TOP FIVE: The 2015 Academy Awards

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It only rains approximately 5.7 days a year in L.A. Naturally, one of those days would fall on Hollywood’s biggest night. I was set to attend a viewing party, but the universe had other plans. Suffice to say, it was a rather chaotic Oscar Sunday on my end, down to an actual technical malfunction that had me at Best Buy one hour before showtime to rectify the situation. $45 dollars later, I was back home with Chinese take-out, a box (okay, 2 boxes) of my favorite candy, my TV set-up and ready to go. As the rain started up again, I lit some candles, and settled in for a cozy night alone just a few miles away from the festivities…happily at home, just Oscar and me, for the first time in years.

Here are my top 5…


The 5 Best Moments of the Night


5. Pretty much every single winner who continued to talk well into and AFTER the “wrap it up music” – with no regard that wrap it up means WRAP IT UP!

4. Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech that quickly turned into a social commentary on wage and gender equality (and Meryl Streep’s total “YOU GO GIRl!” jumping out of her seat whoop-whoop in support).

3. I knew she could sing, and I’m a fan, but who knew THAT voice would, or could, ever come out of Lady Gaga? Go Gaga, you nailed that Julie Andrews/The Sound of Music tribute!

2. Graham Moore’s acceptance speech for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, taking a moment to give a shout out to the “weird ones.” Best speech of the night, by far.

1. John Legend and Common’s moving performance of “Glory” from the film Selma. It gave me chills. When they cut to David Oyelowo and Chris Pine in the audience and both had tears streaming down their face, I nearly lost it. (p.s. what is it about seeing a man cry that’s so damn sexy?)


The 5 Best Dressed Starlets of the Night


5. | DAKOTA JOHNSON in Yves Saint Larent.

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4. | REESE WITHERSPOON in Tom Ford.

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3. | JENNIFER LOPEZ in Elie Saab.

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2. | LUPITA NYONG’O in Calvin Klein Collection.

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BEST DRESSED. | ROSAMUND PIKE in Givenchy.

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Header image credit: Oscar” by lincolnblues used under CC BY 2.0

Photo sources:
Dakota Johnson
Reese Witherspoon
Jennifer Lopez
Lupita Nyong’o
Rosamund Pike

Advanced Style

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On a dreary, rainy Saturday afternoon the weekend before last, I found myself in bed under the weather, making it the perfect recipe to kill some time exploring the never-ending streaming cosmos of my Netflix Queue. In a documentary sort of mood, the moment my eye caught the bright red feather boa laced around the neck of a lively looking older woman, I settled in for the afternoon’s entertainment.

Enter: Advanced Style.

What started out as a passion project for blogger Ari Seth Cohen, has sparked a book deal, a documentary…a movement. Ari’s blog, Advanced Style, is a celebration of aging, told through the expression of personal style. Unlike most fashion blogs of today, it chronicles women over 50, well into their 90s, who choose to defy the notion that aging means a woman cannot still savor a sense of style. It challenges the perception that the fashion industry, which unapologetically continues to cater to younger generations, shouldn’t discount women “of a certain age.”

In a collaboration with filmmaker Lina Plioplyte, Ari’s blog comes to life in documentary narrative form, following 7 of the New York women made famous through Advanced Style, ranging in ages 62-95. While their eclectic style, set against the vibrant background of New York City is the film’s premise, there’s something much deeper being explored here. Our youth-obsessed culture continues to create the belief that aging, something that’s as natural as breathing, is an experience to be feared. A culture that perpetuates the idea that over a certain age a woman should “tone it down,” effectively losing a part of herself in the process.

Sure, society’s preoccupation and constant nostalgia for youth, do drive certain facets of a woman’s relationship to fashion and beauty as she ages. Then again, maybe there are women that hit a particular age and simply decide that their priorities have changed, or perhaps fashion has never been a big part of their lives to begin with? What palpable comment is Advanced Style making when it comes to aging and appearance?

Advanced Style Dogwoof Documentary

What the film does brilliantly that puts everything into context as I questioned this, is to address the concept of style. The message is clear: Style is eternal – it cannot be bought. Of course, you’re buying things in a monetary sense to help subsidize an expression, but true style is born out of how you choose to present yourself to the world. It’s your voice before you even open your mouth. It’s what you’re wearing. It’s how your hair is styled. It’s the statement made through bold lips, lined eyes, and brush strokes. Most significantly, it’s your attitude, how you carry yourself. Your attitude is directly linked to your appearance.

Think not?

