Monday, August 11, 2014

Is She or Isn't She? Diane de Poitiers Drank Too Much Gold!

IS SHE OR ISN'T SHE? DIANE DE POITIERS DRANK TOO MUCH GOLD!  We have a mystery on our hands, kids.  For centuries, this 1571 painting Dame au Bain (Lady in the Bath) by François Clouet was believed to be a portrait of the famed beauty Diane de Poitiers, mistress of King Henry II of France.  However, since Poitiers died in 1566 by drinking too much gold (yes! more on that later), it has been speculated that this portrait may be of two other powerful ladies of the time: Mary, Queen of Scots or Marie Touchet, mistress to King Charles IX (Henry's son).  But when you view other portraits of Poitiers, you see an uncanny resemblance, leading one to believe that Dame au Bain could very well be a post-mortem tribute to Poitiers, such was her power and influence during the reign of Henry II.  (Of interest is the fact that only two signed paintings by Clouet are known to exist, including this one -- and Dame au Bain is generally regarded as a great masterpiece of the French Renaissance.  Hey, we would have sign them all so that someone would know how much talent we had!) Back to Diane, though.  So powerful, educated, influential and beloved was she, that she often signed Henry's offical letters for him: "HenriDiane" as one name -- much to the disapproval of Henry's wife Catherine de Medici (now there's a lady not to have fooled around with).  Drinking liquid gold was a beauty treatment among the wealthy women of the day (you'd have to be wealthy to drink the stuff) -- and unfortunately for Poitiers, she consumed way too much of it.  In fact, a present-day autopsy revealed extremely high levels of gold in her hair and throughout her body.  So, if you want to see this lady (whoever she is) up close and personal, you can view the painting (which was inspired and influenced by Da Vinci, Titian and Bronzino) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Crazy for Cabana! Those Sexy Men in Those Sexy Swim Ensembles!

CRAZY FOR CABANA! THOSE SEXY MEN IN THOSE SEXY SWIM ENSEMBLES!  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?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Never Compromise Yourself: Janis Joplin Still Rocks our World

NEVER COMPROMISE YOURSELF: JANIS JOPLIN STILL ROCKS OUR WORLD -- "Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got," singer Janis Joplin once said. And if anything can be said about this most original of style originals, this would be it.  We're gonna skip all the cliches, the stuff about the drugs, the booze, the ups and downs -- it's all been said and you pretty much know the drill anyway, kids.  Joplin always referred to herself as a "beatnik from Texas" -- you have to know your history, okay, so keep in mind that she came from the beatnik era of the 1950s and early 1960s that was actually the era of the Beat Generation (a phrase introduced by writer Jack Kerouac in 1948 that symbolized the anti-conformist youth movement centered in New York -- and Joplin was a beatnik poet and folk singer in the early 1960s). From the get-go, while in college at the University of Texas in Austin, the campus newspaper in 1962 wrote an article on her "She Dares to be Different" in which they say: "She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levi's to class because they're more comfortable, and carries her autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song it will be handy. Her name is Janis Joplin." And that was before she hit the streets of San Francisco in 1963 just as another youth movement was gathering steam that would later be termed "hippies" (this word was first used in print in 1965 by writer Michael Fallon who described "a new generation of beatniks" who had moved into the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco -- i.e. hipsters (a 1940s word) who were now "hippies"). The hippies never called themselves that, nor did they call themselves "flower children" or any such stuff -- it was all from the media at first. So you see, Joplin was already a free spirit when she landed in San Francisco -- there was no such thing as the "Janis Joplin look" before she arrived -- she was it already. All one needs do is to study the photos of Joplin and just marvel and scrutinize all the layers upon layers of colors, textures, materials, shapes, ornaments, jewelry, various hair adornments and hats, feathers, beads, frills of all kinds, ethnic everything in excess -- and that was just the exterior! Inside her, there was something even more freer that we can ever imagine -- especially for the time in which she lived. And she lived the motto of the hippie movement -- in that love was free and meant to be shared with everyone; that everyone was equal and free to express themselves however they wanted as long as no one was put down, suppressed or belittled for wanting to be different (as the popular culture would put it, for the hippies saw themselves as normal in their beliefs and the rest of the American culture to them was abnormal for not wanting to embrace the higher ideal of love and fellowship with all peoples and beliefs -- especially Eastern religions and philosophies).  For Joplin, she was the way she wore: colorful, all encompassing, all inclusive.  Yes, her voice was the medium by which she reached the masses, but it was ultimately the way she presented her visual self that informed those masses that it was okay to dress in clothes other than what came from a Sears mail-order catalog (at the time, Sears was probably the most-ordered-from source of clothing in America -- and later on, even they would adopt hippie-inspired clothing as the youth movement garnered a greater acceptance nationwide and everyone from clothing manufacturers to Hollywood studios was anxious to cash in).  So there you have it, kids! Style is what you make it -- and Janis Joplin was a true style maker -- never equaled, nor duplicated since.
Rock on 
Photos from various sources from the internet.
Fashion designer Diane Gilman is also acknowledged for dressing the great '60s stars including Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the Doors and Jefferson Airplane.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Going Daft for Delft: Blue & White Textiles for Your Home

