After a Fashion

All that Stephen Allows.

RINSE AND REPEAT It's hard to beat a Douglas Sirk production for silver-screen glamour. A tribute to Sirk by the Austin Film Society is currently running at the Paramount. You've already missed a few doozies, but it's not too late to catch All That Heaven Allows (don't get me started ...), A Time To Love and a Time To Die, and the oozing and unctuous Imitation of Life, starring Lana Turner. (Did you ever notice that her name spelled backward is Anal Renrut?) Finally. Soap that really moisturizes. See this week's film listings for details, p.94.

AMERICAN MOVIE GLAMOUR Thank God for American Movie Classics. Its wonderful Hollywood Fashion Machine has been in circulation for a while, and beginning this month, it is being shown at 7pm and 11pm, and, as a special treat, followed by an always fun, but not always directly related style-setting movie. The film itself will be hostessed by the garrulous and glamorous Lauren Bacall. The Machine explores many aspects of the history of Hollywood glamour, from the stars who defined it to the people who dreamed it up. It is inexplicably but adequately hostessed by Bo Derek and Daryl Hannah, both "hair actresses" (you know, actresses who let their hair do all the acting) -- neither particularly noted for their sense of fashion. But in many ways, both actresses are the perfect choices for the show. It's easy to drape beautiful clothes upon them, and their reverence for the material seems sincere. Their well-modulated, honeyed tones drone on and on with trivia that only an old-movie freak could stand to listen to -- and the show draws out hundreds of thousands of these freaks every Monday night who watch with their own sincere reverence. A recent episode covered The Rise of the Stylist, about the shoppers and groomers who prepare the stars of today for their public appearances. Stylists, per se, as independent contractors, were not necessary during the heyday of Hollywood. The studios provided all the advice, care, and costuming needed for the appearances. But it's different today, and a lot of folks out there who have become stars need plenty of help. Especially the kind of cosmetic help that could be had from the members of the Westmore dynasty or Max Factor -- both subjects of recent Fashion Machines. There was a time when a member of the Westmore family was at the head of the make-up department of every studio in Hollywood. Talk about influence.

The Fashion of Fear, showing on June 19, takes a look at the language of clothes used in thrillers and mysteries, and will be followed by Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief, a monument in costume design, if not filmmaking. Hitchcock was a director who overlooked no detail when it came to his female stars, and Grace Kelly and Cary Grant look so delectable. A related special that aired in March was called, unglamorously, Costume Preservation. Unglamorous sounding, yes, but for fashionistas, the content is fascinating, and rife with heartbreak and hope. AMC's Web site ( is a treasure trove of history. With photos of costumes and stars galore, there's even a lengthy interview with legendary costume designer Theodora Van Runkle, who's worked on films from Bonnie & Clyde, which won her an Academy Award, to The Godfather II, which should have. From the restoration of disintegrating film footage to the purchasing of gowns worn to the Academy Awards, AMC's dedication to preserving the heritage of film is unsurpassed.

A LITTLE DIRT TO NIBBLE ON Talks between Eighties icon Karl Lagerfeld and the Metropolitan Museum have broken off. It seems that the Metropolitan is not as enamored of Kaiser Karl's self-aggrandizement as the Louvre is, and they will not be consulting with him on their sure-to-be incredible Chanel retrospective. But you will not find this information on the Metropolitan's glorious Web site ( What you will find, among other wondrous things, are photos of some of the Metropolitan's to-die-for costume collections. Go there and worship, then look at what else they have to offer. Magnificent.

UPDATE Slightly more info on the fashion show at Flamingo Cantina, June 16. It will feature clothing by Big Bertha's and Buffalo Exchange, and is a benefit for the SIMS Foundation, an excellent charity promoting mental health resources for Austin's music community. Be there, or be Cher. TTFN!

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