Throw on a pair of sweats to run errands (which I’ve been known to do and thoroughly enjoy!) and you’ll manage just fine; but take the time to style your hair, do your make-up, and put on something that makes you feel fabulous, and even I, can feel the difference in how I interact with the world. Your style…essentially, your brand, is what a woman should not lose as she ages.

Advanced Style is about those women who choose style, who choose to hold onto their brand. Their version just happens to be more colorful than what we’re likely used to seeing on most women in their twilight years. Alternatively, mature women who opt for a less colorful or eclectic approach to their style shouldn’t be discounted either. As long as they envelop their version of “style,” in whatever manner that means to them, that’s really what it’s about. Although, I can’t help but wonder given the number of women featured in Advanced Style throughout the years and its growing popularity, that perhaps…just perhaps, there are more of us colorful, eclectic types like the women featured in the documentary than there are not?

As I watched the film, it also got me to thinking about how I wanted to age. I have some time before I should even entertain the idea of freaking out about it really, but already, I can see it. I can’t say I look forward to birthdays with as much enthusiasm as much as I used to. I’ve already surpassed many of the big, celebratory milestones of youth-hood when I turned 30. The great news is that the 7 ladies profiled bring a fresh, affirming approach to aging.

It’s not about re-claiming your youth, it’s about being who you are, where you are, and not going quietly. It’s leaving this earth knowing you honored your truth. Even if it’s as simple, yet complicated, as how you present yourself to the world everyday. The takeaway is simple: Find your style and honor it. Rock it to the end. “Style is ageless.”

Advanced Style is available on Netflix streaming. It’s the perfect way to spend a dreary, rainy Saturday afternoon should you find yourself in a similar situation in the near future.

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Images via Advanced Style Film.

Hollywood Costume Exhibit

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What: Hollywood Costume Exhibit
Where: The Historic Wilshire May Company Building
Location: 6067 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile
Cost: $20.00


Unlike some years, I’ll remember fondly how I kicked-off 2015…and that’s in-style. Literally. While most likely spent January 1st curled up on the couch nursing their New Year’s Eve hang-over, we found our way through the easily maneuverable LA streets to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences new home on Wilshire Boulevard. Currently inside the historic Wilshire May Company Building, resides a tribute to Hollywood history. The caveat is that this history is told through fabric and shoes, handbags and hats.

Hollywood Costume creates the rare opportunity of introducing movie-lovers to the iconic wardrobe worn by some of the most legendary actors to ever grace the big screen. The exhibition highlights over 150 costumes spanning the Golden Age of Cinema (the late 1920s) to the present day. Its aim is not only to allow the costumes themselves to step out of the screen and into the general public, but to further acquaint fiction with reality by inviting an up-close and personal look at those behind these emblematic looks, the costume designer.

Hollywood Costume ATG FINAL CU{Front entrance.}

The exhibition’s message is clear: without costume designers and what they bring to the table, one of the most pivotal aspects to the cinematic process is valueless. Costumes encourage character development, create a sense of time and place, and most importantly, drive the narrative. Ultimately, without the right look an “actor” is just “an actor,” but with the right attire, an “actor” becomes someone we see as a character, separate from the movie star on-screen. This is why we see Indiana Jones, and not Harrison Ford; why we see Batman, and not Christian Bale; and why we see Dorothy Gale, not Judy Garland.

Hollywood Costume TIX_ATG FINAL{Tickets.}

Like the characteristics of Hollywood itself, the exhibition expressively features a dramatic, and moody approach. Dim, yet strategic lighting showcases the glitz of a dress or the cut of a suit. The room instantly encourages viewers to travel back in time, to when you first met these pieces on-camera. The treat here is not only seeing wardrobe that’s instantly recognizable, but absorbing the words and video interviews of those personally involved with building the looks, reminiscing over how and what it took to create these iconic movie characters.

See the white ivory William Travilla dress that exposed Marilyn Monroe’s legs as she famously stood over the subway grate in The Seven Year Itch (that same dress sold for $4.6 million at a 2011 auction). Stand in front of Julie Andrew’s Mary Poppins costume. See Beyoncé as a “Dreamgirl.” Take a moment to re-visit Julia Roberts’ memorable red evening gown in Pretty Woman. Look at Rocky’s actual boxing shorts. See one of Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra ensembles. Batman, Superman, Captain America, Spiderman, Darth Vader; and Bond…James Bond, all make an appearance. And the highlight, staring at Dorothy’s famous (estimated $3-$4 million dollar-valued) ruby slippers from 1939’s The Wizard of Oz.

