Monday, April 30, 2012

International Evolution: Yvonne Colacion Goes Global...Again!

INTERNATIONAL EVOLUTION: YVONNE COLACION GOES GLOBAL...AGAIN! -- Southern California-based designer Yvonne Colacion is such a globetrotter nowadays, that when she lands somewhere, it becomes an opportunity to hear from the lady herself. This Thursday, May 3, 2012, Colacion is a keynote speaker (along with Kirk Nix of KNA Design) at the program "Luxury by Land and by Sea" (moderated by celebrated architect and writer Michael Webb!) at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood  where she and Nix will share their experiences on working abroad on some very prestigious projects.  When she started her own firm -- Colacion Studio -- it was the perfect vehicle to continue creating interiors for residential projects, luxury villas, super yachts and corporate facilities around the world -- similar to what she had done on an international level (minus the 155-foot-long M/Y 360 yacht that she just completed!) during her tenures as vice president of corporate interiors at RTKL and as a senior associate at Gensler. Hopping a jet to Kuwait City, Beirut, the French Riviera or any numerous designations abroad, Colacion loves her role as a force in the world design community. “I never dreamed that I would be designing magnificent properties in the Middle East, or traveling there to meet some of the world’s most influential people on an ongoing basis. I’m grateful for the global inspiration that I have gleaned from these travels," she notes.  Her clean and modern sensibilities have transformed the headquarters of real estate and project development giant Tamdeen Group in Kuwait City into a spacious, light-filled place that also reflects elements of the Arab culture. This project was honored by the Society of British Interior Design and has flung open the doors to designing even more projects in the Middle East for Colacion -- not an easy feat to accomplish. But then, Colacion's passion for and knowledge of working in foreign climes has always been reasons why she's called on time and again to work her brand of magic overseas.  And which is why listening to her firsthand at the Pacific Design Center this coming Thursday will provide an insight into the booming foreign markets that tempt many a designer who want a global following like the very stylish one that Colacion has successfully found.
Images courtesy Colacion Studio / Rug in top photo designed by Phyllis Morris for Decorative Carpets

Saturday, April 28, 2012

You Haven't Seen the Last of Me: Cher before She was Cher!

YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE LAST OF ME: CHER BEFORE SHE WAS CHER! -- Now you didn't think that we'd let this fabulous photo of Cher (or is it Bonnie Jo Mason...or is it Cherilyn?) get by us without the Studio of Style treatment, now did you?  Well, first of all, she's all of 17 in this photo taken at the now-defunct Gold Star Studios in good ol' Hollywood (on the corner of Vine and Santa Monica Boulevard) -- a studio that is legendary among studios in the world for its famed echo chambers and for the multitude of acts who recorded their equally legendary music there (Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Herb Alpert, The Monkees and so many more!).  Of note is the fact that Johnette Napolitano (who we reported on -- see below) was the receptionist there in the 1980s!  But back to Cher!  You see, she was a backup singer for the studio starting in 1962 -- and Sonny Bono was working there for the infamous producer Phil Spector as a percussionist and backup singer -- and by 1964, Cher and Sonny had sung backup vocals for such classic hits as "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes and "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers -- and a whole host of songs in-between.  But it was in 1964 that our darling stepped out into the spotlight with the song "Ringo, I Love You" which was penned by Spector for his Annette Records label -- but she used the pseudonym Bonnie Jo Mason (as wholesome a name as any!) -- and the following year released "Dream Baby" under the name Cherilyn for her first solo LP All I Really Want to Do (the Bob Dylan tune).  A week after "All I Really Want to Do" (the single) hit number 15 on the Billboard charts, her career with Sonny & Cher took off with their theme song "I Got You Babe" -- and the rest is music history, kids!  But this photo -- it's so super!! We can't say enough about the Mary Quant-inspired vinyl dress with its plethora of zippers -- or the plastic makeup bag -- or the tortoise shell compact -- or those wonderful big costume rings -- or those false nails -- or that stunning pink eye shadow and false lashes or corally-pink lipstick (Coty? Mabelline? Revlon?).  And that luscious mane of hair with its bangs was also Cher's trademark.  The ultimate accessory for any singer: those Vick cough drops.  Can you imagine how many takes and choruses Spector made her and other singers do over and over?  That would take a toll on anyone's vocal chords!  Luckily for us -- and with Sonny's persuasion and belief in her -- that Bonnie Jo Mason-Cherilyn-Cher got past all those backup sessions and into music stardom where she was destined to be!  No, we haven't seen the last of her yet -- nor heard the last of her -- because we're following her on Twitter (just as you are!) and her last tweet from 8 hours ago (as of this posting) is, and we quote: "Just finished work & im really tired! It was a Good nite...Im happy! Nite nite!"  Thank goodness that we've still got you, babe!!! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zen & the Art of Construction Management with Bart Mendel

ZEN & THE ART OF CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT WITH BART MENDEL -- Peace of mind and home construction? Impossible you say? Most people are familiar with getting a piece of mind from somebody during any construction project -- but who knew that there was a construction manager (CM) out there who actually practices and instills peace of mind on every project?  Well, now you -- our stylish reader -- know that such a person exists because we can't keep a good secret here at Studio of Style when we hear one! Meet Bart Mendel (pictured above) of Stonemark Construction Management -- he's a CM and a practicing Buddhist of 35 years who brings a Zen approach (love it!) to every job (from residential to commercial and 50+ sacred spaces and nonprofit facilities) and manages to stay centered, even in the midst of the many challenges that construction brings. And he's even developed a "Top 10" list that is certainly filled with sage advice (gotta love that too!). Managing architects and contractors on a project can be a daunting task, for sure, but the bottom line is that when a project is on time -- or better yet -- under budget, then everybody wins (the alternative would be foregoing the CM and ending up in litigation should a project go awry -- yikes!). Admittedly, being a CM isn't a glamorous job -- but just look at the results with this fabulous 12,000-square-foot Tuscan-style villa in Montecito, California (shown above) with interiors by Sorrell Design and architecture by Robert Senn who worked with Mendel to oversee the management of it. Says Mendel, "I have never found an instance where the costs and quality of materials could not be better controlled. And doing so, without any sacrifice to the original vision and functionality of the residence, is a true art form."  Well put!  Okay, now onto the even more interesting aspects of Mendel's other passion. He and his wife Suzan Garner opened the Bodhi Path Buddhist Center in Santa Barbara, California in 1997 -- and he's taught the Dharma throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, not to mention being a director (along with his wife) of the Siddhartha Foundation International which supports the activities of the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje. And he's also been a guide for a travel company that offers transformational guided tours of the amazing Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. So know you know why Mendel is known in the industry as the "Zen master of the bottom line" and why he can stay focused on a construction project! Here are the "master's" tips for a blissful building process:

