Noir City fest gets a passport, Anthony Mann films at UCLA, Alex Prager photography at M + B Gallery

The darkness, dahlings, just doesn’t stop. And who’s complaining? Not us! There is much for noiristas to relish, starting today:

Too Late for Tears posterNOIR CITY’s flagship festival in San Francisco returns to its home at the historic Castro Theatre Jan. 24-Feb. 2, 2014. The 12th edition of the popular film noir festival is going international and the lineup is downright sumptuous. Films include: “The Third Man,” a restoration of “Too Late for Tears” (with Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea), “Drunken Angel,” “It Always Rains on Sunday,” “Brighton Rock,” “The Wages of Fear,” “Rififi” and “Pépé le Moko,” just to name a few.

We can’t wait until the fest hits Los Angeles in April!

ANTHONY MANN is being celebrated by the UCLA Film & Television Archive at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood. The series Dark City, Open Country: The Films of Anthony Mann runs Jan. 31 to March 30.

Says UCLA: Director Anthony Mann’s reputation is now grounded in his 1940s crime melodramas, many of them film noirs, and his 1950s Westerns (eight with Jimmy Stewart at Universal). … The conflicted heroes of Mann’s Westerns are cut from the same cloth as his noirish crime dramas, often attempting to outrun a past that weighs heavily on their actions, morally ambivalent, as they vacillate between individual desire and communal responsibility. …

"Side Street," starring Farley Granger, plays March 15 at UCLA.

“Side Street,” starring Farley Granger, plays March 15 at UCLA.

Mann often dismissed his early career in Hollywood’s poverty row, cranking out low-budget crime features for Republic, PRC and Eagle-Lion, but a number of critics have begun to re-evaluate his early work. Indeed, this series was inspired in part by the publication of The Crime Films of Anthony Mann (2013) by Max Alvarez, who will also appear as a guest on Wednesday, March 12.

ALEX PRAGER, a Los Angeles-based photographer who draws from vintage Hollywood and neo-noir imagery, has a show opening Saturday, Jan. 25, at M+B Gallery, 612 North Almont Drive in LA. Face in the Crowd features new large-scale color photographs of elaborately staged crowd scenes and a film by the same name. This body of work was created for Prager’s first major museum exhibition in the United States at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which opened in November 2013. Alex Prager: Face in the Crowd will run at M+B Jan. 25 to March 8, 2014, with an opening reception on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Also of note: Director David Cronenberg wrote the intro to a new translation of Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis:” And a report on Paris haute couture: Butterflies and Dita Von Teese at Gaultier:

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Friday fashion inspiration from Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese wears a 3D printed dress based on the Fibonacci sequence. Read more here.

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Dita Von Teese returns to LA, NYC and launches advice col

Dita von Teese photo by Steve Erle

Dita Von Teese‘s STRIP STRIP HOORAY! returns to LA Feb. 12-15 and to New York March 6-9. Meanwhile, Dita is’s newest advice columnist. She will provide ideas, including styling tips, on incorporating glamour into your everyday life.

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Dita Von Teese to appear at perfume event in Los Angeles

Dita Von Teese photo by Ali Mahdavi

Dita Von Teese will appear at an in-store perfume event in Los Angeles this Saturday, Dec. 15. The event runs from 2-6 p.m. at Fred Segal, 8118 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 90046, 323-651-1800. This will be the launch of the second DVT fragrance, Rouge. As Dita puts it: “Perfume sets the mood and I’m in the mood to seduce.”

Dita Von Teese perfume is available online in most countries from RonRobinson.

On Sunday, Dec. 16, makeup artist Julie Hewett, who created Scarlett Johansson’s Janet Leigh look in “Hitchcock” and draws from film noir in her product line, is scheduled to give 30-minute private consultations from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Blushington, a makeup studio at 8591 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 90069. Call 310-652-5874 to make an appointment. You’ll be charged a $50 deposit at the time of booking, which can be used toward product purchases.

