The Simplistic Ease of Summer Dressing: Scarlett Johansson in Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Scarlett Johansson style Vicky Cristina Barcelona 
Just as Penélope Cruz’s wardrobe in Vicky Cristina Barcelona is the perfect embodiment of her bohemian soul (as I wrote a couple of weeks ago), Scarlett Johansson’s costumes are a great representation of her free spirit. But while María Elena brings on screen a tumultuous, somptuously disheveled style, Cristina is more practical. Her clothing has a worldly flair, yet retains a down-to-earth, even classic vibe. She doesn’t like to live by rules either, she is still wandering and aimless and she is willing to let life kind of happen in front of her. But, eventually, she stills feels the need of belonging (somewhere and to someone).

She wears flowy and breezy sleeveless blouses, but also fitted t-shirts and tank tops. She likes jeans, but also wide-leg linen pants. She carries a canvas messenger bag, because it is practical – she is a tourist, but she also pursues her passion for photography. Neutral, casual and carefree, Cristina’s clothing is a realistic portrayal of today’s comfortable, streamlined style, but also of travel style – the simplistic ease, no-fuss of summer dressing – in summer, the more natural, relaxed, easy-going, ‘seize the day’ version of oneself comes to life. I like how relatable and basic her entire wardrobe is, but I may have a soft spot for her all-American look pictured above – in fact, it is a look of such universal appeal that one might argue that America can no longer claim it, but rather the very person wearing some kind of version of it, thus giving it singularity, its present and its future. That’s the beauty of it.

We, as viewers, often have the tendency to overlook a present-day wardrobe in a present-day movie. The times that are close to our memory are the most difficult to re-create on screen. But it’s exactly when you don’t necessarily notice the costumes that you can be sure that that’s the way it should be, because the clothes should seemlessly blend with the character. Because however common it may look, in a good movie, a wardrobe is not merely “street clothing”, but a narrative medium.
Scarlett Johansson's style Vicky Cristina Barcelona 
Scarlett Johansson's style Vicky Cristina Barcelona 
Scarlett Johansson's style Vicky Cristina Barcelona 

Discover our movie stories shop – inspired by the fascinating world of cinema
and by the never-fading beauty of the tangible


photos: movie stills captured by me | Weinstein Company/The Mediapro /Gravier Productions | cinematographer: Javier Aguirresarobe

Posted by classiq in Film costume | | Comments Off on The Simplistic Ease of Summer Dressing: Scarlett Johansson in Vicky Cristina Barcelona

One Day That Summer: Linh, Northern Vietnam

To celebrate summer, in the course of the following months I will be collaborating with various photographers and photography collectors to bring you exclusive stories from behind the lens. Whether travel photography or pictures from the movie sets, One Day That Summer is an invitation to discovery, to open your mind and eyes, to live life like you stole it.
José Pablo Cordero Iza‘s body of work spans travel, diverse societies, ancient traditions and contemporary culture alike, yet always retains the human element. There is a vibrancy to his photography that can only stem from his ability to communicate the reality and uniqueness of the places and people he represents in his work. His portraits capture those tiny moments that tell a thousand stories. I talked to José about one particular story, the one behind his portrait of the girl of the rice paddies of Lào – Cai (which, every time I look at it, reinforces my opinion that black and white images have a power that colour can not match), about the role of photojournalism, and about his book, “Visual Passport”, which is the result of 12 years of traveling around the world (and which is unfortunately only available in Chile for now).

“There are personal moments that are magical,
and I keep them for me. I feel that being without
the camera in some moments allows me to catch
those seconds in my mind. It is my
intimate moment with the observed.”

What’s the story behind this photo?
I had the habit of going for a walk very early in the morning, taking pictures across the rice paddies in the mountains of Lào – Cai, in the north of Vietnam at the border with China. During those days of long walks, a little girl always accompanied me. Perhaps she was curious about what I was doing, or just for fun. The girl had a beautiful smile and timid eyes, but they were very penetrating. She understood only a few words in English. Timidly, she told me her name: “My name is Linh”. We did not speak a common language, and all our communication was based on sign language, looks and gestures. The following days, she became my company. It was not until my last day in the mountains that I decided to take her picture and thus will be able to remember her always.

