“May I?”: Ava’s Wrist-Length Gloves in Jim Jarmush’s Only Lovers Left Alive

There was a time (early/mid 2000s, I think) in which I was obsessed with a fashion accessory: gloves. My spirit guides were Carrie Bradshaw and May Welland: though totally different, the protagonist of Sex and the City and one of the main female characters of Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence had something in common – beautiful gloves and a peculiar grace in wearing them. At the time, I bought some lovely vintage pieces on eBay (which I’m still very proud of), but I haven’t worn them as much as I would. Using leather or embellished gloves in everyday life is unpractical, but the old flame has been rekindled after watching the latest film by Jim Jarmush, Only Lovers Left Alive.

The film speaks of a couple of vampires, Eve and Adam (Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston), beautiful and damned jet-setters who live in Tangier and Detroit, respectively. Their quiet dandy secluded lives are distrupted by Ava (Mia Wasikowska), Eve’s younger sister who lives in Los Angeles. Bina Daigeler, the film’s costume designer, did a gorgeous job with this character. Ava is a rebel who wants to enjoy life and the advantages of being a vampire in the 21st century; her style totally mirrors this attitude. I will show you all her outfits, but first let’s focus on her lovely wrist-length gloves.

vlcsnap-2014-03-27-01h12m25s168Gloves have a specific function in the film: according to the director, they are his contribution to the “mythology of vampire films, which is a cumulative thing,” (the reference is to fangs, holy water, no reflections on mirrors, threshold-crossing and sparkling skin in the sun). “We added in these leather gloves that they wear when they’re outside of their habitat,” he explained. “Why? Cause we had something that was ours that we invented. And we thought it looked really cool.” Asking the host to remove one’s gloves (hence the title of this post) doesn’t seem to have a specific function, though; probably it’s only a courtesy. Obviously Eve and Adam wear gloves, too, but Ava’s are the most interesting ones. We see them in detail in the scene set in a Detroit bar where the White Hills are performing.

Sparkler Alert!

I usually don’t care for jewellery, even if I love it. I mean: I hate wearing it, but in an ideal world I would live my life covered in diamonds head to toe. I hate wearing jewellery but I love seeing other people wearing it, especially when it comes to unique pieces. This happened some time ago, when Christina Aguilera announced her engagement to Matthew Rutler, showing a massive vintage-looking ring on a tropical background (no id of it yet, sorry), and even more when Mary-Kate Olsen was spotted wearing a sparkler which definitely looked like an engagement ring (her boyfriend is Olivier Sarkozy).

mkolsen_officeEven if it’s been a while since I last wrote about the Olsens, I’ve always kept an eye on them because I love their style. Mary-Kate is my favourite, though: her slightly dishevelled look and her love for vintage make me look at her as a source of inspiration. But let’s go back to her ring. She was first spotted wearing it some days ago, while she was leaving an office building in New York.


Born to Shop: Echoes From U2 PopMart Tour in Chanel and Moschino Fall 2014 Fashion Shows

Battle for survival vs consumerism: no one can deny that these opposite poles have always been the source of issues all over the world. The economic theory according to which one buys and consumes in an endless cycle has brought a revolution in the lives of most of us, even for those who are against it. We’re not even aware of dealing with the culture of consumption, since we were born with it, but stopping for a moment and thinking about it can be an eye-opening act. Artists have often harshly criticized consumerism (think of Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup can series or of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, for example), though perfectly aware of being part of the same mechanism they are criticizing. Mainstream fashion has never dared to use it as a theme: its central role in consumerism has served as a deterrent, because criticizing consumerism would mean criticizing fashion itself. The deceptive concept that fashion is democratic has been incredibly boosted consumerism: you may not be among the happy few who can wear haute couture, but designer bags, shoes or accessories seem more and more attainable. Fashion has turned desires into needs, thus making one of the main elements of capitalism real and tangible.

