Style: the Oscar for best dress goes to…

The Oscars are this Sunday

In my opinion, these are all academy award winning dresses.

Let’s just be clear that as much as we admire many of these stars, love the films they’re nominated for and even the ones who are there only for the sake of presenting an award, we really love seeing what they’re wearing and who wore it best.  After all this is the time to pull out all the stops.  The fantasy is being able to dress like a storybook princess one special day of the year.

There are so many past and present stars who wore it best.  It was difficult to choose, but looking through the archives and in no particular order, I narrowed it down to some of my all-time favourites. So beginning with someone named DEBBIE:

Nominated for her role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Debbie Reynolds brought the princess look to the red carpet and the stage for a performance during the ceremony – 1958.
Jennifer Lawrence and Dior have been a match made in sartorial heaven since the two began working together in 2012. This lace and tulle confection which she wore for her Joy nomination was another one for the books.
In the span of a year actress Lupita Nyong’o became a style icon. Following her baby-blue Prada dress that she won an Oscar in, she followed it up with this intricate pearl-covered Calvin Klein Collection gown – 2015.
How many can pull off this color?  I say do it if you can and you will be noticed!
Michelle Williams‘s saffron Vera Wang dress has become one of the most memorable fashion moments. The actress attended with her then-boyfriend, the late Heath Ledger, who was nominated for his role in Brokeback Mountain, where they both met – 2006.
Gwyneth Paltrow pioneered the caped trend at the 2012 Academy Awards in this Tom Ford, which became one of the biggest fashion trends from outerwear to cocktail dresses.  It solidified her status as style icon – with good reason.

If only for my love of Vintage.  Penelope Cruz channeled a fairytale princess in a vintage Pierre Balmain gown when she won Best Supporting Actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona  in 2009.

Becoming the first African American woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress is certainly a moment in time to remember, as was Halle Berry’s Elie Saab partially sheer floral gown – 2002.  And really; how many can get away wearing a dress like this.  She did!

As if Mira Sorvino knew she would be the winner of the night, the actress aptly dressed as a princess for her big Academy win for The Mighty Aphrodite – 1996.  I loved her in that movie, and this dress also reminds me of a vintage one hanging in my closet, only in black and a tad less formal. Still waiting for my perfect role.

No bubble head,  Joan Collins clearly turned heads in this bubble hem gown—and in the 50’s no formal look was complete without elbow-length gloves.  You don’t see dresses like this anymore – 1950.

On Monday we’ll have a look at some of the dresses from this year’s Academy Awards.

How about you?  Have an all-time favourite gown?

most images: harper’s bazaar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Art/Culture: National Theatre presents “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to see a special performance from London’s National Theatre of Tennessee Williams’s 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning play

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Sienna Miller & Jack O’Connell in the starring roles. Show image photography -Charlie Grey.

But I saw it from the comfort of my seat at the Camelot theatre in Palm Springs.

When my friend Megan told me she had an extra ticket for the showing I actually thought we were going to watch a live stage performance.  It was instead a pre-recorded live performance in select cinemas around the world for one night only.  And to my surprise it was very much like being right there in person. Or at least the closest thing to experiencing the actual feeling of sitting in the theatre. This was the first I’ve heard of National Theatre Live.

Scene from the play.  Production photography – Johan Persson.

National Theatre Live was founded specifically to bring access to the incredible live performances of The National Theatre and shares them with audiences who may not have the opportunity to go to London’s West End to see them.

Broadcasts retain the feeling of a live performance and though each broadcast is filmed in front of a live audience in the theatre, cameras are carefully positioned throughout the auditorium to ensure that cinema audiences get the ‘best seat in the house.’  I was amazed at how good it was.

I vaguely remember seeing the movie about a tempestuous marriage in a dysfunctional family with lots of secrets and lies.  In the original it was Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor in the title roles and I thought who would ever be able to outdo them?  But this play, directed by Benedict Andrews managed to pair a wonderful Jack O’Connell as drunken husband Brick, and an amazing performance by Sienna Miller as Maggie “the cat”, Brick’s neglected wife. It’s a steamy family fight for survival that’s complex, riveting, disturbing and poetic all at once.  I have to admit their Mississippi accents makes the fighting and arguing sound that much more romantic.

So unless I’m actually in London, I’ll be on the lookout for more of these cinematic events by this exceptional company.

ABOUT NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE
National Theatre Live launched in June 2009 with a broadcast of the National Theatre production of Phèdre with Helen Mirren. NTL captures live performances from the National Theatre and from other theatres in the UK and broadcasts them in more than 2,500 movie theaters and other venues in 60 countries worldwide. As of February 2017, the global audience reached almost 8 million people.

