Tilda Swinton Reciting Rumi Love Poetry Is Everything!

If you’ve ever wistfully wondered what it would be like to have Tilda Swinton whisper poetry in you ear, here’s your answer. Swinton recited the poem “Like This” from The Essential Rumi to celebrate and promote her fragrance with Etat Libre d’Orange, and it’s quite the sensory experience.

Some choice lines from the poem include:

“If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead, don’t try to explain the miracle. Kiss me on the lips. Like this. Like this.”

“If someone asks how tall I am, frown and measure the space between the creases on your forehead. This tall.”

“When lovers moan, they’re telling our story. Like this.”

Take a listen below.

Rumi was a 13th century Persian poet and scholar, widely regarded as one of the most renowned linguists in history. His poem “Like This” is heavily steeped in sensory imagery, speaking as if to a lover while incorporating various theological references.

Swinton’s perfume is titled “Like This,” an homage to the poet: “This is possibly my favorite poem of all time,” she said. “It restores me like the smoke/rain/gingerbread/greenhouse my scent sense is fed by.”

The fragrance is available now online.

 

 

Tilda Swinton Asks Chuck Close If He’d Rather Paint Or Walk Again

The Oscar-winning actor and celebrated artist chat on Skype about creating art, making black ragdolls for Oprah, and why there’s no formula for getting life right.

Look for the extended video conversation between Tilda Swinton and Chuck Close coming soon to bbook.com

CHUCK CLOSE: So, can I ask you a few questions?

TILDA SWINTON: Please do.

CC: It occurred to me whatever you’re born into becomes your burden, but also an opportunity. I’m a poor, white trash kid from a mill town, and your family goes back before the Norman conquest [of 1066 ], right?

TS: All families are old, Chuck, but some of them stay in the same place. You’re from a very old family, too — it’s just that maybe your peeps moved around a bit more. My sense is that we’re all exiles, certainly those of us who end up in the circus of art. For me, this feeling of being a sort of refugee, with a few things in a handkerchief over your shoulder, which is my experience, and I imagine maybe yours too, that’s a bond. It doesn’t matter where I came from, or where you came from. We’ve both got the same spotted handkerchief and the stick, right? But there are some people who grew up in a very different way. Their parents were artists, and their grandparents were artists. There aren’t many of them, but they do exist. They’re exotic to me.

CC: Both my daughters thought at one time that they might want to be artists. And they found out very quickly that it’s not easy to be the son or daughter of a well-known artist, and they ran in the opposite direction. One is a gastroenterologist and the other is a neuroscientist.

TS: I was brought up believing that I came away from my tribe, and that I was like a changeling. Recently, I realized that there were artists in my family, but I was never told about them when I was growing up. Were there artists in your family that you’ve now discovered?

CC: No, but my mother was a trained pianist and taught music at home. And my father was an inventor, a very creative man. They were nudists. I was an only child, my mother was an only child, and my father was an only child. So there was no family. I was so learning disabled, but in the ’40s and ’50s, no one knew about dyslexia. And I had so much support to be an artist, because they felt that was a better thing to be than a doctor or a lawyer. For my fifth Christmas, my father made me an easel — he made me all my toys — and when I was eight they found private art instruction with a very academic woman in Tacoma, Wash. I was drawing nude models at age eight, so I thought, Why would I want to be anything else?

TS: How amazing, your parents. You know, over the past 18 months, myself and a friend founded a school — the Drumduan Upper School — for our children and their class, and we’re in our second year now. It’s an upper school — 15- to 19-year-olds — and it’s pretty pioneering. There’s no state testing or grading of any kind, but without that distraction and pressure, it’s really teaching these kids how to learn from head, via heart and hands: They learn everything from ethics to science to arts rigorously through systematic exercises and experiments, so it’s hands-on, craft-based, practical learning.

For example, part of how they learn physics is by building a Canadian canoe, or making a knife, or caramelizing onions. It’s a blast. I find it hard to be away from it. It’s drawing teachers and families like anything.

And they’re all chilled and engaged adolescents. Happy, and inspired.

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CC: Art saved my life, because when I was in school I couldn’t memorize anything. In history, I made a 40-foot-long mural of the Lewis and Clark Trail. And in the process, I learned a lot of stuff about Lewis and Clark. And if the teacher was caring and supportive, they’d say, “Well, this mitigates your core requirements.” And that work got me through school.

TS: I’m really fascinated by the dyslexia, whether you learned through your hands or through your ears, or through your eyes? Did you need to see things as you made them in order to learn from them, or did you need to hear them?

CC: A lot of information came through my ears. I couldn’t read it. I had a sensory deprivation tank. I sat in the bathtub in a dark room with a board across the tub, and the board had a book and a bright light on it. And I read every page three times. And then I would hurl my body out of the tub at six o’clock in the morning. I was like a prune. And I went to school, and I might be able to spit back enough to pass. But it was harrowing.

