtInfo}

Back at home, there is much to celebrate.  Dig into your pockets just a bit to buy yourself a ticket to the Architecture and Design Museum’s official Grand Opening!  For $75, you’ll mingle with a veritable who’s who of the architecture and design world in LA at the reception tomorrow night (April 27), (hint: you can also find them anywhere from Father’s Office to Tar Pit on weeknights), check out the first exhibit, and bid on things at the silent auction.  {A+D Museum}  Also, if you haven’t uploaded his schedule into your iCal already, Gustavo Dudamel has returned to the LA Phil – he’s conducting pretty regularly from now through May 8 on a number of concerts all worthy of splurging for tickets.  {LA Phil} This is your last chance to see LACMA’s exhibit Renoir in the 20th Century.  The exhibit closes May 9. {LACMA} Last, but certainly not least, turns out that parodies of Wagner and his Ring Cycle abound.  LA Times’ Culture Monster shows us the best of the best. {Culture Monster}

Posted in Architecture, Art, Bring Your Flask, Classical Music, Conceptual, Contemporary Art, Downtown, Exhibitions, Fashion, Festival, Food & Drink, Galleries, Miracle Mile, Museums, Music, Neighborhoods, Old School, Painting, Personalities, Photography, The Social Scene No Comments »

Don’t Call Them The Fashion Police…

Kimberly Brooks had a great idea recently.  The local, Venice-based painter decided to look into the art that plays a role in our everyday lives and the people holding the cards behind it.  She looked beyond museum shows, beyond advertisements, and into the world of fashion that is so often considered less of an art form and more of a necessity.  The men and women working behind the scenes to make our world a touch more glamorous are artists who recognize that the necessity of fashion can be one of the more creative enterprises in our lives and it can be one that makes (or doesn’t make) the right impression.

In her latest series of paintings, called “The Stylist Project”, Kimberly Brooks scoured the world of stylists, costume designers, and Creative Directors to delve deeper into the minds of who exactly is dressing our most photographed celebrities and our most watched characters in TV and film.  She painted Vogue’s Creative Director Grace Coddington and Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant in their most comfortable settings (albeit in their most fabulous clothes).  She painted Elizabeth Stewart, a stylist for the New York Times Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar, with a gorgeous and colorful palette and she captured the nervy and frazzled essence that is Rachel Zoe.

We got a chance to sit down with Brooks to discuss just what went into “The Stylist Project” and the upcoming show at Taylor de Cordoba gallery in Culver City.  We learned very quickly that stylist is a pretty loose term to us amateurs, but in the business, a stylist can be anyone who fashions a photo shoot (often-times called a Creative Director) to someone who styles a celebrity for a red carpet event.  Brooks’ colors and masterful way with a paintbrush allows us into this inner sanctum of fashion via the world of art – it’s almost as if we know them just by looking at these paintings.

Check out our video interview and go say hi to your new friends (the stylists, of course) at the opening reception at Taylor de Cordoba gallery on Saturday evening (February 27).  The show runs through April 3, 2010.  For more information, please click here or call (310) 559-9156.

Posted in Art, Bring Your Flask, Culver City, Exhibitions, Fashion, Galleries, Painting, Personalities, The Social Scene No Comments »

Fine Arts LA Does Comic Con

I am sure you are familiar with a little event that 125,000 people wait for all year with pennies (and Benjamins) saved up burning holes in hot pockets, costumes begging to be worn after months of design, and bags ready to be filled with loot: the San Diego Comic Convention — or, as I have learned to say, “the Con.”  Starting this past Wednesday to today, collectors, vendors, and spectators made their annual pilgrimage to San Diego to buy and sell wares, take photographs with costumed characters and booth babes, get a few items signed after playing some video games as well as watch discussion and preview panels for TV shows, movies, and industry workshops. Not to mention, catching up with all your con friends  — a total must.

If you happen to not have nerded out with the best of them, the mother of all comic book conventions may have escaped your radar. But with ample friends who fall into the realm of artists of the comic book persuasion, collectors (what up, LASK!), and just straight up nerds (you know I love you), I am fully aware of Comic Con and its power.  My challenge was to find the fine arts at Comic Con.  I know, I know, this is Fine Arts LA and the convention is in San Diego, but this was an experiment all the way around, so I ask for a little flexibility.

Saturday morning, I found myself San Diego-bound on the Surfliner train from Union Station.  Saturday was whiled away at Coronado beach and Lucha Libre tacos – I know, working hard.  Sunday started bright and early.  The convention hall was already in full swing with crowds pushing their way into, around, and from the exhibiting hall.  I really enjoyed the spectacle of it all.  Of course, my favorite part was the costumes. There were packs of Stormtroopers, Hogwarts students, and Jack Sparrows, with a smattering of Lord of the Rings characters and a really good Iron Man. There were the pristine factory-made costumes, but my favorites were the hardcore homemade ones, carefully constructed out of cardboard and metallic paint.  I love DIY.

To be honest, searching high and low, there was little to no fine arts in the traditional sense, but plenty of arts abound.  Illustrators set up booths with stacks of comics and drawings, sculptors showed off their talents with figurines small and large, and painters took centerstage (their subjects revolved around superheros and busty girls). Filmmakers and game developers were in attendance alongside graphic designers galore – not to mention those budding clothing designers.

Aside from the colossal booth installations of the big name production companies, it was a breath of fresh air to see young artists and  entrepreneurs up in the hustle, with plenty of fans eager for more.  No matter how small of a niche business, all of their biggest fans were there – even if there were only three people.  Finding the fine arts at the Con proved to be a difficult task, but I did have a good time sorting through the popular arts.  The overall sense of camaraderie was comforting, a feeling that can be found in the art world of the most highest or lowest of brows .  It was like Art Basel…in an alternate universe.

Posted in Art, Bring Your Flask, Fashion, Festival, Film, Installation, Low Brow, Painting, Video Art No Comments »

The Emperor’s New Close

Oh that red bag… Or to be more precise for all those fashion lovers and pop culture addicts, oh rosso Valentino…  Rosso Valentino is a trademark color that has adorned such cultural icons as Jackie O, Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Margaret. This color has been symbolically linked to legendary designer Valentino Garavani and his fashion house, much like the little blue box is to Tiffany’s. The red that we associate with the designer has never been so encapsulating…until now.

Premiering at the 2008 Venice International Film Festival,  Valentino: The Last Emperor is a feature length film that documents the life of Valentino. Produced and directed by Matt Tyrnauer, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, the film gives us a glimpse into the last years of Valentino’s creative direction of his maison de couture. Shot from June 2005 to July 2007, the documentary is an intimate portrait of what was to be Valentino’s final curtain bow at his 2007 Ready-to-Wear show in Paris.

The film explores the depths of the company and its future, while taking us on a personal journey of the man behind the legend, from his early development as a young apprentice in Italy to a rather humorous wall-to-wall take on the icon’s singular vision and world. And what a world it is. At the core of the film is the relationship and love that Valentino shares with his longtime business and relationship partner Giancarlo Giammetti as the two men face a 50 year career milestone being on the top of one of fashion’s most recognizable houses, confronting the last two years of his creative control, and even his astounding admiration for his six pugs. Rosso Valentino is a combination of 100% magenta, 100% yellow and 10% black. Valentino: The Last Emperor is a combination of art, life, career, love, but more importantly, it is 100% Valentino and we can’t wait to slip into that.

-By Eric Zamorez

Valentino: The Last Emperor opens on Friday, April 3, at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in Los Angeles.

Posted in Fashion, Film, Personalities No Comments »