Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

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The James Dean 'Giant' coat, revived

JamesDeanGiantWe've all been there: Watching a classic film, drooling over the clothes and wishing we could figure out where to buy them. Classic clothier Bench & Loom is now making that dream come true for one very specific item: The Jett Rink ranch coat worn by James Dean in the 1956 film "Giant."

Last fall, the website invited visitors to vote on which classic clothing item they'd like revived  from the Oscar-winning film co-starring Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. The Phoenix Project, as it's called, gave visitors three options: A denim jacket worn by a cowboy, a field jacket worn by director George Stevens and the shearling-trimmed ranch coat worn by Dean, which was the overwhelming winner.

Jettrinkcoatfront"Guys I know don't talk about their clothes that often. When we do, it's when we're watching an old movie and see something cool," said Jared Zaugg, who co-founded Bench & Loom last fall with his wife, Brooke. "We thought there was something to that: Being able to find something on somebody you admire that has style."

To re-create the coat, the Zauggs borrowed a similar coat from a Phoenix Project voter who had saved a jacket from the same defunct manufacturer. They also worked with Japanese designer Atsu Tagaya and the Japanese manufacturer Stevenson Overall Company to make subtle improvements that added to the coat's wearability without detracting from its overall character.

.Instead of the itchy wool collar of the original, the coat is trimmed in alpaca shearling at the neckline. The silhouette was narrowed to make it less boxy, and the sleeves were lined with man-made silk Cupra to make it easier to slide arms in and out. The exterior of the double-breasted coat is twill and features looped button closures, two large front flap pockets and two chest slit pockets.

"Practicality is important. We don't just want to create costume," said Zaugg, adding that it was equally important to work with a reputable, longstanding manufacturer that pays extraordinary attention to detail, like the rest of the heritage jackets, bags, boots and accessories sold through Bench & Loom.

Priced at $648, the Bench & Loom Jett Rink ranch coat is the first custom-made item for Bench & Loom and will be manufactured in a single run of 30. The site started taking non-refundable, $480 deposits for the jacket Friday and will fill orders on a first come, first served basis until Aug. 31. Coats are expected to ship in October.

MarlonbrandoThe Zauggs are mum about the next lost classic they plan to revive through the Phoenix Project, but Zaugg said: "I'm vying for the jacket in 'On the Waterfront' with Brando."


Bench & Loom trades in classic masculinity

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Getting revved up over vintage bikes at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering

-- Susan Carpenter

Photos: James Dean in "Giant"; Bench & Loom's Jett Rink Ranch coat; Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront." Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures; Bench & Loom; EPA.

Marilyn Monroe 'subway dress' sells for $4.6 million at auction


Possibly the most iconic dress in film history, the “subway” dress Marilyn Monroe wore in the 1955 film “The Seven Year Itch” was sold Saturday for $4.6 million at a Hollywood costume auction.

The dress, designed by William Travilla, was part of actress Debbie Reynolds’ private collection of nearly 600 costumes and other film memorabilia that were auctioned off at Beverly Hills’ Paley Center for Media.

The ivory, pleated halter dress was estimated to sell for about $2 million.

Other items in the 12-hour auction also went for more than their estimates, such as the red-sequined dress Monroe wore in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” expected to fetch $200,000 to $300,000 but sold for $1.2 million. The Ascot dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady” also sold for well above its estimate at $3.7 million.

The auction also included costumes worn by Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Natalie Wood.


Marilyn Monroe's 'subway dress' expected to fetch up to $2 million at auction

Dude! Jeff Bridges' 'Big Lebowski' cardigan is pulled off the auction block

Rodarte creates T-shirts for the 50th anniversary of the Godard classic 'Breathless'

-- Jenn Harris

Photos: Left, Marilyn Monroe poses over the updraft of a New York subway grating while in character for the filming of "The Seven Year Itch" on Sept. 9, 1954. Credit: Matty Zimmerman / Associated Press. Right, the dress worn by Monroe in the film on display for the auction. Credit: Fred Prouser / Reuters.

Q&A: Firooz Zahedi captures Elizabeth Taylor in pre-revolution Iran

Firooz Zahedi's life was changed by an unofficial photo assignment for a Hollywood legend.

In 1976, Zahedi, a scion of an Iranian political family, had passed up a diplomatic career to try to break into the world of freelance photography. At the time, his cousin, Ardeshir Zahedi, the Iranian ambassador to the United States, happened to be consorting with Elizabeth Taylor and introduced the actress to the young photographer. Subsequently, Taylor was invited on a goodwill visit to Iran and she insisted on taking Firooz Zahedi as a travel companion and photographer.

In Iran, Zahedi shot Taylor amid the ruins of Persepolis, outside the entrance of a mosque in Shiraz and draped in scarves found in Isfahan bazaars. At this point, the two-time Academy Award winner eschewed the conservative Yves Saint Laurent dresses she had worn to state dinners with the shah in favor of T-shirts, peasant blouses and flared jeans. Taylor presaged the trends of today by layering her bazaar finds and chadors over contemporary fashion pieces.