Bart Mendel’s Top 10 Zen Zingers For Peace of Mind Construction
Disaster stories in construction abound: unfinished homes and buildings, blown budgets, lawsuits and contractors fleeing the state.  Here's a true story: a potential client came to Bart Mendel after receiving an anonymous packet on their front doorstep after they had hired a contractor, containing 200 pages of his nefarious crimes: his restraining orders, lawsuits and judgments – he even hooked his pickup truck to an old client’s electrical service and ripped it out.  Mendel has had 35 years both as a Buddhist teacher and construction professional counseling others on how to avoid disputes and disasters in construction - here are a few Mendel's tips to maintain your sanity:
1. Seek Wisdom in All the Right Places
Hire the best construction professionals within your means. Going too cheap may cost you in the long run, sending your peace of mind right out the window. King Solomon wrote: “Listen to wise advice and follow it closely.” Maybe he learned this from building his temple.
2.  Deconstructing the Construction Team
Get to know the players before they're hired.  Don’t just check licenses and the references they provide to you. Talk to former clients, vendors and people outside their reference list for true enlightenment.
3. Take a Big View on Time and Budget
Manage your expectations. Remember that the best work may not always be the cheapest and fastest. Carefully think through what you can afford, and then allow a substantial contingency – 10-15% or more. Expect to spend every penny of it and you won’t be disappointed.
4. Hire a Master and Let Go
Professional construction managers are essential to keep large projects on time, on budget and risk managed. The money invested will end up saving you substantially, often more than the CM's own fees. A CM will keep all the players on the same page.  Let go and let them do their job.
5. Plan, Plan, Plan
Prepare a preconstruction plan with your team, or best, have a CM do it. Seek contractor input early and pay for estimating services (in this way you won’t feel obliged to hire them). Planning saves real time and money in construction where 90% of the cost and all the liability occur.
6. Value Real Value
Don’t automatically pick the lowest bid – pick the one that gives the most value. You get what you pay for, and if you pay too little, you often get even less. Pick general and trade contractors, architects, engineers and consultants based on relevant experience and value, not just price.
7. Be Omniscient
Remember the initial price from your architect or contractor is not the same as the final price.  A low price that doesn’t include the entire scope of the project is meaningless - throw it out and get bids that provide a realistic budget for everything you want or may need from the get-go.
8. Say No to Stress
Know and manage your stress and risk tolerance. Stay within your means and don’t take on a bigger project than you can handle. Embrace change - learn to accept chaos and dust as progress.  During construction? Meditate each morning and maintain a sense of humor.
9. You Don't Have to be a Hobbit to Go Green.
Focus on ways to reduce energy and water use. Site your building to take advantage of passive solar. Improve the efficiency of your exterior walls and roof to reduce energy for heating and cooling. Enjoy the peace that comes from reducing energy consumption and sustaining the environment.  
10. Positive People Power
Buildings are designed and built by people so clear, calm communication is your essential survival tool. Offer praise regularly.  Remember, job satisfaction is often more important than compensation. Help them do their best work--after all, they are building your home. People often undervalue the knowledge required to design and build successfully. Just because you own a hammer and a cordless drill, the odds are construction professionals know more than you do. Evaluate them, hire them, trust them and let them build you a great home, where the real peace of mind begins.

Bodhi Path Buddhist Center, Santa Barbara:
Photo of Bart Mendel by Breeze Munson
All images courtesy Stonemark Construction Management

