Here in Los Angeles we are in the midst of Brit Week, that time of year when UK-born artists of all types living in Southern California (and Anglophiles like myself) gather together to mingle and celebrate each other's achievements and overall fabulousness.
I was honored to be invited to attend a Brit Week party in the hills above Sunset Boulevard celebrating opera, fashion, and art (OPARTASH, get it?). Thrown at the private home of Genlux fashion editor Amanda Eliasch (pictured, below), the guest-list-only "soiree" held about 150 guests including actress Lisa Zane from -- yep -- Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (I'll let that sink in for you 90s horror junkies out there). And who knew she could sing? Early in the night, the raven-haired artist slinked up next to a pink piano and performed an Italian number with opera singer Charles Eliasch.
My plus-one for the evening was a filmmaker friend of mine who wished to remain nameless here because of his following description of the house: "It's as if Betsy Johnson and Ed Hardy had sex in 1987 and exploded." Indeed: white walls, onyx tables, pink velvet chaise lounges, baroque sculptures, and neon artwork made for a decor that would've done Andy Warhol proud.
Since we arrived shortly after 6pm, the actual start time, we expected to enjoy some gourmet nibblers as our dinner, but lo and behold, a dining table strewn with cheese plates and hummus wasn't enough to satiate our appetites.
After stuffing my face with brie and grapes, I searched the rest of the party for anything that would quell my stomach. No such luck. Instead, I gulped down two glasses of Veuve Clicquot and a vodka cocktail at the open bar. I then peeked my head into the kitchen where two catering staff members asked if I needed anything. I politely asked them if anything else was being served since I, like some of the guests I knew, didn't prefer to graze on pita chips and berries like farm animals.
That's when we snuck into the dressing room where some half-naked models were getting ready for the pending Pam Hogg fashion show. One smiling waif offered us some pizza that some of the models had eaten for dinner (yes, you read that correctly: models eat pizza before walking the runway).
I scarfed down a slice of barbecue chicken pizza as if I were a vagabond who had just traveled across a post-apocalyptic Earth after weeks without sustenance.
Somewhat satisfied, we made our way outside to the pool deck to grab a good seat for the pending fashion show. A runway had been constructed over the pool and a spotlight had been situated next to the DJ. A hush came over the Euro-centric crowd.
Amanda Eliasch came out and tapped on a microphone, thanking everyone for coming, especially designer Pam Hogg who had flown in from London to showcase her new line of out-of-this-world outfits. Hogg, one of Gaga's fashion femme fatales, isn't known for making public appearances, so tonight's occasion was quite special.
The models strutted and did their thing. I caught Smiling Waif making her way towards our seats. In a moment of recognition I smiled, nodded my head, and on behalf of my stomach, mouthed the words, "Thank you."
Without missing a beat, before she walked off the pool deck, she turned and said, "It was soooo good, right?"
Last night in Hollywood, W Hotels hosted the next installment of its ongoing music series, Symmetry Live, at Drai’s Private Lounge (the hotel's posh and exclusive venue) to kick off IMS Engage, a one-day event to engage the electronic music world with the wider industries of technology, finance, hip-hop and the arts.
The night crackled with energy as UK singer Foxes (pictured, right) took to the stage with a soulful acoustic performance and revelers closed out the night as the DJs spun for partygoers.
The night was hosted by W Hotels’ Global Music Director Michaelangelo L’Acqua at W Hollywood.
Notable appearances of the night included Jessica Lowndes and Michael Steger from 90210 (below).
As a poster boy for metrosexuality, Tom Ford is achingly fashionable and preened to perfection. As the man responsible for securing Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent as style behemoths, he is the go-to man on exquisite style and classic tailoring.
When he launched his own label Tom Ford in 2005, it was no surprise when sales rocketed and new lines continued to be added. His brand gives a nod to styles gone by while making sure each product in the women’s, mens and accessory range is setting the next trend. A good fit is key, with excellent tailoring being at the heart of the Tom Ford ethos.
It cannot be denied that he has the Midas touch when he took his eye for design and his creative flair into the film industry, with his directorial debut A Single Man in 2009. Giving the loveable Colin Firth a Tom Ford style injection and the direction to help him get nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
With many of the advertising for the brand involving beautiful, half-naked models, Ford is not shy about catching the eye through sex and frivolity. And with choices for the face of Tom Ford campaigns such as Nicholas Hoult – of X-Men: First Class fame – Ford is not afraid of thinking outside the box.
Whether you invest in one of his quirky tailored suits, a gorgeous leather bag or the iconic Tom Ford sunglasses, it will be a purchase that will be season worthy for years to come. And if you are blessed with the chiselled features and sculpted facial hair of Tom himself, then you will be as fashionably unstoppable.
