Monday, September 19, 2011

Film Noir Glamour - The Crooked Angel

Lately we have been relishing the new BBC film noir drama "The Hour". This dark mystery has reignited a fascination I have with the cool, graphic look of the film noir style.

I have always been drawn to the stark lighting and menacing shadows in the films of Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger, Samuel Fuller and Alfred Hitchcock. I love when the opening frame is of an anonymous dark city street. A dashing stranger in a sharp suit, shiny shoes and black fedora casually leans against a lamp post, the only light source. He lights a cigarette and out of the corner of his eye, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious woman, her finger waves obscuring all but one smoky eye and a scarlet pout.

Above are two photographs of the actress Diana Dors from the film "The Unholy Wife". Diana Dors is often referred to as the British Marilyn Monroe. The femme fatale is an essential component of film noir. Portrayals can often be campy, bordering on B-movie absurdity. Below is the light hearted trailer for "The Unholy Wife" with Rod Steiger and Diana Dors playing this trope to the hilt.

In Samuel Fuller's excellent 1953 film "Pickup on South Street", Jean Peters walks the line between the stereotypically dim and cunningly street smart girl alongside the brilliant Richard Widmark. I love the tango-like banter between them in the video clip below.

Below are photos of Jean Peters and Richard Widmark.

Richard Widmark also gives an amazing performance as Harry Fabian, a London hustler in Jules Dassin's 1950 film "Night and the City" also starring the beautiful Gene Tierney.

Below is a clip from "Night and the City".

A classic of film noir is the Otto Preminger film "Laura" from 1944, starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. Below is a still from the film. I absolutely love Gene Tierney's striped wrap jacket, so chic.

Below is a clip from the film "Laura".

Below are a few gorgeous photos of the actress Gene Tierney.

A great poster from the classic Hitchcock film "Rope".

There are far too many great Alfred Hitchcock films that fall under the heading of film noir to list here, so I have chosen to feature a favorite. In the 1946 film "Notorious" we have an incredible pairing of talent and beauty in the performances of Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant.

Below are two beautiful photos of Ingrid Bergman.

In the 1947 film "Nightmare Alley", Tyrone Power gives a stellar performance as carnie Stan Carlisle. Below is a clip from "Nightmare Alley".

Below are a few favorite photos of the dashingly handsome Tyrone Power.

"Dark Passage" is one of my all time favorite film noir movies. It stars the incredible duo of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, directed by the great Delmer Daves. This is a classic tale of revenge set in foggy San Francisco.

Here is the gorgeous Danish version of the "Dark Passage" poster.

Another great film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall is Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep" from 1946. Below is a clip from the movie.

Below are a few wonderful photographs of the endlessly captivating Lauren Bacall.

A great, great film noir classic from 1950 is the movie "Gun Crazy" directed by Joseph Lewis. This is a wild cross-country shoot 'em up - full of bank robberies and terrific chase scenes. Peggy Cummins is amazing as Annie Laurie Starr. Below is the video sequence where we first are introduced to Annie Starr.

In honor of the smooth talking gangsters and gun-wielding vixens in these great films, we have devised a delicious cocktail that is sure to make a femme fatale swoon.

Cocktail Of The Week - "The Crooked Angel"

serves four


8oz Godiva Milk Chocolate Liqueur
4oz vodka
4oz grenadine
4oz half and half
cubed ice
4 maraschino cherries

Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
Shake well.
Serve in highball glasses filled halfway with cubed ice.
Garnish with maraschino cherries.


In closing, we have a modern take on the film noir style in a music video from the band Pulp with their song "This is Hardcore". Pulp's frontman Jarvis Cocker is amazing.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fall Fashion Inspiration - Deco and Daphne

I'm back in New York. Autumn is in the air. I'm sitting in my car on a strange street in a strange neighborhood. It's early morning and I'm on the hunt for something great. 

For me, autumn is a sort of rebirth. Excitement is all around. The fashion collections are about to be presented, fall fashion week is about to begin and the art world is coming out for the slew of art openings beginning this week. 

I am a September girl and this week I will celebrate my birthday. I have decided to reward myself for a year's worth of hard digging, fabulous finds and lucrative sales with an amazing mid-century necklace by Hattie Carnegie that I found a few months back. I have been waiting for the fall to present it in the Pearl Modern store, but over time I have begun to love it too much to share. Sorry, jewelry collectors! Maybe it's my goth past, but I am really drawn to this necklace's cold grey metal heart. There is something about the steely color and industrial design that thrills me. 

Hattie Carnegie was quite a character. As legend has it, somewhere on the journey from Austria to the United States in the year 1900, the young Henrietta Kanengeiser asked another passenger the name of the richest man in America, to which they responded "Andrew Carnegie". Soon, the entire family changed their last name to Carnegie, an obviously fortuitous decision.

Below is my favorite Hattie Carnegie large gold plated mechanical goose necklace.

                                                                                                                                           Available here

Below are a few beautiful Hattie Carnegie ads from the 1930s and 1940s.

I love the change in seasons, when you take a breath and the air is tinged with a hint of icy-cold alluding to the cold winter ahead, coat weather. I adore dramatic clothing. I can't wait to throw a voluminous velvet cape on over a fitted 50's dress. A great, well-cut coat can be so sexy, an anticipation of what's underneath. 

Below is a beautiful photograph of the actress Ida Vollmar.

Below is a mysterious photo of the Russian actress Olga Baclanova, also known as "The Russian Tigress". 

Recently, I have been inspired by film noir costuming, the genius orientalist fashions of Paul Poiret, the draped dresses of Madeleine Vionnet and the designs of fashion houses Berthe and Premet. 

Below is a portrait of the great couturier Paul Poiret.

Below is a photograph of the legendary art doyenne Peggy Guggenheim in a luxurious, oriental patterned Poiret dress.

Below is a 1920 illustration by Raoul Duffy, "Croquis de Modes no. 7" from the Gazette du Bon Ton.

Next are three examples of Madeleine Vionnet's designs.

 Below are illustrations from Berthe and Premet.

There is something wonderful about the outfit worn by this Romanian girl in the photo below from the 19th century. I have always had an affinity for the peasant dresses that Yves Saint Laurent designed. This skirt reminds me of those iconic designs, with its beautiful pattern and luxurious drape.

Below is a photograph from the 1920s of the actress Anna May Wong. I love the drama of the long sequin mesh scarf worn as a headdress.

There was a wonderful retrospective exhibition this summer of the great couturier Madame Gres at the Musee Bourdelle in Paris. Below are a few photos and illustrations from the designers oeuvre. 

Below is an illustration from 1948 of an outfit from Madame Gres (on the left) and another from Elsa Schiaparelli (on the right).

Below is a fantastic Madame Gres ensemble from 1960.

I am very excited to visit the upcoming exhibition of Daphne Guinness' select pieces from her vast wardrobe presented at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. The show runs from September 16, 2011 to January 7, 2012. This exhibition is not to be missed if you are at all enthralled with the mastery of the modern couturiers from Karl Lagerfeld to Alexander McQueen. 

In a decidedly goth mood, here are two photos of the perpetually dashing Rudolph Valentino, whose styling I am looking to for winter inspiration. This hat is gorgeous!

Below is a still from the 1921 film "Camille" starring Rudolph Valentino and Alla Nazimova.

Finally, being that it is September, one must start considering their Halloween costume. Inspired by the amazing photo below, I am considering dressing up as a manic and disheveled Cleopatra. Who will you be?