Archive for 2016

What’s in a nose? Luca Maffei explains

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

While I’m an absolute beginner to the world of scent writing, I’ve loved perfume my entire life. I remember going with my Mom to her favorite beauty shop in Florence, when I was as young as four probably, and while she bought what she needed for primping, I was entertained by the shop ladies who bestowed upon me dozens of “campioncini” — little sample-sized bottles of perfumes by Dior, Saint Laurent and Estee Lauder. I’d take those little treasures home and add them to my collection, which at the time was cooler than I thought because the fragrance houses made miniature bottles, not the glass vials they give as samples today.

Those days in the perfume shop, going home to discover all the samples, smelling them, running over to show them to my Mom and maybe run down to Granpa Hans’s house to show him, those are memories that are as ingrained in me as that of my first cat, my first kiss and even the day I left Florence for good, for Los Angeles.

So it’s no wonder that all memories for me carry a scent-equivalent, probably as a result of those trips to that shop. The wonderful feeling I felt looking at the loot, the glass noise those tiny vials of wonder made clicking together, the joy of unwrapping the samples from their boxes and playing with them! What is that Coco Chanel quote? “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” Yeah, I live that quote. Every day. In fact, not a day goes by that I don’t plan on what scent I’ll wear with what, where and with whom. And what/where to buy my next one.

Recently, thanks to Pitti Fragrance, which is like my perfume shop experience as a child but magnified by a thousand and one I can live as an adult, I discovered a nose. Luca Maffei is a handsome, quiet, sure of himself and quite well-known perfumer who comes from a long tradition of perfumers and is based in Milan. An excerpt of his interview follows but you’ll have to read the whole thing onThe Huffington Post.

Of course, I couldn’t resist a photo with the lovely Maffei. Here is a bit of the interview, to tease you on.

What inspires a person to create a new perfume?

Luca Maffei: This is a beautiful question. Everything is inspiration. The passion that people have who work in this art, is the passion to communicate through the olfactory sense. The nose is like a translator, an interpreter, so we rarely create for ourselves, rather we make our capacity available to those who wish to create perfume and communicate something. It can be the wish to communicate an image, a feeling, a film, a memory or a landscape.

How is a new perfume created? What starts the process?

Maffei: It starts from an idea. And that idea can be associated to a memory, a moment, a trip, a recollection that lights up this desire to transform it.

At which point does the name of a fragrance come into play?

Maffei: I believe that often the name comes beforehand. It is the starting point, because there must be a continuity between the perfume and its name, the message it wishes to send out.

Read more by clicking here.

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Confessions of a Gucci Mama

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

OK, so I’m neither a mama, nor do I wear Gucci as often as I’d like, but come on, the brand is on fire! Ever since Alessandro Michele was appointed as creative head of the Florentine fashion house, his clothing, shoes and accessories (yes, the bee watch!) are all I crave.

So what it is about this relative fashion unknown that is setting the usually clique-y world of fashionistas on fire? He’s a smart blend of hip, frilly and cool. That’s what. I mean check out these looks, do I need to say more?

To date, my favorite purchase of 2016 is a pair of gold flats by Gucci, studded by a tiny gold star and wrapped in the brand’s signature ribbon — reinvented by Michele of course! They make any and every outfit I wear them with and even withstood the test of film festival madness in Venice, holding up beautifully and cuddling my feet. And the price, well way way way less than any Louboutins or Jimmy Choo’s I tell you.

So this is why I’m a Gucci Mama.

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Why You Should Watch Maria Schrader’s Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Well, we live in uncertain times. Uncertain not because we won’t know where our next meal is coming from or even what President will come next after Obama — not uncertain in those terms. But uncertain as to how our peace and general stability will maintain over the next few years.

In these times, I always look to cinema to find within its stories, some answers. And this year’s Austrian entry to the Foreign Language Academy Awards race is exactly what I needed. Maria Schrader’s Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe is beautiful to behold, poetic, and holds up a mirror as to how we all feel at this very moment. A bit like exiles in our country.

So, here is the trailer for the film, and a teaser to the interview I conducted with Ms. Schrader over the internet. She is now definitely my new girl crush!

Stefan Zweig, Farewell to Europe – Trailer from Films Distribution on Vimeo.

It’s a leitmotif I notice throughout history, the moderate and peace-seeking are those most often attacked. Stefan Zweig was no exception. Why do you think this is?

Maria Schrader: The monstrosity of German fascism, maybe any kind of radicalism seem to demand opponents and critical voices who are no less radical. But how to put a humanistic and peace-seeking stand in equally loud words? You need a fine brush to paint a nuanced picture.