TS: I’m very bad at learning things. I can’t sit and learn lines in a chair. I have to move. If it’s linked to an activity, then it goes in. But if it’s just on the page, it’s hieroglyphics.

CC: In the seventh grade, I tried out for a play. I got the part, but I couldn’t memorize the lines, and they had to take it away from me. And then I became, you know, a spear-carrier in the back. It was one of the real profound disappointments of my life.

TS: My mother died the year before last and I haven’t really wanted to make a film for a while, and last year I was persuaded by mymgreat friend Luca Guadagnino, with whom I made I Am Love. I told him I couldn’t bea part of his film, and he said, “Well, what would it have to be for you to do it?” And I said, “Well, if the character is mute.” I didn’t really want to sit and not say anything, but when my mother died, I had this strange frog in my throat. I couldn’t swallow. And it was wonderful, because I didn’t have to learn any lines for two months.

CC: That’s great.

TS: It was bliss. It was silent cinema. My favorite kind. I probably can’t pull that one more than once, though.

CC: Just a quick story about my schooling. I had a girlfriend — she was also in art, and we drew each other naked. And I could never get to first base with her, literally. This was when girls wore girdles or, like, chastity belts.

TS: But she let you draw her naked!

CC: Right, but in a car you couldn’t do everything. So we had a date and I took her home and we were sitting in front of her parents’ house, and there was something strange about the way she said goodnight and gave me a kiss and went into the house. And I was like “Huh, something weird’s going on.” The next day, I went to school, and she had run off to France with her art teacher, who was in his late 50s, I think. And she was like 16, 17. And I had been her beard, obviously.

TS: Wow, you were more than the beard. You were the fluffer. That’s like Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, when the girl runs off with the art teacher. I remember the whole world of art, and the art room for me was all about sex, somehow. And I was in a girls’ school, but I used to run off illegally to the boys’ school and hang out in the art room with this one guy in particular. We were completely platonic, but it was a very romantic relationship. It was all about the sexiness of being in the art room. I think that’s partly what art is for teenagers.

CC: Yeah, well when you’re a teenager and raging hormones are rushing through your body, any room is about sex.

“I’m very bad at learning things. I Can’t sit and learn lines in a chair. I have to move. If it’s linked to an activity, then it goes in. But if it’s just on the page, it’s hieroglyphics.”

TS: Even the lab, maybe. But it’s more tantalizing in the art room, don’t you think?

CC: Yeah. It was also that when I was in the art room. It was the only time that I felt that I had anything going for me. But I wanted to ask you something about your relative lack of makeup and —

TS: Relative?

CC: Did you know that when I did the Vanity Fair set of images with all these people [without makeup], that I really wanted you. And I didn’t want an entourage, I didn’t want stylists, everyone went on. Even Oprah Winfrey. I sort of expected her to sneak in a hairdresser. But she was fine.

TS: Maybe it’s a relief for people who are used to this kind of carapace to just let it drop. I imagine that it must be incredibly strenuous and energetically expensive to carry all of that.

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CC: So, my wife’s mother made black ragdolls for Oprah. And my wife, Sienna, brought them to the studio, and she wanted a picture with Oprah holding these ragdolls. And Oprah said, “Where did these come from?” And Sienna replied, “My mother made them, because there are no black dolls at all in Alaska.” Well, this really blew her mind. She went to the bathroom, and I thought she was going to escape. And she was skipping down the hall singing, “There’s no black dolls in Alaska, no black dolls in Alaska.” It was such a sweet and tender moment.

TS: I think people generally want to connect like that. I mean, everybody can, in fact. Even if they’re led to believe they can’t. It’s like a trick of the light. They just have to wash their faces and connect.

CC: And the more successful they are, the nicer they are. It’s the borderline abusive people who feel they didn’t get enough, or something.

TS: I’m sure it has something to do with what people are told when they’re really young, that people think there’s a sort of knack. It’s like when you’re playing. My brothers and I used to play board games, and they used to really hate it when I won. And I used to hate it when I won too, so I would always try not to win, because they would make my life such hell when I won. But one of my brothers just believes that there’s a knack to these things. And there is no knack. You just have to follow your own nose, and you try to win, and if you don’t win, then you lose, and it doesn’t matter and people go home. But I do believe that some people think there’s a kind of formula and you’ve got to get it right. And people who are really relaxed tend to kind of flow down the river in a much easier way, I suppose.

CC: And it’s not like you don’t care how you look, right?

