Category Archives: FASHION

MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM — GREED

Last night, longtime collaborators Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan joined Film Independent artistic director Jacqueline Lyanga at the Arclight Hollywood following a screening of GREED, Winterbottom’s new satire.

The film follows the money and the clothes as a London-based mogul builds a fast-fashion empire on the backs of overseas workers, working elaborate (but legal) self-enrichment schemes by stripping his companies of their assets just before filing for bankruptcy. To celebrate (and distract competitors), he hosts an over-the-top party in Greece.

In a filmmaker’s letter, Winterbottom explains GREED’s genesis and what he hopes audiences will take away from the experience:

In 2016, Britain’s most famous and flamboyant retailer—Sir Philip Green, owner of Topshop and Topman—was hauled before the House of Commons select committee and quizzed about his business practices. That was the starting point for making GREED.

Retail fashion is a huge industry, which employs tens of millions of workers in low wage economies like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam—the vast majority of them women.

The brands are owned by some of the richest men in the world. Stefan Persson, the owner of H&M, is worth about $20 billion; Amancio Ortega, the owner of Zara, is worth more than $60 billion.

GREED is a fiction, a satire on the world of Sir Richard McCreadie [played by Steve Coogan], a retail fashion tycoon, the “King of the High Street.” His reputation has suffered a blow as one of his brands has gone bankrupt. He has been hauled over the coals by the Select Committee of the House of Commons and they are threatening to take away his Knighthood.

So he decides to throw a lavish, Roman-themed party on the Greek island of Mykonos, and invite his celebrity friends. But it all goes horribly wrong.

One of the attractions, and challenges, of making the film was to show the real connections between the billionaire relaxing on his super yacht in Monaco and the women we filmed with in Sri Lanka, who are being paid $5.30 a day making clothes for international brands, and living in accommodations with no running water. They seem to live in different worlds, but they are in fact intimately connected, as the clothes that these women make have created the wealth of Sir Rich and his real world counterparts.

I hope our film is funny, and I hope you enjoy it, but I also hope it makes you angry. No matter how ludicrous our fictional world is, it pales in comparison to the real world. When we walk into a high street store we see images of powerful, beautiful people endorsing the brand, or modeling the clothes. We aspire to be like them, and we think of them when we buy the t-shirt or the dress, when really we should be thinking of the women who have made our clothes and the lives they lead. The world doesn’t need to be like this. We can change things. Doubling the wages of women garment workers would hardly make any difference to the price of the clothes in our local store—so why don’t we do something about it? Michael Winterbottom

GREED

Now playing.

ArcLight Hollywood

6360 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.

The Landmark

10850 West Pico Boulevard, West Los Angeles.

Michael Winterbottom, Greed (2020), from top: Steve Coogan; Michael Winterbottom (second from top) and Coogan (above) on February 27, 2020, at the Film Independent Screening Series of Greed at the ArcLight Hollywood, photographs by Amanda Edwards / Getty Images; film poster; Coogan (below, photograph by Amelia Troubridge) in Greed. Images courtesy and © the filmmaker, the actors, the photographers, Sony Pictures Classics, Getty Images, and Film Independent.

THE TIMES OF BILL CUNNINGHAM

I’m not talented. Wee Gee was a real photographer… I’m lightweight stuff… I think of myself as a fashion historian… [Street photographer] Harold Chapman was the biggest influence on me… He taught me to be invisible. “Stop waving that camera around like a fan,” was his expression… 

I’m strictly interested in the way women dress in their own lives. — Bill Cunningham*

Cunningham—New York City’s greatest postwar documentarian of street style—was incredibly self-deprecating, claiming that his New York Times colleagues dismissed his regular columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours” as “filling around the edges of the ads.”

Arriving in New York in 1949 at age 19, Cunningham went to work as a milliner at Bonwit Teller and the high-end boutique Chez Ninon, where Jacqueline Kennedy and Babe Paley shopped for line-for-line copies of couture originals. While Ninon’s proprietors valued his contribution, they did their best to push him away from fashion and into “straight” journalism—above all keeping him away from Diana Vreeland, fearing the eccentric editor would irrevocably seduce/corrupt the impressionable young man.

