Ruth Ben-Ghiat joined me recently for a conversation on this week’s episode of “The Chauncey DeVega Show.” Ben-Ghiat is a historian at New York University who specializes in authoritarianism, aesthetics, cultural politics and Italian history. She is the author of several books including an upcoming project on authoritarianism and political strongmen. Ben-Ghiat is also a regular contributor to CNN, The Atlantic and The Huffington Post.
Bill Cosby’s trial is now winding down, thanks to his attorneys’ decision not to have their client testify on his own behalf. After a mere 6 minutes of defense, the side rested.The defense lawyers called a single witness to the stand, Detective Richard Schaffer, according to a report by NBC News. When asked by the judge if he supported the decision to neither present character witnesses nor testify in his own behalf, Cosby responded, “Correct!”Schaffer’s testimony wound up primarily pertaining to statements given to police by the alleged victim, Andrea Constand.
“The Kennedy style.” Three words that capture not only an era, but an effortlessly suave way of dressing that made John F. Kennedy arguably the most sartorially influential person to ever hold the presidency.When it comes to matters of fashion, most of the focus has always been on Jacqueline Kennedy, but her husband’s version of New England preppy has been equally influential over the decades. For those who knew Kennedy —whose 100th birthday would have been May 29— it was a general apathy toward his appearance that contributed to his allure.“I never saw him where I would say anything other than that he was a man of style,” notes William vanden Heuvel, who worked for Robert F. Kennedy and became a part of the family’s inner circle in the Sixties. “He didn’t spend any time trying to figure out [his appearance], but he had it naturally.”Whether sailing off the coast of Hyannis Port or hosting a glamorous black-tie dinner at the White House, Kennedy’s innate charisma and charm were merely enhanced by the approachable way in which he outfitted himself. “JFK was almost unaware of clothes being of any great importance,” remarks Deeda Blair, whose husband served as U.S. Ambassador to Denmark during the Kennedy administration. “He always was well dressed and I would even say distinguished, but effortless and easy — unremarkable ties and I suspect no fussing about pocket squares.”Blair recalls Kennedy’s clothes as “not memorable, clean-cut [and] uncomplicated.” While Jackie was famously concerned with her appearance — often having designer Oleg Cassini duplicate for her the latest French designs — the President was often more interested in conversation and intellect, according to Blair. “One does not think of clothes as being part of his identity. He was about a kind of restless energy, ideas [and] intelligence. He truly — like his sister Eunice and brother Bobby — had a questing and questioning mind. At dinners in Hyannis, every other sentence began [with], ‘What do you think of…?’”Undoubtedly influenced by the intellectually elite circles in which he ran, Kennedy relied on certain wardrobe staples throughout his life. “He often wore other brands, but from his college days his everyday wardrobe — his shirts and chinos and underwear — was Brooks Brothers,” says Kelly Stuart-Johnson, the company’s brand historian.After taking office in 1961, the top brass at the American company noticed how the President’s suit choices were not flattering to his slender frame. “Because of Kennedy’s body type, we looked at the way he looked in our suits and said, this really isn’t going to do for this man,” continues Stuart-Johnson.Rather than approaching Kennedy outright, Brooks Brothers specially designed and produced a new slimmer style that was then suggested to the President. “We had toyed with the No. 2[style suit] for a long time, but we adapted this particular suit thinking of [him],” says Stuart-Johnson.A 1961 ad described the newly launched two-button No. 2 suit as “smaller over the hips” with trousers “cut smaller in the waist and seat.”In the 19th century, Brooks Brothers gave the same subtle suggestion to Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant by publicly offering cuts thought to be more flattering to their bodies.From touch football games in faded chinos to seaside lunches in a cotton oxford shirt, Kennedy’s attire represented both an aspirational and athletic lifestyle. “This is not the guy who is standing in front of his mirror to make sure both of the cuffs match on his sleeve,” adds Stuart-Johnson. “If you think of the Presidents that came before him and after him, he was certainly the most youthful and most associated with an active lifestyle.”Beginning this month the public will have a firsthand opportunity to view many of JFK’s previously unseen personal effects — including his Polaroid brand sunglasses and monogrammed cufflinks — in a special exhibition at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston. The exhibition, which runs through May 2018, features exactly 100 items that present a more intimate view of Kennedy.The library’s extensive collection, which includes over 100 of the President’s neckties, was carefully edited for the exhibition. “We’re showing about seven of [his ties] designed by Brooks Brothers, Christian Dior, Oleg Cassini and Abercrombie & Fitch,” explains JFK Library curator Stacey Bredhoff. One such tie in crimson silk gives a nod to Kennedy’s love of knowledge with the word “think” subtly printed in repetitive blockletters.