Years later, while revising my files in editing my book, “Visual Passport”, I was reunited with that photo and the memories immediately emerged. Noticing that image I felt an impulse to search the meaning of her name. To my astonishment, I found it meant “Free Spirit” in Vietnamese. There could not be a better name for the little girl who freely followed me across the beautiful countryside of Northern Vietnam.

Could you tell me a little more about your book, “Visual Passport”?
Visual Passport is my last photobook, the third of my own. Visual Passport is a journey through everyday images, which are the result of 12 years of travel around the world. This book also contains collages of my own. It is a very personal record, because on this project I used different formats of cameras, such as lomography and polaroid cameras. As its name says, it is a Passport through images.
Visual Passport Jose Cordero Iza

Visual Passport Jose Cordero Iza

“Visual Passport”, by José Pablo Cordero Iza

Do you always carry a camera with you?
Actually, I’m not carrying my camera with me all the time, because, for me, when I go out to photograph, I put all my energy and concentration into it. It is a state of mind, where I focus and put all my passion into the act of photographing.

Take or make a photograph? Do you wait for a good photo? Are there times when you simply witness the moment without taking/making any picture?
It depends on the circumstances, there are situations when many photographs are in front of you, and just press the button. There are other images, when you expect the moment and a particular light. Inside you know that you will find the scene and the precise moment. With respect to your question, there have been many photographs that I have kept in my mind. There are personal moments that are magical, and I keep them for me. I feel that being without the camera in some moments, allows me to catch those seconds in my mind. It is my intimate moment with the observed.

A travel writer once told me that the most fulfilling thing about her work is being able to change the false impression that somebody has on a country and people. What is the most rewarding thing about your being a journalist and a travel and documentary photographer?
In my years as a traveler, photographer and journalist, I have been fortunate to live many intense experiences. But I think I can not single out just one rewarding experience. I think it’s a set of learnings that help you grow as a person and in your work. Being able to travel the world and share experiences with such diverse cultures in Africa, Asia, America (South and Central) and Europe makes your work on the field rewarding.

Over time there have been concerns about image manipulations by some famous photojournalists, and complaints that their photos are exploitative and represent a false, exotic vision of non-Western cultures to feed the fantasies of the Western audience, while failing to reflect reality. What is a photojournalist’s role? Shouldn’t it express a visual interest in these cultures’ history and ethnography, rather than their “value” to the Western world?
It seems unacceptable to me the manipulation of elements in the photographic composition. I think it is an unfair act and it causes damage of the photographic work of all my colleagues who are really honest. Stereotypes about certain cultures are a real vice. Always try the same concepts and focus only on misery, pain etc, leaving aside another aspects like hope, and happiness of the people of those places. But I also believe this situation is not only the fault of the photographers, it is also the responsibility of some publications and editors who are interested in selling certain patterns and messages to the readers.
Visual Passport Jose Cordero Iza

Visual Passport Jose Cordero Iza

Visual Passport Jose Cordero Iza

“Visual Passport”, by José Pablo Cordero Iza

You are Chilean. If you could capture the essence of your country in one sentence, how would you describe it?
Wow, it is a difficult question, but I think a sentence that could describe my country, or rather a concept, is: “A Land of extreme nature”.

What is the most fundamental ingredient in your pictures? What does it take for a photo journalist to go there? What do you want to communicate through your photographic stories?
More than a specific ingredient, I try to look for spontaneity, and I think this one is the real interaction with what you are going to photograph. In my photography, I try to show the viewer the situations and experiences that I have lived, transport and involve the reader with the stories, places and especially the people that are appearing in my assigments and journeys.

They say that people make the place. Do you agree?
I think that a fundamental unit in photography is the anthropological and sociological content. There are stories in which the human factor is the essence of the stories. In photojournalism, like in travel photography, individuals provide answers in order to understand societies in their complexity. Interacting with the human being is a key factor for the results of what you want to communicate.
Visual Passport Jose Cordero Iza

Visual Passport Jose Cordero Iza

“Visual Passport”, by José Pablo Cordero Iza

What is the most important lesson that your travels have taught you?
Difficult times are lived in the world. There is a lot of mistrust and hate. Travel has allowed me to cultivate tolerance and respect for the different ways of thinking and living that exist, in addition to respect for the nature that surrounds us. I firmly believe that societies must seek bridges of union and not WALLS of separation. Travel has made it easier for me to establish my personal bridges of understanding with others.

