Ballet regulars perusing the invitation for Wednesday evening's New York City Ballet Spring Gala, which was sponsored by Vacheron Constantin, might have noticed that Queen Latifah received top billing. Was the company luring another celebrity to bulk up their board, already sparkling with the presence of Sarah Jessica Parker? Or was the Queen simply a diehard ballet fan, despite her spotty attendance at such events? Turns out the answer was much simpler: since the theme of this year's gala was "American Music Festival," organizers had enlisted Latifah to sing George Gershwin's "The Man I Love," while Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar danced a romantic pas de deux.
From left: Fe Fendi; Altuzarra and Valentino
"Do you think anyone here knows who Queen Latifah is?" one guest whispered to me. I'd say yes, judging from the blonde bouffant in pearls seated in front of me, who whooped it up for the singer like a teenager at a Justin Bieber concert. Other highlights of the evening's program included Jerome Robbins's "Glass Pieces," featuring a let's-get-physical crew of shiny tight-clad men and the world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's "A Place for Us," danced by Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild who are newly engaged. Joseph Altuzarra made his own stage debut, having designed the costumes for the piece.
Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild in costumes by Altuzarra
"We wanted something playful, but American," he explained. "And of course we did a lot of tests because I don't know how to move in those costumes!" Unbeknownst to just about everyone in the audience (including the designer), Peck's strap came undone from its hook and eye 15 seconds before the performance's end. No matter. She brushed off Altuzarra's blushing apology with a smile—it wasn't his fault, after all.
Photos: Julie Scarratt; Paul Kolnik
The mix of Swiss lace with hand painted details gives this crisp cotton dress a cool femininity.
Photo: courtesy of Bottega Veneta
Cecily Brown, Untitled, 2012
When did you start working on the six paintings that make up this show?
I started these two years ago, but the way I work is I start things and then I leave them to start other things. I left these paintings alone for a while before going back because they were making me so uneasy. I needed time to sort of step back from them.
What about them made you uneasy?
It’s kind of a jump for me. Crowds of women are quite a lot more figurative than anything I’ve painted for some time. And even though my whole take on the matter is always that there’s no difference between abstraction and figuration—well, in this case, it feels like there is. For me, it became unfamiliar territory once faces appeared in the paintings.
The way they’re arranged in the paintings, it almost feels like you’re combing your memory for faces—some are more in focus, others less so.
Right. Actually, I’m in the middle of titling them, and I decided to call one work Name That Tune. My husband asked why, and I explained that it was exactly this sort of feeling—when someone feels vaguely familiar, and faces come and go, in and out of focus. Maybe it’s just my early-onset Alzheimer’s [laughs], but in my more abstract work I’ve always liked the sense of mind and eye collaborating to complete the thought. Ideally, there’s something transporting about looking at them.
Did you call up any of these faces from your own past?
They’re not faces of real people, but maybe they’re faces from art. I was painting 13 faces in one group and approaching each in different ways. I’ve always loved Edvard Munch’s women, so I’d paint one like Munch, another like James Ensor, one like Lucian Freud, and then maybe another from memory. But the funny thing about when you’re painting figuratively, you sort of feel slightly more awake in the real world. Every time you look at someone, part of your brain is trying to record and store it: that’s what a cheek looks like from that angle, or those are eyelashes or freckles or whatever. In a really nice way, you feel like everything is turned up high visually.
Cecily Brown, Untitled, 2012
So you were a bit odd socially during this period?
Yeah. [laughs] If you catch me staring closely at your fingernails, you know why.
Why did you decide to focus on nudes of women?
That’s kind of a tricky one—it seems like such a loaded topic. There were moments when I worried about whether these are positive views of women. I think that my being conflicted about making nudes of women comes across in the paintings. I don’t even feel like they are really nudes because while there’s plenty of skin, there’s not really anything titillating. They feel melancholic, for the most part.
How do you feel about the idea of the ‘male gaze’?
As a woman, you’re used to being looked at in person—well, not as much now as before [laughs]—just like, as a painter, you’re aware of the idea of the male gaze in art. It’s a complicated issue. I never thought I shouldn’t look at a painting of a woman just because it was made by a man. I always looked rather naively, and I always wanted to make paintings that stood apart from any kind of dogma. I do think we’re sort of beyond all that now. Mostly, I’ve just always wanted to keep making work that’s in opposition to whatever came before in my career. That’s why I have a hankering for the figurative now.
