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I love this shot of Rosario Dawson from the film 7 Pounds (2008). The way her hair and face are  partially submerged in the bath water remind me of Millais’ painting of Ophelia. Underwater, her hair  takes on a hazy, airbrushed texture, almost like ink drops bleeding in water… Dawson’s facial expression is flawless, subtly expressing an incredible amount of emotion. I also like how the shade of her eye shadow complements the colour of her lips, all enhanced by her honey-hued skin, and how the curvy shape of the bath frames her, cocoon-like. Its a perfect, perfect composition.

Drowning By Numbers: Millais’ Ophelia

Gomorra 1

I’ve been to Naples a few times and it is one of my favourite places in Italy. There really is no other place like it. Taking a taxi is taking your life into your own hands! There’s an amazing market on the outskirts that many fashion houses and vintage store-owners go to get their fix. Everything’s piled high and you’ve got to dig deep. Found the most beautiful sun-bleached nappa blouson there. However, you’re warned to leave the moment the market finishes for your own safety. Now I know why…

Gomorra 10

I really don’t want to say too much about this film. Watch it. It took me a while to get round to it. Perhaps you’ve read the book. I haven’t but I’m planning to. It’s one of the most powerful films I have seen in ages. It centres around the Camorra, an organised crime network based in the Province of Napoli, in Southern Italy. Whereas a lot of “maffia”  films tend to glamourise crime this is as hard-hitting and realist as it gets. In fact, there is a scene where two twentysomething “knob heads” reenact scenes from Scarface that’s very tongue in cheek.

Gomorrah is an incredibly violent film albeit done with a solid dose of realism – nothing is gratuitous. You really feel like a fly on the wall. Incredible acting. The whole thing is done so matter-of-factly that at the end of the film I found myself thinking: God, people really do live like this.

The author of the book, Roberto Saviano, is under police protection. He seriously pissed some people off and Umberto Eco’s called him a national hero.

For me, as always, I was drawn to the powerful imagery in the film. Take a look…

Gomorra 3Gomorrah1Gomorra 2gomorrah 2gomorrah 3Gomorra 13Gomorra 4Gomorra 11


Lights, camera, ACTION!!

On the way to the John Galliano show last night the heavens opened. The torrential downpour was hardly surprising. It had been so close during the day that it took me nearly an hour too cool off after a shower. Arriving at the venue, a disused factory in the south of Paris, there was an eerie atmosphere as people stood huddled in groups under the railway bridge that ran parallel down the street, cutting it into two halves. The current state of fashion could not have been illustrated more succinctly. The bridge seemed to symbolise the disparity between what was real and the illusion of The Show.

The rain ceased, the Gods de la Mode seemingly having wept enough. A strange, quasi-comical dance commenced as precariously-heeled fashionistas gingerly negotiated muddy puddles in The Long Walk to the The Show. The atmosphere was quite laid back, all things considered. There was Queen Carine, the editor of French Vogue, leaning against a railing at the loading bay whilst being interviewed by a Japanese journalist. She wore a heavy man’s coat over her shoulders like a cape. Her kohl-smothered eyes seemed alert but the weight of the coat bellied the constant strain of a month of shows, mad scrums, transatlantic flights, parties, endless schmoozing and air kisses.

I stood for a while, people-watching. I pondered the meaning of the show invite, a mock clapper board. It hinted at the silver screen. It was clear that Galliano had gone to the movies this season. At Dior he had been inspired by film noir. For his own eponymous label the Hollywood brief was sure to be more recherché in its interpretation. It later transpired that his famous research trip for this season had been to LA.

Take One

Take One

We stood for a while longer.

Finally, we were allowed to enter a cavernous hall were we stood a for while. A sense of impatience grew as we were kept waiting, human sardines cloaked in darkness. The air was heavy with the scent of knackered perfume, warm sweat and sour breath.

We stood for a while.

A group of girls began clacking their clapper boards and soon the whole room followed suit. The bouncers at the curtained entrance to the inner sanctum paid no attention. The clacking eventually died down.

We stood a while longer.

Then bang! The rush inside began as a few hundred worn out souls funnelled their way in.