Monday, April 23, 2012

Style Galore! The Leading Ladies of L.A. Design

STYLE GALORE! THE LEADING LADIES OF L.A. DESIGN -- When it comes right down to it, it's hard to imagine the world of design in L.A. as we know it without the fabulous ladies shown above who have made our lives a lot more stylish with their distinctive take on interiors and furnishings. So here's our first report on these movers and shakers, both familiar and new to many of you. 1) Though she just received the "Star of Design" award in March at the Pacific Design Center during its annual WestWeek market, Donna Livingston has always been a star with us! For more than 30 years (!), she has brought her classy style and attention to detail to residential and commercial projects -- and she's been on the Architectural Digest Top 100 list four times! Studio of Style caught up with Livingston during the recent WestWeek and she was glowing as always!  2) Millions came to know her as one of the "Million Dollar Decorators" on Bravo TV -- but Kathryn M. Ireland has always had the Midas touch when it comes to creating fabrics and wallcoverings that ooze a natural charm -- the kind of charm that can be found in her numerous decorating projects around the globe.  And her infectious smile, laughter and quick wit are a joy!  3) Another "Million Dollar Decorator," Mary McDonald is so clever and equally witty (must be something in the L.A. water!) that she seduces you immediately into her special world that combines old-fashioned elegance with a modern sensibility (love it!). An L.A. native, she is an author and she's on the Top 100 list of House Beautiful.  4) She's the daughter of legendary designer Phyllis Morris and was born in L.A. and grew up in the world of legendary style. But Jamie Adler is her own person when it comes to design -- creating contemporary furnishings, wallcoverings, lighting and accessories under the Circa brand at the Phyllis Morris showroom. That's her "Diva" leopard brocade that we've used as a backdrop to our story -- fabulous! 5) Her approach to design is intuitive and emotional -- and that's what makes Tracie Butler the fun, energetic person that she is. Another native of L.A., she has created interiors for prestigious athletes, executives, musicians, restaurants and more, not to mention having her work published in numerous national and international magazines. 6) When Rose Tarlow opened her first shop in L.A. in 1976, it wasn't long before she came to represent the highest quality in furnishings and textiles -- inspiring a legion of faithful followers that flock to her newest showroom on Melrose in search of handcrafted furnishings. Famed New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger describes her rooms as a combination of "sensual pleasures" and "geometric rigor." 7) She opened her Hollyhock showroom more than 20 years ago, and Suzanne Rheinstein continues to offer a carefully curated collection of antique and vintage home furnishings, as well as her own line of furniture, lighting and fabrics.  8) My oh my! Jaime Rummerfield (one half of the design partnership of Woodson & Rummerfield) is one of those stylish ladies that you instantly fall in love with and want to always be around! Everything she and her design partner Ron Woodson do is infused with glamour and sophistication -- and she's always the life of every L.A. party! 9) Ever the graceful lady, Carol Poet has quietly transformed the interior landscape of L.A. over the past 30 years -- and her own line of refined and casually elegant furniture reflects her love of cultures of both the East and West. Her clientele includes Hollywood legends and corporate executives! 10) What can we say that already hasn't been said about the ever-exciting Barbara Barry? Her accolades and awards are staggering, and her collections of furniture, fabrics, tiles, rugs and so much more for renowned home furnishings manufacturers are seemingly endless.  How does she do it? We have a little clue -- inner peace -- and a passion and commitment to excellence. 11) Someday we just might do an entire story on Barbara Lazaroff -- that's just how amazing she is -- and how influential too when it comes to the groundbreaking designs she's created for the famed Spago restaurant (which she co-founded) and many other restaurant interiors she designed at a time when dining interiors were nondescript. Designer, restaurateur, philosopher, artist, author, speaker...and mother. She is one of L.A.'s true dynamos! 12) With a famous name to live up to, Alexandra von Furstenberg doesn't disappoint. Her signed and limited edition collection of acrylic tables, desks and accessories is always fashion-forward and truly modern -- a testament to her 10-year tenure as creative director and director of image at her mother-in-law's renowned DVF couture house. 13) Her passion for art, interiors and furniture design is always at the forefront of whatever she does.  Nancy Corzine started her company more than 25 years ago, offering a wide selection of furniture, lighting, fabrics, rugs and accessories -- and now her eponymous stores can be found in the tony towns of Palm Beach, Florida and Southhampton, New York -- and her interior designs have been widely published. 14) With great design genes inherited from her mother -- the fabulous Harriet Dolin Stuart -- Madeline Stuart comes to the design field with a glamorous head start! She loves remodeling, architectural restoration and creating casegoods, lighting, accessories and upholstery for her company which she started in 1998.  She, too, has a Star of Design at the Pacific Design Center. 15) With so many awards, accolades and design patents to her credit, Sally Sirkin Lewis -- founder of J. Robert Scott in 1972 -- has actually created a style which has become known to the world as "California Design." Her brand of clean, contemporary design is unparalleled and she has never wavered in the face of trends and changing tastes -- such is her power of focus and belief.
Note: West Hollywood is home to the showrooms and offices of Kathryn M. Ireland, Phyllis Morris, Carol Poet, J. Robert Scott, Alexandra von Furstenberg, Nancy Corzine, Tracie Butler, Rose Tarlow and Mary McDonald!! We call this special place "the design epicenter of the West Coast"!
 Special thanks (as always) to Tony Estrada / Images gathered from around the web

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Power of Imagination: Will There Ever Be Another Erté?

THE POWER OF IMAGINATION: WILL THERE EVER BE ANOTHER ERTE?  Fashion, jewelry, paintings, drawings, theatrical costumes, sculpture, set designs for theater, film and opera. There was nothing that Roman Petrovich Tyrtof couldn't do -- once he left his city of birth Saint Petersburg, Russia and found his artistic calling in Paris in the year 1907. Of course, it was much easier for the French folks to pronounce his initials R.T. and, thus, Erté was born -- and the creative world was never the same since (Tyrtof assumed this pseudonym on his own, not wanting to disgrace his upright, military family back in Russia -- heavens forbid!). Erté's look practically defined the era in which he lived -- but considering that he passed away in 1990, that gave him lots of time in which to put out a staggering ouevre once all was said and done.  Prolific he was, indeed, but it was the amazing imagination that he possessed that was really his ticket to fame. Flowing, sensuous lines. Pedantic detailing. Luscious color. Long, lithe figures in utterly romantic and almost impossible poses. Suggestive, blatant, ambiguous erotica. Dreamlike landscapes. Classic physiques. Prior to Erté, the art world had Aubrey Beardsley and his erotically-charged drawings that called up lost times tinged with the exotic.  Erté, however, used his own day and time as a springboard for his many luxurious ideas -- starting with his work for the era's most famed couturier Paul Poiret from 1913 to 1914, followed by a contract with Harper's Bazaar magazine which really opened the floodgates to his career (between 1915 and 1937, he designed more than 200 covers for Harper's -- and later Cosmopolitan, Ladie's Home Journal and Vogue to name a few).  It was the Ziegfeld Follies of 1923 that introduced his programme, costume (see above) and set designs to the multitudes -- and then Hollywood came calling (doesn't it always at some point, kids??). None other than Louis B. Mayer brought Erté to Tinseltown in 1925, which resulted in set designs for silent film classic Ben-Hur among the many productions. Keep reading below....

The Power of Imagination: Will There Ever Be Another Erté?

