In Memoriam: Barnaby Conrad: Author, Matador, Bon Vivant, and Thorn in Hemingway’s Side

The Paris Review

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.

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Tea and Rocket Fire in Kabul

Vanity Fair

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.’

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The Charm – and Tenacity – of Thornwillow Press

Departures

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?

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Ivanka’s World

The Wall Street Journal

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.

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Immoderation: On the Misery of Sharing One’s Idols

The Paris Review

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.

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Jackson Pollock’s Reported Final Painting Yanked from Upcoming Auction

Vanity Fair

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.

Click here to read Ms. Blume’s separate Vanity Fair feature chronicling Red, Black & Silver‘s fraught biography.

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There’s Something About Mary

Departures

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.

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The Canvas and the Triangle

Vanity Fair

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.

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20-Odd Questions for Emily Mortimer

The Wall Street Journal

“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.

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Costume Jewelry

The Wall Street Journal

For fall, designers across the globe have provided a whimsical alternative to gleaming, heavily insured bling: clothing and accessories in jewel-printed fabrics. The season’s dresses, jackets, skirts and even T-shirts are dripping with two-dimensional riches.

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Alphabet City

The Wall Street Journal

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.

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Expert Opinions: The Best Books of Summer

Manhattan magazine

imageMy 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.

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Plastic is Fantastic

The Wall Street Journal

imageAndy 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.

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Bird is the Word

The Wall Street Journal

imageNote 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.

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Ed Burns Smolders (Again)

Room 100

imageThis ‘90s leading man and director didn’t vanish; he just got quietly busy.  And now Ed Burns is debuting a handful of new independent films and will star in HBO’s new series ‘40.’  Read Ms. Blume’s cover story profiling this endlessly prolific director, actor, and screenwriter.

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The Gin Fizz: Celebrating One of History’s Most Ebullient Cocktails

Gilt Taste

imageOver 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).

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The World of Assouline

Departures

imageMeet 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.)

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The Call of the Wild

The Wall Street Journal

imageAnimal 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.

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Defying the “Realm of Ugliness”: An Interview with Aesthete Serge Lutens

The Window

imageSerge 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.

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How Designer Olivier Theyskens Got His Start

The Window

imageEveryone 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.

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Behind the Scenes with Legendary Photographer William Klein

The Window

imagePhotographer William Klein was one of the earliest photojournalists, and is often credited with pioneering the concept of the backstage fashion photo.  In this interview, Klein talks about his early years as a painter, how fashion shows resemble riot scenes, and more.

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Bringing Back Glamour to the Holidays

CNN.com

imageThere’s no reason why we can’t have cultivated, old-timey holiday rituals and flourishes today as well.  What follows is a short list of such pleasures, just in time for Christmas and New Year’s festivities. After all, if you can’t be nostalgic during the holidays, when can you?

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Let’s Bring Back: A Retrospective

The Huffington Post

imageThis 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. 

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ICONS OF STYLE SERIES: Diana Vreeland

The Huffington Post

imageToday Ms. Blume’s new book, Let’s Bring Back, makes its debut.  To honor its release, we present our tenth and final ICONS OF STYLE subject: DIANA VREELAND, history’s most joyous fashion editor, queen of the bon mot, and ultimate Let’s Bring Back muse.

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ICONS OF STYLE SERIES: Ali MacGraw

The Huffington Post

image70s 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.

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ICONS OF STYLE: The Marchesa Casati

The Huffington Post

imageToday 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!).

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ICONS OF STYLE SERIES: Edith Head

The Huffington Post

imageThe 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. 

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ICONS OF STYLE SERIES: Nancy Cunard

The Huffington Post

imageBehold 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.

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ICONS OF STYLE SERIES: Suzy Parker

The Huffington Post

imageMeet 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.

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ICONS OF STYLE SERIES: Marlene Dietrich

The Huffington Post

imageActress 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. 

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ICONS OF STYLE SERIES: Elsa Schiaparelli

The Huffington Post

imageCoco 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.

