Style Resolutions for the New Year from Joan Didion to Annie Hall

The nature of the New Year lends itself to reflection and resolution. One looks on the tangible past with a certain tenderness for the good times and a desire to resolve the bad for future betterment. We write lists of goals as a response to society’s overwhelming call to action on the first of January, and we carry these lofty goals with us as we proceed into the future hopeful that these resolutions will re-inflate our egos and protect us from making the same mistakes that we made in the past.

However, too often our resolutions are too lofty, too overwhelming to really stick to past January 5th or so, when our lives returns to their crazy, busy normality not buffered by the holidays and PTO days.  So this year I decided to make resolution that were doable that I could work on right now and every day go forward, little things that I feel I could stick to even when life gets crazy again.

One of said daily intentions is to reinvigorate my personal style and not in a way that requires the purchase of a whole new wardrobe. So in sticking to the customary reflection and resolutions I turned to the past, gleaning inspiration from my sartorial heroes in order to improve my future style choices and make old pieces feel new again. I’ve learned that you can definitely teach an old skirt new tricks.

The following women, whether fictional or real, inspire me on a daily basis to dress in a way that articulates a specific story.

Joan Didion

Joan Didion published her first novel at 29, wrote of the human experience with objective truth that divulged the denigration of American morals, drove a Corvette, clocked time at Vogue, was bicoastal and took a similar approach to dressing as she did her writing. Valuing simplicity, elegance and restraint, her personal style revolved around oversized black shades and refined sentences lines.


Jane Birkin

Jane Birkin epitomizes the Parisian boho-chic of the 1970s, channeling the innocence of Lolita and the sex appeal of a femme fatale. Famous for her blunt cut bangs, mile long legs, mini skirts and peasant tops, she undoubtedly posses that certain je ne sais quoi. There is no question as to who I hope to be emanating when I wear a white t-shirt, loose jeans and a single gold chain.


Anna Karina

Anna Karina, née Hanne Karin Bayer made innocence sexy, paving the way for the likes of Alexa Chung and Zooey Deschanel. She is all bangs and feline-inspired eyeliner. Her style can be distilled to knee-length plaid skirts, frilled collars and ballet flats.  Widely considered the French art-house brunette equivalent to Brigitte Bardot’s blonde bombshell sex appeal, she is both enchanting and intelligent, ingénue and sophisticate.


Annie Hall

Annie Hall’s slouchy trousers, vests and bowler hats were a welcome change to the era of metallic hot pants and flared bellbottoms.  She single handedly re-introduced the idea of menswear-inspired fashion to the public.  She made layers of tweed and buttoned up shirts feminine and sexy with her charm and confidence. Her free-spirited and effortless style is as brave as it is organic. One can’t help but admire the Charlie Chaplin meets crazy cat lady perfection that is Annie Hall.


Chatting with Lulu Gainsbourg on His Debut Album ‘From Gainsbourg to Lulu’

"Music has always been present in me and around me. I love music, listen to music everyday, can’t live without it," says Lulu Gainsbourg. As the son of legendary French musician Serge Gainsbourg, it’s only natural that he’d have a knack for music in his blood. And with From Gainsbourg to Lulu, his debut album, Lulu reimagines the work of his father, accompanied by his talented pool of friends—from Johnny Depp and Scarlett Johansson to Rufus Wainwright and Iggy Pop. "My dad bought me a piano when I was three or four. He used to play me a Disney songs," says Lulu. "The day he passed away, I spent all afternoon on piano then asked my mom to come down and played all the melodies he was playing to me, by ear. Within the next few days, I was having piano lessons." And ever since, Lulu has been exploring his musical affinities, ready to celebrate his father but show his talents as a musiciain himself.

We chatted with Lulu to talk about following in his father’s footsteps, why he chose this as his debut effort, and finding the perfect people to collaborate on the album.

Were you hesitant at all about pursuing a music career for fear of falling into the shadow of your father’s work?
I was definitely more than hesitant about having a music career because of my name, my father. But after all, I love music and this is what I do best, so let’s do it.