It’s hard to capture the breadth of what’s contained in the exhibition in words. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the galleries. I shot the exteriors, but the following images are courtesy of The Academy to give you a taste of what’s inside:

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{Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson / Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater, Titanic, 1997}

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{Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels, The Birds, 1963}

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{Front: Chris Evans as Captain America / Henry Cavill as Superman (2013)
Top: Christopher Reeves as Superman (1978)
Back: Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man / Christian Bale as Batman}

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{Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward, Pretty Woman, 1990}

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{Daniel Craig as James Bond / Harrison Ford as Han Solo / Uma Thurman as The Bride (Kill Bill)}

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{Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network, 2010 / Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez, Argo, 2012}

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{Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones.}

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{A special tribute to the range characters played by the incomparable Meryl Streep. Looks from The Iron Lady, It’s Complicated, Mamma Mia, and Out of Africa.}

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{Amy Adams as Sydney Prosser / Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld, American Hustle, 2013}

Needless to say, it was an unforgettable way to spend my first afternoon of 2015. Nearly three hours later, we emerged, filled with a rich and renewed appreciation for costume design. It’s pretty astounding when you think about how much clothing impacts a film and your memory of it. I don’t necessarily recollect every aspect of a film, but can instantly be transported to that world (or a time in my life) when seeing even a short clip of a sweeping camera movement over an iconic costume.

Hollywood Costume does a phenomenal job of curating and combining my two favorite “F” words: film and fashion. It salutes and elevates key players and key moments in the art of cinema.

Just a note that if you plan to visit Hollywood Costume, that it is a timed exhibition. This means that guests are admitted into the presentation at designated time slots on specific days to prevent over-crowding. It’s encouraged that you buy your tickets in advance on-line. (Hint: use promo code “MayCo” for a special discount).

The exhibition closes Monday, March 2nd.

Get there quick…you won’t regret it!

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{Program.}

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{Full exterior, Wilshire May Co. Building. Saying goodbye after an incredible day.}

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*Interior photo sources via The Academy website press kit.

Highlights

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{A thoughtful gift from a friend’s garden brightened a not so awesome week.}

Not to be a complete Negative Natalie, but this week was pretty crappy in general. Do you ever have that experience of things not going quite so well with the brilliant caveat that it’s all happening at the exact same time? Well, it’s been one of those weeks.

Drama, a general lack of energy, busy at work, topped-off by being dead on “E” and needing to get gas in the middle of the night (against all my principles) are some of the culprits. Even better, your debit card not working at said gas station because of possible fraudulent activity so you have to contact the bank because guess what – you don’t have any cash! Really? Now I’m spending even more time in a gas station…at night…alone…against my principles.

Ladies, I know it can’t just be me. Don’t you get that eerie sense that if you don’t keep alert when you’re in a gas station by yourself late at night with creepy guys wandering around (without cars, no less) that if you close your eyes for a second longer than necessary, that someone is going to come up behind you and kidnap you? Perhaps it’s just one too many scary movies for me but I refuse to become a statewide amber alert.

I’m also beginning to wonder just how much yoga plays a part in maintaining balance in your life. It’s been a month now since I’ve practiced, and while I’m not saying that life itself was any better or worse when I was practicing consistently; I am saying that I think I was somehow different, which made me react to circumstances differently.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do about my yoga practice ever since my membership to my amazing yoga studio expired and quite honestly, I’ve been slacking on dealing with it. (I know, I know.) It’s even crossed my mind to just buy a DVD and do it at home, but I don’t think it would be quite the same. There really is a synergy to yoga when you practice with like-minded people and have your favorite instructor come over and adjust your posture. This, among other things, is something I’ve got to look into ASAP.

On a brighter note, I’ve been reading a really great novel for my book club meeting next week that I can’t wait to sit down and discuss with the gals over a glass of wine. If you’re looking for a new read, And the Mountians Echoed by Khaled Hosseini has been a welcome distraction. I’m only about half way through so I can’t vouch for it entirely; but so far, so good. And while I wasn’t expecting much from the new film, Jobs (wait for a rental), it was fun to go to an advanced screening during a busy week to get away from it all for a while. I will say, that while I didn’t really care for the film, Ashton Kutcher pulled off such a complicated character pretty admirably. If anything, it was astounding to see him transform into that character. He looked so much like Steve Jobs from a certain angle at times that you could’ve fooled me.

The great news is that weekends always put things into perspective and you get the chance to start again. I’m really looking forward to a girl’s night tonight. Redbox, sushi take-out, and good conversation are on the way.

Have a nice weekend!