GOING DAFT FOR DELFT: BLUE & WHITE TEXTILES FOR YOUR HOME -- 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!  Don't you 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!

All designs copyright by their respective artists.  Images courtesy Spoonflower.

The Power of Imagination, Part I: 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, Part II: 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 Museum -- 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:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

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 1960s-era color 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 was 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!).  You see, she was a backup singer for the studio starting in 1962 -- and Sonny Bono was working there for the now-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 Cher 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 as the duo of Sonny & Cher took off with their legendary 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 that Spector made her and the 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 thousands are seeing her on her current smash tour. Thank goodness that we've still got you, babe!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pola Negri: The Most Famous Forgotten Hollywood Silent Film Star?

POLA NEGRI: THE MOST FAMOUS FORGOTTEN SILENT FILM STAR?  Once upon a time, in the long-lost Kingdom of Poland -- in Vistula Land to be precise -- a baby named Apolonia Chalupec was born in 1897 to a mother of impoverished Polish royalty and to a father who would later be exiled to the dreaded Russian Siberia for his revolutionary activities against the Czar.  But who knew that this infant would be destined for greatness in another faraway land -- one filled with glamour, bright lights, excitement and love trysts with some of Hollywood's greatest actors?  Such is the stuff that fairy tales are made of -- and this fairy tale of ours actually came true!  And who knew that Apolonia would become the femme fatale Pola Negri (named after the Italian novelist and poetess Alda Negri)-- and the first Continental European actress to be exported to Hollywood (ahead of Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich) along with her director, the renowned Ernst Lubitsch??  Yes, kids, she was the first "exotic" star to come to the golden land of silent films -- and awaiting her was a new kind of stardom the likes the world had never known before.  Prior to this, Negri was already starring in hit Lubitsch films in Germany (the center of European film making) and from 1918 to 1922, she had appeared in 24 films of which six were with Lubitsch.  So powerful were these films that Hollywood actually felt threatened and sat up and took notice of this dynamic duo of actress and director -- and that was when contracts were signed to bring the both of them to California.  A staggering twenty-one films starring Negri where made at Paramount Studios from 1923 to 1928 (how many film stars today could match that record in just five short years, huh?). And it didn't take long for this alluring-looking lady to start making headlines and appearing in gossip columns -- among her lovers were Hollywood's top dog Charlie Chaplin and the leading lover of the day Rudolph Valentino (Negri is shown in the top photo above with another of her conquests Rod La Rocque!).  Did you know that Negri and Valentino were introduced by Marion Davies and her millionaire lover William Randolph Hearst at a costume party at the famed Hearst Castle -- and that she would remain Valentino's lover until his death in 1926?  Negri would say at the time -- and forever after -- that Valentino was the love of her life (he probably would be ours too!!).  Another bit of Hollywood trivia is that famed director Billy Wilder approached Negri in 1948 to play the part of Norma Desmond in the now-cult-classic film Hollywood Boulevard -- but she declined it for several reasons (for its undeveloped script and because the love interest -- originally Montgomery Clift -- wasn't her taste in lovers).  Her last role in 1964 was as Madame Habib in Walt Disney's The Moonspinners -- marking the official end of a career that began in poverty in a faraway Polish kingdom.  Though later overshadowed by Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich in the days when silent films turned into sound features, we at Studio of Style want to salute Pola Negri for leading the way for others to seek their artistic destinies and fortunes in the celluloid kingdom of Hollywood!
On Amazon: 

