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Play It Again, Sam

In Play It Again, Sam a nebbishy film critic is dumped by his wife and begins to imagine his life as a confident womanizer. As a nerdy cinephile, his alter ego just so happens to be the trench-coat wearing, word-slurring tough guy played by Humphrey Bogart in many films. A ghost of Bogart gives Allan, the protagonist, advice on life, relationships, masculinity and bravery.

Set Design and Costumes from Woody Allen's Play it Again, Sam

With the support of two clothes friends, who happen to be married,  Alan begins to date again, albeit neurotically. This leads to a series of disastrously funny blind dates in which Allan tries, but fails, to be as cool as Bogie. Ultimately, he realizes friendship and comfort is more important than “image” and “coolness.”

Set Design and Costumes from Woody Allen's Play it Again, Sam

Filmed in 1972, and filled with antiquated references to pay-phone banks, macrame and prescription pills, Play It Again, Sam is still worth several viewings on Netflix. I would rewatch the movie for Diane Keaton’s seventies, twee wardrobe as designed by Anna Hill Johnstone. If you’re a fan of Casablanca, this film is a no-brainer as it almost copies, verbatim, certain scenes directly from the movie. The move also happens to feature the best summary of esoteric art critics, sullen museum goers, and the true meaning of Jackson Pollock. Here’s laughing at you, kid.

Set Design and Costumes from Woody Allen's Play it Again, Sam

A faux red-ribbon bow on a sweater, casablanca and framed hearts print? I’ll take it all. The various sets oscillate between LP hoarder and rattan chic to sophisticated Mies van der Rohe,  Claes Oldenburg, San-Friscisco intellectual Zebra print and shag rug interiors! [Read more]

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Downright Knotty

My mother, queen of all things craft, used to knot and braid macramé often in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I recently asked her to reteach me the craft, and although she remembered perfectly how to hem and crochet, she completely forgot the knotting techniques. She had not touched the hempen rope since the Carter Administration. It seems macramé is much harder than remembering to ride a bicycle.

Gracie, a graphic design student aspiring to be a print and pattern designer, makes some of the most beautiful knotted bracelets I have ever seen. Many more HERE.

This art is simply a form of knot tying. However, there are specific tying patterns and weaving lingo used: hitching, double hitching, half hitch, granny knots.  The knots were long crafted by sailors, especially in elaborate or ornamental knotting forms, to decorate anything from knife handles and plant vases, to bottles to parts of ships. The word “macrame” is Arabic for “fringe,” named after the thirteenth century rug weavers who finished the edges of the loomed material (think rugs) with decorative knots. Based on Arabic conquests, and trade routes, the craft spread globally. Sailors, along routes and while bored, made macramé objects in off hours at sea, and sold or bartered them when they  were at port. Favorite creations were usually hammocks and bell fringes. These were sold in China however, did not catch on as the people already had Chinese Square Knotting.

The Eichler ranch house feels a little bit folksy, a little bit Godfather (thank you horsehead pillow). Hoo Hoo doesn’t love those macrame owls?  Image found via Retro Renovation, HERE.

Sarah Parkes is a designer who works with macrame under her label Smalltown. Above is a residential commission, The Griffin Residence, with a custom chandelier by Parkes. For the product line, go here.

Knotted objects eventually reached the English courts by the 17th century, but did not become de rigueur in the mainstream until the late 1700’s and 1800’s. Sylvia’s Book of Macramé Lace (1882), a  bestseller for the era, showed readers how “to work rich trimmings for black and coloured costumes, both for home wear, garden parties, seaside ramblings, and balls—fairylike adornments for household and underlinens …” Most Victorian homes were outfitted by these intricately tied knots.  Apparently, hippies, children, and other “free love afficianados” saw something utilitarian and inspiring in the knotting. The craft had a huge resurgence in the 1970’s as a means to make wall hangings, articles of clothing, bedspreads, capes, ponchos, shorts, tablecloths, draperies, plant hangers, and other furnishings. Now, every child sent to summer camp knows how to macrame thanks to friendship bracelets (often worn stacked up an entire arm). Sometimes going to overnight camp feels like living in the 18th century meets the 1970’s, so this revitalization makes sense.

Image found HERE.

