22 Portraits of Lollapalooza’s Hottest Acts

We know, we know, Lollapalooza has been over for almost a week. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want to ogle the good looking, impeccably-dressed musicians who made throngs of sweaty kids so happy last weekend, right? Going on that theory, we dispatched our resident festival photographer, the tireless Myles Pettengill, to round up some of the fest’s best and brightest for an impromptu, exclusive portrait series. Part-photographer, part-hustler, Myles managed to wrangle the perfect mix of artists to the media tent in between their sets. The result is a pristine series featuring some superstars (Phoenix and MGMT), some sleeper hits (Health and Fuck Buttons), some legends (Jimmy Cliff and Perry Farrell), and everyone else in between. Click through the gallery to see a bunch of talented musicians just, you know, being themselves.

The Most Beautiful People at Coachella 2009

Karen O shook her dangling giant polka dots off her Christian Joy-designed glam-slam dress like a ladder to the sun. Devendra Banhart worked some pre-season summer short-shorts. New mom M.I.A. came blazing back in a colorful military top and a captain’s hat. But they weren’t the only style stars at Coachella’s tenth anniversary blowout this weekend. Here, an off-stage look at the musicians (from Perry Farrell to the Presets) and music-lovers whose wardrobes hit all the right notes. See the full gallery here. Photography by Myles Pettengill.

Wowie, Zooey!

It is a warm early spring day in Los Angeles and the rest of the city is already in flip-flops and too-short Abercrombie minis. But 28-year-old Zooey Deschanel arrives for tea dressed in stylish, high-waisted jeans, a pretty white blouse, and a soft, tweedy jacket. She wears pinkish socks with her sandals and no makeup. The effect is that of a student at the Sorbonne rather than of an actress who is on the verge of her major breakthrough, an image that is only reinforced when she begins to speak.

Does she mind sitting outside? “Not as long as I’m not in the sun,” she says sweetly, assessing the shade on her side of the table. Her skin is pale, a rare commodity in a city of human Slim Jims. This June, however, Deschanel will be exposed to a lot more glare than the Los Angeles sun can beam onto her. Her role in M. Night Shyamalan’s latest, The Happening, is her first bid for major box office. The blockbuster potential isn’t on her mind. Instead, she says she chose the project, her first big-budget thriller, because she liked the people. The film is centered around a major eco-disaster that sends her and a band of survivors on a life-or-death journey to outrun it. Of her director, a man most audiences have reason to think is part-warlock, all Rod Serling, she says, “He’s not at all mysterious. He’s gregarious and fun—the life of the party!” Co-star Mark Wahlberg—Deschanel plays his wife—comes off as the gravitas of that set. “Mark’s a very natural actor, and very giving. He’s really smart and clear about his choices.” So, the Lord of the Night is the guy with a lampshade on his head and the former leader of the Funky Bunch is Lee Strasberg’s student in wire-rimmed glasses.

imageCustom black Antoinette swimsuit by Ashley Paige, all jewelry by Cartier.

But Deschanel is just as surprising in person. “They have the most wonderful fresh mint tea here. Would you like some?” She is polite, thoughtful, and self-sufficient. These qualities are also prized in the rough and tumble grab for great roles that marks the lot of many younger actresses. “Zooey has a translucent intelligence,” says Todd Komarnicki, producer of the 2003 Will Ferrell comedy Elf, which co-starred Deschanel, “as if she’s both keeping and sharing a secret with everyone she meets.” Today, it’s more the former than the latter. The usual questions about her life in Los Angeles are met with brief replies: She keeps a place here and is rarely in it; she has friends scattered across the globe; no, she doesn’t get out much and when she’s working, which is all the time, she won’t even go out to dinner. Deschanel’s shyness extends, naturally, to her personal life, which can’t help but be discussed anyway. She has been linked to actors such as “Saturday Night Live” alum Chris Kattan and musician Mickey Madden, the bassist for Maroon 5. But anyone looking for this member of young Hollywood on the cover of a tabloid had better just stay happy with Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag.