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FNB holiday gift guide 2012: Part One

The sharing and caring of the season is swell, but some of us get joy from coveting stuff. With that in mind, we present part one of our holiday gift guide, highlighting vanity-table delights as well as snacks and sips. Tomorrow: Books and DVDs.

Henri Bendel New York Minute silk scarf, $68. The pattern comes in three colors. Also cute is the NYM Iphone 5 phone cover, $38.

Brian Atwood gloves for Target + Neiman Marcus, $50.

Marc Jacobs/Dita Von Teese cotton T-shirt, $35. All proceeds from the sale of this shirt will be donated to NYU Skin Cancer Institute.

Nest body cream, $50, in Amazon Lily. Also comes in Midnight Fleur and Passiflora. The fragrance line was inspired by the botanical artworks of 18th Century artist Mary Delany.

Lady Gaga Fame soap, $15.

Kilian’s Good Girl Gone Bad perfume, 1.7 ounces, $245. Each bottle includes a white clutch embellished with a goldtone snake detail.

The latest from Chanel: 1.7 ounces, $98 and 3.4 ounces, $130. Available at department stores and online.

Givenchy Noir Couture Mascara is formulated to improve shine, suppleness and strength, $32.

Tom Ford Beauty Lip Color in Crimson Noir, $48.

Bobbi Brown Rich Caviar Eye Palette, $47.50.

Lalique pétillante ring in silver/black crystal cabochon, $925.

Gifts for him from Tiffany: Original design by Paloma Picasso. Cuff links in stainless steel and midnight titanium, $425.

Dom Pérignon by David Lynch limited edition champagne: Dom Pérignon Vintage 2003 and Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 2000. Starting at $175; prices vary depending on vendor.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat by Katrina Markoff is sure to please. Try the Caramel Marshmallows, four pieces, $13. The hot cocoa sold in Vosges boutiques (Chicago, NYC, LA and Vegas) boosts energy while shopping.

McConnell’s peppermint stick ice cream, $7 per pint. The company was founded in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1949 by a World War II veteran who was inspired by the ice cream he tried while stationed in Europe.

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Dita Von Teese and Strip Strip Hooray! return to Los Angeles

Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese and Burlesque: Strip Strip Hooray! return to the West Coast, starting in Los Angeles on Friday, May 11, at the House of Blues. The 90-minute revue also features MC Murray Hill and burlesque acts Dirty Martini, Catherine D’Lish, Selene Luna, Monsieur Romeo, Lada and Perle Noire.

Other stops on the tour include San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Orange County. I went to her show last year and it’s terrific. Dita and I chatted via email last year; you can read my interview here and see a preview of the show here.

Additionally, on May 1, Dita launched her signature fragrance at Liberty of London and hosted a dinner at the Arts Club where she celebrated with guests, including Christian Louboutin, Roland Mouret and Jenny Packham.

The Dita Von Teese fragrance recently won the award for Best Lifestyle Fragrance at the German Fragrance Foundation‘s Duftstar awards. Her fragrance was up against fellow nominees Christina Aguilera, Bruce Willis and S Oliver.

Watch Dita on CNN’s “Quest Means Business” here:

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Dita dazzles; France celebrates Oscar wins for ‘The Artist’

Dita Von Teese wore a Jenny Packham gown on Sunday.

So it looks like I lied re: my fave Oscars dress. My No. 1 is now the vintage-inspired gown by Jenny Packham that Dita Von Teese wore to the Elton John AIDS Foundation viewing party.

Also my treasured friend Veronique in Paris wrote me this cute and over-the-moon email about France’s five Oscar wins: “Cocorico! On est les champions, On est les champions … Sorry! I’m sounding like a bragging football supporter full of beer.

“But well 5 Oscars … I just can’t help some chauvinistic boasting tonight! A special mention to the handsome Jean Dujardin who is one of the most suave and entertaining French actor at the moment.”

Read more about France’s wins for “The Artist” from Reuters and the New York Times.