TS: Oh, there’s a fabulous story someone told me about a legendary, still living, so unnamed, film star. I hope it’s not apocryphal. For many, many, many years, nobody ever saw this woman looking anything other than her public image. There was that much cake and that many eyelashes and that much wig, and all the rest of it. And there was someone who was a close friend of hers, who was staying in a hotel with her, and they had a room with adjoining doors, and the film star said, “You will not come through this door at any point. No matter what happens, you will not come through this door. Good night. I’ll see you in the morning.” So, that was it. And there was a fire alarm in the hotel, and the friend rang the concierge and asked “Is this a test?” And the concierge was, like “No, there’s a real fire in the hotel and you’ve got to leave now.” And he didn’t know what to do, because she told him in this very fierce way, “Don’t open the door.” So finally, he knocked on the door, opened it, and there sitting at the dressing table was a kind of crone, with no eyelashes, no hair, no color, sort of wizened in front of the mirror. And he didn’t know how to address her, because he didn’t know whether to acknowledge she was The Legend. So he said, “Whoever you are, leave now!” He went downstairs, and about 20 minutes later, she arrived perfectly made up. And they never referred to it again. I love it. It was more important to her to get burned as The Legend. It was important for her to put it together, Hang on a minute… there…now, I’m happy to burn.

“Meryl took the subway everywhere. And one of my nurses was sitting opposite of her on the train. And this guy is hanging onto the strap looking at the subway map over the top of Meryl’s head. And so he asked her, ‘If I want to go here, what stop?’ And she answered him in a Polish accent.”

CC: I’ve been friends for a long time with Meryl [Streep]. And we actually lived in the same building for a while, but I had to live at a certain point in an apartment in Central Park West that was an old movie star building. And a lot of the actor parents wouldn’t go to the playground with their kid, because they thought their kids would be kidnapped. So they didn’t get a chance to see their children play. And they would get out of the limo with their collar up, sunglasses on, hat down. Of course, everyone wants to know who’s behind the shades. But Meryl would drive her pick-up truck, park it in the corner, and come in, and no one ever, ever knew who she was.

TS: Well, there’s that sort of signal that people send out. I remember once being in an airport lounge. I was really exhausted — it was an early flight — and I was sitting there reading a book and I could tell that someone had come in. It was like a kinetic energy. And I looked up, and I could tell there was a guy, his back was to me, and I could tell he wanted to be looked at. Because he was giving off this pheromone of I am somebody who needs to be looked at. And he turned round and it was A Very Famous Person. And we were in the lounge for a good hour, and during the course of the hour, he made contact with every single person in the lounge and made sure that they knew he was there. And they all had a nice time together. And I was just zoned out, so I made no contact with him at all. And you could tell that he knew that I was the one person who hadn’t made contact with him. And he was damned if he was going to let me go. And we got on the plane, and eventually we had a bit of a conversation, and he was perfectly nice, but I was quite impressed by the effort I saw him go through to spread his vibe. I thought, Wow, that must be exhausting to have to do that everywhere you go.

CC: How much energy that must take.

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TS: Exactly! But that’s real work. That’s why I say being lazy is a great saving. It’s like he was wearing a massive invisible ball gown, and the train was kind of getting hitched up on people’s feet all over the place.

CC: Meryl took the subway everywhere. And one of my nurses was sitting opposite her on the train. And this guy is hanging onto the strap looking at the subway map over the top of Meryl’s head. And so he asked her, “If

I want to go here, what stop?” And she answered him in a Polish accent.

TS: Was she researching her accent for Sophie’s Choice?

CC: Yeah, that’s taking your crap home with you.

TS: That must be fun. And people, no doubt, will respect that. I mean, I’m nowhere in Meryl Streep’s fame league, but we live here [in Scotland] absolutely integrated and nobody pays any attention to us, they all know what we do and nobody gives a damn. Really what’s important is that we’re the parents of our children, and we’ve got some nice dogs, and we meet everybody on the beach, and that’s it.

CC: Elton John is a friend and I’ve photographed him and made pieces for him. And he was at my studio once, and I suggested we go out to lunch, and he said, “Oh God, I don’t want to go out there; there’s going to be paparazzi, and I’m going to be hounded.” And I said, “Oh, come on, nobody’s going to care.” So we open the door, we look left, we look right, we look all ways around. And we start down the street and he puts his jean jacket on, and spelled out in rhinestones on the back of it was “Elton.”

TS: With a big arrow and a flashing light! That’s very sweet. But I think one of the things I love is when people remember that they’re fans, too. There’s always somebody. I would like to ask Elton John who he’s a speechless fan in front of. There’ll be somebody. Probably you, Chuck.

CC: When somebody’s excited about meeting me, I find it so bizarre. It’s the same excitement I feel when I’m with a great ball player or a great actor. It’s the Other. You want to know the Other.

TS: But most people will know your work before they know you, and have a relationship with the work. And then of course, we want to meet you, but really, there are three people in this relationship.

CC: I’ve done too goddamn many self-portraits. I could be an anonymous artist if I hadn’t made all those self-portraits.

TS: So why did you start? There’s something very profound about starting to do self-portraits. I know that Sandro [Swinton’s parter] would say that the reason he started self-portraits is that he couldn’t find someone to sit for as long as he needed.

