Wednesday
Jul182012

Notebook on Cities and Clothes 

[ED: New small post up for SHOWstudio on Yohji Yamamoto's Y's boutique in Tokyo, circa 1981. In tandem, the following images are taken from Wim Wenders 1989 documentary on Yamamoto, "Notebook on Cities and Clothes." The audio is taken from Michael Nyman's 1993 work for Yohji Yamamoto, "The Show Vol. 2"]

MICHAEL NYMAN: M-1, SONG A 


Monday
Jul162012

Edit the Sad Parts: "How Should A Person Be," Paul Fortune, Personal Branding

GANG OF FOUR: I LOVE A MAN IN UNIFORM

ELASTICA: IMAGE CHANGE

 

"How should a person be?

For years and years I asked it of everyone I met. I was always watching to see what they were going to do in any situation, so I could do it too. I was always listening to their answers, so if I liked them, I could make them my answers too. I noticed the way people dressed, the way they treated their lovers—in everyone, there was something to envy. You can admire anyone for being themselves. It’s hard not to, when everyone’s so good at it. But when you think of them all together like that, how can you choose?

I admired all the great personalities down through time, like Andy Warhol and Oscar Wilde. They seemed to be so perfectly themselves in every way. I didn’t think, Those are great souls, but I did think, Those are some great personalities for our age. Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein — they did things, but they were things.

I know that personality is just an invention of the news media. I know that character exists from the outside alone. I know that inside the body there’s just temperature. So how do you build your soul? At a certain point, I know, you have to forget about your soul and just do the work you’re required to do. To go on and on about your soul is to miss the whole point of life. I could say that with more certainty if I knew the whole point of life. To worry too much about Oscar Wilde and Andy Warhol is just a lot of vanity." [1]

"How should a person be? I sometimes wonder about it, and I can’t help answering like this: a celebrity. But for all that I love celebrities, I would never move somewhere that celebrities actually exist. My hope is to live a simple life, in a simple place, where there’s only one example of everything.

By a simple life, I mean a life of undying fame that I don’t have to participate in. I don’t want anything to change, except to be as famous as one can be, but without that changing anything. Everyone would know in their hearts that I am the most famous person alive—but not talk about it too much. And for no one to be too interested in taking my picture, for they’d all carry around in their heads an image of me that was unchanging, startling, and magnetic. No one has to know what I think, for I don’t really think anything at all, and no one has to know the details of my life, for there are no good details to know. It is the quality of fame one is after here, without any of its qualities." [1]

 

"The great interior designer Paul Fortune has helped shape David Fincher’s Los Feliz home, made a marvel of Mark Jacobs’s Paris apartment, and created a landmark with a glamorous renovation of the iconic Sunset Tower hotel.  He put the first Cadillac through the roof of the Hard Rock, and moved a Hollywood craftsman house across a parking lot to make the gem that was Les Deux Cafés.  Inhabiting a space somewhere between David Bowie and James Bond, Paul is himself a paragon of taste and panache—his devotees run the gamut from furniture dealers to fashion designers to film directors (to this end, dig Fortune’s cameos in both Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette and her ex-husband Spike Jonze’s Adaptation).

 

Born in Liverpool and educated in London, Fortune moved to New York and then Oregon before he stumbled on Los Angeles and the rumored gin hideout for Laurel & Hardy.  At once a love affair was born.  The then graphic artist, and later music video director, set to work making the ‘20s house—a strange mogrel in 1978 of its country cabin bones and a former owner’s Mutiny on the Bounty-themed nautica—into a home.  The ever-evolving space, most recently gifted a pool and outdoor shower, is now every bit the beauty and the celebrity as its notorious guests.

 

Shirking gimmickry for timeless essentials, Fortune has turned his hilltop redoubt into something of a legend, and in the process made himself a master of the form. His look is ultimately the real LA: the green and white stripes of the Beverly Hills Hotel, the lilting palms, the sunshine, rough-hewn stone walls, Prada suits…

 

Chris Wallace: Wait, how have you managed to make sunshine your  look?

 

Paul Fortune: It’s true. After my childhood in the North of England the California light was irresistible, but now I’m getting nostalgic for gloomy, grey vistas. The grass is always greener… or greyer.

 

CW: Every designer and artist I know is an enormous fan of your work, of your way . And it does seem to me that your signature, your vibe, is more of a vibe than a specific template or grouping of materials.  It is more like a lifestyle. A space bearing your touch is incredibly chic—I mean, impeccable—but also feels safe to flop around in, to smoke in, to live  in. How are you able to achieve that?

