Hyères, France – International Festival of Fashion and Photography – 32nd edition

Tim Walker

Last night was about leaving the South of France after a tremendous closing Sunday at Hyères. The bucolic city is located near Toulon airport (and not far from Saint-Tropez for the jet-setters) and shelters the exquisite Villa Noailles, a specimen of architecture built in the 1920s by Rob Mallet-Stevens and named after his first owners, two of the biggest French sponsors of that half of the century : Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, who welcomed there the artists they actively supported like Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali, Alberto Giacometti…

Jean Cocteau – original page and drawing

The current Festival is based on an original idea by Jean-Pierre Blanc, a self-taught kid from the block whose parents held a pizzeria in Hyères. He thought that the city, which used to host a Nouvelle Vague Cinéma Festival, could be the perfect spot for revealing young fashion talents, and so the Festival was born in 1986. What was a DIY project at the beginning has become in more than 30 years of existence an international platform which revealed some of the most talented fashion designers of their generation : Viktor & Rolf (1993), Gaspard Yurkievich (1997), Felipe Oliveira Baptista (2002), Anthony Vaccarello (2006)…

Presided by Pascale Mussard, the Festival annually encourages and supports young artists in the fields of fashion and photography. Thanks to the support of the Festival’s various partners (American Vintage, Chanel, Chloé, Elie Saab, Elsa Schiparelli, Petit Bateau, Swarovski …), each prize is granted with two or more endowments, which allow at least to two artists to emerge and to be supported throughout the upcoming year, thanks to a trip, a collaboration, an exhibition, and of course for all a substantial sum of money to help them pursuing their work.

The 2017 edition was special for it saw the creation of a new Fashion Accessories Prize sponsored by Swarovski. It also allowed a special endowment from the Jury that added the promising Maria Körkeila to the winnwers’list (kind of a millennial female version of Jean Paul Gaultier, with reversed gender codes and pop colors).

Maria Korkeila, Finland, Honourable Mention from the Jury

This 32nd Festival had also the particularity of double pushing a designer and a photographer, who won two prizes each : Vanessa Schindler, Switzerland, for Fashion, and Luis Alberto Rodriguez for Photography.

Vanessa Schindler, Fashion Grand Prix Première Vision, Public and City of Hyères Award

Jean-Pierre Blanc’s southern sense of welcome and organization makes Hyères a very special place in the fashion calendar. Everyone is there, but on a laidback mode, flat shoes and rosé wine in hand instead of the usual high heels- champaign combo.
The labyrinthine architecture of the Villa Noailles gets one lost into the various discoveries it shelters : here an installation by the shoe designer Pierre Hardy (who was also the President of the jury for the Accessories Design prize) and called « Equilibrium », there an intriguing and dark exhibition of Tim Walker’s selected works (he was the president of the Photography Jury), while the multiple corridors and staircases can open to a free-access atelier like the one dispensed by the joyful and extra-talented calligrapher Nicolas Ouchenir.

Atelier Nicolas Ouchenir

These permanent crossroads make everything possible in Hyères ; perhaps they infuse a flow of joy and energy to both the talents and the audience. Very unusual also for fashion, the fact that people from the city are welcome to mix with the professionals : during Paris Fashion Week or Cannes Film Festival, you always have a big security guy between you and whoever from the pack ; at Hyères, never, that is why even the most renowned designers love walking free in this environment : these few days are a breath of fresh air and inspiration for everyone alike.

Pierre Hardy, “Equilibrium”

And that is when the magic happens. Like when you litterally bump into the photographer whose work impressed you the most, with his raw and powerful aesthetics, mixed in his Hyères presentation with words that are just as poetic and colorful as his pictures ; when you start a conversation with him about Dublin and Anton Corbijn’s movie Control. When you believe something is going to happen because his photographs on the wall are actually revolutionary, and that France, like Ireland, is pretty familiar with the term (especially at this moment…) so his talent will surely be acknowledged in Hyères.

Daragh Soden a few hours before receiving the Grand Prix of the Photography Jury

The Irish photgrapher Daragh Soden is definitely this year’s big discovery : facing a well- behaved Fashion laureate an arty Accessories winner, he embodied the perfect balance between creativity ,singularity and reality. His Grand Prix was more than well-deserved, according to Tim Walker : «We believe this young photograher has the potential to produce new work that rewards the viewer’s mind as well as the eye…  We applaude his bravery, his honesty and expect future suprises and thought provoking visual imagery. »

Daragh Soden, Young Dubliners

Hyères, a place to see and to be seen, but for once in fashion, both terms take another, deeper meaning.

