Saturday, December 31, 2011

This is the One Hotel I Know: Donald Rawley

THIS IS THE ONE HOTEL I KNOW: DONALD RAWLEY -- I've had the good fortune to meet and know many writers here in Hollywood over the years.  But no writer has quite replaced Donald Rawley who passed untimely in 1998, for he was unique among writers, if one can say that of a writer.  He was obsessed by Hollywood and Los Angeles, as if this town was his mistress -- and in a way it was, for he knew every story behind every story, he knew who was with who and why, he knew the back streets, the hidden bungalows, the lanes hidden by palm tree shadows.  And he wrote with such passion that one was amazed by his prolific output.  His deep, smokey voice oozed with a mix of knowingness and eroticism when he did live readings -- which I attended on many occasions.  I knew Donald for many years and was deeply saddened by his passing.  His books -- all based on love, lust and desire in Tinseltown for the most part -- are hard to find -- he never did make it big in the way that he deserved.  But here is one of my favorite poems by him (other than the epic "Mulholland Drive") -- for Donald was no stranger to the famed Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard -- as was many a writer in search of love, fame, desire and more back in the days when the hotel was still a secret hideaway for whoever needed hiding away.

Unsung Illustrators, Part II

UNSUNG ILLUSTRATORS, PART II:  In the distance, a coyote was calling from a tall, flat mesa whose rugged face and sides were being enveloped in shadows of dusty purple and deep rust as sunset began falling over the desert.  The  scent of sage filled the air and an eagle circled high overhead in the dark turquoise sky surveying his domain for one last time. Johnny couldn't help himself any longer as he watched Tammy's hair turn even more golden with each minute of the setting sun.  Her lips more red and inviting than ever before.  Her oil painting of the desert floor and mountains which she had wanted to capture so badly that day would now have to be put off until tomorrow, for the heat of the desert and their passion for one another had warmed them both through and through. And in the last glow of daylight, there was nothing left to do but to thrust themselves deep into each other's arms, their eyes closed and their lips sealed tight one upon the other as the first stars began to appear overhead, signaling the close of yet another day in the desert.  From his beginnings in illustrating pulps to creating mini-masterpieces for the slick magazines, Robert George Harris (1911 - 2007) was an amazing original.  His sensual style rendered in rich colors brought a unique kind of American romance to such magazines as McCall’s, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook and The Saturday Evening Post.  He portrayed his subjects with tenderness, passion, compassion.  One can almost fall in love just by looking at his illustrations, such was their ability to engage the viewer who came to the magazines originally to read a good story.  What they got instead were images that lasted far longer than the words they were designed to accompany.  Such was the singular talent that was Robert George Harris. 

She Always Had Hollywood on Her Mind....

SHE ALWAYS HAD HOLLYWOOD ON HER MIND....As we approach what would have been the 69th birthday of now-legendary actress Sharon Marie Tate on January 24th, 2012, for many of us, she is the only Sharon in the history of Hollywood films that will ever really matter -- not for what was, but for what could have been.  Nominated for a Golden Globe Award for “New Star of the Year - Actress”, and nominated for “The Star of Tomorrow” and “Most Promising Newcomer”, Tate was, without question, beautiful to behold. Every minute she was on the screen, one could not take their eyes off her. The glow she radiated was like that of the California sun under which she basked. She was truly the golden girl of the flower child 1960s. So where does one really begin to talk about the enigma that was Sharon Tate?  Actress, sex symbol, mother-to-be, sister, daughter, human being.  Talent agent Hal Gefsky said upon first seeing her, “She was so young and beautiful that I didn’t know what to do with her.”  Such was the kind of reaction that she would receive over and over -- always about the beauty.  “She was simply stunning,” said Victor Lownes, business man, playboy and film producer.  “She was very sharp -- not a fool,” actress Leslie Caron would recall later.  For her role in the immortal film classic (though trashed by the press at the time of its release) Valley of the Dolls, its director Mark Robson said “The biggest surprise in the film is Sharon.”  Newsweek panned the film, but said "astoundingly photogenic, infinitely curvaceous, Sharon Tate is one of the most smashing young things to hit Hollywood in a long time."  The Hollywood Reporter chimed in, "Sharon Tate emerges as the film's most sympathetic character" and that "William H. Daniel's photographic caress of her faultless face and enormous absorbent eyes is stunning."  And perhaps that is what has left a mark in the minds and lives of so many inside and outside the world of film: the element of surprise noted by Robson of just who Sharon Tate really was -- a person full of simplicity and complexities but always vulnerable, giving and loving.  But when words fail, there are always the dozens and dozens of photographs in which Tate appears perfectly poised and at ease with her self and her sensuality.  The camera loved her -- and so do we....still.

Scent-sational! Timothy Jay Candles

SCENT-SATIONAL! TIMOTHY JAY CANDLES:  When Studio of Style caught up with Timothy Jay Sullivan yesterday, he was just returning from delivering "Pagoda" scented candles he had specially prepared for the President's Ball for the 123rd Pasadena Tournament of Roses!  In fact, he was so busy this past holiday season, it was a whirlwind of events and special orders for this master candle maker to the stars (a title that he truly earned over the years).  Working from his studio on a side street in West Hollywood, California, Sullivan still handcrafts each and every candle, not to mention creating the boxes, designing the labels, selecting the ribbons and tissues and overseeing the assembly and packing of each one -- something which he has done since creating his first batch of candles in a double boiler in his West Hollywood kitchen in 1997 (his first scent "Celadon" with its sensuous blend of cypress and Hawaiian tuberose is still one of his biggest sellers today!).  Some of the top names in Hollywood and the design world (Kathryn M. Ireland! Monika Chiang!) call upon Sullivan to create exclusive scents just for them (we can't tell you every name due to confidentiality, but recently he made candles for one of THE biggest personalities on television -- as well as candles for one of rock 'n roll's BIGGEST bands!).  Not only celebrities, but corporations (Qatar Airways, among many) and charitable organizations (Habitat for Humanity, for example) find the soothing scents from Sullivan the right gift for their clientele.  Making more than 40 private label candles for his international client base, Sullivan is equally busy sniffing out new fragrances and concepts and is always in touch with the world's major fragrance houses -- and if you can't find the candle scent of your dreams, ask Sullivan to make it for you -- after all, his nose knows!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tickled Pink: Crémant de Bourgogne