Your last solo show in New York, which was mostly abstract and expansive rather than figurative and tightly edited like this one, was five years ago. A lot’s changed for you since then. For one, you had a baby.
Exactly, but I don’t think you want to call these the ‘motherhood pictures’. [laughs] They’re not exactly warm and fuzzy. But the way I work now, it’s a bit schizophrenic. Before, I never really had a domestic side at all. Now I have to think about things like lunch and laundry.
Does your daughter Celeste paint?
Yes, but probably no more than most four-year olds.
She doesn’t have a defined style yet?
No, but if you ask her what something is, she’ll tell you, “It’s abstract.”
Images: © Cecily Brown. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever
Punk may be quite literally in Vogue right now, but for Gill Linton, founder of the high-end vintage retail site Byronesque.com, it’s a culturally significant movement long worthy of the spotlight. And let’s not leave out the Teddys and Mods, Skinheads and New Romantics, all of which inform her approach. “Whether on or offline, vintage stores tend to be so kitschy and unsophisticated,” says Linton. “Byronesque is about elevating the experience.” Tapping into a network of acclaimed vintage boutiques like London’s One of A Kind, Paris’s Quidam de Revel, and New York’s now defunct The New World Order, the site offers covetable pieces like an Azzedine Alaia motorcycle dress from the late ’80s, a black velvet Thierry Mugler bra top and matching pencil skirt, as well as re-issues of Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood’s “Tits” tee (above), famously worn by Siouxsie Sioux. Byronesque also features thought-provoking editorials to put these clothes and accessories into context, such as a story on scars by the artist Jake Chapman and a video interview with Nenah Cherry on Ari Up’s singular style. “Right now the dominant culture is fast,” says Linton. “I wanted to create something that inspired.”
Photo: courtesy of Byronesque
Clare Bowen in Jared Moshe's Dead Man's Burden
In the opening scene of Dead Man’s Burden, you’re holding a gun and acting very unlike your Nashville character Scarlett O’Connor. What drew you to the role of Martha?
I found this amazing script with a strong female character. It was really exciting getting to ride horses every day and being out in the wilderness, and to learn about a totally different culture. The writing was so beautiful and the landscape sounded so terrifying; I just wanted it.
Did you have to learn how to ride a horse?
No, I used to muster the cattle before I started acting full-time. I actually ended up working with a wrangler —Tom Berto who did The Missing with Cate Blanchett—because he was a bit short-handed. We drove cattle on the edges of inland Australia, in the mountains and stuff like that; you drive them from station to station. It’s kind of an unusual job, not many people do it any more. So that was lovely, I got to be with beautiful animals every day and wonderful people.
What was the most challenging part of filming?
I didn’t learn about the Civil War growing up in school and I had to make sure that I knew what I was talking about. It was such an honor as a foreigner to be given that role—I just had to make sure that I was doing what had to be done, that I knew my shit, basically.
A lot of people may not know you’re from Australia. How did you nail the Southern accent that you have in the movie and in Nashville?
Thank you! Well, Martha’s Texan. I love Westerns. I didn’t watch a lot of television growing up, but I did watch a lot of films. My favorites were Fried Green Tomatoes, things like that. I didn’t have any accent training, so I learned by listening, which is just the way it works for me. So I don’t know the technical stuff, but I know what it sounds like and what it feels like, that’s kind of the way I work.
How did you get involved with Nashville?
After I did Dead Man’s Burden, I was back in LA for about three days and I was picked up by a wonderful agency who has just been fantastic, and they said “Well you’d better come back out for pilot season.” About two weeks in I got Callie Khouri’s script for Nashville, and I thought, Oh my goodness, this is amazing. It was kind of that same thing with Dead Man’s Burden. I thought, I am just going to have to go in and be really relaxed and loose and just do it. I came in with Scarlett sounding the way she sounds and they kept it, they kept her from Mississippi.
I love the music on the show too. Do you like country music?
Yeah, mostly love bluegrass. I didn’t know a country song to sing when I went into the casting so I just sang an Australian folk song. I had to learn a country music song for the second time I went in to sing for Callie. I sang, “In The Arms of The Angels” by Sarah Machlachlan.
What kind of music do you listen to in your free time?
Everything, I love country. There’s nothing I don’t love. Big mix. Hank Williams, Edith Piaf, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James. Elvis. I love Elvis, that’s like the Bible. Billie Holliday, Elvis Costello. T-Bone [Burnett]’s stuff is so beautiful. I like The Lumineers, Edward Sharpe, Mumford and Sons—that stuff as well. I am really an open book when it comes to music, there’s nothing that I won’t at least listen to.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Nashville?