Highlights

Happy Friday! Boy, am I looking forward to the weekend coming off an exhausting week. Last weekend, I got the worst “stomach bug” (if that’s what you want to call it because I could never actually pinpoint what caused it in the first place) that took a few days to shake. The pain subsided after a day or so, but physically drained me in a way that lingered for days. I don’t get sick or experience ailments very often (aside from my horrible allergies to dust and anything furry) but it’s when you’re under the weather you truly realize that there’s no better reminder to treasure your good health. Needless to say, once this passed, it sure made me grateful for mine!

Though I spent most of last weekend trying to take it easy, I managed to see The Spectacular Now at the Arclight and spent some time perusing Amoeba before the movie started. As far as The Spectacular Now goes, I was pretty disappointed overall. The film was the talk of Sundance (behind Fruitvale Station) this year and the trailer, very enticing. While I personally thought the film wasn’t executed very well (mainly due to casting choices and some script issues) it did make me want to read Tim Tharp’s novel from which the film was adapted. I suspect that the weaknesses in the film are more eloquently developed in the book because it has the substance to make a very rich story.

Otherwise, most nights this week I was simply content to be at home enjoying my new Kindle reading this month’s book club selection in between watching hours (and yes, more hours) of Friday Night Lights. This is the newest Netflix addiction that I am just now catching up on at a speed that’s pretty insane because I love it so much. Yes, I realize this news is about 7 years too late.

I did venture out 2 nights that were the absolute highlights of my week. Meeting a friend to catch-up on some girl talk over much-needed strawberry margaritas (in an awesome pineapple shell no less) was the perfect way to kick-off the work week; and seeing Blackfish last night, a documentary that explores the exploitation and psychology of orca killer whales once captured and trained to entertain millions at SeaWorld. Apparently, Shamu and his peers are a part of some of the biggest cover-ups in modern times.  It certainly sparks a continued debate about removing species from their natural habitat for the sole purpose of human enjoyment. This film is worth a visit to the theater.

While it isn’t expected to be too warm this weekend, the sun seems to be making a solid comeback. The plan is to hit the beach and hang out with my Kindle, my guy, and the ocean.

Have a great weekend!

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{Strawberry margaritas and girl talk at Pink Taco.}

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{New to my collection? Couldn’t pass up on The September Issue on a recent visit to Amoeba.}

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{Starting my first official novel on my new Kindle Paperwhite – And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. So far, so good!}

Highlights

So, we all know it’s well into July. It’s summer. It’s raining?

In what has to be a first in my lifetime as far as I can remember – it’s been raining in LA for the last few days on and off and it’s really throwing me off my game. The caveat is that it’s still been rather hot. My A/C has been on, yet I can hear the faint pitter-patter of raindrops hitting against it. It’s made things all the more strange as I’ve navigated what admittedly has to be a rather forgettable week overall.

A small dilemma that’s been weighing on my mind lately has been what to do about my yoga practice. I’ve been doing yoga on and off for years now and at the beginning of this year, I decided it was time to return to a solid and consistent practice. I scored an awesome Groupon to a new yoga studio nearby. 20 classes for $45! For the last 6 months, I’ve found myself in downward dog nearly every Tuesday night and now that it’s time to purchase a membership, I can’t bring myself to justify the expense. I’m more than happy to purchase classes, but I will have to find another studio within my budget. Membership is a bit pricey, though likely not when you compare it to places, like say, YogaWorks.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m getting Groupons almost every week with the similar appeal to other yoga studios and we have a full-service gym (that’s free) with classes (for a reasonable fee) at work – but I’ve grown to really like this particular studio and my awesome yoga teacher. 6 months ago, I could barely hold plank pose and now I find myself relishing it because I feel how much stronger I now am. It’s empowering when you can literally feel and see progress.

For the time being, I think I’ll give the yoga classes at work a go since they are decently priced, but I will keep an eye out for any other enticing Groupons. As much as I find that I do like doing something good for my body and taking the time to connect with myself, I know the sole way to keep me motivated is to know that I paid for it! I’m not one to waste money.

Despite the crappy weather and saying goodbye to my beloved yoga studio, this week brought a few bright moments.

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{Experimenting with a bold lip to change things up. I don’t usually wear lipstick.}

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{A weeknight trip to the Landmark to see I’m So Excited. Honestly, not Almodóvar’s best film, but a few funny moments.}

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{Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallows. A new kitchen staple.}

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{I made my first full-sized Birchbox purchase (using my reward points – it only cost $12!). It’s my favorite new beauty find, Suki’s Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser.}

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{A moment of sunshine & solitude before the rain.}

Have a good weekend. It looks like LA sunshine is on the way again.