“I don’t like talking about myself,” she says shyly. Rather than merely answer questions, she is happier to engage in a true dialogue. As becomes clear, Deschanel is continually processing ideas about art, music, and life, and belongs to no single time period. One of her favorite movies is the 1938 Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn comedy, Bringing Up Baby. She adores Nina Simone, the Everly Brothers, and vintage fashion. With a finger in every decade—the Twenties, Forties, Sixties, Seventies—Zooey is a cultural Zelig, borrowing from the past to make a present all her own.

Though today she is enjoying a slower pace, waiting for her pot of tea to steep and pausing to appreciate its naturally bright green color, her gifts and career choices indicate a fierce work ethic that is not centered on a single objective. Beginning with a guest role on the implausible lingerie sitcom “Veronica’s Closet,” Deschanel has moved steadily back and forth across formats. Attentive audiences picked up on her delicate beauty and unselfconscious sincerity in indie fare such as All the Real Girls, The Good Girl, and her first film part, Mumford. No one could miss those eyes, and in person they seem even bigger than they do on the screen. They are as round and clear as Wedgwood blue salad plates—that’s right, salad plates.

imageIt was as Will Ferrell’s tender-hearted romantic foil in Elf that Deschanel began to be noticed for her other automatic weapon: her voice. The film’s soundtrack featured a duet of the standard “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” between the soft chimes of Deschanel’s singing voice and gravelly Leon Redbone. The combination was pure magic. Not surprisingly, Deschanel now shows up regularly on soundtracks and in voiceover on animated projects such as Surf’s Up. Of her musical bent she says, “I love doing one thing and then the other because they each provide a break. It is nice to have variety.”

Mixing it up and keeping things fresh has now become a genuine second career in music, which at the moment is competing heavily with her on-screen work for the public’s attention. Traveling with a guitar and mini-keyboard, Deschanel writes music in hotel rooms and mixes demos on her laptop created by nothing but layers of her voice, making what she calls, “instrument-like noises.” Currently she is one half of She & Him, a duo she has formed with moody indie sensation M. Ward. Their first album, Volume One, is a living testament to her tastes and influences. Tracks like “Got Me” and “Change is Hard” are country heartbreakers that recall Patsy Cline. “I Was Made for You” rings with the Ronettes’ wall of sound. And an inspired cover of the Beatles’ “I Should Have Known Better” offers up Liverpool by way of Buck Owens’s Bakersfield. “Zooey is a natural talent,” says M. Ward. “She is honest about who she is and who she wants to be, both inside and outside of her music.”

image Deschanel with She & Him partner M. Ward.

When asked about her musical process, Deschanel says, “It’s a personal thing to write music. I had stage fright about my own stuff, and when you are generating the work, it is all you.” But for the Los Angeles-born actress, facing fears is what “it” is all about. “People who have the most courage are actually the people with the most fear. One way of getting control of the fear is to face it head on. The transition into music was a little frightening for me, but it’s more exciting [than acting] because it’s scarier.” But it is impossible to imagine Deschanel ever giving up the screen. And, as she says, she may have felt anxious about performing her own compositions in public, but make no mistake, Deschanel does not need job retraining. How does someone as private as she is make acting look so natural? She says, laughing, “I’ve always been more comfortable on stage than I am in real life.”

So, if music is the yin to her acting yang, then it makes sense that it was a soulful pairing of the two that led to Deschanel’s name-making turn as Anita Miller, the runaway teen stewardess in 2000’s rock travelogue, Almost Famous. It is Anita who possesses a collection of history’s most influential rock records, passes them on to brother William, and who first hits the road. Even after Kate Hudson’s Penny Lane overtakes the movie, it is Deschanel who suffuses the piece with late-’60s want and turmoil.

Her innate comprehension of that decade and, it seems, every other, began as a child of the film industry. She was raised amongst artists. Her father is The Passion of the Christ cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and her mother is actress Mary Jo Deschanel, who played Eileen Hayward on “Twin Peaks.” Her only sibling, sister Emily, plays the title role on the hit television series “Bones.” In other words, the Deschanels are one hard-working Hollywood family. And just as New York has its art and intellectual crowd, so does Los Angeles. Even Deschanel’s name—she is named for J.D. Salinger’s story collection Franny and Zooey—speaks more to the cul-de-sacs of the mind than to the beaches of Malibu.

image Deschanel in The Happening.