Hyères Formers’ lounge

International Festival of Fashion and Photography at Hyères

Exhibitions until May, 24th

https://www.villanoailles-hyeres32.com

 

The Weeknd : R&Basquiat

Name : Abel Makkonen Tesfaye

Nationality : Canadian (Toronto) with Ethiopian origins

Age : 27 (February, 16th, 1990)

Star sign : Aquarius

Height : 5’’7 (1m73)

Occupation : singer, songwriter, producer (label XO), fashion figurehead (Puma, H&M…)

Albums : Kiss Land (2013), Beauty Behind the Madness (2015), Starboy (2016)

Fun facts :his first language is Ahmaric (Ethiopian)
his former hairdo (recently and sadly cut down) was inspired by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
the name « The Weeknd » comes from his schooldays (he used to be a serial class-skipper)
he definitely has a thing for brunettes (Bella Hadid, Selena Gomez)

Trademarks : first spots on the top 100 singles (« The Hills », « Can’t Feel My Face », « Starboy »), dirty lyrics, sick beats, angel voice.

About last night : Starboy : Legend of the Fall Tour, Paris, February, 28th, 2017.

And The Weeknd…
…. became Starboy…(“Starboy” music video)

The Weeknd in Paris

Last night was about listening again to all of the Weeknd’s tracks since I first discovered him on a Drake feature in 2012 (“Crew Love”). What a ride for the Canadian poet who is now called Starboy and features Daft Punk in his latest album! His concert in Paris this Tuesday (February, 28th) as part of the « Starboy:Legend of the Fall » tour was an event to remember.

The Weeknd – Starboy album

First, because it was a big production: the location (the AccorHotels Arena, also known in a less advertisingly shit way and more intimately as « Bercy », a Paris concert hall which welcomed the biggest artists, from Madonna to Céline Dion ), the staging with a huge neon enlightened star that seemed to take us into a different galaxy of colors for each song. And a surprising backup behind the boy of the moment : his very skilled and stylish musicians who were playing in a Metallica heavy-metal style that actually balanced perfectly Abel Tesfaye’s angelic voice. Although it was sometimes not well perceived by the audience next to us, who apparently wanted it more hip-hop and less rock, the presence of these guys (2 guitarists and 1 crazy good drummer) was essential to reflect the ambivalence that makes the Weeknd great to me : falsetto and angelic voice vs dark lyrics, radio-cut R&B tracks vs some complex mix of rock, rap and blues vibes on some other songs… The Weeknd’s music seems easy to get, but there are actually more layers to his work than it seems.

The Weeknd concert in Paris, February, 28th, AccorHotelsArena

If you listen closely to the lyrics, for example, there is often a subtext, whether it is about drugs, love or loneliness. In « Can’t Feel My Face » it is pretty obvious that it is as much about drugs (cocaine for instance that « blocks » the face) that it is about love. Many have done it before The Weeknd, but a few had such a broad commercial success based on a song basically saying « I had too much drugs… ». The Rolling Stones, maybe ? Just read and see…

And I know she’ll be the death of me, at least we’ll both be numb
And she’ll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come
But at least we’ll both be beautiful and stay forever young
This I know, yeah, this I know
She told me, don’t worry about it
She told me, don’t worry no more
We both know we can’t go without it
She told me you’ll never be in love, oh, oh, woo
I can’t feel my face when I’m with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh
I can’t feel my face when I’m with you
But I love it, but I love it, oh

The Weeknd performing “Can’t Feel My Face” Paris, AccorHotels Arena, February, 28th

Then there is the subtle balance The Weeknd artfully maintains between selling out and keeping it in. In that aspect I do think he is a pop artist of our time, a modern Andy Warhol or more likely Jean-Michel Basquiat. (from whom he took his original crazy hairdo).
He actually has the ability to mix highly commercial tracks with subtle vibes ; to sell his face to brands like Puma and H&M while burning down a dressing room in his « Starboy » video ; to call himself « Starboy » while hiding even more his private persona, that seems closer to his former « Weeknd » character (the night, the drugs, the parties, the wandering love…). He also managed to work with the biggest artists, such as Drake, Beyoncé, Lana del Rey, Daft Punk… while keeping on pushing young talents like Lil Uzi Vert on his tour stage.
All in all, the Weeknd manages to keep it interesting by playing on several registers and by maintaining a smart ambiguity about everything he does.

The-Weeknd x Puma campaign

That is why his Paris concert was not to be missed. Not because the whole Parisian Fashion Pack, usually pretty snobish and restrained, loudly demonstrated its addiction to the artist by showing up in big groups of models, designers and influencers (it was the first day of Paris Fashion Week). Not because the opening act was more hardcore rap than needed. Not because the « Starboy », to keep it true to his new character maybe, made the audience wait about 30 minutes out there while he was doing whatever backstage…

But just because as soon as he got on the stage, the big paradoxical mix that this artist carries with him : the streets and the fame, the energy and the desperation, the impeccable looks and destroyed lyrics… Got carried out with him with such energy and generosity that it made the whole stadium crazy about him.
So unless held up by possible « Starboy » issues, The Weeknd wil surely be one of the most important music artists of the decade. That is more than the boy who « left school one weekend and never came back » could ask for …

The Weeknd, “Starboy : Legend of The Fall” Tour

Starboy, (XO – Republic Records)

#TIEDTOGETHER – Make fashion (actually) great again

Last night was about virtually following the fashion caravane from London to Milan for the ready-to-wear shows. Before that there was New York. And after the big 4 fashion cities there will be a Fashion Week happening almost every single day somewhere in the world… But paradoxically fashion seems to have lost a lot of its meaning over the past 20 years, for what or who is now trendy will be out of the spotlight in a few minutes/likes. So last night was about taking a break from this frenzy, and trying to find out what could currently bring back some sense into this crazy spinning fashion bitch.

