Monday, 21 May 2012

The Style Olympics

       Bearing in mind that the Olympics are coming up and, perhaps more importantly, that I really should be revising for my A2s as opposed to blogging, I have decided this week not to do a full-length article but a post on a recent fashion filled event: the Met Ball. The Met Ball is a chance for fashion's finest to wear fashion's finest as they admire fashion's is fashion in its finest form - the style equivalent of the Olympics and, with that in mind, below, are my favourite looks from this year's event. An evening which honoured two of fashion's undisputed talents: Prada and Schiaparelli.

Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations

'The Met's Spring 2012 Costume Institute exhibition, Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations, explores the striking affinities between Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, two Italian designers from different eras. Inspired by Miguel Covarrubias's "Impossible Interviews" for Vanity Fair in the 1930s, the exhibition features orchestrated conversations between these iconic women to suggest new readings of their most innovative work. Iconic ensembles are presented with videos of simulated conversations between Schiaparelli and Prada directed by Baz Luhrmann, focusing on how both women explore similar themes in their work through very different approaches.'

The Models:

Cara Delevigne - Burberry Prorsum, Joan Smalls - Tom Ford, Doutzen Kroes - Roland Mouret

The Actors:

Jessica Alba - Michael Kors, Douglas Booth - Burberry Prorsum, Dianna Agron - Carolina Herrera

The Couples:

Joan Smalls & Olivier Rousteing - Balmain, Karlie Kloss & Jason Wu - Jason Wu, 
Poppy Delevigne & James Cook - Chanel & Burberry Prorsum

The Veterans:

Gisele Bündchen - Givenchy, Camilla Belle - Ralph Lauren, Linda Evangelista - Prada

The Exhibitionists:

Marc Jacobs - Comme des Garçons, Alexa Chung - Christopher Kane, Beyoncé - Givenchy

These were my favourite looks from the event...the question is though, as we all desperately hope to receive a pair of tickets to New York pronto - which were yours?

Saturday, 12 May 2012

I just want to be wonderful.

       This Bank Holiday I had the chance to sit down with the family and relax. In the midst of 18ths and revision, I had the opportunity to momentarily forget about my impending exams and indulge in a film...the film in question was My Week With Marilyn. The story of ex-Etonian Colin Clark's week on set with the Hollywood icon, as she came to the U.K. to star in Laurence Olivier's film adaptation of The Prince and the Showgirl.

       Now before watching this film, my knowledge of Marilyn was vague to say the least. I had, of course, seen her award-winning performance in Some Like It Hot, I had, indeed, listened to her infamous recording of Happy Birthday Mr. President to J.F.K. and throughout my 18 years of life I had, obviously, become well and truly acquainted with her sexy yet innocent image...however, these are things which all cultured people have done, and, in spite of them, I knew nothing about her. I knew nothing about Marilyn Monroe.

       Today culture overflows with Marilyn - whether it's with highly addictive TV shows such as NBC's  SMASH, persona inspired songs such as Nicki Minaj's Marilyn Monroe or, of course, semi-biographical films such as My Week With Marilyn - we just can't get enough of her. Almost 50 years on from her death and her public image and persona still remain an integral part of western culture. In fact, she, herself, is partly responsible for culture as we know it. One need only look at news-stands which have followed her death to understand that despite it, Marilyn lives on.

        Magazines and celebrities still endorse her image because it sells - an image of Christina Aguilera, Nicole Kidman or even Madonna may be money-making gold-dust for today's most popular magazines but the image of Marilyn is so much more. It is instantly recognisable - the effortless smile, the hourglass figure, the bleach blond hair...the beauty. From her Playboy posters to her motion pictures, Marilyn's image captivated all those who gazed upon it in her time and it captivates all those who gaze upon it today. She  was the 60s pin-up then and she still acts as a pin-up today.
         In fact, in the intervening years between her death and now, Marilyn's image has transcended past the likes of magazine covers and into brands themselves. Dolce & Gabbana in particular have not only used her image to sell their make-up, courtesy of Scarlett Johansson, but have even used it to liven up their collections. Their AW 2009 line featured an array of dresses and skirts dotted with Marilyn's face, not to mention a sense of glamour that would have been worthy of the star herself. Marilyn's image acted and continues to act as a source of inspiration for designers during her lifetime and today...

       However, what My Week With Marilyn proves, and constant documentaries and biographies do also, is that, alongside Marilyn's public image of perfection, existed a troubled soul. Behind the secure and seductive character of Marilyn Monroe - lay Norma Jean: a foster child with no stable parentage, a divorcee with no constant love-life and a manic-depressive with no apparent control over her career. In the midst of mis-marriages and miscarriages hid a self-proclaimed 'insecure' woman - Hollywood's golden girl with a life that was far from golden.
        It is this contrast between Marilyn's public image and her private persona which makes My Week With Marilyn so interesting and it is this which the film so cleverly addresses as it gives us an insight into Marilyn off camera. Michelle Williams' performance portrays her not as the money-making machine you might expect her to be but as an actress desperately attempting to be taken seriously, a wife trying to live out the American dream and a celebrity innocently trying to escape the invasive nature of the public life she leads cum Sylvia in 'La Dolce Vita'.

       The film shows that Marilyn was not perfect, in fact far from it - she held up productions by arriving late on set, fluffed lines and had an unhealthy addiction to sleeping pills - the drugs which would inevitably cause her premature death. The film shows that Marilyn was, as she herself claimed 'selfish, impatient and a little insecure' - a flawed woman who 'made mistakes', but a woman nonetheless, and it also confirms the rest of Marilyn's quote - 'If you [couldn't] handle her at her worst then you sure as hell [didn't] deserve her at her best'...and as Laurence Olivier himself stated after filming The Prince and the Showgirl - she really was 'the best of all'.
        It is for these reasons that Marilyn has lived on in culture today. Not because she was a simple sex symbol of little intelligence but because she was a talented, three-dimensional woman who, regardless of her own troubles, bought joy to those around her. Regardless of how many takes it took her to film the perfect scene, she did and in doing so created a persona which is just as inviting now as it was when she was alive...something which My Week With Marilyn and the subsequent Vogue shoots it inspired proves.

'I don't want to make money, I just want to be wonderful.' 

      Who the real Marilyn was - we'll never really know, but My Week With Marilyn certainly gives us a glimpse and  it demonstrates that, flaws and all, Marilyn really was the 'wonderful' woman she so longed to be.