A Memorable Film Example: “Anna Lucasta” (United Artists, 1958)

If I were to think back to all of the classic films I’ve seen, and all of the clips that’ve inspired me, I’d have trouble coming up with a favorite. But if I had to name one scene that emotionally impacted me the most I’d have to say it was the cafe scene from Anna Lucasta (United Artists, 1958).

Background of Story and Film

Directed by Arnold Laven and written by Philip Yordan, who also wrote the story for the stage, it has an all-black cast starring Eartha Kitt as Anna Lucasta, Sammy Davis, Jr. as Danny Johnson and other notable actors. The plot centers around Anna, a wharf prostitute, who was thrown out of her childhood home by her father who didn’t approve of her boyfriend. She ends up in San Diego, California, where she’s forced to resort to prostitution after a thief steals all of her money.

Anna Lucasta Film Clip

Anna Lucasta: The Cafe Scene

Shot-by-Shot: The Cafe Scene

In the cafe scene, there are a variety of emotions that feel very intense due to the intimate setting of the wharf location. It includes Anna, Danny, a sailor, Danny’s friend, Lester, and the cafe owner.

Starting with a medium shot that establishes the location and Anna’s glee over seeing Danny’s arrival following the ensuing medium wide shots of Danny and Anna reuniting, her meeting Lester and standing either at the bar or sitting at a table, help show her professional facade as a working girl. In these shots, she’s either seems world-weary, sarcastic, overly joyful or flirtations, which contrasts effectively with the extreme close-ups that display her inner vulnerability.

When Danny places a necklace he’s brought her around her neck, while they’re at the bar,a close-up of her face registers a brief look of surprise then a medium shot shows her transforming back into her previous persona by openly flirting with Lester. One of the most gripping parts, of this scene, is when Danny “proposes” to Anna and the close-up features a longer connection to her softer side that reveals she is emotionally touched by his offer.

A Romantic Dance and a Poignant Reunion

Soon after, when she and Danny dance together, a pan shot is used to catch their graceful movements and a true sense of delight is captured through Anna’s laughter and body language. A medium shot is then utilized to catch Danny dipping Anna dramatically. This shot demonstrates how much fun they’re having dancing together and sets up the final portion of the scene when they stop, return to the bar, and Anna sees her father looking at her through the cafe window. An extreme close-up is used to catch Anna’s shock and sadness.

Cinematic Truth

What really captured my heart, in this clip, was how much of an actress Anna had to be in order to live the life she chose and how much she had to give up to do it. Ultimately she still wants love and a happy ending, but from this scene, it’s questionable whether or not she’ll ever have one. I feel the director and editor did an excellent job of bringing out the strength of the writing and acting with the types of shots they chose and when they decided to use them. As a viewer, seeing it for the first time, this approach helped the film remain memorable and unforgettable.

Anna Lucasta Film Poster

The Tap Practice (Movement)

The Tap Practice (Victoria Moore tap dancing to So What?)

When I think of movement I think of dance, which is what I do whenever the spirit moves me. I’ve been taking tap for over 10 years now, and since it combines music/sound and movement I thought it’d be perfect to film and experiment with. I chose So What? from the Kind of Blue album by Miles Davis to tap to, because it’s my go-to music for inspiration.

My “costume” for the piece is realistic, and includes a white GAP tuxedo shirt I bought at my favorite Goodwill Thrift Store, a pair of white shorts from Forever 21, and a pair of black leggings from Ross Dress For Less. Since black and white are traditional colors for tap dancing I thought I’d play around with the palette and give it a unique retro/contemporary twist.

Shooting a Sequence

An essential as creating a beautiful dress from a pattern with the requisite tracing, cutting, pinning, sewing and ironing the “five-shot formula” is equally elemental. Called “your bread and butter coverage” by Kenneth Kobre in Chapter 10: Shooting a Sequence (Videojournalism Multimedia Storytelling) it includes: “Wide Shot (WS), Medium Shot (MS), Close-up Shot (CU), Point-of-View (POV) and Reaction Shot (RS).” To truly rise above amateur status to professional and concoct a lovely multi-layered story it’s necessary to opt for “five shots” over a lengthy monotonous one of an image.

