Friday, August 1, 2014

Out & About--Grand Juror at La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival 2014

When I was first asked to be a Grand Juror at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival and heard it was called the "Cannes of Fashion Films," I had no idea how apropos that would be.  The festival took place July 24th through 26th, and Kevin and I went down early to take in the beauty of this beachside community that rivals any in the South of France.  The La Jolla coastline was stunning--rocky cliffs mixed with sandy beaches that boast some of the best surfing in the world, including the legendary Windansea.  Kevin, a longtime surfer, took advantage of this and paddled out every morning before joining me and the festival activities.  The weather throughout was tropical, too; heat and humidity are a rarity along the ocean here in Southern California, so it really felt as if we had all been transported to a faraway place.  

Kevin's photo of MOCA (above, upper left) as it overlooks the La Jolla coast
and my close up of the museum from its ocean side

The venue for the festival was the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego at La Jolla, a sophisticated space perched on the bluffs overlooking the ocean.  Designed around 1915 by Irving Gill, a pioneer in modern architecture, it was formerly the residence of philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps. The art that is part of the current exhibition at the museum included everything from Mark Rothko to Raymond Chandler's typewriter.  Chandler, who wrote The Big Sleep and many other iconic film noir, was a longtime resident of La Jolla; he vacationed for the winter there in 1939, then moved in 1946 to live in La Jolla until his death in 1959.  The museum celebrates his work alongside great painters and sculptors, and it also features a big beautiful movie theater.  All the films of the festival were shown there with red carpets preceding screenings each night.

The facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego at La Jolla

Festival signage adorns the front of the museum

In addition to being a Grand Juror for the festival, I was also brought in to give a seminar on the HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM to this industry audience.  In contrast to my class, webinars, and other presentations, I really focused this talk on...well, fashion.  In it, I created one section to show how some of the earliest costume design came straight from the European couturiers, another section that showed American costume designers who trained in couturiers, another that showed costume designers who had their own fashion lines after (and sometimes even during) their career in film, and another on fashion designers who created some of the most iconic costume design in film.  I ended it all by featuring costume designer Edith Head who, despite the fact that she had no real design training before film or a fashion line of her own, still had numerous ways in which she connected with fashion--creating iconic designs for the Oscars red carpet, writing style books and magazine columns, performing makeovers on television, and licensing her most popular costume designs.

The positive feedback to the presentation was overwhelming.  It started with an enthusiastic round of questions and then evolved into a long line of lovely people from all over the world who introduced themselves and offered their praise.  The "raves" (that particular word kept coming up) even continued on the red carpet, including those that came through festival producer Fred Sweet.  I couldn't have been more thrilled to have so many people celebrating the impact of classic cinema.  I also couldn't have been more thrilled with the venue--the room where I presented my seminar was called the Coast Room as it, like many of the other spaces at the museum, had views of the Pacific Ocean.  Because people enjoyed the seminar so much and others have asked to see it, I will likely do a webinar of it in the near future.  Stay tuned!

Presenting the HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM inside the Coast Room 
and the breathtaking view from one of its windows

Just outside the Coast Room--
the humidity is so high it caused the camera to fog for photos of me and Kevin

As a member of the Grand Jury, I watched all the festival films that were submitted for consideration numerous times before voting and really appreciated the talent involved.  In my seminar, I had gone back to the beginning of film in the 1900s and talked about how fashion was one of the first to really see the potential and value of this new medium.  Knowing that history, it was really something for me to see how far the area of fashion films has come.  Today they are film-quality shorts with talent evident in every area of the production--directors, cinematographers, editors, costume designers and fashion designers, and hair and makeup stylists.  You can see the 2014 winners on the LJIFFF site.  Some of these people aspire to major motion pictures, and others are bringing up the bar in areas like music videos and advertising.  I'll just say it's a far cry from the silent, often grainy (though beautiful) black and white fashion shows American audiences saw in early movie theaters from the European couturiers.  

