Thursday, February 24, 2011

Los Angeles, California: CDG Awards Ceremony!

Awards season is here!!! The Costume Designers' Guild Awards ceremony was held on Wednesday, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Unlike years past, I took initiative to go and joined my friends in support of our colleague and friend, the renowned and respected costume designer, Julie Weiss, who was being honored with a lifetime achievement award.
The Guild Awards is a gala event that takes time out to celebrate their own, honoring its' peers for their outstanding hard work and dedication in the field of film, television, and commercials for costume design.
In preparing for the occasion I quickly knew I wanted to wear a dress that I had seen worn by Selma Hayek from a magazine tear sheet that I had been holding on to. I loved it! It was simple, clean, modern and sexy. Well, least it was on her. I figured I'd give myself a weeks time to have it made, knowing that that should have been plenty. What I didn't account for, was the fact that the seamstress would be overwhelmed with other projects and not available for me, forcing me to consider "plan B". Well, I immediately knew that I WOULD BE,...."plan B". Knowing construction, I was plenty capable of building the dress, I just wasn't in the mood to do so, and knew that it had been some time since I had last sewn and for that reason, it might take me a while. I surprise even myself when I am pushed to make something happen. Determined to wear the outfit, I dug deep, pulling out old skills that I hadn't used since making my wedding dress. Yes, I draped and pattern drafted the sleeve and shoulder piece of the ensemble, before attempting to drape the dress. Feeling tight on time, knowing that I didn't want to rush the project, and still needing to make the dress, I went to "plan C",.....Nordstrom's Rack. Keeping my cool and having faith that I'd find something nice, the morning of the event, I rushed to rummage through Nordstrom's selection of discounted evening attire. It's funny, but being a professional shopper never seems challenging until you have to dress yourself. "What to do! What to do!!"

I filled my arms with literally, 30 or so dress options, and proceeded to the fitting room, hoping to find something that might work with the piece I had already made. Thankfully, Nordstrom's Rack doesn't adhere to the 6 garments-in-the-dressing-room-at-a-time rule. I entered the dressing room and started to try them on one by one. I knew immediately what I liked and what I didn't, so the process went seemingly fast. Plus, I was pressed for time. I guess there is a God,..... I found the perfect dress! It was an affordable strapless cocktail dress in a complimentary fabric and color by Laundry, and in my size. It was as if the dress was calling my name. Some things are just meant to be, I love it when that happens. I snatched up the dress, found shoes to match, hosiery and a bra and made my way to the checkout. This was "one-stop-shopping" at it's best. Now what to do with my makeup and hair!!??? Yikes!!

I went home with time to spare, gave myself an easy up "doo" and slowly and very light-handedly started to "put on my face" with the less is more philosophy.
All in all, I think I did great! Tracey was standing by to help zip me up and squeeze me into the sleeve apparatus that I'd made. In the end, though I didn't construct the original dress from the photo, I was proud of my accomplishment with building the sleeve piece and pairing of the cocktail dress. Ultimately, it was wearable and that's what mattered. By pulling it off, I actually surprised myself. You do what you have to when you must.
I met Deb and Rex at the designated meeting time and we, together, went to the event for cocktails and dinner before the actual awards ceremony . It was a few good hours had by all. Attending the evening gave me a sense of pride, feeling as though I was in good company and a part of something respected and special. Nominee or not, that left me feeling good.
The next Hollywood event is the Oscars. It's probably a good thing that I don't need to pull myself together for that,....well, at least, not yet. ;)

Santa Fe, New Mexico:

Santa Fe, Santa Fe, Santa Fe!..... I've been to many places, but nowhere quite like this. Based only on my first impression, there's a spirit of mysticism and inspiration that I feel here. I found the city quite desirable.
After a brief flight from LA, I reached Santa Fe mid afternoon on Friday for a planned girls getaway of rest and relaxation. It was this time last year that the ladies took a brief trip to the desert for a much needed break. Unfortunately, or fortunately for me, I had just accepted the offer to join the Lady Gaga gig and had to miss out. Inspired to gather anually, I seized the opportunity to travel to meet them this time.