Wide Shot (WS) and Medium Shot (MS)

Examined individually the “Wide Shot (WS),” sometimes known as the “long or establishing shot” is utilized for determining the location for a “sequence or overall story.” It indicates story placement and individual positioning. For the majority of the “action” and plot the “Medium Shot (MS)” is used. Similar to an editorial lede, with an inverted pyramid of “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How,” it gives the audience an opportunity to examine the physical clues and facial gestures of the players.

Close-up Shot (CU), Point-of-View Shot (POV) and Reaction Shot (RS)

“Close-up shots (CU)” introduce “drama” because they reveal a detailed examination of a subject without the interference of traditional barriers. Another type of “Close-up”, the “detail” or “cutaway shot” also acts as a diversion for the audience before the ensuing introduction of the following shot. “Point-of-view (POV) Shots” allow the audience to actually observe through the eyes of the “subject” by positioning directly within their line of vision.

In Chapter 10: Shooting a Sequence (Videojournalism Multimedia Storytelling) Kobre uses the example of “how a canvas appears to the painter’s eye after he dabs oils onto it.” Lastly, the “Reaction Shot (RS)” displays the response when an amusing, or exciting commentary or event occurs. Sometimes combined “with a Close-up” it performs as a compliment to the action following it.

Visual storytelling, a “narrative” that utilizes photos, drawings, and video to relay a story, is unique when compared to the oral and literary forms of storytelling because of the enhancement of graphic design, musical accompaniment, and speech. It primarily uses the language of external sight, in lieu of words, and translates the page and our daily existence, into images that’re equally unforgettable.

What is Video Editing?

Fall 2018 Bottega Veneta Ad Campaign Model: Fran Summers

Video Editing is the visual process of creating a coherent story from individual images. Kenneth Kobre in Videojournalism Multimedia Storytelling compares it to “penning “an essay” where the preliminary words are organized to form the final result.” The main goal is to present a cohesive succession of events that logically make sense to the viewer once everything is in place.

Technically this can be done on, Adobe Premiere Pro, by “first accumulating a group of complimentary shots to depict an action and imported.” Next, they are placed in the Timeline to form a sequence. To make a professional looking video, that isn’t composed of one long continuous shot, various ones are consistently added when necessary.

Bottega Veneta’s Fall/Winter 2018 Ad Campaign:

The three short films director Fabien Baron shot for Bottega Veneta’s Fall/
Winter 2018 campaign, Intuition, Blackout and Doubles are an excellent example of good editing. By utilizing the moody setting, selective product placement and appropriate players effectively the combination of “wide, medium, close-up, point-of-view, and reaction shots” are used competently enough to make the stories emotionally and intellectually compelling for the audience. So in conclusion, from these examples, you can surmise that Video Editing relies on the strength of its separate parts to relay its ultimate meaning cohesively.

Why Jane Birkin? Why Now?

By the time I get home from my shift as a Special Ed Instructional Assistant, for LAUSD, I feel like an over-heated pup. My hair’s usually a mess after the students I work with play in it, my makeup’s blurry and soft focus, and my clothes a little more wrinkled and uncomfortable.

To get around looking like a total disaster every work day I often study style icons who magically appear comfortable, chic and elegant and try to imitate their style. This past year, with my stressful work schedule and school demands, I’ve been drawn more and more to Jane Birkin.

Tall and thin, like me, her uniform of jeans, tees, button-downs, sneakers and straw basket carry-alls looked very appealing and accessible. The last time I emulated her I wore a beige cotton Banana Republic jacket over a navy blue tee, from Forever 21, a pair of 1970’s style Levi’s I found at Ross Dress For Less for $2,99, a yellow cotton hat, aviator shades, and a yellow foulard print silk neckerchief.