“President Kennedy is such a towering historic figure,” she adds. “We wanted to let people see him as a human being, as a father and as a husband through these objects.”Although often taking an indifferent approach to his wardrobe, Kennedy was acutely aware of the times when clothing mattered most. “It was he who decided to wear not just a business suit, but a morning suit at his inauguration,” notes Bredhoff of the President’s formal attire. “He had an eye for the dignity and monumentality of the moment.”John F. Kennedy’spersonal style continues to beinfluentialmore than 50 years after his death. WWD spoke to some ofAmerica’stop men’s wear designers about why JFK’s sartorial legacy remains so strong.Tommy Hilfiger:“Going to Hyannis [in the Sixties and Seventies] was very exciting because everybody thought they could spot a Kennedy. The way they dressed was more American aristocratic. We thought that was very chic and it was aspiration as well as inspirational. If you take pure preppy as a base, it was my motive to make it more fun and exciting.”Michael Kors:“Even when he was in a formal environment, he had the sunglasses, the skinny tie, the complementing separates instead of a full suit — nothing ever felt forced. His cool confidence, combined with his charisma, smile and all-American spirit, gave everything he wore a sense of relaxed polish. It’s that mood that continues to inspire men’s style today.”Joseph Abboud:“He exemplified that Northeast preppy — and he was preppy before they had the word preppy — it was collegiate and traditional, but with incredible style. In my opinion it originated from the Northeast — Harvard, Yale and that kind of community, which is intellectual dressing. It’s professorial and has a lot of gravitas. It’s not fashion and for me, it’s more about style than fashion.”Todd Snyder:“I put him up there with the likes of Paul Newman. He had a look and it seems like we all reference it. James Dean had the same thing and those are actors, but this guy led our country. I’m an American designer and I’m very proud of American style because I think it represents independence and originality. You’re not necessarily taking everything from the Brits or Italians — you’re doing it your own way. The way JFK dressed showed America how a young man should be dressing.”You're missing something!
The increasing legalization of recreational marijuana throughoutthe U.S. has not only caused a shift in public perception of the drug, but it has also created a multibillion dollar industry on the rise. No longer viewed as a counter-culture hippie escape, pot production has broken into the luxury lifestyle market with products such as cannabis cigarette brand Toast aiming to bring a “haute high” to consumers.“People aren’t all potheads and they don’t all want to just get completely wasted,” explains Gabrielle Rein, chief creative officer of the Aspen, Co.-based company. “They want to use it socially and want to enjoy being able to have it now that it’s legal, so the whole idea came about to create the first lower-potency cannabis cigarette.”Rein likens the product to alcohol, describing each cigarette as providing an equivalent experience to the relaxed feeling one getsafter a cocktail or glass of wine. “It’s almost like a very fine whiskey or a cognac,” adds the designer. “It’s a completely unique blend that we created to give you this sort of feeling and this user experience. One cigarette is like a cocktail and one puff is like a sip. We’re not saying this brand fits into all aspects of your life, but it’s more the lifestyle of wanting to use cannabis regularly as you would spirits — and responsibly.”The brand has plans to launch in Las Vegas within the next few months with anticipated future expansion to California, Massachusetts and other states with legalized recreational use. The custom blend, which is currently grown in Denver, is not the only product detail Rein and her colleagues scrutinized over in development.“We researched the Twenties and all of the beautiful [Art Deco] cigarette cases,” she says of the $85 packages that contain 10 violet-tipped cigarettes. “We were heavily inspired by the Jazz Age and luxury cigarette brands from Europe.”The Fashion Institute of Technology graduate noted how use of the drug is no longer relegated to dank basements adorned with lava lamps and beaded curtains: “You see people smoking all the time and it’s everywhere now,” she continues. “It’s just now coming out of the darkness and now people are able to enjoy it legally and responsibly.”You're missing something!