Gosh, sing, perform; just hang out. There’s so much to do. I’ve found a wonderful place where I can ride horses—they’re all rescues—so I get to take one of them out for a few hours every now and then.
Do you and the other actors ever perform off screen?
Yeah we do, it’s quite fun. I like to do as much for charity as I can. We’ve been accepted into this amazing culture here. Some of the most talented musicians in the world live here, and when one of the most talented musicians in the world asks to write with you, or asks to sing with you, or asks you to sing on one of their songs, it’s one of the biggest honors in the world. I got a call from Elvis Costello the other day. I was like, Are you joking? That’s the kind of thing we do here, it’s just the biggest privilege.
Bowen in Nashville
Would you ever want to put out a solo album of originals or covers?
Yeah, definitely. I’m a big collaborator, I don’t think I am genius enough to put my own entire album out of entire music. I’m a social creature. It’s like having a party on your own—I’m not ready for that yet, I’m not experienced enough to do it on my own yet. I’m writing with my brother, Timothy Bowen, who’s visiting me at the moment. And finding songs because there are so many talented people out there and so when they give you song it’s such an honor, but I think that’s the way I work. T-Bone and I are working on some stuff and that’s exciting.
How is Nashville different from LA?
It’s the South, so it’s very different in that respect. There’s definitely something to be said for Southern hospitality, but then again when I went to LA people were so lovely, everyone’s very welcoming there as well. I think people are more slowed down here; people take time to appreciate stuff. I find it to be more of a creative atmosphere here, but maybe that’s just me and maybe I haven’t been exposed to that yet [in LA]. It’s quieter out here and there is a wonderful appreciation for other people’s art, which I think is important.
Do you relate to Scarlett or is she very different from you?
It’s a bit of both; there are a lot of things that Scarlett’s going through, especially in the pilot, which we kind of went through at the same time. It’s difficult if you’re pursuing a similar career with someone that you’re close to. She’s on this huge journey and so am I, not just on a relationship level, on a whole life thing. It’s a metamorphosis, getting validation, ‘Oh god I can do this.’ Now at the end of the season, Scarlett has a little bit of the ambition that I have. She’s in it now, so we’re a lot more similar now than we were in the beginning. She still has a lot of growing to do.
What’s your relationship with Connie Britton?
She’s so lovely. It’s wonderful to have, a seasoned professional such as her, she’s just a really wonderful person to talk to, to hang out with. I really enjoy her company immensely. I’ve sort of learned a lot by watching her, I didn’t know a lot about American television, but Friday Night Lights is really, really popular in Australia. She’s a really lovely person and you know I think she’s really taken the role of Rayna on beautifully.
Has the show been renewed for a second season?
I think we would have heard if we had gotten an official pickup. It’s sort of a bit of a secret at the moment, but we’re very excited.
Photos: Dead Man's Burden: Philip DeJong; Nashville: Katherine Bomboy-Thornton/ ABC Media
What: A lunch for and discussion of The Great Gatsby, hosted by Tony Marx, David Remnick and Anna Wintour and sponsored by Tiffany & Co and MAC Cosmetics.
Where: The opulent Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Trustees Room at the New York Public Library, which has first editions of every F. Scott Fitzgerald novel in its collection.
When: May 2
Who: Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton and Tobey Maguire, all of whom participated in a panel moderated by Remnick and Dr. Amanda Foreman.
Why: In case you haven't heard, Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby is the most anticipated film of the season. So what fun to pick up delicious behind-the-scenes tidbits. Did you know Luhrmann decided to adapt the book into a film while listening to an audiobook version on his iPod, mid-ride on the Trans-Siberian railroad, with two bottles of Australian red wine as his companions? Or that Maguire was relieved to have some scenery to chew? ("This is just really selfish actor stuff, but I don't want to just be standing in the room watching people," he recalled telling Baz of his character Nick Carraway.) Or that Fisher tapped into her personal life to play Myrtle, Tom Buchanan's tragic mistress? ("I relate to Myrtle, having dated a bad boy before who was emotionally unavailable and you're searching for a way to change them.") Wonder which former boyfriend or husband she was referring to.
What: The 2013 Whitney Art Party sponsored by Max Mara.
