I Think I Cannes


by James Tuttle

Gentle reader,

I’m going to tell you about an HGTV show that I would love to like.  It’s called Secrets From a Stylist.  I know that I complained about HGTV’s programming a couple of weeks ago, when constant airings of House Hunters were beginning to erode my mental state.  I’ve since stopped automatically tuning to HGTV when I sit down after a long day of dressing my girls or playing my ponies but this show is already in our DVR queue.  It pops up every Saturday night like clockwork and I just watched the most recent episode.

The premise of the show is really quite good.  Perky stylist Emily Henderson analyses the style of each member of the homeowner couple with an interesting multiple choice test, designs their room for one person’s style, then layers on the other person’s style to create a perfect blend in which the inhabitants can live happily ever after.  What could go wrong?

The well-adjusted Dan Vickery adjusts himself (right).

In the beginning, I felt very close to this show.  I’d watched Emily win the Design Star competition over that very cute gay guy, Dan Vickery, whom I couldn’t watch without thinking whether or not he had a corrected cleft palate.  We need more cute, well-adjusted gays on TV to show America that we’re not always wearing leather halters or snorting cocaine on dance floors lit from below while listening to Gloria Gaynor or Cher but, in spite of all that, I actually rooted for Emily.

We're calling it now: regardless of what her manager tells her, Emily Henderson is not the next Martha Stewart. It's that mouse-caught-in-a-trap voice and the wonky right lateral incisor tooth that makes you want to push her off the porch.

Then, her pilot episode featured a labor-intensive but successful redesign of Glee co-creator Ian Brennan’s living room.  I, like everyone else, watch Glee and I know one of the cast members quite well and frequently work out at the gym alongside a co-creator and several cast members, so Emily and I are, like, one degree of separation.

Finally, her second house was a few streets away, the Whitley Heights 1920s home of beautiful Barbara LaMarr, the famed silent star and screenwriter who tragically and famously died young from partying too hard.  How could I not be on board?

The exquisite Barbara LaMarr. Ah, for the days when women had thin upper lips and shaved their eyebrows as well as their pits.

Well, as much as I want to like the show, I don’t.  In fact, I kind of hate it.  I do give Emily kudos for her personal style, which is a sweet kind of Bohemian-Hippy chic and quite on-trend.  In this latest episode, she turned up in the flared jeans that are soon to be ubiquitous, yet the episode must have been taped last year even before I was thinking about women in flared jeans!

Her method, though, of analyzing the clients’ styles by having them choose their favorite and least favorite out of a few groups of objects—chandeliers, toy cars, silk ties, etc.—could use some help.  Has she heard of Architectural Digest?  It has lots of pretty pictures to choose from.  And what professional interior designer does a room entirely to suit one of the occupants then re-paints the walls, rips out the newly installed carpet and replaces half the furniture to layer in the tastes of another?  How is that remotely feasible, especially in today’s economy?  How could you afford anything decent to wear if you had to do every room in your house twice?  You’d just be walking around in your nice house looking stupid.

I could let all that slide, though.  I’ve sat through more ridiculous concepts just to get to the reveal and see if I liked how the room came out.  I nearly just wrote, “and to see if the homeowners liked it” but I already know what the homeowners think because they show a clip of them before the first commercial break gasping and saying, “Oh my god…”

It’s a good thing Secrets From a Stylist is only a half-hour because a full hour of listening to Emily Henderson’s annoying squeaky, strangely inflected voice would have us gauging at our eardrums with ice picks.

If we had ice picks handy, that is.  I just realized that I haven’t seen one in quite a long time.  I remember that my great-grandmother had an ice pick that we used when we needed an extra hole in a bridle or a stirrup leather.  Now that ice comes from a magical hole in the refrigerator door rather than a huge block delivered by horse-drawn carriages, I think they may be on the endangered list.  I just asked Scott about it and he replied with another question:  “If ice picks were for huge blocks delivered on horse-drawn carriages, why did Sharon Stone have one in Basic Instinct?”  Interesting thought.

"Really weird: I dreamed last night I had a career as a movie star, and I was on the red carpet at Cannes, and then this white rabbit with a pocket watch ran across my path, and... Never mind. Did you want that on the rocks or straight up?"

So, it seems the Cannes Film Festival is upon us and there are lots of Fashion Happenings there.  It’s an odd version of the Hollywood Red Carpet because A) it’s not in Hollywood; and, B) it’s in France, where Fashion is taken very seriously.