 

PF: I don’t do a signature look so much as create an atmosphere.  It’s really art direction, which is not just about the furniture but also the space, the light, the people in the space, tantalizing fragrances, delicious cocktails… I think it’s absurd to force a “style” onto a place when all you really have to do is coax its true personality out with the right elements. There is too much ego in design and not enough empathy. There is also too much emphasis on the new groovy next thing. If you look at a magazine like the World of Interiors, you see that the best design vernacular is consistent in some way—using a certain set of rules or constraint, but making a lasting and timeless effect. I think there are many current designers (and I use that word loosely, very loosely) whose work will never stand the test of time.  You constantly see some effect—explosive colour, chandeliers in gardens, the 70s—that suddenly is everywhere and becomes mass, and, consequently, a ghastly blight. It’s like reality TV, people mistake it for something real, when in fact it’s the opposite. Really effective design is truly 'green.' It lasts." [2]

 

 

 

"CW: Where did your sense of design come from?

 

PF: I was always fascinated by environments other than my own and would sit glued to the TV, watching Hollywood movies from the 30s and 40s, American sitcoms of the ’60s, whatever, agape at the scale, glamour, styles and general strangeness. I would re-create favorite scenes in our garage for my family, forcing my cousins into silly costumes and faking the sets. My re-creation of the barge seduction scene from de Mille’s Cleopatra was a big hit (with myself as Cleopatra of course), though the Dads were mortified.

 

CW: But it was beautiful.

 

PF: In my eyes of course.  But then you have to be gay to be a good decorator—sorry, just look at the facts. You can count the number of straight decorators on one hand… barely. Why is that? Maybe gays are more aware of their surroundings.  But then there are some hideous gay decorators too so we have to discount the gay factor—but not entirely. It’s still a requisite somehow. Maybe at birth the fairy Godmother gives you the gift of perfect taste as you have to have some compensation for all the slurs and barbs your gay life will have to endure (not that I had to endure that many personally; everyone at an all boys Catholic school is available at one time or another).  For me, creating a perfect cocoon was an answer and reaction to who I was and how I needed to cope with life." [2]

 

 

"There are certain people who do not feel like they were raised by wolves, and these are the ones who make the world tick. These are the ones who keep everything functioning so the rest of us can worry about what kind of person we should be. I have read all the books and I know what they say: You — but better in every way. And yet there are so many ways of being better, and these ways can contradict one another!" [1]

 

 

"CW: Did you ever have heroes, role models, icons?  Do you now?

 

PF: I’ve never had heroes or role models (dangerous concept I feel), except for writers, perhaps, who were a major outlet for my fantasies as a child, and still are.

 

But I do admire certain people who have managed to create a unique world: Dutch connoisseur and collector Axel Vervoordt, for instance; Yves St Laurent, his houses were extraordinary and the realization of his very gay sensibility; Baroness Karen Blixen, who led the ultimate lifestyle driven life; Jean Micheal Frank, the most exacting decorator ever—and a tortured queen who jumped out of a window in NYC in a perfectly cut grey flannel suit (he wore ONLY grey flannel—even his swimsuit was flannel!); Ronald Firbank, an Edwardian dandy and meticulous chronicler of a fantastic world and extraordinary people; etc, etc.

 

CW: How have you evolved your aesthetic?

 

PF: Practice, patience and constantly looking at everything." [2]

 

 

 

 

"CW: Is there a red thread to be found throughout?  Is there a consistent nugget that remains—beneath clients’ requests, changing times, locales, etc—that is Paul Fortune?

 

PF: Nothing blatant.  A house or any piece of design should gradually reveal itself over time. I still find aspects of the house I’ve lived in for 30 years a revelation and this is inspiring and educational. Nothing is done; everything is in flux. The most successful interiors invite repeated visits with continued appreciation—the more banal and trendy interiors, the opposite (do you want to hang out in that groovy hotel lobby again? I don’t think so).

 

We had an amazing storm last week and the light was ravishing. I took the afternoon off and made a pot of white tea and sat by a window watching the rain falling through a grove of eucalyptus trees… mesmerizing. Nature never disappoints. Except I hate the whole food chain thing—why can’t all animals be vegetarian?" [2]

 

 

 

"CW: These are tough times. Everyone thinks they can do it themselves and need not hire a designer. House & Garden, where you were an editor, closes after 105 years…  How do you deal?

 

PF: I drink a lot!!