Then and now--stock footage from a fashion short in 1917 and
today's fashion film Purgatory of Monotony with Best Actress winner Sonja Kinski (Nastassja's daughter)

RHIÉ 2014- THE PURGATORY OF MONOTONY from ace norton on Vimeo.

For the opening and closing night red carpet events of the La Jolla Fashion Film Festival, I was honored to wear couture by Ali Rahimi for Mon Atelier.  No designer could have been more perfect for me and the event.  One of the reasons I love his work so much is that he is an artist who truly knows and respects how many details of design today--colors, silhouettes, fabrics, accessories--are inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Ali is as talented as the legendary costume designers like Jean Louis and Irene who inspire him, and we first bonded and became friends when I visited their exquisite salon back in 2012.  For the gowns for the festival, I could sense the inspiration of the 1960s and 1970s and a fashion designer who was also responsible for iconic costume design in film--Yves Saint Laurent (Belle de Jour).  In addition, stars like Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, Lana Turner, and Grace Kelly all acted as something of a style guide for me in putting the entirety of the looks together.

One of the influences found in my gown could be Yves Saint Laurent
and his iconic 1976 'Gypsy Collection' 

My opening night dress can also be considered an illusion gown--
here is Irene's illusion gown in lace for Marlene Dietrich in A Foreign Affair (1948, above) 
and one of Jean Louis' illusions gowns for Marlene and her live show

On opening night, I wowed the red carpet with a Mon Atelier couture evening gown in red lace.  It was an off-the-shoulder illusion gown--sheer in the sleeves, but the lace fell over nude silk everywhere else and made it seem as though you may be seeing more than you really were.  The details of the dress were extraordinary, including vintage velvet ribbon from 1900 accenting the neckline, waist, and wrists.  Those cuffs also featured 9 buttons that fastened along the inside of my arms.  I paired the striking red gown with a vintage light blue clutch and drop earrings that had stones the same color as the blue in the bag.

Style inspiration from 1960s and 1970s France a la Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve offered some guidance in the way of hair and makeup as well, and I was fortunate to work with the talented Jennifer Bueno.  Jen has had a long career in fashion--everything from New York fashion week to magazine editorials.  I was just lucky that she lives in San Diego and splits her time between there and Los Angeles.  She's in high demand and it's easy to see why.  For this first look, she did my hair in soft waves that looked relaxed even though it was very purposely put together.  And the makeup had that same slightly retro feel, particularly in the eyes which were covered in a smokey bronze with a distinct cat eye liner and loads of lashes.

Couture red lace evening gown by Ali Rahimi for Mon Atelier
with hair and makeup by Jennifer Bueno

Detail of the gown (above), which was given gold stamp of approval by costume designer Edith Head 
played by friend Susan Claassen, whose incredible one-woman show A Conversation with Edith Head must be seen

For the closing night and the award show red carpet, I wore Mon Atelier's couture caftan.  It was made of silk charmeuse with a pattern that evoked the ever-colorful late 1960s.  It was stunning and made an impact on all who saw it.  When I first announced I was wearing a caftan to the festival, I think it rose some eyebrows as it didn't seem like something that fit with my classic style.  But I wanted people to understand that the caftan is quite classic.  First, there is its long history, which you can see some of in this great post at Shrimpton Couture.  Many designers like Yves Saint Laurent and the ever-classic Oscar de la Renta designed caftans for their muses, models, and stars.  Among those stars who loved it include Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly, who both had large collections of caftans in their personal wardrobes.  My wearing this gown also paid tribute in a way to one of the great designers who graced the film festival--Zandra Rhodes.  A pioneer of the 1960s and 1970s, Rhodes was responsible for setting much of Britain's highly influential style.  