At the age of 51 (Yes, 51!) he couldn’t be looking better, and although taking on new projects and being busy as a new father to son Alexander - who was born thorough surrogacy with his partner of 25 years Richard Buckley –he is still as dedicated to fashion as he always has been. The Tom Ford 2013 collections are sure to be well received and much loved. Before you’ve even considered what your summer or winter 2013 wardrobe will look like, this Los Angeles resident will have already pulled the style out of his beautifully crafted sleeve.
Yes, the Sundance Film Festival is a playground for moviemakers, but indulging in its unique fashion, food, and music events is part of the whole experience.
The largest evening of independent music at Sundance, Koffeehouse Chateau featured fourteen sublime acoustic artists playing before a roaring fireplace in the intimacy of a private manor miles from Park City. One of the performers, American Idol alum, Crystal Bowersox glowed, "I'm so happy to be here. My first Sundance! I just finished my second album (due late March). It has a duet with Jakob Dylan, and all original except for one track (“Here's Where The Story Ends” by The Sundays)."
Kari Feinstein's Style Lounge offered new lifestyle brands for the celebrity set (Katherine Heigl, Courtney Love). Feinstein, now in her 13th year of hosting style lounges, says, "Style is the way you carry yourself and your attitude and the way you feel about yourself. If you feel good about yourself, and have confidence - you have style." Who also showed up? Matthew McConaughey (photo courtesy of KFPR).
Sean John at TR Gifting Suites went the extra mile and donated brand new coats to needy New Yorkers for every coat they gave away at Sundance as part of New York Cares Coat Drive.
OAKLEY LEARN TO RIDE
Oakley Learn To Ride escorted festival-goers up the mountain with Olympic medal winner Danny Kass, and taught them (and celebs Adrian Grenier, and Brazilian supermodel Allesandro Ambrosia) how to snowboard. By night, Oakley's space transformed into Sundance’s own Hyde Lounge.
Snowboarder and rapper, Lil Jon, and pal Octavia Spencer at Oakley Learn To Ride (photo courtesy of Getty Images/Fingerprint Communications):
Then, animal lovers convened on CatDance, a celebration of cats in short films. Adorable celebrity host, AnnaLynne McCord, proud owner of two kitties, cited "What's New Pussycat?" as her favorite 'cat' pop song. Proceeds from the limited edition black and grey cat-inspired hats (seen here on McCord) benefit the ASPCA.
THE PROMONTORY FEAST
The culinary highlight of Sundance was Chef Bill Reilly's exclusive five star Italian feast (inspired by the Sundance winning film, Big Night) at The Promontory, THE luxury community in Park City.
Carlo Mondavi, grandson of Robert, presided over the meal's wine pairing with his 2009 Continuum Cabernet - full of dark chocolate and black cherry accents. Needless to say: Mmmm! If you can find it, check it out!
GREY GOOSE BLUE DOOR
Speaking of alcohol, the Grey Goose Blue Door on Main Street, which also featured a fantastic Sorel boots gifting suite, served my favorite cocktail in all of Sundance: a Hot Apple Pie. Here's the recipe...
1 ½ oz Grey Goose Poir (pear)
½ oz B&B
¾ oz Cinnamon
4 oz Hot Apple Cider
A hot mug and garnish with lemon zest and clove (You're welcome)
Needless to say, we all felt warm and happy with this cocktail. Already looking forward to next year in Park City!
Chris Hardwick, founder of the popular Nerdist blog, podcast, and YouTube channel, host of AMC's Talking Dead, author of The Nerdist Way, and overall King of Nerd Culture, covers the entertainment section of this month's issue of Bello Mag.
HIH's Hiko Mitsuzuka interviewed the geek entrepreneur back in August, and together, they covered everything from Comic Con and Sleepaway Camp to Tina Fey and Fraggle Rock.
On nerd culture becoming mainstream: "It allows me to work in fields that I really care about. But also, if it weren't mainstream, we wouldn't get Joss Whedon directing The Avengers movies."
On his increasingly busy schedule: "I'm really anal about my calendar. It looks like a Tetris game board."
Hot off the heels of 1927’s Metropolis, a masterpiece of German expressionist filmmaking and one of the silent movie era’s greatest achievements, Hollywood sought to cash in on a futuristic blockbuster of its own, with a curious twist. The result was the first science-fiction talkie feature, 1930’s Just Imagine, a pre-Busby Berkeley musical comedy blockbuster set in the distant world of -- get this -- 1980.
With rare and unusual exceptions (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Young Frankenstein), the science-fiction musical-comedy as a film genre never really took off – but if it ever truly does, Just Imagine can be credited as its forefather.