Exhausted from another tiring week, I was surprised when the teacher I worked for insisted I have my picture taken with the class for Picture Day!

As I sat for my individual photo, I thought about my blog Every Day Fashion: Style for the Mainstream, and remembered I’d started it for moments like this and why I admired Jane Birkin. While there are spectacular moments that call for grandiose costumes there are also small ones that require attractive, well-made clothing that last for years.

Recognizing Strong Story Hooks

Before I commit myself to a fashion article I do three things: (1) assess the title, (2) study the adjoining visuals, and (3) peruse the lede. From there I can tell whether it’s worth my time or not. Unusual phrasing and quotes often hold me, as does a new twist on an old subject. With the competition from books, the internet and T.V., I appreciate a writer who considers these obstacles when writing.

Eliza Douglas, Model

Balenciaga F/W 2016-2017

Compelling Articles:

Two articles that used the “examples of synergy” angle and really mesmerized me were Paint It Black by Mark Giudicci (Vogue, September 2017) and Heart and Sole by Lynn Yeager (Vogue, September 2017). In the first one it begins like a typical art piece, identifying “artist/model” Eliza Douglas as a painter then ends with her revelations about being a Balenciaga model. Somehow, Giudicci ties her two worlds together, by explaining it’s her personal style, at 30, that caught Lotta Volkova’s attention, not her beauty. A surprising, but refreshing twist, for the fashion industry.

Manolo Blahnik shoe

Shoe Story:

Reversing the synergy tactic, but still revealing the tale of an older, but influential mover, Yeager unveils Manolo Blahnik’s life and career as deftly as the “biodoc” does he’s doing with director Michael Roberts. Art again is the liaison for this piece, but this time it’s fashion and film. One of the aspects I admired about these stories is their versatility to reach different types of readers.

Candace Bresler

Beautiful Body Image:

Body image is such a sensitive subject I was surprised how frankly it was discussed in Why I No Longer Care About Being Small by Candace Bresler (Stylewatch, September 2015), Game Changers by Kay Barron (Porter, Fall 2017), and Eye of the Beholder by Liz Hoggard (Porter, Winter 2017). Contrasting with Bresler’s “personal reflection” about her size, with actress Sophie Turner’s take on Hollywood about weight, and Hoggard’s discoveries about Louise-Dahl Wolfe’s photographic approach, I gained a new perspective regarding this issue.

Despite prevalent subjects in fashion journalism, about designers, runway shows, and trends, my passion for additional sidelines rules my reading choices. In the end, it’s the way the writer crafts a story and presents it to me, as a new reader, that holds my gaze.

Everything Old is Better Again

Slow Fashion Movement

When I read Sandra Shea’s book The Realm of Secondhand Souls (2000) I never thought it’s meaning about “yesterday’s clothes having a living history” was that profound until I learned about the “Slow Fashion Movement”. The aspect of it that appeals to me, as a vintage clothing collector and secondhand shopping enthusiast, are the financial and aesthetic benefits. Another advantage is the emotional attachment felt for the clothing bought carefully instead of as part of a trend. If a woman spends $8.00 on a Giorgio Armani blazer, at a thrift store, she won’t easily throw it away.

Now every time I see a discarded garment on the street I feel the need to examine the correlation between how much consumers, in the past, cherished their clothing much more than consumers seem to today. They also seemed to take more pride in their appearance and be better dressed.

With the variegated position fashion now holds for consumers, retailers and designers, this argument is worth considering and adhering to especially as we face a future of sustainability vs. out-of-control trends.

The Singer Lorde: A Great Musical and Fashion Icon for Today

Wavy dark hair framing snow white skin, high cheekbones and carefully painted lips, the singer Lorde is a bohemian from another time. Is she an enchanted witch or fairy out of a magical forest? No and no. She’s a complicated songstress whose modern tunes about alienation, boredom and romance have impacted the world.