Perfume of the Gods: Gonesh No. 6 Perfumes of Ancient Times Incense

PERFUME OF THE GODS: GONESH #6 INCENSE!  We can only imagine how the temples of ancient times must have looked, sounded and smelled...with priests in elaborate robes, gold ornaments and vessels all about, the sound of stringed instruments being plucked and bells ringing and the air thick with clouds of exotic scents designed to please the gods and to heighten the senses of the participants.  Among the oldest of references to incense are found in the Athara Veda Hindu texts of ancient India dating back at least 3,500 years -- and some say possibly 8,500 years! Amazing, isn't it? And not just India -- but the Indus, Babylonian, Persian and Chinese civilizations and of course those wonderfully ceremonious ancient Egyptians who just couldn't live without offering untold volumes of incense (based on the gums and resins from aromatic trees from the Arabian and Somali coasts) to their many deities -- oh, and did you know that even Moses in the Hebrew Bible Book of Exodus was instructed by his god to "take fragrances such as balsam, onycha, galbanum and pure frankincense, all of the same weight, as well as other specified fragrances"??  Well, now you know how just how important burning incense was on both historical and spiritual levels!  So when we jump over into the more contemporary Western civilization, many of us know about those clouds of frankincense pouring out from swinging thuribles (that's what those metal incense burners on a chain are called!) filling Catholic churches and cathedrals during High Mass with that intense aroma that has titillated seekers of faith for millennia! Which now brings us to spiritual seekers of Eastern religious highs during the 1960s hippie movement in San Francisco when a new-found appreciation of exotic incense opened up an entirely new generation to joss sticks and cones -- predominantly from India.  But for Americans living in other urban areas apart from San Francisco, there was access to incense cones since 1923 -- and all being handmade in Chicago of all places! What started out as the Hindu Incense Company -- formed by three gentlemen from India who wanted to bring great fragrances to the U.S. market -- didn't go as well as the three gents had hoped for.  The bank stepped in and asked Laurent Radkins to revive the company long enough to recoup their losses -- and it was such a success that Radkins eventually bought the company from the bank and proceeded to operate it for more than 40 years. By 1965, the name Gonesh was trademarked and the company's products were found across the country in such department stores as S.S. Kresge (which later bacame KMart) which allowed baby boomers and hippies alike to readily find incense in America. Among the many fragrances offered by Gonesh is No. 6 Perfumes of Ancient Times -- a scent which has intrigued Studio of Style for many, many years. It's hard to describe without smelling it because the scent is so layered in notes and layered in time itself! But we do know that No. 6 was the creation of Dr. David Macarus who was the company's perfumer for many years up to the early 1980s -- and what he created has become almost of cult status for many of Gonesh's loyal customers (like Studio of Style!). The inspiration for the No. 6 scent was trying to convey "the mystery of ancient Persia" as well as capturing "the atmosphere of fragrances that traveled along the timeless 'incense road' from Southern Arabia to the ports along the Mediterranean" says Gonesh factory manager Michael Nielsen (who came to company in the late 1980s).  "One of our customers is a hotel owner who burns Number 6 continually, day and night, in the lobby to create an allure.  Others say that it reminds them of times in their 'past lives'." What sets Gonesh sticks and cones apart from other manufacturers, among other things, is that Gonesh has the highest charcoal content of any brand currently out there -- which delivers a pure, clean burn and makes the fragrant blends sparkle, so you get the most fragrance possible every time.  Gonesh (now under parent company Genieco) has remained intensely loyal to being made in America by American workers and using the finest ingredients for moments when you want to feel transported to a field of flowers, a sacred space, a holiday gathering or any array of places and cultures (check out their Los Santitos or African American Heritage Collection to name a few).  Whatever Dr. Macarus blended in Gonesh No. 6 is truly magical -- and continues to transport us to times of temples, bells, gold and clouds of exotic scents that once filled ancient airs.
Enjoy Ancient Times:

Friday, July 11, 2014

How Many Shades of Gray are You? Farrow and Ball Paint has You Covered!