CC: Yeah, we say that.

TS: That’s what I was going to say! I wasn’t born yesterday. So that moment when you decide to place yourself in your work is a big commitment, isn’t it? You’re a performer, in that sense.

CC: And in a sense, painting is a performance art. No one sees the performance. But really, we’re dancing in front of this rectangle doing all this stuff, and to watch someone else paint is fascinating to me.

“I actually got asked by a doctor recently, he said there’s been a lot of advances in degenerative diseases, and he said, ‘If you come to me seven days a wee and are willing to work eight hours a day, I can have you walking again by the end of the year.’ And I said, ‘And give up painting? I don’t want to walk that badly.’ There are things I want to do sitting down.”

TS: Have you ever made a performance of you painting and people watching you?

CC: I became an artist largely because I wanted to be in a room by myself. And now that room is very crowded by nurses and assistants, so I’m oblivious to the fact that the whole room is full of people when I paint. But my ex-wife said that I was the most narcissistic artist in the world, because I made so many self-portraits. I said “What about Cindy Sherman, for Christ’s sake? She only does self-portraits.” She was like, “Yeah, but it doesn’t look the same.”

TS: You have a lot of competition for that title, I have to say. But is there some quantifiable way in which you feel differently about that experience of showing a self-portrait to showing a portrait of Sienna, for example?

CC: I always put one self-portrait in every exhibition, but I had a self-portrait retrospective in San Francisco, and I rolled in there and I wanted to throw up. Just me everywhere. It was unrelenting.

TS: Well then, welcome to my world. That’s how I feel, especially if there’s any kind of retrospective. It’s a very humbling and vomit-inducing experience.

CC: Well, what’s your relationship with your work in terms of how much you see it?

TS: If you mean the actual physical artifact of a film or a piece of writing, my relationship is relatively casual. Because I’ve come to realize that my real interest is in the making. In terms of filmmaking, for example, I’m really interested in the conversation with the filmmakers. The films are secondary for me.

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CC: All right, you’re in a city, somewhere else, and you’re in a different time zone and you’re really exhausted and you get into bed and you can’t fall asleep. And you turn on the TV, and it’s one of your movies. Do you change the channel, or do you watch it?

TS: You know, I’d probably watch it out of curiosity, because I don’t often see my work.

CC: When I go to a retrospective of my work, it’s like a family reunion. They’re all my friends and fellow artists.

TS: I can watch a film, even after ten or 15 years, and remember exactly what we were doing the day we shot that take, like my shoes were too small. Or someone had just died.

CC: What bothers me is when I haven’t seen a painting in a long time and I roll up to it and I can’t remember ever having painted that thing. I look at a piece and I say, “Why in the world would I have done that?” And that’s kind of scary.

TS: Wow, but is that a recent thing?

CS: Well, they tell me I’ve had Alzheimer’s already for ten years.

TS: When that happens, can you imagine for a second that someone else painted it? Can you assess it objectively?

CS: Oh yeah. Picasso apparently once denied having made a work of art with, “Even Picasso makes fake Picassos.”

TS: It’s a strange company, isn’t it? Because the work is like family — you feel unconditional about it, really. You can’t judge it. It’s just your life, really.

CC: You shove these pieces out into the world the way a bird just pushes the little bird out. I want them to go out into the world; I don’t want all my babies. I can’t afford all of them. But I want them out there! It stands for me. It stands for that frozen moment of time that that performance happened. Underneath it all, artists, painters, whatever, are very generous people. We’re not trying to hide anything; we’re putting stuff out there for people to have a relationship with it. And you have to put aside all kinds of ego issues. I’ve had a shrink tell me that I make a mask and I hide behind it. And I reject that idea.

TS: I’d be very intrigued to ask that shrink who they’ve ever encountered who doesn’t.

Isn’t that what being a social animal is to a certain extent?

CC: Well, I was auditioning a new shrink, and the first thing he did was psychoanalyze me through my paintings. I thought, “I’m not coming here to talk about my paintings.”

TS: I always find it intriguing that there’s a misunderstanding about what’s called the vanity of artists, because it so obviously is the opposite. Artists who put their work out there have to put their head above the parapet constantly, and that’s potentially a very humiliating thing. And the truly vain would keep quiet and safe and make some money in some quite secure and neat way. But those of us who aren’t so neat keep thrusting our heads up. There’s no safety in it.

CC: It’s really interesting how you can be contrarian, questioning authority and any belief system.

TS: I’m not sure it’s ever been about feeling particularly contrarian or anti-anything. The earliest memory I have of feeling distinct from my group, my family, was when I was about four. I remember very clearly sitting upstairs in the church, at our family pew, and the children I’d been playing with the day before being downstairs, and I asked why we were upstairs, and why they were downstairs, and the thing that was significant to me was not just that I didn’t get a good answer, but that my brothers, who continue to be very nice and humane people, didn’t ask this question. So for me, it was a matter of trying to find other people who would ask that kind of question. I just wanted to find some company. And I really found good company when I first met [filmmaker] Derek Jarman, and I started making films with him. He, and the people I met with him, were exactly the kind of people who, if they were with me in the loft of the church, would’ve been right with me.