 

Living these days I must say is a constant challenge for the conscious person (or even the semi–conscious person). Living in America for over 30 years has been both exhilarating and disappointing. To see so much beauty and invention destroyed and reduced to the lowest level is frankly heartbreaking but I’m trying to be Buddhist about it all and do what I can.

 

Restoring the Sunset Tower was a way for me to give back to Hollywood a little of the feel and look of a more gracious and inviting era.  Don’t tell me it’s a better world now. It can and should be a better place. Look for the best and don’t accept the shit they are dumping on you. There are alternatives, recognize them and insist on them." [2]

 

 

 

"For so many years I have written soul like this: sould. I make no other consistent typo. A girl I met in France once said, Cheer up! Maybe it doesn’t actually mean you’ve sold your soul — I was staring unhappily into my beer — but rather that you never had a soul to sell.

We were having Indian food. The man next to us was an Englishman and he brightened up. He said, It is so nice to hear English being spoken here! I haven’t heard any English in weeks. We tried not to smile, for smiling only encourages men to bore you and waste your time.

I thought about what that girl had said for a week. I was determined to start the task I had long been putting off, having for too long imagined it would take care of itself in the course of things, without my paying attention to it, all the while knowing in my heart that I was avoiding it, trying to patch myself together with my admiration for the traits I saw so clearly in everyone else. I said to myself sternly, It’s time to stop asking questions of other people. It is time to just go in a cocoon and spin your soul. But when I got back to the city, I neglected this plan in favour of hanging out with my friends every night of the week, just as I had been doing before I’d left for the Continent." [1]


FIRST IMAGE, OF PAUL FORTUNE'S "EARTHQUAKE ROOM," TAKEN FROM "FREESTYLE: THE NEW ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN FROM LOS ANGELES" BY TIM STREET PORTER, 1986; IMAGES OF PAUL FORTUNE'S LAUREL CANYON HOME ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN HOUSE & GARDEN, 2004; IMAGES OF MICHELLE WILLIAMS, PAUL JASMIN AND PAUL FORTUNE IN THE SAME HOME BY SCOTT STERNBERG FOR BAND OF OUTSIDERS, FALL '08; PORTRAIT OF PAUL FORTUNE SMOKING BY ARI MICHELSON; TEXT [1] TAKEN FROM "HOW SHOULD A PERSON BE" BY SHEILA HETI; TEXT [2] TAKEN FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH PAUL FORTUNE BY CHRIS WALLACE FOR DOSSIER, 2010; "TOP FIVE PERSONAL BRANDING MYTHS" IMAGES TAKEN FROM PERSONALBRANDINGBLOG.COM

Thursday
Jul122012

Isabella Blow's Eaton Square

"Wallis Simpson's clothes were amazing, she was my heroine; but not her house, it was too busy for the clothes." [New post on Isabella Blow up on SHOWstudio]

PHOTOGRAPH BY GAVIN EVANS

Wednesday
Jul112012

From the Air, By the Sea

 K.D. LANG & THE SISS BOOM BANG: THE WATER'S EDGE

 LAURIE ANDERSON: FROM THE AIR 

"There were 117 psychoanalysts on the Pan Am flight to Vienna and I'd been treated by at least six of them. And married a seventh. God knows it was a tribute either to the shrinks' ineptitude or my own glorious unanalyzability that I was now, if anything, more scared of flying than when I began my analytic adventures some thirteen years earlier.

My husband grabbed my hand therapeutically at the moment of takeoff.

"Christ—it's like ice," he said. He ought to know the symptoms by now since he's held my hand on lots of other flights. My fingers (and toes) turn to ice, my stomach leaps upward into my rib cage, the temperature in the tip of my nose drops to the same level as the temperature in my fingers, my nipples stand up and salute the inside of my bra (or in this case, dress—since I'm not wearing a bra), and for once screaming minute my heart and the engines correspond as we attempt to prove again that the laws of aerodynamics are not the flimsy superstitions which, in my heart of hearts, I know they are. Never mind the diabolical INFORMATION TO PASSENGERS, I happen to be convinced that only my own concentration (and that my mother—who always seems to expect her children to die in a plane crash) keeps this bird aloft. I congratulate myself on every successful takeoff, but not too enthusiastically because it's also part of my personal religion that the minute you grow overconfident and really relax about the flight, the plane crashes instantly. Constant vigilance, that's my motto. A mood of cautious optimism should prevail. But actually my mood is better described as cautious pessimism. OK, I tell myself, we seem to be off the ground and into the clouds but the danger isn't past. This is, in fact, the most perilous patch of air. Right here over Jamaica Bay where the plane banks and turns and the "No Smoking" Sign goes off. This may well be where we go screaming down in thousands of flaming pieces. So I keep concentrating very hard, helping the pilot (a reassuringly Midwestern voice named Donnelly) fly the 250-passenger motherfucker. Thank God for his crew cut and middle-America diction. New Yorker that I am, I would never trust a pilot with a New York accent." [1]

"De railroad bridge’s
A sad song in de air.
De railroad bridge’s
A sad song in de air.
Ever time de trains pass
I wants to go somewhere.

