Simplify

AYR seasonless collection 
A seasonless collection. Carved down to the essentials. Stripped bare of any decorations and adds-on. Distilled and pure. Designed to be lived in. Committed to lasting styles. Bridging the gap to menswear, which, we all know, is much closer to perfection. AYR is an invitation to simplify to the core and start anew. Are you on board?
 
AYR seasonless collection 
AYR seasonless collection 
AYR seasonless collection 
AYR seasonless collection

photos: AYR

Posted by classiq in Style | | Leave a comment

Born to Run

Born to Run Bruce Springsteen  

“Who were all those strangers buying my music?”

 
I like my favourite musicians’ gods old, grizzled and here, as Bruce Springsteen himself says about himself in his autobiography Born to Run. Not just because I love their music and want to hear and see them play for many years to come, but because I want to read the story of their lives (you know, the kind written after some good decades of living and making music, the kind that takes its own time to be written – Bruce wrote it in the course of seven years). I have liked every musical biography I have read so far. But then again, I haven’t read just about anybody, but about some of the best in music (like this one and this one). And I think part of my fascination with musical autobiographies comes from the fact that their authors are people who have their own voice (and, by that, I don’t mean that they can sing) and their own story to tell, people who have done it all, seen it all, learned a few lessons and lived to tell the story. And because their books, just like their music, reflect experience and the world they come from and live in.

Born to Run bears the hallmarks of having been written by Springsteen’s own hand and I like that. I like the simplicity, the honesty, the talent of describing people, the humour of describing situations. It gets to you. He lays it all out, opening up about his upbringing, his family, anguishes, isolation, hard work, rock musician life without drugs and alcohol (“Music was going to get me as high as I needed to go”), women, depression, wife and family life, fame, rock star ambition, ego, hunger, never-dying dedication, passion and desire to give it all to music and just keep going. What is it that keeps him going? “Friends, that’s the reason we don’t call it ‘working’, it’s called PLAYING! … It’s a life-giving, joyful, sweat-drenched, muscle-aching, voice-blowing, mind-clearing, exhausting, soul-invigorating, cathartic pleasure and privilege every night.”

He may call his work ‘playing’, but he and his band have always taken their fun seriously. At the end of the day and after more than four decades of music, he is still down-to-earth, in check with reality. “Greetings [from Asbury Park, his first album] only sold about twenty-three thousand copies: that was a flop by record company standards but a smash by mine. Who were all those strangers buying my music?”

Bruce Springsteen tells his story not with the aplomb of a rock star, but with the dignity of a hardworking guitar man that he still is. Thank you, Bruce.
 
Bruce Springsteen Born to Run

I loved the story behind the cover photo for the album Born to Run, designed by in-house Columbia art director John Berg, taken by Eric Meola and featuring Bruce and Clarence Clemons. “We used it to invent ourselves, our friendship, our partnership on an epic scale. […] When the cover is closed, the album front is a very charming photo of a young, white, punk rock ‘n’ roller. But when it opens, a band is born and a tall tale begins.”


 

“The guitar! […] the master key, the sword in the stone, the sacred talisman, the staff of righteousness, the greatest instrument of seduction the teenage world has ever known, the… the… answer to my alienation and sorrow, it was a reason to live, to try to communicate with the other poor souls stuck in the same position I was.”


 
“The shows were real, always… my friends were real, always… the audience was real, always.”
 

“I was all I had. I had only one talent. I was not a natural genius. I would have to use every ounce of what was in me –
my cunning, my musical skills, my showmanship, my intellect, my heart, my willingness – night after night, to push myself harder, to work with more intensity than the next guy just to survive untended in the world I lived in.”

photos: 1-by me / 2-Eric Meola

Posted by classiq in Books | | Leave a comment

Contratiempo

Contratiempo 2016 
“Every story has two sides. The truth, just one.”

A man is accused of the murder of his mistress. He says he didn’t do it. We’ve seen it before. But the atmosphere and the way the plot unfolds in Contratiempo (The Invisible Guest), a 2016 thriller written and directed by Oriol Paulo, is gripping and keeps you tense right up to the end. The man is Adrián Doria (Mario Casas), an important businessman, who has everything to lose. His lawyer hires another attorney, Virginia Goodman (Ana Wagener), who has never lost a case, to help them prepare the defense for the prosecution. She appears at his door at night telling him they have just a few hours to go through the story again in order for her to tightly build her case. They pace, argue, and challenge each other in one room. It’s a clever cat and mouse battle, giving way to a puzzle of a story where truth and lie are interchangeable.