THE POWER OF IMAGINATION: WILL THERE EVER BE ANOTHER ERTE?  Erté  was a man in love with his work, his cats (sounds nice to us!) and solitude. And his work was very modern -- considering that the first part of the 20th century in Europe was still hanging on to bits and pieces of leftovers from the Victorian era that had a longtime stranglehold on society, mores and the arts. Erté and others in the creative realm were anxious to liberate morality and the arts from all of this stuffy nonsense that had no place in a changing world that was on the brink of chaos and immense change (i.e. World War I). Theater, fashion and art were the great escapes for everyone -- and it was in these escapes that color, sensuality and the feeling that "anything goes" flourished. Because of his aristocratic upbringing, Erté's charming politeness and effete mannerisms made him extremely lovable among actors, fashion designers, opera singers and all of society throughout Europe. He captured the flamboyant Art Deco period to a T -- and the booming music halls, cinemas, new dance crazes such as the Charleston and the Black Bottom, and the rise of performer Josephine Baker all added to the excitement of the era and to Erté's vivid imagination. Add to all of this, the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb which fueled the explosion of all things Egyptian and exotic, playing into Erté's work all the more. Surprisingly, it wasn't all the new-found delights in the arts that inspired Erté -- he was actually born inspired! In his own words  he tells us, "When I was five years old, I designed an evening dress for my mother...and around her décolletage was a garland of real roses. I was absolutely enchanted." Wow! We guess that we too would be enchanted if we designed a dress for our mother (and Erté's mother had the dress sewn up, by the way). His work can be found in such museums as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert -- and though his bronze sculptures and prints have been copied and reproduced by the masses, they are nonetheless a beauty to behold in their pure unadulterated state, so rich are they in detail and color. His influence in costume and set design is immeasurable and his imagination unparalleled. So, that begs the question "Will there ever be another Erté?"  We'll ruminate on this one and get back to you in the morning, okay?

Books on Amazon about Erté:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Simplicity, Mystery and Challenge: The World of Glass Maestro Shimon Peleg

SIMPLICITY, MYSTERY AND CHALLENGE: THE WORLD OF GLASS MAESTRO SHIMON PELEG -- From his studio in the heart of the ancient Upper Galilee countryside in Israel, Shimon Peleg lovingly tends to his mango orchard. All around him, the rugged landscape, the expanse of the blue sky and the echoes of history call to him, inspiring him all the more when he steps inside his glass studio (top left) to create the unique style of glass that has brought him international renown for his lighting fixtures, stained glass murals, sinks, vitrage, tiles and much more.  Says Peleg, "Glass is a material with simplicity, mystery and challenge. My challenge is to lead glass into unique colors and shapes while keeping the qualities, originality and transparency of the materials." Of course, we at Studio of Style would love to venture to the Galilee to see this maestro in action -- but luckily for everyone in Los Angeles, we only need to venture down to Beverly Boulevard's design-shop-filled district where the Light in Art showroom holds a vast array of items by Peleg for uses in all areas of the home and beyond.  Showroom director and interior designer Michelle Krief will give you a tour of Peleg's creations -- and show you how one-of-a-kind pieces can be commissioned, which is a specialty of the showroom that also presents an opportunity to bring something singularly distinctive into your world using color, form and the quality of light as a transformative element. Among the items at the showroom, we love Noga (top right) with its cluster of suspended cubes; the colorful Drops pendant (center left); and the custom black/gold sink (bottom) which also comes in range of sizes and colors. Peleg's work can be seen in clubs, bars, restaurants, cinemas, synagogues and temples around the globe, specified by some of the top design professionals. But you don't have to be a designer or architect to visit the Light in Art showroom -- Krief welcomes all who love the simplicity and mystery of glass that has fascinated and inspired Peleg over the years.
Photos courtesy Light in Art

Rock On at La Luz de Jesus! Johnette Napolitano is "Still in Hollywood"

ROCK ON! JOHNETTE NAPOLITANO IS "STILL IN HOLLYWOOD" -- We know it's only rock 'n roll...but we like it! And we certainly like La Luz de Jesus Gallery in the heart of Hollywood (which we've reported on before) and their unique and varied programming that gives more depth and flavor to the L.A. art scene...thank goodness!  For all you rock 'n rollers out there (and we know there's lots!!), you have the opportunity this Sunday, April 22nd from 4 to 7 PM to see and hear an event called "Still in Hollywood" which features a live appearance by Johnette Napolitano -- the beloved bassist, songwriter and lead singer for the L.A. post-punk band Concrete Blonde -- who will be reading extracts from her book "Rough Mix" which is filled with memoirs, stories, poetry, lyrics and essays (now that should be quite a reading!!).  On top of that, kids, you'll get to see (for the first time!) hand-drawn artwork from the book that will also be available for sale (that book is hard to get on Amazon -- so here's the time to buy it from the author!).  Says Johnette, "I was born in Hollywood and this show is what it's about to me, from silent films to a city gone to seed, rediscovered and occupied by the punks and runaways and dreamers back when the band started.  There's always been a dark side."  And if all of that wasn't enough -- drumroll, please -- there will also be the artwork of Jason Bogart on display that afternoon (yes, he's the fourth cousin of icon Humphrey Bogart) and his art is a series of portraits of other Hollywood icons (Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin, Bela Lugosi) all done in the makeup of rocker Alice Cooper.  Many people aren't aware that Napolitano has long been an established conceptual artist -- with a series of paintings, sculptures, drawings and multi-media pieces to her credit -- which makes this event at La Luz de Jesus a rare moment for those seriously entrenched in the history of L.A. rock music. Concrete Blonde is best known for its 1990 Top 20 hit song "Joey" which went on to be covered by the country music duo Sugarland, which brought a whole new audience to Concrete Blonde (who has 14 albums out there in various forms -- with "Still in Hollywood" being the band's 1994 compilation of live recordings and unreleased material).  So now it's up to you to get over there this Sunday and get in on the artistic fun!
Portrait of Napolitano (morphed many times over by Studio of Style) is courtesy of La Luz de Jesus Gallery

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Angeleno + Saks + Men of Style = Fabulous!