AP photo of Dita Von Teese

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Dita Von Teese on costumes, haute couture, Carmen Miranda, ‘CSI’ and more

For nearly 20 years, Dita Von Teese has mesmerized audiences with her brand of burlesque – sexy and sophisticated, provocative and polished. And definitely laced with humor. I saw her perform at the Roxy the last time she was in Los Angeles and wanted to know more about her and how she puts the show together. Here is our chat via email.

Photo by Aaron Settipane/

FNB: Your show is terrific and your costumes are spectacular. In this current show, do you have a favorite number?
DVT: I was pretty excited to have the new Swarovski crystallized glass because it’s something I always dreamed of, and it makes doing my most-known show exciting for me again. But I also loved doing the powder compact, it’s a show I made over 15 years ago, so it was fun to do it again. The Opium Den is definitely my most extravagant overall, so it could be a favorite. …

It’s difficult to choose a favorite because I created each of these acts, and so there’s a lot of heart-felt effort time, and money put into each act, and so I perform then with great pleasure. It’s much different than an entertainer who steps onto the stage in a show of someone else’s design, choreography, etc. It’s a huge process to build these acts, and so by the time each one comes together, it’s nearly impossible to say I like one more than the other!

FNB: I’ve read that you do your own makeup. Do you design your costumes? If not, can you talk about where they come from?
DVT: I work very closely with the costumers, I have very definite ideas of what I want to wear and the function of the costume. I like to give some creative freedom to the costumer, but in the end I have to be very attentive to how it’s made and how it looks as each piece of clothing come off. …

Each time a piece drops to the floor, it has to be a new, beautiful look worthy of a photo. I have costumes designed by fellow burlesque performer Catherine D’Lish, and it’s great to work with her because she actually puts the costume on and can feel what’s right and really understands the functions of the costume. I have costumes designed by haute couturiers Elie Saab, Christian Dior and Mr. Pearl too, and they’re beautifully made, and each has a very different style.

Photo by Aaron Settipane

It’s a lot of fun to work with these designers because their tailoring and attention to detail is amazing. Elie Saab did three gowns for me, and one is a long sheer gown covered in silver embroidered stars and I remember asking for a piece of the fabric to make a g-string out of and they came out of the atelier in Paris with two things: a piece of fine tulle and a bag of tiny beads. I had no idea that each and every tiny bead on this incredible, sweeping gown had been hands sewn on. THAT is haute couture! I also work with Christian Louboutin for all my shoes for the shows, and we have fun in his atelier coming up with new extravagant ideas for show-shoes … he’s working on something now that is amazing!!

FNB: From what I’ve read, your Mom was a big fan of old movies and got you hooked as well. What are some of your favorite films from the 1940s?
DVT: I’m a big fan of WWII era Technicolor musicals with Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda. These are my absolute favorites!

FNB: Any film-noir favorites?
DVT: I like ’40s era film noir, but I admit I am not a film noir expert as much as a Technicolor expert! I would love to have your recommendations!

FNB: I liked your role in the “CSI” episode, “A Kiss Before Frying.” Did you enjoy it and do you have any more plans to act in film noir-inspired projects?
DVT: Well, I have to admit that I did “CSI” because Eric Szmanda (who plays Greg) is a very close friend of mine, and we always jokingly talked about it, but you know, being a burlesque dancer, mainstream American TV seemed very out of reach for me. I was happy to have the experience, and really happy to bring a bit of authentic burlesque to a wider audience, especially in the wake of the commercialization and sanitization of burlesque that we see a lot of lately. …

I insisted that I take my bra off for the burlesque part of the story, because I’m tired of seeing burlesque portrayed as just retro-style dancing and singing, because it’s NOT. Gypsy Rose Lee, the most celebrated burlesque star of all time from the ’30s and ’40s, was a stripper, and wasn’t offended by the term at all. [Read more…]

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Count on Dita Von Teese for easy elegance, breezy grace

Anne Brennan To Go

Dita Von Teese set the sartorial pace at Coachella last month.

