Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

Category: Television + Film

Marilyn Monroe nail salons, cafe in the works

Glamour room
In working on a story for Sunday's Image section about how Marilyn Monroe's brand continues to march on a half-century after her untimely death I ran across all kinds of licensed products and properties bearing her name and likeness, many of which appear in a companion piece running in the same issue.

Photo Gallery: Marilyn Monroe Merchandise

But two of the more ambitious are the separate projects underway to open both a chain of Marilyn Monroe cafes and Marilyn Monroe nail salon-day spas -- both of which are being done in cooperation with (and licensed through) the company that owns the bulk of the Marilyn Monroe estate.

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Potter heads: Team USA Quidditch jerseys now on sale

Quidditch Team USA

Getting into the Olympic spirit just got easier for fans of quidditch -- the game introduced to millions through the "Harry Potter" books and movies -- with the rollout of team jerseys representing the U.S., UK, France and Australia.

The 92% polyester/8% Spandex athletic tops boast anti-microbal, quick-drying and moisture-wicking properties (though apparently no magical properties, which would probably be considered cheating anyway), sell for $49.99 (and up), which isn't bad considering the shirts are all made here in the U.S.

The jerseys are from Quiyk, a 7-month-old athletic apparel start-up launched by Emerson College Quidditch jerseystudents Matt Lowe and Eric Wahl last November and can be purchased by either clicking through the online store at quiyk.com or going directly to the International Quidditch Assn.'s website.

If you're about to dismiss the jerseys as some merely frivolous fashion for fiction fans -- as I was about to -- it might be worth checking out the IQA's website. Apparently the broom-based sport of wizards has been adapted for muggle play, complete with an annual tournament (host cities for the 2012 competition have been narrowed to either Kissimmee, Fla., or Riverside, Calif.).

And, with the Olympics getting ready to unspool in London, the IQA has scheduled its 2012 Summer Games for Oxford, England, on July 8 and 9 -- which, organizers point out, is just when the Olympic torch is scheduled to be passing through on its way to London.

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For 2012 Summer Olympics, designers are part of the team

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: At top, images of the Team USA Quidditch jerseys ($49.99) now available through Quiyk.com. At bottom, the jersey for Team UK. Credit: Quiyk  

LACMA event celebrates 100 years of Western Costume Co.

  Lacma Western
The Costume Council at the Los Angeles Museum of Art helped celebrate the centennial anniversary of Western Costume Co. with a June 20 panel discussion and pageant that unspooled in front of a capacity crowd of 600 at LACMA's Bing Theater.

Among those who turned out to fete the North Hollywood-based costume house were costume designers Arianne Phillips ("Walk the Line"), Janie Bryant ("Mad Men") and Deborah Hopper ("J. Edgar") and fashion designers Jeremy Scott and Louis Verdad. Bill Haber, the usually press-averse sole owner of Western Costume for 17 of the company's last 100 years, also was there.

Photo Gallery: The Costume Council at LACMA celebrate Western Costume Co.'s first 100 years

The evening's program, titled "Western Costume Company: The First 100 Years" started with a free-flowing discussion that had Bobi Garland, Western's archivist and research library director, moderating a panel that included Western's president, Eddie Marks, costume designers Ellen Mirojnick ("Wall Street," "Basic Instinct") and Carol Ramsey ("Meet the Fockers," "Mr. & Mrs. Bridges"), costume supervisor Jim Tyson ("The Right Stuff"), Western's milliner Harry Rotz and shoemaker Mauricio Osario.

Among the things those in attendance might have learned about the costume house (as did we): that Western had probably made more clothes for John Wayne over the course of his career than for any other actor, that the celebrity whose presence seemed to cause the biggest stir among the staff was Roy Rogers, and that the oddest manufacturing request made of the company was to put disappearing zippers into a hat (for "G.I. Joe"). (We also learned exactly what the Costume Council, the group of well-dressed folks who organize such events, is all about. The goal, one of the evening's speakers explained, is "to raise funds for and awareness of the world-class costume collection" at LACMA.) 