Lately I find myself wanting to talk about films that are everything but American. They usually ARE better. I am sure there are so many we don’t get to watch at all. And whenever I do watch one that I love, I can’t wait to recommend it. To what I have said in the previous paragraph, I want to point out two other things. First, Contratiempo is a beautiful looking film (in the same manner in which Almodóvar’s La piel que habito is beautiful), with a monochromatic, dark colour scheme, in pace with the narrative, contrasting indoor simple, close shots with flyovers of Spanish mountains and forest roadways, as the scenes move fluidly between present day and Doria’s recounting. And the music, I want to talk about the music, composed by Fernando Velázquez. It tells the story in itself. You feel the suspense, the danger, the questions, the doubts through the music. The one downside I can think of is that Bárbara Lennie (as Laura Vidal), Ana Wagener and José Coronado (as Tomás Garrido) outstage Mario Casas in every scene. But it only highlights everything else, that is really, really good, about the movie.

photo: film still | Atresmedia Cine, Think Studio, Nostromo Pictures

Posted by classiq in Film | | 1 Comment

Two Actors Who Make A Difference Elsewhere

Films and the actors who bring the characters to life on screen enrich our lives. But some actors, through the work they do outside the film sets, truly change people’s lives. Many actors and actresses have lent their name to one type of humanitarian work or another, and often support a charitable cause close to them, to the point where cynics wonder if they are truly looking out for humanity or mainly looking for publicity. But the two actors I am talking about today leave no doubt in my mind that they are truly set out to pay it forward, each of them having immersed in an issue they believe in.
 
Viggo Mortensen Perceval Press 
In 1999, Viggo Mortensen started his own independent publishing house, Perceval Press – named after one of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table – which publishes photography, painting and other arts-related books and CDs. The press, which runs small prints (all the books are published somewhere near Madrid, a city where Mortensen has been living for years), the books being available primarily online, is aiming to cast light on work that might not otherwise be published and present artists’ work, including the actor’s own, in a way that is tailored to the expectations and the vision of the author. Let’s put it this way: it publishes indie books for the sheer love of it. And if this is not work done solely out of passion, then I don’t know what is.
 
Just keep livin foundation  
The just keep livin foundation, started by Matthew McConaughey and his wife, Camila Alves, in 2008, is committed to the health and well-being of youth in the American communities, by providing teenagers with the tools to lead active lives and make healthy choices for a better future. In other words, they provide students with the greatest needs (from public schools serving low-income districts) a safe place to come to after school where they can engage in different activities, exercise and learn about the body and mind connection, how to eat right and cook healthy. These are teenagers who would normally go home after school, where they would be unsupervised, ending up in front of the tv or of the computer, or out in the streets with high juvenile crime. There are only three words I can say to Camila and Matthew’s mission: Alright! Alright! Alright!

photos: 1-Marc Hom for Esquire / 2-just keep livin Foundation (Getty Images)

Posted by classiq in Beauty & Beautiful Living | | Leave a comment

Romy in Chanel: Boccaccio ’70

Romy Schneider in Chanel Boccaccio 70 
It’s the month of the Cannes Film Festival and, 55 years ago, on May 8th, Boccaccio ’70 was opening the 15th edition of the festival. Modeled on Boccaccio’s “The Decameron”, the four short stories of love and life in 1960’s Italy were directed by four different filmmakers, Mario Monicelli, Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti and Vittorio de Sica, respectively. Spanning comedy, melodrama and fantasy, the four tales form a sly satire and a sharp portrayal of 1960s Italian society. But the most dramatic and the true highlight is Visconti’s immaculate fable, “Il lavoro” (“The Job”), with Romy Schneider in a great role and the strongest ending overall.

