Tag Archives: Chinoiserie

79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival in LA

79th Annual Chinatow Moon Festival, Photo Romi Cortier
79th Annual Chinatow Moon Festival, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier
79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival, Photo Romi Cortier
79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier
79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival, Photo Romi Cortier
79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier
79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival, Photo Romi Cortier
79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier
79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival, Photo Romi Cortier
79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier
79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival, Photo Romi Cortier
79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier

The 79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival was a happy accident for me. I’d recently gone to LA’s Chinatown to do a little research on Chinoiserie Architecture, when I noticed that many of the buildings were trimmed in neon. I can only imagine how much work it must have taken to do that, so I promised myself I’d come back  the following Saturday right after work, so that I could see the neon at dusk. Well, when I arrived  there were signs and banners everywhere for a festival. I asked the parking attendant ‘what festival’? The Moon Festival he exclaimed. Ugh, I thought. So many people everywhere… maybe I’ll come back another day. I’m so glad that I decided to stay.

As the evening progressed, it got more and more enchanting. Children were everywhere laughing and screaming, throwing confetti into the air. There were performers on stage including a contortionist. Food trucks were parked along an alley way,  so I dove into a  rice and raw salmon burrito wrapped in a paper thin shell. Overall I spent nearly nearly 2 hours at the festival, soaking in the pure joy of it.

Contortionist, 79th Annual Moon Festival, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier
Contortionist, 79th Annual Chinatown Moon Festival, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier

Have you ever heard of the book The Artist Way? It helps people get in touch with their creativity, and one of their exercises is to have an ‘artist date night’ with yourself. Well, the annual Moon Festival turned out to be my artist date night.  There’s something so wonderful about being a silent observer, letting an evening evolve as it may. After I left the festival, I took the long route home through downtown LA, via Broadway.  I finally saw the iconic Bradbury Building at 304 S. Broadway, an 1893 landmark with a skylit atrium. Next up was the recently restored  Eastern Columbia  Building at 849 S. Broadway. It’s a smashing 39 story blue terra-cotta structure that looks absolutely divine at night. I literally was stopped at the light and looked over and voila! There it was.

Eastern Pacific Building, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier
Eastern Pacific Building, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier

Sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying then getting lost in your hometown, all by yourself. No rushing from place to place, just enjoying whatever pops up in front of you, letting the evening unfold. If you haven’t done this lately, I highly recommend it. You just never know what you might discover in your own city, or more importantly, about yourself.

Grauman’s Chinese Theater turns 90!

Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Photo Romi Cortier
Chinese Heaven Dog, Ming Dynasty, 1403 - 1643, Grauman's Chinese Theater, Photo Romi Cortier
Chinese Heaven Dog, Ming Dynasty, 1403 – 1643, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Photo Romi Cortier

On May 18th,  2017,  Grauman’s Chinese Theater will turn 90!

Try to imagine it’s 1927, and you’re invited to one of Hollywood’s most spectacular events.  Thousands of people are lining Hollywood Boulevard in hopes of catching a glimpse of movie stars and  celebrities of the era. Massive spotlights can be seen for miles. A Wurlitzer organ and 65-piece orchestra provide music for the prologue.  And the premiere film is Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings, preceded by Glories of the Scriptures, a live prologue devised by master showman Sid Grauman. $2,000,000 sure could buy a lot back in those days.

Grauman's Chinese Theater, 1927, Photo courtesy www.waterandpower.org/museum
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, 1927, Photo courtesy www.waterandpower.org/museum

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of standing in front of the theater, it still thrills. And the change of energy as you step from the sidewalk into the forecourt, is palpable. Could it be the footprints and signatures of those glorious stars from Hollywood’s Golden Era who’ve left echoes of their lives in the concrete, letting us literally touch the past?  Is it the feeling of being wrapped by 40-foot high curved walls with copper turrets, creating a big warm cosmic hug? Or is it the effects of amazing feng shui, as chi is channeled from the heavens down into those curved walls circling the forecourt before it breaks out onto the sidewalk. Whatever the case, it’s tangible and it’s exciting.

I was surprised to learn that the forecourt, designed by architect Raymond M. Kennedy of the firm Meyer and Holler,  was inspired by St. Peter’s Square. Apparently there were lots of issues regarding morality during the early days of filmmaking, with great concern about the impact of movies on society in general. There was great social change happening at the turn of the 20th century as we transitioned from a  Victorian sensibility into our modern era. It was absolutely scandalous for women to even show their ankles. And who could imagine that within 20 years women would be lopping off their hair into bobs, smoking cigarettes in public, and wearing slinky glitzy sheath dresses.  Quite frankly, morality was going to hell in a hand basket, and those movies were promoting a degenerate lifestyle… as some would say. Therefore, the subtext of the theaters forecourt was meant to have a religious, and thus moral feeling to it. What a great way to use architecture and design to shape social attitudes. Below is a fantastic 1925 rendering by Mr. Kennedy, illustrating his idea for this slice of chinoiserie heaven.

Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Presentation paing by Architect Raymond M. Kennedy, about 1925. Tempera on cardboard.
Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Hollywood, Presentation painting by Architect Raymond M. Kennedy, about 1925. Tempera on cardboard.

The 18th of May is just a few days away, and I may have to drop by the theater again to see what kind of celebration is happening. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this interview that I recently had with Barbie artist Judy Ragagli, as she discusses the inspiration behind her painting Barbie in Hollywood.

Learn more about Judy’s artwork HERE.

Chinoiserie is front and center at Lily Et Cie

Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Ca. Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Photo Romi Cortier
Lily Et Cie, Beverly Hills, Photo Romi Cortier

Lily Et Cie, a renowned Vintage store in Beverly Hills,  has one of the most stunning window displays that I’ve seen in ages. I quite literally stumbled upon this gem while out for one of my late night strolls last week. It was one of those, hit the breaks and back up moments… while on foot. I love it when something is so beautiful that it stops me in my tracks.

For over 30 years this luxury vintage boutique located at 9044 Burton Way has been home to some of Hollywood’s most exquisite haute couture designers, such as Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Gucci and Chanel.  When I peered through the glass of the front door, I could see racks of remarkable black and white vintage gowns, waiting for their next walk on the red carpet. Even in the dim light of the showroom, excitement stirred in my soul. I waved at the overhead camera, took my photos, and headed for home with a little extra bounce in my step.

Since I wasn’t familiar with this boutique, I did a little research online. Reviewers on Yelp were not kind to Ms. Rita Watnick, the stores owner. That said, I totally understand her point of view. If you’ve got museum quality gowns worth tens of thousands of dollars each, the last thing you need or want,  are ‘shoppers’ riffling through your merchandise with no regard for how delicate or special these items may be, especially when considering their provenance. This isn’t the Goodwill and you’re not there to find a designer bargain. Her dresses are pure art, and need to be handled as such. As a small business owner myself, I’m very sensitive to how people handle the items on my retail shelves.  So yes, I’m going out on a limb to defend a woman I’ve never met, and a store that I’ve never set foot in. Why?Because when something has special or extraordinary written all over it, you should proceed with caution and kindness.

And on a side note, Chinoiserie seems to be a hot fashion trend this season. I’ve seen several jackets at retailers from Bloomingdales to Kitross, with embroidered dragons and other chinese motifs.

Here’s a fun video with Rita Watnick and Leon Talley, discussing the nuances of a vintage dress reportedly loaned to Princess Margaret.

 

The Coco Chanel Room at Bullocks Wilshire

Entrance to Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier
Entrance to Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier
Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier
Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier
George DeWinter Mural,1929, Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Photo Romi Cortier
George DeWinter Mural,1929, Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Photo Romi Cortier
George DeWinter Mural,1929, Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Photo Romi Cortier
George DeWinter Mural,1929, Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Photo Romi Cortier
George DeWinter Mural,1929, Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Photo Romi Cortier
George DeWinter Mural,1929, Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Photo Romi Cortier
George DeWinter Mural,1929, Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Photo Romi Cortier
George DeWinter Mural,1929, Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Photo Romi Cortier
Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier
Coco Chanel Room, Bullocks Wilshire, Los Angeles, Photo Romi Cortier

There’s so much to love at Bullock’s Wilshire, including the stunning Coco Chanel Room. Initially it housed ‘fine accessories’ and was known as La Chinoiserie, later becoming the famed Chanel Room guarded by her trademark bronze monkey’s. I was particularly smitten with the 4 delicate wall murals painted by George DeWinter. They’re so exquisite that I have to wonder if they’re ever been restored, or if they’re completely original.

Built in 1929, the Bullocks Wilshire Department Store was the premiere Art Deco shopping destination in Los Angeles until it was converted into the Southwestern Law School in 1994. The building is not open to the general public, however, once a year the building is open to the public for a special open house. And that, is when I made my entrance, scouring every corner of the building during the course of several hours. You’ll see several posts during the coming weeks from my tour. I regret that I couldn’t get this post published to celebrate Coco Chanel’s recent birthday on August 19th, but I’ve been in the throws of moving to a new residence… and we all know how daunting that can be.

This room is Stop #20 on the Self-Guided Tour, and is described as French Rococo Design. I have to take argument with that statement, as I think the room is actually French Neo-Classical Design. Everything about the room is so delicate, from the thin gold trimmed wall panels, to the very refined garlands above the mirrors. Rococo design is much heavier in overall appearance, with an emphasis on asymmetry and shell like curves. That said, Chinoiserie (Chinese-like) was popular during the Rococo era, so I can see why that association was made. Regardless, the Coco Chanel Room is what dreams are made of. Can you imagine your own walk-in closet with this sort of remarkable craftsmanship, it would be the epitome of refined elegance.