CC: I grew up in the Eisenhower ’50s, but at the same time, the civil rights movement was beginning. I went to every peace march and it really felt like we were part of an army — an army that was outgunned. But you could make a good fight out of it.

TS: But I felt that also. In the ’80s, when I was in London, and we were marching against Margaret Thatcher and all the oppressive laws that regime was imposing, particularly against civil liberties and gay rights. That feeling of resistance is very intoxicating. So in that sense, yes, it did feel like one was aligned with something counter. But aligned was the important bit; it was to do with actually being in good company. I love that feeling of camaraderie. Do you know the work of Derek Jarman? He was an amazing person. When he was diagnosed in 1989 with HIV, he became a political activist in a way that there was no model for then, or in fact now, in some ways.

CC: I went in the other direction. When I became a quadriplegic in ’88, I thought, Well, I can become a professional handicapped person and work for the handicapped, or I can move on and do what I want to do. Same with Alzheimer’s.

TS: Good choice, by the way.

CC: I actually got asked by a doctor recently, he said there’s been a lot of advances in degenerative diseases, and he said, “If you come to me seven days a week and are willing to work eight hours a day, I can have you walking again by the end of the year.” And I said, “And give up painting? I don’t want to walk that badly.” There are things I want to do sitting down.

TS: I have a dear friend, Jean Carper, who is making a documentary about Alzheimer’s — she’s 83 and plays a mean game of tennis. I put her in touch with the brilliant Scott Small, who is working on Alzheimer’s at Columbia University, and he’s working on the value of forgetting, a subject I relish. You have to throw some things in the trash, or there’s not going to be room for the exciting stuff ahead.

CC: I think it’s making it easier for me to be an Alzheimer’s patient, because my whole life I couldn’t remember stuff. Luckily you don’t have to be very smart to be a painter. I visited de Kooning at the end of his life. He had no idea where he was, who anybody was, and he was making transcendent paintings.

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Artwork by Sandro Kopp, whose NYC show at Five 11 Gallery opens in November 2015.

The 13 Best Red Carpet #Lewks of 2014

Photo Credits: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

Red carpet attire has the legendary ability to rocket an emerging starlet to mega-stardom or land her on worst dressed lists and endure public ridicule (though less bitingly than ever before, RIP Joan).

There’s something exciting at any event when stars really dress for the sake of fashion. The red carpet and all its hoopla are easy targets–but for all of the flops and hot messes we see on the red carpet every year, there are countless more bland, boring looks from those who just want to avoid any embarrassment. So I’ve tried to give my attention to the ladies who walked the carpet with gusto and *Fashion*.

Taylor Swift in Gucci Premiere at the Grammys

Ms. Swift had a big year filled with her “good girl gone a little less good”/”country gone pop” rebranding plan. This gown spoke to those goals. There’s a chicness to this Gucci despite the inherent flashiness of the diamonds and sequins and beading that’s a far cry from the princess-y gowns of her past. Instead of looking like a floor-length version of an ice skating costume (which it absolutely could have–especially with the short sleeves and collar) it’s a smart, sexy look that doesn’t go for cheap provocation sometimes found on the Grammys red carpet. Tay is nothing if not savvy, and this look puts her into seriously sophisticated territory and, also notable is the fact that it isn’t a crop top, that barely-there garment she’s since taken a strong liking to, to say the least.

Lupita Nyong’o in Ralph Lauren at the Golden Globes

If the Golden Globe red carpet was the only red carpet Lupita walked this year, she probably still would have emerged the breakout of the awards season. The shoulder-baring cape elevated this very pretty, classic, Ralph Lauren column gown into the higher pantheon of red carpet style. Nyong’o seemingly emerged out of nowhere with the kind of prepossession and poise of an actress with far more industry experience, and sent both the entertainment and fashion sphere into a frenzy. Forgive the clichéd nature of this next statement, but it’s kind of inarguable: a star was born.

Olivia Wilde in Gucci at the Golden Globes

Being pregnant on the red carpet has to be tough. You’re expected to wear high heels and an outfit that features your growing belly. You and your growing belly need to look as healthy and happy as possible, lest you want to have a paparazzi picture of you eating ice cream with the words “DESPERATE AND ALONE” written under your face. In any case, Wilde doesn’t seem too bothered in her long-sleeve Gucci gown. The rich hunter green fabric is almost skintight, but she doesn’t look like a pregnant lady in a gimpsuit or as though she’s stretching the seams within an inch of their life. The beading reflects the flash without looking cheap and embraces the curves that come with, you know, growing a human inside your body.