Luchino Visconti arrived in Paris in 1936, at the age of 30. When he met Gabrielle Chanel, he was reportedly taken with her mixture of “feminine beauty, masculine intelligence, and outstanding energy.” Chanel was instrumental in getting him to meet Jean Renoir, who would become Visconti’s mentor, driving him to become a filmmaker. Renoir went on to hire Visconti as an assistant for Toni (1935) and Partie de campagne (1936). Coco Chanel also contributed to two major movies of Renoir’s, La bête humaine (1938) and La règle du jeu (1939).

The couturier’s collaboration with Hollywood may have been a disappointment (the most notable film of the three she did there, at the invitation of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, was Tonight or Never, dressing Gloria Swanson as a prima donna opera singer), but she had a far greater cachet in European cinema, her work involving films of some of the greatest directors on the continent: she made the costumes for Jeanne Moreau in Louis Malle’s Les amants (1958) and in Roger Vadim’s Les liaisons dangereuses (1960) (she had also designed Moreau’s clothes for the Paris opening of Cat on A Hot Tin Roof), Delphine Seyrig in Alain Resnais’ L’Année dernière à Marienbad (1961), Michèle Morgan in Marcel Carné’s Le quai des brumes (1938).
 
Romy Schneider in Chanel Boccaccio 70

Romy Schneider in Chanel Boccaccio 70

Romy Schneider in Chanel Boccaccio 70 
In 1962, after he had become an established director with films such as Ossessione (1943) (a great film noir, one of cinema’s most exceptional debuts, and another debt he owed to Renoir, who, as I was reading on Empireonline, had given him a copy of James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice that inspired Visconti’s debut, which has since become acknowledged as the first neo-realist feature), La terra trema (1948), and Rocco e i suoi fratelli (1960), Visconti met Chanel again and asked her to design the costumes for Boccaccio’70, and dress Romy Schneider for the part. The designer did more than that. She reinvented Romy, distilling the essence of the Chanel style and helping her absorb it into her own. Chanel developed a long relationship with Romy, as she had done with other stars of the French cinema, like Jeanne Moreau, Anouk Aimé and Delphine Seyrig. “There are three people who have changed my life: Alain, Visconti, and Coco Chanel,” Romy would say.
 

“When my customers come to me, they like to cross the threshold of some magic place; they feel a satisfaction that is perhaps a trace vulgar but that delights them: they are privileged characters who are incorporated into our legend. For them this is a far greater pleasure than ordering another suit.”

Coco Chanel, 1935

 
In Boccaccio ’70, Romy, the trophy wife of a rich Milanese philanderer (Tomas Milian), decides to earn her own money and look for a job. Chanel’s clothes serve the tale’s morale brilliantly. “These clothes are all wrong! They are too chic for someone looking for work,” says a brocade-suit cladded Romy, impeccably coifed and accessorised. How does it all pan out? Her husband agrees to treat her as a call girl, leaving her cheques after sex.
 
Romy Schneider in Chanel Boccaccio 70

Romy Schneider in Chanel Boccaccio 70

Romy Schneider in Chanel Boccaccio 70 
The legions of admirers who wore Chanel at the couturier’s height of fame were buying into more than just clothes. They emulated the Chanel style. “She had invented that famous Chanel stance that looks as relaxed as a cat and has an impertinent chic; one foot forward, hips forward, shoulders down, one hand in a pocket and the other gesticulating,” wrote Vogue editor Bettina Ballard, as stated in Justine Picardie’s book, Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life.

Romy Schneider moves around gracefully in her Chanel clothes… and jewels. First in her tweed suit and cap toe pumps, the embodiment of Chanel style. She is lying around, standing one foot and hips forward, moving elegantly and naturally in her suit – Coco Chanel clearly taught her the body language, too, to which a famous photo session of the two at 31 Rue Cambon, from 1962, during a fitting for the film, can fully testify. The suit comes off a little later on, revealing a white négligée and then just a strand of pearls around her neck as she is getting ready to take a bath. Then she gets dressed in the brocade ensemble; she ties the coin belt on her dress, playfully adjusts a characteristic Chanel assortment of jewels and her hair in the mirror. The transformation is complete: she is a femme fatale, a mixture of charm and elegance. The discrete charm of the bourgeoise.
 
Romy Schneider in Chanel Boccaccio 70

photos: screen stills captured by me | Cineriz, Concordia Compagnia Cinematografica, Francinex

Posted by classiq in Film, Style in film | | Leave a comment