Since the inception of the digital age in the 00s, in addition to a fast globalization going on since the 90s, many people are now aware of fashion and its big names : empire brands (Giorgio Armani), petite icons (Kate Moss), feared editors (Anna Wintour). And yet, when the world seems to know it all by heart or by Iphone, the true meaning of fashion seems to have lost its way.
Because there was a time when fashion was an actual revolution tool. In the 18th century, the renowned fashion influencer that was Marie-Antoinette decreed to quit the heavy dresses for a more natural and « countryside-shepherdess » look, thus freeing many women from their stuffy corsets. And therefore allowing them to love or flee whoever they wanted (Sofia Coppola beautifully painted this switch of fashion and sexuality in her Marie-Antoinette biopic).
Later the French Revolution (yeah, the French used to be very fashion-forward (:-) ) allowed women to wear pants in order to be in combat without being raped every other minute. There were all feminists back then too…

Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola, 2006

More recently, there were successive waves of young designers who made their little revolution  : notably the French in the 80s (agnès b., Jean Paul Gaultier…) the English in the 90s (John Galliano, Alexander McQueen…) , the Belgian in the 00’s (Martin Margiela, Dries van Noten)… All of them had a deep knowledge of fashion history, a sharp eye combined to a sense of humor and craftsmanship, plus they always loved to put on a good show, equally glittery and meaningful. Sometimes it had an artistic meaning, sometimes a political one (think Hussein Chalayan and his naked models in 1998) but all in all it had a purpose above fashion.
The clothes were not always easy to capture or to understand, but they were meaningful : about the people, the world around or the dreams the designer had… And wearing them was kind of a statement.

Hussein Chalayan 1998

Now it seems that it is all about selling, out and fast : « see now, buy now… » Efficient, but empty.
It seems that it is all about putting on a paced show that will not move too fast in order to be photographed and Instagramed well. Make sure to make the video of the finale, where the models now all walk at the same speed and on the same straight line from show to show (they really ARE an army !!). If you have a blur at the end of the day (or a couple of drinks) and look back at the videos, mostly you won’t be able to tell which is which…
It seems it is all about praising the advertisers instead of speaking one’s mind aloud, in fear of losing the brand’s money into your magazine’s advertising (and the 3 granted Bs : champaign Bubbles, Bags, Business class)… Now when a show is crap it is « well-done », and when it is great, well it is « to die for » (having told the truth this time ?… )
Of course I am painting the dark side of the picture here. And of course there are some exceptions to the global marketing rule. But it is fair to say that despite the efforts of a few white knights, fashion is in serious danger of a snap creative death. The fast-forward way the industry has taken is certainly not going to slow the process down…

New York Fashion Week FW17 -Nice shows but same finale…

Unless we manage to inject some meaning into fashion again.
The worldwide context is urging us to take a stand, not a seat. On the contrary to what some brands keep on pretending, the ecologic Utopia has already sailed away : who can be sustainable while still pursuing mass production ? Fashion can be drawn to be responsible, but will NEVER be sustainable. Hard but real.

New York Fashion Week FW17 -Nice shows but same finale…

So let’s make the ideas pop as strongly as the champaign bottles. Let’s make statements ring as loud as the show’s soundtrack, in a way that people will actually LOOK at the clothes and LISTEN to what they actually have to say. So that after the show people REMEMBER it for more than a second, because it stood out for someting else than just clothes and pictures.

New York, London, Milan…Designers, models, influencers #TiedTogether

Fortunately, there has been some moves in the industry lately. Business of Fashion’s editor-in-chief Imran Amed has urged fashion to react against the excluding measures taken all over the world, and lately in the U.S, pointing out that the fashion industry had kept quiet while other influential creative fields (namely the tech industry) were the first to openly protest against these measures.
That is how the #TiedTogether movement was born. It’s not about but above politics, sales or money (if you wish to donate, then, your choice). It is only about fashion, inclusiveness and solidarity. How we are all tied together. Especially in our modern world where an information or a bomb can reach anyone at any time… Each of us depends on the many others to keep our futures open.
And of course this also works on the tiny fashion scale, for fashion has always welcomed people who did not fit into the usual standards (gender, social, others, many others…), and often gave them the opportunity to sit on the first row, if they had the strength to make their way to it. That is also how fashion has managed to stand out over the years, so let’s keep it that way.