TICKLED PINK: CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE:  Can you keep a secret?  Good!  Because we can't any longer -- you see, for years we at Studio of Style have been serving our guests (the best ones, of course!) this amazing bubbly wine from Burgundy, France (which is why we can't officially call it "champagne"-- but you understand, kids!) and our guests always (and we mean always) ask "What is this fabulous thing we're drinking???"   Well, like we said, we can't keep it a secret any longer because Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé "Perle d'Aurore" from Louis Bouillot is absolutely a stylish bubbly to serve any time of year.  Why, you ask?  With its blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Gamay grapes, this heavenly concoction (did we just say that?) has the most unbelievable salmon-pink-rosé color and exquisitely fine bubbles (to tickle your fancy!) and, most importantly, a taste that can best be described as summer fruits ranging from strawberry to blackberry (my dear friends Jane and Bob are now aficionados of this nectar of the gods!).  After creating amazing Crémant de Bourgogne since 1877, Louis Bouillot has perfected this style and they truly know how to get the most flavor from their grapes from the hallowed grounds of Burgundy.  By the way -- this makes an excellent summer wine to serve!  Don't just wait for New Year's or someone's anniversary or birthday.  For goodness sakes, get lots of luscious Crémant (the price is amazingly wonderful too!) and serve it all the time!  So now you know our secret -- whatcha gonna do about it?  Shout it out loud, we hope!
Hollywood and San Francisco:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fresh Faces: Erik Sage

FRESH FACES: ERIK SAGE -- Dressed up or dressed down, or barely at all -- Erik Sage can carry it all off with genuine style!  This California surfer (but of course!!) hailing from Topanga (just a stone's throw from Studio of Style headquarters!) caught the eye of super Los Angeles agency Nous Model Management with his disarming looks, sandy blonde hair, blue eyes and his devil-may-care attitude -- which one certainly needs in a business where egos, vanity and careers are always teetering on one brink or another.  This 18-year-old (he turns 19 in February) has already strutted the catwalks donned in Calvin Klein, Just Cavalli, Louis Vuitton, Ports 1961, Mugler Men, Native Son, Bespoken and Zegna -- and his smiles, pouts, grins and serious stares have graced the pages of numerous international fashion magazines as well.  Not bad for a surfer dude just barely two years into the fast, crazy, fun modeling scene that we all love to watch -- and we hope to be seeing lots more of Erik throughout 2012 and beyond!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Good Vibrations

GOOD VIBRATIONS:  "Optical art is a method of painting concerning the interaction between illusion and picture plane, between understanding and seeing," wrote John Lancaster in his book Introducing Op Art in 1973.  All we know, kids, is that Op Art is a freakin' trip to look at....and doesn't cost anything to get there, except for an investment of your time in seeking out the good stuff.  And by that we mean works, for example, by the amazing Bridget Riley (a former art teacher at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Harrow, England -- wow!) who came to fame in the 1960s with her black and white Op Art paintings that viewers said induced feelings somewhere between seasickness and skydiving!  An exhibition of Op Art in 1965 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City went over swimmingly with the public, but not so much with the critics. And then there's Victor Vasarely born in 1908, often called the "father" of Op Art who experimented with numerous styles to reach "Op," starting out in graphic design, influenced by the German Bauhaus artists and early Abstract Expressionists -- taking what he observed to the next level using geometric precision and -- voila! -- to Op Art. Artists Yaakov Agam, Josef AlbersJulian Stanczak, Richard Allen, and Richard Anuszkiewicz are just some of the many other major Op artists that have gone before, paving a new visual way of seeing things that trick the eye into perceiving a wide range of things which don't exist in the natural realm.  These pioneers -- along with the artists of today who continue in this genre -- are more interested in what exists in the cerebral realm where virtually anything is possible, if only you are willing to take a look....and another....and another....and another, until it becomes real.

Crazy for Cabana!

CRAZY FOR CABANA!  Tall glasses of cool, highly alcoholic drinks in hand were de rigueur for those incredibly handsome men and women who whiled away the hours having fun under the sun on sporty yachts, or by kidney-bean-shaped pools -- back in the fabulous 1950s when men actually vied to look as fashionable as their female counterparts in those smart and sexy cabana sets! Matching boxer shorts (trunks) and tops (shirts) were absolutely cool gear for guys during those hot days when next-to-nothing was all that men and women wanted to wear.  The king of cabana sets was American swimwear manufacturer Jantzen, as witnessed in the photo (top) and advertisement (bottom right) with outfits rendered in Hawaiian prints and manly plaids. Even Simplicity sewing patterns (bottom left) offered home sewers a way to create their own terrycloth-lined cabana sets for the men in their lives.  And we absolutely love the matching his and her swimsuits shown above -- alerting everyone on board just who belongs to who when wearing these sexy, snappy suits!! Rival swimsuit manufacturer Catalina called their version of cabana outfits "sports sets"; and men's clothing manufacturer McGregor dubbed theirs as "sun sets."  Call them what you will, but do call us the next time you see a handsome hunk wearing a set of these, okay?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Think Globally: Luna Light!