At her core, Deschanel evinces an iconoclasm that guides her hand in the choices she makes. “I have no interest in participating in pop cultural phenomena,” she says. After all, style and voguishness are not the same thing. “For whatever reason, when I am faced with what everyone is peddling, I have the strongest desire to book it in the opposite direction,” Deschanel says, laughing. What then, to say about The Happening and her next film, Yes Man, alongside Jim Carrey, neither of which aspire to be shrinking violets? “I’m not prejudiced as far as what type of movie I do. It’s more about who I’m working with and what story we are telling.” And she doesn’t mind making mistakes, not that there are any one can point to. “There is something valuable about mistakes,” she says. “You want things to be precious and not everything can be.”

To bolster this attitude she admits that she often writes by hand—a form without a delete key—and says dryly: “I have a typewriter.” She is also happy to talk at length about the subject of paper stock. Her favorite is a Moleskine notebook with cream-colored pages and a black cover, all secured by a black elastic strap. Again, even though she studied at Northwestern University, that image of the Sorbonne étudiante remains.

Not giving in to a hyper-paced Hollywood life on fast-forward is working for Deschanel. Time is definitely on her side. Patience is part of her credo. Working for what you get and for the understanding you can only gain through experience mean more to her than a top spot on the A-list, or any list. “It’s like waiting in line for a roller coaster,” she says.

“When you do get on it, you appreciate it more. I don’t want to get on a roller coaster without waiting for it. That’s part of the fun.” We are happy to be patient too, but very glad that the wait looks like it is over.

See Zooey Deschanel on the cover of BlackBook June-July 2008.

Photography by Gitte Meldgaard Styling by B

Two for the Road

Take the intergenerational friendship of Rushmore, the unchecked adolescent mischief of KIDS, and the romantic yearning of any dozen teen movies, and you get The Wackness. Almost. The Wackness is greater than the sum of its parts, a genuinely thoughtful, infectiously charming, coming-of-age gem that might be more aptly called (to use its own dated urban patois): The Dopeness. New York City, Summer 1994. Luke (Josh Peck) deals weed. He’s an Upper East Side kid with Brooklyn sensibilities: hates his much-more-affluent schoolmates, loves Biggie Smalls. His only agenda for summer is to work, visit his shrink/client/friend Dr. Squires (Sir Ben Kingsley), and hopefully score with Squires’s too-cool stepdaughter, Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby).

Surprisingly, it’s his friendship with the middle-aged Squires that proves the warm, dynamic center of the film. Few movies dare this kind of relationship, though here writer/director Jonathan Levine makes it look easy. Luke has no friends and a disinterested father. Kingsley’s psychiatrist is a pill-popping, mercurial Peter Pan who recognizes Luke as kindred: They’re both romantically unfulfilled, immature, and (technically) drug dealers.

The two begin chasing women together, but the doctor discourages Luke’s growing affinity for his stepdaughter, suspecting she’ll use him. Undeterred, Luke moves forward, and gets predictably twisted around by first romance.

The Wackness’s strength is its detailed characterization, and Luke is easily the most credible screen-teen to appear in ages. His studied, wisenheimer surface-cool belies an authentic romanticism and vulnerability. Before expressing his feelings to Stephanie, he rehearses lines, vacillating between “I love you” and “I got mad love for you shorty, that’s on the reals!” When he’s frustrated by her put-off reaction, we get Luke’s POV with a permanently raised middle finger in the center of the frame. It’s a simple, but ingeniously successful device.

Levine also succeeds in mirroring Luke’s shifting emotional tides with a Manhattan that is itself transforming. The year 1994 marked Rudy Guiliani’s first year as mayor, and his relentless enforcement of “quality-of-life” laws was rapidly changing the city’s character. Levine, who grew up in New York, clearly pines for the old, un-policed freedom of the pre-Guiliani era, and The Wackness is shot through with a wistful, elegiac tone that is as much about his lost city as it is Luke’s lost innocence.

On the opposite end of the tonal spectrum is the latest work from the Duplass Brothers, Baghead, a film which contrasts the vulgar present with The Wackness’s honeyed past. The story: Four struggling, delusional actors repair to a secluded cabin in the woods hoping to generate a high concept screenplay in which they plan on starring. “Before we go to sleep, we’ll all come up with the plot!” one moronically ventures.