Next Production is Hamlet – The 2015 broadcast, with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, returns to UK and international cinemas.

Have you seen one of these?

 

Monday Mood:  Sinatra state of mind

The Place He Called Home

I could change the heading to Melancholy Mood a song sang by Frank Sinatra but that sounds pretty gloomy.  After viewing a special screening of the fabulous documentary film by *Leo Zahn which ended Modernism week here in Palm Springs, we know Sinatra’s life was anything but gloomy.

Sinatra in Palm Springs – The Place He Called Home.

I, like so many others have always loved Sinatra’s music, his style and well…the lifestyle was anything but dull. Because I’ve spent the last several years coming to Palm Springs and now live here part of the year I was really looking forward to seeing this film if only because it explored Frank Sinatra’s deep attachment to Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, his primary home for almost 50 years.

His wife Barbara called him a desert rat.  Meaning he embraced the dreamy “desert rat” lifestyle of tennis, golf, cocktails, cards and entertaining.  Very similar to my lifestyle minus the tennis, golf and cards.

Nelda Linsk, one of the subjects of “Poolside Gossip,” the famous photograph shot by Slim Aarons in 1970, was Barbara Sinatra’s best friend (she’s the one in yellow).  She is also interviewed in this doc.  She’s still beautiful.

The film captures the spirit of the Sinatra era and pays tribute to the unique lifestyle especially surrounding the renowned racquet club. Revealing interviews bring to life a bygone era . . . beginning with the post-WWII years and Sinatra’s 1947 home in Palm Springs, tumultuous times with Ava Gardner, his 1954 move to Rancho Mirage, his marriage to Barbara, and life at the “compound.” Major sequences are dedicated to historic restaurants Sinatra frequented for decades.  Many still here and some I’ve gone to.  My husband and I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting with Mel Haber who owned the historic Ingleside Inn and Melvyn’s cocktail bar which Sinatra frequented.  He described Sinatra as having “an aura” about him. He’s the first and last person to be interviewed in this wonderful documentary.  It didn’t matter which president or other famous person frequented your estabishment.  Everyone wanted to know if Frank or “Mr. S” as they referred to him came in.  If he showed up with his entourage and liked it, you were good.  If he didn’t like the pasta it could get thrown against the wall.

‘Sinatra in Palm Springs’ tells the story of a man whose generosity and compassion for his fellow citizens had no bounds. He loved the desert and its people. He loved the local restaurants and bars. His best friends lived nearby.

How many people can aspire to live like him?  It’s a large, legendary life and that’s why the screening was sold out.  He really did do it HIS WAY.

At the end of the screening Mr. Zahn (*the filmmaker) was here for an audience Q&A.

And that’s another thing I love about being here.  The filmmakers are on hand to answer questions especially during Film Fest and Modernism.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Mood: Martinis on the Mountain

What could be better than sipping martinis in a fabulous home with a view? On a Monday no less!

As part of Modernism Week and a love limit for martinis,  I’m finally going to Martinis on the Mountain.  I’ve heard about it, but every time I’m here it’s always sold out.

Tonight I’m prepared to step back in time at the historic O’Donnell House nestled high above Palm Springs with magnificent views of the valley below.  Looking forward to live entertainment featuring the sounds of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, fab hors d’oeuvres and who knows what else.

O’Donnell House (party 2017)

The evening is also a fundraiser to benefit the Meals On Wheels Program and other programs and services of the Mizell Senior Center.

A bit of architectural history:

The house was built in 1925 for oil tycool Thomas O’Donnell and his wife.  The home originally known as Ojo del Desierto (Eye of the Desert) was designed by architect and artist William Charles Tanner. The 4,200 square foot Mediterranean Revival-Monterey style home features four bedrooms and six fireplaces. In 2000, The O’Donnell House was acquired by its present owners who began its restoration to its former glory. The City of Palm Springs recognized it as a Historic Site in 1986 and in 2000, and in 2011 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Dontini

Specialty of the House (my house)

Everyone agrees that my husband Don made the best martinis.  He specialized in the dirty kind.  Into a chilled martini glass he strained high quality vodka, a splash of vermouth (optional), a bit of olive juice (brine) from the largest olives available which gave it a bit of a cloudy appearance and lastly, three olives on a toothpick.  And my limit was always one two.

