My full report can be read here.
My full report can be read here.
Above: Robert Mapplethorpe by Tom Scott, gold-dusted take-out container by Joselle Yokogawa & Mrs. Vreeland by Adrian Milton and Patrick Lehman
Dear holiday hussies, New Yawk punk-rock casualities & Studio sluts,
New York may be turning into an uninspired playground for bland honkies from the 'burbs, but on Saturday night I transported my apartment and my party guests back to the fabulously crime-ridden, decadent, gritty and glamorous '70s. The theme of my tree-trimming party this year was "1970s New York" and my guests certainly rose to the occasion with ornaments and shenanigans. The party was a mix of Old Home Week (friends I hadn't seen in years like Aaron Rasmussen & Tom Scott), new friends I met on Facebook (Carly Sommerstein, Carol Vanderkloot) and in Beijing (Charlene from Tranquil Tuesdays brought me some lovely ancient tree raw pu'er tea--it's what I drink when I'm in Beijing).
Peace in the Middle East in my kitchen!: Aaron Rasmussen, Carly Sommerstein & Mohamad A Canaan. Carly brought a dollop of Chanukah, the Communist Manifesto & Cultural Revolution porn to the party (more on that later). Mohamad, who is visiting from Beirut, quickly became the life of the party. When Mark Morgan Perez arrived later in the evening with a big bottle of top-shelf tequila, Mohamed jumped in and got us all plastered with several rounds of his take on traditional Lebanese "Dodo shots": tequila, salt, Frank's Hot Sauce, and an olive followed by a wedge of lime.
Icon alert! Justin Vivian Bond, NYC's most revered transgendered artiste, & Patrick McDonald, the Big Apple's most important dandy institution, had a long, intimate chat in the library nook of my kitchen.
Icon alert #2! Lesbian rock goddess Carole Pope blessed my pagan disco Druid tree with a splash of unholy water: unconsecrated prosecco.
Sylvia Heisel & her husband Scott Taylor (a bartender at Studio 54 in the late '70s who invented the phenomenon of shirtless male bartenders) of Postmodern Productions erected a conceptual installation in my Mao Zedong VIP Room: spinning disco balls and revolutionary Red lights! Talk about a cultural revolution!
Marisa Crawford, now a photographer and former stylist whom I assisted back in the day, and her daughter Justine were the first VIPs admitted into the Mao Room. Marisa's uncle, Paul Morrissey (yes, THE Paul Morrissey) recently screened his comeback film at Lincoln Center, which I attended at Marisa's invitation.
Artist Scott Neary, Persian intellectual Suzanne Batmanghelichi, moi avec Andy Kaufman, and Justin (who was on the floor looking for her diaphragm after it fell out of her purse.)
Superlative sober coach Patty Powers & eternal enfant terrible Bruce Benderson.
Nancy Stout, author of the soon-to-be-released Cuban revolutionary Celia Sanchez biography, and her pal Antonia van Drimmelen engage in dialetical Marxist Melba Moore hijinks. Do the hustle!
Sizzling hot soul sisters Joselle Yokogawa & Danielle deciphered the conundrums of the Mao Room.
Knitwear designer (right) Tom Scott won the tree-topper award this year with his Robert Mapplethorpe ornament. A Satanic star for my tree--take THAT, Jesus!
Patrick Lehman won the Charles Nelson Reilly look-a-like contest with more than a little help from his Chester Weinberg scarf and witty repartee.
Antonia & Christopher Voigt discussed Tibetan Buddhism while keeping a safe distance from the Mao Room (and as David Hemmings documents it).
Glamour puss & Eve Kitten creator Nancy Bacich & Patrick cooled their heels in my boudoir-slash-office.
Musician and radical guitar-pedal inventor Johnny Steele and his girlfriend showed up dressed for a night at the Mudd Club circa 1978!
Tom's sublime Robert Mappelthorpe ornament reigning supreme at the top of my tree (sharing the title with Joselle's glam take-away carton...)
Old-Skool East Village diehard artist John Toth battled his way through drunken, vomiting frat boys on the street to deliver his hip-hop graffiti ornament to my party!
Scott Neary made this ornament because he wants the world to know: I Saw Bette at the Palace!
Santa Claus is subjected to a terrifying "The Fly" fate after he's morphed with Factory casualty Edie Sedgwick. Ornament by Corey Sabourin.