HOW MANY SHADES OF GRAY ARE YOU? FARROW AND BALL PAINT HAS YOU COVERED! -- At Studio of Style, there is never a gray area when it comes to wall paint -- especially when there are so many shades of gray to choose from at Farrow and Ball out of Wimborne, Dorset in Southwest England. And just when you thought you knew gray -- well, guess what....gray isn't just gray anymore! In fact, at Farrow and Ball the range of grays they offer go from off-whites and through the colors of blue, green and taupey-browns before ending up in a rich area of charcoal. This variety of the gray spectrum is what legions of fans from around the globe have come to expect from this company that was founded in the 1930s with a goal of "creating unmatched paint colours using only the finest ingredients and age-old methods which have withstood the test of time and the passage of many a fickle fad" as they so rightly proclaim on their website. So let's take a look at the palette shown above -- and you can tell us how many of these fit your color profile, okay? 1) Lamp Room Gray No. 88 -- a match to the original white which had dirtied down due to the trimming of lamp wicks -- one of our favorites!  2) Parma Gray No. 27 -- from the 1830s and 1840s.  3) Off-Black No. 57.  4) Great White No. 2006.  5) Castle Gray No. 92 -- a good period green for exterior use.  6)  Plummett No. 272 -- often used in Gothic architecture.  7) French Gray No. 18 -- much used in 19th century wallpapers.  8) Skylight No. 205.  9)Charleston Gray #243 -- used extensively by the Bloomsbury Group.  10) Manor House Gray No. 265 -- a traditional 18th century color.  11) Down Pipe No. 26 -- which imitates lead on exterior ironwork -- love it!  12) Strong White No. 2001.  13) Blue Gray No. 91 -- it appears bluer in well-lit rooms! 14) Light Gray No. 17. And just think of all the complimentary and contrasting colors that you can mix with these grays to make a completely unique statement inyour abode! From stately to ultra contemporary spaces, gray and its many variations becomes a fabulous backdrop to every lifestyle -- so don't think drab....think fab!!!

Go Gray:
Photo collage by Greg Firlotte

Monday, July 7, 2014

Surf's Up in L.A. -- The A+D Museum Gala "Celebrate: Groundswell"....Part I

SURF'S UP IN L.A.--THE A+D MUSEUM GALA "CELEBRATE: GROUNDSWELL"....PART I  It was one of those nights in Los Angeles when those in the know about art, design, architecture, surfing and skateboarding all collided into one happy mix this past June 28 for the museum's annual fundraiser...with each year having a different theme. And what could be more L.A. than surfing and skateboarding, eh? Some of the leading local and international artists, architects and designers crafted custom surfboards, boogie boards and skateboards for the silent auction...while a bevy of beautiful-bodies models showcased them in a live catwalk show -- emceed by actor Boise Thomas.  All proceeds from the auction benefit the museum which opened its doors in 2001 and continues to be the only museum in the U.S. where continuous exhibits devoted exclusively to architecture and design are on view.  SHOWN ABOVE (clockwise from top left): a hunk shows off his bod and this amazing surfboard by AECOM Technology Corporation; a glimpse of the well-stocked VIP bar; A+D Museum executive director Tibbie Dunbar with Madison Hildebrand; the threesome of Christian Evans who is husband to actress Ricki Lake and participating designer Christopher Sorensen; and a sun-kissed model holding a grassy skateboard by Interstice Architects.

A+D Museum:

Photos Courtesy:
Sherri J. Fuller
Harry van Gorkum / Light Travels

Surf's Up in L.A. -- The A+D Museum Gala "Celebrate: Groundswell"....Part II

SURF'S UP IN L.A.--THE A+D MUSEUM GALA "CELEBRATE: GROUNDSWELL"....PART II  It was one of those nights in Los Angeles when those in the know about art, design, architecture, surfing and skateboarding all collided into one happy mix this past June 28 for the museum's annual fundraiser...with each year having a different theme. And what could be more L.A. than surfing and skateboarding, eh? Some of the leading local and international artists, architects and designers crafted custom surfboards, boogie boards and skateboards for the silent auction...while a bevy of beautiful-bodies models showcased them in a live catwalk show -- emceed by actor Boise Thomas.  All proceeds from the auction benefit the museum which opened its doors in 2001 and continues to be the only museum in the U.S. where continuous exhibits devoted exclusively to architecture and design are on view.  SHOWN ABOVE (clockwise from top left): the evening's special guest Madison Hildebrand makes his way onto the catwalk for the live show; smiles from Heather and Craig Bernstein (with ICM and on the A+D Museum board) and gala steering committee member Nancy Levens (also on the A+D Museum Board); architect Mark Nay, Shelly Sackett and Cynthia Kanner (with HBO and also on the A+D Museum board) with Carolyn Tetaz; a foursome of beautiful people; and a runway model holding a skateboard by the partnership of industrial designer Daniel Ogassian and Ann Sacks tile manufacturer.

A+D Museum:

Photos Courtesy:
Sherri J. Fuller
Harry van Gorkum / Light Travels

Surf's Up in L.A. -- The A+D Museum Gala "Celebrate: Groundswell"....Part III

SURF'S UP IN L.A.--THE A+D MUSEUM GALA "CELEBRATE: GROUNDSWELL"....PART III  It was one of those nights in Los Angeles when those in the know about art, design, architecture, surfing and skateboarding all collided into one happy mix this past June 28 for the museum's annual fundraiser...with each year having a different theme. And what could be more L.A. than surfing and skateboarding, eh? Some of the leading local and international artists, architects and designers crafted custom surfboards, boogie boards and skateboards for the silent auction...while a bevy of beautiful-bodies models showcased them in a live catwalk show -- emceed by actor Boise Thomas.  All proceeds from the auction benefit the museum which opened its doors in 2001 and continues to be the only museum in the U.S. where continuous exhibits devoted exclusively to architecture and design are on view.  SHOWN ABOVE (clockwise from top left): A+D Museum Executive Director Tibbie Dunbar shows off a two-part surfboard by architect Tom Wiscombe; surfing wunderkind Keanu Igarishi holds his very own surfboard while P.R. specialist Shaun Thompson (left) and interior designer Kristi Nelson (right) flank him; a display of five colorful boards by (from left) Rios Clementi Hale, Biglin Architecture, Selbert Perkins Design, Yazdani and West of West; performance artist Gregory Adamson; and a model holding an intricately carved skateboard by Imaginary Forces.

A+D Museum:

Photos Courtesy:
Sherri J. Fuller
Harry van Gorkum / Light Travels

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Perfect Bottle, The Perfect Perfume? Chanel No. 5 Still Reigns

THE PERFECT BOTTLE, THE PERFECT PERFUME? CHANEL NO. 5 STILL REIGNS.  How can it be that a bottle and the perfume within it can mesmerize one generation after another -- and never lose its enchantment?  We realize that this is probably a rhetorical question because, after all, the bottle and perfume in question is the quintessential of all bottles and perfume: Chanel No. 5.  What magic is at work here?  How is it that no scent has ever captivated one's senses decade after decade such as this one has done?  Both men and women fall under its spell -- from its ylang ylang, bergamot, neroli top notes to its middle notes of jasmine, rose, lily of the valley and iris, to the heady sandalwood and vanilla, amber and patchouli base notes -- and there is almost nothing one can do once under that spell but to be in love, think in love, act in love.  It was the summer of 1920, and master perfumer Ernest Beaux with A. Rallet & Company located near Cannes in the South of France was busily working on a new fragrance "Bouquet de Catherine" -- which morphed into "Rallet Le No. 1." Somewhere in this fragrant mix were a number of formulas -- one of which would actually be selected by Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (it was labeled #5 from a series of bottles numbered 1 through 5, and another group of bottles numbered 20 to 24 for Madame Chanel to select from).  As far as the bottle is concerned, the one first produced in 1919 is not the one which we know today -- it was originally much smaller, more rounded in profile, and the glass much thinner.  Numerous modifications -- especially to the stopper -- occurred in 1924, in the 1950s, and later in the 1970s and then in 1986.  As Madame Chanel herself would later say, "Yes, that is what I was waiting for -- a perfume like nothing else." Style Tip: Why not create your own crystal palace at home by gathering lots and lots of glass bottles and accoutrements for tableaux, shelf arrangements and window displays to capture the exquisite transparent nature of glass? Mix different heights and shapes in a single row for a dining tablescape.  Final Note: Look again at your collection of perfume and cologne bottles and really appreciate them!  Hold them often, feeling their shape in your hand.  Enjoy them as the objets d'art that they are! PS: Studio of Style keeps a bottle of Chanel No. 5 parfum nearby at all times -- after all, you never know when it will be needed to work its magic!!