Elton John is reachingmany milestones this year.In addition to celebrating his 70th birthday this month, the legendary singer is also toasting a quarter century of the Elton John AIDS Foundation with an upcoming Christie’s auction of 25 photographs donated by some of the medium’s most important contemporary artists, including Cindy Sherman and Peter Lindbergh.“All of the letters to each artist or the artist’s estate were personally written and sent by Elton asking for the donation,” explained Christie’s vice president Shlomi Rabi. “He was involved from Day One.”The “Rocket Man” singer is equally hands-on with his own impressive 8,000-piece photography collection, a portion of which is on display at the Tate Modern in an exhibition named “The Radical Eye.”“We are going to have a presentation from Whoopi Goldberg [at the auction] speaking about the foundation,” continued Rabi of the forthcoming event, which is expected to raiseupward of $700,000 for the charity. John’s personal connection to many of the artists coupled with his clout as a collector helped bring together this esteemed collection of works including Irving Penn’s “1,000 Year Old Eggs,” which is among the late artist’s finalworks.“This is the first time [this print] has ever come up for auction mostly because the people who purchased it have pretty much held onto it,” Rabi added. “This is such a big deal, which is why the image got the [catalogue] cover.”Naturally, the art will take center stage at the April 6 auction, but it’s a personal connection to many of the artists and to the fund-raising efforts for HIV and AIDS research, treatment, and prevention that is of chief importance to the pianist.“[Photographer] Herb Ritts and Elton were very close before [Ritts] unfortunately passed away from HIV complications 10 years after the foundation was founded,” explained Rabi of the artist whose 1987 work “Backflip” has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. “The great thing about this specific print is that it was hanging in Herb Ritts’ home — it’s from his personal collection. It’s not just about the image, but it’s about the fact that it belonged to Herb.”In this case, it’s clear that a picture can be worth far more than 1,000 words.The pieces will be available for preview at Christie’s New York beginningApril 1.You're missing something!
KEEPING UP WITH THE SMITHS: Pyper America, Starlie, Daisy Clementine and Lucky Blue Smith are the faces of H&M’s latest Coachella collection. The siblings, whoformed pop-rock-surf band The Atomics in 2009, kicked off the collection’s launch with a performance at H&M’s Times Square location on Wednesday.Decked out in H&M’s festival-ready pieces, the foursome revealed their H&M go-to’s, as wellas their Coachella must-haves.“I’m always surprisedby what I can find at H&M,” said Starlie, wearing a silver faux-leather jacket.“There’s always thegood basics, but then there are always thereally cool pieces,” added Daisy Clementine. “And they always have really good bags, too.”“The Swedes know what they’re doing,” said Pyper, summing up their sentiments.The foursome will play Coachella next month, marking the first time Starlie, Daisy and Lucky have ever gone to the festival. As a veteran Coachella-goer, Pyper had some advice on what to bring.“You need some layers,” she said. “You need a jacket so you can wipe the sweat off your face or if it gets cold at night. And really, you should have good shoes. Don’t wear new shoes. I would say breakin your H&M shoes before you go.”The Smith kids are focusing on putting out new music through The Atomics, but alsohinted at wanting to expand their multihyphenate careers. All four walked the runway at fashion week, with Lucky Blue walking Karl Lagerfeld’s space-themed Chanel show.Lucky Blue, 18, also recently revealed via Instagram that he and girlfriend StormiBree, 26, are expecting their first child together.“I kinda want to be surprised,” he said when asked if he’dlike to find out the baby’s sex beforehand. “I’m just going with the flow, I don’t know.“Everyone around me has just been telling me the ins and outs [of parenting] and just giving me a bunch of great support,” he continued. His sisters also expressed their excitement to be aunts.“We all really love babies,” said Pyper.“We’re obsessed with babies,” Daisy confirmed. Lucky Blue explained that his sisters “grew up babysitting” and have loved babies ever since.“We really love family so, there’s another new person,” Starlie added. “It’s gonna be so exciting.” Hey guys I just wanted to let you in on an important part of my personal life. I have some wonderful and surprising news – Stormi and I are having a baby! It's crazy to see how my life has been so blessed. I'm so happy and can't wait to experience this amazing journey!A post shared by LUCKY BLUE SMITH (@luckybsmith) on Mar 7, 2017 at 12:15pm PSTSee More on Coachella From WWD.com:Coachella Sues Urban Outfitters for Capitalizing on Festival BrandBeyhive Bummer: Beyoncé Has Reportedly Dropped out of CoachellaBeyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Radiohead to Headline Coachella 2017You're missing something!