But the highlight of the night was the pageant that followed: 42 costumes -- presented on live models -- that covered every category of costume ("ancient times," "action heroes," military") for both men and women, which resulted in scenes where Zorro crossed swords with Robin Hood, General Patton and Napoleon tried to outflank each other, a cadre of cowboys raised their flasks to a bonnet-wearing incarnation of Katherine Hepburn, with Laurel and Hardy left to pick up the pieces. 

Some of the instantly recognizable outfits -- Scarlett O'Hara's green velvet drapery dress, Cleopatra's shimmering golden sheath dress and Dorothy's "Oz" pinafore were exacting re-creations, many made for the event, while others (garments that had screen time in "Titanic" and "The Artist") were the same ones that appeared on-screen.

The pageant ended with the presentation of a signature look from each decade of the last 100 years, ending with a forward-looking dress intended to symbolize the next 100 years. The "21st-Century Dress," was a bedazzled, back-baring, thigh-grazing Art Deco-inspired confection designed for the occasion by Ellen Mirojnick and modeled by her daughter, actress Lili Mirojnick.

If Western Costume's future is anywhere near as bright and sparkly as the vision team Mirojnick put forth June 20, consider the next 100 years all but sewn up.

 RELATED:

Letters: Western Costume the place to go

Western Costume, woven into Hollywood lives

Western Costume, closet to the stars, turns 100

 

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Models on the red carpet at a June 20 LACMA event celebrating Western Costume Co. wearing period costumes representing five of the 10 decades Western Costume has been in business. Credit: John M. Heller/Getty Images

 

Spider-Man threads net a free Carl's Jr. burger July 4

Spider-gal-carlsjr
Dust off that Spider-Man costume from Halloweens past because, if you have the courage to wear it in public -- specifically, to a Carl's Jr. -- this Independence Day, it'll net you a free grilled cheese bacon burger.

As part of a promotional tie-in with the July 3 release of Columbia Pictures' "The Amazing Spider-Man," any appropriately clad web-slinger who swings into a Carl's Jr. or Hardee's restaurant starting at 11 a.m. on Independence Day will be rewarded with an "Amazing Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger" (a charbroiled beef patty tucked between two slices of grilled bread and augmented with bacon, American cheese, Swiss cheese and mayo) which would otherwise cost a grand total of $3.29.

Apparently the folks behind the counter won't care if your costume is a professionally made store-bought version or a home-spun, DIY version of the instantly recognizable red and blue body suit, but in the interest of not setting off everyone's Spidey sense, everyone involved is asking that you leave the mask part at home -- or at least in the car --during your visit. And don't try to play sneaky spider by hitting the drive-through, since the offer is only open to dine-in customers.

And, to keep folks from channeling their inner Peter Porker, there's a limit of one free burger per costumed customer -- while supplies last.

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-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: The "Spider-Man eats free" TV ad campaign encourages Spider-fans to dress like the web-slinger to get a free burger from Carl's Jr. or Hardee's on July 4. Credit: CKE Restaurants Inc. 

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."

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-- 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.

Western Costume Co. and the battle for accuracy

"Battleship" Uniforms

As part of my research for this Sunday's Image section story about Western Costume Co. -- which turns 100 this year -- I took a tour of the costume house's cavernous 120,000-square-foot headquarters in North Hollywood. I had expected to see the miles of hanging racks crammed with period clothes and get an up-close look at some priceless Hollywood costumes once worn by the likes of Jane Russell, Rudolph Valentino, Vivien Leigh and Christopher Plummer.

But what truly surprised me was Western's uniform department -- a collection of military and police uniforms (with a handful of bellhop and hospital outfits here and there) that occupies one of the three hangar-like rooms. It's a collection that, over the years, has provided Civil War uniforms for D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation" (1915), outfit the fighting men of both the 1960 and 2004 versions of "The Alamo," and costumed police forces from TV shows like "Southland" and "Castle" to the '70s cops of Collinsport, Maine, in Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" remake.

Western's president, Eddie Marks, explained that the uniform department has added $2 million worth of stock in the last decade "because with the military, it seems every new movie requires buying new uniforms ... it used to be just the [olive drab] green or a camouflage, but the uniforms seem to change every time there's a war."