ANGELENO + SAKS + MEN OF STYLE = FABULOUS!  Get ready for the superlatives, okay? It was one of those nights (last night, in fact!) in Beverly Hills when all the stars aligned and the food, drinks and style flowed, merged, mixed and mingled into one fantastic concoction! The event was the second annual Men of Style celebration sponsored by L.A.'s premiere city magazine Angeleno -- and held at the ultra chic men's store at Saks Fifth Avenue smack dab in the heart of Beverly Hills on Wilshire Boulevard -- all done in the name of charity (Sports Spectacular) and to relish the publication of Angeleno's Men's Issue (shown above) which is jam-packed with sartorial splendor of the masculine kind. There was so much to see and do at the event (described in the posts below) and the people watching alone was probably the best attraction! Angeleno knows how to throw a party -- and this one was among the best ever in a town that loves to party. There were three floors of fun, with the fashion show being held on the second floor. President and CMO of Saks Fifth Avenue Ron Frasch flew in from New York and was given a warm welcome by Angeleno president and group publisher Alan Klein -- and the fashion show featured both men's and women's clothing from California casual to dressed up Hollywood glamour.  So, a tip of the hat to everyone at Angeleno and Saks for showing us guys what it takes to really look fashionably fantastic!  Keep reading below for more....
All photos by Greg Firlotte

Angeleno + Saks + Men of Style = Fabulous!

ANGELENO + SAKS + MEN OF STYLE = FABULOUS!  We had to keep pinching ourselves last night at the Men of Style celebration sponsored by Angeleno magazine at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills -- why, you ask?  Because we couldn't believe our ears -- thanks to the fantastic sounds coming from DJ Caroline D'Amore (below left) who transformed this men's clothing store into the chic-est private club ever! Not only is Ms. D'Amore one of the sweetest ladies we've met in a long time, but she is rocking the clubs of America with her special brand of music (we played her CD last night in the car all the way home to keep the club vibe going -- we didn't want the evening to end). L.A.'s Artisan House (whose slogan is "Break bread. Share wine. Feed the soul.") kept our souls comforted with an amazing cheese board (above center) and we kept going back for more (shhhh...don't tell anyone) it was that delicious!  Keep reading below for more....
All photos by Greg Firlotte

Angeleno + Saks + Men of Style = Fabulous!

ANGELENO + SAKS + MEN OF STYLE = FABULOUS!  There was never a lack of sweets, treats and libations to be had at the Men of Style celebration sponsored by Angeleno magazine at the men's store of Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.  In fact, we fell in love with those indescribably delicious chocolates from Madame Chocolat located on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills (located just a couple of steps north of our favorite restaurant of all time Spago!) -- and we were treated by the high priestess of chocolate herself, Hasty Torres (shown above) who is a chocolatier renowned -- and now we know why! Her mouth-watering confections turned us into a choco-holic by night's end (and we savored every moment!). Please pop into her shop and say hello for us, okay?  Other offerings included a Chivas tasting (yum!); an amazing assortment of wine from Sonoma County Vintners; lots of Smartwater (double yum!); coffee galore from Demitasse; plus hors d'oeuvres, bar bites and treats from Ammo, Batch, First & Hope and Sadie.  At the end of the Men of Style event, we made our way into the Beverly Hills night filled with memories of one heckuva party!
All photos by Greg Firlotte

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tales from the Vienna Woods: Hedy Lamarr, Part I

TALES FROM THE VIENNA WOODS: HEDY LAMARR, PART I -- Her life could have been a movie in and of itself.  At Studio of Style, there's nothing we love more than the real-life adventures of Hollywood stars -- and the life of that great beauty known as Hedy Lamarr was certainly filled with intrigue, plot twists, riches-to-near-rags moments and even scandal.  We hardly know where to begin on this one, kids!  Born in 1913 in Vienna, Austria, Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler (her name would later be changed in Hollywood) was already a veteran of acting in movies by her teens -- starring in German films in Berlin with such directors as Max Reinhardt who dubbed her "the most beautiful woman in Europe" (Reinhardt would later go on to direct both on Broadway and in Hollywood). By 1933, more filmgoers began taking interest in her because of the full-frontal nude shots and facial closeups (supposedly during sexual orgasm) in the Czechoslovakian film Ecstasy -- which, understandingly, caused notoriety (nudity -- heavens forbid!).  Also in 1933, at age 19, Lamarr married Vienna-based arms manufacturer Friedrich Mandl who was 13 years her senior -- a controlling man who tried to buy up as many copies of the film Ecstasy as possible to stop people from ogling his nude bride and seeing her orgasmic face (Lamarr would later say that the director was actually poking her in the bottom with a pin to get her to make those "orgasmic" expressions -- ouch!). The times being what they were (and with Lamarr being of Jewish heritage and Mandl being part-Jewish), it is interesting to learn that both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini would often attend Mandl's grand parties at the couple's historic castle Schloss Schwarzenau -- all in the name of looking for arms deals. Trying to stifle her acting career, Mandl would take Lamarr to his business meetings with technicians and scientists -- all of which fascinated the mathematically-inclined Lamarr (information that she would use to her advantage later on). Of further interest is the fact that Mandl would later marry the daughter of German diplomat and resistance fighter Eduard Brucklmeier who would be hung by the Nazis in 1944 for his part in the daring plot to assassinate Hitler (the real-life Valkyrie -- and it was no movie for Brucklmeier!).  Knowing her fate if she were to stay in Nazi-infested Europe, Lamarr fled to Paris with jewels in hand and a head full of munitions and weaponry knowledge.  There she obtained a divorce from Mandl and went on to London where, as a more promising fate would have it, she met the reigning czar of Hollywood studios Louis B. Mayer -- and this was just Part I for Lamarr (and that would be plenty for one lifetime, wouldn't you think?).  But wait, there's more! Part II of our report will be coming soon -- so stay tuned!  P.S. -- Ex-husband Mandl would eventually end up in Argentina where he would become an advisor to dictator Juan Perón and also work with renowned French designer Jean-Michel Frank who was at that time the director of a company that manufactured Mandl's furniture designs -- oh, the many, many layers and degrees of separation to this story, kids!