(Of course, Cunningham and Vreeland eventually met, and the photographer went on to document nearly every show the doyenne of fashion staged at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute.)

In the new documentary THE TIMES OF BILL CUNNINGHAM—directed by Mark Bozek, and constructed around a long on-camera interview he shot with the photographer in 1994—Cunningham tells his tale: making hats under the name “William J,” sharing a loft at the Carnegie Hall studios with Bobby Short, Marlon Brando, and Norman Mailer, decamping to Paris for the shows during his U.S. Army stint in Rochefort-sur-Mer.

In the early 1960s, Cunningham wrote a column for John Fairchild’s Womens Wear Daily, and in 1967 was given a small Olympus-Pen by David Montgomery, who worked with Antonio Lopez. A Cunningham street photo of Greta Garbo was published in the Times in 1978, and his career at the paper began.

The year of the film’s interview is key. 1994 was at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and several times during the second half of the film, Cunningham breaks down in anguish at the loss of loved ones, including Lopez and his partner Juan Ramos.

THE TIMES OF BILL CUNNINGHAM

Now playing.

Royal

11523 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Los Angeles.

Playhouse 7

673 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena.

Town Center 5

17200 Ventura Boulevard, Encino.

From top: Bill Cunningham in Paris in 1970, photograph by Jean Luce Hure. All other images by Cunningham: street views, New York (3); Grace Coddington, New York; Anna Piaggi; Josephine Baker, surrounded by models including Pat Cleveland and Bethann Hardison, at the “Battle of Versailles” fashion show, 1973; Kay Thompson, who choreographed Halston’s segment of the show; Diana Vreeland, New York, at the Costume Institute in the 1970s; André Leon Talley, Vreeland’s then-assistant, at the Costume Institute; Vreeland and Marisa Berenson; Sonny Bono, Cher, and Ahmet Ertegun (in glasses); Gloria Swanson, New York; Greta Garbo, New York; street scene, New York; Gay Pride Parade, New York, 1970s; Juan Ramos (left) and Antonio Lopez; James Kaliardos (second from left), Stephen Gan (second from right), and Cecelia Dean (right) in 1991, displaying issue #1 of Visionaire. Below, Cunningham in Paris. Images courtesy and © the estate of Bill Cunningham and Greenwich Entertainment.

RAF SIMONS TO PRADA

On April 2, Raf Simons will join the Prada brand as co-creative director, working in partnership with Miuccia Prada with equal responsibilities for creative input and decision-making. The first Prada collection designed by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons will be the Spring/Summer 2021 womenswear show, presented in Milan in September 2020. 

This partnership, encompassing all creative facets of the Prada label, is born from a deep reciprocal respect and from an open conversation—it is a mutual decision, proposed and determined by both parties. It opens a new dialogue, between designers widely acknowledged as two of the most important and influential of today. Conceptually, it is also a new approach to the very definition of creative direction for a fashion brand—a strong challenge to the idea of singularity of creative authorship, whilst also a bold reinforcement of the importance and power of creativity in a shifting cultural landscape. 

As times change, so should creativity. The synergy of this partnership is far-reaching. It is a reaction to the era in which we live—an epoch with fresh possibilities, permitting a different point of view and approach to established methodologies. It can also be seen as the first step towards broader scopes of interaction—an initiation of free exchange and collaboration, a questioning of creative conventions. 

Innovation is an inherent facet of the identity of Prada: a willingness to push boundaries, to experiment, to take opportunities to advance. If the notion of a partnership is to work jointly, the result of that conversation may not only be product but also the propagation of a thought and a culture. A pure vision of creativity, with the product a vehicle for these thoughts. 

The distinct values and ethos of the Prada brand remain unchanged: this radical creative dialogue, indeed, is a reiteration of the philosophies of both Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. It is perfectly in tune with each designer’s individual history of reinvention, provocation, brave exploration, and the power of ideas—now, brought together. — Prada

From top: Raf Simons 1970s passport photograph, courtesy of the designer; Miuccia Prada at the finale of the Prada fall 2020 show in Milan, photograph by Matteo Bazzi / EPA, via Shutterstock, courtesy and © the photographer and his agency.

