Don’t go Breaking my Heart

TARON Egerton in ‘Rocketman,’ the Elton John biopic, does a tremendous job in the main role, capturing John’s vocal style if not his precise sound, while Richard Madden smoulders throughout as Reid.

Dexter Fletcher’s decision to dispense with reality does have its upside. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the scene in which Elton duets with his boyhood self at the bottom of a swimming pool, bubbles escaping his nostrils as he does, or another in which the audience at an early US show literally levitate.

Irocket_man_01It’s The Dirt as envisioned by Baz Luhrmann.

MARY QUANT: Genius in action at London’s swinging V&A!

THERE’S  magic at a Mary Quant exhibition this Spring.  Quant is revealed as a genius of the Modern age in an exemplary experience at London’s V&A. Curator Jenny Lister, captures the enchantment and excitement inspired by the British designer just over half a century ago.  

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At the V&A Jenny Lister shows Quant in action, illustrating  her skills and success, with  spectacular displays of clothes from fans’ collections and donations; stylish people who’ve loved Quant since before influential 60s journalist Ernestine Carter wrote:

It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion there are three: Chanel, Dior and Mary Quant.

Travelling with Quant and her husband Alexander Plunket Green from Chester to Manchester airport in 1981, I was meeting a Fashion phenomenon.  After 25 years of continuing international success APG spontaneously praised her exceptional talent,

Mary and her team are like French couturiers. We don’t take great whacks out of the business. Our first motive is a passionate interest in the goods”.

My play for Radio 4, Thoroughly Modern Mary dramatises these early years, questioning the power balance between the Plunket Greens.  At the V&A there is new evidence to back my plotting. In dynamic film footage the couple are seen in their offices and studios running their international Fashion house in the 1960s.  APG is filmed directing staff, guiding them to assist in the operation, while Mary researches, designs, philosophises about Fashion and its impact on society. He is obviously in her thrall as he witnesses genius in action!

It was the British Post Office which confirmed Quant’s greatness when they put a little black dress on a series of stamps in 2009. No one was more surprised than Mary Quant when she found herself being celebrated with 20th century Modernists but this is exactly where she should be positioned.

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She was at the heart of the Modernist momentum and it took British Post Office to identify her worldwide influence. She was much too close to see she was interpreting an international movement. At the time of the second Bazaar opening she wrote:

“Fashion is the product of a thousand and one different things. It is a whole host of elusive ideas, influences, cross-currents and economic factors, captured into a shape and dominated by two things….impact on others, fun for oneself. It is unpredictable, indefinable. It is successful only when a woman gets a kick out of what she is wearing; when she feels marvelous and looks marvelous.”

Identifying herself with the characteristics of Modernity, Quant sees it encouraging change, embracing technologies which would make life more enjoyable for men and women:

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“It is the Mods…the direct opposite of the Rockers (who seem to be anti-everything)…who gave the dress trade the impetus to break through the fast-moving, breathtaking, up-rooting revolution in which we have played a part since the opening of Bazaar.”

For some of the forty years since his Bazaar liaison David Wynne Morgan, was chairman of Hill and Knowlton, Madmen archetype in New York. He was still working in Fashion when I met him. His first words on Quant, in December 2006, were, ‘She’s a genius’.

Staff at the V&A, delighted with the current show’s enchanting glamour agree, with  Wynne Morgan and me, that we are indeed witnessing a life and works of pure brilliance.

 

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WAY TO WEAR THE HAT! Diary of Midge Maisel, aged 26 and a half!

NOMINATED for three Golden Globes in the “musical or comedy” categories: Rachel Brosnahan for Best Performance by an Actress, Alex Borstein for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, and Best Television Series,  how come ‘Vanity Fair’ thinks the second series of ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, “has little story to tell this time around?

Sonia Saraiya, VF’s television critic must surely know it’s all about the hats!

Saraiya is worried that the importance of Susie Myerson’s gender identity is not addressed! Also bothered by the plotting! If it’s set in Upper East Side, Manhattan, at first, she asks, how has it the chutzpah to take us to Paris and the Catskills, in the second series?

As an aspiring woman comic in the 1950s Midge Maisel (Brosnahan, raised in Leeds) needs a booking agent like Myerson  (Borstein). Susie is the gruff booker of the Gaslight Club in Greenwich Village where Midge’s career begins.  Borstein, the voice of Lois Griffin in Family Guy, is a joy from the second she appears on screen.

As long as they keep it coming, the team behind both series can do anything they like in my book!

With all the features of a Mark Kermode validated Rom-Com, The Amazing Mrs Maisel is made by a team of geniuses embracing the explosive freedom given by cinema technology and other inspired colleagues.

Letting us in on their secrets is Emmy nominated costume designer Donna Zakowska. She explains how she creates her magic: “In terms of the extras and other people, {I’m} trying to make it look as real as possible and then heightening Midge a bit.”

Explaining how she researched the looks: “Some of the colors from the ‘50s, a lot of the palette things—I looked at French Vogue from the period — are really very interesting color combinations. I worked a lot with combining, taking more heightened Vogue from the period and then bringing it down to a little bit more accessible level for the character.” Maisie hat

Midge, wearing a perfectly angled hat, persuades the parish priest to allow her friend’s wedding to take place away from a windowless punishment room! Who could resist that look?

Even without Amy Sherman-Palladino’s direction of the the peppy young housewife-turned-comedian Miriam “Midge” Maisel, I would still be madly in love with the show’s theatrical photography and rocket speed dialogue.