This post comes from my wise and witty friend, writer Anne Brennan. Read more of her musings on Twitter at:
If I could come back as another person, I’d have to choose between Carla Bruni (wife of French president, model/singer, once a love obsession of Eric Clapton’s) and Dita Von Teese (burlesque performer extraordinaire).
I love their larger-than-life personalities and styles, especially in the midst of mundane—you know, like the recession or the “Real Housewives” franchise. Take for example, Coachella, the outdoor music fest. Vanessa Hudgens was trying to be ’70s bohemian cool by wearing a thigh-chain on her leg. You keep trying, Vanessa.
What does Dita do? She wears a sailor’s hat with a vintage Hawaiian print dress! Something tells me Dita doesn’t have to worry about showing up in the same outfit as someone else. And the fact that Dita has a hot 20-something boyfriend doesn’t hurt. Oh, did I mention he’s a French aristrocrat? Just when I thought Dita Von Teese couldn’t get any cooler, she does.
The modern-day femme fatale not only rocks her own ode-to-’40s style, she’s generous about it. Take a look at the June Vanity Fair cover, featuring Katy Perry. Remind you of anyone? In a New York Post interview, Dita says: “People have always copied my style. I used to have friends who would dye their hair exactly the same shade as mine. I see it as a compliment.”

Katy Perry on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Dita Von Teese in a 2008 photo.

Of Perry, she added: “Katy and I are friends. She comes to a lot of my shows, but she [recently] came backstage and said: ‘I am taking all of this (gesturing at her hair and costume).’ ”
Of Perry, she added: “Katy and I are friends. She comes to a lot of my shows, but she [recently] came backstage and said: ‘I am taking all of this (gesturing at her hair and costume).’ ”
One confession: I still don’t get her marriage to Marilyn Manson (2005–2007). Guess every femme fatale needs a bad decision in her past.
Dita is bringing her brand of burlesque to Los Angeles this month. She is scheduled to appear May 17-18 at the Roxy in West Hollywood. For info, visit
Coachella image from; others from Vanity Fair and FilmMagic via New York Post.
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Channeling the ’40s with a half-moon manicure

If I do say so myself, I’m terrifically talented at wasting time. And so I recently whiled away an hour or three on a half-moon manicure, a ’40s look that has become popular again. The “half-moon” at the base of the nail is left plain or painted in a color that contrasts with the rest of the nail. I decided to give it a whirl after admiring it on Dita Von Teese and reading a how-to by Beth Shapouri at Glamour.

Beth came up with the nifty idea of using reinforcement labels as stencils for the half-moons. (The labels are little round white stickers used to keep papers in those ancient devices called three-ring binders. You can buy them at office-supply stores.)

I started with two coats of clear base, let it dry well, then placed the labels and painted on Revlon’s Frankly Scarlet (745), $5 at drug stores. This technique is a good start, but it does take some experimentation and practice to perfect the size of the half-moons. (My nails are a tad stubby now so I wanted small-ish moons, proportionate to shorter nails.)

The lower you place the label, the smaller and more elongated the half-moon. A snag I had is that the sides of the label don’t stick especially well and they really need to lay flat so I added a bit of tape to secure them. After the red dried and I removed the labels, I still had to “tweak” (ie, a Q-tip dipped in remover and a little freehand filling in with the red polish). This would be especially problematic had I gone two-tone (a metallic or neutral instead of a clear base) as I had hoped to do with my MAC 5 Naughty Little Vices Nail Lacquer. But I decided to keep it simple until I got the hang of it.

Still, after some trial and error, and a clear top coat, my nails looked pretty good. The bottom line is if you like fussing with beauty projects, creating this retro look is a fun challenge, especially if you’re bundled up inside on a snowy or rainy day. But, if you’re an impatient painter, it’s best left to a pro. Either way, it’s definitely a nice noir twist on a manicure and Frankly Scarlet is ideal for New Year’s Eve. Now if I can just figure out, a la the WW2-era, how to paint “silk stockings” on my gams and draw fake seams on the backs of my knees. 😉

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