After the trip, Zahedi, who was the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Andy Warhol's Interview, told the artist about the snapshots taken with Taylor in Iran. Warhol decided to plan a cover story on Taylor for Interview around the photos. Not expecting compensation, the budding photographer received a  check for $200 from the notoriously thrifty Warhol -- marking his first big professional break and the start of a successful career.

Since then, Zahedi, based in L.A. since 1978, has gone on to shoot celebrity covers for Vanity Fair, Time and InStyle. Most famously, he lensed the iconic poster for Pulp Fiction featuring Uma Thurman in a black bob, smoking a cigarette.

Zahedi’s photographs of Taylor on that trip are the subject of an exhibition, "Elizabeth Taylor in Iran," opening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Saturday and scheduled to run through June 12. He invited All the Rage to drink Persian tea at his modern-art festooned Wilshire Corridor condo while chatting about his upcoming show.

All the Rage: How did the show come about?

Zahedi: I was meeting with the curator of the Middle East department at LACMA. We’re trying to form a committee to raise money to buy contemporary Iranian art from contemporary Iranian artists based in Iran. She said, "I’m looking for some photos of Iran in the ’70s, prior to the revolution." I told her I had been there with Elizabeth Taylor [in 1976]. I sent her these photos. She said, "Let’s do a show."

This was pre-revolution, so there wasn’t a strict dress code?

Elizabeth Taylor had come to Washington with a few suitcases and found out that she was going to go to Iran and meet the shah and the empress. And she had no clothes. Saint Laurent had a boutique across from Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase. I went on her behalf and bought several conservative outfits for the trip like a blazer and some dresses.

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Your morning fashion and beauty report: beauty, blondes and blizzards

Reese Witherspoon 
We knew it! We've been complaining about this lack of fairness for years. Now, finally, our concerns about been validated. A recent British study concluded that blondes (yes, that's one of them above) have greater earning power compared to brunettes and redheads. How much? $900 a year more. [BellaSugar]

The end of the calendar year produces many assessments (see items No. 5 and 6 below), and Women's Wear Daily has stepped in to assess L.A.'s retail scene. The economic recovery is "sporadic," WWD reports. "Prime stretches of marquee venues — Rodeo Drive, Robertson Boulevard, Melrose Place and Melrose Avenue — are starting to get traction, but second- and third-tier retail enclaves have it tougher." [subscription required]

On the other hand, the blizzard that shut down much of the Eastern Seaboard this week may have cost the economy $1 billion in post-holiday sales. [The Cut

Kate Moss wants to ...what else? ....record an album. The supermodel has the right boyfriend for it -- Kills guitarist Jamie Hince, who has allegedly told friends that she wants to record a "set of edgy urban songs." [Daily Mail]

Will this be our last mention of  best- and worst-dressed lists this year? Perhaps. New York magazine points out that some names -- Carey Mulligan and Anne Hathaway, for example -- appear on multiple lists. Naturally, Michelle Obana is "widely adored." Rihanna and Victoria Beckham popped up on some best-dressed lists as well. Taylor Momsen? Not so many mentions on the best-dressed lists. [The Cut]

If beauty's your thing, check out a list of top beauty stories at Fashion Gone Rogue.

Diamonds? Did we hear mention of large diamonds this week? The engagement kind? Let's see, LeAnn Rimes seems to have acquired a 5-carat oval sparkler, and Reese Witherspoon is sporting a 4-carat Ashoka diamond "stunner." How do we know this? People, of course.

--Alice Short

Photo: Reese Witherspoon. Credit: Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Your morning fashion and beauty report: Britney Spears for Candie's. Forbes ranks most powerful celebs

Britney spears Hit me baby, one more time: Britney Spears' comeback move? The singer is designing for Candie's. [WWD]

Gisele narrowly beats Heidi in Forbes' list of most powerful celebrities, but Oprah is still queen. [Forbes]

L'Wren Scott launches a makeup line, chats about it. [The Daily Beast]

Naomi Campbell models a fur vest in New York's sweltering heat. [N.Y. Post]

Also, some speculation that she's losing her hair. [Daily Mail]

Jean-Paul Gaultier, Mr. Cone Bra himself, returns to lingerie. [StyleList]

The Parker Lewis in all of us is saddened by the death of Swatch founder Nicolas Hayek. [WSJ]

Whitney Port denies that MTV's evicting "The City." [Whitney Port]

Like Rihanna before her, Kristen Stewart adds some red highlights. [InStyle]

For the rich kids: Gucci unveils its children's clothing line. [Slaves to Fashion]

And for their moms: world's first £100,000  (about $122,000) gold and diamond bespoke stilettos. [Daily Mail]

What to look for when getting a gel manicure. [BellaSugar]