If this isn’t enough there’s mouth-watering, mid-century  neapolitan ice-cream, intricately detailed interiors; total turn on for film buffs, scopophiliacs, perfectionists and voyeurs everywhere!

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The Revlon counter at B.Altman’s department store in mid-20th century midtown Manhattan. 

Set designer Bill Groom is delighted to make magic for viewers, using every trick in the book through today’s technology.

“Amazon is new in the development of media, and they’re very open to ideas and solutions and new ways of doing things which makes what I do fun. This streaming world has exploded and has turned this into the second golden age of television, which I think is giving the creative people behind the scenes a lot of freedom, which in many ways makes the work more interesting.”

 

 

Scent Noir

No.5 Coco Chanel is the controversial figure of Fashion.  It’s part of the label’s allure!

Students working on cosmetic floors of department stores all want to be selling the fascinating brand yet the genius behind it is a calculating, nonchalant, femme fatale!

In Thursday night’s feature  on BBC 4  a story, I thought was just a re-telling of a rumour, proves to be about her actual devious plotting and career building subterfuge!

Coco Chanel’s revolutionary perfume concept was as audacious as her outlandish designer clothing. At its launch, in 1921, it was an instant hit but in the 1920s and 1940s the Number 5 brand was at the centre of a war between the celebrated designer and her entrepreneurial business partners, the Wertheimer brothers.

In the thrilling and dark development of the world’s most famous perfume friends and colleagues become enemies and adversaries!

During WWII, with the help of her high-ranking Nazi lover, Coco Chanel attempted to oust her Jewish partners – who had fled German-occupied France and were operating the business from New Jersey – to take control of the highly lucrative business.

On Thursday these shocking revelations were confirmed, with archive footage of Gabrielle herself and her secret staircase at the Ritz.  Directed by Stephane Benhamou, the Wertheimer brothers Paul and Pierre did not make personal archive appearances but were represented by animated cut outs!

“The No. 5 War,” documentary  premiered at the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival in January 2017. Here director Stephane Benhamou told audiences that his long days burrowing in French archives, not only let him tell the story of one of the most popular fragrances in the world, but proved beyond doubt that Chanel was ready to exploit the Nazi race laws to increase her wealth and power.

Vestire il robot! Salva il Pianeta!

DON’T you just love the Italians with their sense of style and scientific curiosity?

Here’s a researcher investigating the most exciting developments in textiles and technology at the international fashion fair, Milana Unica, this month.

Designed to show what we –  or our robots – will wear S/S 2019, it keeps Milan at the forefront of the Fashion world!

Volatile fabrics such as layered tulle, muslins and iridescent organics, combined with multicolor satins and vinyl or metallized fabrics, inspired by Robotics and Second-Skin stretch tubulars are seen here.

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Milano Unica’s slogan for today is SAVE THE PLANET!

Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Givenchy’s

HUBERT DE GIVENCHY was thrilled by his relationship with Hollywood through Audrey Hepburn and said, ‘After Sabrina, Audrey requested my clothes for all her films with a contemporary setting, which is how I came to design the outfits she wore in Funny Face, Love in the Afternoon, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, Paris when it Sizzles and How to Steal a Million.

 It was suggested that her influence was so powerful, their friendship so constant, that there was a symbiotic relationship between the French designer and the Belgian actress.

As well as clothes for the films he also made her dresses for her second wedding, her sons’ christenings, and their christening gowns. The Givenchy clothes, Audrey Hepburn wore, symbolize the designer at the height of his powers.

In his use of silk prints, embroidered fabrics he drew on the expertise of skilled French textile workers. In his flawlessly detailed separates, high-style coats and elegant ball gowns he represented the matchless art of Parisian haute couture.

We might ask the question, ‘Did Audrey create Givenchy or was it the other way round?’   American designer, Ralph Lauren, knowing the value of serendipity, was to say that Audrey Hepburn could pick what was right for her from his own collections and added:

You could take Audrey into Sears, Roebuck or Givenchy or an army surplus store – it didn’t matter, she’d put something on and you’d say, ‘It’s her!’ Very few people can do that.

He also thought the balance in the relationship with the French couturier was tipped in favour of the actress:

“I truly feel Audrey gave Givenchy a look. As time went on, they collaborated, but I think she picked what was Audrey out of Givenchy.”

From FASHION, MEDIA, PROMOTION, the new black magic, in tribute to de Givenchy on his death 12th March 2018.

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Isn’t it Romantic? A Valentine’s day muse.

‘Isn’t it Romantic?’ is the tune David Larabee, (William Holden) had playing as attractive party guests were often seduced by him, in their tennis pavilion, in the Paramount movie ‘Sabrina’.

Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn) fell for his tactics, even knowing it was his practice and not really a special thing for her, alone.

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For me romance is always Chanel!

Never was her mythology so plundered for the sake of fairy tale than in the Audrey Tatou/Orient Express short. Every camera angle, every lighting effect, each costume, every look, shrieked of passion. It was an extravagant vehicle to sell No.5.

One of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s small masterpieces, it’s story, about danger, longing and delayed love at first sight, is the most potent Valentine’s day two minutes we could watch.

But there is something enchanting about this time of year. The birds are singing, the light is longer, and we can lightly let our thoughts turn to thoughts of holiday train travel.Jean-PierreJeunet