Friday, April 13, 2012

You're in the Navy Now! Getting Shipshape in the "Billie" Dress

YOU'RE IN THE NAVY NOW! GETTING SHIPSHAPE IN THE "BILLIE" DRESS -- When we saw the new "Billie" dress from Crumpet England, we immediately got the blues -- and not just any blue -- but navy!  Everyone knows that black-colored apparel reigns supreme among urban hipsters and those lovable rock 'n rollers, but those really in the know already know that the deep, luscious navy has historically been around much longer in the world of fashion.  How long, you ask?  Since 1748, this shade of blue has been worn by the British Royal Navy (those equally lovable lads) and it was the inspiration for other navies around the world to make their uniforms the exact same color.  At first, it was called "marine blue" but somehow got changed over to just "navy." By the early 19th century, the color began appearing in civilian clothing and has been a staple for men's blazers, yachting attire, school uniforms and sporting uniforms around the globe (the first use of the term "navy blue" in writing was in 1840!).  And navy has always been a favorite color here at Studio of Style since childhood (yes, we had one too) and thus you can understand our excitement at seeing the all-cashmere (!) Billie dress with its fabulous dip-dye ombre treatment in navy.  In fact, the Billie might be among the most perfect of dresses that we can think of -- look at the cut, the length, the proportion -- so simple, flattering and timeless. So what inspired Crumpet England founder Zara Juricic?  Are you ready? Don't be surprised to learn that it was during a visit to L.A. (we know how L.A. is so influential in every creative arena!) by Juricic that she noticed a lot of dip-dying going on with hair, clothing, painted walls and more.  She then went to Nepal to test some colorways and (lo and behold!) navy blue came out the strongest and thus this ombre Billie dress was added to the company's newest collections.  Says Juricic, "This dress adds a touch of rock chic to a pretty feminine shape."  Right on!  So we at Studio of Style just had to take this dress to the next level with some accessorizing suggestions.  How about using a Pantone color chart to determine what shades of blue -- ranging from slate to navy -- to paint the rooms in your abode to set off your new wardrobe?  Or adding some matte navy Sephora eye shadow, Smashbox Jet Set waterproof eye liner, Butter London Royal Navy nail polish, or Liquid Metal makeup by Illamasqua to apply wherever you'd like (!) -- all of this accentuated with a navy blue bandanda, a U.S. Navy ring or perhaps a classic anchor tattoo.  Why not get the blues and start having fun?
Billie dress image courtesy Crumpet England

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Rose by Any Other Name: Rose Cumming at Dessin Fournir

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME: ROSE CUMMING AT DESSIN FOURNIR -- All we can say is that she was quite a colorful gal, that Rose Cumming.  Purple hair (love it!), always with the decollete, enormous hats, her outspokenness, her disdain for electricity in her New York townhouse (!!), her friendships with Andy Warhol, Jacqueline Onassis, Rudolf Nureyev, Babe Paley and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, her love of 18th Century continental furniture -- and so much more.  Which is why we were perplexed to learn that no one had done an in-depth design biography of her before now -- but pleased as punch to learn that a wonderful gent by the name of Jeffrey Simpson has authored a book (shown at lower left) on Cumming (to be released this September -- see link below) with a foreword by Cumming's great-niece Sarah Cumming Cecil (who heads Rose Cumming Design out of Portland, Maine) that will finally set the design record straight on the who, what and why of this clever designer who spent decades in New York creating her own style until her passing in 1968. Which leads us to the fabulous folks at Dessin Fournir who have introduced a new collection of six textiles based on archival designs found in the vast collection of Cumming.  The three shown here -- "Casamari" (top left), our favorite "Thistle" (background), and "Hops" (bottom right) -- are presented on linen  in soft colorways to impart a true vintage feel as well as texture (craftsmanship and a passion for preserving design traditions are hallmarks of Dessin Fournir ever since its founding several decades ago by Charles Comeau).  Did you know that Cumming is recognized for being the first designer to leave the lights on all night at her street-level shop on the corner of 49th and Park Avenue in New York so that passersby could peer in at any time of night through dawn to see all the fabulous items on display?  And that she invented metallic wallpaper?  Well, luckily Simpson's book will be a treasure trove for us to treasure -- which is why you should get your fabrics now from Dessin Fournir and upholster your favorite reading chair because you'll have it ready when the book comes out in September.  Sound like a plan?  Good!
Textile images courtesy Dessin Fournir / Book cover courtesy Rizzoli
Special thanks to Susan Ducey at Kneedler-Fauchere

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Expanding World of Dror: The Tumi Collection

THE EXPANDING WORLD OF DROR: THE TUMI COLLECTION -- At Studio of Style, we love the thoroughly modern as much as we love the traditional -- and thus you can see why we've always been a big fan of the no-holds-barred modernist designer Dror Benshetrit and everything he has produced from his Studio Dror in New York City.  We first featured him and his Tron Chair for Alessi back in November 2011 -- and now we want to let you know about his appearance on April 16, 2012 in Milan, Italy when he unveils the absolutely fabulous new collection of transformative luggage and bags for Tumi at MOST (the Museum of Science and Technology).  As Dror puts its, "TransForm follows function" when it came to creating this unique collection that includes an expandable carry-on, expandable 4-wheel cases, a backpack, briefcase, messenger bag, cross-body bag, a travel satchel and a travel kit -- all of which can be transformed by how you use it (and it's all absolutely nifty looking too with its sleek styling, materials and colors).  “I was very inspired by the challenge of improving the traveling experience and bringing together style, elegance and performance within the design of our bags," says Dror.  "I am always about adaptability and the non-static character of objects.  I wanted to make these Dror for Tumi bags a 'transformative' extension of ourselves.  For instance, the backpack can become a briefcase or a tote as you fold in or out the different optional handles.  I essentially set about designing for myself -- I'm constantly on the go, carrying different things and switching modes of transportation -- from an iPad to gym clothes, from the work day to the night out, between quick business trips and the all-too-rare vacation, in and out of airports or speeding across town on my motorcycle."  Wow! We love that! And you can view the video below to see that hective but creative lifestyle of Dror's that explains how this new bag collection really makes sense for today's traveler.  And when you're in Milan on April 16, you can see the luggage and the bags in a dramatic installation created by London-based theater director Jules Wright.  The collection is the results of 18 months of research and development between Dror and the team from Tumi as they challenged, questioned and pushed the boundaries on what the bag-carrying and traveling experience is really about nowadays.  In essence, Dror has made it possible for us to expand, morph and transform our lives with stylish ease.  On his website, you can check out the other amazingly modern items by Dror that just might inspire you to reexamine the look, feel and touch of the world around you!
All images courtesy Studio Dror