Wholly unimaginative, they concoct a slasher premise involving the eponymous masked killer. But before they can write the first scene, life quickly (and blandly) imitates art, and the group find themselves being stalked by a real, knife-wielding “Baghead.”

The Duplass Brothers know this is trite material. That the scared-kids-in-the-woods scenario is the most shopworn of micro-budget ideas is presumably why they chose it. But given this, one rightly expects a meta-film of sorts, a send-up or deconstruction. No such unpacking is attempted. Instead, Baghead relies on a lot of the standard “Gotcha!” tropes used in every Friday the 13th installment. That the end is not entirely predictable might be vindicating if it weren’t such a radical disappointment.

None of this speaks well for “Mumblecore,” the loose cinematic movement that emphasizes low-wattage performances, thin plotlines, and lots of hand-held camera work. The Duplass’s first feature, The Puffy Chair, fairly apotheosized the style, and was an effective, if grating, portrait of late-twenties anxiety. Here, the brothers move into more recognizable genre territory, and fare much worse. The aesthetic looks cheap and mercenary, without the justifying conceit of a film like The Blair Witch Project, which is a distant cousin. By the film’s end, it’s difficult not to think of its desperate, scheming subjects as stand-ins for the filmmakers themselves.

Out of Africa

McGregor, taking a break from his motorcycling, Simien Mountains, Ethiopia.

When we finished Long Way Round,” says Charley Boorman, son of Deliverance director John Boorman, “Ewan [McGregor] and I went back to our offices and pulled out a map of Africa. I think we had already decided before we came back from our trip that we were going to do Africa.” Says McGregor of their mission, “’One of the things that we wanted to do was to show the true and real side of Africa, all its many faces. We think of famine and we think of wildlife, and Africa’s got everything in between. What we found was that every country had its own identity, and is very, very different from the last.”

In May of last year, after 12 months of preparation, the duo set off from John O’ Groats, Scotland, along with director-producers David Alexanian and Russ Malkin, a small crew, and minimal provisions, to make their odyssey a reality.

“We were never in real danger, but very close to areas of conflict—like North Uganda, near Congo, and Northern Ethiopia, near the Eritrean border,” says Alexanian. “We traveled through Sudan, but were miles from Darfur.”

The journey—which lasted two months and ended in Cape Town, South Africa—took them through 15 countries, and a great deal of the sun-baked Simien Mountains. The Fox Reality channel will debut Long Way Down on August 2.

Looking back on the unlikely road trip, McGregor says, “It’s been incredible, a real privilege. You just don’t see some of the remote villages that we have ridden through, unless you are an aid worker. These are mud-hut, thatched-roof villages—not really places that tourists get to go.” Reflecting further, he continues, “We have had our ups and downs, though, as you would expect.”

image Boorman, meeting the locals.

Boorman adds: “We know how lucky we are. Apart from anything else, it’s been great fun to have been able to see all of this around us every day, to be with your mate, to be riding bikes through Africa.”

“We have faced the complexity of Africa,” says McGregor. “Some of the places you pass through are beautiful, like something out of an Indiana Jones film or National Geographic.”

For a famous Hollywood movie star to be freed of excess baggage seemed a relief to him. “You only have what you can carry,” he says. “There is something liberating about just having what you need, on your bike. A tent, a roll mat, a little bit of food, a bit of petrol in your tank, and a vague idea of where you’re going. There is something beautiful about that.”

image McGregor and Boorman taking a turn on a Simien Mountain pass in Ethiopia.

But Boorman is already feeling cabin fever, and wanderlust. “It’s been great,” he says, “but I’m starting to worry about stopping it, you know, because our lives for the last 12 weeks have been just riding the bikes, watching the landscape change around us, meeting people, and doing amazing things. And it’s going to stop. I’m starting to worry a little about that, you know? The idea of it ending is kind of sad. But it’s good: We’re here, and we’ve done it.”

Station to Station

image

“I love these two photographs side by side because they look like one shot with a ghost reflection. This is the Eurostar, and from the cityscape outside it looks like we had just pulled out of Waterloo Station. I always thought it was a little insulting that the French arrive in London to… Waterloo. Ouch.