THINK GLOBALLY: LUNA LIGHT!  When we first saw the Luna Globe from the Downtown Classics Collection we were in love -- mainly because we didn't know what we were looking at!  A Victorian disco ball?  Something from a Jules Verne novel?  Some wonderful thing that fell from space and landed in our living room?  With 116 glass windows (yes!!) and three lamps inside, this 22-inch-wide solid brass light is completely handmade at the company's studio in Los Angeles and offered in several finishes-- and it's guaranteed to light up your life wherever you put it.  Imagine a bunch of these suspended at different heights in an entry -- or one in a powder room, or a several in a den or game room -- what fun!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Life Aquatic: Antoinette Faragallah

THE LIFE AQUATIC: ANTOINETTE FARAGALLAH -- Inspired by the ocean life she experiences while scuba diving, Los Angeles-based ceramic artist Antoinette Faragallah transforms the soothing colors, organic forms and distinctive organisms that abound in the Pacific Ocean into highly-textured clay pieces which utilize various glazes and oxides to impart both natural and metallic appearances.  She admits that when working with clay, she allows her subconscious to take over and connect the "creative dots" that take her to another place -- "almost like being in childhood," says Faragallah. The results are among the most fascinating of artworks that bring the viewer into the ocean's briny depths in such pieces as the fabulous "Tentacles" lamp (center), the large "Orb" sculpture (left) and the vessel-like "Coral" sculpture (right) -- we love it!  To see more of Faragallah's work in Los Angeles, one can stop by Gray Gallery where a unique mingling of artists, ceramicists and jewelers come together under the curatorial eye of Chahan Minassian (a Parisian interior design and gallery owner) and jewelry designer Vram Minassian.  It was in 2004 that Faragallah began studying ceramics, adding hand-built clay items to her thrown and altered pieces.  She loves hearing her "quiet self" while working -- and we at Studio of Style have to say that we admire the quietly elegant aquatic beauty found in Faragallah's finished works.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We Had Faces...Greta Garbo

WE HAD FACES....GRETA GARBO -- Norma Desmond had it right when she uttered those now-famous lines in Billy Wilder's incredible script for 1950's stellar flick Sunset Boulevard: "We didn't need dialogue.  We had faces!"  Gloria Swanson as Desmond was referring of course not only to her silent screen self in real life, but also to the likes of Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, John Gilbert and Greta Garbo.  In 1926,  when the more-handsome-than-handsome John Gilbert (shown above) planted his kiss on the cheek of Garbo in The Flesh and the Devil, it seemed that all of movie-going America fell in love too. And like Desmond said, there were no words in those glorious silent film days -- just faces! And, boy oh boy, what faces they were, indeed.  But the faces just didn't light up the silver screen by themselves -- it was the artistic achievement of director Clarence Brown and, just as importantly, the incredible camera work of cinematographer William H. Daniels and his lighting crew who knew how to make Garbo glow in The Flesh and the Devil.  Daniels' cinematography work went uncredited in the 1925 silent film masterpiece The Merry Widow from director Erich von Stroheim (Stroheim would later play opposite Gloria Swanson as Max von Mayerling in Sunset Boulevard. How crazy is Hollywood, huh?).  But with or without the brilliant film technicians of Hollywood, Greta Garbo would still light up a room and our hearts anyway!

This Is Only A Test!

THIS IS ONLY A TEST -- It's hard to imagine, kids, but there was once a time when you could only watch television through an antenna stuck to your roof -- and sometime after the late, late movie ended (in the wee hours of the morning), your local television station would "sign off" and the American national anthem would start playing and this fabulous-looking Indian Head Test Pattern would appear on your screen and stay there until the station resumed broadcasting around 5:00 AM (for the farm reports) or 6:00 AM (for morning news).  This now-iconic image (for those millions of baby boomers) made its television debut around 1947 and stayed in use until the mid-to-late 1970s -- and many a person fell to sleep in the eerie gray-white light it emanated and snoozed to the soothing (to some) white noise static from the television speakers.  But (and here's the big "but") -- what the heck was it used for?  And who the heck thought of it??  The original artwork was created in 1938 by a guy named Brooks (don't know the gent's first name) for RCA and the graphic of the Indian chief and all of the patterns on the chart actually served specific purposes. An experienced broadcast engineer in a television studio could glance at the drawing of the chief and quickly know if everything was okay or if more careful adjustments of the studio's cameras were needed. Such adjustments were made on a regular basis because television system electronics then used hot vacuum tubes -- the operating characteristics of which drifted throughout each broadcast day. The grid and circles were used for perspective, framing and linearity (I know this is technical, but hang in there!) -- and the gray bands emerging from the center off to the lower right and upper left were for differential gain, contrast and white level. (Don't worry, there won't be a quiz in the morning!)  Unfortunately, the Indian Chief Test Pattern has gone the way of the buffalo and the typewriter -- but it certainly caused many a kid and adult to stare at it in wonderment way back when and try to unlock its artistic and mystical secrets.  And you know how we love mystical secrets here at Studio of Style!

Fashion Rocks at FIDM!

FASHION ROCKS AT FIDM! -- Not only is the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in downtown Los Angeles an amazing private college where students from around the world learn the best about the worlds of fashion, graphics and interior design -- but it has an equally amazing museum and gallery (did you know that? now you do!) where Joe & Jill Q Public (people like us!) can experience some wonderful exhibits of contemporary and vintage fashion as well as costumes from some of Hollywood's best motion pictures! Don't miss the upcoming show "20th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" from February 14 to April 28, 2012 -- on display will be costumes from more than 20 films of 2011, including the 2011 Academy Award winner for Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland.  Speaking of wonderland, some of the items in the museum's focused collection include such iconic pieces as a fabulous 1970s punk ensemble by Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood (shown above -- God Save the Queen!!); 1970s platform boots (top right) and plaid platform shoes (left center); a 1994 skull bracelet (right center) by Gianni Versace for Versus; a "Klimt Dress" (bottom right) from the Fall 1969 collection of Giorgio di Sant' Angelo; a "Pleats Please" dress from 2000 (bottom left) by Issey Miyaki; and a kaleidoscopic 1964 Emilio Pucci maxi dress (top left).  The museum is always acquiring items (thanks to the generous support of its many patrons) and it certainly welcomes donations of garments, textiles, fragrance, ephemera and jewelry from all eras and style genres.  On  a recent visit to the FIDM gallery, we saw an amazingly colorful Peter Max psychedelic umbrella!  So mark your calendar and we'll see you in February for the motion picture costume design exhibition, okay?  It's a date!
Images courtesy FIDM Museum & Gallery. Photo collage by Greg Firlotte.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Guns! Guys! Dames! Film Noir Posters