Business of Fashion Team- #TiedTogether

#Tiedtogether is a simple and powerful fashion gesture : tie a white bandana somewhere, photograph it and share it on Instagram with the proper tag. This way you will have given 5$ to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) or to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). As easy as that… Many powerful fashion figures have already gone « white », including Tommy Hilfiger, Raf Simons for Calvin Klein, Jonathan Saunders for Diane von Furstenberg, Donatella Versace… And the digital models have embraced it with grace, such as Gigi and Bella Hadid, who put their millions of followers into the balance.
Actually, #TiedTogether kind of took the industry out of its sleep. Now videos #iamamigrant are spread, and brands take some minor stands here and there in order not to look selfish… And of course to be a part of the trend (:-)But we all know who started it and where the statement came from… So let’s follow the source and go #tiedtogether, in all fashion week spots and beyond, and make it last more than a post.

Model Bella Hadid @Versus show in London

The conclusion of this meaningful shock to fashion?
Imagine the combination of meaningful fashion images with the speed and reach of digital…Instead of generating likes, it could create miracles. And maybe change the world? Or at least people’s minds… And that’s already something big.So let’s turn off the calculator for a minute and open our fashion (or other) minds. Together we can both act and shine at the same time. How revolutionary/trendy/great is that?

#TiedTogether – Business of Fashion @bof – https://tiedtogether.businessoffashion.com

 

DVD/VOD – Juste la fin du monde (It’s Only the End of the World) by Xavier Dolan

Last night was about watching a movie about which everything and nothing has been said: Juste la fin du monde (It’s Only the End of the World) by Xavier Dolan. The movie title was a perfect fit for the first post of 2017 : a year that will surely continue to oppose dramatic circumstances and moments of pure innocence, dark thoughts and bright happenings, all of that in 365 days … Or in 1h37 minutes…

It’s Only the End of the World by Xavier Dolan

Juste la fin du monde was freely adapted from a play by Jean-Luc Lagarce, a confidential French writer who died of AIDS in 1995. Except the unity of time, space and action conferred by the play, Dolan seems to have deliberately walked away from the original plot and characters, in order to push the buttons of dramatic suffocation further. From the hot and sweaty atmosphere to the overdone and sinking make-up of the female characters ; from the very very close shots to the long pauses between dialogs, everything leads to a final choke. On the contrary to what some may have said last May judging the movie by its cover… namely the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the 5 star French cast, the overall presence of Xavier Dolan in the « know-to-how-to » media and in a logo-saturated ad campaign…Despite this “image bashing” (or despite some people getting suspiciously crazy about this movie), the choke given by Juste la fin du monde is actually a healthy jolt into contemporary cinema, and it jerks upside down many clichés about modern gloominess, here the key to a somewhat beautiful and moving tragedy.

A family time bomb

But what is this young classic film about ?
Louis (played by Gaspard Ulliel, who makes an impeccable comeback after his acclaimed lead performance in Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent, 2014 ) flies back to his hometown (a green, moist and suburban place between Florida and the South-East of France, nobody cares to know where it is anyway…) to announce to his family that he’s dying. He has not seen them for years, absorbed by the job and life of a successful playwriter in the big city. In the meantime, his little sister Suzanne (Léa Seydoux, always better in borderline parts than in « proper » ones, like in La Vie d’Adèle/ Blue is the Warmest Colour where she was surprising vs in James Bond’s Spectre where she was… where ??) has grown into a tatooed smoking woman, his elder brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel, cunningly and exquisitely raw) is now married with kids, and his mom ( wonderful Nathalie Baye) has turned into some kind of a nutcase (or has she ?). The father is long gone, and his disappearance may have been the trigger that shot this family apart if you are willing to read between the lines : Louis’s long-hidden homosexuality, Antoine’s violent personality, Suzanne’s permanent loss of time, space, and love, the mother’s impossible quest for peace, the daughter-in-law ‘s apparent clumsiness (played by Marion Cotillard, excellent here too, so Dolan definitely knows how to direct actors, whatever their caliber)… All of the family loves and thorns will burst in or out during one afternoon, before and after lunch, and all of its secrets should be revealed to us… Though maybe not to them ?

Juste la fin du monde, lunch group scene

Yes, there is a lot to read, a lot to hear, and a lot to watch out for in this movie, hence its raw and absolute beauty. Like it is the most difficult thing for Louis to admit to his family that it might be the last time he sees them, the viewer has to make an effort (and maybe to come again to see the movie…) to get to the bottom of the many side looks, camera angles, unfinished sentences/business, and superdetailed images that are gifted to him like cinematic candies that will make his eyes pop. This healthy overdose of content screams one thing : Xavier Dolan is far from being arrogant in his movies (maybe he is in real life, but who cares ?), instead he goes where only a few directors dare to by giving some credit to his audience : he actually thinks we are NOT stupid, which is more that can be said about 90% of the current movie directors, who tend to take us to MC Donald’s by providing everything pre-eaten. Here we feel we are at a first Michelin star restaurant run by a young chef : it is full of energy, vivid, sometimes it wants to show off a bit, but in the end it gives a lot to nurture the mind, and that is what we should still ask of cinema.