Tilda Swinton in Haider Ackermann at the Gotham Awards

Did you hear that Tilda Swinton was named GQ’s Woman of the Year? Did you ever read the incredible Twitter account, @NotTildaSwinton? Sample tweet: “The most delicious meal I’ve ever had?  My first gasp of air upon emerging from the geode my father impregnated.” Swinton has also had a good year. She’s a renowned clotheshorse, a genuine red carpet vanguard who wears haute couture and maintains a strictly individual and often androgynous style. No mere mortal can carry such a complicated garment (note the contrasting textures of the champagne fabrics, or the way the blazer-inspired top melts into the skirt) with such ease. Gaze on.

Kate Hudson in Atelier Versace at the Oscars

If I were a red carpet stylist I would wield whatever influence I had to force as many of my clients to wear capes as possible. (There’s a theme here). Then, if capes had some sort of resurgence I would hire a publicist to link the trend back to me. Versace has created a strong shouldered capelet? sleeveless bolero? variation on a shrug? that complements Hudson’s creamy romantic gown. The cape and shiny beadwork injects some much-needed drama that most actresses disappointingly often avoid in favor of something boring or miserably overdone. The last time Kate wore a cape to the Oscars it was a sort of unmitigated disaster, making this victory that much sweeter.

Nicki Minaj in Alexander McQueen at the MTV Movie Awards

Remember all of that stuff I’ve said about going for the gusto and aiming for *fashion* instead of clothing? Sometimes that means something totally insane and maximalist, and sometimes you’re Nicki Minaj and you pretty much cornered the market on looking nuts with the wigs, pom poms, popes, what have you, that characterized many of her prior appearances. Over the course of the last year or so, she made a very conscious public effort to rebrand herself, not unlike Miss Tay from earlier. Choosing this skintight black Alexander McQueen sheath, accessorized with a staggering amount of both ass and gold jewelry, and mean mugging every photographer on the carpet, were excellent choices to earn a great deal of attention for very different reasons than on her forays down awards seasons past.

Lizzy Caplan in Donna Karan Atelier at the Emmys

Producing some long analysis of the minimalism perfected in this Donna Karan gown seems counterintuitive. The dress is deceptively simple looking; there are a lot of ideas here: the cut-outs, the racerback’s nod to activewear, and, of course, the gorgeous surprise of the full, white skirt. Managing all of those design elements is no small feat, and Caplan pulls it off beautifully–helped by the fact that it fits her like a dream.

Angelina Jolie in Saint Laurent at the BAFTAs

There’s something heartening about the fact that, despite the deconstructed aesthetic Hedi Slimane’s brought to Saint Laurent (In our hearts, Yves), the revered French fashion house can still turn out an impeccable take on Le Smoking. Angie isn’t known as much of a red-carpet risk taker as of late but the lady-pants and totally intimidating level of sex appeal on display here gave me a whispered “yass” moment at my desk, and made me wonder again why she so often opts for drearier, more buttoned-up looks.  But this look gives me some hope; that she still carries a tiny vial of someone’s blood on her person at all times and fantasizes about dressing like Morticia Addams and kissing her brother again. We’ve all got needs!

Rihanna in Adam Selman at the CFDA Fashion Awards

2014 CFDA Fashion Awards - Inside Arrivals

Photo Credits: David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

Look–there’s nothing remotely tasteful about this dress (is it even a dress?), and for many, an outfit this outrageous didn’t help build the case for CDFA awarding their “Fashion ICON” award to a 26-year-old. As with many of RiRi’s style choices, this does nothing if not attract attention. Rihanna’s self-awareness and, frankly, the fact that she can pull it off, help to distinguish her from the many other starlets who have worn next to nothing on the red carpet with little success–and earn her a spot on our list. Inevitably, the dress became a meme, the most memorable iteration a drawing of Family Guy’s obese patriarch Peter Griffin. Rih then adopted the picture as her Twitter avatar for a while. It got people talking, and it’s nothing if not memorable. And maybe even iconic.

Sarah Jessica Parker in custom Oscar de la Renta

The Unofficial MET Ball After Party Hosted by The Top of The Standard - Arrivals

Photo Credits: Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com

This fits my definition of a “moment,” as fashion types (or people who enjoy Project Runway and the internet) like to say. It’s pure camp and glamour. In the photos of SJP on the Met steps, glancing over her shoulder, there’s a sense of the enormity of the dress. It’s the kind of memorable absurdity that distinguishes *fashion* from clothes–and the kind of memorable absurdity that the Met Gala should inspire in its attendees. And Parker’s insistence on including Oscar de la Renta’s signature on the train embarrassed the designer at the time, but in light of his passing this fall, it rightfully puts his stamp on a moment he created.