I’ve never been to the Festival but I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Cannes.  The first time was for a month one summer to brush up on my French, which wasn’t very good in the first place, before ambitiously embarking on my doctorate in French history at Oxford.  My thesis would have been entitled “La classe paysanne:  The Myth of Rural Unity in 19th Century French Social Catholicism.”  Yeah?  Me, neither.

The most memorable thing about that trip was my black Calvin Klein singlet-style swimsuit that looked like a tank top and swim trunks all in one.  And, yes, this is the same guy you gave you advice on men’s swimwear last week. Let’s just say that I wish I’d had a “me” back then.  In hindsight, it should’ve had stripes and been worn only by someone with a mutton chop sideburns.  In 1925.

I also remember spending many nights in a ridiculously exclusive nightclub because three gorgeous Serbian girls with big boobs had taken me under their, um, wings and dragged me everywhere.  It was the sort of place where bottle service was de rigueur because the dance floor was intentionally too tiny to fit more that a few people so we’d order bottles and dance on the sofas and tables instead.

I have to say, Cannes looks decidedly more chic today.  First of all, Pure Film Creative’s dear friend Diane Pernet brought her A Shaded View of Fashion Film Festival to town to coincide with the Festival de Cannes opening.  I was looking forward to hearing her opinions about the Red Carpet fashions but, from the pictures, it appears that she was partying the whole time.

Our Diane working hard with Almodóvar star Rossy de Palma and Scottish designer Pam Hogg in a nightclub at Cannes.

With no guidance from La Pernet, I hit Google Image Search, scrolled around a bit and before long, I could pretty much sort the whole thing out.  My personal favorites:

SJP wore Elie Saab Fall 2011 for a Weinstein party, a fabulous, long sleeved crazy floral thing that worked because she knew how to work it.  The hair and makeup were also perfection.

Tilda Swinton was stunning in a two-tone blue satin sleeveless gown by Haider Ackermann’s Fall 2010.  She is almost always beautifully turned out, which is a huge accomplishment in Couture World because she has an enormous ass.  Don’t ask me how I know, but I admire her greatly for always looking so amazing.

Finally, a newcomer Jessica Chastain was a breath of fresh air in a pale yellow Zac Posen gown.  Wearing a dress with too much stuff on it knocked Penelope Cruz out of my top picks, and I’m so over that red lipstick, but something about her overall look managed to make her a winner in my book.  Maybe it’s that she’s excited to be there and it shows through.  Let’s check in on her in a few years.

SJP in a Saab gown you wouldn't want to get near to if you're tripping on acid; Jessica Chastain with bodyguards; Swinton once again forgetting to wear jewelry.

The trends to watch for in gowns, which may or may not trickle down into dresses that you would want to wear, are:

  • Long sleeves,
  • High slits,
  • Super-slim silhouettes (buy stock in Spanx NOW!)

All in all, it was refreshing to see some red carpet dresses that one might actually wear in real life.  I was beginning to put the whole phenomenon into the category of costume.  I hope the freshness follows the awards season back to L.A. and I don’t have to report on tired old gowns.

In the end, a handlebar belongs on your beach cruiser or your Harley, but never on your face.

Much love,


Comments: 12

  • oldancestor May 19, 20114:03 am

    Is it possible to be too fabulous? That’s the only way to describe Tuttle Mode.

    When you try to make everyone happy, no one is, which may be the fundamental failing of Secrets from a Stylist. Which, based on your description, is an inappropriate name. I haven’t heard her voice, but she’s cute, and I like her teeth.

    Good call on the ice picks, though that one Sharon Stone is holding looks rather stylized, like a Jedi ice pick maybe. Perhaps her character collects “implements from a lost age” like ice picks and typewriters and those barbaric drills dentists once used… oh, they still use them? Sadists.
    I never saw Basic Instinct 2, but I hope she stuck with the ice theme. In addition to ice picks for chipping, people used big hooks to move the ice blocks around. Did she run around with a big hook in the sequel?

    A coworker has a handlebar mustache and it’s a big part of his identity. I think he’d be lost without it. Can we let him slide?

    • Pure Film Creative May 19, 20116:36 am

      My ex has a handlebar, too. There was another image I was contemplating, a guy being stabbed with an ice pick through the nose. If you Google image “ice pick basic instinct” it’s there. I figured Tuttle wouldn’t find it stylish. I like the fact Stone looks like she’s on day four of a bender.

      • oldancestor May 19, 20117:16 am

        She looks bored with all the killin’ too. Sex, stabbing, sex, stabbing. What kind of life is that?