Hello Dali: The New "Lost" Interview with Surrealist Artist Salvador Dali

HELLO DALI: THE NEW "LOST" INTERVIEW WITH SURREALIST ARTIST SALVADOR DALI -- Spanish-born artist Salvador Domingo Filipe Jacinto Dali di Domènech (1904-1989) spent his entire life being very clever – having been expelled twice from the Royal Academy of Art in Madrid Spain in his youth, claiming he was more qualified as an artist than those would have examined him – with history proving him right on this one. So, in 1928 he packed up his bags and paintbrushes and headed to Paris – the capital of all things artistic in the early twentieth century -- and met those titans of art Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro and by the time 1929 rolled around Dali had established his unique brand of art known as Surrealism (the Surrealist theories are based on those of renowned Viennese psychologist Dr. Sigmund Freud). Dali’s mad, dream-into-nightmare, colorful imagery secured him a singular place in art history.  At Studio of Style, we enjoy peering into the minds of genius as much as we do observing the art – so here is Dali in this new "lost" interview with Studio of Style --  all in Dali's very own wonderfully surreal words!

Studio of Style: Why surrealistic art?
Dali: We are all hungry and thirsty for concrete images. Abstract art will have been good for one thing: to restore its exact virginity to figurative art. Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision. Progressive art can assist people to learn not only about the objective forces at work in the society in which they live, but also about the intensely social character of their interior lives. Ultimately, it can propel people toward social emancipation. Instead of stubbornly attempting to use surrealism for purposes of subversion, it is necessary to try to make of surrealism something as solid, complete and classic as the works of museums.

Studio of Style: Did you always want to be an artist?
Dali: At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since! In order to acquire a growing and lasting respect in society, it is a good thing, if you possess great talent, to give, early in your youth, a very hard kick to the right shin of the society that you love. After that, be a snob!

Studio of Style: Is art ever perfect?
Dali: I do not paint a portrait to look like the subject – rather, does the person grow to look like his portrait? Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature. Never try to correct them. On the contrary -- rationalize them, understand them thoroughly. After that, it will be possible for you to sublimate them. Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it. And it is not necessary for the public to know whether I am joking or whether I am serious, just as it is not necessary for me to know it myself.

Studio of Style: What about drawing?
Dali: Drawing is the honesty of the art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad. And painting is an infinitely minute part of my personality.

Studio of Style: What is your secret to your creativity?
Dali: The secret of my influence has always been that it remained secret! I have Dalinian thought -- the one thing the world will never have enough of is the outrageous! I don't do drugs. I am drugs! I seated ugliness on my knee, and almost immediately grew tired of it. What is a television apparatus to man, who has only to shut his eyes to see the most inaccessible regions of the seen and the never seen, who has only to imagine in order to pierce through walls and cause all the planetary Baghdads of his dreams to rise from the dust. Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure - that of being Salvador Dali!

Studio of Style: Have you achieved success?
Dali: The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of the malcontents. Let my enemies devour each other! Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing! Democratic societies are unfit for the publication of such thunderous revelations as I am in the habit of making. Liking money like I like it, is nothing less than mysticism. Money is a glory!

Studio of Style: Is there such a thing as happiness?
Dali: There are some days when I think I'm going to die from an overdose of satisfaction!

Studio of Style: Or purity?
Dali: When I was five years old, I saw an insect that had been eaten by ants and of which nothing remained except the shell. Through the holes of its anatomy, one could see the sky. Every time I wish to attain purity, I look at the sky through flesh.

Studio of Style: Some people thing you’re a bit strange….
Dali: I am not strange – I am just not normal! The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad.