How was growing up as the son of someone so legendary; were you aware of his success at a young age?
I knew he was considered by one of icons in France but he has always been a father more than anything else for me, and will always be. Although when I started working on this tribute album, I was impressed by how big he was outside France as I had the chance to meet great artists who all knew him.

What else did you grow up listening to that inspired you?
So many people. Michael Jackson is one of my idols, Queen, Radiohead, Jamiroquai, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, etc. But also lots of film scores as well; I’m a huge fan of John Williams and Danny Elfman.

The album has done extremely well in France, how do you feel about the American reception thus far?
I hope that the message I tried to pass will go through. I did this album first for a gift to my father, but also to get interest of a new generation of people who doesn’t know who he was.

Why did you choose to do an album of covers as your debut album?
I didn’t choose. It just came. At that time I was thinking about doing this album, it was going to be the 20th anniversary of his death and I never gave him a gift—when he passed away I was only 5.

In terms of the artists on the album, why were these the people you wanted to work with?
I wanted to work with international artists talented from different music backgrounds to make this project more eclectic, and also to make this project traveling everywhere through these well know artists.

Do they represent something about the spirit of your father’s work?
Of course they do. My father loved Jazz and gypsy music, so I included some jazz and gypsy music in the album. He sang with Brigitte Bardot, I did the same with Scarlett. He worked with Marianne Faithfull and Vanessa Paradis, that’s why I wanted to work with them too.

You’ve been friends with Johnny Depp for a long time, how was collaborating with him on this? It’s interesting to see someone so acclaimed for his acting perform in a different medium.
Johnny has been a musician before acting. I really had some great times working with him on this. He had such great ideas and vision of what he wanted, of what I wanted and it was a pleasure to work with him. I’m sure we’ll work again together.

What attracted you to Scarlett Johansson as a performer?
I listened to her album she did with Pete Yorn, Break Up. It was inspired a bit by the Gainsbourg/Bardot duet, and I was really into her way of singing. Plus, my father sang “Bonnie and Clyde” with Bardot, who was one of the most beautiful women in their era, I just did the same with Scarlett, who is in my opinion one of the sexiest women in my generation.

Do any of the songs on the album stand out to you as favorites to either listen or have recreated?
I do have few favorites: “Bonnie and Clyde”, “Requiem pour un con with”, “Initials BB," the one with Rufus as well—but an album is like a book you know, if you miss one page then you miss the story.

You now live in New York, how does that compare for you as an artist than living in France?
I love New York. It’s the first time in my life I feel home somewhere else than Paris. And it’s quite a big thing for me as I love traveling but never felt home anywhere else before, weird.

Laetitia Casta Channels Brigitte Bardot in ‘Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life’

To find his Brigitte Bardot, Joann Sfar, director of Serge Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life, knew he needed a woman who not only looked the part, but was also able to radiate the same effervescent energy possessed by one of cinema’s most alluring icons. If there was any modern-day actor capable of portraying such a ravishing—and quintessentially French—woman, it was 33-year-old model-turned-actor Laetitia Casta.

“I was surprised when he asked me to play Brigitte because she’s such an icon,” Casta says. “It was such a big deal!” Although she’s renowned for her modeling—whether as the face of Dior or the body of Victoria’s Secret—she’s approached her craft as an actor, and it shows. As Bardot, a role that earned her a César Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress earlier this year, she throbs with sex appeal. “What’s interesting to me is to be a muse,” she says. “Whether it’s for a photographer or a director, when you do that, it’s no longer about you.” For Casta, becoming Bardot was a process. “It was like building something little by little—the hair, the eyes, the mouth —and then starting to move like her and to feel like her,” she says. “But I did it with the energy of a 5-year-old kid who goes into a cake shop and eats everything.” That she’s retained her looks through her transformation from ingénue to mother of three is remarkable, and she’s happy to share her secret. “You need experience to know who you are,” she says. “That’s what makes you feel beautiful. I feel much better now than when I was 20 because I’m more myself.”

