Saturday, June 28, 2008

David Hockney

I love David Hockney. I love the way he looks and the way he dresses and I love the way he goes off on mad tangents about camera obscura. One of my favourite paintings at Tate Britain is Mr and Mrs Ossie Clark and Percy. A lot of people must agree with me, it's the most visited painting in the museum.

Costa Rica, Japanese Graphics and Ting Tings.

This week I very briefly met a man who is moving to Costa Rica. This seems a very sensible idea. My brother and I have a long-standing plan, that when our lives in our respective big cities get a bit too hot to handle,  we shall retreat and sell peaches on beaches. Costa Rica has been floated as an ideal location for this life-shift. The man I met has already taken the plunge and was selling some of his books to fund his trip and I bought them. One of them is a wonderful small book on Japanese graphics from the late 20s to the mid-30s. All the images above come from said book. 

This morning over breakfast, I was reading an interview of my new favourite band the Ting Tings, so named because they were told it meant "old bandstand" in Mandarin, they recently discovered however that in Japan Ting Tings means "cute little penis".

Friday, June 27, 2008

Daphne Guinness - Short Film

Daphne Guinness has directed a short film and it's up on the New York Times website, click here to go have a viewing. I think it's beautiful and it's only 5 minutes long, so it won't take up too much of your day. 

Daphne is a true English eccentric, admittedly she must have oodles of cash, being a scion of the Guinness dynasty and all that (my mother drank Guinness throughout her pregnancy with me, it may have a lot to answer for), so she has plenty of time on her hands to indulge her inner nuttiness. Her look is English aristocratic goth, mixed in with a little Joan Of Arc (all the chainmail and suits of armour) and a pinch of French Rococo. I'm not sure she's still rocking it, but when she had the badger white and black striped hair she looked ridiculous. In a good way.

There's a London Times profile on her and it lists What Daphne Loves:

Sudden illuminating ideas where you get that amazing feeling of  what life is all about.
Classical architecture.
Beautiful jewllery.
Thunderstorms and clouds.
High mountain peaks where the air burns your throat.
Textiles and embroideries.
Armour and ancient weapons.
The human skeleton, and how to drape it.
Love - but that should be first.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Victory Boogie Woogie.

I've been reading about Mondrian's influence on the menswear shows in Milan this week. I have a funny old book on him and I dug  it out and found these great pictures. The top one is a shot of his studio in Paris from 1926; the next is a shot of the painting Victory Boogie Woogie in the New York Studio; then a shot of East 61st St in New York which was his last home - I just put this one in because I like the way the light diffuses in the top left corner.

I may re-name the store Victory Boogie Woogie Books - but I may not.

Deco Espana: Great Design of the Twenties & Thirties

"LEISURAMA NOW! The Beach House For Everyone 1964 - " by Paul Sahre

I'm not very good in the heat, it makes me a bit of a grumpy witch. To combat this corrosive curmudgeonly-ness I have taken to staring at photographs of beaches in Montauk - a fabled place that I have never visited, that is in my mind, is starting to develop near-mythic proportions. 

I have been reading a bit about this place in "Leisurama Now" and think I would fit in:

"interesting rumors and stories about the place abound (long before it was the backdrop for the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind): alien abuductions, nude beaches, surfing, time-travel experiments, unexploded ordnances, and biological testing."

I'm dreaming of packing a camper van and taking off. Even though I have a pathological fear of being naked in public and have never been on a surf-board in my life. I have however, been abducted by aliens and taken part in time-travel experiments, so I've got that bit covered.

I also love the images of the interiors of the Leisurama houses in the book.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

There Is No Such Thing!

Beach Houses - Andrew Geller

from Beach Houses by Andrew Geller

"It's a hot Friday in July and we've been driving in circles through the sandy sprawl of Amagansett, somewhere between the primary ocean dunes and the Montauk Highway, where weekend houses are plunked on tiny lots cheek by jowl. Andrew Geller, quixotic designer-architect, is our guide as we search out the innovative beach houses he designed in the 1950s and 1960s. Geller, seventy-eight, is at the wheel of his vintage, canary-yellow Mercedes, dressed elegant-shabby in a seersucker jacket and English sandals. His white beard and thick mustache are brushed neatly into place."

Andrew Geller at 78, my new style icon.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pickled Ferret

Today I have the brain of a pickled ferret, due to far too many vodkas consumed. It wasn't my fault your honour, it was all because of a jeweller. 

I went to the Hammer Museum on Wednesday night, that's when the pickling of the brain started and I've been on a roll ever since. It's the heat, I can't cope with sobriety in this a-cursed heat. It's amazing at the Hammer at night, they were having a performance in the courtyard - and there was a bar! A projection of Lauren Dukoff's photographs were shown while a dj played and then a set came from Devendra Banhart's new band Megapuss, and mega they were. Such fun was had by all. Dukoff's photographs are super doops, the pics above are by her, and I for one love her work even more since I found this beaut of my personal love-god Mr Steven Patrick Morrissey.

