Reader K. Zachary purports that architects have never been Hollywood heroes. However, there's a juicy list of movies with leading men who just happen to work as architects. Still, Zachary's right--the job is really just an accessory, like a cool car and cute dog. And Hollywood loves those models. Just look at Richard Gere, in Intersection. And actors love to play architects--all those erections.
TCM had an architect's week, back in 2006.
I live within walking distance of Sci-Arc, in industrial LA, and have always thought that it's the perfect location for an urban mystery. All those late nights, professional jealousies and young men and women on the edge. And they work with sharp objects.
(Photo from You Are Here.)
Posting has been a little light here, as I'd been struck down with the 'flu that's raging around Los Angeles. Feeling too fragile to lift anything heavier than a glass of water and a remote, I've been busy watching TCM, where programming classic films is an art form. While David Brooks rages against the banality of the office park and its denizens, Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper wage their own war on mediocrity in The Fountainhead. Directed by the aptly-named King Vidor from a rampaging script adapted from the book of the same name by Ayn Rand, this is trash at the highest level--trash with a purpose and a lot of sex.
Cooper plays iconoclast architect Howard Rourk, who has a noble vision, strong manly forewarms, and a nice taste in battered fedoras. He's stalked, seduced, spurned and finally snagged by rich girl Dominique Francon (Patricia Neal) who's so hot she's cold, or vice versa. There's a lot of silly high blown talk about architecture, the spirit of man, selfishness, media manipulation and monuments to the aforementioned spirit, but there's a lot of sex, too.
The Fountainhead must be the most phallic movie ever made. Cooper's forever drilling into solid rock walls and building soaring skyscrapers while Neal is always in the saddle, one way or another.
Novelist and writer Francesca Segrè, who contributes to the NY Times Vows column, answers our questions. Her novel, Daughter of the Bride, is based on her own experience of watching her mother get married. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her daughter (captured at left by photographer Orit Harpaz) , and is constantly on the lookout for a good love story.
DG: For most women (and even some men), the wedding day is the single most glamorous event in their lives. What are your thoughts? Is glamour attained at the expense of romance, family feeling?
FS: Today’s slothful and pragmatic society has stooped to accept velour sweat-suits as ‘style’ and weddings, thankfully, provide us with an excuse to get dressed up and get glam.Brides, grooms, and guests seize the opportunity of nuptials to reveal what they really look like when they kick off the daily glamour-proof sneakers of practicality. Of course, the bride has probably spent more money on her appearance for this day than for any other day in her life. But beware! Money does not buy class. Ahem, Paris Hilton. If you’re trashy, nasty or a raging Bridezilla, no lipgloss, silk chiffon or orchid arrangement can make you or your event glamorous. It’s all in the attitude.
DG: What's the most important part of wedding day glamour? The dress, the mood, the true love?
FS:Wedding day glamour depends on the aura of the bride and groom. Ultimately, the newlyweds are hosts. If they are sincere, gracious and emotionally committed to one another, it will be apparent. They will act as one entity putting the guests at ease. For all the compliments the newlyweds receive, they will respond with equally sincere flattery. It’s not about the gown - it’s about how she wears the gown, how she smiles in the gown, how he is a gentleman – lifting the train of her gown or holding her hand so she can move freely.
DG: After the rice has been swept up, how to sustain that glamorous feeling and mood--not just for the honeymoon, but all through your life? Any tips ?
FS: Oh, that’s tricky. I’ve been married for two years now, and it’s easy to get sloppy – especially when my husband-o compliments me while I’m looking my worst. Often, when I’m leaning over the sink washing dishes, wearing pink gloves, ratty pajamas and no makeup, my husband lightly slips his arms around my waist. If he likes me this way, do I really need to dress up? When we met, I was an on-air international TV news reporter in Manhattan. I was polished -- tailored suits, heels, styled hair and impeccable makeup. Now we live by the beach in Los Angeles, and more outfits than I’m proud to admit end in the two words, “with flip-flops.”
