All hail Travis Banton, Paramount Pictures costume designer

Fashion · Film
LACMA’s retrospective of Ernst Lubitsch comedies, made in America with a classy European sensibility, opened with the giddy perfection of the German-born director’s “Trouble in Paradise” (1932). Of all the ingredients simmering in this film’s sweet stew, it’s the pre-code evening gowns in which “Trouble”‘s two leading ladies circulate the sound stage dropping witty dialogue ...

Rambova’s Aztec costume for Kosloff 2

Dance · Fashion · Film
Ballets Russes dancer Theodore Kosloff and his protegee Natacha Rambova pose at left, costumed for their Aztec dance number on the Keith Orpheum vaudeville circuit. Kosloff brought to the stage the role in which he made his cinematic debut  — Guatemoco, the Aztec prince, in Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Woman God Forgot” in 1917. Here’s a ...

Rudi of the sixties 2

Fashion · Visual arts
Not Rudolf Nureyev — although Rudi N also swung very hard in the sixties. Our guy is Rudi Gernreich (1922-1985) the Vienna-born, Los Angeles-based fashion designer known for his zestful, pared down aesthetic. His clothes celebrated the youth and action in American culture. Gernreich’s look screams swinging sixties. Today, the clothes remain clean, classy, and ...

Travis Banton turned tootsies into stars 1

Fashion · Film
I had the great pleasure of spending a few hours with writer David Chierichetti, the film fashion expert. David is the biographer of the under appreciated film director Mitchell Leisen; costume designer Edith Head; and he is author of coffee table volume, Hollywood Costume Design. Driving in L.A. traffic en route to the Egyptian Theater, ...

Aretha Franklin for president 2

Fashion · Music
The editorial board of arts•meme — that would be me — loved the Inauguration. So did every single person in the entire world. We loved each of the show’s art events.We loved the fashion, the poetry, and we loved the multi-ethnic classical quartet of Jew, black, Asian, and Latina.(In post-racial America, we notice this less.) ...

Jimi Hendrix hung out in Los Feliz 1

Fashion · Music
Urban legend has it that after a druggy night at a hippie crash pad in Los Feliz, Jimi Hendrix composed “Purple Haze.” According to the story, Hendrix was inspired by a psychedelicly painted bathroom.  The erstwhile hippie house — now a designer’s emporium and yet another L.A. real estate event — sits atop a hill overlooking my apartment building. That means that ...

I met Yves St. Laurent 2

Fashion
The death of fashion designer Yves St. Laurent June 1 reminded me of the time I met him in Beijing. The year was 1985. I was working for Banque Paribas, based in Hong Kong. During one of my business trips to Beijing, the French cultural commission staged a retrospective of Yves St. Laurent’s haute couture. This fashion expo ...