This years pick was Santa Fe, the small, big city in the desert. We treated ourselves to accommodations at the Encantado Spa & Resort, a quiet modern, luxury retreat in the desert hills. After arriving and settling in mid day, we enjoyed a casual meal and margaritas, all the while playing catch up, at the cozy hotel bar/lounge, Terra. It was the perfect grown up setting to relieve our stress and reconnect. If not for the overcast skies we might have enjoyed the slight sunset ducking under the snow capped mountains in the distance. After a few cocktails and long overdue chats, we retired to our room to rest up for whatever excitement was in store the next day.
Saturday morning we woke to clear skies, crisp air and the a positive mood. I grabbed breakfast with Debbie in the spacious tranquil dining room, choosing the healthy option before meeting Diane for yoga. It was a great way to get motivated for the day. Not having wheels of our own, we borrowed the E-class, drop top Mercedes, available to us through the hotel to cruise around town. Looking for somewhere satisfying to eat, our first stop, The Shed, was a priority. It was a cute, busy, casual and lively restaurant offering Mexican fare. The outside courtyard was full of tourist and locals, alike, waiting patiently for their name to be called, while being tempted to make purchases at the conveniently situated shops adjacent to the restaurant selling local art and jewels. Okay, I have to confess,.....I gave in to temptation, purchasing a resonably priced Mexican stenciled silver framed mirror that might be a nice addition to our bathroom at home.

After lunch we took our time walking around the small radius of downtown to see the sights--adobe style architecture and multitude of art galleries. I didn't know that Santa Fe was so rich in history and culture. I found our visit to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum most inspiring. Learning more about her, I found new respect for her as an artist and appreciation for her as a trailblazer of her time.

Also impressive were the artists represented at the Lew Allen Modern Art Gallery that we visited, of which there was a boutique gallery on the grounds of our hotel compound. They represent varied well established modern artists and sculptors. I was quite taken by the work of Meridel Rubenstein, whose work in photo transperency spoke to me and that of Lucy Lyon, whose cast glass sculptures were like nothing I had ever quite seen. Before collecting for a meal, we drove to Canyon Road, known for its high end galleries and shops. We drove there expecting to find an art opening or two, but instead, discovered that everything was already closed.

Hungry and ready to eat, we found the The Pink Adobe. For the cost, the service and food did not live up to our expectation. It was very average and lacked presentation. The cuisine is a fusion of Cajun and Mexican. I found the menu limiting, forcing me to be cautious, preferring to order the spaghetti bolognese. It wasn't bad, but nothing to write home about. Unlike the food, the decor and ambience were delightful, vibrant with brightly colored walls and pillow cushioned built-in banquets, brass nail head and leather-backed chairs, existing trees with trunks exposed, undisturbed and masterfully inclusive in the construction of the space, adobe fireplaces, hand painted walls and decorative dim lighting. We finished our meal then drove 20 minutes back to our hotel. Once there we gravitated to the hotel bar for evening appetizers and drinks before turning in. It had been a full day.

Sunday, again, brought breakfast and morning yoga. The plan was to surrender and relax. We spent a few hours at the spa, enjoying the amenities--steam room, hot tub and tranquility room. Our day was subtle. After our late afternoon naps, we trekked across the road to the bar for a light dinner and cocktails. We laughed, talked and inspired one another, pow wowing over life goals and intentions for the year ahead, while munching on truffle fries and seasoned, toasted mixed nuts. It was good. Needless to say, there was a lot of eating and drinking happening over the weekend.

We rounded out the night in keeping with the established theme by watching the movie, The Bucket List. Sharing our thoughts and ideas, we were optimistic for the future seeing the glass half full, not, half empty.
Our long weekend was nearly over. We awoke leisurely on Monday, then packed and sorted our belongings before grabbing a light lunch in the dining room prior to our departure. It was fun to recap and discuss the value and meaning of our spontaneous getaway, celebrating the time we shared and being proud of how we made time for what was important by not letting life's demands get in the way. Going forward, I'll do my best to stay focused in THIS moment as I pursue the year ahead, and if I start to slip or fall short, I'll look back to this blog post to give me guidance and inspiration, while thinking about my dear friends Debbie and Diane and the great weekend we had. Until we meet again......

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Los Angeles, California: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!