My Truman & Andy ornament & Carol Vanderkloot's NYC taxi. Goes well with Andy considering all his excrutiatingly boring taxi ride documentations (how much he paid for each ride or who paid for him instead) in his diaries.
Joselle's glam-bam-thank-you-ma'am New York Dolls shoe ornament.
Viva Angela! Nancy Stout made this ornament that documents "On October 17, 1970 FBI agents arrested Angela Davis at the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in New York City. President Nixon congratulated the FBI for capturing a 'dangerous terrorist.'" !
More from Nancy: Fidel Castro's 1979 visit to New York purportedly cost the city $170,000 in overtime for 2,000 policemen! But what I want to know is: Did Fidel get turned away at the door of Studio 54?
Christopher Voigt brought some groovy interior design to the party, which he interprets as a 1970s Nativity scene...the "virgin" in this case is on birth-control pills....
A hot dog (love the glitter mustard) and dolls--sounds like a typical '70s New York snack! (Suzanne brought the hot dog; Mark brought the empty prescription bottle.)
Bruce Benderson brought the Crisco to the party--but my house rule required that it be used only in the hallway or outside. I didn't want any greasy fist marks ending up on my champagne flutes and antique sconces!
Carole Pope's punk decoupage creation is centered around "an inflated used condom"....or so the legend goes. (I can't imagine Carole putting her mouth ANYWHERE where a cock was.)
Aaron's high-concept ornament is supposed to be me when I'm 70....or me in the '70s....or something like that....
Elegant disco cocks by Cator Sparks
Vintage Hello Kitty toy from Nancy Bacich.
Rachel Spaeth brought an ornament that's supposed to be "how a disco ball looks after a night of doing too much coke" and Johnny got all pre-hipster DIY punk rock and just made his ornament from the PBR he drank at my party (he brought it himself--I would NEVER serve PBR at one of my parties!)
Bruce & Justin
The boys in the backroom: Patrick McDonald, Patrick Lehman, Cator Sparks and friend.
Marisa Crawford brought a Chinese-character version of Mao's Little Red Book
The aforementioned Cultural Revolution porn that Carly brought!
I love getting presents at my Xmas parties! Danielle gifted me a a St. Germain & Cava cocktail kit!
Thanks for reading & happy holidaze, dolls...
Back in the 1960s it was the December issue of Vogue (during Diana Vreeland's reign) that was the big issue of the year, not the September issue. My article on Mrs. Vreeland's magical December issues can be read here on the official Diana Vreeland website.
For the December 1967 issue, an infamous Richard Avedon shoot featured an entirely nude Rudolf Nureyev. When the legendary Russian ballet dancer emerged naked from behind the screen in Avedon’s studio, Mrs. Vreeland described the spectacle thusly: “My dear, you know how it is with men in the morning? Well, it was like that and we had to wait a half an hour for it to go down and it was very strange but rather beautiful.”
Read my full report here on A Shaded View on Fashion
Dear tele-trannies & fashion fans in the flyovers:
I never watch the ridiculous "America's Next Top Model" but I tuned in to the season premiere last night to see my friend Kelly Cutrone, best-selling author and owner of People's Revolution PR company, who has been chosen as one of the judges (replacing Andre Leon Talley). I'm not here to do a recap--I'll leave that to the parasitic TV bloggers--as I'm sure you can watch the episode on Hulu. I will say that Cutrone did a right-on job with her savvy, seasoned advice for the young contestants and I'll never say a bad word about Kelly Osbourne because I revere her father and adore her mother.
However, I can't resist logging in my drive-by comments regarding the segment where the models were dressed as either American or British archetypes (this season pits girls from the US and the UK against each other), and then asked to jump up and down on a trampoline while being filmed by sixty cameras. (For a 3-D effect....the money they throw away on these shows could go to feeding several African countries and then some.) The girls were expected to mimic the precise facial expressions and mannerisms of each icon they were imitating, while jumping. How on earth a 19-year old girl is supposed to possess insight into the likes of Andy Warhol and Pocahontas (which, in a racist jab, the judges imposed on the show's Native American girl) is beyond me. The judges were unrealistically harsh on the contestants, which I suppose is all part of the show's cartoonish appeal. (They acted like they had cocktails with the real Pocahontas, who died in 1617, on a regular basis and therefore understood her intimately.)
