30 April 2010

News: Oldies But Goodies

PENHALIGON’S, the English perfume house established in the 1870s, had Oscar Wilde and Rudyard Kipling as fans. Queen Victoria appointed it court perfumer. Winston Churchill counted its Blenheim Bouquet as his favorite fragrance, and Princess Diana adored its Bluebell scent. Mining its vast archives, the company is releasing an Anthology collection of 12 oldies but goodies, including the latest: Eau de Cologne, a faithful recreation of a classic citrus from 1927, and Orange Blossom, a lush honeyed floral inspired by the 1976 original.
Thierry Mugler, 61, launches new book Thierry Mugler: Galaxie Glamour, and new perfume Womanity, with Clarins. He is also launching a new look with fresh surgery and tattoos. Mr Mugler says: “I am suing them (Clarins) because of that book. They wanted to do a book and I disagreed. Why should we do a book now and open the door to our archives and show even more things so that people can rip us off? I don’t see the point.”

Weekend Reading List

I was researching a project on Frida Kahlo and I stumbled across an excellent collection of her photographs in I Will Never Forget You, all taken by Nickolas Muray in the 1930s and 1940s. In it are all the iconic images of her, including those those with her pet deer Granizo. Nikolas Muray was a Hungarian photographer, an international champion fencer, hansome, charming and talented, and became Kahlo's lover after her divorce from Diego Rivera. The book also contains their love letters; These, alas, are tawdry. I suppose all affairs of the swooning kind are.Nosing around, I found another interesting book in the library, David Alan Brown and Jane Van Nimen's Raphael and the Beautiful Banker: The Story of the Bindo Altoviti Portait. Now, I've blogged about this 1515 portrait before (the subject is model-beautiful) and have always found this painting fascinating and modern. This book traces the painting's patchy history, and people's response to it. Still on an art theme, I'm also reading the novel The Art Thief (Noah Charney), a detective story set in the world of art crime. You see, there are no new Agatha Christies, and this is a shade better than Dan Brown, at least.

New Wine, Old Skin

Following the launch of the Louis Vuitton iPhone cover: The hyperventilatingly new Louis Vuitton iPad Case. Available in Monogram and Damier Graphite. It is
functional, supple and light, durable (water and scratch resistant) and easy to
maintain. A combination of style and cutting edge technology, the iPad case has been designed to respect the radiofrequency norms between phone waves and metallic pieces. Prefer the Monogram, cos it looks old school.

27 April 2010

Andy Warhol's Male Models

He Said She Said

"Six bad oil paintings in the home are better than good ones in a museum, because they give casual people a chance to look at paintings." - Gertrude Stein (1874—1946)

Trainers are the New Black

Designer denim used to be the go-to strategy of luxury labels to lure in younger customers, but now it seems as if trainers are the new jeans. These are Lanvin's summer trainers.

26 April 2010

John William Waterhouse

John William Waterhouse (6 April 1849 — 10 February 1917) was an English Pre-Raphaelite painter famous for his paintings of female characters from Greek and Arthurian mythology.Waterhouse was one of the final Pre-Raphaelite artists, productive in the latter decades of the 19th century, long after the era of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Because of this, he has been referred to as "the modern Pre-Raphaelite", and incorporated techniques borrowed from the French Impressionists into his work.

25 April 2010

Military Monday

Researching a project which required imagery with a 'military' theme, I discovered that more than a few of my favourite movies were actually 'war' movies. A classic in this genre, and still haunting and poetic today is Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence. There are too many iconic images from this film and the music defines 'haunting'.Rescue Dawn shortened a tedious plane ride for me and has since floated in my mind as something weirdly compelling, as only a Werner Herzog movie can be, plus it has Christian Bale, looking hollow and hungry like a wolf.A Thin Red Line may simply be one of my top movies of all time. I discovered Jim Caviezel in the dark one rainy afternoon in a cineplex in Jurong.And if you haven't watched the classic Apocalypse Now, what are you waiting for?

24 April 2010

Now Burning: L'Ambre by L'Artisan Parfumeur

What I love about the L'Ambre candle by L'Artisan Parfumeur is its ability to create a soothing, luxurious mood almost at once. It's not a coy candle, but potent, with a wide reach. It doesn't have to be burned for longer than 30 minutes at a time, or you might find it a bit too heady. For this reason, it's actually suited for night, rather than day, and terrific for a chilly bedroom. The warmth of amber, darkly powdery and vanillic has a balsamic undertow of labdanum. The woody quality prevents L'Ambre from becoming overly sweet and gourmand, even though I quite like a candy sweet scent.
L'Ambre is also pretty in pink wax, and mine comes in an elegant black glass container, just waiting to be turned into a pencil holder.
L'Ambre is a perfume from 1978, created by Jean Claude-Ellena for L'Artisan Parfumeur.

Sunday Self Pic

Madonna: The Unmaking of Dolce & Gabbana

These are the unvarnished candids from the making of the fall Dolce & Gabbana campaign. Madge seems to have captured a hobbit, and taken him grocery shopping in NYC. Can't wait to see the finished pictures, because I'm sure the ads will win the photoshop awards this season - nothing will be left un-retouched except the the wind in her hair.
Have a lovely week ahead yawll...