When I heard that Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre (with the Art Director's Guild and American Cinematheque) was screening the first talkie science fiction film, Just Imagine, with a panel discussion led by production designer, John Muto (River’s Edge, Species), I was intrigued. Though the print was shaky (the film has yet to be restored), it still delighted the packed house 82 years after its initial release.
Just Imagine’s art director, Stephen Gooson (Gilda, It Happened One Night) was nominated for an Academy Award, and rightfully so. In fact, the look of the film especially the dazzling cityscapes of futuristic Manhattan stand as the film’s great legacy. Having been used and borrowed in many science-fiction films over the years, notably Buck Rogers’ serials of the 1950s, these images are more famous than the movie itself.
The art deco interiors are another highlight. The Mars palace may have been a prototype for The Wizard of Oz’s Emerald City.
In Just Imagine’s vision of 1980, a couple only needs to press a button to order a new infant, all food/beverages are consumed in pill form, the government arranges marriages, and names have been abolished in favor of numbers. One lead character is called MP3, an eerie (unintentional) irony considering this is a musical, and at the time Hollywood was trying to sell sound to the public. There are also early (the first?) screen examples of automatic sliding doors, Skype-style communication devices, air hand dryers, and cloning (all of Mars is populated with twins).
Though the science-fiction is played fairly straight, there are certainly Mystery Science Theatre-esque moments of hilarity. In one scene, as our heroes walk on Mars for the first time, helmets are nowhere to be found (though one character has a porkpie hat). And apparently, 1980 is an entirely Caucasian world. Only once, for a flash, do we see what might be an Asian scientist. And having lived through the actual 1980, it’s extremely amusing to watch the cast, firmly entrenched in the silent-era style of acting, warble vaudevillian ballads like “I Wish I Could Meet A Gal Like Grandma” – a far cry from the year’s actual biggest hit, Blondie’s "Call Me," but it’s all part of the delightful ride. Ultimately, with references to prohibition, and Henry Ford’s anti-Semitism, this film says more about the world of 1930 than anything else.
That being said, there are moments of surprisingly contemporary humor, and what could even be called one of the first LGBT screen characters, in Koko, the Queen of Mars’ henchmen - think Ed O’Neil in a Conan The Barbarian-meets-Fred Flintstone getup who likes to flirt with the male Earthmen.
The Aero Theatre’s engaging post-screening discussion panel included USC professor/historian, Nicholas Cull, whose book, Projecting Tomorrow: Science Fiction and Popular Cinema, is due October 15th.
Just Imagine stars a pre-Tarzan, Maureen O’Sullivan (often billed as “the first Irish movie star”), and Frank (It’s A Wonderful Life, Psycho) Albertson. The film is a window of its own time, a quirky treasure that deserves restoration so future generations can look back at how Herbert Hoover’s America envisioned the future.
*Video clips courtesy of editor Dennis Welch and producer, John Muto
Our very own Garytt Poirier is starring in a new musical-comedy (ours is a talented lot here at HIH).
DISASTEROID! tells the tale of Alfred Edgley, a career tax auditor who's given a shot at some excitement when astronomers at the local observatory trick him into thinking the end of the world is rapidly approaching. Naturally, he runs off and travels the world with the wealthy philanthropist, Mabel Bellcoat, much to the chagrin of his boss. His co-worker, Petty, meanwhile, dreams only of finding a nice backyard. Featuring music and lyrics by the vivacious and charming one-man band, The Bicycats.
The show opened this past weekend, and if you have a pulse, you'll want to check it out before it closes on Sunday.
From the talented Mr. Poirier: "Opening night. It came ever so quickly. The nerves run through you like butterflies before a first date. It's good to have butterflies. The butterflies mean you care. It means you have a 50/50 cocktail of anxiety and excitement. Just two months ago, we were all strangers wondering if this script would eventually transform into an actual show that audiences would enjoy. The process can be arduous for the lead actors and sometimes tedious for the supporting players practicing in a white room with folding chairs lit by florescent lights, watching the same scenes being rehearsed time and time again. You practice songs with the musical director and an acoustic guitar. You attempt to follow the choreography for the first time while trying not to trip over your feet. You imagine what your prop or costume will look and feel like. You can flub your lines and laugh about it. It still isn't real. It's all fantasy.
Fantasy gets a swift kick into reality when tech week arrives. Finally it has come together. Eight weeks ago, we were not sure what would become of DISASTEROID! The Musical. With a snap of our fingers it's opening night and we have all contributed to a show that we're proud of. Strangers have become family, and this is our baby."
DISASTEROID! now runs through August 19 at The Underground in Holllywood.
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