Be sure that you are ok with feather dusting and steaming! Once a summer camp standby, macramé might be the next big thing found HERE.  Hanging in the lobby of the new Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, L.A. artist and designer Michael Schmidt wanted to shake things up. “I suggested we take the seventies macramé idea further by incorporating nautical and Japanese rope-knotting techniques,” he says. The curtain hangs from assorted pieces of antique hardware, ship’s pulleys and butcher’s hooks. 

Macrame – Knotted Milati Hanging Chair via Antrhopologie, HERE.

Fun and slightly kitschy 1970’s macramé window hangers are just lovely. With circular and triangular patterns, this is sure to allow unique light patterns to brighten up your day.  Made with wood and cotton, the large macramé can go in a window, a door or a wall to give personality. Image found HERE.

A wall hanging on view at Relish in Portland by artist Sally England of Mondo Macrame Product. I just love the fact that back in the day the knotting craze was not just for women, but that men, young boys and girls, teenagers, and the elderly were doing it too,” says England. “People were using their hands to make everything from rad macramé vests and belts, to whole macramé rooms and hanging pods.” 

More organic, eco, and soft Sally England modern macrame, HERE.  So how to use these hangings in a home? “Knotted rope can add some really interesting texture to a space, especially on a large scale,” says England. “Because I generally work with looser knot structures, my room dividers would be great in an open loft-like environment where flow and delineation of space is needed but complete separation is not.” 

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Studio 54

Located at 254 West 54th Street in Manhattan, New York, Studio 54 was the epicenter of the debaucheries party-world. Inside its gilded walls, all tomorrow’s parties and celebrities romped. The disco balls twirled, the socialites teased, and the artists observed. The music never stopped and the alcohol flowed as in Victoria Falls. Andy Warhol, talking about the nightclub in 1979 wrote, “It’s the place where my prediction from the sixties finally came true: ‘In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.'” Oh to be a bright young thing in 1979!

Image created by me from photos found at The Ian Schrager Development Company – The Nightclub Years Slideshow. 

In 1977, Studio 54 was transformed into a new age, spectacular nightclub by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, with Jack Dushey as a financial backer. They operated the company as Broadway Catering Corp. It took four months to transform the theater into a nightclub and cost $400,000. Adjusting for inflation, what cost $400,000 in 1977 would cost approximately $$1,502,726.07 in the present (2012).

Studio 54 was widely known for its mixture of “regular joes”, “star”, and “notable personalities”. Rubell, Schrager’s creative partner was known for “casting a play” when selecting the people who could enter the club. The floor of the space held around 1,550 patrons who paid a $15-$20 cover charge to  “be invited to the party”, nightly.

New Year’s Day 1978, at Studio 54 with Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry, Truman Capote and Paloma Picasso. Image found via Jerry Hall, HERE.

Bill Murray and Gilda Radner, dancing together at Studio 54’s 1978 Valentine’s Day ball. Photograph via WWD from Conde Nast Digital Archive, found HERE.

Bianca Jagger and Liza Minelli at Studio 54 in 1978, Photo: Bulls, image found HERE.

Diana Ross & Richard Gere at Studio 54. From a genius article called “Instant Art: 1970’s Celebrity Photographs”,  found via Small Shop, HERE. 

“By far the most iconic image to come out of the most infamous nightclub in living history is one of Bianca Jagger, wearing a sheer, red, off-the-shoulder gown riding a white horse (being led onto the dance floor by a painted naked man!). Staged as a publicity stunt a week after the infamous New York discotheque opened in 1977, legend has it that co-owner Ian Schrager was persuaded by fashion designer Halston, who had created the red dress, to give It-girl of the moment Bianca a special birthday present (she had just turned 30, or 27 depending on who you believe).” –  Image and store found, HERE.

Andre Leon Talley (who started as Warhol’s assistant and is who became KING of the fashion world) and Diana Ross in Studio 54, New Years Eve party 1978-1979. During one famous night four tons of glitter was dumped in a four inch layer on the dance floor. It is rumored that the glitter was found in crevices, outfits, and the hair of guests months later. Photo By WWD Archive, found HERE. 

On February 4, 1980, the nightclub closed with one final party called “The End of Modern-day Gomorrah”.  Image found HERE.

Studio 54 has become synonymous with excessive excess and decadence that defined the late 1970s and early 1980s. Although drug fueled and liberal, in many ways the era of Studio 54 was a more naive time.  Some employees and regulars of Studio 54 were early victims of AIDS, a decade before doctors and the public were aware of the disease. Even Steve Rubell, co-founder of Studio 54, died at the age of 45,of AIDS-related complications.

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