        Is it possible your ex and my co-worker are one and the same? I’ve never heard him mention a woman in the past year.

    • James Tuttle May 19, 20118:51 pm

      Thanks so much! I love how fluidly you use the word “fabulous.”

      Emily is very cute, I agree, which is part of why I want to like the show. It’s been scientifically proven that attractive people are treated more favorably. In my own case, I know that when an old bag cuts in front of me in rush hour traffic, I think she’s a rude cunt but, if it’s a really hot guy, I think, “Gosh, he must be in a hurry.”

      As for the Sharon’s ice pick, it seems like what a rich person would have had in Pacific Heights in the 80s. I don’t think big hooks ever reached the zeitgeist, however. Luckily.

      If your coworker’s identity is based on a cartoon mustache he’s already fucked so, by all means, let’s let him slide.
      Thanks for being part of the team!

      • oldancestor May 19, 20119:01 pm

        I am so watching your show when someone has the sense to put you on one. Between you and Killough, I’m always laughing and learning something.

        • Pure Film Creative May 19, 20119:15 pm

          We’re going to start adding video content soon. Tuttle and I are going to do a cooking show or two in your honor, Eric. If you remember, you once made a comment about what a relief it was this blog wasn’t like others, posting recipes and things. So Tuttle and I looked at each other and said, “But we were going to put in recipes!” It will be done our way, of course: we’ll get progressively drunk, fuck up the meal, become grandiose and belligerent, throw up the meal and pass out. And forget to turn off the camera.

  • Angela May 19, 20114:10 am

    Oooh I now want to hear more about your time in Cannes and the Serbian girls. SJP looked lovely in the two dresses I have seen photos of. Yet another very entertaining read Mr. I really feel I need to own an ice pick…… Keep your fabulous written words coming……..x

    • James Tuttle May 19, 20118:53 pm

      Thanks, Angela. Here’s more on Cannes: the Serbian girls were a blonde, a brunette and a redhead; and I think I knocked Naomi Campbell off a table in that nightclub once. It’s a little hazy.
      Much love!

  • Jordy May 19, 20115:21 am

    Hmmm, Well, not everyone watches Glee. I might bring criticism on myself, but although it’s well conceived and there are many very talented cast members, great music and production numbers, and I love Golden Era Hollywood musicals, much like I don’t think queens in g-strings and boas marching in Pride parades help the image of the gay community, the ultra effeminate gay boy (and I don’t even know his name) that pushes himself, and his sexuality on everyone, in my opinion, does the same. My feelings about that one little grand character is much the same as yours regarding Emily Henderson.. I just can’t take much of him at all.

    I might have caught a glimpse of Secrets From A Stylist, but I can’t say for certain that I have, but the 1920s film star’s home would have been of interest to me. I watch a handful of comedies and shows that friends are on, but mostly films.

    SJP seems to always look great and I’m always interested and anxious to see what she’ll be wearing, and Jessica’s gown is lovely, but when it comes to women’s fashions, that’s your forte, however I can identify both fabulous and dreadful.

    As for your singlet Calvin swimwear, it probably looked fabulous on you, and although it might not be in style today, they’re very similar to what wrestler’s wear and those are smokin’ hot on a well toned jock.

    Another interesting and well written article James. Oh, and I do still own an old wooden handled ice pick. I’ve found they have many uses, but I don’t think it’s been used to chip ice in decades.

    • James Tuttle May 19, 20119:06 pm

      Wow, thanks Jordy!

      My feeling is that, whether or not we like to hang out with them, ultra effeminate gay guys do exist and it’s amazing that a hugely successful prime time show is able to portray a character like this and the challenges he faces.

      SJP does always seem to look great, except when she doesn’t. Then it’s pretty bad. But she takes risks and THAT is what fashion is about. As for my singlet, it was a risk and it was pretty bad, too.

      Thanks again for joining the discussion!

  • Jesse McManus May 19, 20118:40 am

    Emily Henderson and her show “Secrets from a Stylist” will go the way of Kim Myles’ “Myles of Style”. One season and then only to be seen in 10 second promo clips for other shows. Too bad winning doesn’t always guarantee success. I too have felt the pang of sadness for the loss of the old network format…HGTV what’s become of you?

  • James Tuttle May 19, 20119:10 pm

    Oh god, “Myles of Style” was awful, too. Just like “America’s Next Top Model” will most likely never produce an actual, successful model, “Design Star” looks like it’s becoming a show where the winner can’t host a show. I don’t know how Bromstad and that rocker guy have stayed on the air.
    Thanks for reading, Jesse!

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