It's part of Western's battle to make the uniforms they rent as accurate and up-to-date as possible, Marks explained. Much of the responsibility lies with Kurt Cox, Western's uniform specialist, who says he tries to keep up with the U.S military's myriad uniform changes by subscribing to publications like "Army Times" and "Navy Times," and dealing directly with the Department of Defense.

A good example of the challenges involved, Cox said, is the recent movie "Battleship." "The Navy uniforms were going to be different by the time the movie came out," Cox said. "And we didn't have the new camouflage -- nobody did. The result was we were able to buy it from the Navy even before it was issued to [Naval personnel] because the Navy wanted it to be as accurate as we did."

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Johnny Depp's 'Dark Shadows' sunglasses were a costume challenge

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Taylor Kitsch, left, and Rihanna wear an accurate -- and recently updated -- U.S. Navy camouflage pattern in a scene from Peter Berg's Navy action movie "Battleship." Credit: ILM/Universal Pictures.

Mr. Porter, 'Suits' wheel out a bicycle promo built for two

MRPorter_Suits_bikes
If your daily commute across Los Angeles Wednesday (or Thursday) finds you crossing paths with a well-heeled, two-wheeled flash mob, it's not a crowd scene dream sequence being shot for a Pee-wee Herman movie, it's a cross-promotional awareness campaign between USA Network's legal drama "Suits" (which kicks off its second season June 14) and the men's luxury shopping site Mr. Porter.

Groups of identically clad gents -- decked out in gray Acne suits and white Converse sneakers -- are set to bicycle the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday, handing out copies of the website's "Mr. Porter Post" publication along the way. For anyone unfamiliar with the show, the bicycle part of the equation is a nod to "Suits'" bike-riding, suit-wearing Mike Ross character (played by Patrick J. Adams). 

The velo fellows kicked off the promotion Tuesday in  New York City (where the TV show is set and Mr. Porter's U.S. offices are located) with the rolling panache mob taking to the streets and a fashion show of "Suits"-inspired looks curated by the Mr. Porter team on the High Line.

As part of the promotion, Mr. Porter has a dedicated "Suits and Style" web page that can be found here. As for the second season of "Suits," that can be found on your local USA Network channel starting Thursday at 10 p.m./9 Central.

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 -- Adam Tschorn

Photo: A publicity photograph shows the kind of suit-wearing, bike-riding spectacle that will wheeling about the streets of Los Angeles on Wednesday and Thursday as part of a joint awareness campaign between the TV show "Suits" and the men's shopping site Mr. Porter. Credit: Mr. Porter

Nolan Miller remembered: 'He loved glamour, he loved old Hollywood'

Miller
After costume designer Nolan Miller -- the man best-known for unleashing the "Dynasty" look on the world -- passed away last week, I found myself researching his career, and getting insight from some of the people he'd worked with, to include in my compatriot Elaine Woo's obituary of him that appeared in Saturday's Times.

One of those people was Rachael Stanley, executive director of Costume Designers Guild Local 892, who had worked with Miller on several projects including the television series “The Colbys” and the 1991 movie “Soapdish."

"He was just a sweet, dear [man] and always a perfect gentleman," Stanley told me. "He was always very classy and refined and had a wonderful sense of humor. ... He loved glamour, he loved old Hollywood. He always thought women should always be glamorous and refined and made to look as beautiful as possible. He loved that part of it. Even in his fashion lines, his clothes and his fashion always geared more towards the more refined, polished and glamorous aspects of women’s clothing."

PHOTOS: The work of Nolan Miller

Eilish Zebrasky, a fellow costume designer -- and friend of Miller's since the two met on the set of "Fantasy Island" in 1978 -- recalled a similar love of glamour and sense of humor. "He could never understand how the look changed  when we started dressing people in the grunge," Zebrasky said. "He didn’t get that at all."

"And he was an amazing joke teller. ... I always tell this story about Noli –- I called him Noli -– we were at a formal event and this one lady had this beautiful chiffon dress on but it was quite too short on her -- about four inches [too short] -- and she had on plain black shoes that ruined the whole look.

