GRACE: A MEMOIR
Were it not for the 2009 film The September Issue, the world might have never known the creative zeitgeist that is Grace Coddington. A mainstay of the fashion world for several decades now, she’s the quieter, lesser-known companion to the stony-faced Anna Wintour and exuberant Andre Leon Talley. Readers may ant to prepare themselves for no-holds barred Insight into the world of a Vogue fashion editor. However, if you pick up this book with the expectation that it’ll be a The Devil Wears Prada-esque, spare-no-gory -details tale of what it’s like to work with some of the fashion industry’s greats then you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Coddington is somewhat reserved in recounting her story and you sense that she’s self-censoring or holding back the dirty details. Perhaps because of this, Coddington is a very likeable character and all the more accessible; she refuses to fit into the archetypal fashion maven stereotype of being cut-throat. Despite her guardedness, the memoir isn’t lacking in heart. There are many tender moments particularly with regard to the solid friendships cultivated over the course of her decades-long career. The name-dropping is eye-watering at times: Karl Lagerfeld, Lord Snowdon, Calvin Klein, Helmut Newton, David Bailey, etc. The book serves as a glorious history of the last 50 years in fashion, a veritable who’s who list. The stories about shooting her famous ‘travelogues’ are definite highlights.
Ultimately, the book is a beautifully crafted memoir that captures the essence of Coddington’s personality with its whimsical prose and charming hand-drawn illustrations— expect lots and lots of cats and hilarious caricatures. A must read if you’ve ever picked up a copy of Vogue or know who Azzendine Alaia is, or if you just generally want an insight into a brilliant, creative mind
BY ZARA SELMAN
Les Misérables is a melodramatic, romantic interpretation of the much-loved musical (which was adapted from the novel by Victor Hugo), and possibly the most hyped-up film of the 2012 Oscar season. Director Tom Hooper takes full advantage of his all-star cast, indulging in lingering close-up shots and dramatic pauses. Set in 19th century Paris, Les Misérables follows former prisoner Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) as he spends decades on the run after breaking parole. He chooses to lead a pious life and promises factory worker Fantine (Anne Hathaway) that he will care for her child, Cosette. Years later, Valjean and the now grown Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) are living in seclusion in Paris, where she falls in love with a young revolutionary, Marius (Eddie Redmayne). Jackman, as Jean Valjean, utilises masculine delivery and sentimental vocals. He is almost unrecognisable in the early prison scene and his many transformations over time are a testament to his acting talent.
Russell Crowe, despite being wincingly off-pitch and hinting at an Australian accent, illuminates the harshness of Valjean’s nemesis, Javert, and the villainy of the French authorities. Operatic and grandiose, this is not a relaxing film to watch. Hathaway’s iconic performance of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ is heart-wrenching. Despite the gloom, however, the screen is forever being filled with action — gunshots, wailing women, horses and even an elephant.
Ultimately, the sheer spectacle of the picture triumphs over the utter destitution of the miserable French. Les Misérables is a reminder that cinema has the power to recreate history with the emotional intensity of a full-scale stage production. When you have actors singing out of the studio and centuries of events to cover, it’s a mammoth task.
BY ANTIGONE ANAGNOSTELLIS
HOLIDAY – JACKIE ONASSIS
The summer break may have come and gone, but there’s still a chance to relive the searing heat and blissful freedom of the holidays via hip hop group Jackie Onassis’ hit debut EP, Holiday. The Sydney-based duo is the latest group to join One Day Crew: a hip hop collective from the Inner West. With tunes as smooth and classy as their eponym (Jackie Onassis was the wife of JFK), it ’s easy to see how the duo will be fitting into the One Day Crew family. Holiday kicks off its mellow and easy-going tone with ‘Smoke Trails’, a song custom-made for lazy days by the sea and lazier ones beneath the air-con. The crowd-pleasing rhythms and horn samples of the title track ‘Holiday’, featuring fellow One Day Crew members Spit Syndicate, are catchy and bound to stick in your head. Lyricist Kai Tan draws heavily on his experiences, creating an honest intimacy that is often absent in the hip-hop scene.
Notably, the emotionally dense ‘It Goes’ melds tales of unconventional relationships with hypnotic synthesizer. Meanwhile, ‘Outro’ plays the album out with some sweet instrumental beats from producer Raph Dixon, hinting at some real electronic work in the future for Jackie Onassis. As with Melbourne’s Illy, with whom Jackie Onassis toured recently, there’s a definite Gen-Y vibe to the EP; the themes of relationships and adolescence feature heavily in all eight tracks.
If you’re familiar with the Inner West hip hop scene, or are looking to hold on to that 30°C lethargy, the EP is available for free download on their website. So check out Holiday for some fresh, local sounds.
MILK MILK LEMONADE
Nowadays the stage and screen are filled with stories of gay boys coming to terms with their sexual identity. But New Theatre’s MilkMilkLemonade doesn’t pretend to be another epic coming-of-age tale. Instead, it’s a light-hearted but tender play that illuminates the troubles of a boy on his journey through adolescence. MilkMilkLemonade is one of many Mardi Gras arts events. Originally written by upcoming playwright Joshua Conkel, this is the first time the play has been performed in Australia. At the centre of the play is Emory: an 11-year-old boy stuck living on his Grandma’s chicken farm in rural America. Emory has starry dreams of becoming a ribbon dancer on a talent search TV show, but his dreams are dashed by the ‘wise’ words of his Grandma. With the help of his best friend, a giant, depressed chicken, and a lustful boy who lives down the road, Emory grapples with growing up gay and has his first encounter with death.
The cast work well together, each actor bringing a unique energy to the stage. Pete Nettell in particular does an excellent job embodying Emory’s aging, ill and intolerant Grandma, filling the role with both truth and comedy. Antoinette Barnouttis’ synthetic set, with its AstroTurf and stuffed model chickens, compliments the drama and the concepts behind the work.
Punctuated by dance numbers and a stand-up comedy routine, there are some great moments in this play. However some of the darker themes of the play, including bullying and domestic violence, were glossed over, which unfortunately impacted somewhat upon the character’s development. MilkMilkLemonade is good for a laugh and, despite a slow start, develops into an engaging and entertaining play.