I'm surprised they didn't set fire to the contestants and then pour molasses on them while they were jumping up and down....and then berate and humiliate them for not projecting the exact same facial expressions, body odor and souls of Jackie Kennedy and Elton John.
Dear acolytes of all things stylish:
Earlier today I sent my longtime friend Camille Paglia my report from A Shaded View on Fashion on uber-muse Daphne Guinness at the Genghis Khan fashion show and film screening during New York Fashion Week. During the course of our email correspondence, Camille had this to say about the divine Daphne--and she also had more than a few choice words about Lady Gaga. As you can guess, she didn't hold back:
A king’s heir makes living under a legacy look easy. By Glenn Belverio. (From ZOO Magazine, Spring 2008)
When Riley Keough, the 18-year old model and granddaughter of Elvis Presley, made her runway debut at Dolce & Gabbana over four years ago, the mass media and fashion world palpitated like love-struck teenage girls. The portentous moment elicited a chorus of oohs and aahs over Riley’s Elvis-like features: heavy-lidded eyes, full cheeks, and a moody stare. A few front-rowers (Ruth La Ferla of The New York Times, specifically) even claimed to spot the ingénue break into one of Elvis’s trademark curled lip snarls. “The resemblance to Elvis was uncanny. We were all stunned,” one fashionista gushed. And of course Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana chimed in. “When we met Riley last year, we were immediately struck by her beauty and fresh, pure spirit. With her mother’s beauty and her grandfather’s attitude, she is sure to be a star!”
These days Riley’s reaction to the media’s relentless gawking is understated, to say the least. “I haven’t been looking for attention, so I haven’t gotten much of it,” she says. “My job isn’t the lowest profiled job so some attention is inevitable and expected, but I don’t really want more than that.” This is, of course, Riley staying true to form. She is known to be demure and as someone who considers the act of publicity-seeking distasteful. You won’t see her baiting the paparazzi by driving around West Hollywood with a rent-a-guru ala Paris Hilton or gallivanting panty-less around town ala starlets too numerous to mention. “She doesn’t have that whole ‘I’m gonna be a sexy teenager’ thing,” her mother, Lisa Marie Presley, said at the beginning of Riley’s modeling career. “She’s actually got so much class. She’s very graceful and has this sort of Grace Kelly-esque thing to her. She has had this elegance and finesse since she was a baby.”
Looking back to May 29, 1989, the day Riley (her birth name is Danielle Riley Keough) was born, there was something elegant if not protectively discreet about the way the daughter of Lisa Marie and musician Danny Keough entered the world. Her birth in Santa Monica, California was cloaked in secrecy; only one photographer, a friend of Danny’s named Cesare Bonazza, was allowed in the hospital room. (He reportedly sold a photo of the newborn to People magazine for US $300,000—a huge sum for a celebrity photo back then.) Baby Riley managed to elude the mob of paparazzi outside the hospital in a way that resembled Baby Moses being secreted down the Nile. But the pharaonic media caught up with her soon enough. Stories emerged that the child would be named “Elron” in honor of both Elvis and L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, the controversial organization of which Lisa Marie, Priscilla Presley (Riley’s grandmother), and Danny Keough are all reportedly involved. Tabloid astrologers were more charitable, predicting “a screen and music career” for Riley.
Crawling out from under Elvis’s massive shadow has been a long-term theme, almost a cliché, in the lives of Lisa Marie, Priscilla, and now Riley. The persistent memory of Elvis exists as an array of archetypes: corruptor of youth, musical revolutionary, sacred deity, camp actor, comeback kid, totem of kitsch Americana, damaged martyr. Generations have watched (and re-watched, through thousands of hours of perpetually released film footage) with awe and sadness as a sweet, sexy country boy was transformed into a dissolute neurotic by the harsh realities of fame. His incalculable influence on 20th and 21st century culture is, like Andy Warhol’s (the Popist’s 15-minutes-of-fame prophecy is routinely fulfilled) sometimes easily dismissed—partly because its lingering effect has been so thoroughly successful and ubiquitous. You’re not always aware of it but, to quote a long-running American dishwashing liquid commercial, you’re soaking in it.