-- Whitney Friedlander

Photo: Britney Spears. Credit: Getty Images

Your morning fashion and beauty report: Style tribute to Rue McClanahan. Urban Outfitters adds makeup. On Obama's footwear faux pas

Rue mcclanahan

Fashion tribute to Rue McClanahan. [Slaves to Fashion]

Urban Outfitters gets into the beauty business. [The Frisky]

How to do a Minx manicure at home. [BellaSugar]

Why President Obama messed up when he didn't wear shrimp boots in Louisiana. [The Daily Beast]

Anna Wintour seen in London-based designer Erdem. [Vogue UK]

Vivienne Westwood designs expensive tablecloths for a good cause. [Vogue UK]

Gilt Groupe's stiff competition. [BlackBook]

Ashley Greene is the new face of Avon's Mark Beauty. [InStyle]

Photos from the London College of Fashion show. [Huffington Post]

The 411 on the future of retail. [The Trim]

Movie-inspired fashion. [Shop It To Me]

David Granger says Scarlett Johansson was the first choice for Esquire's "Women We Love" cover, but they had to settle for Christina Hendricks. [PopEater]

Celebrity fragrance showdown: Comparing and contrasting J.Lo's and Halle Berry's new perfumes. [The Cut]

Celebrated '60s photographer Brian Duffy dies. [Telegraph]

-- Whitney Friedlander

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Photo: Rue McClanahan. Credit: Mark Mainz / Getty Images

'Sex and the City 2' fashion-focused book to be released May 18

"Sex and the City 2" madness continues with yet another product attached to the franchise — the official "Sex and the City 2" book.

The photo-driven tome, which will be released May 18 in both paperback ($19.95) and as a hardcover deluxe edition ($29.95), features a 2-D tour of the movie-making process, with behind-the-scenes stories from writer and director Michael Patrick King and Sarah Jessica Parker, as well as Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis.

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Rodarte creates T-shirts for the 50th anniversary of the Godard classic 'Breathless'

Breathless04bwThe film fanatic Mulleavy sisters -- the designers du jour also known as Rodarte -- have collaborated with distributor Rialto Pictures to create two T-shirts commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 film “Breathless.” 

Besides Jean Seberg’s pixie crop, the most memorable style moment of the movie might be the New York Herald Tribune shirt she wore while selling the paper on the streets of Paris. One T-shirt will have the same newspaper title and the other will be an original design inspired by the film. Perhaps something brooding and Bogart-esque like Jean-Paul Belmondo’s character? Or maybe something that conveys the impact of the film on the designers.

“Godard reformulated the visual language through which stories are told,” said Laura Mulleavy in a statement. “He is a renegade. In 'Breathless,' he broke all of the rules and formulas within the lexicon of film. His use of wordplay, his interest in time, and his ability to translate stream-of-consciousness writing to images was groundbreaking.”  

Not sure what that shirt would look like.

But both styles will be available this month at Barneys New York stores in the U.S., Colette in Paris and Dover Street Market in London.

Rodarte will also be designing the windows of Barneys New York and Los Angeles in full “Breathless” fashion later this month.

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Photo: Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in Jean-Luc Godard's film "Breathless." Credit: Rialto Pictures / Studio Canal

Fashion Diary: Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute's 'American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity'

American women were defining themselves through fashion long before Lady Gaga doffed her bottoms to get to the top and Michelle Obama wore a J. Crew cardigan and pencil skirt to telegraph that she's just like us.

Gibson girls wore split skirts and went cycling to proclaim their independence. Suffragists dressed in tricolors to signify solidarity. Flappers shimmied in chemise dresses to express sexual freedom.

This liberated approach to dressing is the focus of a historical exhibition that opens Wednesday and runs through Aug. 15 at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity" looks at perceptions of womanhood in mass media from the 1890s to the 1940s, focusing on archetypes of femininity created through dress.

Galleries are devoted to feminine archetypes — the heiress, the Gibson girl, the bohemian, the suffragist, the patriot, the flapper and the screen siren — with period clothing culled from permanent collections at the Met and the Brooklyn Museum bringing those archetypes to life.
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Fashion Diary: Alexander McQueen, an appreciation

Alexander mcqueen tribute alexander mcqueen

Alexander McQueen, the fashion world's reigning provocateur, was found dead Thursday morning at his home in London. He was 40. The police have not released an official report on the cause of death, but his press representatives at KCD Worldwide said it appeared to be suicide.

As a designer, he was not only a technical genius -- as comfortable tailoring an Edwardian-inspired suit as draping a kimono with a 25-foot train -- but a creative genius too. His theatrical runway productions were frequently controversial, casting models as witches and mental patients.

"A gifted iconoclast, who could just as easily be creating art as fashion" was how Mimi Avins, then the Los Angeles Times' fashion editor, described McQueen upon seeing his clothes for the first time in 1996.

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