Betty Halbreich has been privately famous for a long time. As Bergdorf Goodman’s grande dame personal shopper, she has dressed the rich and powerful for 40 years. Recently, however, this crowd has had to share Halbreich, 86, with the masses. In the 2013 documentary “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s,” Halbreich delighted audiences as a surprisingly salty mensch amidst a fantasy world of feathers, sequins and American Express Black Cards. Lena Dunham, creator of HBO’s “Girls,” is now developing a television series inspired by Halbreich’s life, also detailed in Halbreich’s new memoir, “I’ll Drink to That.” Read Blume’s Wall Street Journal review of the just-released book.
It would be hard to overstate the influence of Mary Tyler Moore when she emerged as a superstar in the mid-1960s. Back in the days of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, who could resist her? As an on-screen career woman, Moore mastered pitch-perfection. On the eve of the Emmys, and in the second installment of her ‘Moment in Time’ series, Blume talks with the TV icon about her career, style, and what makes a woman feel beautiful.
Do not use the word “empire” to Danny Meyer: it makes the hair on his arms stand up, he says. He’s happy to be called a humble restaurateur, thank you very much—despite being the C.E.O. of Union Square Hospitality Group and founder of an almost indecent number of James Beard Award–winning and Michelin Star–earning New York City restaurants. Below: the famed maestro of high-low dining gives Lesley Blume a glimpse into his frantically busy and delectable life.
From a potential leading actor who died of a drug overdose to a marshmallow man suit that went up in flames, the original Ghostbusters looked like anything but a slam-dunk when Columbia Pictures made it in 1984. On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the movie’s premiere, its cast, director, producers, and other industry greats share their recollections with Blume about the genesis of the Ghostbusters phenomenon, talk about how it helped rewrite the film industry, and discuss the franchise’s future.
This iconic author’s distinctive persona appears to have been more or less bestowed at birth; even his bespoke hats have their own “byline”: MADE ESPECIALLY FOR GAY TALESE. Fellini attended his wedding after-party; he grew up alongside Grace Kelly at the Jersey Shore; Lorena Bobbit sends him Christmas cards. Read Blume’s June issue profile on Talese for more tidbits about his fascinating life.
If you love ideas and beauty and elegance, then you would likely love the famous Rizzoli Bookstore, housed in a glorious six-story townhouse on Manhattan’s 57th Street. But it’s closing its doors tomorrow and the building is slated for demolition. Read Blume’s story on her own longstanding love affair with this legendary literary haunt, and why its loss is a loss for all New Yorkers.
If anyone understands the importance of detail, it’s Wes Anderson. From The Royal Tenenbaums to Moonrise Kingdom to his new release, The Grand Budapest Hotel, each of his films showcases instantly recognizable, intricate diorama worlds, often stocked with preciously arranged camping tents, Crayola-colored portable record players, and pleasingly worn copies of National Geographic. Everything about his work signifies a man who likes things just so. All of which practically obliges one to wonder whether Anderson’s own life resembles a painstakingly curated vintage store. In this profile, one of America’s great modern film auteurs gives us a glimpse into his world.
Few women inspire near-universal adoration, but one person certainly falls into this rarefied category: Anjelica Huston, muse to some of the greatest auteurs of the modern film and fashion industries. Read this spirited interview with Ms. Huston here in Blume’s inaugural ‘Moment in Time’ column for newcomer Hollywood insider publication Violet Grey.
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?
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.