The elegant Montgomery Clift once reigned as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after leading men – but now it appears that he could have added “photographer” to his list of career credits as well. A long-forgotten collection of the actor’s personal photos has recently surfaced in the archives of the NYPL; Clift’s scrapbooks and portraits of fellow stars reveal his gift with a lens. Read Ms. Blume’s exclusive feature on the rediscovered Old Hollywood treasure trove.
What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, the Starrett-Lehigh Building was considered Manhattan’s equivalent of real-estate Siberia -— admired by architects but shunned by commercial tenants because of its location in windswept, far-west Chelsea. These days, however, it’s commanding top rents and everyone from Ralph Lauren to Martha Stewart to Marchesa (not to mention the FBI) are making it home. Read Ms. Blume’s profile of a cultural icon that is basking in the spotlight once again.
“The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call ‘out there.’” With this memorable opening line, writer Truman Capote set the melancholy tenor of In Cold Blood, the mega-bestseller that would make him world-famous – and ultimately ruin him. On the eve of the book’s 50th anniversary, Lesley Blume traveled to Holcomb, still one of literary history’s most notorious locales. Read her profile of the town, and the lingering Capote legend that wreathes the community – for better or worse.
An H-bomb has just hit Hollywood, in the form of a new book: The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler. Author Ben Urwand’s research has revealed a shocking level of collaboration between the German government and Tinseltown’s studios in the 1930s. Read Ms. Blume’s interview with Urwand as he discusses the Nazis’ sinister consul in Los Angeles, Hitler’s passion for Mickey Mouse, and what was really at stake for the Germans as they sought to control Hollywood’s portrayals of their country.
Looming in the heart of Greenwich Village, the Marlton Hotel has housed countless counter-culture icons over the decades: Lenny Bruce dwelled there while on trial for obscenity; so did Valerie Solanas, Andy Warhol’s would-be assassin. Jack Kerouac holed up at the Marlton while working on the manuscripts for On the Road, Tristesse, and Subterraneans. Now the hotel is staging a comeback — and is poised to become Manhattan’s newest hotspot. Ms. Blume profiles the landmark for Vanity Fair‘s September issue.
Would you pay $50,000 for a coat? One man bought two. Ms. Blume reviews “The Coat Route,” a new book tracking the international genesis of these curious bespoke garments. Yet “The Coat Route” is more than than a “Tin Tin”-esque adventure for the Women’s Wear Daily crowd: rather, it compels us to remember that behind every garment is a deep history and a pair of human hands.
A newly-released book called The Hundred Dresses sets out to identify frocks that project female archetypes at a glance. In this review, Ms. Blume argues that the effectiveness of symbolic dressing only goes so far – and that savvy women should never allow their clothing to do their talking for them. After all, you’re supposed to be wearing the dress, not the other way around.
Calling all design obsessives: meet Ian Barry, the Los Angeles-based savant behind the Falcon Ten — arguably the world’s most collectible couture motorcycle collection. Each one takes years to create, evokes “animal musculature,” and costs a small fortune. But the real question: is it a bike, or is it art?
Truman Capote knew Barnaby Conrad. So, for that matter, did Noel Coward and Eva Gabor and William F. Buckley. Sinclair Lewis, John Steinbeck, Alex Haley, and James Michener: they all knew him well. And Hemingway too—although, at one point, he apparently wished that he’d never even heard of Barnaby Conrad. Read Ms. Blume’s article about this great author, matador, and bon vivant here, who died last week at the age of ninety.
Most filmmakers find it challenging enough to shoot a film on a back lot in Hollywood. How about making a movie while taking rocket fire? Read Ms. Blume’s Vanity Fair profile on director Sam French, who spent the last four years in Afghanistan, shooting Oscar-nominated live action short ‘Buzkashi Boys.’
Meet Luke Ives Pontifell, the bespectacled, Harvard-educated proprietor of bespoke publisher Thornwillow Press. His company creates hand-crafted books, hand-painted paper, and impeccable social register-caliber stationery — all from a factory based in the murder capital of New York State. What’s a nice guy doing in a place like this?
Anyone who contends that modern women can’t have it all clearly hasn’t met Ivanka Trump. “I think women today are closer to having it all than we’ve ever been,” she declares. Then she pauses, and adds: “But if you require twelve hours of sleep a night, you probably can’t.” Read Ms. Blume’s interview with this dexterous executive, designer, publisher’s wife, mother, and television star.
When I first discovered the great, eccentric Diana Vreeland, I thought, “Finally: here is a credible role model.” What’s more, I reveled in her comparative obscurity: being alone in her world was like scoring an invitation to a lavish feast for two. Recently, however, the spotlight has swung around to Vreeland again. This autumn, two new Vreeland biographies are being released, not to mention a Vreeland documentary, The Eye Has to Travel. Suddenly she has become everyone’s role model, and her renewed ubiquity fills me with anxiety. An essay about contending with the popularization of one’s personal icons.
