On Sunday, she took up boxing. On Monday, she got a pedicure. On Tuesday, she had a guy named Joe dip her hair in turquoise blue. I do believe she's found her mojo...
On Sunday, she took up boxing. On Monday, she got a pedicure. On Tuesday, she had a guy named Joe dip her hair in turquoise blue. I do believe she's found her mojo...
“The Show Off” (1926) starring Louise Brooks.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) starring Audrey Hepburn.
“Cleopatra” (1963) starring Elizabeth Taylor.
“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) starring Mia Farrow.
“Marie Antoinette” (2006) starring Kirsten Dunst.
“When I’m acting, I prefer to play characters where I get to transform, and I do a lot of that through hair,” Ms. Chastain said. She wore wigs for“The Help” and “The Debt,” and said that most people don’t realize how hard hairdressers work to get wigs to look good. “There’s a lot of skill required to work with a wig.”
So, if the award had been in place throughout the history of the Oscars, which films does Mr. Gibson think would have deserved the gold statuette?
“The Show Off” (1926), starring Louise Brooks (it actually predates the first Oscars in 1929). “Women then weren’t wearing haircuts — they wore sets, waved hair,” he said, but her straight haircut with bangs to her cheekbones “changed the course of how women wear their hair, it introduced women to a new way of thinking.”
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), starring Audrey Hepburn. “That little black dress would be nothing without that hair,” Mr. Gibson said. “It was a French twist. She was the first to have a streak — reminiscent of the ’60s — a big streak of blond in the brown hair.”
“Cleopatra” (1963), starring Elizabeth Taylor. “There were so many hair moments, tons,” he said, adding that this movie’s virtue was its variety. “This is where Bo Derek in ‘10’ got her braids from. She has a band ornate with gold. You really got who this woman of the Nile is, by basically her hair.”
“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), starring Mia Farrow. “WhenVidal Sassoon cut her hair off, it changed how women look at their hair. There have always been movies with women making a transition — whether she had a breakup like when Angela Bassett cut off her hair in ‘Waiting to Exhale’ — but at the same time with ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ it was a transformative moment. And it’s the pixie that Michelle Williams wears now.”
“Marie Antoinette” (2006), starring Kirsten Dunst. “The movie was terrible, but the costume, hair and makeup were so beautiful. But it was done by different people.” Costume design won an Oscar. However, all those edgy powdered wigs (and the visionary stylist behind them) deserved accolades too, he said, adding, “This isn’t special effects; this is down-and-dirty beauty that’s thought-provoking and emotional.
Lillian Bassman, who moved from fashion to fine art, at her home in Manhattan in 2009. More Photos »
Lillian Bassman's “Dovima, New York” (1954, reinterpreted in 1994), from “Lillian Bassman: Women” (Abrams).More Photos »
Her son, Eric Himmel, confirmed the death.
Ms. Bassman entered the world of magazine editing and fashion photography as a protégé of Alexey Brodovitch, the renowned art director of Harper’s Bazaar. In late 1945, when the magazine generated a spinoff called Junior Bazaar, aimed at teenage girls, she was asked to be its art director, a title she shared with Mr. Brodovitch, at his insistence.
In addition to providing innovative graphic design, Ms. Bassman gave prominent display to future photographic stars like Richard Avedon, Robert Frank and Louis Faurer, whose work whetted her appetite to become a photographer herself.
Already, at Harper’s Bazaar, she had begun frequenting the darkroom on her lunch hours to develop images by the great fashion photographer George Hoyningen-Huene, using tissues and gauzes to bring selected areas of a picture into focus and applying bleach to manipulate tone.
“I was interested in developing a method of printing on my own, even before I took photographs,” Ms. Bassman told B&W magazine in 1994. “I wanted everything soft edges and cropped.” She was interested, she said, in “creating a new kind of vision aside from what the camera saw.”
When Avedon went off to photograph fashion collections in Paris in 1947, he lent her his studio and an assistant. She continued her self-education and in short order landed an important account with a lingerie company. In its last issue, in May 1948, Junior Bazaar ran a seven-page portfolio of wedding photographs she had taken, titled “Happily Ever After.”