What is your favourite moment of the day for shooting? Do you swear by the “golden hour”?
That depends on what you are searching for in your photographs. There are moments when the light of the first hours of the day gives much force to the image, or in the evening. But there are times when situations appear at any time. I think the photographer can not be conditioned by the hours of the day. It’s always a good time for a great photo.

If you could be anywhere in the world right now (old or new location), preparing to shoot, where would you want to be?
I would like to return to many places. But now I have two destinations that await me in a short time. They are different projects, the first one in France, and the other one in the Peruvian Amazon.
Visual Passport Jose Cordero Iza

“Visual Passport”, by José Pablo Cordero Iza

You can keep up with José’s photography and work on Instagram: @cordero_iza

photos of the book: courtesy of the photographer

Posted by classiq in Interviews, Journeys, One day that summer, Photography | | Comments Off on One Day That Summer: Linh, Northern Vietnam

Summer Soundtrack

Summer soundtrack 
Last summer I was sharing my playlist for the season. This time around, I thought it would make much more sense to make a compilation of my favourite songs from the soundtracks of my favourite summer movies (some of which I previously talked about here and here), spanning from the joyful tunes from American Graffiti, to the bouncy Spanish song “Barcelona” by indie band Giulia y los Tellarini, from Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and pretty much the entire soundtrack of Les petits mouchoirs (Little White Lies). Bonus: John Williams’ brilliant centerpiece theme of music in Jaws – you know it, the one associated with the movements, usually unseen, of the shark that is ingrained in the public memory (and which should definitely be listened to while on the beach).

You can listen to my summer soundtrack here. What have you been listening to this summer?

1.Giulia y los Tellarini: “Barcelona” (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) / 2.Jet: “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” (Little White Lies) / 3.The Clovers: “Love Potion no. 9” (American Graffiti) / 4.Simon and Garfunkle: “Mrs. Robinson” (The Graduate) / 5.Eels: “That Look You Give That Guy” (Little White Lies) / 6.ZZ Top: “Tush” (Dazed and Confused) / 7.Harry Nilsson: “Jump into the Fire” (A Bigger Splash) / 8.The Guy Barker International Quintet: “Tu vuo’ fa’ l’americano” (The Talented Mr. Ripley) / 9.Guillaume Canet: “To Be True” (Little White Lies) / 10.Captain Beefheart: “Observatory Crest” (A Bigger Splash) / Bonus: John Williams’s musical score (Jaws)

photo by me

Posted by classiq in Film, Sounds & Tracks | | Comments Off on Summer Soundtrack

Prairie Chic: Interview with Designer Kara Johnson

Interview Kara Thoms Boutique

Designer Kara Johnson (left)

The embodiment of ease, infused with an uncontrived yet refined feeling. Driven by the attitude that life should be embraced and enjoyed without boundaries, and that it should be lead with intention. Breathing simplicity, appreciating authenticity, honing quality and versatility, encouraging local production, and inspiring a deeper meaning. Kara Thoms is for the woman who wears what expresses her style, but also what represents her values.

When, in our interview, Kara Johnson used the phrase “something old and something new” to capture the essence of her brand in words, I thought, yes, this is it. Because isn’t this what we are looking for in that new piece of clothing we purchase with the intention of keeping it forever? A soft, ultra-comfortable feel of a much loved favourite, something to weave your own story onto. It’s like when youth and adventure meet experience and a well-lived life. Kara Thoms seems to meet the best of both worlds.

