Thursday, November 7, 2013

The King of Cool

November 7th, 1980. The day the King of Cool died.

There has never been anyone like Steve McQueen. The coolest guy ever. Women loved him, and so did men. He was a rascal, and an original. He was straight up.

NOBODY ever had better style. Of course, Cary Grant, Noel Coward, the Duke of Windsor all had perfect taste, beautifully done, but they weren't cool.

Not like McQueen.

                                                       photo: William Claxton

I had a brief encounter with him once. It was at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. He was living there. I was staying for a week, visiting from New York. One of those lucky, unforgettable things, frozen  in time. He was beautiful. Incredibly so, actually. From the front, and from the back, he was spectacular. There was a game of cat and mouse, but the mouse shied away, and so it went. It was amazing to have him around for a time. He was the most charismatic person I have ever met. And, the most masculine. He was like a lion. He absolutely commanded the space around him, in a very cool, laid back way.

In terms of the style part of this blog, there is no beating Steve McQueen. From the Savile Row suits, to the desert boots, white t-shirts, cashmere sweaters and denim, he was unique in the way that Audrey Hepburn was unique. Totally different, much imitated. Clean lines, looked great in anything.

                                             Photo: John Dominis/LIFE magazine

 More LIFE photos- 

                                        Photo: The Thomas Crown Affair/ M-G-M

Photo: William Claxton

                                                       Photo: William Claxton

                                                           Photo: Harper's Bazaar

                                                      Photo: John Dominis/LIFE magazine

                                                      Photo: John Dominis/LIFE magazine

                                                  Photo: John Dominis/LIFE magazine

                                                        Photo: Bullitt/Warner Bros.

                                                    Photo: The Great Escape/United Artists

                                                          Photo: Bullitt/Warner Bros.

                                                Photo: The Thomas Crown Affair/M-G-M

                                                       Photo: Bullitt/Warner Bros.

I met Mr. McQueen's self-proclaimed illegitimate son, Fred Spiker aka "Spike", a couple of years ago, while designing the costumes for a Mitsubishi commercial he was in.

Opinions vary on his claim, but I can say that after spending some time with him, he is eerily similar to Steve McQueen, and it isn't just his face. He's very charismatic, smelled great, looked great. He is an ex-firefighter who smokes like a fiend, likes to tinker with things, especially fire engines, and has had a rough life. He says he is the result of a one night stand, never acknowledged by his father. He had a chip on his shoulder the size of Monaco. Can't say I blamed him. Sitting across from him at lunch a couple of times, I never mentioned any history, but it was very difficult not to think back, and wonder...

On this day, I'd like to give a nod to that wonderfully wonderful man's and woman's man, who made so many of us smile. The crazy, charming, fabulous, difficult, daredevil, racing roustabout has never been replaced, (although Hollywood tries endlessly. Hello, Kevin Costner and Daniel Craig).

Colin Farrell, Kevin Costner, Pierce Brosnan and Bruce Willis have all listed McQueen as their hero and inspiration for being an actor. Countless others come into town every week.

Tom Ford did a good job trying to turn Daniel Craig into McQueen in Skyfall, and obviously looks to McQueen as a source in his men's clothing line.


Nobody comes close. 

                                              Photo: The Thomas Crown Affair/M-G-M

                                                                   Racing at Le Mans

                                             Photo: The Thomas Crown Affair/M-G-M

Thanks for the memories, the magic of your energy, and for your absolute determination to be yourself.

The book by William Claxton is gorgeous.

For more inspiration, here are a few other blogs celebrating the style of the magnificent McQ...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blue Jasmine. This is how you do it.

In my opinion, Cate Blanchett is the actress of her time. No one else comes close.

Blue Jasmine is another brilliant turn for Ms. Blanchett. She plays the character so beautifully, it is impossible to separate the actress from the character.

Another strong character in the film is the wardrobe. It absolutely defines Jasmine. Bravo, Suzy Benzinger. I applaud you.

Here's an good article from the New York Times, explaining part of the process of costume design.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Moved by the moment

Thank you, Amber Shumake, from the depths of my soul.....

Tight lipped, jaw locked,
you move through each motion

You wait for the pose to pass,
the class to end;
for the fun stuff to come,
and life to begin.

But what if you opened your mouth,
expanded your breath,
let expectation go?

What if you let yourself go?

Let yourself be moved by the beauty of the moment.
This one.
That one -
yep, the beautiful one that just passed.
Nope, it won’t ever be here again.
It’s gone.

Gone like your children’s hold-me-closer days.
Gone like your mother’s health.
Gone like your marriage’s teenage-love-affair ways.

But, this one here -
feel it.
Breathe it in.
Bask in it.
Ah, yes,
isn’t it beautiful?

You can’t feel it?
Your core avoids your stubborn ways?
It takes time to reconnect with what you so long ago shut down.
See your thigh that won’t stop shake shake shaking.
Let that motion move you, perhaps even break you.
Stop waiting for what’s next.
What if what you’re waiting for never comes to pass?
Waste no more time waiting.

Be here now.
With me.
With you.
With every moment in between.


Moved by the Moment.

Reprinted from

Friday, April 19, 2013

Time For A Smile...

I love the spirit of this woman! She made me smile so wide.

I hope you find a bit of her inner rebel in yourself as you watch.

p.s. I see you over there, tapping your toes :)


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Semper Fi.

Today I am tucked in my bed, watching a screener of Zero Dark Thirty, safe because of those who fight for us every day, in unsafe situations.

I thought of this commercial I did many years ago. We wrapped film shortly before 9/11, and several of the Marines involved (there were seventeen actually, if you look closely at the backdrop) went directly to Afghanistan. The military always uses their best and brightest in commercials. Until this, they had only used officers, never enlisted men. That changed with this one. The main climber was enlisted, but because of military protocol, he was changed to an officer minutes before he did the thing with the sword at the end.

I built the first digital print camouflage uniform ever seen for this commercial.  It was interesting fabric with special black dye that disappeared under night vision goggles and certain other circumstances. The guy doubling the climber was one of the top snipers on the planet. It was hard to get so close to all of them, knowing that they would eventually be sent into harm's way. I cannot imagine how their families do it.

It was a tough shoot, physically, even for them. There was all sorts of security clearance. I was cleared by the Pentagon, and my blood type was on board when I went up with them in the helicopters.

In the end, those Marines called me into one of their rooms one night and gave me an officer's pin. Nice.

A very humbling experience, I will tell you that. Never again would I pass a soldier and not thank him or her for serving, past or present. Never again would I not give up my seat in the front of the plane if there is a service person on board. Never goes by a Memorial Day that I don't take flowers to veterans at the VA, or others at their graves.

A strong military is a necessity, like it or not. I salute those who stand watch that we might sleep in peace.