The mother (Nathalie Baye) facing the sun/son (Gaspard Ulliel)

The energy of Juste la fin du monde is the one of the French Nouvelle Vague and of Jean-Luc Godard’s movies, but combined to the art of choking coming from the theater, and to an in-depth art of filming, it makes a Dolan potion that requires a top casting to pour it around.
Many (myself inculded) have criticized the palette of big French actors chosen by Dolan, thinking it was more for promotion than for interpretation purposes. After having seen the movie, there is no doubt that an underdog casting would have missed some of the nuance and complexities carried around by the characters. The group scenes in particular (the living room is the main one in my opinion, not the lunch which has been over-advertised everywhere and actually lasts 2 mins) require a depth that can be only expected from experienced actors. The strength of Dolan is to have brought them to balance their long-run experience and control with flashes of raw energy that can be felt during some solo or duo moments.

the key lies on the floor… or in the details

Finally, the impeccable cinematography by André Turpin and the mesmerizing soundtrack by Gabriel Yared (even when Dolan decides to play Moby’s « Natural Blues », you are still glued to the screen…) complete a must-see movie that has been wrongly advertised and not enough seen all along. The media may have found in Xavier Dolan a new prey to hunt, but cinema lovers will find with his new movie just the right lunch to devour. Bon appétit !

Lake Como off season

Last night was about enjoying a sunset on the Lario, aka Lake Como. The most famous of the Italian lakes gains to be seen during low season, for the number of tourists around you is rather close to 10 than 300. Although it can be a little bit cold (6°C during the day), the silent and peaceful atmosphere makes you understand why the lake has inspired many artists and love stories.

Sunset on Lake Como, Bellagio
Sunset on Lake Como, Bellagio
Lake Como, Italy
Lake Como, Italy

lakecomomapbeige

The Y-shaped Lake Como is not the biggest, but the deepest (410m) of the 3 Italian lakes. The play between fog and sunlight all day long stretches the imagination to build romantic or tragic stories, set in the majestic villas surrounding the Lario. This specific “light and dark” mood was a perfect match with the European Romantic movement in the 19th century, and some of the masterpieces in literature and music of that era were born on the shores of Lake Como. French writer Stendhal describes the lake in The Charterhouse of Parma (1839) as “the most beautiful place in the world”. The lake is brought like an actual character into the story, its changing light and landscapes matching with the hero’s state of mind.

View on the lake from the Villa Monastero, Varenna
View on the lake from the Villa Monastero, Varenna

As for music, the Hungarian master Franz Liszt chose Bellagio and the Villa Melzi to compose his Sonata quasi fantasia, and to nest his forbidden love with his French mistress Marie d’Agoult. That is why his daughter Cosima (future wife of Wagner) was born in Bellagio on December, 25th 1837.

Franz Liszt's house, Bellagio
Franz Liszt’s house, Bellagio

The nearby Villa Serbelloni has welcomed various celebrities of their time, from French writer Gustave Flaubert in 1845 to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in June, 1963. It is currently hosting the Rockefeller Foundation where artists of all fields are invited to stay for 4 weeks in order to “work in the best conditions possible” (how not to??). Another music master almost died of love and inspiration on the shores of the lake : Vincenzo Bellini composed La Sonnambula and La Norma in 1837 while burning for the lady Giuditta Cantu. La Norma has since become a world-known opera tune through “La Casta Diva”.

All the stories surrounding the lake seem to take at some point to Bellagio. The “pearl of Lake Como”is the perfect place to settle down. From there you can go around easily around by ferry. This center town is strikingly charming and well-preserved, with its old center including 19th century caffés (where you can find newspapers as well as all day long service) and classic “alimentaris” (selling great wine as well as toiletries).
The hotel “Suisse” on the tourist harbour has also kept its charm and a delightful restaurant, fortunately opened during the low season. All in all, life in Bellagio is far from the crazy prices its summer reputation may entail : a nice meal for 2 can be found for 35€, and the classic italian breakfast on the harbour shared for 15€. But these prices seem to apply only to the brave visitors who dare showing during winter time. Another option is to choose any time the Villa d’Este (south of the lake, close to Como) and pay 2000€ per night…

Bellagio
Bellagio

There is one major setback at that time of the year : even if you are sure to experience the most romantic and poetic getway, many villas and hotels are closed until March, and can only be seen from the lake or the road.
One exception is the Villa Monastero in Varenna. The medieval town and the gardens of the villa are worth the tour.