Ms. Bassman became highly sought after for her expressive portraits of slender, long-necked models advertising lingerie, cosmetics and fabrics. Her lingerie work in particular brought lightness and glamour to an arena previously known for heavy, middle-aged women posing in industrial-strength corsets.
“I had a terrific commercial life,” Ms. Bassman told The New York Times in 1997. “I did everything that could be photographed: children, food, liquor, cigarettes, lingerie, beauty products.”
Lillian Violet Bassman was born on June 15, 1917, in Brooklyn and grew up in the Bronx. Her parents, Jewish émigrés from Russia, allowed her a bohemian style of life, even letting her move in, at 15, with the man she would later marry, the documentary photographer Paul Himmel.
Ms. Bassman studied fabric design at Textile High School, a vocational school in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. After modeling for artists employed by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project and working as a muralist’s assistant, she took a night course in fashion illustration at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
She soon showed her work to Brodovitch, who was impressed. Waiving tuition, he accepted her into his Design Laboratory at the New School for Social Research, where she changed her emphasis from fashion illustration to graphic design.
Brodovitch took her on as his unpaid apprentice at Harper’s Bazaar in 1941, but desperate to earn money she left to become an assistant to the art director at Elizabeth Arden, whereupon Brodovitch anointed her his first paid assistant. Like her mentor, she was artistically daring. At Junior Bazaar, she experimented with abandon, treating fashion in a bold, graphic style and floating images in space.
“One week we decided that we were going to do all green vegetables, so we had the designers make all green clothing, green lipstick, green hair, green everything,” she told Print magazine in 2006.
Her nonadvertising work appeared frequently in Harper’s Bazaar, and she developed close relationships with a long list of the era’s top models, including Barbara Mullen (her muse), Dovima and Suzy Parker.
The stylistic changes of the 1960s, however, left her cold. The models, too. “I got sick of them,” she told The Times in 2009. “They were becoming superstars. They were not my kind of models. They were dictating rather than taking direction.”
In 1969, disappointed with the photographic profession and her prospects, she destroyed most of her commercial negatives. She put more than 100 editorial negatives in trash bags, putting them aside in her converted carriage house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She soon forgot all about them.
By the mid-1970s, she was out of the fashion world entirely and had begun focusing on her own work, taking large-format Cibachrome photographs of glistening fruits, vegetables and flowers, pictures of cracks in the city streets and distorted male torsos based on photographs in bodybuilding magazines.
It was not until the early 1990s that Martin Harrison, a fashion curator and historian who was staying at her house, found the long-forgotten negatives. He encouraged her to revisit them.
Ms. Bassman took a fresh look at the earlier work. She began reprinting the negatives, applying some of the bleaching techniques and other toning agents with which she had first experimented in the 1940s, creating more abstract, mysterious prints.
“In looking at them I got a little intrigued, and I took them into the darkroom, and I started to do my own thing on them,” she told The Times. “I was able to make my own choices, other than what Brodovitch or the editors had made.”
Her reinterpretations, as she called them, found a new generation of admirers. A full-fledged revival of her career ensued, with gallery shows and international exhibitions, including a joint retrospective at the Deichtorhallen museum in Hamburg with her husband and a series of monographs devoted to her photography.
A one-woman show at the Hamiltons Gallery in London, organized by Mr. Harrison in 1993, was followed by exhibitions at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris and an assignment from The New York Times Magazine to cover the haute couture collections in Paris in 1996. She completed her last fashion assignment for German Vogue in 2004.
Mr. Himmel died in 2009, having abandoned photography in his late 50s to become a psychiatric caregiver in the city’s hospitals and later a psychiatrist in private practice. Besides her son, the editor in chief of Abrams Books, she is survived by a daughter, Liza Himmel, known as Lizzie; two grandchildren; and a step-grandchild.
Ms. Bassman’s work has been published in “Lillian Bassman” (1997) and “Lillian Bassman: Women” (2009). A new book, “Lillian Bassman: Lingerie,” is to be published by Abrams on April 1.
