“What’s the point of that, Miss?” the waiter said.
“Tomorrow morning,” Mabel said.
The Diviners (2012) by Libba Bray
The anonymous waiter in Libba Bray’s novel was right: what’s the point of drinking a gin-based cocktail if there’s no gin in it? Gin, my favourite liquor, has a festive meaning to me: its juniper notes are sparkling and scorching. In particular, the union of gin and vermouth has a sacred importance, which I started appreciating in the late 1990s. At the time, drinking Martini made me feel incredibly classy (indeed), but bear with me: I was a grunge-looking university student who liked drinking à la James Bond, I guess. Nowadays I rarely drink alcohol, but you can be sure gin would definitely be on top of my drinking list, if I had one.
You can understand my excitement when, in 2011, I learnt about the creation of a gin-inspired perfume by Penhaligon’s – Juniper Sling. I just loved the idea of the peculiar notes of my favourite liquor turned into a fragrance, so Juniper Sling quickly hopped into my busy perfume wish-list. Since I first heard about it, many things have happened: I’ve bought other perfumes which I’ve fallen in love with, yet that intriguing gin scent was still there, waiting in my list. Last June I wanted to celebrate in style the end of a ghastly school year: after reading two lovely posts about gin-inspired and cocktail-inspired perfumes, I knew the time for my eager hands to grab a bottle of Juniper Sling had finally come.
Everyone has got at least one or a couple of films which have changed his/her life. You know, one of those films which leave a permanent mark on your memory and almost contribute in making the person you are today. In my case, the list is pretty endless, but Susan Seidelman’s Desperately Seeking Susan
(1985) is firmly sitting in the top 10 since the first time I saw it (around 1988, I think). All the elements of this romantic comedy have been carefully dissected by bloggers and film critics, especially the locations (symbols of an alternative/punk-y New York) and the style of the two protagonists, Rosanna Arquette as Roberta and Madonna as Susan. The Madonna-mania was about to reach its peak and the film incredibly boosted the singer’s popularity: if you tell me you’ve never dreamt of being Susan , I won’t believe you. Her short jacket with the golden pyramid embroidery on the back, her studded booties
and stolen Egyptian earrings
are still in my wish-list, along with all the garments worn by my favourite character, Crystal (Anna Levine Thomson). She’s Susan’s friend, a good-hearted girl who works at the Magic Club as the assistant of an illusionist.
She makes her first appearance during a show. She’s clumsy and receives disappointed looks by the illusionist she works with. The cause of her clumsiness is her short-sightedness: Crystal can’t see a thing without her glasses, but the club boss, Ray (John Turturro), doesn’t want her to wear glasses on stage. In this scene, she’s wearing a dusty mauve tulle and lace costume – strapless, tiered skirt, the waist chinched by a matching belt. She’s also wearing a platinum blonde wig, a satin ribbon as choker, pink stockings and mary-janes.
Today a Twitter friend of mine linked me an interesting article by Megan Angelo about the rise of anti-fashion tv shows like Orange is the New Black, in opposition to the super-fashion shows like Gossip Girl and Sex and the City, which stirred every fashionista’s wet dreams some years ago. The setting and the plot of the show created by Jenji Kohan don’t leave much space to variety and fantasy, yet the costume designer Jennifer Rogien has recently explained how she succeeded in customizing every inmate uniform so as to let their personalities shine through. Noticing subtle details in the orange or khaki uniforms is certainly fascinating, but my fashion-lover heart doesn’t beat for those. Gorgeous fashion can’t turn a mediocre tv show or film into something good, but if the show is extremely good (as in the case of Orange is the New Black), some designer fashion hints can definitely spice things up. These were totally missing in the first season, but in the second one we were given three fantastic and totally unexpected moments .
The first two designer pieces appear in the 4th episode, A Whole Other Hole. One of the most intriguing sub-plots of the show are the flashbacks with which we learn the reason why a character is in jail. In this episode the flashback is about Lorna Morello (Yael Stone), the romantic inmate who always wears a bright red lipstick. She ran a mail scam ordering items online and receiving them, but calling the companies claiming they never arrived. She’s a compulsive shopper who can’t resist the charm of designer clothes and accessories.
A week has passed since the last CFDA Awards (which took place at the Lincoln Center in New York), yet I’m still thinking about two outfits, those sported by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Move over, Crystallized Rihanna: the two former teen stars caught my attention and made it to the top of my best-dressed list of the event.
The designers, who won the Accessories Designer of the Year award, brought their trademark minimalism to a sublime level, sporting two similar outfits by The Row, pairing it to elegant jewellery and awesome shoes. Ashley wore a black silk dress with long, wide sleeves, crew neckline and belt at the waist. Mary-Kate opted for a more original dress,cut like an overcoat, made of black silk shantung, featuring kimono sleeves and belt at the waist.
I’ve seldom experienced the unique and eerie feeling of being “called” by a movie. It happens when you’re not particularly interested in a film, but there’s something in it, something suddenly appealing and compelling which forces you to go to the cinema and get lost in it. It’s recently happened to me with the latest work by David Cronenberg, Maps to the Stars, based on the novel Dead Stars by Bruce Wagner .
It’s a wild and sad story of people lost in a sun-scorched Hollywood where self-promotion, money and celebrity hide dark (disturbing family secrets and addictions) and eerie aspects (ghosts from the past haunting the present and pushing the protagonists to the limit). The character who has caught my attention is Agatha Weiss (Mia Wasikowska): she appears out of nowhere into the lives of the limousine driver/actor/aspiring screenwriter Jerome Fontana (Robert Pattinson) and of the troubled actress Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore). She shares the same obsession with celebrity which drives all the other characters, but her appearance reveals a different story. Agatha is a freak, like those of the 1932 Todd Browning film: one side of her face is covered in scars (the remains of a fire she started in her family house) and the same can be said for her décolletage, arms, hands, chest and legs, which she always keeps hidden. The make-up-less face and her childish bob haircut add jarring notes.
Her style is minimalistic: she wears loose t-shirts in neutral shades (black, heather grey) and a black top underneath, black leggings as tights and flat strappy sandals. She wears an aubergine skirt and a black bandage dress only once – the latter in a very important scene. The most striking elements of her outfits are obviously the black leather gloves  she never takes off.
Most of us have learnt about classic fairy tales thanks to the Disney animated adaptations, but probably younger generations will learn about them through the movies that have been released recently. Mirror Mirror (2012) by Tarsem Singh and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) by Rupert Sanders have paved the way to Maleficent, the latest jewel in the Disney crown. Directed by Robert Stromberg (an American special effect artist who has now made his directorial debut) and strongly influenced by its protagonist and executive producer Angelina Jolie, the film is a dark tale of violence, hatred and revenge. Everybody knows the plot, based on La belle au bois dormant by Charles Perrault and Dornröschen by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, but there two elements which break the traditional story.
The first is the relationship between Maleficent and Aurora (Elle Fanning). The princess, born to King Stefan (Sharlto Copley) and Princess Leila (Hannah New), grows up alone, isolated from her native family and unattached to the three fairies who should look after her. The only constant presence in her life is the dark witch, who follows her like a shadow, ready to help her or make her play; no wonder Aurora thinks she’s her fairy godmother. This Maleficent doesn’t see Aurora as a threat, but treats her like a daughter, despite her attempts to scare her and to get rid of her at first.