I went down to de station,
Ma heart was in ma mouth.
Went down to de station.
Heart was in ma mouth.
Lookin’ for a box car
To roll me to de South.

Homesick blues, Lawd,
‘S a terrible thing to have.
Homesick blues is
A terrible thing to have.
To keep from cryin’
I opens ma mouth an’ laughs." [2]

TEXT [1] BY ERICA JONG, TAKEN FROM "FEAR OF FLYING;" TEXT [2], "HOMESICK BLUES" BY LANGSTON HUGHES; ALL IMAGES TAKEN FROM NORA EPHRON'S "SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE," 1993, PRODUCTION DESIGN BY JEFFREY TOWNSEND 

Sunday
Jul082012

An Empty Death: Excess and Minimalism in Eugenio Zanetti’s “Flatliners”

“Schumacher, whose past films have varied from the Ross Hunterish melodrama of “St. Elmo`s Fire“ to the warm comedy of “Cousins,“ here seems determined to recombine the most excessive bits of Orson Welles, Ridley Scott and Andrei Tarkovsky. Working with cinematographer Jan De Bont (“Black Rain“) and production designer Eugenio Zanetti, the director has composed an almost entirely artificial environment, creating the fictional Taft University and its environs out of bits and pieces of Chicago, including the Museum of Science and Industry, the Damen “L“ stop and the lower Michigan Avenue bridge. There is no manhole cover in this world that does not produce sinister clouds of steam; there is no streetlamp that does not radiate a poisonous orange glow from its grotesquely distended globe.” [1]

“Because I wasn’t born in the USA, I’ll probably have a different idea—different expectations—for the so-called artistic achievement. In general. In America, if you get an Oscar, you could think you are somewhere in your career where you have achieved “success.” But even then, I honestly hope that the best of the creative aspects of my career are yet to come.

Let me better explain my understanding of what achievement is. First, I’m grateful for the possibilities I had. Having being born in a small town in Argentina, just the fact of having a career in the First World implies two things: one is a sense of destiny that we all should have; the other is a sense of who we are as artists. The 21st Century’s idea of the artist as some sort of tortured creature isolated in his or her creative dreams has passed, fortunately; but remnants of that thinking still impregnate our perception of art. The one aspect that I value most in an artist is the capacity to perceive—express things that are invisible to the eye. Many times those things are not necessarily what people expect.” [2]

“In the friendly battlefield that a film is, one has to choose all the time between the possible and the impossible. Ultimately, one has to sacrifice many things to be able to maintain some images one thinks are crucial to narrate the story. Many times a script has few or no description of the universes where the story takes place, so in reading it, one has to extrude the setting from the character’s dramatic arc. This is a process that is both conscious and unconscious. The conscious aspects include an understanding of the period, location and tone of the piece, as well as the budget and other practical considerations. The other is the way we connect with the material in that secret area we call ‘intuition.’ For an artist, intuition is key.” [2]

“A designer’s work is conceptual. We are storytellers; we should be. Design is poetic, visual storytelling. There is a great need when you are given material as a director or writer or painter or whatever area you work to maximize what is given to you. “Maximize” means using whatever intellectual, monetary, economic, time and space considerations available to express your concept in the best way. What counts is how well you develop your concept first. It should come from your heart, go to your mind, and come out through your experience. If there is no money, there should be ideas, and if there is not time to build, you should use the little time you have to destroy! Do whatever you need, but remember that you need to create images that will stay in people’s lives!” [2]

ALL IMAGES TAKEN FROM "FLATLINERS;" TEXT [1] TAKEN FROM "FLATLINERS SUCCEEDS WITH EXCESS" BY DAVE KEHR, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, AUGUST 10, 1990; TEXT [2] TAKEN FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH EUGENIO ZANETTI FOUND ON FROMTHEHEARTPRODUCTIONS.COM

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