Considering what they’ve had to live up to, the Presley women have not so much crawled out from under that shadow but negotiated it, as they’ve forged their own identities in the process. And their preservation of the legacy, it should be noted, has been admirable. Lisa Marie fought, and won, in court to retain the rights to her father’s name, image, and likeness. (The law at the time, which Lisa Marie permanently changed with her victory, dictated that such rights became public domain rather than be turned over to heirs.) When Graceland was set to be handed over to the state or put up for auction due to the large debts Elvis left behind after his death in 1977, Priscilla masterminded the plan to turn the property into a museum. It opened in 1982 and is visited by over 600,000 people a year.
Last September, Lisa Marie and Riley appeared together on The Oprah Winfrey Show. After performing an imaginary and rather audacious duet of “In the Ghetto” with her father (The King appeared in vintage footage on a jumbo video screen), with backup from the Harlem Gospel Choir, Lisa Marie fielded questions from the Big O. Speaking about Riley, Lisa Marie explained, a bit tongue-tied, that, “I didn’t want her to lose her own identity…I wanted them [Riley and her younger brother, Benjamin] to be raised normally…I didn’t want her to have that shadow where she felt in competition or intimidated by anything. I was raised never to flaunt who I am so I’ve raised them the same way…just do your own thing.”
But was it hard for Riley growing up in this dynasty, with this legacy? Oprah wanted to know. “Not really,” Riley responded nonchalantly before laughing and gesturing toward her mother. “Not like her.” Long story short, life for Lisa Marie has been a bit bumpier than a one-week stay at the Heartbreak Hotel. In her late teen years, her mother sent her to the Scientology center for their version of drug rehab. It was there she met Danny Keough and married him shortly thereafter in October 1988. After her divorce to Danny in 1994, she notoriously married the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. He was not popular with Riley—she reportedly fled in tears whenever her eccentric stepfather entered the room. Lisa Marie’s next husband was Elvis fan Nicholas Cage. That lasted about three months. Her current marriage to musician Michael Lockwood—the pair wed in 2006—has been more promising, as Lockwood is now her music producer. Even before the marriage, Lisa Marie had already begun to establish her recording career. In 2005 she released her second album, Now What. Riley sang backup vocals.
“We have a really good relationship,” Riley says glowingly. “My mom is extremely strong and can deal with pretty much anything thrown at her. And she has the biggest heart at the same time. Both of these things are really inspiring to me.” Although Riley loves music, listening to everything from Daft Punk to The Grateful Dead on her iPod, she has been adamant about not following in the musical footsteps of her mother and grandfather. And while she has been tight-lipped about her interest in photography and a rumored foray into acting, her modeling career has been marked with more than a few highlights. After her stint with Dolce & Gabbana, the 5-foot-7-inch mannequin walked for Christian Dior for four seasons and scored the campaign for the brand’s Miss Dior Cherie fragrance. In 2005, she appeared in a campaign for David Yurman alongside Amber Valetta and Kate Moss.
“I love working. I love meeting new photographers and seeing how they create,” says Riley, who has worked with Nick Knight, Mario Sorrenti, Peter Lindburgh, Rankin, and Arthur Elgort. “My favorite thing about being a model is being able to travel.” While she says there is nothing she dislikes about her career, Riley—who debuted as a model at age 12 for a Tommy Hilfiger campaign—does have her criticisms of the industry. “I don’t like how much attention is put on girls’ images, especially young girls,” she says. “I think it’s really unhealthy for 13 and 14-year olds to be worried about what they look like. It’s not always the case but when it is, I don’t like that at all.”
What’s next for Riley? A cosmetics campaign, a juicy movie role, a career as a social worker? Social worker?! “I’m involved with the Presley Charitable Foundation which is a non-profit organization that provides housing, daycare and counseling for homeless families so they can get back on their feet again,” Riley explains soberly. “We are currently working on opening up a center in New Orleans. I’m also working on various projects with different organizations. I love charity work; it’s something I want to be involved in as much as I can. That’s one thing that truly makes me the happiest.”
I made some time to check in with a few designers during New York Fashion Week--links to my coverage on A Shaded View on Fashion below:
I'm off to Madrid & Vienna now for more shows. Later dolls!
My coverage of the latest edition of 080 Barcelona Fashion is up on A Shaded View on Fashion.
My report on the latest edition of AltaRoma AltaModa is up on A Shaded View on Fashion.