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ICONS OF STYLE SERIES: Lilly Daché

The Huffington Post

imageMeet Lilly Daché, the second subject of our ICONS OF STYLE series, honoring the release of Ms. Blume’s new book, Let’s Bring Back.  This flamboyant, wildly-creative mid-century hatmaker was beloved by Dietrich, Garbo, and Harlow, and you will love her too.

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ICONS OF STYLE SERIES: Josephine Baker

The Huffington Post

imageNovember 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.

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Poppy King’s Strange, Wonderful Lipstick Kingdom

The Huffington Post

imageAll 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.”

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Let’s Bring Back: The ‘Mad Men’ Edition

The Huffington Post

imageThe 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.

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How Josephine Baker Helped Save Post-War French Fashion

The Huffington Post

imageMy front-page article about how style icon Josephine Baker became a post-war savior of the House of Dior, who really invented her deliciously scandalous string of bananas, and how she became a “guest editor” at Vogue (without the in-house editors ever knowing it).

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Let’s Bring Back: the ‘American Woman’ fashion edition

The Huffington Post

imageGazing 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?

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American Women: Fifteen Trailblazing Ladies Worth Celebrating

The Huffington Post

imageTonight 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.

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Let’s Bring Back: The Culinary Delectables Edition

The Huffington Post

imageDecadent Champage towers, fruit hats, three-martini lunches, and other divine culinary delectables from the past … my latest Let’s Bring Back feature, in honor of The Huffington Post‘s brand-new Food section.

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From Quaint Luncheons to Big-Top Extravaganzas: A History of the American Fashion Show

The Huffington Post

imageToday’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.

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The Joyous Eccentricity of Alexander McQueen: A Remembrance

The Huffington Post

imageThe death of British designer Alexander McQueen makes me wonder if there simply isn’t a place in contemporary culture for his brand of theatrical creativity anymore—especially in an era in which fashion houses rely on corporate ownership to survive and thrive.  A front page feature.

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Why “Marry Mr. Good-Enough” is Dark Ages Nonsense in a Modern Disguise

The Huffington Post

imageIn her new book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, journalist Lori Gottlieb perpetuates the stereotype that the American woman is really just a brain stem attached to a ticking womb.  It’s been a long time since I wanted to jab my eyes out after reading something, but this book has me reaching for the closest pair of scissors.  A front page feature.

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Adieu, J. D. Salinger: An Appreciation From a Glass Family Junkie

The Huffington Post

imageWhile most of Salinger’s readers outgrew him upon graduating from high school, I’ve held a candle for his characters well into my thirties.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also come to realize that the 1950s and 60s New York City portrayed by Salinger—filled with smoky jazz clubs, jumbled classic-eight apartments, Vaudeville veterans, and “Little Shirley Beans” records—epitomizes glamour to me.

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Rare Glimpses of Screen Legend Audrey Hepburn

The Huffington Post

imageSome Hollywood stars seem to shimmer on the horizon forever, and Audrey Hepburn is one of them. Reverence for her style still runs deep, as evidenced by the recent $96,000 auction sale of a black cocktail dress she donned in 1966 film How to Steal a Million.  Now a newly-released book showcases rare cover images of the actress, and here are some of the loveliest, most amusing, and insight-giving shots.

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Whimsical, Recession-Proof Holiday Gift Ideas

The Huffington Post

imageHopefully the recession has immunized us to blowsy marketing, and made us smarter and more thoughtful about the way that we express our holiday appreciation for our loved ones.  Last year, we ran a recession-friendly list of holiday gift suggestions. Without further ado, we present the 2009 edition. As usual, it is long on whimsy and easy on the pocketbook.

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Aspic, Hot Dogs, and Boiled Mutton: State Dinners of Eras Past

The Huffington Post

imageA special edition of my Let’s Bring Back column, honoring the Obamas’ first state dinner tonight.  The Kennedys touted the virtues of aspic, the Franklin Roosevelts scandalized the polite world with an all-American entrée, and George Washington gave new meaning to the phrase “no frills.”

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