GUYS! GUNS! DAMES! FILM NOIR POSTERS -- There's always a beautiful dame in middle of everything and there's always a wise guy in a wide-brimmed hat with a gun (or two) who's trying to solve mysteries while staying one step ahead of the law and at the same time trying to hold on to some beguiling babe who seems to know everything, but she's not telling nothing -- at least not until he gives her one heckuva kiss while both their lives are in mortal danger.  And, kids, if you understood anything we just said, then you'll love just about any film noir from the golden age of Hollywood film-making when good eventually triumphed over those nasty evil-doers and the guy (wearing his snappy hat, of course) always got his girl in the end (unless you're watching The Maltese Falcon -- but we digress...).  Not only are we at Studio of Style in love with this classic flick genre, but we love the posters just as much!  Masterful compositions in every way, these colorful works of art drew droves of movie-goers with their intensely dramatic imagery which piqued everyone's interest -- alluding to an ever-present sense of danger, plots thick with intrigue and those mostly blonde babes waiting to be rescued by a handsome Joe packing heat in his pocket (in more ways than one!).  And then there's this guy named Mark -- who's a college professor -- but more importantly a great guy with a fascinating and internationally renowned blog Where Danger Lives that is a treasure trove of info and visuals on film noir like you've never seen! Thanks to him, we get to see and read about films that might have gone unnoticed and unappreciated otherwise -- so put on a trench coat, take a peek around the corner (to be sure you're not being followed), and check out his fantastic blog where you'll find chills, thrills and looks that kill!
Poster Collage by Greg Firlotte.  Images courtesy Where Danger Lives.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ready to Wear: Spot on!

READY TO WEAR: SPOT ON! -- Can we ever get enough leopard?  Never!  So let's play dress up (like we always have!) and channel our inner feline with a little help from such top design sources as Betsey Johnson (sunglasses); Roberto Cavalli (bracelet); Zara Juracic for Crumpet England (cashmere classic cardigan); Yves Saint Laurent (purse); and Christian Louboutin (shoes).  And we really wouldn't mind if you were to wear all of these at once -- because it's all about how you carry it off at Studio of Style!  Add to this some super-sized rings, black leggings, very high boots, big hair or super-tight ponytail, high-contrast makeup, an over-sized cashmere scarf, a touch of Chanel No. 5 and you're ready for adventure!!! In a future edition, we have home furnishings and accessories in leopard that will make you purrrr!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wilkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!

WILKOMMEN! BIENVENUE! WELCOME! -- There's more reasons to watch the 1972 musical masterpiece Cabaret than you think, kids!  For example, it was selected by the United States National Film Registry in 1995 as being deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" (but we always knew that, didn't we?).  And the American Film Institute ranked it as #5 on its list of best musicals in 2006 -- preceded in 2004 with the song "Cabaret" positioned as #18 on the AFI's list "100 Years...100 Songs."  And later in 2007, the film was voted #63 on AFI's list of the 100 Greatest American Movies!! (Thank goodness for AFI validating what we always believed about this super flick!)  But the main reason to watch it, of course, is for the superb performances all around by a dream cast whose equal in movie musicals has yet to be matched.  Liza Minnelli was originally denied the Broadway stage role (boy, I bet they were sorry!).  Joel Grey reprised his stage role for the film.  Boyishly handsome (still is!) Michael York was hand-picked by director Bob Fosse.  And Marisa Berenson turns in a fab performance too -- as she transforms from department store heiress caught up in the world of social etiquette to a woman who finally finds love on the eve of darkness in anti-Semitic Germany.  Though it won eight Academy Awards, it was upstaged for Best Picture of the Year by The Godfather.  Rightfully, it won seven BAFTA Awards (including Best Film -- yes!) and won the title of Best Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy) at the Golden Globe Awards.  So, put down the knitting, the book and the broom -- it's time to watch Cabaret!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

In the Lap of Luxury: Anichini Napkins

IN THE LAP OF LUXURY: ANICHINI NAPKINS -- At Studio of Style, we never set the table the same twice in a row -- and that means that we're always on the lookout for napkins that can change along with the mood, the food and the vibe we're trying to capture when we want to create an outstanding dinner party.  And with all the dinner parties that go on here in Hollywood, that can be a challenge unto itself -- which is why we were thrilled to discover (and now you know too!) these 24" x 24" "Nobel" hand-loomed herringbone linen napkins from Anichini in 22 delicious colors (15 of which are shown here).  With such a chic rainbow of stylish colors to choose from, you'll be thinking of excuses to have dinner parties just to show them off!  They're sturdy and their classic look and hand-made hemstitch means that they'll always be your go-to napkins for every occasion -- breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and those late-night romantic snacks after a night on the town! Company founder Susan Dollenmaier's love of all things textile was sparked by her grandmother who was a dressmaker -- and she went on to earn a B.A. in Design under the master Buckminster Fuller!  For the past 25 years, Anichini has been offering an amazing array of luxury linens and textiles from around the globe -- many from artisans who create their goods especially for Dollenmaier.  The company has a staggering list of celebrities and royalty who use nothing but Anichini -- and you can be part of that special group of people who know that a napkin is not just a napkin -- it's a way of life!  So get the Capri and Mazarine Blue ones for your boating parties -- and the Fire Engine Red one for St. Valentine's Day -- and Marigold for those summer picnics!  And, let's you want Blood Orange or Burnt Orange for your Sunday brunches??
Styling by Greg Firlotte

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Double Delight: Studio Lilesadi

