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Ultrasuede: A Flashback to the 70s with Halston

If disco fever, Studio 54, and pillbox hats are more than a distant memory, put on your Halston dress and go see the film, Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston.

Whitney Sudler-Smith and Julie Spira

This week, the Costume Council of LACMA along with support from?Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth and David Netto, Katherine Ross, Cameron Silver, Angelique Soave, and Alexandra Von Furstenberg, presented the west coast premiere of the documentary film by?Whitney Sudler-Smith. Following the film, guests were treated to a reception in the Los Angeles Times Center Court at the museum.

We had the opportunity to remember Halston, America’s first celebrity designer, and hum a few songs, including “Big Shot” by Billy Joel and “Le Freak (Freak Out)” by Chic. Joel included a line in his song, “You were all impressed with your Halston dress” in his 52nd Street album and Chic’s song was inspired by a night the disco band couldn’t make it past the roped off line at Studio 54 for their own appearance.

It was Halston, they said, who gave birth to ultrasuede in the U.S. It was Halston, himself who said, “You are as good as the people you dress.” I arrived wearing the only ultrasuede dress I could find in my closet.

Authors, Judith Krantz and Julie Spira

The film starts with Liza Minnelli, wearing her velvet Halston pants, talking about her personal relationship with the designer. Minnelli wore a yellow Halston dress when she accepted the Academy Award for Cabaret. We are reminded that Halston created the first pillbox hat for Jackie Kennedy for the Presidential Inauguration.

From his start at the Halston department at Bergdorf Goodman, where women were required to wear hats, through the decadent days at Studio 54, the film covered it all. Clearly, the 70s belonged to Halston.

Among the others interviewed in the film, were?Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field, who shared her story on how she dressed Sarah Jessica Parker in Halston in an episode where Carrie was dating a politician. Fields said, “It was a play on Jackie O.” Angelica Huston shared some of her runway moments and we

Other attendees included designers James Galanos and Kevan Hall, author Judith Krantz, and Alexandra von Furstenberg, whose mother Diane appeared in the film.

FIDM Debut 2010 Runway Show

It’s on the calendar every year. Those with a passion for fashion on the west coast anxiously await for the Fashion Week every March.

One of the treats leading up to Fashion Week is the FIDM Debut Runway show. It’s an exciting time for the students at FIDM, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. ?Over?10,000 people view the invitation-only runway show over a period of 3 days.

I attended the dress rehearsal along with other members of the Costume Council of LACMA as one our annual events.

The theme this year included FIDM’s Theatre Costume Design presentation: “FIDM goes to the movies – A Tribute to Judy and Liza,” complete with 2 Judy and Liza impersonators, a chorus line, ?and film clips from their famous movies including, Easter Parade and The Wizard of Oz.

The event is supported by Industry Leaders and the business community. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the FIDM Scholarship Foundation. The event showcases exciting and unique collections from FIDM’s graduating students in Fashion Design, Theatre Costume Design, Interior Design, Textile Design, and Graphic Design Advanced Study Program.

Along with the excitement and festivities for Fall Fashion Week scheduled for March 17-24, 2010, I think I’ll do a bit of spring cleaning in my closet.

The September Issue: Anna Wintour & the Making of Vogue


Julie Spira?Producer and Director, R.J. Cutler?Project Runway's Producer, Jane Cha

Julie Spira ? Producer and Director, R.J. Cutler ? Project Runway's Producer, Jane Cha

Summer is officially over. The fall social season is now in full-swing and the mailbox is once again full with invitations to social events and charity events.?

It started on Tuesday, September 8, 2009, right after Labor Day, with the special screening and west coast premiere of The September Issue: Anna Wintour & the Making of Vogue, held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

The event was hosted by LACMA’s Director’s Circle, Atelier – an acquisitions group for the Department of Costumes & Textiles, ?as well as supporters including Willow Bay, Colleen Bell, Eva Chow, Lisa Eisner, James G. Galanos Foundation, Patrick Herning, Lisa Love, Katherine Ross, Suzanne Sapperstein, Florence Sloan, and Elizabeth Wiatt.

The film, directed and produced by R.J. Cutler, was presented to a sold-out crowd in the Bing Auditorium. Following the screening, we were treated to a private cocktail party in the Los Angeles Times Central Court at LACMA.

Most of us in attendance had already seen the film, The Devil Wears Prada. This was the real thing up-close and personal.?I am pleased to say that I loved The September Issue. The film highlights the making of ?the 2007 issue of Vogue, which was the largest one ever published. ?R.J. Cutler did a terrific job showing us an inside look at the magazine?as well as both the personal and business side of their very successful the Editor-in Chief.?

At one point in the film, Wintour was described as the most powerful woman in the United States. She has been at the helm for twenty years.

The film has been nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance 2009 Festival and will officially open in Los Angeles on Friday, September 11, 2009.

Julie Spira is the author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. She is a member of the board of directors at the Costume Council at LACMA. Visit her at

Valentino: The Last Emperor, West Coast Premiere

Members of the Costume Council along with guests and a celebrity crowd came for the film debut dressed in style (many wearing the signature Valentino red).

