Tuesday, September 19, 2017

NYFW x Samsung Film Screening: Battle at Versailles

To say I am a fashion person would be a lie. I've perused some fashion blogs (or rather "shopping" blogs), watched a few streaming events, used to be obsessed with watching award show red carpets, and know my fair share of designers, but I definitely don't have the eye or creativity to be a fashion person.

When I first moved to New York, I thought "maybe I'll get more into fashion! There is so much inspiration just by walking down the street and so many thrift stores. I'll put more of an effort into what I look like and maybe find some events!" But no such thing has happened, I probably dress worse than when I did back home and as much as I love attending events (particularly free ones), I just never sought them out, probably because I never thought I'd fit in.

I make this sound more serious than it is, and like my finally attending an event is a big milestone, but I was happy I finally attended one. And really, I only went because it was a film screening.

The event was held at the Samsung 837 flagship store, more of an interactive playground than your typical retail store. You can test out their latest products, including VR experiences, listen in on special guests about the latest technology or even career advice.

Produced by M2M (Made to Measure), an online fashion video network that streams original content as well as runway shows and other fashion and art related films such as The September Issue and The Man Who Fell to Earth and hosted by RaVal Davis, the audience was treated with truffle popcorn and a couple of splits of Chandon Rosé for the screening. I'm usually not a rosé person, but I gotta say, it was tasty, not too sweet.

The film covers the historical fashion show that was held at the Palace of Versailles on November 28, 1973 to raise money for it's restoration. Without trying to just list off it's history, the event was created by Eleanor Lambert, a prominent figure in the fashion and arts world who helped with founding the Museum of the Modern Art and New York Fashion Week (and whom Mussolini called a bitch). The event was essentially French designers (Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Dior, and Hubert de Givenchy) vs. American designers (Oscar de la Renta, Stephen Burrows, Halston, Bill Blass, and Anne Klein), and the Americans were assumed to fail before even arriving in Paris.

With over 700 guests including Grace Kelly and Andy Warhol, the Parisians started with an elaborate show that ran over two hours compared to the American who clocked in at around 37 minutes. But in those 37 minutes they not only wowed the fashion world, but earned their respect. Liza Minelli opened the show then each designer showcased their eight pieces which the French considered "sportswear" and used eleven black models (Pat Cleveland, Bethann Hardison, Billie Blair, Jennifer Brice, Alva Chinn, Norma Jean Darden, Charlene Dash, Barbara Jackson, China Machado, Ramona Saunders, and Amina Warsuma), an unprecedented number for that time.

The film includes interviews with designers, assistants, models and attendees who reminisce not just about the event and fashion but that time in New York and Paris in such a way that the viewer wishes we could visit, even for just a day. With little footage and photographs to work with, director Fritz Mitchell recreates the designers' runway looks as the models give first hand accounts. One instance that stands out was when Pat Cleveland twirled and twirled around the stage in a layered Halston number and stopped just as she got to the edge of the stage. Oscar De La Renta requested to go last and had the women walk to the tunes of Barry White; according to him, if Mozart can play in Versailles, then why not Barry White? It was a refreshing and daring show, something the audience, mostly Parisians, loved. Afterwards, they were invited to celebrate in the Hall of Mirrors, a gallery where only royalty had been before. To say the show was a success was an understatement. It changed the way the world looked at fashion and American fashion in general.

At just over an hour the film doesn't go too much into the drama, the preparation beforehand nor does it conclude with a "where are they now" or "what happened after?" but it is a visual feast and took only the necessary soundbites to take us back to that time. Stanley Tucci perfectly narrates the film and the original music, composed by Brian Keane, knows when to be dramatic while letting the visual take over, then other times playful, like a fairytale.

After the film I definitely visited quite a few wikipedia pages and saw there was another documentary based on the event. And early last year, Ava DuVernay was in talks of directing a film for HBO. I almost wish they would make a mini series about it because I'm not sure if concentrating on one person or aspect would be enough for an event like this, but in the mean time, this was a great starting point.

Lucky for us, it is streaming for free on M2M. Watch below:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The 2016 Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Windows

Once the holidays start approaching here in the city there's the excitement of so many things such as the Rockefeller Christmas tree, holiday markets, ice skating and even department store windows. New York City is probably the most popular place for holiday windows - though Paris and Chicago are definitely close - from Macy's to Barneys, but the most famous display of all is Bergdorf Goodman, to the point that they made a documentary about it. Taking the title from a 1990 Victoria Roberts cartoon that was featured in the New Yorker, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's covers the history of the luxury goods department store while following David Hoey, Senior Director of Visual Presentation, and Linda Fargo, ‎SVP Fashion and Store Presentation Director, as they plan and execute the 2011 holiday window displays for the iconic store.

Covering everything from when Herman Bergdorf started a tailor shop in downtown Manhattan to Linda meeting with Ally Hilfiger (daughter of designer Tommy Hilfiger and one half of the iconic Rich Girls), about her latest clothing line to interviews with the store's most successful personal shopper, Betty Halbreich; the film covers a lot. Almost too much. It's all very interesting but there doesn't seem to be any cohesion and because everything is just touched upon, you want more and unfortunately, the film doesn't deliver.

For this year's display, David says he took inspiration from Henri Rousseau and trips to the American Museum of Natural History, that they are to be looked at as magical realist versions of natural history museum dioramas. I took a trip down to Bergdorf's on a cold December night and took a few pictures. If you're in the city, they will be available to view through January 2, 2017 and at the bottom of this post I included a list of companion books to check out.

