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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.

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

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.

Julie Spira Bio


Julie Spira The Cyber-Dating Expert??


She started her career as a radio show host and voice-over announcer at WAAL in Binghamton, NY where she was the first female announcer at the FM rock station. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Television-Radio from the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY.

Spira served as a top executive for several leading-edge Internet and communications companies; and today, as a cyber-dating expert, she shares her stories to empower singles on the Internet dating scene. She is a gifted mentor and sits on the board of several charitable organizations in Los Angeles.

Spira is the author of ?the Amazon best-seller,?The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online?