Friday, July 18, 2008

Six Degrees of Separation

I recently discovered some old photographs of my great-grandmother, the super great Mary Astor, cuddling on set with James Dean.

James Dean's young death catapulted him to eternal fame and iconoclasm, despite the fact his career was quite short and debatably unexciting. I haven't ever actually seen a movie with Jimmy Dean, although when after I saw these photos I found myself looking through more galleries set up by his fanatics-- and can definitely understand the allure. He is so brooding and sensual! Bad boyishly charming! Sigh...

They co-starred as mother and son in a made for TV movie in 1955 for "The US STEEL HOUR" and hour long LIVE television drama. The segment was called "The Thief." I wish television was still live - and I mean dramatic television - not the bloody Miss Universe Pageant. It's like free theater from your living room.

It was this particular role that secured James Dean his part in Rebel Without a Cause, which in turn, secured his immortality.

I particularly love the way my great-grandmother looked in this part of her career- although it is harder to find pictures of her during this time because she was mostly pioneering the actor's art form in the then new media of television. She is a little older, and reminds me a little more of my beloved Grammy and Moms.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Somehow, in my recent travels to Europe, I missed London. Now, I feel like selling all of my worldly posessions for an overnight flight so I can see the monster Viktor & Rolf retrospective at the Barbican Museum.

The retrospective isn't like anything the fashion world has ever seen. Its not a stuffy old gallery filled with white mannequins and silver placards.

Its an ultra modern Dollhouse, V&R style. The dolls are crafted out of 5 times baked bisque porcelain. Their makeup and faces were styled to look like the original models who donned their outfits. The fashion house hired a wigmaker full time for one year to recreate crazy coiffures out of real human hair.

The ensembles themselves are perfectly scaled down replicas of the original outfits, some of them taking twice as long to reproduce as the original.

Both designers have were quoted as saying this is the most exciting thing they've done in their entire careers. And when you consider the fact they've dressed Maggie Rizer in forty outfits at once, painted their models pitch black from head to toe, and set off a Flowerbomb heard round the world-- dressing a bunch of dolls has been no small feat.