ETC:

It’s a Mod Mod World.  I went to the Modernism Preview Party at the Convention Centre the other night.  With a glass of wine in hand, amidst a collection of mid-century modern furnishings, art, jewelery and such,  there was the crowd. I was too enthralled to even take photos.  You’ll just have to use your imagination….but I’m not sure you can even imagine the getups many were wearing.  And I’m referring to mostly the men.

I’m curious…what kind of martinis do you favor?

 

 

Style: Spanning the Decades

I am somewhat obsessed with vintage designer fashion.

As someone once said it can be easily overlooked that what is now called vintage was once brand new.  Of course that’s true but what I appreciate is the workmanship, attention to detail and luxurious fabrics the designers of that era used, which is almost impossible to find in the fast fashion market of today.  And many talented designers have ended up making their designs more accessible (or selling out) to appeal to the masses.  Although the prices are reasonable, the quality is not the same.

Photo by Richard Avedon.  Pierre Cardin’s coat of rose brocade.

This happened to famous high fashion designer Pierre Cardin.  The Italian-born French designer was best known for his geometric avant-garde designs. In the 1960s his use of stark tunics, goggles and helmets launched the Space Age look. Cardin expanded into the automobile market in the early ’70s and designed haute couture muscle car interiors. He now owns a chain of Maxim hotels and restaurants.  He’s 96 years old.

Irridescent silk evening gowns by Pierre Cardin, 1959
Mia Farrow in a Pierre Cardin beaded and sequined mini, May 1967.

Fashion returns to Modernism Week with the new Modernism Fashion Show – “Spanning the Decades.” Attendees will step back in time as they “Span the Decades” through fashion. They will be transported through the eyes of Coco Chanel, Emilio Pucci, Christian Dior, and Pierre Cardin as Mitchells Palm Springs collaborates with M Vintage to display “Haute Couture” at its best. Guests will be escorted to the Grand Warsaw Ballroom at Temple Isaiah to enjoy a glass of bubbly and nibblies and view the amazing fashion retrospective. February 18, 2 PM; $45

EMILIO PUCCI

Emilio Pucci was an Airforce 1 pilot under World War 2, who surprisingly started out making skiwear for a college team. Then he was approached by Harpers Bazaar in the late 40’s, to design for a European skiwear story. When raging reviews from the U.S. and tons of offers to manufacture still didn’t sway him – he set up his own house. Key pieces were swimwear, silk scarves, silk dresses and shirts – with amazing colorful prints. He later created the Braniff Airlines uniform (the bubble helmet).  Vintage Pucci in prisine condition is very sought after and expensive.

Pierre Cardin

See what I mean?  We don’t dress like this anymore. Not that I ever did only in my mind and while it’s somewhat of a relief it’s also kind of sad we don’t have the capacity to try so hard.  Because fashion is meant to be  fun.  But you can see that these designers were fabulously multi-faceted.  They tell their stories through their designs.

 

Happy Heart Day

Today is a very special day for two reasons:

Hey, It’s my Birthday! (taken four days ago)
An Officer and a Gentleman – that’s my boy!  (four months ago)

1) My sheltie boy Jia Jia turns FIFTEEN YEARS YOUNG today.  We’re going to have a very fun day starting with a long walk, followed by a picnic in his favorite park, treats, tossing the ball, presents, more treats and special dinner.  Maybe a run through the sprinklers.  He loves that.

Four years ago

   2) It’s Valentines Day.

I’m going to spend it with my true loves – fabulous furry friends and food.  How about you?

Wishing you a LOVEly day.

Recipe: greek oregano chicken + orzo with tomatoes in garlic oil

If you’re looking for an easy, no fuss delicious dinner made in one pot – this is it!

image: halfbakedharvest.com

I’m always on the lookout for recipes that keep things simple but are healthy, hearty and smell heavenly.  Of course a touch of the exotic or unexpected is always a plus and it must look appetizing on the plate and pleasing on the palate. In this one the *orzo takes on a risotto-like texture since it gets cooked in with the chicken and peppers.  Sometimes oregano can be overpowering, but when paired with this chicken, some balsamic vinegar and smoked paprika, it’s perfect. This dish was originally a summer dish because of the heirloom tomatoes but you can still find them at select grocers and winter farmers markets.  The first part of the recipe (Tomatoes) is an extra step which is optional, although I highly recommend making it.