DOUBLE DELIGHT: STUDIO LILESADI -- Dinah Smutny (left) is inspired by experimental cooking, reading a good book and enjoying the spring sun shining on a balcony.  As for Sarah Smutny (right), she loves to play the guitar, backpack and read Spiegel magazines.  Together, these twin sisters share the same passion for bringing a sense of pureness and poesy into one's everyday chaotic life with the truly unique designs they create for Studio Lilesadi, the company they founded in February of 2011 (super!!) in Rotterdam, The Netherlands (we love it!!).  With "Stellar" and "Blooming Forest" among their new collection of wallpapers, Dinah and Sarah are always inspired by floral motifs, but they have a fun and unique way of de-romanticizing them and transforming their essence into mostly large-scale abstractions that make the viewer do a delightful double take.  The sisters translate these designs and their passion for all things modern into textiles, illustrations, accessories and woven structures as well.  Originally hailing from Germany, both sisters studied in Italy -- Dinah in Florence; and Sarah in Bolzano and, later, Rotterdam where the two decided to set up shop where they have since entered into a design partnership for their wallpapers with Photowall based in Sweden.  They describe their style as "a fusion between floral and graphic, minimal and poetic."  However one describes it, we at Studio of Style love it and look forward to hearing more about this dynamic sister act that has now officially become a part of the global design scene!
Images courtesy Lilesadi

Going Daft for Delft

GOING DAFT FOR DELFT -- Got the blues?  Good!  Now add some white and you've got the makings for the classic Delft look that is inspired by the wonderful tiles and porcelain so widely associated with the Dutch city.  But you know, kids, that we might not had have such a love and craving for this distinctive color combo if it hadn't been for a high-seas hijacking! Yes, it's true (as so much of history is!) -- in the good ol' days of 1602 and 1604, the Dutch navy captured two Portuguese carracks (ships in which late Ming Dynasty blue and white porcelain was being transported from China to Europe) -- and all that blue and white porcelain booty (the treasure kind, kids!) went to auction -- sending Europe into a sort of buying and selling frenzy for the stuff (collectors included both English and French kings) and led to the establishment of trade between the Far East and the Dutch East India Company.  The death of the Chinese Wanli Emperor in 1620 caused an interruption of trade and thus (you were wondering when we were getting to this point, huh?) factories in Delft and other parts of The Netherlands began to pick up the slack to create "Delftware" -- that all-encompassing term for tiles, pottery, decorative panels, bowls, and much more.  The ironic part of this story is that Delftware became so popular that it was exported back to China and Japan where it was copied and shipped back to Europe!  Doncha just love history?  Nowadays, kids, you can transform your rooms into blue and white visions of Delft with the fabulous fabrics from Spoonflower shown here!  "Blue and White Picnic" (background) and "My Delft Tile" (top left) are by Poetryqn.  "Delft Doily" (top right) is by Nalo Hopkinson.  "Indonesian Blue" (bottom left) is by Eva the Hun (love it, girl!!). And "Delft Rose White" (bottom right) is by Kristopher K.  Go blue and white!
Blue and White Picnic:
My Delft Tile:
Delft Doily:
Indonesian Blue:
Delft Rose White:
All designs copyright by their respective artists.  Images courtesy Spoonflower.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vanities Fair: Cole + Co.

VANITIES FAIR: COLE + CO.  --  Legendary style icon and former Harpers Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland once said (and she said a lot of fabulous things!), "You gotta have style.  It helps you get up in the morning."  And you know what, kids? When we saw the delicious collection of vanities and sink chests from Cole + Co. we realized that it was possible to experience style first thing in the morning!  Why the very thought of having a zebra chest in the bathroom should make you want to leap out of bed to spend as much time as you could brushing your teeth and combing your hair -- just so you could admire this handcrafted item from the company's Designer Series and stash as many things as possible in the drawers. By the way, the zebra sink chest is known as "Gabrielle," while the two vanities are "Avery" (left) and "Cheshire" (right).  And those are just three of more than two dozen vanities and sink chests offered by the company.  They're ideal for transforming your master bath, powder room or guest bath from boring to sensational.  And you know how we at Studio of Style love to think big, right?  So why not add zebra wallcovering, plus black or chocolate brown towels and other like accoutrements and really make a statement?  Throw in some exotic ferns (they'll love the steam) and burn lots of spice-note candles, install dimmer switches so that you can lower the lights (ou la la!) and say arrivederci! to the world for a while as you enjoy the sanctuary that you just created around your zebra chest!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Beethoven: Bizarre, Wild and Ugly!

BEETHOVEN: BIZARRE, WILD AND UGLY! -- Yes, kids, it's hard imagine that the most beloved classical composer in today's world once had to suffer the slings and arrows of outraged music critics during his lifetime -- but it's all too true! You have to remember that the folks of the civilized world at the time were completely contented with the lovely harmonics generated by Mozart and Hayden and everything seemed to be right with the musical world -- and then along comes this upstart from Bonn, banging upon the pianos in the prim and proper salons of Vienna -- causing the folks in the crowd to plug their ears, denouncing this youngster with vast improvisational skills as just way too modern!  Although Beethoven would have a host of notable and prestigious patrons and teachers along the way, the critics (and we know how they are!) weren't so sure that the new musical messiah had arrived and (as critics do) proceeded to rip him a new one in the press.  In the beginning, around 1795, critics first hailed him as a bright new star -- and within years, some began to turn on him, thinking he had veered "off course" (wherever that was!).  His Opus 12 Violin Sonata evoked cries of horror. His Appassionata Piano Sonata was deemed "incomprehensible, abrupt and dark" (yikes!) and much of it "enormously difficult" (oh really??).  Not even the masterful Eroica Symphony escaped those poison pens -- "Too long.  Over-written.  The finale is all too bizarre, wild and ugly," wrote a critic in Leipzig in 1805.  Oh and yes, let's not overlook that lovely critic at The Harmonicom in London, who in 1825 wrote that the Eighth Symphony depended wholely on its last movement for what little applause it receives -- and that the rest of the work is "eccentric without being amusing."  Hey, was he actually at the concert?  Well, in the end, it all worked out and Beethoven would go on to conquer the musical world with just the first four notes of his immortal Fifth Symphony -- and this leaves us to wonder just how "wild and ugly" eventually becomes magnificent and amazing when left to the great leveler of all things: Time.  You might as well put on some Beethoven and let the world know just how wild you are!
Portrait of The Master by Josef Karl both defiled and enhanced by Greg Firlotte