See & Visit the Art of Dali:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Peace, Love, Posters and Peter Max!

PEACE, LOVE, POSTERS AND PETER MAX!  To today's generation, Pop artist Peter Max is probably best known for his vibrant depictions of the Statue of Liberty, the American flag, hearts, sports figures, flowers and angels -- but to another generation, he was the artist that brought psychedelic colors and imagery to the mainstream in the late 1960s, filling college dorms and hippie shops (or head shops, as they were called) with fabulous posters that galvanized the youth movement around the themes of love, peace and the environment in a way that had never been done before!  The poster medium was at its height during those days, being a common visual denominator for every social issue, allowing for the easy dispersal of whatever message needed saying.  Poster shops were everywhere -- offering vinyl records, beads, incense, fashion paraphernalia and such -- and Peter Max was the king of poster artists (the main purpose of posters, for many, was for something to stare at while you indulged in some recreational substances -- not that we everdid any! -- or to meditate upon as you burned sandalwood incense and listened to Ravi Shankar's hypnotic music!). Max's amazing color sense, his love of Asian art, Buddhist philosophy and astronomy (i.e. anything cosmic!) all came together at the right time -- and as the sixties gave way to the seventies, Max was in the perfect position to become the darling of the media. His work was suddenly everywhere! From 7-Up television commercials to his appearance on the cover of Life magazine (yes!) to the 1970 exhibition "The World of Peter Max" at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco (an appropriate city for his work -- the birthplace of the psychedelic culture!). By 1974, Max became even more popular with the issue of a ten-cent postage stamp that commemorated Expo '74 -- the first World's Fair with an environmental theme.  As with all artists, Max's style changed and morphed to encompass many other subjects and the all-mighty poster was eventually replaced with other forms of media, plus product merchandising with licensing from at least 72 corporations at one time -- making Max one of the most successful American Pop artists of all time.  He still makes appearances (check his website for those) and his love for the environment as well as human and animal rights has never wavered over the decades.  And so now we savor those '60s moments all the more in their psychedelic glory. And, of course, we at Studio of Style have never given up on peace and love as the best solutions for the world's ills and ailments. And we've always believed in color therapy -- starting with the colorful work of Peter Max to always make us feel fabulous!
Arist website: 
Images copyright and courtesy of Peter Max
Groovy collage of Peter Max artwork by Greg Firlotte

Friday, July 4, 2014

Pearl Girl: The Outrageously Bejeweled Queen Elizabeth I of England

PEARL GIRL: THE OUTRAGEOUSLY BEJEWELED ELIZABETH I -- The older she got, the more outrageous she dressed (sounds like a great idea to us!) --and the laws she set into motion about who could wear what were just as outrageous  (more about that later!) -- and the things that people (i.e. royalty, nobility and stylish folks like us!) did in the name of fashion were, well, just plain crazy -- but then, the Elizabethan Era (1558 to 1603) named for the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, symbolized the height of English Renaissance poetry, music, fashion and literature (think Shakespeare and traveling minstrels) which has curiously never left us in one way or another (think renaissance faires!). She was a tough old bird, for sure, but she certainly loved her clothes, jewelry, wigs and makeup (sounds like us!) and she used all of these to great effect in projecting her image as the greatest ruler of the Western world -- and sitting for portraits was one of her favorite pastimes (other than defeating the Spanish navy) it seemed -- as there were so many portraits of her during her 45-year rule. At age 65, the Queen granted an audience to French ambassador Andre Hurault-Sieur de Maisse Andre (and you thought you had a clever name!) who left us with this most wonderful firsthand look at the real Queen -- not simply a portrait (as we have above painted by George Gower).  Says the ambassador: "She was strangely attired (oh really?) in a dress of silver cloth, white and crimson, or silver 'gauze' as they call it. She kept the front of her dress open and one could see the whole of her bosom (good for you, girl!) and she would often open the front of this robe with her hands as if she was too hot (you would be too with all that velvet and pearls!). The collar of the robe was very high and the lining of the inner part adorned with little pendants of rubies and pearls and she had a chain of rubies and pearls about her neck. On her head, she wore a garland of the same material (she really did love those rubies and pearls, didn't she?) and beneath it a great reddish coloured wig. Her bosom is somewhat wrinkled as well (hey, she was 65!), but lower down her flesh is exceedingly white and delicate (well, that's a relief!). Her figure is tall and graceful in whatever she does, yet humbly and graciously withal."  In other words, she was one stylish lady!  Now as for that dress code -- the "Sumptuary Laws" which Elizabeth enacted in June of 1574 dictated that if you were poor (ouch!) that you could only wear items of wool, linen and sheepskin (however silk, taffeta and velvet trimmings were allowed, but only in certain colors!).  If you were noble or of the upper class, you could wear velvet, silk, lace, furs and taffeta -- but only in certain colors and you could only spend so much for them.  Breaking these rules among the rich meant loss of property, your title and even harsher punishment!  But in the words of the Queen herself, these laws were basically to protect against "the wasting and undoing of a great number of young gentlemen and others...allured by the vain show of things...which only consume themselves, their goods and lands which their parents left unto them."  Such was the power of fashion in Merry Ol' England!  Could we, today, ever be allured by vanity?  Spend all our money on clothes and jewelry?  Expose our bosoms to French men?  Yes, yes and double yes!!

