An announcement to anyone who has any interest in fashion, photography, women, beauty, New York, clothing history, history history, style or French street sweeper garb; Bill Cunningham New York is a documentary that you simply must not miss.
Photograph by Scott Schuman
Now in his eighties, Cunningham began his career as a candid fashion photographer in the 1970s, flitting between shnazzy events and the sidewalks to find his subjects. He is still working, now for the New York Times, and his enthusiasm for fashion along with his vigorous approach to capturing it on film (yup, no digital here) are enough to delight even the most jaded fashion types.
Before becoming a photographer Cunningham was a milliner, selling his wares under the label 'William J', as his family didn't approve of the venture. I've had a look on the webs and only found one example of his wares, here.
Innocuous enough a piece, you'll agree. But check out the inside:
I'm such a sucker for hidden treats.
Oh and here's one for the fashion nerds; you may notice that the spectacular I-don't-know-what, Iris Apfel (who has been photographed by Cunningham on numerous occasions over the years) is interviewed in the film wearing a rather fabulous toucan brooch. This one, in fact:
Or is it this one?:
I'm not sure because they look exactly the same, and therein lies the problem. You see, one of these brooches was created by the french jewellery designer Hanna Bernhard and subsequently bought and worn by Apfel herself:
The other was sold as part of a collection that Iris Apfel 'designed' for the Home Shopping Network. Hmm. I'm guessing (based on time stuff) that Apfel is wearing Bernhard's original in the movie. Who knows, maybe Bill Cunningham New York will be used as evidence in a copyright case - and honestly if that means more people will watch the film, I'm all for it. It's the best thing I've seen all year and manages to be funny, inspiring, joyous and astonishing all at once.
Edit: Hanna Bernhard informs me that the lower Toucan is her creation, and that Apfel's naughty birdy num num was removed from the HSN collection after those Texan beauties and defenders of justice, Jane and Judy Aldridge broke the story.
Yves Saint Laurent have released their latest campaign for Opium with British actress Emily Blunt having been chosen as the perfume's latest junky:
Upon seeing this image I took a deep breath, ready to unleash a torrent of sanctimonious criticism on its creators - something along the lines of, 'Boring! Bland! Brit girls shouldn't do Opium! Boo too all things contemporary and let us mourn every wonderful Opium campaign past.'
But then I trawled through a few blogs and realised that every fashion bitch on the internet had already written exactly the same thing. I decided that I would have to think something different.
So here's the question: What were the good Opium ads again? How did they go?
Let's have a look at some of Blunt's predecessors.
This is a weird one - I really think there was some mix up at the YSL offices and someone accidentally smacked the Opium logo on what was meant to be an ad for Parisienne.
Mélanie Thierry [technically for Belle D'Opium. Settle down.]:
Well, she's wildly beautiful AND French (Dieu merci!) but the video short that accompanied this photograph is so hugely embarrassing that I can't even begin to take this campaign seriously. That dancing gives me shame tingles.
Blah. I feel like she's trying to seduce me into flying Air France First Class (yes, Bela is Polish. Settle down!)
Kate Moss (again)
Well this is quite beautiful but if I'm going to nitpick - 'Sensuality to the Extreme'? Shame tingles (again).
So, given Opium's less than incredible track record one may well ask why the latest campaign has been met with such earnest disappointment.
Well, you see, we have been tricked. Tricked by the sneaky Steven Meisel, tricked by that awfully clever Tom Ford and tricked most of all by beautiful, beautiful Sophie Dahl. For have ever you seen so enticing a fashion image as this?:
It's an ad so good as to be a curse on the Opium brand, rendering all the perfume's campaigns before and since inferior and superfluous. No tacky Oriental/ Asian/ Tribal props. No bong smoke. Just the most ravishing advertisement you ever saw. And it has hoodwinked us into thinking that there is some great dynasty of Opium campaigns when really there's just this one, very sublime photograph.
So of course I don't like Blunt's turn in the den - the smoking suit and necklace are cheesy, the 'oriental' (ugh) atmosphere contrived and Blunt herself just such an odd choice for the product. But I'll grant that she like the other Opi-ettes have not benefited from the reflected glory of Dahl's effort.
I'll finish off with an excerpt from Luca Turin's review of Opium the perfume, published in his and Tania Sanchez's book, Perfumes - An A to Z Guide, which, incidentally, is one of the best anythings I've ever read:
Opium illustrates better than any other fragrance the peculiar phenomenon of love followed by rejection, known as fashion. It is unquestionably one of the greatest fragrances of all time, not only in terms of its phenomenal success, but in having deserved it. Yet I would hate it if anyone wore it near me today.
Ha! And it's just the opposite for the ad campaigns. Life!