Liu Wen in Zac Posen at the Met Gala

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's COSTUME INSTITUTE Benefit Celebrating the Opening of Charles James: Beyond Fashion and the Anna Wintour Costume Center - Receiving Line

Photo Credits: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com

AND

Karolina Kurkova in Marchesa at the Met Gala

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's COSTUME INSTITUTE Benefit Celebrating the Opening of Charles James: Beyond Fashion and the Anna Wintour Costume Center - Red Carpet Arrivals

Photo Credits: Joe Schildhorn /BFAnyc.com

I’m slotting Liu Wen and Karolina Kurkova together because they’ve accomplished similar feats in entirely unique looks. Posen and Marchesa both tend to over-embellish and over-complicate dresses. So, lesser humans (they’re both supermodels) would likely have been swallowed whole by either dress, but these two can carry the massive pleating, tricky bodices, and general grandiosity (all impeccably rendered) of the gowns with grace.

Ashley Madekwe in Banana Republic at the British Fashion Awards

Retail on the red carpet: totally a thing now! Actress and style blogger Madekwe has not only made Banana Republic, of all stores, look absolutely luxurious, but she’s rocking a super stylized take on the tux completely distinct from the iteration Angelina wore to the BAFTAs. The diva-like appropriation of the jacket as shrug, suggestive cleavage, and statement lapels give an excellent Studio 54 vibe. As for the pant length, it makes me think of “Distinction” by Pierre Bourdieu (cue my anthropology professor dabbing a tear from her eye): she’s not covering the shoes because they aren’t fabulous, it’s because she knows that, considering the rest of her outfit, we’ll all just assume that they’re enormous Louboutins.

 

Tilda Swinton the New, Cool, Quirky Face of Nars Cosmetics

Image courtesy of Nars

Nars has a history of picking cool, quirky campaign models to accompany their equally cool cosmetics line (past models include Charlotte Rampling and Daphne Guinness). This is especially true for Tilda Swinton, who will be the new face of Nars and featured in four portraits running from January through April.

“I love [Tilda’s] bold style and really admire her work,” Nars told WWD. “As an actress, she brings such strong personality to the camera, and as a woman, she lives the experience of transformation and expression.”

 

 

Unique Creatures: Tilda Swinton – Sleeping Beauty, Otherworldly Actor, Loving Activist

Simultaneously masculine and feminine, Tilda Swinton’s command over her roles and presence (so essential to her allure) carry over so seamlessly to our experience of the actress that it only makes sense it would translate to her personal wardrobe and they way she’s chosen to portray herself outside of film.

With a power greater than our human heads can comprehend, each role Tilda takes on whether otherworldly (Only Lovers Left Alive, any of the Narnia series,) or painfully human (I Am LoveWe Need To Talk About Kevin,) she does so ultimately and fully. Even posing for photographers she has the kind of malleable presence usually only models possess. Whether in front of the lens for Tim Walker or Craig McDean, she beams the message through the camera. The results of her own air combined with her modeling talents are entrancing.

Her simple presence is enough of a draw for some – she’s perhaps the only woman we’d stand in line for at MoMA, just for the chance that she’d be there, sleeping in a glass box, as she appeared intermittently to do this summer. There’s something about Tilda – enigmatic, androgynous, ethereal, and alien in the best way – we can’t seem to quite put our finger on it, nor get enough of it.

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Art Basel Miami Weekend: Gareth Pugh, Tilda Swinton, & Del Toro

As we emerge from the blur that was the closing weekend of Art Basel Miami, we can now reflect on the ragers that kept us going until the wee hours. And while most of the soirées we attened were on our must list, there were definitely a few unexpected stops along the way. Read on for the highlights.

Miami-based footwear brand, Del Toro, kicked off the weekend with a fete at designer Matthew Chevallard’s crib, Casa del Toro. The event honored the DT’s latest artist collaborations series, which brought the work of notables like Paul Aho, Army of One, and Pharrell Williams onto the Del Toro slipper. In addition to gifting partygoers with logo-embossed mini moleskins, Kanon Organic Vodka was on deck to refresh guests with their signature libations. The night capped with stops at Visionaire‘s Rio-inspired party, and GrandLife’s jam-packed "This is New York" bash at the Delano.

Over in the Design District, actress Tilda Swinton hosted an intimate Pringle of Scotland cocktail pairing dinner sponsored by–you guess it–Kanon Organic Vodka. Although it was Swinton’s first time in Miami, her signature minimalist style wasn’t the least bit compromised, as she rocked slicked back hair and an even slicker Pringle of Scotland trench.

Saturday night belonged to Gareth Pugh, as he welcomed guests like supermodel Lily Donaldson and actress/model Byrdie Bell to a private dinner at Baoli-Vita. The event toasted the British designer’s latest collab with Brazilian footwear brand, Melissa Shoes, and featured a very happy Pugh: "Melissa has been extremely supportive over the years, so I’m very excited to finally work with them," he told us. "And there’s no better place to toast the collaboration than here. I love this weather!" As do we. Until next time, Miami.