After a heated but inconclusive authentication battle waged over decades, it appeared that Red, Black & Silver—purported to be the last painting created by American master Jackson Pollock—was going to auction at last. The small, unsigned painting—long owned by artist Ruth Kligman, Pollock’s mistress during the last year of his life—was slated to be a centerpiece element in the auction. But just before the work was supposed to go under the hammer, Phillips de Pury & Company has removed Red, Black & Silver from a scheduled September 20th sale.
Name a dozen of New York City’s most glamorous fetes of the last three decades, and Mary Hilliard likely shot it. What makes her so successful? “She’s the only photographer that is invited where there are no photographers allowed, and has been for years,” explains one member of the society circuit. Read Ms. Blume’s cover story about Hilliard here.
Jackson Pollock’s mistress Ruth Kligman said she watched him paint it, as a love token, just before his fatal 1956 car crash. But the Pollock-Krasner Authentication Board, whose members were close with Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner, has questioned its authenticity. Pollock, Kligman, and Krasner are all now dead, but as Red, Black & Silver heads to auction, on the 100th anniversary of Pollock’s birth, Ms. Blume chronicles the dramatic ongoing battle over what may have been an American master’s last canvas. A September issue cover feature.
“I USED TO watch a lot of old Katharine Hepburn movies,” recalled actress Emily Mortimer. “I loved that talking-fast-and-funny thing.” Ms. Mortimer’s latest role, in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series “The Newsroom,” has plenty of both in its screwball comedy leanings. In this interview, Ms. Mortimer talks about her first memorable TV news events, the lowbrow joys of drugstore makeup, and how Mick Jagger once reduced her mother to tears.
THE TIDAL WAVE of heritage-inspired preppiness that engulfed the fashion industry in recent years finally appears to have subsided. The monogram, however, is demonstrating its staying power—with a twist. This season, the look has graduated to old-world poshness, and has been embraced by some of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses.
My husband and I are obsessive readers; our library contains thousands of books, and more arrive each week. So I employ a divide-and-conquer strategy: I’ll read a fiction title, followed by nonfiction, then a classic. This summer brings a passel of exciting new books in each of these genres. In this article, I shortlist some of the standouts.
Andy Warhol once declared, “I love plastic. I want to be plastic.” Apparently Warhol isn’t the only one with synthetic exuberance syndrome. In the fashion world, the spring collections are having a decidedly celluloid moment. From dresses to tunics to short shorts, this season’s garments are gleaming with acrylic, vinyl and cellophane. Warhol would have been positively giddy. A front page feature.
Note to Tippi Hedren, star of Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller “The Birds”: You might want to run for the hills this spring. The fashion world appears to be experiencing nothing short of an all-out avian invasion: Finches at Marc Jacobs, swans at Giles Deacon, sparrows at Carolina Herrera, and more. A front page feature.
Over the last few years, classic cocktails have surged in popularity: Sidecars, Ward 8s, and Old Fashioneds once again grace bar menus from coast to coast. Also due for a comeback: the once-popular Gin Fizz – a perfectly ebullient, now-largely-forgotten libation. Enjoy five recipes from Ms. Blume’s upcoming book about vintage cocktails (Chronicle Books, 2012).
Meet Martine and Prosper Assouline, the husband-and-wife team behind luxury publishing house Assouline. Taking inspiration from their globetrotting life and glamorous friends, the couple has a new goal: To turn Assouline into a lifestyle brand. (Also appeared in Slate magazine, under title The World of Assouline: How a Luxury Book Publisher Has Thrived in an Anemic Market.)
Animal prints and imagery have long been a badge of unfettered—even feral—sensuality in fashion. Considered staples of ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s wardrobes, animal-kingdom-inspired clothing has clawed its way back into collections across the globe this fall – and this time, it is teeming with playful, even absurd, references. A front page feature.
Serge Lutens is more than an iconic perfumer, make-up artist, and photographer: he’s a poet who seeks to intrigue all of our senses. In this interview, Mr. Lutens tells me about working with the “terrifying” Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, the most evocative scents in the world, and what makes a woman truly alluring.
Everyone has to start somewhere. For example, Barneys New York founder Barney Pressman funded his first store in 1923 with the $500 he raised by pawning his wife’s engagement ring. In this amusing interview, I speak with wunderkind designer Olivier Theyskens about how he got his start in the fashion industry.