Famed British designer Dame Zandra Rhodes (above, with Susan Claassen as Edith Head)
showed her film with her new collection at the festival...
her style has remained consistent since the 1960s (Pat Cleveland models Rhodes' 1970s caftan below)

Hollywood stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly had many caftans in their personal wardrobes...
just some of Taylor's collection is exhibited below

Caftans circa 1965--Veruschka in Irene Galitzine for American Vogue (above)
and an example of iconic Pucci for Vogue UK

The silk of my Mon Atelier caftan was so soft that it literally floated as I moved.  Everyone loved it--from festival attendees to photographers who went mad over the pattern.  Because it was so bold, I kept the accessories simple.  In order to pick up on the black lines in the fabric, I chose a black vintage lizard clutch from my own collection and Charles David snakeskin and leather slides.  When putting together the whole look, I kept imagining how Brigitte Bardot might wear a caftan.  As a result, I asked Jennifer to put my hair in a slightly messy updo parted in the middle, and then I accented that style with very large silver hoop earrings.  With the makeup, she once again put the focus on my eyes with strong liner and lashes while keeping the skin soft and glowing. 

Couture silk charmeuse caftan by Ali Rahimi for Mon Atelier
with hair and makeup by Jennifer Bueno

On the red carpet with the festival's producer Fred Sweet

Photographers enjoyed how much fun Kevin and I have together--very Nick and Nora Charles--
so they coaxed him to join me on the red carpet

Showing off the incredible print and details of the caftan to an appreciative gallery of photographers

Kevin circles around me to capture the great hair and makeup from Jennifer Bueno

Beginning of the awards ceremony at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival
with the first award--for costume design--being presented by Susan Claassen as Edith Head
(I was even asked at last minute to give award for Best Makeup, but presenter arrived in the nick of time)

It was an honor and great fun to be involved in the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival, and I appreciate everyone who was a part of me being there.  It was especially great because I worked with people I loved and the city itself is so special with connections to Hollywood history.  The La Jolla Playhouse, for one, was founded by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, and Mel Ferrer in 1947, and of course La Jolla has a famous resident in one of my favorite writers Raymond Chandler.  Kevin and I also adore the beach--we live in Santa Monica, after all--so it was wonderful to celebrate another part of the California Gold Coast.

Many thanks to Fred Sweet, Linda Comer, and all others who organized the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival; Ali Rahimi and John Barle from Mon Atelier; hair and makeup artist Jennifer Bueno; and all the other lovely people I met through the festival.  You can see many more photos from the event on several Facebook pages:  LJIFFF, Multi Media Diva, and Rocky Forguson. Looking forward to staying in touch with all my new friends and colleagues.  Hope to see you take part in my ongoing online webinar series on the HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM 1920s-1970s!

Thanks to Kevin Osborne for photos of me and many others from the festival,
James Blair for photos of Kevin and me,
Multi Media Diva for photo inside my seminar (and be sure to see more from the festival from her),
and Shrimpton Couture for photos on historic caftans


Marline said...

Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos! I feel so much like I was there with you, soaking up the sunshine (and humidity!!). Thanks to Kevin for being the photographer...he did a great job! You looked marvelous and were clearly having a wonderful time. Lucky crowd that got to hear you and YES, please do a webinar on what you shared with them. Many hugs, Kay

Caftan Woman said...

I'm in Heaven!

It's almost as if we were there. Marvelous pictures and insights.

Kevin said...

A great article on a great festival in beautiful La Jolla. Congratulations to you Kimberly, and Mon Atelier, and Jennifer Bueno on the gorgeous looks.

Silver Screenings said...

Looks like an amazing festival! I love the architecture of the museum. If I'm ever in that area again, I must visit.

You looked fabulous! That red lace is stunning.

Thanks for sharing. Like Caftan Woman said, it almost felt like we were there, too,

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks all for your lovely comments! I apologize for the delay in my response--I've been running around all week long on business matters and away from the computer.

Kay, Patricia, and Ruth, I'm so glad that you all seemed to feel like you were there--it was so gorgeous and I just wanted to capture a little bit of that for you. I think Kevin did do a great job of his photos of me (he's learned what I look for over the years ;) lol ). If interested in the webinar I gave at the festival, I'll likely be giving it online in October. I'll send out announcements beforehand to sign up. :) Thanks again!

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