February 11, 2012, 7:00 AM
Mitch Epstein’s series of New York City trees were featured in this week’s Voyages Issue, accompanied by an essay by Michael Kimmelman. His work will be exhibited in March at Sikkema Jenkins. Kathy Ryan, the magazine’s photography director, talked to him about the peculiar challenges of his project.
What inspired you to do the trees?
Trees have long been an interest of mine, and I wanted to do a piece that was in part about New York and also a work that would take me forward from “American Power,” where I spent five years traveling the country looking at sites where energy was produced and consumed. It had long been an idea in the back of my head to photograph trees in New York. A year ago I was traveling in the Everglades, and I had the intuition this was the time to do it. That led me to buying a box of 8-by-10 black-and-white sheet film. I’m essentially a color photographer. But I had this instinct that color would be an interference with the pictures I wanted to make. I really wanted the trees to be a part of the city — to be contextualized by the city.
Q. How does black and white give you a greater ability to contextualize the trees?
A. Well, I wanted the trees to come forward, both in a formal and a conceptual way. I realized there was a lot about the contemporary urban landscape that was colored that was going to become a distraction. Whether it was the yellow streetlights, the cross lights at the intersections, or the color of the red fire hydrant. There was also the potential to fall prey to the sameness of the color, especially in the summer season, when yes, there are varieties of green but the green is what is prevailing. Somehow black and white doesn’t prevail as a palette the same way color does. I wanted the urban populace and the architecture to in some way serve as a stage set and become something that would drop back for the trees, which would become the primary subject — the primary focal point of the picture. I also had the sense that it would be riskier in color because of the pitfalls of the picturesque.
Q. What do you mean by the “pitfalls of the picturesque”?
A. There are certain subjects for photography that are by their nature contrived. It would be hard to make a breakthrough picture of, say, a baby. At the same time, it is hard to photograph fall foliage because it’s so seductive. It takes over. It is hard to penetrate. I didn’t want the color to be intrusive. I didn’t want the color to be a distraction to what was intrinsic to the picture. The way I have moved forward with my photography is to change tools, materials, and subjects in ways that are unfamiliar and often a little bit uneasy. That was all part of the gambit here for me.
Q. How did you choose your trees?
A. I found a list the city drew up in the ’80s designating certain trees in the five boroughs as “great trees.” I also found a resource guide — “New York City Trees” — a field guide for the metropolitan area by Edward Sibley Barnard. It was also helpful in steering me as well to areas that were rich in parkland and in old groves of trees. Researching on the Internet, I found out about a 300-plus-year-old tree in Washington Square Park. That was the first tree I went to.
Q. Tell us about photographing that tree in Washington Square Park.
A. Before bringing the 8-by-10 camera, I photographed the tree several times with a little digital camera. I spent time with the tree. It was January, and I first had to educate myself as to when the light would be at a favorable vantage point in the sky.
Q. Why did you choose January for this tree?
A. After initially photographing it in January, I went back several times over the course of the winter months, trying to understand the best vantage point to photograph the tree. I wanted the transparency that the bare branches gave the tree, so you could see the buildings through the branches. Once it became spring, the trees began to bloom and suddenly there was no more transparency, because of all the leaves and growth that came with spring. So I didn’t have the opportunity again until the fall. I made several visits in the fall, but it wasn’t until late December, early January that the leaves were all gone from the tree. Not every picture is like that, but in this case it was important for me to find a way to step back, to see the tree in its full scale.
Q. So you went from showing a detail of the tree the first time you shot it, to deciding that the picture had to be the whole tree, with bare branches.
A. That often happens. Often I am making pictures that become sketches for other pictures. With the 8-by-10 camera, there is the opportunity to make pictures that are very layered. The prints of these pictures for the exhibition will be 68 inches high — the size of a human being. You will have the opportunity to step into them and to engage with every detail.
Q. Can you tell us about the gigantic Cottonwood on Staten Island?
A. What was interesting is that an old house by the tree had been torn down, and there were rows of condominiums put in, and before I had even taken the camera out, people in the neighborhood came up to me and began to tell me stories about how the contractor that put up the houses had to tear out a lot of the roots of the tree, and they were concerned about it. The tree was a kind of anchor for the people, and they were disgruntled about it. There was a sense of community ownership of the tree. I’m conspicuous with this big camera, and people are curious, especially today when nobody is using cameras like these.