For a long time Stefan Zweig refused to condemn Hitler’s Germany. He was accused of cowardice, but that accusation falls short. Behind Zweig’s position there is a greater, more fundamental point of view. He describes a pacifist’s concept when he declares: “I cannot attack. I will not write out of hatred. When my silence is a sign of weakness, I fear I must live with that stigma.”

You’ve explained within the press kit your intellectual reasons for choosing to portray Zweig in your film, instead of other writers in a similar predicament before WWII. But I’m more interested in the emotional spark, what made you think, “I’ve got to make this film!” about him?

Schrader: There is something mysterious and unpredictable about those moments of decision, as if a door opens. We’d been researching for weeks before the first bits of the movie evoked in my phantasy. I was fascinated by the image of Stefan Zweig, this intellectual, European, urban and world famous figure standing in the midst of endless tropical vegetation, as beautiful as fierce. The difficulty of being torn between two worlds, the contradiction of having a paradise in front of his eyes and — at the same time — being permanently haunted by the ferocious pictures of what was going on in Europe, was a crucial part of his life in exile and is probably something every exile has to cope with. At the same time I was intrigued by the cinematic challenge of combining visible and invisible images. We all are able to share his brutal phantasies. I was intrigued by the idea of making a movie about the war, about Europe without being there, without actually filming it…

Read the entire interview and my thoughts on the film on the Huffington Post.

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Interviewing Kirsten Dunst…

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

When I say “I must fall in love with every man, woman or film” I write about, I mean it.

As I walked into the luxury hotel suite at Berlinale, stripped bare for the occasion, to interview Kirsten Dunst, I felt a surge of happiness. Here I was, standing across from one of the loveliest, prettiest, most watchable stars I’ve ever known, ready to find out what makes her laugh, cry, hope and dream. It’s an experience that feels otherworldly, to interview someone whose work you’ve long admired. Much like finding a fudge, frosted, chocolate chip cake that doesn’t have any calories.

Dunst is every bit the style icon I expected her to be. With her simple blouse paired with black pants and high heels, she was the off-duty movie star from beautifully shiny head of perfectly blond hair to toes. And giggling with her and her publicist on some other journo’s time about her appearance on Star Trek when she was a child, was priceless.

Read the entire interview with Kirsten Dunst on the Huffington Post, but here’s a quote from one fabulous woman, to get you in the mood.

“What do you look for in the movies you watch?

Kirsten Dunst: I think some movies I’ve loved and they changed the way I think about acting and some movies I never think about again. I mean if I go to the movies sometimes I wanna see something really silly… I remember I went to go see this movie, I think it was called The Best of Me, a Nicholas Sparks one, you know how they make all those. My best friend was pregnant and I think she gave birth the next day. So she was super pregnant and I was like “lets go see this movie,” she wanted to go see it, she loves sappy things. So we went. And we got into it and I started to cry, but I’ve never laughed so hard at myself for crying at a movie. But that’s what I mean, I’ve never done that but I’ll never forget that movie because of that. I was laughing hysterically at myself crying, which is so cheesy.”

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Interviewing Michael Shannon…

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

I always say that in order to do a good job, I need to write from the heart. My favorite way to put it is that I must fall in love with every man, woman and film I meet. No other ways around it. If I don’t like something, I’d rather sit it out, wait for someone else to rip it to shreds, because life is too short to spend it criticizing someone else’s work. My favorite criticism is silence. If you don’t hear from me about your film, food, fashion or culture, then chances are I didn’t like it. It’s my humble and personal opinion. And I’ll reserve the work it takes me to put together a readable blog for something else, a movie, a dinner, or a show I can say something nice about…

That point out of the way, and speaking of falling in love, meeting Michael Shannon at Berlinale this year was a dream come true. Talk about an actor that could probably read the phone book (do they even still make those?) and make it sound sultry and interesting. And in person, you ask? He’s just as wild as you would expect him to be. Quirky, weirdly handsome and mysterious. I cherish the moments I got to sit across from the actor and must admit that it’s times like these when I’m proud to do what I do. Which is… Wait! Meeting movie stars at luxury hotels while drinking gourmet water? OK. So not a difficult job yet one not everyone could do.

Read the entire profile of Shannon on the Huffington Post but here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite. Cheers!

“Sitting across from Shannon, who came dressed in a Berlinale grey sweatshirt and jeans, made me think of a lotus flower. Closed, low-key at first and not revealing its intense beauty to those who don’t deserve it, but once the layers start opening, a world of wonder is there rewarding those with the patience to discover it. I mean, just think back to Shannon’s multi-dimensional portrayal of Rick Carver, in Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes, a ruthless, unlikable character who becomes so humanly comprehensible right before our eyes, and in just under two hours. I believe great acting should always make the audience question their definition of good and bad.”

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