by James Tuttle

Gentle reader,

I thought I’d venture back into treacherous HGTV territory this week to share my experience of the new series HGTV’d.  You see, hunky handyman Carter Oosterhouse was the featured designer this time around and there was a high probability that he might take his shirt off because that’s an important part of any television handyman’s job description.

Carter Oosterhouse demonstrates what real men use to trim their chest hair.

The show was moving along in typical HGTV style with the cheesy host, overexcited homeowners, and questionable design aesthetic.  I was able to keep it together because there was still, you know, Carter at the end of the tunnel.  Then, at the six-minute mark and very first commercial break, the perky host asked, “Can Carter live up to the homeowners’ expectations?”  This was immediately followed by a preview clip of the lady of the house screaming, “Oh my GOD! I LOVE it!” as she walks into the newly designed room.  Really?  I give up now.  Where is the suspense?  Where is the drama?  What’s the point of waiting around for another twenty-four minutes to see what they’ve already shown us?  We could be developing vaccines for rare diseases or watching porn or doing the many other things one does when not watching stupid home design shows.  I didn’t even stick around to see if Carter took his fucking shirt off.

Remember “The Waltons”? American family values just keep increasing.

So, the obvious second choice would be a show about polygamist Mormons, right?  I’m not a regular viewer of TLC’s Sister Wives, but Killough raved about it so much last season that I thought I’d give it a shot.  Kody Brown and his four wives appear to have relocated to Las Vegas for the third season, which entails each wife now living in a different house.  Some of the wives enjoy the one-on-one attention they get when the husband is at their pad and others seem lonelier with the new arrangement but that might be a side effect of living in under-furnished, stiflingly beige surroundings.  They’re already dowdy, overweight and Mormon, for Christ’s sake!  Now they have to live in Las Vegas in beige tract homes with blond wood kitchen cabinets and paper plates.  That last detail alone would make a bitch crazy.  Well, it would make me crazy.

Janelle Brown’s house.  If there’s two pickups in the driveway, don’t bother knockin’.

The first episode reveals a complicated world where the idea of who is pregnant first and most recently establishes some kind of pecking order amongst the wives and offspring that is a bit creepy.  Then they have their own church service because there are no other Mormon congregations in Las Vegas, I guess, but a few of the sixteen kids don’t want to come because they think it’s messed up that they’re filming their pretend church ceremony.  They’re very honest and very human and loving people, though, and it’s hard not to root for them to make it all work.

By the end of the episode, I wasn’t totally on board with one guy having a bunch of wives but there are a lot of people out there who aren’t exactly comfortable with two guys getting married so we might be in the same matrimonial boat.  Maybe we should just let people do what they want, as long as it isn’t hurting anyone else, and call it a damn day.

When their combined weight reaches a ton, they’re adding another wife.

Just so you don’t think I’m always sitting around watching TV whenever I’m not on a horse, I put on a jacket and ventured out to David LaChapelle’s Tuesday night opening at L.A.’s Prism gallery at the behest of my crazy cohort D.J. Martinez.  We had a very strong drink at the lovely Eveleigh next door and then ventured over into a virtual sea of D.J.’s fabulous friends and other fashion-savvy types.  I know the dollar bill negative photos were supposed to be the big bang but I totally fell in love with another series from 2006-7 displayed alongside.  These “Recollections in America” photos featured some down-home types (and planted models) indulging in alcohol and firearms in wonderfully twisted ways.

LaChapelle’s “Good Times” (2006) is ironically reflective of the party that celebrated it.

But now on to The Jazz Age and Midcentury Modern, two very strong and somewhat conflicting points of reference at the women’s collections shown in Milan this last week.  Gucci opened Milan Fashion Week with a dark, glamorous explosion of hard-edged Art Deco-inspired flapper dresses and masculine suit separates that is my favorite collection so far this year.  The black/white/gold pieces will get the most mileage in editorials and red carpets but the green was a daring and much needed accent.

Gucci spring/summer 2012.

The Twenties vibe continued at Etro with drop-waist dresses and tantalizing cutouts but it was the amazing Deco-inspired adaptation of the traditional paisleys that really killed.  Color palettes of pastels and tangerine balanced out the black and white combinations beautifully and the introduction of a 1920s Nile green made my heart sing a little.  Silent star Clara Bow would have loved it, too.

Etro spring/summer 2012 and “It Girl” Clara Bow on the right.

Close to this inspiration was the line that Antonio Marras did based on Jean Genet’s play “The Maids” in which two depraved 1930s domestics dress up in their mistresses’ clothes before finally murdering them.  Fun, right?

On the Midcentury side was the 1950s inspiration for Sunday’s Dolce and Gabbana show that included lots of big, crazy prints of vegetables and things.  It was definitely fun and upbeat but it was also a little silly and I hope people don’t suddenly think it’s a good idea to run around in a dress covered with pictures of huge red peppers.

Also bringing a 50s feel was Prada’s line of prints and pleats and boxy jackets that took a while to warm up to, except for a flight of pleated color-block dresses with which I instantly fell in love.  When I realized that the collection was inspired by “The Automobile Age,” the naugahyde skirts and flame motifs that were even translated into some crazy shoes began to make sense but I’m still not down with some of the frumpy silhouettes.  Incidentally, Monday’s Giorgio Armani show also had a 50s idea with cropped pants and some of the total ensembles but it was clearly not the main inspiration.

Prada (left), and Dolce & Gabbana.

If these bitches in Milan are right, it looks like the Recession is over.  You can’t be running around in the glamazon clothes they showed over the last week when the world economy is teetering on the brink of disaster, after all.  Whew!  That’s a load off my mind.

I must now thank Kevin, the awesome and quite attractive bartender at the new St. Felix Hollywood, for loaning me a plastic pen from Staples to complete this article when my normally trusty Mont Blanc ran out of ink.

St. Felix Hollywood:  Helping Hollywood get drunk earlier since 2011.

St. Felix now occupies the gorgeous, cavernous space that was lately home to Citizen Smith and they have a great Happy Hour every day of the week from 5 to 8 p.m.  I recommend the margaritas, but only if Kevin makes them, and the Tacos Cubanos are delicious.

Much love,