PARIS— For Kenzo’s fifth short film, creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim have tapped actress Natasha Lyonne — best known for her roles as Nicky in Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” and Jessica in the “American Pie” film series — to direct the brand’s fall 2017 campaign film.Titled “Cabiria, Charity, Chastity”, it follows the titular character Chastity as she confronts her past in a burlesque universe. Featuring Lyonne as well as Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen, Greta Lee, James Ransone, Matt Lucas, Macaulay Culkin, Waris Ahluwalia and Leslie Odom Jr., it will premiere on the Kenzo web site on Sept. 1 as part of the brand’s fall ad campaign.Campaign images by Danish photographer Casper Sejersen, acting as film teasers and posters, highlight the surreal mood of the upcoming short movie, in which Leon and Lim’s designs have been adapted for the silver screen by Madonna’s costumer designer of choice, Arianne Phillips.First-time director Lyonne follows in the footsteps of Kenzo film alums Kahlil Joseph of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” visual album fame, Carrie Brownstein, Sean Baker and Gregg Araki as the brand continues its exploration of the fashion film genre.You're missing something!
Chloë Grace Moretz was hoping to tell a story of female empowerment by voicing the lead in “Red Shoes,” an upcoming animated adaptation of the “Snow White” story. But when she learned of the film’s marketing campaign this week, the 20-year-old actress was shocked by its perceived message of body shaming.“I have now fully reviewed the [marketing] for ‘Red Shoes,’ I am just as appalled and angry as everyone else, this wasn’t approved by me or my team,” Moretz wrote to her Twitter account Wednesday.This Chloe Moretz cartoon also seems, uh, questionable pic.twitter.com/93ieRc9JnQ— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) May 25, 2017The actress expressed her reaction to billboards — some of which appeared around the Cannes Film Festival — promoting the feature film, which depicted the tall, thin lead beside a shorter, heavier version of the character. The film takes a new spin on the classic tale by chronicling the journey of seven princes who are seeking a pair of magical red shoes that will lift a curse that transformed them into dwarfs. However, the shoes belong to Snow White, whose figure shifted from stocky to lithe with the help of the enchanted pumps.The Atlanta native continued her criticism of the campaign on the social media site saying, “[Please] know I have let the producers of the film know. I lent my voice to a beautiful script that I hope you will all see in its entirety. The actual story is powerful for young women and resonated with me. I am sorry for the offense that was beyond my creative control.”Locus, the South Korean animation studio behind the film, has reportedly “terminated” the ad campaign with producer Sujin Hwang issuing a statement of apology.“Locus Corporation wishes to apologize regarding the first elements of our marketing campaign (in the form of a Cannes billboard and a trailer), which we realize has had the opposite effect from that which was intended,” Hwang wrote. “Our film, a family comedy, carries a message designed to challenge social prejudices related to standards of physical beauty in society by emphasizing the importance of inner beauty.”More From WWD:Jay Godfrey Launches Diffusion Collection for FallBridget Foley’s Diary: Calvin Klein, Godfather of TodayIMG Courts International Designers With NYFW: First StageYou're missing something!
