TUTTLE MODE

by James Tuttle

Gentle reader,

Oh, shit!  I just saw a fucking Christmas commercial.  It had all the bells and whistles:  the sparkly white backgrounds, the tinkling music, a red faux-Valentino holiday gown and I think I even heard that jingle bell sound.  I’m now a little anxious that I haven’t yet started chipping away at my ridiculously long Christmas list but I’m going to take a few deep breaths and get back to this week, in which we haven’t even seen Halloween yet.

Smoking is always glamorous in an Ellen von Unwerth photo.

After the fabulous launch party at Beverly Hills’ Taschen bookstore for The Big Penis Book: 3D that basically put Pure Film Creative on the blogging map, I was determined to represent PFC at last Friday’s soirée for Fräulein, Ellen von Unwerth’s photographic study of sexy, fetishy femininity.  I felt quite pleased to have been invited to a party where it appeared that most guests had to shell out $1,000 for a beautifully produced 472-page monograph that included fifteen years of images of gorgeous women from Claudia Schiffer and Kate Moss to French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Christina Aguilera.

The only bookstore in the world where go-go dancing is encouraged.

The color and black and white photos pull the viewer into a fantasyland where girls in lingerie drink, frolic, lounge and seduce.  My favorite series has a glamorous Moulin Rouge/la Belle Époque inspiration but there are also Weimar Republic cabarets and circus freak shows and kinky dinner parties.  The common thread, it seems, is living beautifully and freely in the moment.

More von Unwerth. A definite departure from big penises.

Unlike the Big Penis party, it wasn’t too crowded and my friend D.J. and I could get to the upstairs bar without taking any hostages.  The music was a seductive and superb mix of Lou Reed, Serge Gainsbourg and old Madonna but I was a little surprised by the young, energetic crowd in their bizarre outfits.  The invitation encouraged “dress attire” but who spends a thousand bucks on a fucking book then dresses like an Eighties hooker or Boy George to get it signed by the artist?  When I looked over the press release the next morning and realized that this was a modestly priced “trade edition” for only $69.99, it all made a lot more sense.  Straight people are weird.

D.J., my 'beard' for the evening, and me at Taschen.

Since it was also my birthday, Scott and I later wandered down the street from our place to Beso on Hollywood Boulevard where the celebrating continued.  Most people know this place as Eva Longoria’s restaurant but it’s really a big, beautiful space with terrific food and a fun crowd.  We sat at the bar next to two lovely young ladies, Jackie and Carolina, and ordered a delicious shrimp and chorizo flatbread.  We also had so many cocktails courtesy of Beso’s charming Francis that Scott has had to fill me in on some of the details the next day.  Apparently, we’re all going to Brazil to visit Carolina next spring.  Who knew?

Justin Violini's cover for "The Greater Part of a Year."

In other photography news, my wildly talented friend Justin Violini’s new editorial and portrait series called “The Greater Part of a Year” is taking the internet by storm.  This is a collection of simple black and white photos taken from early spring to late fall of this year and the impact that Justin can create using just natural light and a minimum of props is quite astounding.  He was influenced, in part, by Patti Smith’s story in her recent book Just Kids about her life with Robert Mapplethorpe and their “art student” shoots where the place remained static, causing the various sitters’ personalities to emerge.  Justin is a relatively new talent and I highly recommend getting on the bandwagon now so that you can say, “I knew him when…” in a couple of years.

Detail from the Violini series.

Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock without a laptop, you’ve probably heard about H&M’s latest designer mash-up with Versace that launches on November 19th.  If this is anything like last month’s Missoni for Target fiasco, don’t get too excited because some greedy whores will scoop that shit up and have it on eBay before you’ve had your first cup of coffee.  Now that the look book is out, I’m not sure it’s something to get excited about anyway.

Versace for H&M. Even Madonna wouldn't give a second glance.

“The collection for H&M is the essence of Versace,” Donatella said and, since Versace is usually pretty tacky, I think she’s right on the money.  They’ve brought back the garish colors and baroque prints and splashed them on awkwardly proportioned tops, skirts and dresses.  As expected, the collection is pretty cheap with costume jewelry starting around $20 and topping out at $300 for a studded leather jacket.  I’ve seen a few beautifully styled photos of the pieces in Russian Vogue so I’m not going to say it’s hopeless but things do tend to look better when draped on beautiful girls with immaculate hair and makeup.

Even Versace for H&M looks good in Russian Vogue.

The men’s collection, on the other hand, is ugly across the board.  I haven’t been a big fan of Versace menswear since the early Nineties when Bruce Weber was bringing the hotness in the ad campaigns and, even then, I was probably responding to the imagery and the hunky guys.  H&M is not doing today’s men any favors by turning out this crap, though.  It doesn’t even look good on the models.  They’re also offering some home décor items like pillows and a $150 bedspread so you can make your bedroom look tacky, too.

Versace Men, now (left) and back in the Good Old Days.

Despite the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m going to recommend saving your cash to spend on something good.  For instance, you could get a mid-priced Birkin bag for the price of only, um, eighty-three Versace for H&M leather jackets.  Okay, that’s probably not the best example but you get what I’m saying, right?

Much love,

xxJames