Expecting a criticism to fashion from fashion is as unrealistic as expecting approval of abortion from the Catholic Church: it simply can never happen, because this is not its role, but it’s interesting to see how these themes can influence fashion. These were my thoughts when I saw pictures from Chanel fall/winter 2014 fashion show, which took place this morning in Paris. The set design was an incredible Chanel-version of a supermarket, where each and every item on the shelves was customized.

article-2572888-1C073E9900000578-498_964x602The concept may be intriguing, but the execution was genius. The detail with which everything was planned and arranged is breath-taking. In such a setting, models walked as if they were customers, carrying carts and lining up at the check-out counters, once done with their shopping.

chanel_fall2014Was this a hymn to mass-consumption or a criticism? I think it was the former (I can’t see Karl Lagerfeld as a champion of anti-consumerism), with a touch of the latter thrown in. Building a supermarket as the setting for a fashion show emphasizes the main goal of mainstream fashion (people must buy), but at the same time highlights what fashion has turned into – a luxury supermarket, fast shopping and fast consumption, because new needs must be created.


86th Academy Awards

Do you remember last year, when I complained about the lack of dream-like outfits at the Academy Awards? Well, brace yourself because this year things went even worse. I don’t know what’s happening in Hollywood right now, but a very few attendees dared to wear something which – far from being groundbreaking or memorable (yes, Bjork, I’m talking to you) – made me dream of wearing the same. The 86th Academy Awards red carpet was all about conformism: personality was erased by current trends, the wow factor was nowhere to be found and we were left with very little to speak about. Too bad the most important cinema event in the world, strong with a glorious past, has been reduced to this.

This time I’ve picked my top 3 best-dressed celebrities, followed by others I’ve appreciated but not really *loved*.

The Winner

lupita_nyongo_oscars2014She won a golden statuette for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, but Lupita Nyong’o won something more important: the admiration of the public, an it-girl status and a role model status for younger generations (her emotional acceptance speech was heartfelt and inspiring). She may be a freshman in Hollywood but she showed everybody how to work the red carpet with elegance and grace. She was definitely the best-dressed of the evening, wearing a Prada custom-made baby blue georgette pleated dress, with plunging neckline and tiny crystals embellishing the long skirt. The Cinderella-like quality of the dress was emphasized by her accessories – Fred Leighton diamond jewels and headband, Prada satin platform sandals and matching clutch.


“Secrets … Are the Very Root of Cool:” Penhaligon’s Tralala

I’m often asked about the perfumes I wear, but explaining in detail what draws me towards a certain scent is hard. Choosing a perfume is a very personal, intimate and subjective act, which deals with memories, echoes and dreams. Moreover, what works for you may not work for others, because perfumes adapt to their wearers with different outcomes. It’s frustrating when you want a perfume to work for you [1], but there’s nothing you can do about it (I guess it’s a chemistry matter); on the contrary, when you realize something works wonderfully on your skin, that’s pure bliss. I don’t believe in love at first sight, but with perfumes… well, that’s a different story.

Penhaligon’s Endymion struck me like thunder, and the same happened with the latest scent of the British brand. Tralala is the result of a unique combination of creativity and artistry: created by Bertrand Duchaufour in collaboration with Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff, it will officially launch next spring [2], but I was lucky enough to get a sample from Penhaligon’s [3].

It’s taken me days to “study” it. I’m not joking: there’s so much hidden in this perfume, that whenever I wear it, I know there’s something more I can’t quite grasp. I don’t think I’m able to describe in detail, but let’s see what the official report says about the olfactory pyramid. The head notes include aldehydes, saffron, whiskey, ambrette seed butter, galbanum and violet leaf absolute; the heart notes are carnation, leather, tuberose, ylang ylang, orris and incense; the base notes include myrrh resinoid, opopanax absolute, patchouli, vetiver, cedarwood, heliotrope, musk and vanilla. It’s definitely the most complex composition I’ve ever smelt, but let me tell you I immediately connected it to two Penhaligon’s perfumes I own and love – Artemisia and Cornubia. Both perfumes have musk and vanilla as base notes, just like Tralala, but despite this similarity, the latter succeeds in standing out.