Gardens, Villa Monastero
Gardens, Villa Monastero
Varenna
Varenna

Otherwise you will have to admire from afar the “movie villa”, Villa Balbianello, where Star Wars Episode II : Attack of the Clones and James Bond : Casino Royale were shot. Even from the boat the setting already makes you feel you landed on another planet.

Villa Balbianello
Villa Balbianello

The George Clooney fans will have to wait until Spring to have a chance to get a glimpse of the most famous villa owner (in Laglio)…The others will take their own chances and live a winter tale like no other.

George Clooney buys a house on Lake Como, Vanity Fair, September 2007
George Clooney buys a house on Lake Como, Vanity Fair, September 2007

T.V series – Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life

Last night was about (binge) watching the new season of Gilmore Girls :a Year in the Life, on Netflix.
The return of the acclaimed series raised high expectations : the last season closed in 2007 without its creator, Amy Sherman- Palladino, who is now back on track for these 4 new episodes (6hrs in total, perfect for a cold weekend) ; each one matches with a season starting with Winter, hence the title A Year in the Life.

Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life returns on Netflix
Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life returns on Netflix

Following the ups and downs of 3 generations of women in a small town in Connecticut, Gilmore Girls was originally a successs thanks to its witty dialogs, its smart pop-culture references and its strong leading duo, played by Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. After almost ten years off the screen, many issues were at stake for the G.G fans with this new (and final ?) season : what will be the future of the star-crossed couple, Lorelai (the mother) and Luke ? Will Rory (the daughter) find her way out into the world? How will the fairytale town of Stars Hollow adapt to the new digital age without compromising its magic spirit ? And, most of all, what will be the 4 final words of the show, which have been kept secret for so long by Amy Sherman-Palladino?

Gilmore Girls : a typical Stars Hollow moment with Miss Patty, Babette, Rory and Lorelai
Gilmore Girls : a typical Stars Hollow moment with Miss Patty, Babette, Rory and Lorelai

Some of these pressing questions were well-answered thanks to the extended format allowed by Nextflix : it looked like a Gilmore Girls movie that was cut for T.V. Therefore there was plenty of time to deal with all the issues at stake : the death of the patriarch, Richard Gilmore (matching the passing of the actor, Edward Hermann, in 2014), is fully embraced in the story, and leads to some of the best moments and dialogs, notably between Lorelai and her mother, Emily Gilmore (still incredible Kelly Bishop, 72), who decide to go to therapy together… The relationship between Lorelai and Luke is also fully dealt with, although we don’t see the whole final big event promised by the last episode (no spoilers here, but truly disappointing …).

The entrance of some secondary characters also lead to pure moments of joy and sparks : Paris Geller (Liza Weil), Rory’s best friend, a stubborn and competitive life- achiever, who has not lost her impressive speech delivery, nor her tantrums ; Michel Gerard, the bitchy French concierge at the Dragonfly Inn, played by a Yanic Truesdale who appears as wrinkle-free as his character demands. And of course the town of Stars Hollow, which looks reassuringly unchanged, from the romantic gazebo on the main square to Miss Patty’s ballet studio and Luke’s diner (the latter has wi-fi, but still no phones allowed…).

Gilmore Girls vintage material : Michel, Rory and Emily Gilmore
Gilmore Girls vintage material : Michel, Rory and Emily Gilmore

Then, unfortunately, there are the unexpected dark spots. Things that are pretty damaging to the myth for any GG fan, or worse, for someone who happens to discover the show and would not have the empathy to excuse these weaknesses on the account of a long relationship with Gilmore Girls. These moments when you need to pour yourself some coffee… Literally (for the ones who are not familiar with the show coffee used to be one of the main obsessions of the Gilmore Girls).
First, some scenes last far too long : the Stars Hollow musical in the third episode is the most obvious one. It is like the creators had some spare within the 90 minutes of the episode, and decided not to cut some scenes after all in order to fill the blanks. And sadly to doze us off.
On the other hand, some lively characters from the original show are left adrift : Babette, Lorelai’s eccentric cat-lover neighbor and her husband Ray ; Lorelai’s best friend and chef at the Inn, Sookie St James, who appears only briefly in the last episode… One can regret that instead of putting these characters ahead, the Stars Hollow stories turn around the quirky Kirk and his pig pet called Petale, and Star Hollow’s bossy mayor Taylor Doose, whose coming-out is suggested but not even fully achieved. Once again, it looks like this season lost precious time (if it is indeed the last one).

Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life - Stars Hollow, an imaginary town in Connecticut
Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life – Stars Hollow, an imaginary town in Connecticut

And finally, the biggest disappointment lies in the development of Rory’s character: she is now 32 and after 6 hours, it looks like we haven’t moved from season 7 already : we still don’t know where she is going, for she is completely adrift with her journalist job (reading Vogue’s review it looks like Condé Nast agrees on this ) ; we don’t know who she will finally choose to love, for all her former boyfriends make an appearance without leading to any conclusion whatsoever, given that their scenes are rather winks than in-depth looks at the plots set in the previous seasons. Even her friendships and her relationships to the other characters (out of her mother) have lost most of their salt and pepper. According to the fact that Rory is the one who pronounces these famous (or now infamous) final words (and there are actually 3, not 4…), it is truly sad to acknowledge that they stand for the only evolution of her character since the beginning of the journey (no spoilers here again !).
I am not sure Alexis Bledel’s interpretation is to blame for that lack of thickness in her character, for she was definitely better in her latest appearances on the screen (notably in Remember Sunday, 2013). But overall there is a dark cloud floating on the series’ finale that only an additional season could wash away in laughter. It would be a pitty to end such a good show on a cliffhanger that has one of his main characters looking straight at emptiness.

In the meantime, make your own opinion on this new turn of events in the Gilmore Girls galaxy, or better watch (again) the previous seasons that will surely take you somewhere nice.

A Gilmore Girls classic : "I smell snow!" - A Year in the Life - "Winter" (Netflix)

Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life (4 episodes) on Netflix
Season 1 to 7 also available on Netflix

Jan Blomqvist : sound and clear

@JanBlomqvist_
@JanBlomqvist_

Nationality : German (not Swedish!)

Age : 30 something (born in the 80s )

Star sign : techno music

Place of residence : Berlin when not on tour

Current occupation : DJ, solo-artist and BLOMQVIST bandleader

Fun fact : he studied aerospace technology

Trademark : concert techno – dreamy vocals and simple beats « the minimally sloping sound that gives you goose pumps. »

Instagram : @janblomqvist_band

About last night : listened to his new album Remote Control (Armada Music)

Remote Control by Jan Blomqvist (Armada Music)
Remote Control by Jan Blomqvist (Armada Music)

Absolute favorite track is « More » feat. Elena Pitoulis, beautiful video here :

Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann – Forever 20!

Last night was about watching for the 20th (or so) time Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. Altough the movie was released in November 1996, and therefore celebrates this month its 20th anniversary, it has managed to remain as ageless as the Shakespeare’s masterpiece it is based upon. Here is why Romeo + Juliet is definitely iconic :

Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann -original poster - 1996
Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann -original poster – 1996

First of all, the daring commitment to the original language : Shakespeare’s text is strictly followed all along, while the surroundings and the characters are set in a modern Verona Beach. The movie was shot in Mexico, but the vision conveyed by Baz Luhrmann makes the country almost irrelevant. And that’s the point. All that counts is the overwhelming presence of religion (Jesus and Mary are pratcially everywhere) and the gang war, which are also the main components of Shakespeare’s play. One could have thought that clashing Shakespeare’s language with Hawaiian shirts, Mercutio with a transvestite and Queen Mab with ecstasy would have made a big mess out of the orginal, but all that comes out after 20 years is the impression the movie could have been shot in 2016. Because the language makes it all stick together through time. : by choosing the reveal the modernity of Shakespeare’s words, the movie remains modern itself. An anti-wrinkle bet that is still paying off 20 years after.

Romeo + Juliet original moodboard shared by Baz Luhrmann on Twitter
Romeo + Juliet original moodboard shared by Baz Luhrmann for the 20th anniversary

Then there is the prophetic cast : a young and confidential Leonardo DiCaprio,21, as Romeo, (he will land Titanic just after this movie), facing a teenage-series-acclaimed (My So-Called Life) Claire Danes, 17, as Juliet. Is it because there did so great playing these legendary characters that they happened to make a stellar carreer, or because Baz Luhrmann already felt their huge potential when he cast them ?
Anyhow it was a star-crossed choice (:-)

Romeo and Juliet, Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes
Romeo and Juliet, Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes

No to mention the superb John Leguizamo as Tybalt, the blazing Harrold Perrineau as Mercutio (who will ever forget his cross-dressed Queen Mab monolog ?) and the also- confidential-at-the-time Paul Rudd as preppy Dave Paris ? And finally, the award-winning actress Miriam Margolyes, who gave to Juliet’s Nurse an unforgettable persona, reminding that Shakespeare’s plays were also very rich for secondary parts, provided you had great actors to play them.

The Montaigu gang
The Montaigu gang

Of course, at the time Romeo+ Juliet came out, Catherine Martin was not as famous as she is now, and not yet married to Baz Luhrmann (they tied the knot in 1997). But you can already see her incredible talent with costumes, which will later get her in the spotlight for Moulin Rouge (2001) and The Great Gatsby (2013). Her magic mix seems to hang in a subtle blend between the current fashion and timeless references : in Romeo + Juliet, some of the costumes are fit to go with their time (think about Romeo’s suit, so 90’s, Juliet in a white T-shirt and jeans, so CK One…), while others will last forever : Juliet as an angel at the costume party, and Romeo’s Hawaiian shirts that are currently displayed at Opening Ceremony…

Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) in a timeless but 90s suit
Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) in a timeless but 90s suit
Juliet (Claire Danes) in prayer and in jeans
Juliet (Claire Danes) in prayer and in jeans

But great costumes would not have made it without the magic sets : the Montaigu and Capulet mansions, the broken theater in Romeo’s opening scene, the fish tank where the couple first meet, the elevator where they first kiss, the funfair where the gangs fight… All of them were cleverly thought and mesmerizing enough to make sense for 20 years… And more.