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Now Open: Maison de Luxe

NOW OPEN: MAISON DE LUXE -- Tasty, tasty, tasty!  There is so much to love about these rooms --not that they were designed by such top-notch talents as Nathan Turner (top photo) or Oliver Furth (bottom photo) -- but that these spaces exemplify the range and depth of what's possible in a room with just four walls!  Turner's rich use of materials, patterns, colors, textures and space planning is just the best -- while Furth's fun art-filled take on a girl's bedroom (what, you say??) is just simply bold and unexpected -- exactly what we always expect from Mr. Furth!  Get your tickets now if you haven't already done so.  Maison de Luxe ends on December 22!
Photos by Greg Firlotte

Now Open: Maison de Luxe

NOW OPEN: MAISON DE LUXE -- Okay kids, here's your chance to see some fabulous design -- all under one roof -- if you're able to get to Beverly Hills between now and December 22, that is.  What you'll see will be 26,000 square feet of the famed (and haunted, some say!) Doheny Mansion (now called Greystone) transformed into oh-so-wonderful spaces by such talents as Michelle Naussbaumer (top photo) and Jaime Rummerfield and Ron Woodson (bottom photo).  What both rooms shown here have in common (who knew?) are pieces from the Phyllis Morris showroom -- one vintage (the white console in the green and white room) and the spanking new acrylic "Cosmopolitan" bed with Swarovski crystal headboard and footboard in the deliciously pink-toned bedroom!  Congrats to all three designers on these super-riffic spaces!
Michelle Nussbaumer:
Woodson and Rummerfield:
Photos by Greg Firlotte

Crystals, Stars, Soldiers and Toys

CRYSTALS, STARS, SOLDIERS AND TOYS:  It was one of those nights in Hollywood where you had to pinch yourself to believe that it was real.  The courtyard of the Crystalarium on Melrose Avenue was jam-packed this past Tuesday with people of all ages and walks of life who came with toys in hand to support the efforts of the American Soldier Network toy drive to brighten the holidays of children of our fallen American heroes.  Everywhere you turned were the proud men and women of our armed services looking splendid in their uniforms, plus celebrities, an assortment of beautiful people, fabulous food and live music -- and inside the shop, crystals from around the world sparkled!  Father and son actors Ed Callison and Zach Callison (above right), singer Temara Melek and actress Jennessa Rose (above left) and many more from that fabulous world of show business mixed and mingled with the crowd on that beautiful star-lit evening.  We'd like to thank the award-winning website and graphics designer Kinga Dow who invited us to be a part of the event!
Zach Callison:
Ed Callison:
Jennessa Rose:
All Photos by Greg Firlotte

The White T-Shirt Principle

THE WHITE T-SHIRT PRINCIPLE:  I've always held the belief that if an actor believes that he or she needs a host of costume changes, overdone digitized special effects, a wall of dancers behind them, flattering camera angles and lighting or a famous agent in order to make them look good and feel good -- then what they probably really need is to be held accountable to  "the white t-shirt principle"  that I often use when trying to be as subjective as possible when discussing the merits of one's theatrical performances (and, kids, you know how unbiased we are here at Studio of Style, eh?).   Consider, for example, the legendary performance of James Dean in the still-powerful film Rebel Without A Cause.  A great deal of Dean's scenes have him in nothing but a white t-shirt and jeans (Lee 101 Riders dyed an even deeper blue) -- and later joined by that incredible red jacket!  This combination would actually change the way American teenagers perceived what was "cool" and emulated it to the degree that the t-shirt, jeans and jacket trio became the de rigueur look in the 1950s.  But I digress.  The point is that acting is a craft that pulls from within one's soul that essence of everything about human emotion and existence and brings it out for us the audience to feel, to sense, to relate to and inevitably enjoy the experience.  If Dean could do all that in a white t-shirt and immortalize himself for all time in that singular performance, then what is possible for today's generation of actors to glean from this -- and even potentially deliver just as striking a performance as his?  Is acting really about what surrounds you, or what lies within that is revealed to a paying audience?  Food for thought, for sure, but I'll let you think about it for a while.  However, there'll be a quiz in the morning!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Purveyor of Style: Thomas Lavin

PURVEYOR OF STYLE: THOMAS LAVIN -- He's a very modern man, that Thomas Lavin.  And it's not because he enjoys the music of Gustav Mahler and Nina Hagen in the same sitting.  Nor because he's an avid reader, a world traveler, a supporter of philanthropic charities or that he wears copper leather Duckie Brown wingtip shoes (fabulous!).  What makes Lavin modern is that he has "the eye."  Anyone can travel the world and read a book -- but not everyone has a trained eye like that of Lavin's who can assemble some of the most interesting and forward-thinking furnishings, textiles, rugs, lighting, accessories and art and present them in an 11,000-square-foot showroom in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood and make it all come together with such ease and authority.  Among the offerings at Lavin's showroom are curated pieces from such top-drawer resources as Christian Liaigre, Juin Ho, Philip Nimmo, David Bonk and Madeline Stuart, not to mention Lavin's own Lavinder brand which he founded with showroom vice president Ramona Drost.  Since his foray into the design showroom business in 2000, Lavin's thoughtfully-laid-out spaces have been a top attraction and no visit to the Pacific Design Center is complete without a stop at his third-floor aerie to check out what has caught his eye lately.  When Studio of Style came by to snap these pics, Lavin had just returned from a European jaunt and was already discussing an upcoming trip to Paris in January, among other things.  What will he find on his next venture out there into the world of style?  You'll just have to pay a visit to Lavin's showroom to find out!
Photos by Greg Firlotte

