Friday, August 12, 2016

LIZ SMITH: All About Fall

Catherine looks over the slain Huguenots. Don't be so judgy. Remember the deviled eggs!
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Friday's Fry-Up: Fashions, Novels, The Return of Winona Ryder, and the new "Suspiria" generates horror — but not the fun kind.


“BLAME Catherine de Medici!”

The well-corseted Ms. de Medici.
That’s what New York magazine advises in its Fall Fashion issue (the one with that compelling photo of Winona Ryder on the cover.)

Apparently, it was Queen Catherine who popularized the corset in the 1500’s.  Well, she had to do something while she put up with her husband’s mistress Diane de Poitiers, consulted with Nostradamus, dabbled in witchcraft, and slaughtered Huguenots.

She was also credited with introducing broccoli, artichoke, lettuce, parsley, turkey, tomatoes, and deviled eggs to France.  But nobody ever talks about the good things.  One slaughter or suspicious court death and you get a bad reputation.

In any case, the “All About Fall” article by Amy Larocca, Rebecca Ramsey and Veronique Hyland tells us that everything old is newish again. Well, that’s fashion — sort of an endless reboot.

Some of the styles and items returning, in one way or another include capes, quilted coats, leopard prints (PETA will say faux or not, it encourages the hunting of leopards. Fair warning!)  Also, pearls. (Have they ever been out; especially in our politically correct times, when everybody clutches them at least five times a day?!)

Tartan, military, purple, “micro” evening bags (called a clutch, in my day), sequins (Really? A comeback? Let’s talk with anybody who has appeared on “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”) 

The fashion mavens of New York magazine also tell us that vinyl is returning.  Not the LPs (we already know that’s happened) but the shiny plasticized clothing that was always used back in the day as an example of what people would wear in the future.
I’ve saved the worst for last.  Padded shoulders, which only those two great Joans — Crawford and Collins — could carry off, and stacked or platform shoes.  Those were/are absurd and ugly and dangerous.  Many an ankle suffered permanent damage during the 1970’s when the platform returned.  This was after a number of years of lower heels in the 60’s and also part of the 1940’s nostalgia craze of the time.  The platform faded when “normal” high heels inched up again. (Thank you, Ferragamo!)
Only Crawford and Collins could carry off padded shoulders.
Nowadays, however, the sexy stiletto has been replaced by the treacherously high, super-pointy-toed, hooker shoe, which is not only ruinous to the feet, but makes those feet look three times their natural size.  There’s so much shoe that the calf tends to always look spindly, unless you do a lot of leg work at the gym. (Think endless calf raises.)

What I liked best about the fashion in the Fashion Issue was an ad for Kate Spade, featuring Bernadette Peters. She’s wearing something black, showing an enticing bit of shoulder and a lot of leg.  There’s a shy cat involved and Miss Peters is holding an evening bag with “Meow” stitched onto it.  The caption says, “Fall in New York is for Glamour Pusses.”

Bernadette enhances any season in New York.
THE NEW YORK mag interview with Winona Ryder — now riding high thanks to her go-for-broke performance in the Netflix series “Stranger Things” — is terrific. I’m glad Winona is having a renaissance; she is a lovely, often compelling presence onscreen.  As writer Heather Havrilesky points out, Ryder remains as fetchingly intriguingly, intelligent, sensitive and off-center as ever.
But what I enjoyed most out of the magazine was on the The Culture Pages, a big take titled “How To Plot a Novel.”  It’s the who, what, when, and where of concocting stories in novel form.

This piece includes an encyclopedia of “every plot” the New York scribes know of.   From Adultery (examples: “Anna Karenina,” “The End of the Affair”) to Metamorphosis, Magical (example: “Dracula”) to Wife as Phoenix (examples “Gone Girl” and “Fates and Furies.”)  
We also get “The History of The Plot,” which naturally begins with The Bible, along with famous authors asked, “How Much Does It Matter, Anyway?” (Grace Paley once said: “Plot is nothing.” John Irving concludes: “I’m old-fashioned. I believe in plot.”) 

My favorite sidebar in this big section of the magazine is — “Literature’s Very Worst Endings.”  Among the classics that are deemed to have concluded poorly are “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” ... ”A Farewell To Arms” ... ”Little Women” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”  Why “Alice?” Because: “It was all a dream. Enough said.”

Well, I can’t say enough about this major examination of my favorite pastime, reading.  Kudos to contributing writers Christian Lorentzen, Boris Kachka, Ian Epstein, Sadie Stein.
RECENTLY, in writing about Tilda Swinton possibly being cast in a reboot/update of the classic 1958 movie “Auntie Mame” I mentioned several of Ms. Swinton’s other upcoming projects, including a remake of the idolized 1977 Dario Argento horror film, “Suspiria.”  I already knew that many fans were, well — horrified by this idea.  But I didn’t want to rain on the parade of the “Mame” item.
Now, however, Argento himself is expressing some concern. The fabled director told Chris Eggertsen of HitFlix: “The film has a specific mood. Either you do it exactly the same way — which in that case is a copy, not a remake, which is pointless. Or you change things and make another movie, and in that case, why call it 'Suspiria?"'
Jessica Harper was the lead as Suzy Bannion in 1977's “Suspiria.” 
Argento added that he’d be willing to give advice to the new “Suspiria” director, Luca Guadagnino, although he hasn’t been asked.  And: “What’s really absurd — really unbelievable — is that I have never, ever been asked about it ... I know nothing about this project expect what I read in the papers.”  Writer Eggertsen notes that asking advice from Argento might undermine Guadagnino’s fresh concept (although he is a great fan of the original.) But Eggertsen adds that it would, perhaps, “be nice” to get in touch with the master. 
Joan Bennett as Madame Blanc.
Alida Valli played Miss Tanner.
Argento’s “Suspiria” is indeed one of the greats of the genre — nothing can surpass its particular, unsettling, dream/nightmare quality, and the famously saturated color palette. Also, the insane Goblin soundtrack, and suitably eerie performances by Jessica Harper, Alida Valli, Udo Kier and Joan Bennett.

No matter how the new one turns out, the original will always exist. Relax!

Contact Liz here.