Brigitte Bardot Not Happy That Bullfighting Is a French National Pastime

1960s film icon and tireless (obsessive?) animal rights defender Brigitte Bardot has a new cause: France has declared bullfighting a part of the country’s cultural heritage. It’s a pretty vague distinction, and it seems as though this isn’t even a really official thing (i.e., it’s not on any UNESCO lists yet or anything). But that’s not stopped Bardot from sending a scathing letter to “the minister of unculture” (obviously the culture minister) Frédéric Mitterrand, saying that “French culture is a culture of enlightenment and has nothing to do with bloody things like bullfighting.”

She also told Mitterand that the decision to vaguely include bullfighting on some nebulous list somewhere was “La plus grosse connerie de votre vie” — “the biggest mistake of your life.” Huh! On a slightly more valid/tangible note, Bardot noted that bullfighting was imported to France from Spain and is thus not a truly French thing. Also, as ArtInfo points out, “Some forms of French bullfighting, however, are more humane than others. In the Provence and Languedoc areas, a local variation of the sport does not involve killing the bull but rather dares participants to try snatching a ribbon from between the bull’s horns.”

Brigitte Bardot has a lot of time on her hands! Isn’t it strange how older celebrities latch onto these causes and just ride them out forever? She’s had the Brigitte Bardot Foundation For the Welfare and Protection of Animals since 1986. She’s fired off angry missives to everyone from the former president of China to the queen of Denmark about protecting various kinds of animals.

I recently watched Contempt, the Godard movie from 1963 starring Bardot, and it’s kind of bizarre to think that the cultural icon that was Brigitte Bardot in the ’60s has become kind of a crotchety old lady. How the mighty have fallen, et cetera!

Impatiently Waiting for the Serge Gainsbourg Biopic

Although there are several films I’m looking forward to seeing at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, nothing’s got me in a lather quite so much as the Serge Gainsbourg biopic, Gainsbourg: Je t’aime…Moi Non Plus. I’m a Gainsbourg fan, obviously, and have long been of the opinion that his life story fairly screams out for cinematic treatment. His childhood in Nazi-occupied Paris, his various amours (with, among others, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin) and his non pareil recording career are the stuff of legend, but I’m especially partial to some of the reckless, boozy shenanigans he pulled late in his career. When he and Whitney Houston were guests on Michel Drucker’s Saturday evening talk show in 1986, he actually exclaimed to the host “I want to fuck her!” Candid, no?

I’ve got a feeling that the film probably won’t dwell on such escapades, but the trailer offers ample evidence of a bumpy ride just the same. From my humble, prima facie perspective, Eric Elmosnino makes for a fairly credible-looking Gainsbourg, and Laetitia Casta is a dead ringer for Bardot. I’m also thinking that the film’s depiction of Gainsbourg as a heavy smoker even in childhood will likely tickle and offend in equal measure. The trailer lacks subtitles, but it’s no barrier to comprehension. It’s also probably worth nothing that it verges on being NSFW owing to some nudity here and there.

Gainsbourg – Vie Héroïque – Trailer HD [VF]
Uploaded by NewZmedia. – Classic TV and last night's shows, online.

Iconic Hairstyles Revealed: Vintage Vixens

imageForget the “Rachel” — it’s the Hollywood starlets of yesteryear who truly embody the term “iconic.” These classic styles have been showing up on red carpets since they were first flaunted decades ago.

Louise Brooks A showgirl, silent film actress, and dancer during the roaring 20s, Louise Brooks set the standard for the classic bob. Considered the most popular hairstyle of all time, modern bob adopters include Anna Wintour, Katie Holmes, and Rihanna.

Marilyn Monroe With her famous hourglass figure, Marilyn Monroe epitomized the sexy 50s pin-up girl and continues to inspire a cult like devotion in her fans. With that kind of staying power, it’s no wonder modern Marilyn copycats like Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, and the late Anna Nicole Smith chose the most iconic blonde of them all as their fashion icon.

Brigitte Bardot Brigitte Bardot’s sultry mess of bombshell-blonde hair and lips that earned her the title “Princess of Pout” from Time magazine were a welcome change for the repressed women of the 50s — the era of the well-coiffed housewife. Worn loose and flowing or in a teased-up beehive, the Bardot continues to inspire aspiring sex kittens, as seen recently on Drew Barrymore at the Grey Gardens premier.