Color Me Fabulous: Marco Pelusi

COLOR ME FABULOUS: MARCO PELUSI -- Stacy Keibler.  Eva La Rue.  Carol Alt. These ladies know how to rock the red carpet for sure.  When it comes to looking hot for the cameras, these sizzling stars start at the top -- and that is where Marco Pelusi comes in.  In the relaxed hideaway setting of his West Hollywood studio, Pelusi performs his special brand of magic as a globally-renowned hair color authority -- but perhaps that is too technical of a term for this true artist who knows so much about the subject that he created his own line of Collagen Color GuardTM products to protect and enhance the fabulous looks that he gives his star clientele.  Having literally grown up in the beauty industry through his family's chain of 15 upscale salons on the East Coast, Pelusi just naturally fell in love with color and soon became a top educator at one of the world's renowned hair coloring companies based in Milan, Italy.  While there, he worked with chemists to create hair color products, plus he developed a hair color education curriculum as well as leading international teams that introduced hair color trends to some of the world's best salons.  Nowadays, when not found in his own studio, Pelusi can be seen on stage at national beauty shows as a "platform artist" demonstrating his amazing techniques to peers in the industry (and Aloxxi is his only hair color of choice!).  Having been recognized for "Best Hair Color in Los Angeles" by Fox 11 television station and as one of the "Top 40 Hair Colorists" in the U.S. in 2011 by Beauty Entertainment magazine, Pelusi loves to share his talents, cultivate creativity in the beauty industry as well as motivate others to hone their own hair-coloring skills -- and that is what having style is all about!
Photo of Marco Pelusi in action by Greg Firlotte

Let the Music Play: Hélène Grimaud

LET THE MUSIC PLAY: HELENE GRIMAUD -- Where does one begin to describe the immeasurable talent that is Hélène Grimaud?  Just listen.  Never mind that she once showed up at rehearsal wearing a white "wifebeater" or having apologized to a reporter for smelling like "deer meat" during their interview.  Just listen.  And never mind that a spat between her and legendary conductor Claudio Abbado over the choice of a coda for Mozart's Piano Concerto #23 resulted in canceled joint appearances for the two in London and Lucerne.  Just listen.  And never mind that she'd much rather be with her beloved wolves (yes, kids, wolves!!) than on a concert stage when given the chance.  Just listen.  Having put out 20 CDs (!!)  from age 15 to age 42, Grimaud is nothing short of amazing, no matter what she does or likes offstage or off the record.  Passionate, unpredicatable, exciting.  This is why Grimaud is on our Super Style list! We dare you to listen and not be moved in one way or another:
Main portrait and LP images courtesy Deutsche Grammophon

Making Scents: DayNa Decker

MAKING SCENTS: DAYNA DECKER -- The flower-filled fields of Grasse, France are a far cry from the face-paced runways found in the world's fashion capitals -- but for former Ford agency model DayNa Decker, the fascination with scents and perfume and the mystique and technology behind them proved even more glamorous than treks down the catwalk in designer outfits.   Hailing from a family of entrepreneurs, it was no surprise that Decker would end up mastering the art of perfumery in France and then go on to create her own line of products for the home and body using several of her patented technologies and formulations which have come to separate her from everyone else in the marketplace.  We at Studio of Style can attest to the amazing scents emanating from each and every product -- be it chandels (Decker's innovative evolution of the candle), essence diffusers (Sandalrose!!) or an array of bath and body products (the intoxicating "Viva" is like holding a bouquet of stargazer lilies and is among our favorites!).  Every product is biologically and ecologically friendly inside and out and, with so many new and exotic scents created by Decker to choose from, you might find yourself filling your world with these fabulous fragrances.  And why not?  You'll come up smelling like roses...and night-blooming jasmine...and lotus...and pink peonies!
Photo courtesy DayNa Decker

Mamie Van Doren: The Last Blonde Bombshell

MAMIE VAN DOREN: THE LAST BLONDE BOMBSHELL -- There was time when three "blonde bombshells" reigned over Hollywood: Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren.  That phenomenal trio of buxom beauties with their platinum hair and pouty red lips excited everyone with their come-hither looks and true star power wherever they went -- and it seemed that Hollywood would always have them to love and adore.  Lucky for us, kids, because we still have Mamie Van Doren in our midst!  And what a lady she is, indeed -- a Hollywood star in the greatest old-school sense.  Of the many years I've been in Hollywood, I've yet to meet a more gracious and genuine star than she.  Oh, the time she and I dined at The Ivy in West Hollywood -- when Damon Wayons (at the next table) couldn't take his eyes off her and her incredible curvaceous figure and those legs!  And the memories she has to share of her many legendary friends and lovers: James Dean (that night on a motorcycle in the Hollywood Hills!); Rock Hudson (naughty, naughty, sexy fun together!!); Howard Hughes; Elvis Presley; Frank Sinatra; and Steve McQueen ("He was a real man," recalls Mamie with the utmost respect and a twinkle in her eye).  And she is always working on projects -- like the new book Mamie: Now! which is a fabulous collection of photographs of Ms. Van Doren taken from 2006 to 2010 by photographer-to-the-stars Alan Mercer (his photo of her in a "screen siren" mood is shown above here in luscious green and gold tones).  So what can we learn from this enduring style icon?  That beauty, joy and kindness come from within and no one can ever take that away from you. And that a star always shines -- and Mamie, you are the real deal.  Shine on!!! (for mature viewers only!)
The "Mamie: Now!" book:
Mamie Van Doren (center) photographed by Alan Mercer
Photo collage by Greg Firlotte