The British finally changed that. I have my beloved T4, which I have now returned to after a few years’ flirt with digital; film is truly the butch top of the two and digital is fun but flaky at this point. Both stations, London and Paris, are great fun for getting a pile of trash magazines and newspapers and devouring them en route. Always figure out the sun side of the train or plane for optimal light.”

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Images courtesy of Chronicle Books.

‘You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Coat’

The Academy Awards went to best Sound, Film Editing, and Original Score for Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, but to our line of thinking, best Costume Design should also have taken an Oscar. Yet awards presentations aren’t known for rewarding subtlety, and so, in a year heavy with period film nominations—The Four Musketeers, The Man Who Would Be King, and Barry Lyndon, the latter, which won the 1975 Oscar—it’s no surprise that the effortless Martha’s Vineyard-by-way-of-Manhattan style of Jaws’s lead characters went unnoticed.

The “looks” of Roy Scheider (Martin Brody), Richard Dreyfuss (Matt Hooper), and the great Robert Shaw (Captain Quint) could have been caricature: the hydrophobic New York cop, the trust-fund marine biologist, and the salty shark hunter, respectively.

In the wrong hands, with ill-conceived direction, the film could have ended up with Scheider looking like he walked off the set of The French Connection, Dreyfuss in “Nantucket Reds” whale-print ascot and Gilligan hat, and Shaw in some Ahab getup.

image Leather belt with barbed hook buckle by Kiel Mead.

Instead, the wardrobe supervisors, led by Robert Ellsworth (who shockingly went un-credited), opted to dress the trio as men who are as comfortable in their skin as they are in their life roles. The essentials they don are as distressed as their characters. Yes, they are composites, but authentic ones.

And there are style transformations, as subtle as they are, as the three become one in their myopic journey to kill a threat to what ultimately becomes their home turf: the Atlantic Ocean, and the reticent, friendly summer resort town of Amity.

imageDistressed Levi’s.

While Hooper appears to be play-acting the role of boy oceanographer upon arrival (dressed in seaman’s cap and Levi’s denim jacket, toting a cracked brown leather rucksack), he eases into sweatshirts and jeans, and is wearing almost the same denim shirt as Quint—his nemesis—by the second half of the film, which is all shot at sea.

Brody appears ill at ease in the opening of the film, donning various incarnations of his police chief outfit. But he changes into his New York-ified black turtleneck with jeans and clear aviators (with cigarette) when the three finally hit the open sea. It’s as if he’s decided to dress to kill. Layering, too, is everything.

imageA swarthy look from the Calvin Klein Collection, Fall 2008.

Quint’s hunting jacket-meets-army surplus, with long-billed fisherman’s cap, is perhaps the signature outfit, defining his I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. Perfect for scratching a Town Meeting chalkboard or singing “Show Me the Way to Go Home” in a boat hull. It is a utilitarian look, with lots of pockets, and masculine personified.

While the men’s fashion season’s offerings are decidedly more fey (and pricey), the Jaws look—outdoorsy and prep—can be mixed-and-matched with essentials from Levi’s (vintage and new), the so-distressed Double RL brand, and Gap, together with perhaps some more high-end pieces out of Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, John Varvatos, Polo, and Bottega Venetta. Then again, there’s always your local army surplus store in a pinch.

Ginger, Snap!

Ginger and Rogers go together like graham and crackers. So do Ginger and Spice. But ginger and cognac? Apparently, and, well, magnificently. Domaine de Canton is the world’s first liqueur brand with a decidedly ginger kick. A Best in Show winner at the World Spirits Competition, it’s blended with V.S.O.P. Cognac and served in a bottle plucked straight from the Ming dynasty. An exotic twist to an old favorite. Hint: mix with chai tea ($30).

Evil Spirit

Premium tequila 1800 Silver curated nine artists from such mezcal-friendly ports as, uh, Atlanta, Oakland, and Detroit to dress up their new limited edition 1800 Essential series. The best of the bunch—naturally—hails from Mexico City. Jorge Alderete’s devilish piece, he says, is meant to “evoke the effect of Tequila in us—and in some instances, this has to do with making the monster we carry within. Tequila will take us to that place where we transform ourselves and we externalize, and in some cases we will see the devil.” Hell, yeah! ($35).