Check out more of Dukoff's photography at She's releasing a book in Spring 2009 apparently, I'll make it an endeavor to get it in here... The Hammer also has a bunch of these evening events happening throughout the summer, the next one is July 22.

Now my addled brain and I are going to finish eating my delicious falafel wrap that is soaking up some of the gurgles in my stomach. My wonderful friend Maria picked it up for me. That woman is a life saver.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Looking at the wonderful floral prints in Plants & Their Application to Ornament: A Nineteeth Century Design Primer (Chronicle Books, $35), I was reminded of Liberty prints. My mum used to dress me in home-made Liberty print dresses and do my hair in Princess Leia buns on the side of my head. I looked like a futuristic Laura Ingalls Wilder - chic it was not. 

Liberty prints, in particular Liberty lawns, always remind me of 1930s tea dresses - the likes of which I think we will see a lot of in the new Dylan Thomas bio-pic The Edge of Love starring Matthew Rhys, Keira Knightley & Sienna Miller.

Dylan's often quoted last words:

"I've had 18 straight whiskies, I think that is a record"

Man after my own heart.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Madame Gres: Sphinx of Fashion

Who knew Madame Gres was such a sphinx? And a saucy minx by some accounts. Famed and celebrated for her drapery, technical skills and her ubiquitous Grecian Dress, she also lived a strange and secretive life; she was described as "more Garbo than Garbo". Firstly she had a variety of name changes before settling on Alix Gres which admittedly isn't that controversial but bear with me...She only lived with her husband for a short while before he fled in a very Gauguin-esque gesture to Tahiti where he set himself up with a bevy of concubines (I'm awfully glad not to have been a Tahitian in the early twentieth century; seems like a busload of polygamously inclined flabby white men went there to fulfill their whims), Ms. Gres financially supported this flight of fancy for the entirety of her husband's life and they never divorced. She spent the next 40 years living with her close female friend Muni, who it's rumored was the true love of her life. She spent her whole life perpetually swathed in a turban which sounds wonderful if a little smothering. At around the age of 80, Gres' controlling and slightly bonkers daughter hid her mother away in a nursing home in the south of France and when Madame Gres did finally kick the bucket, her daughter took over her identity and didn't tell anyone her mother had died for a whole year, which isn't quite as wonderful as the turban situation. Phew.

None of this detracts from the beautiful clothes she created during her time as one of the most original and talented couturiers of the twentieth century. As I was flicking through this book, I was struck by how influenced our contemporary designers are by her work. Yamamoto, Halston, Ralph Rucci and Isabel Toledo all seem to owe a small debt to her innovations.

Madame Gres: Sphinx of Fashion

In Vogue: Sixty Years of International Celebrities and Fashion From British Vogue

In Vogue: Sixty Years of International Celebrities & Fashion From British Vogue
Schocken Books 1976
Out of Print $175

This book is a must-have for any fashion-interested human. The images and essays range from 1900 up to the late 60s and is a veritable font of excellent information and visuals. I got a bit obsessed with some of the hats...the regal one with what looks like hair fronds is spectacular - unfortunately it's not actually hair but is a pewter tissue hat with jet beads and black paradise plumes. The effect is one of extreme elegance and unerring taste. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

William Henry Fox Talbot - The Father of Modern Photography

A new book out this month "William Henry Fox Talbot" by Geoffrey Batchen (Phaidon $39.95) makes the claim that Talbot was the founder of modern photography. This is an interesting  claim and probably one disputed hotly and heatedly by the descendants and supporters of  Louis Daguerre - who is widely supposed to be the founder. However, in my quick and speedy research, involving wikipedia and googling, it seems that a lot of whiskered funny-looking men in the 1800s were all trying to figure out the magic of getting images to keep still permanently on bits of silver. Daguerre invented the first commercially viable option as his method made it quicker to catch the elusive devil than other peoples, which could take hooours...I think the reason Talbot's lauded as a founder is because he managed to do it first. He apparently had a revelation when he was on his honeymoon in Lake Como. His wife was probably a bit miffed that he was having revelations about mercury vapours and iodine instead of epiphanies at her prowess but it was good for the history of photography. Sacrifices must be made. The images above are a selection from the book and are so beautiful they make me want to get all crafty with a pinhole camera. 

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Rosebowl, Pasadena June 8 2008

I braved the big-daddy of flea markets for the first time in months this morning. This involved waking up at an ungodly hour for a Sunday, indeed the only other people we saw in Echo Park were 2 straggly looking females clearly doing a walk o' shame home (sparkles, heels and bed hair at 8am) and what I can only imagine were church-goers. Who else is up that early? Freaks like us.

There's that condition that Venetian travellers can sometimes get- the victim sees too much beauty and goes bonkers. I suffer from something akin to that while I'm at the Rosebowl, although I'm not sure it's beauty that's putting me over the edge, but it's visual overload of something...

Here are a few images of things that tickled my fancy - I have been pondering a bird tattoo for a while now but have been waiting for inspiration to strike. I think I may have found it.