Park Hyatt New York didn’t have to look far to find the chef for the new rendition of its restaurant Bevy. And the chef it found didn’t have to travel very far to take up his new job.Inside the dining room.Clint Spaulding/WWDHotel executives found their new chef a few blocks away at Rotisserie Georgette, from which they poached Chad Brauze to develop the menu for their retooled concept. “They just wanted to make it a little more of a New York restaurant, something that could stand alone from the hotel, something that can stand on its own merit,” Brauze explains, speaking with a slowness and calm that generally defies the high-pressure kitchen environment. “And really driven by the food — driven by the purveyors, the meats we select.”While the menu at Bevy is billed as American, Brauze has incorporated his experience with classic French cooking and a sense of precision to the menu. The Columbia University and Culinary Institute of America graduate has trained in the nearby kitchens of Daniel and Per Se, as well as the more experimental-driven El Bulli in Spain. He most recently led the kitchen at Rotisserie Georgette, where he’s been since 2014.“I mastered the chicken, I think,” says the Michigan-born chef. “I did the calculations once, and I think I cooked about 12,000 chickens.”He has also spent his entire New York career cooking in restaurants dotting the hemisphere of Central Park South. “I’ve always aimed to work at a certain quality of restaurant, or certain caliber,” he explains. “I just kind of always ended up here [in the area].”Black truffle stuffed green circle chicken.Clint Spaulding/WWDBrauze sourced his ingredients locally, culling from the roster of providers he’s worked with throughout his career. “My focus is just to have really tasty food from people I trust, products I think are really awesome,” he says. “I could take all of the people I’ve met through the years — the lamb purveyor we used at Daniel, the vegetable guys we used at Per Se, and all of the fun things I learned at Rotisserie Georgette, and bring it to here.”The menu at Bevy incorporates whole chicken from a Mennonite farm in Pennsylvania where chickens are raised to two to three times the normal age, a biodynamic dairy from the Hudson Valley and fish from small Montauk operations. Mushrooms are installed next to a curry-tinged yogurt sauce and fluke tartare has a moment with dill pollen. But it’s not all light fare —bourbon brined herb stuffed whole chicken and a 40-oz. ribeye are options for heavier eaters (and are meant to be shared).Located on the third floor of the hotel — the lobby level — Bevy is the result of a complete remodeling and revamp, with a dining room defined by marbled gray tables, velvet upholstery and wood overlooking 57th Street. The room’s centerpiece is “Swarm 11,” a lighting installation designed by London art collective Random International that hangs above the restaurant’s bar. Rods, hanging in a cubic arrangement, light up to mimic the movement of a swarm of birds.“It’s the anchor for the hotel. We got lucky, we got it in the restaurant,” Brauze says of the artwork. (Random International designed the popular “Rain Room” exhibit, shown at MoMA in 2013.) The piece also informs the restaurant’s name and general ethos.“If you think swarm, Bevy is a swarm,” Brauze continues. “It’s kind of just a bunch of people heading toward the same goal. So it ties in purveyors, wine makers. It’s not just the chef and service team, it’s everything together. All of us try and find the people that we love, and incorporate that into it.”Bevy at Park Hyatt New York153 West 57th Street, 3rd FloorNew York NY 10019bevynyc.comYou're missing something!
Céline Dion is proving herself to be the master of all tributes. Fresh off of her striking Billboard Music Awards performanceon May 21, Dion gave herLas Vegas showgoers a treat:a liveperformance of “How Does a Moment Last Forever” from 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast” remake.Dion — andDisney — diehards might recall that the songstress first lent her pipes to the entertainment empire in 1991. She and Peabo Bryson recorded the theme song for the animated version’s “Beauty and the Beast” soundtrack. On Thursday night, Dion surprised the crowd at her Las Vegas show by announcing that for the first time, she would perform the original song written especially forDisney’s2017 live-action remake, starring Emma Watson.“I’m very nervous and very excited at the same time,” Dion said. She fittingly chose a Belle-inspired yellow dress for the occasion. “Twenty fiveyears ago, I was very fortunate to be a part of that magical movie ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ It was one of the biggest moments of my show business career actually, so, so thankful. Twenty fiveyears later, Disney asked me again if I would like to participate in the live-action remake of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ by recording another song. So if you put yourself in my shoes, I could not refuse. This new song is called ‘How Does a Moment Last Forever’ and I’d like to sing it for you in concert tonight for the very, very first time.”Dion garnered praise this weekend both for her performance at the 2017 Billboard Music Awardsand the dress she wore for it — an haute couture design by Stéphane Rolland. Featuring dramatic shoulders and a plunging neckline, the white gown gave Dion an angelic appeal that was only intensified by her emotionally charged deliveryof “My Heart Will Go On.”More from WWD.com:The Aftermath: Stylist Law Roach on Creating Celine Dion’s BBMAs MomentEmma Watson Wanted Her ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Costumes to Reflect a Modern BelleJuicy Couture Teams With ‘Beauty and the Beast’You're missing something!