But what has probably sealed my full admiration and appreciation for Kara Thoms, the woman and the brand, is Kara’s philosophy’s of working for yourself/being a mum. And, indeed, this is a brand that inherently projects the image of a beautiful, natural, talented and brave woman, one who weaves her life around family and passion work. Read on for my full interview with the designer, who talked to me about growing tired of fashion trends while modeling and challenging herself to design her first collection (while she was pregnant), about staying true to yourself and remaining positive no matter what, and about the future of the fashion industry.
Interview Kara Thoms Boutique 
Kara, why a fashion brand? Why not something else? What drove you to fashion in the first place?
I’ve just always loved clothes. My mother sewed all my clothes when I was younger, living in New Zealand. We would pick out fabrics and patterns at the material store and I’d watch her put it all together. Each piece was one-of-a-kind. I feel this is what planted the seed in me.

I’ve always been that girl who had quite a collection of clothes. I lived in a lot of different places around the world while modeling (17 years) and would get inspired by the surroundings, whether it be a city, people, or some open landscape, and I’d buy the hidden gems. I’ve always had a tailor so I could alter the clothes I bought – always changing up the designs, making them more flattering, shorter, a tuck here, a tuck there. I eventually felt unfulfilled with my modeling career. I wanted to take a leap of faith and challenge myself. So, I designed my first collection when I got pregnant a few years ago. But, first and foremost, I love being a mom. If I can work for myself and not have to leave my little girl, that’s the most important thing to me.

What are the core values of Kara Thoms?
Something old and something new. My designs have this old-world feel and quality but with a modern twist. Personally, I love wearing things that bare a hint of nostalgia. I use linen and linen blends which add a more clean and understated aspect to my vintage inspired designs. I do small batch quantities and everything is sewn by small, family-run artisan businesses. All the dying is done by hand with non-toxic mineral dyes.

Who do you design for? Is there a particular type of woman you design for?
I design clothes that I want to wear. It’s essentially a resort line for that woman who loves to travel. I like the idea that all the pieces can be worn at a variety of occasions for that classic, understated look. Kara Thoms is probably best described as ‘prairie chic’.
Interview Kara Thoms Boutique

Interview Kara Thoms Boutique 

From reading the story behind your brand, it’s clear that your mother was a huge influence. Who and what else inspires you?
I’ve always been inspired by the ‘Nana’, you know, when you see that sweet, old lady on the streets of New York dressed in a complete outfit she’s had since 1940? The matching shoes, dress stockings, and hat… When I’m back home in New Zealand I see a lot of ladies wearing their old, homemade house dresses – just classic.

I love old movies and movie stars like Grace Kelly, and westerns like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I love simplicity and quality. Over the years I have become more drawn to minimalism. Not to say I don’t consume. I just try to consume less.

Your clothing line is produced by a small family-run business handpicked by you on a trip to visit your brother in Bali. What are the perks and challenges of an ethically produced fashion brand on the island of Bali?
I love the people I am working with in Bali. They are so talented and hard working. I like the fact that my clothes are not made in a factory but by these small, family run businesses; tailors to sew and artisans that are dying the fabrics by hand, trying to match my color choices. Sometimes they get it so wrong and sometimes the colors are better than I expected. It’s also a fun place to visit, like I’m on some sort of adventure. I’ve always loved traveling and different cultures.

The main setbacks are the time differences, the language barrier, and the amount of holidays they have – there’s a lot! But it’s all worth it.

You started your career as a model and then grew tired of trends, which is what lead you to start your own clothing business. How do you see the future of fashion? Because so many of the people I admire and who I come in contact with prefer mindful shopping and meaningful brands, such like yours.
My hope is that the fashion industry, as a whole, becomes more mindful. We live in a world of such excess and the worst part is the effect that has on the natural environment. I believe there is a draw to ethically produced brands. It’s like supporting your local farms and buying organic food. I’d rather spend more money on something I know is high quality, ethically produced and not mass-produced. Unfortunately, there are always going to be those people that don’t care and would rather not spend the money.
Interview Kara Thoms Boutique 

You’ve been working in fashion for many years. Are there any fashion designers you look up to? How about favorite photographers?
When I was younger, I used to love Karen Walker, being a fellow kiwi. Her designs were really vintage inspired back then. She used lots of beautiful colors. I was also a big fan of Chloé and Marc Jacobs for the same reasons.

I definitely went through an 80’s resurrection period in New York back, in 2003, which was hilarious, and a moment of hippie while living in Topanga canyon in 2008. But asides from these times of fashion gone rogue, I’ve always stayed pretty true to my style.