Q. So when they pulled up the roots of this tree, it looks like it wasn’t enough to hurt it.
A. Well, one doesn’t know. It was within the last decade or so. The tree looks like it’s thriving.
Q. What month did you photograph this Eastern Cottonwood?
A. September 2011. There was a deep fog, and I was thinking, ‘Gosh, I got up at a this early hour, and maybe nothing’s going to happen.’ But I got there, and I photographed the tree. One of the problems that I had during multiple visits to this tree was there were always cars parked on the street, including one in the spot I needed to place the camera for the vantage point I wanted. I asked this one gentleman who was always coming out to walk his dog in the morning whether he would move his car, and he always refused to do so. He had absolutely no interest in the fact I was there. And one day, and it happened to be this day, I got lucky, and he got in his car and he drove off. This was the fixed point from which I could make the picture I’d been striving to make.
Q. You said it was arduous photographing this tree. Why?
A. I’m on a ladder. To decrease the distortion you get up on a ladder so you are not tilting too much. I have certain limitations of depth of field with a large camera like this. By being a little above the ground, I can bring the focus in. When I have a tree that’s 100 feet high, I can get myself at a vantage point which is going to enable me to photograph the lower part of the tree so that it’s not just flat to the ground. I’m always working up against time. The light is changing all the time. With this tree, I was there maybe at 7:15 a.m., but I’ve already been there before, and I know that at 8, this corner is where all the kids congregate to get picked up by the school bus.
Q. Are there trees that you want to photograph that you haven’t yet? Are there still some on your wish list?
A. Yes, there are. Many.
by Denise Hamilton
ILLUSTRATION: JOHN BURGOYNE
Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) is a grassy plant from the tropics and subtropics whose roots have been distilled for their fragrant oil since ancient times. Originating in India—where it is known as khus—vetiver grows wild and is also cultivated in Haiti, Java, much of Asia and the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean.
Prized by perfumers for its green, earthy, vegetal, woodsy notes, vetiver is a wonder plant. Its dried grasses, which give off a pleasant odor when sprinkled with water, are woven into mats, curtains and screens, while its deep roots are used by conservationists worldwide to stop soil erosion. The essential oil within is known for healing ayurvedic properties.
In India, it flavors everything from syrups to ice cream, so if Hollywood clubs begin offering $22 ayurvedic vetiver martinis, I foresee a thriving business. But in the scent world, it's actually the Grüner Veltliner of its ilk—cool, wet, crisp, mineralesque and refreshing, with a hint of saline-infused earth.
It is also a staple of classic European perfumery. Guerlain, Givenchy, Lanvin, Creed and Carven have long made traditional vetiver colognes for gentlemen, though some have weathered reformulation better than others. Due to the fixative properties of the oil, vetiver has been used as a heart, or basenote, in women's perfumes since the early 1920s, but it was usually relegated to a supporting role in favor of jasmine, rose, neroli and ylang-ylang.
No longer. Recent years have seen an explosion of fragrances starring vetiver. Almost every niche line today has one, as perfumers strive to put their stamp on this most ancient and yet timeless of notes. And vetiver's brisk, bracing aspect makes it a perfect unisex fragrance for the 21st century. If perfumery had a smart drug—one that made you focus, breathe deeply, stay alert and invigorated—this would be it.
Vetiver also offers perfumers an ideal palette. It can lay against skin, all cool, gray-green and dusty, like Annick Goutal's Vétiver. Or it can turn raw and intense like Etro Vetiver, Maître Parfumeur et Gantier's Route du Vetiver and the ultimate fetishist vetiver, Isabelle Doyen Turtle Vetiver Exercise No. 1 by LesNez—a 2009 limited edition that hit like a snootful of damp soil before turning pungent Galapagos green. It quickly sold out, but cheer up—LesNez Turtle Vetiver Exercise No. 2 just came out last month, so grab a sample while you can.
The scent is clean, green, classic and almost soapy in Creed's classic Original Vetiver, politely sedate in Tom Ford Grey Vetiver and a juicy green explosion in Tauer Vetiver Dance. If paired with warm notes like vanilla, patchouli, amber, root beer, tobacco, tea or fruit, it grows languid.