The Kiss

The Kiss

A solitary Grace Coddington. Her haunched I’ve-seen-it-all before shoulders said it all. What followed was a bizarre procession of the ridiculous. One by one, and sometimes in pairs, The Celebrities began to arrive. Dita Von Teese! Sequined pale blue dress, ruby lips, porcelain skin. Fragile. Her lips smiled in a strained way. Hey, she’d seen a lot of shows and done a lot of smiling over the last few weeks. Give an artiste a break-down! David Lynch kept flashing through my mind, no doubt aided by the soundtrack to Mullholland Drive that played. John, what are you saying? The paps were in a feeding frenzy, like piranhas gorging of the flesh of the famous. Flash! Flash! Dita! Ditaaaaaa!!! Then like the fishy shoal that they were they suddenly shifted focus as they caught the scent of more celebrity prey. Katy! Katy! Kay-teeeee!!! She’s-hot-then-not-so-cold Katy Perry appeared for role call, veritable beau Brummel, Russel Brand, in tow. Overly glamorous pink evening dress. Perfect hair. Placid expression. Anna Piaggi, fashion’s greatest living eccentric, shuffled past, ignored. You know that things have gone awry when fashion’s grande dames are treated almost like gate-crashers walking into their own party to find it full of strangers.

Then it was the turn of Leigh Lezark, girl about town. This was one of the funniest scenes I’ve ever witnessed. Squashed next to the International Herald Tribune’s Suzy Menkes, the earlier downpour had created a leaky cavern. Suzy dutifully held up an umbrella to protect La Lezark but perhaps, more importantly, her signature quiff  as the paps “papped” away. Hilarious!

Purple Haze

Purple Haze

Then The Almighty arrived. Prince, pretty in cyclamen. Frenzy. Frenzy. Frenzy! The show finally began, photo-ops over with, deals sealed in tabloid and cyberspace.

What about the show?

Well, it was classic Galliano. Pigalle Revisited via Sunset Boulevard and “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane” crossed with “Grey Gardens”. Faded grandeur. Expired fame. Mild schizophrenia. All paraded through a red laser show and large bubbles that descended onto the catwalk to disappear into a puff of smoke moments later. A beautiful but telling commentary on the ephemeral nature of celebrity. Katy and Dita looked slightly at unease. Prince loved the bubbles, apparently. One stunning dress in yellow bias cut chiffon with panels that danced around the model had every red-carpeter clocking it it up, licking their ruby lips… In reality, the real show centred on the Piranha Moment and Galliano’s infamous bow. He apparently even has a rehearsal for his bow. Now that I would love to see, the master posing for an absent audience!

And then it was over. I leave you with this post-show image. My camera died on me so I regrettably couldn’t take more. It says it all in a nutshell.

Show's Over

Show's Over

Last night I saw the new Almodovar at the Rio Cinema in Dalston. Its probably the most apt space to view an Almodovar – the velvet chairs, vagueishly art deco interior, the layers of dust, the faint hint of cigarette smoke – all reminders of a bygone era. Recently, I’ve made it a principle to not read a review of a film until I have seen it. Perhaps a risky move but I prefer to form my own opinions. Incidentally, the reviews of said film have been so-so and I can perhaps see why. It’s your typical Amodovar – high camp and theatrics, convoluted plot – but at the same time it isn’t. It also clocks in at one and a half hours but feels longer than that.

I thought it was terrific.

Penelope Cruz was as radiant as ever. Almodovar clearly adores her. Every moment she’s on screen you can almost feel that he becomes more involved. It’s almost like he is painting her, each frame of her like an artist’s brush stroke in thick, luscious sweeps of oil.

For all the focus on Cruz and other female characters – Blanca Portillo is a joy to watch and has some hilarious scene-stealing moments – this is a film about men. The evil that men do, men in love, the relationship between father and son, homosexuality, male pride – so much so that it could have been called Men On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown. The only other Almodovar I can recall that deals with male relationships is Bad Education. However, it’s obvious that it’s the female perspective that truly interests Almodovar and squarley where his sympathies lay.

The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait to grab some film stills of this bad boy! I’m not going to ruin any visual surprises but I’d gladly see it again, and probably will, just because of this alone. The other thing I loved about it was the way the story unfolded in slowly undulating waves, flowing from past to present, shifting focus… The recurring mantra is “film within a film”.

Usually, Almodovar films are quite chaotic affairs but Broken Embraces somehow manages to be both busy yet calm at the same time. It’s also very, very funny whilst at times it’s repels you.

Finally, Code Red. Red appears judiciously throughout the film. An Almodovar signature as we all know but the use of red in this film is so intense that its almost overpowering. I find this use of red quite interesting. It makes me think of the way the designer Valentino would always include a red dress in collections. Perhaps Pantone should create an Almodovar Red. A million obvious parallels could be drawn:


Red apple – in this case red tomatoes

Red lips






It’s that Vampiric theme I was banging on about in an earlier post, or was going to, rearing its head again. The idea hasn’t quite formed yet but the pieces seem to be falling together.