If you’re looking for a change, look no further these lovely ladies for some retro inspiration.

From Bardot to Lohan: Hollywood’s Women Drench Sarah Palin in Bile

When I asked actor Patrick Wilson for his take on Sarah Palin, he told me “I can’t go there.” Fortunately, Tim Robbins didn’t feel quite so restrained. With all the backlash Mrs. Palin has faced, it’s gotta hit hardest coming from her Hollywood idols. Okay fine — they’re my Hollywood idols, but it can’t be easy for her teenage daughters to hear that mommy terrifies Matt Damon. But Damon is one of few male celebrities to speak up against Palin, maybe because most are afraid of being branded as sexist. For the girls, it’s open season, and Palin is the moose in their cross-hairs. Here’s a run-through of some of the more potent estrogen-fueled Hollywood reactions to America’s newest “It” girl.

● Just a few days ago, Madonna had some harsh words for the former beauty queen at her New York concert. She also revealed Palin’s middle name to the world. Apparently it’s “Fucking.”

● Legendary screen sexbomb and current animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot wrote a scathing letter directly to Mrs. Palin, calling her “a disgrace to women” and more dangerous than a pit bull. Without lipstick, of course.

● The moment Palin announced she doesn’t support gay and lesbian marriage, you just knew Lindsay Lohan had to chime in, asking the question on her MySpace blog, “Is our country so divided that the Republicans best hope is a narrow minded, media obsessed homophobe?” She forgot an apostrophe.

● Democratic Queen Bee Barbara Streisand (sorry, Hilary) chose to speak directly to John McCain, who some think chose Mrs. Palin to lure Clinton democrats. “We are not that stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” she wrote on her blog. If 19 exclamation marks don’t convince you, nothing will.

● Whoopi Goldberg wrote an article called “Sarah Palin Is a Very Dangerous Woman.” And this is pre-hydrogen bomb access.

● Sandra Bernhard called her a “goy whore.”

● Brooke Hogan isn’t quite sure who Sarah Palin is, but she encourages young people to vote, whether it be for President or for Vice President. She then said that she’s voting for God. Sooo, George Clooney?

● Maybe VP should stand for Vomit Producer. When TMZ asked Rose McGowan her thoughts on the Alaskan governor, she paused, then with a cringe said, “I’m sorry, that was vomit in my mouth.”

● Anne Hathaway, Sigourney Weaver, Sheryl Crow, and Cheryl Hines all took separate shots at Palin during the Elle Women in Hollywood awards.

● Back in early September, before Palin-bashing was quite so popular, Eva Mendes said we need to give her “the chance to have a fair say.” Chance given.

● On The View, Charlize Theron joked that she has seven kids. When Joy Behar asked if they live in Alaska, she said “yes, in a cave. And they can see Russia.” Elizabeth Hasselbeck tried not to smile.

● Cybill Shepherd inaccurately said that Palin opposes the right to birth control, but said that her being president “is one of the most frightening things I could ever conceive of.” I felt the exact same way about my Halloween costume circa 2003.

● Pamela Anderson wants Sarah Palin to suck it. I feel the exact same way, but not about Sarah Palin.

● Didn’t Tina Fey do something?

Brigitte Bardot Loses $23,325, Still Doesn’t Care for Muslims

Apparently still researching for her role in Godard’s 1963 treasure, Contempt, aged French actress Brigitte Bardot has spoken out against Muslims—again—citing some jabberwocky about the causal link between faith and the destruction of France. In December of 2006, Bardot wrote now-French President Nicolas Sarkozy to say she was “tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts.”

In fairness, Bardot, a celebrated animal activist, was referring to Aid el-Kebir, a feast that involves the slaughtering of sheep. We might even sympathize a touch with her concern for the farm animals were if not for her overt criticism of immigration and homosexuality. Anyway, she got slapped with a hefty fine and her fifth conviction for racial hatred. C’est la vie.