My current fashion loves are Isabel Marant, Zimmermann, Rachel Comey, Jesse Kamm, Ulla Johnson and I’m always inspired by pretty Valentino gowns.

My favorite photographers are Lauren Ross (who shot my entire website), Will Adler and my husband, Jeff Johnson.

A life lesson modeling has taught you:
I feel as though there have been many life lessons along my career path, especially with all that lonesome travel, living in foreign lands, understanding different cultures, the people, the language, making a home of it. Lots of self discovery. I think you need to be very self-sufficient and somewhat courageous to navigate it all. It helps if you don’t compare yourself to others.

One really positive lesson I have learned through modeling was learning to ride out the highs and slows, believing there would always be consistent work flowing in and trying to not go to that place of feeling stressed out or desperate. As long as you’re looking after yourself and radiating from within with positivity, trusting that it’s all going to be great, the universe always seems to come through. It’s almost like this mental, spiritual dance.

How much talent, how much hard work and how much luck would you say that are involved in a successful fashion brand?
I think the key is to have a clear vision for your designs and style, and always evolve.
It takes lots of time, blood, sweat and tears. If you’re lucky enough to gather the right people around and create a dream team, you’re half way there.

What advice would you give someone with their own idea or dream?
Take small steps, and lots of positive affirmations.
Kara Thoms Boutique interview 
What does style mean to you?
Tapping into the creative brain, self expression, not following the mainstream, but molding the ideas that are out there to create your own thing. You actually have to care enough about style to have any and, in some cases, being courageous in your approach.

Has your working in fashion influenced your personal wardrobe?
It’s funny, up until moving to the USA I would say it influenced my style in a really positive way. Living in New York was so incredibly inspiring, but my agency would tell me not to wear my vintage dresses and boots to castings. They wanted me to wear a plain white tank and a jean skirt, which I thought was totally boring. I also had to blow out my hair everyday! They said it was because my look was more commercial and it wasn’t in my best interests to look like I had just stepped out of an editorial shoot. So I always had my ‘work clothes’ and my ME clothes.

What are your ME clothes? What do you feel your best dressed in?
One of my own designs.

You are now living in California. How has your moving there influenced you creatively?
I feel like I’m surrounded by a great, creative energy. People here are creating and doing really unique things. They are driven and excited – that, in itself, has influenced me.
Interview Kara Thoms Boutique 

What is your one favourite thing to do in California and which you would miss if you lived anywhere else in the world?
California is where the sun is always shining. I love to be outside, road trips, camping out at the beach, or in the eastern Sierra around Yosemite with my hubby and our little girl and our dog. I would really miss that.

One thing you can not start the day without:
Cuddles with my little girl.

Where would we find you when not working?
At the beach.

Latest book you’ve read/ latest film you’ve watched / latest song you’ve been listening to on repeat:
Film – 10 (1979)

Book – African Saga, by Mirelli Ricciardi

Song – Shady Grove, by Taj Mahal

You wish people appreciated more:
Our natural environment.

What makes you happy at the end of the day?
Family story time together. | Instagram: @karathomsboutique

photo credit: Lauren Ross

Posted by classiq in Beauty & Beautiful Living, Fashion, Interviews, Style | | 2 Comments

Tennis on Film: My Five Picks

Favourite tennis movies Strangers on A Train 
There is a reason why I haven’t tried to put together my passion for cinema and my interest in tennis until now. There are simply not many films about tennis. And, to be completely honest, there are no good films about tennis whatsoever. Films that have tennis as background, or a main character as tennis player, yes, there have been, and some of them are very good movies – these are the ones that are the subject of this very article. But the reality is that filmmakers have shied away from taking on the challenge to portray the world of tennis and add cinematic drama to the game. I doubt this is a sport any less geared towards providing plenty of excitement of its own than other sports which have been themes for some great cinema pieces, like, for example, baseball (The Natural, 1984), boxing (Raging Bull, 1980), skiing (The Downhill Racer, 1969), basketball (Hoosiers, 1986), American football (Any Given Sunday, 1999).

