March 31, 2010

Victor & Rolf Celebrate 5 years with Flowerbomb Inspired Cake

Victor & Rolf just celebrated the 5 year anniversary of Flowerbomb by throwing a dinner party at Hotel Meurice. They served cakes consisting of: "berriboned praline rose yarrow, lime to the bergamot with a hint of jasmine and vanilla, complemented by a cookie with green tea and finally sealed by the Viktor & Rolf Chocolate log."

Forget about the party, what tops dessert inspired by perfume inspired by fashion?

March 28, 2010

Almodóvar & Amenábar: The Art of Tragedy

Every few years, the world is spoiled by a new Almodóvar film. He never fails to let the public down with a romantic tragedy that takes place in Spain, and leaves you with more romance than tragedy because his emphasis on visual beauty always outweighs his heavy subject matter. His most recent, Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces) was no exception.

To a Spanish Outsider, Almodóvar represents a familiar Spanish artist-romantic and engaged in ideas and imagery versus concept and depth of emotion. He takes his Penelope Cruz muse and builds around her a complicated web of relationships that inspire obsession, passion, and betrayal. In Abrazos she in the Marilyn/Audrey of Madrid, playing the star of a movie within a movie in typical Almodóvar fashion. Several layers of voyeurism are offered, as her greedy "businessman" husband and his abandoned son pursue this woman from behind a camera.

People fall in love with Almodóvar because the vibrant colors are much stronger than the grays. For example, in the scene where her husband shoves her down the stairs, you are taken aback but not in horror. Her red clothes are more alarming than the spiteful act. Almodóvar subdues the viewer through her beauty. Asthetics of art win again.

I can't help but think of Alejandro Amenábar, also a filmmaker from Madrid. In his 1997 film Abre los Ojos (Open Your Eyes), he likewise builds a tragedy around men's obsession with Penelope Cruz. In Abrazos, her lover becomes blind. In Abre los Ojos, he becomes disfigured. These men both suffer from a car accident caused by jealous and frustrated ex-lovers. Both become abandoned, ugly, and ostracized, as Penelope becomes figurative and idealized.

In Abrazos, the tragedy is a series of broken images-of torn up photographs and a sabotaged film. Mateo (her lover) might as well be blind now that she is dead. However, in Abre los Ojos, Amenábar makes Cesar (her lover) slowly go crazy, to the point that he must question her entire existence. Amenábar pokes fun at the idea of happiness, the illusion of having it all, as dreams and nightmares walk a fine line. Death is not so simple.

What Amenábar gives you is a grotesque portrayal of tragedy that does justice to human suffering, through bottom-line absurdity. Almodóvar, on the other hand, is much more deconstructive with his plot. He hands viewers things just as they are: bare ingredients-symbolized by Warhol-like paintings of guns and oranges and flowers adorning the background of every scene in Abrazos. You figure the rest.

March 7, 2010

Just Like Your Mother

It's difficult to write about a subject unless you know what inspires them. Why did Jack White name his daughter Scarlett? Probably because he likes red heads. So, what defines a Jack White muse?

Here are three music videos that probe the question. Superficially, they might be categorized as pessimistic vignettes that parallel the style of film noir. The art of exposing the black hearts of cynical people. There is certainly a tale of Gothic romance present in all three videos.

Like in a film noir, visible are  dramatic shadow patterns, skewed angles, skies painted hopeless and ultimately a story of people trapped in undesired situations. It seems there is an eroticism Jack White would like to evoke from lonely, frustrated women. While film noir is centered around women of questionable virtue, the temptress femme fatale is lost in all three.

That doesn't mean Jack White does not take his woman with a grain of salt. In the recent The Ghost Who Walks, Karen Elson sings: "she looked at him with pleading eyes, he softly spoke my dear the love has died and then he muffled her deadly cries." She is vengeful in her subdued tone, as the sarcasm also plays off the lifeless zombies in the background.

In What Can I Do? the Black Belles sing: "yeah i am sorry that i wasn't able to make you stay, i wanna make you happy, but I couldn't make you feel it every day." Heavy eye make up and a lot of black help them prove their point.

Let's call Treat me Like your Mother a fair fight in the battle of the roses.

While this doesn't necessarily answer my original question, let's not overlook those bad ass gingers like poison ivy and sleeping beauty.