To maintain glamour in a marriage, we try to be as gracious with each other as we were on our wedding day. “Please,” “thank you,” and opening a door for each other suggests a mutual respect that is so elegant and classy. As far as I’m concerned, there is no glamour without manners. Now that we’ve got a shrieking, explorative, glorious one-year old daughter, going out at night requires a whole new level of logistical gymnastics. The last time we had a date, we went to the Avalon Hollywood for a comedy show benefit. We knew we’d be a tad overdressed for the occasion, but we were dressing for each other. I was wearing a dress (no jeans- gasp!) and he was wearing a corduroy blazer on top of his dress shirt (that’s two dress-up garments on one LA man!) We’ve got to prove that we can always pull it together for one another. In marriage, it’s so easy to slip out of style.
(photo by Orit Harpaz)
The DG Dozen
1) How do you define glamour? Glamour is self-confidence. She who is self-possessed, thoughtful in her choices, and graceful in her personality and appearance is glamour incarnate. If the execution of these character traits appears effortless, she is all the more glamorous. Just think about the models in the Ralph Lauren ads, or any ads in a glossy mag. These men and women never appear to be trying very hard. They just seem light, comfortable, and relaxed in their thousand dollar frocks.
2) Who or what is your glamorous icon?
My grandmother. She escaped from France during WWII and came to New
York. She didn’t know English, but she had an exquisite artistic eye,
a sensational sense of style and a gift for designing and wearing great
clothing. One morning, she waltzed into Saks Fifth Avenue with sketches of her
Paris-inspired suits and gowns in hand. At the time, Americans had no idea what the French were
wearing (rags) and my grandmother convinced the buyers at Saks that
her designs were the most au courrant mode in France. That day, she
launched her decades-long career as a fashion designer when she made
an exclusive deal to sell Saks her designs. She dressed impeccably
every day of her life.
3) Is glamour a luxury or a necessity? Clearly a luxury. Glamour is special because most people don’t have it.
4) Favorite glamorous movie? Roman Holiday, anything Audrey Hepburn
5) What was your most glamorous moment? Interviewing Jamie Rubin during the Democratic Convention in 2004. I was in the risers next to the main outdoor convention stage. The lights and camera were on me and this powerful, intelligent, exceedingly handsome former Assistant Secretary of State was answering questions into my microphone for live TV. It was exhilarating.
6) Favorite glamorous object? My novel, Daughter of the Bride. People think it’s pretty glamorous that I wrote a book.
7) Most glamorous place? Monaco. Or Lago di Como in the Italian Alps. Both are dramatic, exciting playgrounds that James Bond frequents.
8) Most glamorous job?
TV reporter for Reuters in New York. My face was on one of those jumbo-tron
screens in Times Square!
9) Something or someone that other people find glamorous and you don't? Those fluffy, miniature rat dogs. And hand bags with logo prints on them. Those logo prints like the Goyard are ugly. They might as well print dollar signs on those bags. Tacky.
11) Can glamour survive? Yes. Even with the current American financial collapse, glamour will survive. It becomes even more rarified. Glamour is timeless.
12) Is glamour something you're born with? No. It’s clearly learned. Manners + style.
1) Angelina Jolie or Cate Blanchett? Angelina. I interviewed her. I
was stunned by her beauty. I complimented her. She returned the compliment.
2) Paris or Venice? Paris. Venice is tourists, trinkets, and stinky canals. Paris is timeless inspiration- the source of art and style.
3) New York or Los Angeles? So New York. In LA, unless you’re on the red carpet, you’re in flip-flops.
4) Princess Diana or Princess Grace? Grace. Diana was too commercial.
5) Tokyo or Kyoto? Kyoto. It’s graceful and artistic and it has fewer vending machines (than Tokyo does) selling schoolgirls’ underwear.
6) Boots or stilettos? Stilettos are most glam – boots are practical. (I wear boots.)
7) Art Deco or Art Nouveau? Oh that’s tough. I have to say Deco, the lines are cleaner.
8) Jaguar or Astin Martin? Astin Martin. Glamour requires a joie-de-vivre, not stuffy formality.
9) Armani or Versace? Armani. Armani is classy, Versace is flashy.
10) Diana Vreeland or Anna Wintour? Wintour has a reputation for being nasty. Nasty is not classy.
11) Champagne or single malt? Single malt - because it’s more rarified.
12) 1960s or 1980s? neither. 1920s.
13) Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds, though their controversial origins dull the glitter. Pearls are classy – but they add 10 years to anyone wearing them.
14) Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell? Campbell. Moss’s status for being skinny does not strike me as elegant.
15) Sean Connery or Daniel Craig? Sean Connery. Can’t get better than the original Bond.
Glamour carries with it the promise of escape and transformation. What does that imply about its audience? Does glamour appeal to the optimistic or the desperate? You can make a case for either--and people do.
"I've always felt there was an aspect of glamour that contained a moral element. I can't explain it exactly but it's something to do with optimism, cheer and celebration, glamour being a language that denotes great faith in life," writes the FT's Susie Boyt in a recent column.
By contrast, in the comments on my earlier post on terror and glamour, reader grvsmth (a.k.a. Angus "Andrea" Grieve-Smith, who blogs here) suggests that glamour's appeal originates in despair: “If you’re trying to escape through a fantasy you have to be pretty desperate, right? That's the sense of ‘despair’ that I mean - a feeling of being trapped and having no options left.”
Glamour is an illusion, but that doesn't mean it's entirely untrue. It reveals something true about what we desire and, in doing so, may point us in the direction of what we might become. It may open up some imaginative space in which we can consider new options, rather than feeling entirely trapped. Sometimes escape and transformation are real possibilities, if only we can find ways to act realistically on the suggestions contained in our fantasies. At other times, imaginative escape is better than no escape at all. Anne Frank posted glamour shots of movie stars on the walls of her hidden room.
For those looking for something more up-to-date, Amazon is offering free shipping on Halloween costumes, when you spend at least $25.
Previously: Groomzilla's designer friend captured the essence of Vera Wang in lovely wedding invitations and thwarted Fiancé's attempts to send an eVite to the wedding guests.
Every bridezilla has a partner-in-crime. She is that one special friend who amplifies and validates every irrational thought, pushing the cocktail trolley through the dining cart of the crazy train. Normally this is an overzealous maid of honor, a General Sherman to the bride's General Grant, scorching the earth from the engagement party to the wedding chapel to ensure the happiness of her former sorority sister. They have laughed together, cried together, binged and purged together, and now are planning a wedding together. You want white doves at your wedding? Why stop there?, the partner-in-crime suggests, when you can have the special pink Chalcophaps indica doves flown in from Australia?
But for the groomzilla who never rushed Tri Delt or had a pregnancy scare after Cabo Spring Break 1996, who gets to be the enabler? Is it the "fag hag"? The alcoholic buddy who can identify the dance remix in three notes? The aesthetician who has sold you $15,000 worth of "product" and once convinced you that the $45 tube of ground-up "moon rocks" had light-reflective properties that would "create an optical illusion to diminish the appearance of fine lines"?
In my case, it is my West Coast lesbian. More precisely, it is Lesbian Bridezilla.
Depending upon the context required of our various misadventures over the past five years, LB has pretended to be my wife, sister, landlord, former employer, attorney-in-fact, holistic healer, and personal assistant.
Lesbian Bridezilla ("LB") is one of my dearest friends and a former law school classmate. She is half-Jewish and half-Latina, a lipstick lesbian with the volume of an opera singer and the energy of a nuclear reactor. Depending upon the context required of our various misadventures over the past five years, LB has pretended to be my wife, sister, landlord, former employer, attorney-in-fact, holistic healer, and personal assistant. While my Fiancé has forced me to look for coins in the sofa cushions to fund my creative vision, LB is planning a November fete reminiscent of Bilbo Baggins's last birthday party in the Shire. (LB's Fiancée, Doctor Z, is a rising star in the world of industrial biochemistry, empowering LB to focus her time on terrorizing the wedding vendors of Northern California.) Since Fiancé and I are getting married in San Francisco's Mission District, it also made perfect sense that a San Franciscan friend would be my "woman on the ground" in the weeks leading up to the event. Moreover, she is already a seasoned pro at dealing with weddings, having been planning her own since the age of twelve.