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See a Bloodthirsty Tilda Swinton in a New Set of Stills From Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’

When a director says that their next feature will be, yet another pained undead love story, one might roll their eyes and say, “Pass!” But when Jim Jarmusch announces that his next film will be a hopeless vampire romance starring Tilda Swinton, you say, “Yes, please!” And after having its premiere at Cannes and May and showing in Toronto earlier this month, Only Lovers Left Alive will have its New York debut at NYFF in the coming weeks—and I couldn’t be more excited. Sadly, the film won’t be rolling into theaters until 2014 but will all hope, this is one worth waiting for.

Jarmusch’s undead drama tells the story of Adam (played by Tom Hiddelston), a deeply depressed underground musician who reunites with his eternal and enigmatic love, Eve (Swinton). Having already endured several centuries together, their love story is thwarted by the presence of Eve’s crazy younger sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska.) John Hurt and Anton Yelchin filling out the supporting cast in the film, which The Film Stage calls, “Minimal in style, yet bleeding with coolness, this is perhaps the most unusual and restrained vampire movie in recent memory, primarily because Jarmusch is less concerned with the violent thirst for blood and other typical cliches associated with this sub-genre of mythology.”
 
And today we’ve got a new set of bloodthirsty stills from Only Lovers Left Alive for you to enjoy. Take a look below.
 
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See Bloodthirsty New Photos From Jarmusch’s ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ + Read His Director’s Statement

For quite some time, I have been waiting with eager anticipation for Jim Jarmusch’s new feature. As one of the most idiosyncratic and brilliant directors working today, his films have the most unique and wonderful feeling to them, always unlike anything else and populated with characters as rich as the brilliant aesthetic quality of all his picutres. And with his latest—currently at Cannes—Only Lovers Left Alive, he looks to be bringing his signature style to an dark and undead tale. 

Starring Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, and Anton Yelchin, Jarmusch’s vampire flick now has an official synopsis and full director’s statement for your viewing pleasure. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a bundle of new stills from the film, giving you the first bite of his bloodsucking new work. Enjoy.
 
Synopsis:  Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover. Their love story has already endured several centuries at least, but their debauched idyll is soon disrupted by her wild and uncontrollable younger sister. Can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them?
 
Director’s Statement:  Only Lover Left Alive is an unconventional love story between a man and a woman, Adam and Eve. (My script was partially inspired by the last book published by Mark Twain: The Diaries of Adam and Eve — though no direct reference to the book is made other than the character’s names.) These two lovers are archetypal outsiders, classic bohemians, extremely intelligent and sophisticated — yet still in full possession of their animal instincts. They have traveled the world and experienced many remarkable things, always inhabiting the shadowed margins of society. And, like their own love story, their particular perspective on human history spans centuries — because they happen to be vampires.
 
But this is not your usual vampire story. Set in the very distinct cities of Detroit and Tangier, and taking place almost entirely at night, Adam and Eve must have human blood to survive. But they now live in the world of the 21st century where biting the neck of a stranger would be reckless and regressive — for survival, they must be certain the blood that sustains them is pure and free of disease or contamination. And, almost like shadows, they have learned long ago to deftly avoid the attention of any authorities. For our fi lm, the vampire is a resonant metaphor — a way to frame the deeper intentions of the story. This is a love story, but also the story of two exceptional outsiders who, given their unusual circumstances, have a vast overview of human and natural history, including stunning achievements and tragic and brutal failures. Adam and Eve are themselves metaphors for the present state of human life — they are fragile and endangered, susceptible to natural forces, and to the shortsighted behavior of those in power.
 
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See Two First Clips From Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’

A few weeks ago, we learned that Jim Jarmusch’s first feature in four years, the undead love story Only Lovers Left Alive would be heading to Cannes this week. With little word on the film—save it’s fantastic cast of andro-goddess Tilda Swinton, Ton Hiddelston, Mia Wasikowska, and Anton Yelchin—we really didn’t need much to suck us into this one. And with Cannes kicking off tomorrow, two new clips from Jarmusch’s film have beeb released.

Now, usually I tend to stress the importance of savoring a film as whole rather than being bombarded with clips before seeing the picture, but come on—how could you resist? And besides, these two brief clips only give us a slight taste and prove to give nothing away.
 
So as Only Lovers Left Alive heads into Cannes in competition this week, see the bite of the vampire flick that follows:
Adam, a deeply depressed underground musician who reunites with his eternal and enigmatic love, Eve. Having already endured serveral centuries together, their love story is thwarted by the presence of Eve’s crazy younger sister, Ava. Swinton, Tom Hiddelston, and Mia Wasikowska take on the leading roles with John Hurt and Anton Yelchin filling out the supporting cast.
And as expected, everyone looks fantastic. With Jarmusch’s affinity for music it’s only natural that his musical partner in Squrl will be giving the goth-rockers some tunes to play with. Enjoy.