Natural perfumes like Ayala Moriel's Vetiver Racinettes and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's Vetyver are available from their sites. If you have a perfume sweet tooth, try Miller Harris Vetiver Bourbon, Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental, Etat Libre d'Orange's Fat Electrician, Hermés Vetiver Tonka, Etro Shaal Nuur, Molinard Vétyver or L'Artisan Coeur de Vetiver Sacre.
Or if savory is more your thing, vetiver blends well with smoke, incense and marine notes in Lalique's Encre Noire (a steal if you buy online), Chanel Sycomore, Moriel Orcas (nominated for a 2012 FiFi Award—the ceremony takes place just after our presstime) and the Different Company's Sel de Vetiver, which evokes ocean-salty, sun-warmed skin.
Avant-garde perfumer Geza Schoen loves vetiver so much he designed an entire line—his Escentric Molecules 03—in homage to the synthetic molecule etiveryle acetate.
Some forthright versions that approach soli-flores—scents with the essence of a single bloom—are Diptyque's Vetyverio and Vettiveru by Commes des Garçons, while Guerlain's Vetiver cologne is a classic essay in equipoise. One of my favorites, for its plush-pillow intensity, is the cedar, bergamot, cumin, pine and citrus in Frédéric Malle Vétiver Extraordinaire by the brilliant Dominique Ropion.
Don't have $155 to splurge? Choose an upscale bargain like Parfums de Nicolaï Vetyver ($45) or the woods-cedar heavy L'Occitane Vetiver ($48). Or there are Jo Malone's Black Vetyver Café and Red Vetyver by Montale—the latter pairs the cool green root with spices, pepper and patchouli.
Raw vetiver, which is sourced by perfumers as avidly as foodie chefs and winemakers stalk their ingredients, varies by climate and soil. Haitian and Réunion renderings have more floral aspects; plants from India and Java are more woody and rooty. Natural perfumer Anya McCoy down in tropical Florida is even experimenting with growing her own.
As with Jasper Johns' White Flag painting, vetiver's gradations reveal themselves subtly over time. Within its humble, homely beige roots, there lies an entire olfactory world.
When Sara Moonves, T’s fashion editor, received a terrarium as a holiday gift, the entire office was smitten. This bijou oasis provided a moment of tranquility in the midst of the daily style department chaos. Incredibly low-maintenance (they only need to be watered once), terrariums are just the thing for urbanites like us who are strapped for space and yearning for a patch of greenery. Further inspired by “Nocturne of the Limax maximus,”the artist and landscape designer Paula Hayes’s recent installation of cast acrylic and hand-blown glass containers filled with tropical plants at the Museum of Modern Art, we wanted to know where we could get a mini-garden all our own.
“I was shocked to learn that not everyone makes terrariums!” says the designer Jose Agatep, who grew up making terrariums with his father in their garden. Agatep surprised friends with these handmade flora snow globes, and they wanted more. “People started calling me an artist!” he excitedly recalls.
His terrariums, which he designs under the name the Slug and the Squirrel, come in all shapes and sizes and are a recent addition to Anthropologie’s home décor collection. The containers are welded together from vases, bottles and cups Agatep that finds at flea markets and then embellishes with silver. He fills them with plants from a local Philadelphia flower shop and soil and wood chips from along forest trails and train tracks. (He particularly likes taking components from the outdoors because they come with the bacteria and insects necessary to maintain the self-contained ecosystem, and sometimes they sprout mushrooms, much to his customers’ surprise.) “Everything is so … technology,” he says. “We need the nature. It’s a good reminder of how it used to be.”
The Slug and the Squirrel terrariums ($28 to $398) are available at select Anthropologie stores.
I love her facial terrain...
HAPPY FEET Now you don’t have to wear flip-flops to the nail salon in January. Bootie Pies are Ugg-like suede and leather boots with collapsible front flaps so that recently painted toes can continue to dry without risking hypothermia to the rest of the foot. The collection, introduced in 2007, now offers a low boot. Colors include off-white, black and lavender ($68 to $88 atbootiepies.com).