LB has the three most important qualities in a Groomzilla enabler: (1) she is used to getting her own way, (2) she has no problem letting you know what "her way" should be, and (3) she is blissfully, charmingly, wonderfully and unapologetically insane. One week LB forced a major commercial airline to adopt a new policy about "comfort bunnies" after a letter-writing campaign that put the authors of the Federalist Papers to shame. Another week, she decided that she wanted to learn to operate a sailboat, and convinced a sailing club at the marina to waive the requirement that one actually own a sailboat to join. A high-end wedding was a logical extension of LB's special gift for bending the world to her will.
I decided that I needed LB's counsel for an important task: selecting flowers. This seemed like the kind of aesthetic touch that needed a second opinion. Fiancé, of course, was horrified that I would involve LB in any wedding planning. He has never quite forgiven us for the day we moved into our condo two years ago. Fiancé and Doctor Z sent us out to the store for wood glue, nails, light bulbs, and an air filter. LB and I returned eight hours later with a Crate and Barrel bowl and some glass marbles, announced that the coffee table in the living room was now "in balance," and then left for a manicure.
I had to be in San Francisco for business one week this Fall, so I met up with LB to pop over to the florist. In the car, LB and I made our list of criteria: "architectural," "nothing that looks dead," and "no tropical sh*t." This, of course, seemed immensely descriptive of our vision, and we assumed that the florist would agree.
Other options were rejected as "too green" (a challenging characteristic to avoid with plants), "too poofy," "too droopy," and—my personal favorite—"too floral."
Unfortunately, the florist neither shared our vision nor our enthusiasm. In fact, I'm fairly certain that he wanted to throw us out in the street. The great downfall to gay men negotiating aesthetics with other gay men is that we have access to an expansive untapped vocabulary of precise-yet-vague adjectives. Only in the gay-on-gay design world can one say, "I want something architectural, in aubergine, that plays with texture without looking too Bindi the Jungle Girl."
Our exchange was greatly enriched by LB's frank and unfiltered critique of various options subsequently presented by the florist. LB was quick to disabuse our florist of perceived aesthetic missteps, at one point describing a photo as "a bit of a mess" but then quickly adding that she was sure "it worked great for someone who wanted that look." Other options were rejected as "too green" (a challenging characteristic to avoid with plants), "too poofy," "too droopy," and—my personal favorite—"too floral." If you want to induce apoplexy in a gay florist, ask him to find things that are neither "too green" nor "too floral."
It took 90 minutes, half a notepad, and an entire subtext of dirty looks from the florist to arrive upon our final order. The end-result? Two tasteful, elegant but modern arrangements keeping with the Autumnal color palette.
"You know," LB mused as she gathered her Blackberry and sunglasses and slid out of her chair, "The world would just be so much better if people were as clear as we are about what we want."
I pretended not to hear the florist's shriek from the back room of the store.
Next Thursday: Groomzilla and Fiancé select a photographer, a musician, and an officiant…without leaving the house!
Anthropologie, the retail chain, will be a series on Sundance. Or rather, Keith Johnson, the store's found goods buyer, is the subject of Man Shops Globe. Produced by World of Wonder, the series follows Johnson as he wanders the high ways and buy-ways of the globe. Jeremy Simmons is directing the series, and blogs about his adventures:
In Keith's world, everything is available for purchase. Its not just the bracelets that the lady is selling, but maybe her sari, or perhaps the shelves on which they lay. Where most of us direct our attention to what is displayed in a store, Keith sees it all. He buys signage used to advertising a sale, lighting fixtures, carts used to haul the merchandise - anything is potentially a new product. It's the ability to see things that one would normally edit out - and envision it in a totally different way. Keith thinks of his job as an editor - distilling down a mountain of merchandise to the very best of the best - but really, he is opening up my world. I had been subconsciously editing things so many things out.
(photo by Jeremy Simmons)
Savannah Knoop, the girl behind the boy in front of the other girl, reads from her new book, Girl Boy Girl, at Book Soup tonight.
She's the real J.T. LeRoy, who isn't real at all. Knoop played the part of the fictional LeRoy, and has written a book that tells all, or at least all that she can tell. And tell she does--dining with Gus Van Sant and sleeping with Asia Argento.
Her sister-in-law Laura Albert invented LeRoy, wrote the books, and coaxed Knoop to put on the silver wig, but predictably isn't pleased about the book.
Nancy Rommelmann wrote about knowing LeRoy, er, Knoop, and Albert.
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