GIRLS LIKE US LAUNCH

Biography—the 12th issue of GIRLS LIKE US—features interviews with Amy Sillman and Marilyn Waring, a poem by Hanne Lippard, and articles, essays, and projects by Nadia Hebson, Jill Johnston, Rebecca E. Karl, Nina Lykke, Sara Manente, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Chris E. Vargas, and Amy Suo Wu, among others.

Join Jessica Gysel, Sara Kaaman, Katja Mater, and Marnie Slater for the issue’s launch in Rotterdam.

GIRLS LIKE US LAUNCH—BIOGRAPHY

Sunday, December 29, from 4 pm to 8 pm.

Tender Center

Zaagmolenstraat 127a, Rotterdam.

Girls Like Us, from top: “Biography” launch announcement, “More or less female” T-shirt by Everybody; “Second witch in a week!” T-shirt by Butchcamp; Girls Like Us issue 12 cover; “Titty Tote”; “The Lesbian Body” T-shirt, featuring excerpt from Monique Wittig’s text. Images courtesy and © the designers, the authors, the photographers, the models, and Girls Like Us.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MY MOTHER

I live in a world now where everything is “delegated” to photography. Nothing is left to memory, your own memory. What I’m interested in, instead, are things that can’t be seen, not those that can be… I have always labored under the illusion—but I also think it was true—that nobody ever photographed me. Because my face is not for sale. The real me is not photographable.Benedetta Barzini, to Beniamino Barrese

Beniamino Barrese is the son of Benedetta Barzini—the first Italian model to appear on the cover of American Vogue—and his mother’s obsessive interlocutor throughout his documentary THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MY MOTHER, one of the year’s best.

Summoned by Diana Vreeland in the mid-1960s to come to New York for a few weeks, Barzini stayed for a few years, a sought-after subject of Richard Avedon, Bert Stern, and Andy Warhol, a confident of Gerard Malanga and Salvador Dalí, and an acquaintance of Marcel Duchamp.

Barzini was a double-rebel. Modeling in Manhattan put a necessary distance between Barzini and her parents—heiress Giannalisa Feltrinelli and writer Luigi Barzini, Jr., author of The Italians. But the trajectory of second-wave feminism in the 1970s opened Barzini’s eyes to the ornamental condition of women, and she returned to Italy and became an activist and left-wing academic.

I asked myself this question: Why do we have prototypes of beauty? Why are models at the bow of the ship and the other women are squashed together into the stern? Why? Because men invent women… Maybe it would be better if female bodies disappeared from men’s imaginations.Benedetta Barzini

Barzani explains to her son that the camera is a dangerous liar because within its capture of arbitrary moments, it “freezes” life “within a limited boundary,” contaminating thought and inscribing conformity. “I don’t like frozen things… I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a hundred million photos of sunsets. Frankly, they’re all the same. But they weren’t the same when you saw them.”

Barzini is by turns loving and exasperated with her son and his never-ending investment in images and their documentation. Yet Barzini still models herself—recently appearing in Simone Rocha‘s Fall-Winter 2017 show in London. Nothing if not contradictory, Barzini wants to remove herself from a world she finds deplorable, railing against ambiguity yet unsure which entrance to the void she should walk through. She explains to Barrese that their work together on this film is an act of “separation.” The filmmaker sees it differently, and together they find a sense of an ending.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MY MOTHER

Now playing.

Laemmle Monica Film Center

1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica.

Quad Cinema

34 West 13th Street, New York City.

Beniamino Barrese, The Disappearance of My Mother (2019), from top: Benedetta Barzini (3); Barrese and Barzini (2); Richard Avedon spread of Barzini in American Vogue; Barzini on the cover of Vogue Italia, September 1967; Simone Rocha Fall-Winter 2017 show, London; Andy Warhol, Benedetta Barzini Screen Test, 1966; Barzini and Marcel Duchamp, filmed at the artist’s Cordier and Ekstrom Gallery opening by Warhol, 1966 (2); The Disappearance of My Mother U.S. poster; Barzini (5). Images courtesy and © the filmmaker, the photographers, Benedetta Barzini, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Condé Nast, and Kino Lorber.