He Said She Said

"There's a fatigue in fashion. Designers cannot create so many collections - cruise and pre-fall, accessories - when two-a-year is more than sufficient. A designer simply cannot invent something new every two months or so. It takes six months of research and work to build a new silhouette. That's the reason why fashion today does not change very much. There is no time to think, to invent something new. You can no longer be excited or surprised. Rarely is there any freshness." - Azzedine Alaïa, who says he's to collaborate with H&M in a collection soon.

23 April 2010

Coco Chanel And Igor Stravinsky

A thought-provoking companion piece of sorts to the earlier Coco Avant Chanel, the sophisticated Coco and Igor shows the Audrey Tatou vehicle up as a sadly conventional (and, on hindsight, blandly sordid) biopic that it was; I very much prefer the latter movie.
The curtain opens behind the scenes at the May 1913 premiere of the Rite of Spring at the Thétre des Champs Élysées, immediately setting the tone of the movie with its honeyed light, the syrupy amber of an old bottle of Chanel No 5. Primal and epic, the stylized groin-thrusting of Nijinsky's choreography later echoes the Klimt-elegant sex scenes. The rhythmic violence of Stravinsky's music is brought to the fore and we see, as well as feel its effect: The theatre soon boils sickeningly over, the detractors and defenders, no longer urbane Parisians, come to blows.
The film’s long opening scene is a necessary tool to transport one into the extreme magic of the movie. Because this is very much a fantasy. The long camera takes drift through the backstage tension, sneaks through the curtains onto the stage and the audience and the warm, drowsy lighting creates the sensation between waking and sleeping.
Is couture an art similar to music? The imagined (unverified) affair between the woman who was to become the Grande Dame of Couture (Anna Mouglalis)and the rebellious Russian composer (the dour and cruel-looking Mads Mikkelsen, whom TB finds 'so sexy' - I don't understand this, of course) asks this question. Director Jan Kounen creates an extraordinary set of moods throughout his film, often muted and melancholic, broken by moments of intense energy or passion. The emotional distance give the sensation of detachment from reality, exemplified by the sex scenes, which are coldly unromantic, carefully art-directed acts of stylised eroticism. They are symbols and the actors do a great job of bringing some semblance of essential life to their roles.The careers of Igor Stravinsky and Coco Chanel took a remarkably close course: The Rite of Spring was launched just as Coco opened her first shop; They revolutionised the worlds of music and fashion respectively; They died within a year of each other in 1971. The missions of composer and couturiere were similar - he set out to re-write the rulebook of classical composition, she sought to democratise women's fashion. These are the facts, the rest is fiction (the movie is based on Chris Greenhalgh's impressively researched novel) set in the tantalising imagined encounter in 1920. The ruined and exiled composer comes to stay at Bel Respiro (the Chanel perfume is named after this villa), Chanel's art nouveau villa outside Paris. The ailing wife, Katerina (a wonderful performance by Ms Morozova), and four children are emotional baggage made visible. The beautiful black and beige villa again stresses the dream-like - hardly a stage for conventional behaviour, the affair seemed fated. Stravinsky is the proverbial struggling artist, while Chanel is rich, feared and successful (also model-thin and archly elegant, in skirt suits or silk pyjamas). Under the nose of his wife, Chanel seduces Stravinsky (is this a rebound affair from the death of Boy Capel?). The beauty of the staging brings to the fore the sordidness of all affairs of the sort. It's not a sign of being fiercely independent, it's not a political gesture but a vulgar whim. That Stravinsky doesn’t do too badly out of it, depicted enjoying the benefits of a loving spouse who suffers in silence while correcting his scores, as well as the luxury of Chanel’s patronage, makes this particularly ugly.While the sets and costumes are stunning, the stylistic triumph is the cinematography. The careful, disciplined cinematography evokes the stylised Art Nouveau visuals immaculately (even the woods look like a Klimt painting!). The creation of mood and style make the film so much more than a biopic. Ms Mouglalis does not look anything like Chanel, but that makes her acting even more remarkable because she convinces as a revolutionary genius. Mr Mikkelsen delivers a chillingly repellant, yet sympathetic (why?) rendition of Stravinsky.
The film explores many issues, the clash between two 'artistic' personalities, between the artistic movements of the period, between the moral and the immoral, between the conventional and the unconventional, but I left pondering this question: Was that long segue into Grasse and the creation of Chanel No 5 quite necessary?
I think not.

