Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Perfect Cocktail: The Marriage of The Banana and Mad Men

Coming soon to a mall near you will be the sixties style fashions from AMC's popular hit series Mad Men. Emmy winning costume designer Jane Bryant teamed with the venerable retail chain to design a 65 item collection that includes everything from suits and dresses to men's hats and a leopard coat. I have always loved the tailored classics of the sixties and for those of us who love nostalgia, great lines and retro fashions, it's a closet godsend.

The collection sprung out of a friendship with Banana creative director Simon Keene and Bryant who clearly appreciate the intrinsic value of a good white shirt. And it's all here -- the two button men's suit, trench coats, high waisted skirts and leopard print pumps just to name a few. Items will range from 198.00 for a faux leopard coat to 450.00 for a men's suit. Information on the collection is  available on Facebook  and the AMC website and for those of you on Gilt Groupe, the fashions will also be offered here on Monday, July 25th for 36 hours beginning at noon - a full three weeks before the fashions hit the stores.

This is not the first time Mad Men mania has influenced styles -- Brooks Brothers designed a men's suit last year and Nailtini teamed with Bryant to come up with nail polish colors such as the Garden Party Collection below.

Throw on a cluster of pearls and leather gloves and you too can channel your inner Betty or Joan. Toss on a crisp white shirt and a trilby hat for a Sterling Cooper/Don Draper look when the collection hits stores August 10th.

Thankfully we have the Banana to remind us of all things Madison Avenue sixties as  Season Five series will not resume until 2012. Until then, get your fix with some Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies and Dean Martin television show reruns.

And speaking of Mad Men, stay tuned for my interview/Array Magazine cover story with the show's Bryan Batt (who played Salvatore Romano, closeted art director) and his upcoming design book big, Easy Style (Clarkson Potter, October, 2011). He is thoroughly charming, entertaining and very multi-talented and if you haven't read it, I highly recommend his first book/loving and hilarious tribute to his late mother, She Ain't Heavy, She's My Mother as well as his New Orleans store Hazelnut. I just hope the powers that be at Mad Men (are you listening Matt Weiner?) bring him back on the show next year. As Batt noted, "Well Matt says my character is not dead" which is always a good sign.

Photo Credits: Banana Republic, Clarkson Potter

Sunday, July 17, 2011

For the love of Aston Martin

Maybe I have viewed one too many James Bond films, but I have always had a love affair with with an Aston Martin (and throw in Audi, Mercedes and Jag too while you are at it). One of the first films I recall seeing as a child was Goldfinger and images of the sleek, racy and chic James Bond car of choice have stayed with me to this day.

For the l964 film Goldfinger, production designer Ken Adam designed the gadget laden, hand built and customized DB5 as the ultimate dream adventure car complete with everything a member of the British intelligence could want. Sophisticated, elegant and ultra stylish, the automobile with the combo platter of Italian design mixed with British engineering featured all the accoutrements for high level spy games -- a honing device complete with radar style tracking screen, rotating license plates, oil spray, smoke screen, bullet proof shield, front firing machine guns and a tire shredder --reminiscent of the chariot wheels from Ben Hur.

Bullet proof shield

Ben Hur style tire shredders

Ejector seat

Automobiles in the sixties were pure status symbols and none more so than the Aston Martin. And the fact that the venerable car manufacturer only built a thousand  at a cost of $4300 pounds or so during the early sixties made it all the more enviable. Paul McCartney certainly thought so and immediately purchased one after the film's debut. Today Bond alum Pierce Brosnan drives a silver Aston Martin Vanquish (reportedly a gift from his 007 days) while other famous owners have included Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, Rowan Atkinson, Jennifer Lopez and Prince Charles who converted his 38 year old classic to run on bioethanol fuel distilled from surplus British wine. (Apparently the car averages ten miles a gallon which is 4.5 bottles of wine). Royal watchers will no doubt recognize the car as the getaway mobile recently used by Prince William and Kate Middleton after their wedding.

Prince Charles and his Aston Martin DB6
The Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge's car of choice on their wedding day
Pierce Brosnan in his Aston Martin Silver Vanquish

The 1964 DB5 used in Goldfinger and Thunderball was sold at auction last year to a collector from Ohio for 2.6 million pounds (the original was purchased for $12,000 in l969).  Only four were built for the film and one was stolen at an airport hangar in Boca Raton in l997 with a rumored insurance payout to be in the neighborhood of 4.2 million (note to police, it's not in my garage). While we mere mortals do not need the more expensive tricked out version (although there are days I would love to own an ejector seat), today's Aston Martin will set you back 200,000 with the Vantage V8 (my fantasy vehicle of choice) a bargain at 120-133,000 (note to self, buy lotto ticket).

I'd rather have a V8: The Aston Martin Vantage S Coupe V8
The DB series was named after David Brown, head of Aston Martin from 1947-1972 and the modified version designed by special effects wizard John Stears also appeared in Goldeneye, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Die Another Day, Tomorrow Never Dies and Casino Royale (and for a piece of Bond trivia, the steering wheel appears on the left). Aston Martin made another cinematic appearance recently in the Pixar 2011 film Cars 2 as Finn McMissile and aptly voiced by British actor Michael Caine.

Daniel Craig's Aston Martin for Casino Royale

Brosnan's Aston Martin for Goldeneye

Sean Connery's memorable aerial entrance to his DB5 in 1965's Thunderball

V12 Vanquish as seen in Die Another Day

Cars 2 Finn McMissile

Dubbed as the world's most famous car, I clearly have ride lust for an Aston Martin. And with top speeds that can hit up to 145 mph, my lead feet would be quite happy.

To read more, check out the Aston Martin website.

And a special thanks to my friend and designer Joe Ruggiero who turned me on to the website Paradise Leased, literally a treasure trove of history, architecture and people of historic Hollywood. Wonderful!

Photo Credits: MGM, Aston Martin, Pixar