This week, Let’s Bring Back made its official debut as a book—and in honor of its release, I’ve compiled some of the most popular items mentioned in the column over the years. From zeppelins to sealing wax, from turbans to typewriters, from Auntie Mame to the Ziegfeld Follies: we’ve covered a lot of ground.
70s film icon Ali MacGraw—who donned scarves as turbans and tablecloths as skirts—launched a hundred trends and influenced millions of women who wanted to emulate her breezy, irreverent style. The ninth subject of our ICONS OF STYLE series, honoring the release of Ms. Blume’s new book, Let’s Bring Back.
Today the Marchesa Casati—extrovert, hostess, patroness of the arts, and high priestess of eccentricity—makes her debut as our eighth ICON OF STYLE subject. Unlike our other style icons, Casati had her true heyday before World War I—yet her occult-ish look continues to inspire history-minded fashion insiders generations later. Read the article above to learn more about her decadent parties in crumbling Venetian palazzos and exotic pets (cheetahs! albino crows! snakes!).
The seventh subject in our ICONS OF STYLE series, celebrating the release of Ms. Blume’s new book, Let’s Bring Back. Edith Head is no run-of-the-mill Hollywood costumer: many argue that she is the most important and famous costume designer of all time. Responsible for some of the most memorable film wardrobes in history (her credits included Vertigo, Sabrina, and Sunset Boulevard, to name but a few), Head was nominated for dozens of Oscars throughout her career.
Behold Nancy Cunard: heiress, activist, and provocateur—who shunned a spoiled existence to wage war on the racist attitudes of her generation. Her silhouette remains unique and instantly recognizable even today: an exclamation point-thin frame; dark, kohl-rimmed eyes; arms invariably heavy with bracelets. The sixth subject of our ICONS OF STYLE series, celebrating the release of Ms. Blume’s new book, Let’s Bring Back.
Meet Suzy Parker, the first fashion model to earn $100,000 per year: a staggering sum for the 1950s. Widely considered the world’s first supermodel, “[she] had the hautiest of cheekbones and nobody angled an elbow better.” The fifth installment of our ICONS OF STYLE series, celebrating the launch of Ms. Blume’s new book, Let’s Bring Back.
Actress Marlene Dietrich is the fourth subject of the ICONS OF STYLE series, honoring the release of Ms. Blume’s new book, Let’s Bring Back. The epitome of Old Hollywood glamour, Dietrich also exuded sex appeal – and yet never veered into crassness. Mystery and subtext were Dietrich’s forms of currency; today’s bare-all stars could take a lesson or two from her.
Coco Chanel once famously dismissed her rival as “that Italian artist who makes clothes.” But Schiaparelli was a fashion powerhouse in her day, and her influence remains strong today. Revisit her life in the third installment of the ICONS OF STYLE series, honoring the release of Ms. Blume’s new book, Let’s Bring Back.
November 1 marks the debut of Ms. Blume’s new book, Let’s Bring Back—and in honor of its release, the Huffington Post’s Style section will spotlight ten historical style icons featured in the book’s pages. Over the next two weeks, you will become reacquainted with some of the twentieth century’s seminal tastemakers, designers, and muses—many of whom are now unjustly fading from public memory. Our first subject: the ever-astounding Josephine Baker. A front page feature.
All of Lipstick Queen’s products take their customers on trippy voyages to fantastical worlds; these cosmetics seem like jars filled with magical potions instead of lip gloss. My Fashion Week interview with Lipstick Queen’s proprietress, Poppy King: an artist with an unusual palette, and the world’s reigning “lipstick academic.”
The Mad Men world makes a fetish of ornamentation and deifies mysterious artifice. For those of us who grew up in the subsequent era of Gap-sponsored khaki casualness and fast food, Mad Men represents a glamor lacking in our lives today. Let’s bring back some of the flourishes that made the 1960s glamorous: fedoras, supper clubs, red lipstick, and much more. A front page feature.
Gazing at the glamorous finery of eras past in the Costume Institute’s new ‘American Woman’ exhibit, as usual I found myself wishing back certain flourishes and trappings, from hand-held fans to white gloves to turbans. So, I decided, why not do a special Let’s Bring Back edition, devoted to the historical fashions showcased in the show?
Tonight Vogue and the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute will co-host their annual gala—this time celebrating their new exhibit “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity.” In this front-page feature, I celebrate fifteen of my favorite trailblazing ladies, each of whom exudes that quintessentially American sense of strength, resilient spirit, and crossed-frontiers.
Today’s adrenaline-pumped fashion shows are a relatively recent phenomenon. In eras past, designs were presented to clients at chic poolside presentations or at delightful little department store luncheons (Waldorf salad, rather than global outreach, was the order of the day). This special edition of Let’s Bring Back looks at the fascinating evolution of the American fashion show.