Ingredients:

TOMATOES

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 heirloom tomatoes sliced
  • 2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes halved
  • salt and pepper to taste

CHICKEN + ORZO

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken, cut into bit size pieces
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano chopped
  • 2 bell peppers sliced
  • 1 cup mixed kalamata or green olives
  • 16 ounces orzo pasta (use gluten free if needed)
  • 4-6 ounces feta cheese crumbled

Instructions:

TOMATOES

  1. Add the olive oil, garlic and chili pepper flakes to a small sauce pan. Bring the oil to a low boil and then quickly reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20-30 minutes and then remove from the heat. Allow to cool and then store in a glass jar for up to a month in the fridge.
  2. Add the tomatoes to a bowl or plate and drizzle with the chili oil mix. Sprinkle with salt + pepper. Serve alongside the chicken.

CHICKEN

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium size dutch oven or large skillet set on medium-high heat.
  2. Once hot, add the chicken, garlic, balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Toss the chicken to coat and then cook until the chicken is browned all over and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the oregano and cook another minute. Remove the chicken from the pan and to a plate.
  3. To the same pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil, the bell peppers and a pinch of salt + pepper. Sear the peppers until just beginning to caramelize on the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Add the orzo and another tablespoon of olive oil. Stir the pasta with the peppers on then pour in 2 1/2 cups water. Cook until almost all the water is absorbed and the orzo is creamy. Taste the orzo to make sure it is soft in the middle, if needed, add another 1/2 cup of water and continue cooking the orzo until soft. It is important to stir the orzo often, as it wants to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Once the orzo is cooked, slide the chicken and olives into the orzo and remove from the heat. Allow the chicken to warm through, about 3 minutes.
  5. Serve the dish topped with crumbled feta cheese and a side of tomatoes in chili oil.

*Orzo is a Greek barley-like pasta, the shape of large grains of rice

Original Recipe: halfbakedharvest.com

Let me know if this is something you would make and if you make it, let me know how much you like it.

 

Film/Culture: Le Ride

A bad attitude is like a flat tire.  If you don’t change it, you’ll never go anywhere.

Cycling is an enjoyable sport.  Recently I’ve gotten on my bike to do a grocery run,  pick up pizza from a nearby restaurant and meet friends for coffee.  Sometimes it’s fun to be part of a local event even if you’re not a big enthusiast.  But I might become one.

The *Tour de Palm Springs may not be The Tour de France but there are some similarities.  For instance, thousands of cyclists riding along gorgeous scenery while challenging themselves for many miles to help fundraise for a variety of charities.

February 10th: I just did the 100 10 mile tour which although hardly challenging, was worthwhile and rewarding in the sense that I tried it out for the very first time.  It wasn’t a race, it was a ride – there’s a difference. Bands and cheerleaders entertained us by playing the American anthem & then as we began filing out, the theme from Rocky.  With so much energy it made us feel like athletes.  Actually, there were some authentics. 

What was really great was attending a carb loaded dinner with outdoor seating the night before, then watching an award winning documentary at the **Palm Springs Cultural Centre (used to be the Camelot Theatre).

In partnership with the American Documentary Film Festival, Tour de Palm Springs presented Le Ride The story of the first English speaking team to ride the Tour de France.  Multi Award winning producer Phil Keoghan (creator The Amazing Race) showed us what it was like to do the ride in 1928 when he re-created a history that many are not aware of.  He challenged himself to the toughest road race in the world by retracing the 1928 Tour de France riding an original vintage bicycle with no gears, breathtaking scenery all along the way.  Keoghan was in attendance for the screening and for a Q&A at the end. He was also riding on the Tour de Palm Springs. But I have a feeling he did the whole 100.

The **Palm Springs Cultural Center, a non-profit organization, was established to encourage the development of the cultural arts in the Coachella Valley with a specific focus in the areas of film, fine art, live performance, dance, music, and community festivals. The Center is dedicated to advancing education, to nurturing community-wide participation in the cultural arts, and to sponsoring scholarship awards for deserving individuals.

*Tour de Palm Springs is a sponsored event designed to raise money for nonprofit organizations in the Coachella Valley and helps support more than 100 local charities.  It’s also great exercise.

  Have you ever done one of these?

Style: SLIPing

The Slip Dress – a Style Staple

I’ve come to the realization that a simple slip dress is anything but basic. It should be a wardrobe staple in every womans closet.  Preferably in black.

  If you’re ever in doubt of what to wear for an evening out it’s an easy, effortless piece to dress up or down.  Wear it long or just below the knee.  It pairs with so many things.  You can wear it with heels or flats, with a tuxedo jacket, throw or regular jean jacket.  Get the picture?And yes; Liz wore it better than anyone.

This might even be a real slip – so beautiful!