Monday, 23 August 2010

Sunset Boulevard, Two Fashion Docos and the Cutest Baby Hat Evah

I watched Sunset Boulevard again recently. Between viewings I tend to forget how good it is. What a script, what actors. I always enjoy William Holden's performances, although I don't think anyone who worked with him latterly is on record as saying he was a great guy. And Gloria Swanson, well - one thing about watching it again over the years is how one's attitude to Norma Desmond changes. At first you think she's old, then you think she's not so old and then you think, 'My God, she's only fifty!' The first time I saw it, I thought William Holden was old too. He was 32.

For me, the best thing about Sunset Boulevard is the script, but I can't get enough of the behind-the-scenes Hollywood stuff too - the lots, the writers' offices, the blend of the real with the invented. Cecil B. de Mille playing Cecil B. de Mille, how cool is that?

Here's Gloria Swanson some years later, describing making Male and Female in 1919, with Cecil B. de Mille. Watch it to the end for the punchline.

I put Beyond Biba on my LoveFilm list rcently, but it showed up on television first.

I was a total Biba fan in my day.

Biba poster

Your correspondent

My beret was dark blue and my mother crocheted it. I couldn't learn to crochet from my mother because she was left-handed. Yes, I did paint on my lower lashes individually - didn't everybody?

I enjoyed the film but the earlier part of her career was covered too much by people talking about it and not enough by photographs or artefacts. There must be some copies of her mail order catalogue intact in fashion libraries, even although my mother threw mine out when she threw out a lot of other stuff when she moved house, and there must be plenty of the clothes in museum collections - or they could have bought some off eBay. It would have made the first part much livelier. I remember the shop in Kensington Church Street, and I think I bought one dress there. I think I bought a pair of trousers too, although I may have dreamt that. The fashion world's idea of 'affordable' fashion has never quite coincided with mine. I had moved to London by the time she opened the big shop in Ken High Street and I haunted it; I can't remember that I bought much but I must have because I still have the carrier bags. I use them as drawer liners.

She moved to Florida and began a second career designing hotel and bar interiors. She seems like a patient, unfussy kind of a person but unless you have a special interest in her, I don't think you need to track it down.

I also caught up with Lagerfeld Confidential. There's not enough frocks in this, hardly any at all, but there is a lot of Karl. I loved it. For a man who uses La Prairie skincare, he's remarkably down to earth. The interviewer spends too much time asking him silly questions like whether he believes in God (who is going to change their minds on this subject because of what a dress designer says?), but he also talks to him about more relevant things too. Some of the interviews take place while Karl sits on a sofa draped in a fabulous white cotton bedspread of knitted octagons. I can't find a still so you'll have to watch the film.

One of my favourite bits is when he's asked about his childhood and his mother. I must have watched that bit five times. His mother was wonderful, all other mothers were stupid. He was rather a spoilt little boy, nothing was ever quite good enough. We see a little of his apartment, or perhaps it's a house. His bedroom looks like a library with a bed in it, albeit a white frilly bed with four posts consisting of white neon tubes. Sounds good to me.

He is constantly surrounded by books and apparently has a vast collection, some of it stored in rolling stacks, although this part is more picturesque.

Why do gay men store books on their sides instead of properly shelved? I know they do, because I see it all the time in interiors mags and in my gay friends' houses. It's bad for books' spines.

There is a selection of extras, some of which are more interesting than the actual film. He doesn't take himself too seriously, certainly not as seriously as the interviewer takes him.

For frocks, watch the multi-part doco; for the man, watch this.

Just a little bit of knitting, before I go. Here's Baby Cora in her new hat.

The baby daddy is a flying buff, so I made her an aviatrix's hat in white Paton's Jet.

The first one was too big, so I made another in Rowan Pure Wool 4 Ply.

This pattern is tremendous - a brilliant idea and one of the best written patterns ever. I often find myself re-writing patterns in my head while I'm knitting them but with this one I just nodded approvingly and gasped in admiration. And the hat is cutest thing. I'm looking forward to knitting it many times.


Sea said...

The daisy hat looks beautiful, and the other looks like a very sensible, cosy hat.

Mette said...

Thanks for your research into cute baby hats. Your Aviatrix is a must-have for my little Marie.

Lisa R-R said...

I agree - Aviatrix is a great hat. I mad made one for my niece, and I will make more.
Thanks for the photos of Lagerfeld's library. My question is how does one get one of the lower books out to read it?

Mary Lou said...

Must try the aviatrix. And I love Sunset Boulevard. Was she really only 50? thanks for the clip of Male and Female. I'll have to watch that one.

Janet said...

Your posts are so enjoyable - particularly the movie ones but also the knitting - I'll try the Aviatrix for wee Sean in Seattle.

Raveller said...

Wish Netflix had the Biba film. Oh well. I remember it well. I think my mother or my older sister had something from there. I love your old photos! You look very fashionable indeed. Taken in one of those photo booths, right?