Where: Skylight at Moynihan Station; the former New York City Post Office turned ultimate party space.
When: Wednesday, May 1st
From left: Hannah Bronfman; Olivia Wilde
Who: A slew of dolled up celebrities, socials, art world doyennes and fashion folks, including Olivia Wilde, Lake Bell and Giovanna Battaglia, each of whom showed up in head-to-toe Max Mara. Girls actor Adam Driver checked out the art up for auction while others in the crowd checked out model Jourdan Dunn, who looked stunning in a white cut-out dress by Alexander Wang. Hannah Bronfman, whose boyfriend Brendan Fallis kept the party going from the DJ booth, stood out in a lime green leather Max Mara skirt and golden appliqué eyeshadow.
Why: Hosted annually by Whitney Contemporaries, the museum's group of young collectors and art enthusiasts, the party debuted a new partnership this year with website Art.sy. Each of the artworks up for grabs appeared online, allowing guests a preview. "There's an amazing piece by Kim McCarty that I really want to bid on," exclaimed one partygoer, "but I have to run out to a dinner!" Alas, there's always next year!
Photo: Billy Farrell Agency
Define your style in three words:
Temperamental, disorganized, eclectic.
Skinny ripped jeans, studded ankle boots, T-shirt, blazer.
Alexa Chung and Poppy Delevingne
Balmain leather baseball jacket, vintage Rolling Stones T, Chanel Studio 54-inspired jumpsuit, Isabel Marant floral pants, vintage Pucci shift dress, Cobra Society boots, Massimo Dutti Taupe Silk Dress.
Anything by Tabitha Simmons or Charlotte Olympia.
Jewelry by Dominic Jones, Lulu Frost or Jennifer Meyer. Bags by Meli Melo, Chanel or Corto Moltedo.
Leather pants and not a lot else.
Best recent discovery:
Hula hooping—turns out I'm extremely decent at it. And my new favorite artist, Urs Fischer. He's unreal.
Fashion: Barney's and Massimo Dutti in NYC. Interiors: Andrew Martin in London. Beauty: Chanel beauty counter anywhere in the world. Books: Colette in Paris or Fred Segal in LA.
Balmain leather baseball jacket
Style pet peeve:
Marlene Dietrich, Stephanie Seymour, Jane Birkin, Bianca Jagger, Amanda Harlech.
Tequila on the rocks.
Tequila on the rocks.
T-shirts and leather
Restaurants: Balthazar in NYC, LouLou's in London, Hotel Costes in Paris, Chateau Marmont in LA. Bars: Boom Boom Room in NYC, Scotch in London, Rasputin in Paris, The Spare Room in LA.
Warm weather must-have:
A base tan.
The Dangene Skinovator line
Her latest step toward achieving that lofty goal is Dangene Skinovator, her new skin care line. The three-piece collection includes a foaming cream cleanser and a cactus peptin-based gel moisturizer that imparts a silky finish. The star, however, is the “10-in-1” antioxidant-based, anti-glycation serum. “This is the magic,” says Dangene, holding a bottle of the clear amber spray. “It hydrates, exfoliates, brightens, calms. I swear, I can feel its energy in my hands.”
Take-home bottles of the products are now included in her facials, but non-Dangenites can buy them too, by calling 212-249-8172.
What: Creative Time’s annual Spring Gala, honoring Julian Schnabel.
When: Wednesday, April 30
From left: Julian Schnabel and Mario Sorrenti; Lindsey Wixson
Who: The art world’s all-stars—including Laurie Anderson, Urs Fischer, and Beth Rudin DeWoody—plus Diane Von Furstenberg, Mario Sorrenti, Lindsey Wixon, and Marisa Tomei.
Where: On the Brooklyn waterfront at the iconic former Domino Sugar Factory, which is slated for a dramatic redevelopment. (Outside, union protests greeted gala attendees with the symbolic inflatable rat, eliciting at least one overheard art-world joke: “Did you see the Katharina Fritsch on your way in?”) Until that work begins, however, we hear that Creative Time will have the run of the cavernous space for its public art projects. On this evening, massive Schnabel canvases hung on the walls.
Why: Along with the noisy crowd present, the Schnabel kids (Vito, Lola, Stella) all gathered to toast Papa Julian, who informed those who hadn’t heard that May Andersen, his girlfriend of one year, would be contributing to the brood. Guess he wants to remind us he’s still prolific as ever.
Photos: Billy Farrell/BFAnyc.com