With Wimbledon starting today, here are my five picks of tennis depictions on film.
Hard fast and beautiful 1951 
Hard, Fast & Beautiful, 1951, directed by Ida Lupino

Ida Lupino’s films (I love her noir work) were all made by her own production company for less than $160,000 each. Her films are remarkable for their complexity (Roberto Rossellini inspired her production aesthetic and she cited the neo-realist film making of Vittorio de Sica’s Sciuscià (Shoeshine), 1946, and Rossellini’s Roma, città aperta, 1945, as models). Hard, Fast and Beautiful is one of the greatest dramas about teenage stars, a sports star, and the only one from my selection that comes close to qualifying as a sports movie. Millie Farley (Claire Trevor) devotes herself to making sure her talented daughter’s tennis exploits are well paid. As the movie advances, it becomes clear that Millie uses her daughter’s sporting prowess to gain access to a life of luxury, travel, and freedom from the domestic life for herself, and that she plots to keep Florence (Sally Forrest) athletically and economically productive. Set first in a small town, then in fancy hotels and European locations, Hard, Fast and Beautiful ends with Millie sitting alone, rejected by daughter and husband, in an empty stadium.
My Favourite tennis films The Royal Tenenbaums 
The Royal Tenenbaums, 2002, directed by Wes Anderson

Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) is a former tennis prodigy whose career has spectacularly flopped – his meltdown on court, when he finishes the match in tears at the US Nationals, after 72 unforced errors, underhand serves, and the removal of his shoes, is a moment to remember – but he is still clinging to the prime of his success. It is a Wes Anderson movie, so the characters all wear their personalities on the outside. In the case of Richie, he still sports a retro band, arms bands and Fila logo t-shirts, his style taking direct cue from Björn Borg’s 1970s and 1980s tennis-court attire (beard and lustrous locks included), even when his tennis whites grow into a camel toned suit. I also particularly liked how Richie’s clothes are interconnected with Margo’s (Gwyneth Paltrow’s) tennis dresses, suggesting their mutual affection.
Pat and Mike 
Pat and Mike, 1952, directed by George Cukor

What I like the most about this George Cukor classic is the spontaneous comedic elegance and the relaxed yet precise performances of both Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Katharine plays a sporting heroine, whose tennis and golfing (a ‘sport’ I don’t quite understand, to be honest) skills matched her own. Hepburn was a gifted athlete, which made her 100% believable in her role. It’s a light comedy that allows the audience to enjoy the stars’ chemistry on screen.
Favourite tennis movies Match Point 
Match Point, 2005, directed by Woody Allen

Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a young tennis player, recently retired from the professional activity, trying to make a new living for himself as a tennis coach. Match Point is a rich psychological thriller and is not at all a stereotype Woody Allen movie that you are prone to recognize from the very first scenes, which makes it one of my favourites from the director’s filmography. Hunger, lust, ambition and greed are the aspirations of the main character, and even from the beginning of the movie we feel a rising tension regarding his moral status. It is such a dark film that pulls you in and revolts you at the same time, keeping you on the edge of your seat.
Favourite tennis movies Strangers on A Train 
Strangers on A Train, 1957, directed by Alfred Hitchcock

One of the best films from the Master. On a train, there is a chance encounter between social-climbing tennis champion Guy (Farley Granger) and sardonic playboy Bruno (Robert Walker), who is a fan of Guy’s and who seems to know all about his personal life. Bruno suggests the perfect crime by switching murders. Alfred Hitchcock once again demonstrates his virtuosity in the area of suspense thrillers, as the film is shot with all his usual invention and style, and a couple of scenes rank among the director’s most visually memorable. One such sequence involves a tennis match, when Guy scans the crowd and observes that all of the heads are swiveling back and forth to follow the game, except for one head, Bruno’s, whose focus remains relentlessly set on Guy. It literally gives you the shivers.

photos: movie stills from Hard, Fast and Beautiful (Everett Collection/Rex Features), The Royal Tenenbaums (Buena Vista Pictures/ Everett Collection) Pat and Mike / Match Point (BBC Films/Thema Production/ (as Thema Production/Jada Productions/Kudu Films) / Strangers on A Train (Warner Brothers)

Posted by classiq in Film | | Comments Off on Tennis on Film: My Five Picks