Pleasure Trip

The Thrill of the Chase

The Only Way to Fly

The Bird's Eye View

The Hitchhiker

Winging It

The Scenic Route

The Book Club

(love the details on this)

This one didn't have a title but I had to include it

Books to check out*:

*Breakfast with the Uncultured is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bottle Shock + Wine tasting

A few weeks ago I went to a screening at the Metrograph of Big Night which was introduced by the one and only Alton Brown and afterwards he did a little Q&A. When asked if he thought any other good American "food" films have been made since Big Night, he quickly said no, but mentioned that Americans are great at making wine films such as Sideways and Bottle Shock. I was honestly surprised he mentioned Bottle Shock since I attempted to watch it a while ago but got bored and never finished it. I figure I'd give it another shot so I invited my fellow wine and film lover friend over for a little wine tasting while we watched the movie (a streaming version is currently available with Amazon Prime).

Bottle Shock is somewhat* based on the true story of the blind Paris wine tasting of 1976 that has come to be known as "Judgment of Paris". Alan Rickman plays Steven Spurrier, a expat Englishman and wine shop owner, living in Paris who decides to hold a blind tasting to not only try and save his shop but to introduce the French to wines from other parts of the world. He travels to Napa Valley where he meets Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), owner of Chateau Montelena. Jim has no interest in being in the competition as he believes it's a set up to be laughed at by the French but his hippie son, Bo (Chris Pine), slips a few Chardonnay bottles to Spurrier and (spoiler alert!) they win the Chardonnay part of the competition. After the competition is mentioned in Time, requests for the Chateau Montelena wine grows and Napa Valley has been recognized.

The story itself is an interesting one yet the filmmakers didn't delve too much into details of the actual competition and its characters but instead introduced unnecessary (and most likely made up) sub plots such as a dull love triangle, and though Gustavo Brambila (played by Freddy Rodriguez) is a real person and did work at Chateau Montelena, it wasn't until after the events shown in the film.

Going back to the idea of "food"films, what makes a lot of those films interesting and fun is the actual food. Spanglish, as God awful as it was, was worth watching for the infamous sandwich scene, and Big Night's unveiling of the food and the guest's reactions are both mouthwatering and entertaining. There are so many films dedicated to food but not so wine and the filmmakers missed an opportunity to not just show the hard work that goes into wine making, the characters loving wine. The closest we get is a few short scenes with Dennis Farina's character visiting Spurrier's shop as he tries what the shop has to offer. The big competition scene itself seemed to only last a few minutes and was ladled with shots of snooty reactions from the judges as they try to guess which wine is from California rather than showing the judging process and close ups of the color and body of the wines against the sun. Oh the prettiness that could have been.

*After reading the screenplay, Spurrier criticized it's inaccuracies and considered it insulting.

Bagged and numbered

This photo is a bit out of focus but I will always take the opportunity to show off the Wisconsin shaped cutting board a friend gifted me. It also seemed appropriate since Dennis Farina's character is from Milwaukee

"palette cleansers" between wines aka any excuse to eat cheese and olives and pickled vegetables

We went with Savignon Blanc splits except one Chardonnay, which of course stood out like a sore thumb (neither of us are Chardonnay fans), but surprisingly, it scored about the same as the others. In the end #4, a Savignon Blanc from Rapa Nui winery won by one single point.

I made the handy dandy "wine mats," which are legal size and available to download here and we used this to help us score/rate each wine.

I think my next tasting will be beer while taking in a viewing of Drinking Buddies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Getting Crafty // Movie Poster Coasters

This is a simple and quick DIY project that you can gift or make for yourself. In this instance, I'm making these for a friend's birthday as she liked the ones I made for myself so I asked her her six favorite movies and printed out their movie posters.

What will you need?*

Step One: Trace the tile onto the cork and cut out. Trim the edges a bit so they are slightly smaller than the tile

Step Two: Outline the non cork side with glue and firmly press it on the back of the tile


 Step Three: Flip the tile over and cover the area that you will placing your print out with Mod Podge

Step Four: Place the print out on the tile and cover the entire thing with Mod Podge. Don't worry about streaks, it'll dry clear. 

If you printed on regular paper (like I did), it may start to bubble up, just smooth it out with your finger (if you're ok with getting a little messy) and add more Mod Podge. 

Step Five: Once the Mod Podge is dry (should only take a few minutes), spray with two thin layers of the shellac, waiting about an hour between layers. 

The reason why I add the shellac is because Mod Podge is not hot beverage friendly. I learned that the hard way when my mug full of hot coffee heated the Mod Podge and the coaster stuck to it, but not long enough and it fell to the floor and broke. 

Now use and enjoy!

*Breakfast with the Uncultured is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Apartment Envy // Last Night

Last Night is one of those films that I can watch at any time, no matter how I'm feeling. Written and directed by Massy Tadjedin, a married couple, Joanna and Michael, (Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington, respectively), spend the night apart and both are tempted to stray by equally attractive counterparts (Guillaume Canet and Eva Mendes).

It's a visually pretty film, with pretty music and pretty people walking around pretty settings (New York City and a little bit of Philadelphia) but the prettiest of all is Joanna and Michael's apartment in New York City. The space is open and large, which makes it the most appealing, and the neutral shade of the decor gives it a cozy feeling. It's the little things that make it as well - the various lamps, including two different ones on the nightstands, the "Berlin Wall of friggin' magazines," records and more. Some people dream of one day living in a mansion, I want this.

If you like this, check out:
Broken English. Without making it sound like a romantic comedy, Parker Posey plays Nora, a perpetually single New York woman unlucky in love, who has a chance encounter with a Frenchman (played by Melvil Poupaud who left me in a fit of giggles the one time I met him because he so Goddamn handsome).

Vanilla Sky. It's more fantasy (maybe even sci-fi?), but visually, the two films are very similar. Plus it's got a great soundtrack (yes, I rock out to Julie Gianni's I Fall Apart on the regular).