The film, directed by Matt Tyrnauer, documents two and a half years in the life of the couture designer just prior to his retirement and includes highlights of Valentino’s 45th anniversary celebration before he made his grand exit. Even Valentino, himself, said his 45th gala would be unrepeatable.

Celebrities in attendance included Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Hathaway, Joan Collins, Rick, Kathy, and Nicky Hilton, Rita Wilson, and Janice Dickinson. Even Besty Bloomingdale attended the event dressed in a classic Valentino red two-piece outfit.? Hathaway looked absolutely stunning in her black sequin dress.

Proceeds from this event will benefit LACMA?s Costume Council.

The film opens to the public in Los Angeles on April 3rd at the Laemmle Theatre.

Costume Council Attendees

Costume Council Attendees

An Evening at Giorgio Armani

It was a red carpet evening at the Giorgio Armani boutique on Rodeo Drive where members of the Costume Council of LACMA were treated to a private viewing of the Armani designed iconic gowns of the past and present.

Eleven magnificent couture pieces were on display including a stunning black gown with a train worn by Charlize Theron which was one of my favorites. This piece was the designer’s first Red Carpet gown from his Prive collection at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2005. As you walk up the staircase the first gown you see is a drop dead gorgeous royal blue piece worn by Anne Hathaway at the Golden Globe Awards in 2009. ?Included in the collection is a gown worn by Alicia Keys at the recent 2009 Academy Awards which came from the Giorgio Armani Prive Spring-Summer 2008 Collection, as well as gowns worn by Heidi Klum at the 2008 Emmy Awards; Halle Barre at the 2003 Screen Actors Guild Awards; and Kristin Davis at the Golden Globe Awards in 2002.

The crowd mingled over champagne and tray passed?hors d’oeuvres?and even the men enjoyed the upstairs collection of menswear by the famed designer. Many came clothed in Armani designed pieces to celebrate the evening. The collection will be available for viewing at the Rodeo Drive boutique through the end of March.

FIDM’s DEBUT 2009 Runway Show.

Members of the Costume Council of LACMA were invited to a private dress rehearsal of FIDM’s debut 2009 runway fashion show, held in Santa Monica, CA.

The presentation featured “Chairing Styles” a collaboration between graduates in Interior, Textile, and Fashion Design, as well as FIDM’s Theatre Costume Design presentation: FIDM Dances With the Stars with dancers doing the polka, tango, disco and more. The event highlighted?Project Runway’s ?winner Leanne Marshall and her designs, and ended with a glittering tribute to Mattel’s Barbie, celebrating five decades of fashion and fun as we followed Barbie around the world from Milan to St. Tropex, to The Palace of Versailles to Hong Kong, and eventually back to Malibu, CA.

It was a glamorous event with over fifty models and twenty dancers at the invitation-only event where designers from FIDM talked about their Barbie memories.

Lights, Camera, Costumes

The 17th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition at FIDM

FIDMIt was a very special day for members of the Costume Council at LACMA where several of us were treated to a private tour of FIDM’s 17th annual Art of Motion Picture Design Exhibition the day before the official opening of the two month show.

The exhibition, held at the FIDM Museum & Galleries, highlights actual costumes from the most memorable films from 2008 including The Duchess, Valkyrie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and over 20 other films which were on display for our viewing pleasure.

The free exhibition runs through March 29th and group tours are available.

From Burlesque to Couture: The Ultimate Show and Tell

It was a fun night at LACMA recently when the Costume Council hosted the elegant Liz Goldwyn, author of Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens. ?A documentary film of the same name appeared on HBO in 2005. ?Liz has been collecting burlesque costumes from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, and some pieces from her beautiful collection were on display for us to see. ?

We were enriched by her?in depth presentation on the costumes of the Burlesque Queens, followed by a discussion with Dita von Teese, best known for her strip tease perfomances in a martini glass.

The grand finale was the introduction of “Ava Garter” who captured the crowd with her performance. The evening ended with a cocktail party and book signing of both Goldwyn’s?Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens?and Von Teese’s book Burlesque and the Art of the Tease.

OPENING NIGHT: GLAMOUR GIRLS with Celebrity Photographer Patrick McMullan

Recently I attended the opening night event for the Costume Council at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LACMA, which featured celebrity photographer, Patrick McMullan who was signing his beautiful book,?Glamour Girls.

The book has over 1000 photos of classic beauties such as Kim Basinger, Raquel Welch, and Gwen Stefani, all photographed by McMcullan. ?Filled personal with quotes from the women he photgraphed on what is a true Glamour Girl, with an introduction from Amy Fine Collins – who lists the top ten ways to know if you are a Glamour Girl, many of us took the test that night.

Patrick McMullan and Julie Spira

Patrick McMullan and Julie Spira

Dressed in a Nicole Miller cocktail dress, the cameras shot away as I enjoyed the festivities. It appears many of us passed the test and can now add “Glamour Girl” to our credits. ?The book is now a favorite on my coffee table and would make a perfect hostess or holiday gift. ?And just how to Patrick McMullan autograph my book? ?”To Julie – A Very Glam Gal!”

Costume Council Opening Night

Costume Council Opening Night

Photo Credit: Patrick McMullan