Less is More: The Sexy World of Jason Amirmajdi

LESS IS MORE: THE SEXY WORLD OF JASON AMIRMAJDI -- Take it off!!  And let's see what doin' underneath...especially if those hot ladies of Hollywood and beyond are wearing the equally hot lingerie and accessories found at Le Bra Lingerie in West Hollywood, California.  Ever since owner Jason Amirmajdi opened his petite bijou of a shop, the top names in the world of fashion and photography have beaten a path to his door looking for those ultimate pieces to make their clients rock the style world.  Uber-photographer Ellen von Unwerth and photographers Deborah Anderson (Room 23 book), Tony Kelly (Petra Ecclestone!!) and Guido Argentini (Shades of a Women book) have all snapped their subjects wearing Le Bra finery.  Super stylists Emma Trask; Laury Smith (Lady Gaga); George Blodwell (legendary!) and others know only too well what goodies they can find there.  Magazines such as W, Flaunt, Genlux, Avenue NYC and OK! have showcased celebs and models decked out in Le Bra as well.  To make his shop all the more unique, Jason designs his own mannequins which are manufactured locally to his specifications (shown here at top) -- and the shop is filled top to bottom with various acoutrements to make the lines of lingerie sold there all the more titillating.  "It's the place for the bride, the pin-up girl, or the sex kitten," Jason is quick to point out.  Whatever your fantasy or reality, we know you can flesh it out at Le Bra.
Top photo and portrait of Jason by Greg Firlotte.
Amber Heard photo by Jorgen Ringstrand and styled by Hayley Atkin for the Los Angeles Times Magazine.
Kurv Magazine photo by Guliano Bekor and styled by Nonja McKenzie.

Brief Encounters: Andre Ziehe

BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: ANDRE ZIEHE -- Suddenly, he's everywhere: magazines, billboards, bus stop shelter ads.  And he's making motorists across America slow down to take a second --or third -- look at his boyish/mannish face and figure cloaked only in those tight, hot 2(x)ist briefs.  Andre Ziehe is the kind of guy that dreams (and fantasies) are made of.  (Did you know that he is the bare-chested hunk holding Lady Gaga in the photo for the "Alejandro" single??) So it was no wonder that when this native Brazilian made his modeling industry debut at age 21 (he's now 26) in Vogue Hommes International magazine, that he was quickly snapped up for international fashion campaigns and runway gigs for Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, Benetton and Dsquared2 -- moving on to Versace, Valentino, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana (as seen in the D&G show above).  Checking in at 6-foot-2 and with eyes of green, Ziehe certainly has our attention.  His new street-wise fame as the official model for the new collections  of 2(x)ist Sport and Resort wear may very well propel him into the next strata of modeling stardom --and we at Studio of Style are wishing Andre just that.  He's pumped up -- and so are we!

The Future Now: Dror Benshetrit

THE FUTURE NOW: DROR BENSHETRIT -- At Studio of Style, we love people who can create the future for us in the present to enjoy now!  And Dror Benshetrit is one of those people.  Over the past decade, Dror has explored movement, form and space and how these can be applied to the realms of product design, interior design, architecture and art direction with his personal quest to "unlease the mutable and non-static nature of objects" as he describes it.  What that has translated into has been collaborations between him and such global powerhouse companies as Alessi, Bentley, Bombay Sapphire, Cappellini (the "Tron" armchairs shown here), Kiehl's, Levi's, Puma, Rosenthal, Swarovski and Target -- to name a few -- and pieces such as the "Volume.MGX" cube light from Materialise (bottom left) and the "Volume 60-10-12-3-12" rusted steel sculpture (bottom right).  From his studio in New York, Dror observes the world, looking for responses to the needs in our modern lifestyles.  He has received numerous design awards for these observations and his pieces are found in the permanent collections of museums internationally.  In October of this year, Studio Dror and the Buckminster Fuller Institute gathered together top thinkers and doers in the architecture and design fields where they discussed how to push their respective practices towards more ecological and socially-responsible directions in light of interrelated global crises -- what Fuller termed as "comprehensive anticipatory design science."  A lot to consider, yes -- but fortunately we have Dror keeping his eye on the future of style for all of us!
Images courtesy Dror / Photo collage by Greg Firlotte

Friday, November 25, 2011

Once Upon A Star: Natalie Wood

ONCE UPON A STAR: NATALIE WOOD -- Was it all a dream?  Was she always the prettiest girl in the room and we never realized it until the dream was over? When Natalia Nikolaevna Zacharenko became Natalie Wood and made her official acting debut just before turning five years old in 1943's Happy Land, the dream was only beginning --not only for the young Natalie, but for all the world who would watch her grow up before their eyes into one of the most ravishing beauties to ever grace the silver screen.  We gave her our hearts, because she always wore her heart on her sleeve, never being able to conceal her joy, her anger, her pride, her sadness.  Her eyes said it all -- and all you had to do was look into those dreamy brown eyes and the story unfolded. And when the girl became a full-fledged woman, she blossomed, growing and glowing ever more with each new year.  And on that dreadful Sunday in November 1981 when her lifeless body was found, there was a collective broken heart around the world.  The dream was over all too soon, it seemed.  There will never be another Natasha quite like her to love and adore as our very own.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Covered In Color

COVERED IN COLOR:  You know how we love color at Studio of Style!  So when we saw the Newlon Collection of wallcoverings by photo artist Richard Bettinger we were tickled pink, yellow, green -- and just about every color! Bettinger has provided a great way to cover your walls (and ceilings!) and brighten up your otherwise dull interiors with this fresh, upbeat collection inspired by an array of natural materials as photographed by the artist and transformed into twelve different patterns -- each offered in five colorways (not to mentioned the ability to do custom colorways or designs inspired by your imagination!) Speaking of imaginative, we love the names assigned to these dazzling patterns such as: Knock-Out Rose; Planet Python; Leonardo's Ladder and Light Shield.  So, follow this simple equation using these Newlon wallcoverings:  Big + Bold + Color = Fabulous!
Images courtesy Newlon Collection / Photo collage by Greg Firlotte