Insalata Caprese: The Enduring Style of Italian Cuisine

INSALATA CAPRESE: THE ENDURING STYLE OF ITALIAN CUISINE -- No one can quite say when or where the most famously simple of all salads -- the insalata caprese -- first appeared on the scene, or the exact origin of when it was named after that beautiful sun-soaked isle of Capri, part of very historic Campania region. But one thing we do know is that it is absolutely one of the most enduring of all Italian antipasti and so evocative of those heady days of fun,vino and romance along the Mediterranean coast.  (Speaking of fabulous Italian things, be sure to check out the recent post Studio of Style did on Campari.)  Of course, the famed tricolor look of the dish which, like the equally famed margherita pizza of Napoli, depict the colors of the Italian flag. But let's dig a little bit deeper into history, okay? (We know how you regular readers of Studio of Style just love a little bit more of everything, right?)  First of all, so much of the world associates Italian cuisine with that wonderful deep red tomato sauce found on many dishes -- but wait! The word "pomodoro" from the words "pomo d'oro" or "golden apple" doesn't quite match up with the color red, now does it? That's because the first tomatoes brought to Europe from the New World (i.e. The Americas) were actually more likely to have been yellow than red! More on that in a moment.  But some say that "pomo d'oro" might also be a mistranslation of the phrase "pomo di moro" or "fruit of the Moors" who had introduced so many exotic foods to Italy.  You see, it was Italian physician and botanist Pietro Andrea Mattioli who wrote in 1544 that a new type of eggplant had been brought to Italy which was blood red or golden in color that could be eaten like an eggplant -- and 10 years later Mattioli used the words "pomo d'oro" in print.  The yellow variety of the tomato definitely made landfall in Europe sometime after 1521 when Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés captured the Aztec capital of Tenochtítlan in Mexico -- though Christopher Columbus of Genoa (who was also working on behalf of the Spanish monarchy) might very well have brought some back around 1493! And did you know that the earliest known Italian cookbook with tomato recipes was published in Naples (naturally!) around 1692 -- most likely the recipes were translated from Spanish sources. Thus, by a slight twist of history the famed marinara sauces became red and not yellow (but the name "golden apple" still stuck!). But the bigger question is: who put together that amazing combination of basil, mozzarella di bufala, tomatoes and olive oil -- crowned with a light sprinkling of salt and black pepper -- a combo that epicureans have been raving about ever since? To enjoy this antipasto to the fullest, try to find the freshest handmade mozzarella, the ripest seasonal tomatoes, absolutely fresh basil, the best extra virgin olive oil and high quality salt and freshly ground black pepper (and please, no vinegar of any kind!!).  Said perhaps one of the most famous Italians of all history, Leonardo da Vinci: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." And how right he was...and still is! The simple yet profound pleasures found in insalata capresetranscend time itself! And in the words of so many Italians throughout the ages: Mangia bene, vivi felice!
Italian Trade Commission:
Styling and Photography by Greg Firlotte