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Revisiting Our Very First Post: Lascaux....the Original Man Cave

LASCAUX....THE ORIGINAL MAN CAVE:  It was back on October 14 of 2011 that Studio of Style launched with the first post about the original of all interior designs: that fabulous cave with six halls at Lascaux in southwestern France that we at Studio of Style still consider to be among the very best "rooms" created...ever.  17,000 years later and they are still amazing to look at and to try and wrap our brains abound.  All told, the cave contains 2,000 animal, human and abstract figures, with 900 being animals and among those are 605 precisely identified species! The organic nature of the art at Lascaux integrating with its environment can still teach us a big lesson about design.  Consider this: no one taught these Paleolithic painters about form, style, technique -- they just did it from their gut.  Without art schools, design courses, books.  And you can create like this too. How you ask?  Well, start first with the big picture and everything else will come from that.  You can make the focal point of your room a mural instead of paint or wallpaper that is usually punctuated by the obligatory pieces of artwork placed here and there where you think they ought to belong because that is how we learned to perceive spaces.  Instead, be bold.  Don't try to be a designer -- be a human with human needs.  What is it that you really want in your world and where do you see it being placed -- and in what sizes, shapes and colors? Will it be purely decorative or thoroughly functional? You see, it's when we get caught up in what we think design is that we can lose sight of what it is we're trying to accomplish and that's when our creative instincts become shackled by convention. That's just a fancy way of saying that it's possible to push our design vision further to the point that originality makes its appearance. Now, for a moment, study the images of these caves and see if you can imagine yourself being among the original people painting these images in place for the very first time -- grinding and mixing the pigments, brushing and smearing them onto the wall, all it of being done by torchlight or a roaring central fire.  How exciting that must have been to decorate for the first time -- it must have caused a lot of talk in that part of the country.  And to think that you can have that kind of "first time excitement" when you create your own living space drawn from imagery in your fertile mind.  Our final tip to you: Don't cave in to conventionality.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Passover into Easter: It's Charlton Heston Season!

PASSOVER INTO EASTER: IT'S CHARLTON HESTON SEASON! -- He's the man of many spectacles -- and rightfully so!  Charlton Heston just couldn't be beat at the box office when it came to star power, which is why we at Studio of Style are giving him our own lifetime achievement award for always being right on and spot on in all his many cinematic roles. C'mon kids, what would the movie-going experience be without a historical epic or two, eh?  He played not only Moses in The Ten Commandments (shown above) in 1956, but also provided the voice of God in the movie as well (though uncredited) -- talk about giving and receiving!  (That's the magnificent Yul Brynner -- at right in the top photo -- who portrayed Pharaoh Rameses II -- and that's monster movie great Vincent Price in the photo just below.) Three years later, Heston went on to portray another character with biblical implications in the other spectacle film Ben-Hur -- becoming identified with these kinds of large-scaled movies more than any other actor in Hollywood.  Luckily for us, ABC TV airs The Ten Commandments at this time every year -- this time it will be shown on Saturday, April 7th, so check the listing link below so you won't miss one glorious Technicolor moment, okay? The Ten Commandments was the last film directed by one of Hollywood's greatest: Cecile B. DeMille (and he also narrated it too) -- and it was a partial remake of his own 1923 silent film!  There are so many "who knew?" moments about the film, such as DeMille taking inspiration for the set design from paintings by Dutch artist Lawrence Alma-Tadema who was famous for his decadent and luxurious depictions of life in ancient times.  And that all blue-eyed actors had to wear brown contact lenses to recreate historical ethnicity (with the exception of Yvonne De Carlo -- the original Lily Munster -- who convinced DeMille that her grayish-blue eyes were unique!).  And that the movements and costumes for one of the film's dance sequences were inspired by a wall painting in the ancient Egyptian tomb of the Sixth Dynasty Grand Vizier Mehu. But back to our man Heston!  Because of his recognition for other such grand movie roles as Michelangelo in The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) and Planet of the Apes (1968) and the science fiction flick Soylent Green (1973), many people aren't aware that Heston's first professional film appearance was in the 1950 film noir Dark City -- and no one at the time could have guessed the greatness to which he would ascend in the Hollywood hierarchy.  He would later reprise his film noir acting in the 1958 classic A Touch of Evil (written, directed by and co-starring another Hollywood legend Orson Welles).  Films such as The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur and Planet of the Apes made such good use (is that the right term?) of his naturally muscular physique that it is no surprise to learn that both he and his wife Lydia used to make their living as artist models back in the 1940s when they resided in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City (we wonder where we can view the sketches and paintings done back then?). Heston accompanied Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom -- and his career off-screen would have lots of controversial moments on numerous fronts (but then, who in Hollywood or politics doesn't??).  But it's those glorious and powerful on-screen moments of Heston's that will forever have a place in our celluloid hearts -- so pop some popcorn, pull up a sofa and let's watch The Ten Commandments together on Saturday, okay?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"I'm still a kid": Heath Ledger, born April 4, 1979