22 April 2010

He Said She Said: Jane Austen

“Today the idea of marriage is a loaded one; at best it’s a closing down of options. Austen’s women saw things differently. For them life opened up at the point of marriage. The married state, not the single state, meant liberation. Of course this bid for freedom only worked if you married the right person... The reader must come to feel that this romance is not merely a matter of personal preference between two people, but that a whole world order is in question until these two find each other.” - Susanna Clarke“One effect of reading a book which traces the faint yet vital tremors of our psyche and social interactions is that, once we’ve put the volume down and resumed our own life, we may attend to precisely those things the author would have responded to had he or she been in our company. Our attention will be drawn to the shades of the sky, to the changeability of a face, to the hypocrisy of a friend, or to a submerged sadness about a situation we had previously not even known we could feel sad about. The book will have sensitized us, stimulated our dormant antennae by evidence of its own developed sensitivity.” - Alain de Botton

I Get Along

21 April 2010

He Said She Said

Monkton House, redecorated in the 1930s by Norris Wakefield.
"Rich colors are typical of a rich nature." - Van Day Truex (1904—1979)Fabric: Majorelle, by Martyn Lawrence-Bullard
Screen: Victorian needlepoint five-panel screen, mid-19th century

News: Fast Coach

Coach Inc, the largest US maker of luxury leather handbags, doubled its dividend and announced an expansion in Europe..." - Business Week
"Burberry, the fashion giant, said its sales had risen by 6 per cent during the first half of its year, adding that profits were now likely to come in above previous expectations of around £200m..." - The Independent

19 April 2010

Hong Kong

Nicholas Tse and Shu Qi dressed in Bottega Veneta at the Hong Kong Film Awards.


Italian Vanity Fair. F said: "You sure will heart". Yes, F, I heart.

He Said She Said

"In Paris I send letters to people. I have somebody to deliver letters all over every day. Civilized living for me is like this. I’m not a chambermaid whom you can ring at every moment." - Karl Lagerfeld

(Francoise Gilot's letters from Matisse as seen in Matisse and Picasso: A Friendship in Art

18 April 2010

Postcard: London

From ATS: "Met Kate last week, day before Easter Friday spent at David Bailey's. He lives on the same street as me. She is such an attention seeker. She came with Sadie Frost and she wasn't very uhmmm ...sobre? Everyone was talking about McQueen. Apparently he had this huge bender before he hanged himself. Spoke to Kate for a bit. She was complaining about the paps outside, and I said Nooo! don't tell me you dont like all this attention. She seems quite nice but I think she was a little bit high. Her South London drawl is sooo cute! She sounds like a black girl. XOX"
Photo: Corrine Day, 1990

17 April 2010

Elvin Ng: HDB Prince

Elvin Ng has made a career of playing wholesome, naïve boys-next-door.
He's an eternal boy (one often forgets he's 29, not 19), tanned and toothsome, his puppy eyes promising endless chaste love. (There is something asexual about his appeal, despite the muscles glimpsed now and then in sneaky shirtless scenes which he says he hates, “I’m just not all that comfortable about showing my body off on TV or in photoshoots and I'd always go do I have to?"). There’s something ‘safe’ about Elvin, and this niceness is a big part of his appeal. He’s like a gorgeous human puppy you can ride off with to the halogen sunset of the neighbourhood mall, sucking on a bubble tea.
It’s no surprise that his Best Actor nod in this year's Star Awards is for playing Tarzan (in Together), a role that is the apogee of his type: It’s like all the good cops, valiant buddies, sweet but ineffectual boyfriends of his career had been boiled down into an essence, then poured into the gorgeous form of the hunky-but-hapless dullard with a heart of gold. "Tarzan and I have a lot in common – we’re both simple, innocent and frank and playing him has made me feel very good," admits Elvin. His only outing as a villain, in last year’s The Ultimatum was universally decried (he says sheepishly: "I wanted to try something different").
That wrinkle aside, his four years with Mediacorp has otherwise been a smooth and steady rise. “I got into the Top 10 (Male Artistes) in my first Star Awards. I have three Top 10 trophies already, one for each year in the business. Although it gets less exciting for me each year, the awards are still very important. You might hear some other artistes say it’s just a game, or it’s just a show, but I don’t think they are speaking the truth.”
Q. Do you think you will win the Best Actor Award?
A. "It would be totally unexpected if I were to win this award because I think I’m not at that level yet. I can’t even look at my own acting! I don’t even dare to think about winning this award. There is some chance, of course; I’m just happy to be seated right in front this year instead of way back. The nomination is like a Toto ticket. I have some chance but it’s likely that the award will go to one of the three veterans.
"I hope I get it of course, but I think it would be an ‘accidental’ win."
(A version of this profile, and the full interview, appears in 8 Days)

Jean Phillipe Delhomme

Another of my fave illustrators. Mr Delhomme's blog is http://unknownhipster.com

American Archetypes: Sean O'Pry

Vogue Hommes International

Sunday Self Pic

May's Many Faces

Vogue Paris May: Penélope Cruz is the guest editor for this special issue with three different covers. Carine Roitfeld celebrates the Cannes Film Festival with a star-studded edition:
One cover features Cruz, Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Meryl Streep, Naomi Watts, and Kate Winslet; the second cover has only Cruz and Streep; the third is devoted to Cruz and Bono. All three covers are by Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.

  • Paradis En Chine by Roitfeld/ Karl Lagerfeld, model Vanessa Paradis
  • La Décadanse by Carine/ Mario Testino, models Daria Werbowy and Francesco Vezzoli
  • Plage Privée by Emmanuelle Alt/ Mario Sorrenti, model Natasha Poly
  • Erotica by Carine/ Steven Klein model Lily Donaldson