Romeo + Juliet magic settings : the theater, the party, the church
Romeo + Juliet magic settings : the theater, the party, the church

And finally, the cherry on the cake, the soundtrack ! Who would have thought that Shakespeare’s words would be supported by the likes of Garbage, Radiohead, Kym Mazelle or Des’ree ? And the fact is it seems obvious when you watch the movie. Is it again because these artists had a timeless potential or because they were featured on that soundtrack that they are still listened to today ? Who knows, but it gives again a timeless touch to the whole movie.
You can listen to the full soundtrack here :

In order to celebrate the movie’s anniversary along with Shakespeare’s, 400th, Baz Luhrmann released lots of backstage props and details on his Twitter and Instagram account. If you are more than 20 (like me) and want to take a dip into your teens, or if you are 15 or more and want to get hacked by one of the greatest movies of our time, just go and check them out. It might drive you to see the movie right away, either for the first or thirtieth time, and to fall in love (again), forever…

« For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo. »
« For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo. »

“About Last Night” eyeshadow palette by Marc Jacobs Beauty

Last night was about about discovering a great beauty homonym, that is the « About Last Night » eyeshadow palette by Marc Jacobs Beauty. I swear that I did not have insider information from the brand when I started the blog some weeks ago. But when I found out that Marc Jacobs launched a holiday makeup collection called the same as the blog, I was glad to be on the same page (literally) as one of the most interesting fashion/trend designers of our time. So let’s take the occasion to focus on some of Marc Jacobs’s major creative landmarks (no need to say that this is not a beauty post and that it is not sponsored).

"About Last Night" holiday collection - Marc Jacobs Beauty
“About Last Night” holiday collection – Marc Jacobs Beauty

The particularity with Marc Jacobs is a certain sense of modernity. Since he started in fashion some 30 years ago (already !), it is like he always knew what was coming ahead, and made a great business out of it.
The weight luxury groups would take in the fashion business : he was one of the first young designers to be appointed for a giant brand by becoming Louis Vuitton’s creative director in 1997 (he left in 2014 to focus on his own brand).
The critical role of art in fashion. Both fields have always moved together, but he was again the pionneer in making it a clear (and at first controversial) business by asking Takashi Murakami and Stephen Sprouse among others to collaborate with Louis Vuitton. At a time when fashion desperately needed to make sense (and sales), he opened a new window.

source pufflesandhoneyadventures.wordpress.com
Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton

The place of digital : here again Marc Jacobs was connected well-ahead of the fashion world, who remained dusty and old school until the millennial hit it by storm. By a smart use of social media and e-commerce, Marc Jacobs reached a wider and younger audience, notably with the launch of his beauty brand in 2013. The latest addition to his digital reign is an online casting for his campaign and official vloggers. That’s what you call being smart through a phone.

Cast me Marc!
Cast me Marc! on Instagram

The importance of individuality : looking at the social networks now, it seems obvious that fashion is more about an individual than a tribe. But it is again Marc Jacobs who put forward strong personalities in his campaigns, simply because they inspired him, without a care for their stardom level, their age, or their skin color. Back in 2013, he notably featured his friend Winona Ryder in his beauty campaign, putting her on the first step to renaissance, 14 years after her demise for shoplifting… A Marc Jacobs sweater.

Winona Ryder by David Sims for Marc Jacobs Beauty, 2013
Winona Ryder by David Sims for Marc Jacobs Beauty, 2013

The stress on words and irony : fashion and beauty are not about images alone ; it is the dialog between the brand, its words and its image that make it stand out. By always playing with the name of the products, the size of the letters, and the image of the brand itself without the fear of damaging it, Marc Jacobs has made himself highly recognizable, and always controversial, while maintaining an irony that keeps it all at the good level : after all, fashion is not about curing cancer…But is it, really ?
The commitment Marc Jacobs made to causes that matter to him through fashion was also a pretty modern idea. When he asked his famous friends (Naomi Campbell, Victoria Beckham, Miley Cyrus…) to pose naked for T-shirts entitled « Protect the skin you’re in »in 2006 in order to raise awareness about breast cancer, it was a fashion statement as well as a great attitude. The T shirts went sold out and the benefits straight to NYU Langone Medical Center.

Miley Cyrus for "Protect the skin you're in"
Miley Cyrus for “Protect the skin you’re in”

All in all, Marc Jacobs has proved that fashion is all about imagination and trespassing the boundaries. By doing so he usually makes sense in a world that does not. And that is more that we can ask for.

Marc Jacobs « About Last Night » eyeshadow palette, 20 shades, 99$