I'M STILL A KID: HEATH LEDGER, BORN APRIL 4, 1979 -- "I'm still a kid. I'm like six years old. But it's just a matter of wanting to get up, it's just a big journey. I felt like when I left home that I was on a journey, and I still am," said actor Heath Ledger.  He would have been 33 years old this coming Thursday, but the journey ended all too soon on January 22, 2008 in Ledger's fourth floor loft apartment in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan.  The kid was gone, the smiling boy was no longer.  We at Studio of Style remember going to the movie theater 10 nights in a row in 2005 (true!) -- watching with a purpose Brokeback Mountain.  Why 10 nights in a row, you ask?  Each viewing had a separate agenda: analyzing the script on one night; the lighting on the other night; the direction, camera angles, the soundtrack, the main characters (wasn't Anne Hathaway simply amazing?); supporting cast (didn't you love to hate Randy Quaid's Joe Aguirre?) the continuity; listening to and watching the audience's reactions to key scenes (you know which ones); and lastly, but not leastly, the absolutely amazing performance by Ledger and his amazingly complex Ennis (kudos still to Ang Lee for his Oscar-winning direction!).  Though it was Phillip Seymour Hoffman -- and not Ledger -- who received the Oscar for best actor for Capote, it is still Ledger's performance in Brokeback Mountain that has left an indelible mark in cinema history. Ledger was brilliant in many ways -- did you know that he was  the Western Australia junior chess champion at the age of 10?  And, that as an adult, he often played chess with other enthusiasts in New York's Washington Square Park?  And that he left school at age 16 to pursue acting, such was his passion for the craft -- and that he was so inspired by dancer Gene Kelly that he was once a member of his grammar school's 60-member dance team that won at the renowned Australian Rock Eisteddfod Challenge? The boy, the man, the actor, the chess player -- he lit up the screen and our lives.  Said Ledger in 2000, "I'm not good at future planning. I don't plan at all. I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow. I don't have a day planner and I don't have a diary. I completely live in the now, not in the past, not in the future."

Monday, April 2, 2012

Puttin' on the Ritts: Herb Ritts in true L.A. Style at The Getty

PUTTIN' ON THE RITTS: HERB RITTS IN TRUE L.A. STYLE AT THE GETTY -- What: "Herb Ritts: L.A. Style." Where: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center.  When: April 3 to August 26, 2012.  See story below.
All images © Herb Ritts Foundation / Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation to The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Puttin' on the Ritts: Herb Ritts in true L.A. Style at The Getty

PUTTIN' ON THE RITTS: HERB RITTS IN TRUE L.A. STYLE AT THE GETTY -- Today the J. Paul Getty Museum at Getty Center in Los Angeles opened it doors for a special press preview of Herb Ritts: L.A. Style and Studio of Style was there to let you -- our stylish reader -- in on this exhibit that captures all the glamour, the excitement and the revolutionary style that was Herb Ritts!  With so much cultural ground to cover found in this exhibition, we hardly know where to begin.  And just when you think you know a lot about the career of this amazing photographer, it takes the thorough work and dedication of the staff of the Department of Photographs at The Getty to really put the worlds of fashion, celebrity portraiture, artistic nudes and film making (yes, Ritts did that too) into a perspective that simply makes you say "wow" -- and, thus, we are recommending you put this exhibition at the top of your "must do" list as of right now!  With  his hand in so many areas of Pop Culture, Ritts forged a style that became his own -- one that has been oft imitated but rarely duplicated in its strength, simplicity and composition.  The subjects of his portraits, magazine ads, fashion catalogs, music videos and television commercials are legendary: Madonna; Elton John; Michael Jackson; Richard Gere; John Travolta; Barbra Streisand and Tina Turner (and we could go on ad infinitum with this who's who).  And we certainly cannot overlook his work (and personal relationships) with such supermodels as Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evanglista, Naomi Campbell and Tatjana Patitz -- resulting in images that combined fine art with commerce (his Versace ads, for example) and which also injected his MTV videos (Madonna, Janet Jackson, Chris Isaak) with a new-found sensuality that never existed until Ritts came along -- videos allowed his print imagery to come alive with motion.  In a specially-built theater within the exhibition, one can view those videos along with nearly 50 of Ritts' commercials, including those for Lancôme (with Isabella Rossallini, shown above) and those infamous, flesh-driven spots for Calvin Klein's "Escape" perfume. And lest we forget his impact in the magazine editorial and book publishing realms, this exhibition clearly demonstrates this impact with actual magazines (check out Britney Spears on the cover of Vogue -- with the marked up print, a photo of the American flag and the final product created from the two), as well as books published by Twin Palms, not to mention Ritts' first camera on display which started this entire journey!  Today at the press preview at The Getty, associate curator in the Department of Photographs Paul Martineau (shown above right) gave the most in-depth and insightful look inside the mind of Ritts through this immensely creative time in American photography -- and how Ritts drew upon photographic greats from the past (including May Ray, George Platt Lynes and Horst P. Horst among others) for inspiration that he transformed into a new kind of glamour and romance.  At his height, Ritts was commanding $40,000 per photo shoot, plus $60,000 in expenses -- and his million-dollar contract with Condé Nast truly put him into a superstar stratosphere only experienced by a handful of photographers.  The Getty exhibition is neatly organized into themes and it offers the opportunity to get a sense how prolific Ritts was in both ideas and the amount of photographs he did until his death from AIDS in 2002.  As Studio of Style made its way through the exhibition today, we could only simply marvel at and be seduced by the iconic images that have become so ingrained in our collective cultural minds and that have transformed the artistic and commercial landscape of our times.  In three words: go see it.
Press preview photos by Greg Firlotte
All images © Herb Ritts Foundation / Gift of Herb Ritts Foundation to The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Studio of Style extends a special thanks to: Getty Communications; and Jane Anderson