02_tralala_image-2To my nose, the perfume opens with a fresh, yet romantic, scent of violet, soon followed by a slight note of incense (which I love, and would smell it among millions of scents) and a rich tuberose. When the floral notes subside, the wooden/spicy heart of the perfume opens up with comforting and earthy notes of vanilla, patchouli and musk; on the background, a fresh hint of vetiver. Perfumes usually don’t last long on me, but this one lingers on my skin for hours – you can definitely tell it’s there for a long time. It’s a fragrance you can lose yourself in, but there’s more about it, a subtler yet deeper meaning: to me Tralala speaks of warmth and comfort, ideas I connect to Artemisia, too, but here there’s a mysterious element which I guess  is of its charm, a feature that beautifully echoes the imagery of its creators, along with the perfume bottle.


“Balenciaga!”: Five Style Picks from American Horror Story: Coven Finale

After 13 episodes, Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies finally has a new Supreme and has found its peace heading to new, rosy future. The finale of American Horror Story: Coven ends on a happy note, even if it’s been filled with an endless number of gruesome events (multiple deaths, tortures, mutilations). Unfortunately, most of the storylines haven’t been given the right emphasis; too many stories have lead to a confused, sometimes sloppy, plot, but one must give the show credit for being – style-wise – incredibly appealing. Lou Eyrich, the show’s costume designer, has done an excellent job in revisiting the main elements of the witch aesthetics and adapting them to the personalities of the characters.

There are many noteworthy outfits in this season, but I’d like to focus on the last episode only, which has really brought the fashion game to a higher level. So these are my five style picks from The Seven Wonders.

vlcsnap-2014-01-30-22h57m01s74The first 3 minutes are a lovely homage to Stevie Nicks, whose music and style have been one of the main inspiration for the series creator Ryan Murphy. She’s the spirit guide of Misty Day (Lily Rabe), the fascinating witch from the swamps, and she makes her appearance twice [1]. At the beginning of this episode, the black-clad singer walks through the golden-lit rooms of the academy and wishes the girls (Misty, Queenie, Madison and Zoe) good luck: they are about to undergo the tests of the Seven Wonders [2] and find out who the new Supreme is. The girls show their respect and admiration by wearing a fringed shawl, Stevie’s trademark accessory. Definitely one of the best moments.


“Sono satura di salsedine e di faraglioni”: Artsy Clothing and Unshaved Armpits in Totò a colori

Last summer I used some of my spare time to watch movies, lots of them, especially those which I had always liked to watch. It’s true I’m a fan of American and British cinema, but I also watched a couple of classic Italian films. Totò a colori, directed by Steno in 1953, is not just a comedy: it is among the first Italian films to be shot in colour, the first shot using the Ferraniacolor system. The plot is nothing revolutionary – it’s just an excuse to present some of the most popular revue scenes by the Italian comedian – but one of its sections is. The film has different settings but the most glamourous is Capri, where the protagonist, Antonio Scannagatti, meets an eccentric group of slackers. They all hang out in the luxurious mansion of Giulia Sofia (Franca Valeri), a Milanese socialite who spends her time travelling and partying [1].

This part of the film is very funny, because the protagonist pretends to be Pupetto Montmartre dagli Champs-Élysées (a bizarre Paris-based artist) but he’s just a penniless composer who wants to be famous. This double identity gives him the chance to act and dress in a very extravagant way and thus to mingle with the revelers. The outfits worn by the girls there are unusual: they draw inspiration from 1950s fashion, but have some details which make them stand out. We don’t know where they come from: probably some of them are locals but they act as if they were jet-setters like Giulia Sofia.

vlcsnap-2013-08-04-11h06m18s249“C’è la Patrizia che è una ragazza piuttosto bene. Non è nobile, ma ha il cane scozzese [2],” says the hostess. Patrizia (Lili Cerasoli) is a classic Italian beauty but everything in her appearance reinforces the idea of quirkiness. Her short hair contrasts with the pin-up make-up and brows (lips and nails are painted the same orange shade) and her armpits are unshaved. This shouldn’t be a surprise, since women’s attitude towards shaving was very different back then. Society didn’t see shaving as compulsory and bombshells like Sofia Loren proudly showed their unshaved armpits. Not all the girls in the film are unshaved, so I guess showing those who were has a reason. I think showing body hair wanted to highlight a natural detail in the middle of all that snobbery.