It was exactly a year ago today, February 3rd, a Wednesday, that I was confronted with an opportunity of a lifetime. To some, it may have been equal to winning the lotto. All I knew was that my decision would possibly thrust my life into fast forward.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was driving down Wilshire Blvd, not far from LaBrea, when my cell phone rang, "Barb,.....Hi, it's Tony." With a history and friendship of more than 10 years now, I was just thrilled to hear from my friend. We tend to go a "month of Sunday's" between correspondence and it was nice to hear his voice. "Hi, Tony", I said. "What's new?" He wasted no time getting to the point, as he was in a bit of a dilemma. "Barb, uhhhhh,.....I know you don't really tour anymore and prefer staying home in LA these days, but I have to ask,.....I'm crewing up the wardrobe team for the Lady Gaga Tour and want to know would you consider a position." By nature, operating on instinct, and considering the fact that I was newly unemployed, my immediate thought was, "Sure!!!" My respectful, considerate and very much married-self said, "can you give me a minute to pass this by Mui Alto, before getting back to you?" "Of course," he said. "Of course." My drive down Wilshire suddenly seemed to pass in slow motion, my mind racing with decisions of what to do. I cautiously dialed Mui Alto, while driving with knots in my stomach. He's always understanding and supportive, but this was a lot to ask. Not only would I be touring, but I was being asked to commit to being away for a year and had to be in England the upcoming Monday. After brief deliberation and deep inner thought, together we decided that it completely made since for me to go. The opportunity was simply too good to let pass. The tour would travel to Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the US, plus, Gaga was currently the hottest musical artist since sliced bread.
I coordinated my life within 4 days, informed my family and closest friends of the fact that I'd be gone, packed, anxiously drove with Mui Alto to LAX in the stormy rain, boarded Air New Zealand bound for the UK and found myself clearing customs at Heathrow Airport about 12 hours later. I think it was on the flight over, while snacking on crisps and a ginger ale, that I actually thought,....."what the HELL did I just do! Oh, well, here I go..." This was my first time on an international flight since 2004, and yet, it felt like my first.

We landed in London and took a connecting flight to Sheffield, where we met a driver who drove us to Wakefield. We checked into a local hotel where we'd stay during rehersals, until the first show in Manchester, a week or so later.

There was no time for jetlag. It was business as usual the next morning. I quickly got acquainted with the unfamiliar crew, learned the routine of the day and worried about sleeping later. I was here to stay. It was full speed ahead.
In a nutshell, after the success of our first show in Manchester we conquered the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, the US and Europe, a couple of times, before wrapping it up at the end of the year two days before Christmas.
As previous tours that I've been fortunate to be a part of, it was a lot of hard work, yet, a lasting and exhilerating experience that I won't forget. In the words of Edith Pilaf, "Je ne regrette pas rien." I have no regret.
It's interesting, but now when I drive down Wilshire Blvd, I'm reminded of February 3rd and how it all began. My, how time flies,.....who knew a year could go so fast.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On Location: An interview with Stephen Jones

Today I had a moment of reflection of the year past,... and realization that I don't want my life to fall into a mundane predictable existence. Now, having settled back into life in LA, I often think back on last year and how amazing it was, traveling the world and encountering different cities and places every few days. Life was spontaneous, full of adventure and uncertainty. Even though I was traveling for work, each day presented new challenges, discovery and wonder, I was nurturing intrigue and feeding my soul. I don't want to lose that "joie de vivre". I sometimes wonder, "has my world now become smaller, for being more aware of, and, present in it, or larger, for my endless experiences." Whatever the case, I'm all the better for it.

Today I'm remembering our time in Antwerp and recall when I first became familiar with the famous milliner, Stephen Jones, by my friend Perry. He had gone to see his exhibit and was thoroughly impressed and inspired. Unfortunately, due to my lack of time in town, I missed seeing the show and can only hope to be able to catch it stateside. The exhibit is now in its final days at the MoMu Fashion Museum in Antwerp closing on February 13th. It is my understanding that the exhibit will tour America in 2011, with the first stop being New York City. Hmmm, looks like a brief trip to NYC may be in my foreseeable future. For anyone looking for a dose of inspiration, I'd suggest checking it out!!!

Below are hat creations by Stephen Jones.