Nolan turned to me and said: ‘Obviously, she doesn’t have a full-length mirror.’ He believed that everybody had to have a full-length mirror."

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Costume designers and celebrities turn out for the 2011 Costume Designers Guild Awards

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Costume designer Nolan Miller, in a 1999 file photo from the Los Angeles Times archives, passed away Wednesday at age 79.

Is the post-metrosexual manscape landscape the 'mansome era'?

Mansome Movie Stills

When it comes to answering the big questions about masculine identity and the male grooming ritual, Morgan Spurlock's latest movie, "Mansome" may barely scratch the surface (in spa terms that would make it more of an exfoliation than an extraction), but since the topic is being tackled on the silver screen at the same the makers of men's lotions, potions, salves, tonics and shaving implements are seeing increased sales, I decided to have a chat with Spurlock during his recent West Coast press junket. The result appears in Sunday's Image section.

Over the course of the interview, Spurlock shared some of the surprises and regrets from getting the documentary from idea to screen. One high point was finding Ricky Manchanda, a New Yorker who, at first glance, appears to be nothing more than a preening peacock of a narcissist.

"What I love about Ricky’s story is that he's a guy who has dealt with something we’ve all dealt with on some level -- peer pressure and being ridiculed by friends .... [A]nd Ricky’s saying: 'I’m not going to be that guy, I’m going to fit in by society’s standards.' That was a real 'aha' moment for me. "

Although there are a lot of voices (and I mean a lot; the press notes list 28 commentators by name -- from famous comedians to bloggers -- which doesn't include a slew of random men- and women-on-the-street interviews) there was some insight Spurlock wishes he'd been able to include.

"I would have loved more magazine editors and more people like that to chime in on their role in what’s happened," Spurlock said. "But it’s hard to get a lot of people to talk about how they've contributed to it. ... And we tried to get people from the modeling business to talk about it from the male modeling side  and we couldn’t get people to go on camera to talk about that."

Most discussions about male grooming and societal expectations eventually touch on the dreaded M-word -- metrosexual -- and when the topic finally came up Spurlock sounded ready to kick it to the curb once and for all.

"What’s the word for the post post-metrosexual era? I don’t know what it is," Spurlock said. "But I do know that we're beyond metrosexual. That was a term that came out to describe these men -- was almost a slag against them -- because they were engaging in something that had been quintessentially associated with gay culture [and] it was a negative connotation."

"We're at a place where [men taking care of their appearance] is being seen as normal, and it's becoming more accepted in society. So maybe we're living in 'mansome' era."

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-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: The men featured in "Mansome," Morgan Spurlock's new docu-comedy exploration of male grooming rituals, include New York City clothing company executive Ricky Manchanda, left, and the filmmaker himself. Credit: Warrior Poets

Johnny Depp's 'Dark Shadows' sunglasses were a costume challenge

Darkshadowscollage
Tim Burton's big-screen remake of "Dark Shadows" might not be everyone's cup of fresh AB-Negative, but since it reunited the director not only with Johnny Depp but with another frequent collaborator -- three-time Academy Award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood -- on a period movie set in 1972, we knew the costumes would be a rich vein to tap indeed.

My Q&A with Atwood about the costume inspirations (which include everything from a Virginia Slims ad to David Bailey books and DIY crafts) and the provenance of some of the key wardrobe pieces appears in this Sunday's Image section. 

Among the things we learned from Atwood? Apparently American heads circa 1972 were a wee bit smaller, something she said made it challenging once she'd found the right vintage sunglasses for the characters.

"And, once I found the perfect pair for Johnny [Depp] I needed to get several pair made -- since he's a principal," she told us. "And I couldn't find anyone here willing to do it. Finally, when I got to London, I found someone there who would rise to the occasion."

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-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: Left, the cast of the Tim Burton directed "Dark Shadows" includes Helena Bonham Carter, from left, Chloe Grace Moretz, Eva Green, Gully McGrath, Bella Heathcote, Johnny Depp, Ray Shirley, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller and Michelle Pfeiffer. At right, Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard. Credit: Warner Bros.


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