Personal Background:

Born in Takapuna, New Zealand on November 7, 1996 her original name is Ella Marija Lani Yelich O’Connor. “I changed it to Lorde because I was fascinated with royals and aristocracy,” she said. Her father, Van O’Connor, a civil engineer, and her mother, the Croatian poet Sonia Yelich raised her in a supportive environment. Later her early cultural influences would form her trademark. Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Etta James would teach her about pain and suffering, and Kurt Vonnegut and J.D. Salinger and other writers about literature. Journalistic and intensely personal her main strength as a lyricist is relating short stories within a song. Similar to another New Zealand writer, Katherine Mansfield, she isn’t afraid to be real.

Cultural Influencer:

In 2013, at 16, after she released her first album Pure Heroine, she was featured on Time magazine’s “list of most influential teens”. Her image became as renowned as her sound, and soon the admitted feminist, was being wooed by MAC Cosmetics and Vogue magazine. With MAC she collaborated on a mini line-a sultry plum lipstick. Pure Heroine, and an eyeliner, Rapidblack. (Naughton and Born, 2014)

Lorde’s Style:

Unswayed by trends she admitted to Vogue that “she liked pants, structured dresses, and other clothes that made her feel powerful.” (Burton, 2014) In 2017, with the release of her second album, Melodrama, she graduated from Comme des Garcons to Jacquemas and vintage Giorgio di Sant’Angelo. This transformation started in 2016, when she moved away from the all-black theme of her adolescence, towards a more colorful palette. One of the most fascinating things about Lorde is her ability to see colors upon hearing certain notes, because she suffers from “sound-to-color-synesthesia.” This disorder is really emphasized effectively in her video Green Room where the lighting changes with her emotions as she sings.

Joining the ranks of her icons, Stevie Nicks and Prince, she’s carrying on both a musical and style tradition, in her own unique way.

Works Cited:

Naughton, Julie and Born, May. “Lorde on Influences and Cosmetics.” WWD, May 21, 2004

Burton, Cinya. “Lorde on Fashion: My Style Icons Are David Bowie and Grace Jones.” eonline.com, February 19, 2014

Nothing Beats Experience in Fashion Journalism (Op-Ed)

Blog Notes

Two things are true about fashion journalism today, social media is an option and trends are displayed quickly. Yet for “old school” veterans that hasn’t improved the industry, instead it’s lowered its standards. Taking a swipe at bloggers like Susie Bubble Sally Singer, Creative Digital Director for Vogue.com wrote, “They’re heralding the death of style.”

They’re heralding the death of style.

Sally Singer, Creative Digital Director for Vogue.com

When I’m surrounded by woefully attired passengers, diddling on their cell phones on the bus, in transparent leggings, garish t-shirts and pre-fabricated holey jeans, I must agree. If they’re being exposed to the latest online why aren’t they dressed better? I guess the phenomenal editing eye of Diana Vreeland, in the 1960’s, is as foreign to them as a tasteful pantsuit?

Polyvore Collage

Today, as a professional fashion/feature writer with over 20 years experience, I feel I’ve benefited immensely from paying my dues in print first. The same techniques-concocting an idea, researching it, then fleshing out a story-still apply and make my blogs just as strong as my print pieces. If I just decided to embark on a fashion journalism career because I can type and wear a size 6 that wouldn’t be the case.

Career Checklist: Chriselle Lim’s Tips for a Stylish Workday (http://www.whowhatwhere.com/chriselle-lim-work-wardrobe-tips-slide17) is a perfect example of how a fashion blogger transferred her print skills to the internet. This practice is eliminated by some over eager “street style bloggers” who just want to be seen immediately online to promote their blogs.

Their clothes aren’t carefully curated, and chosen out of self-awareness, but to play “dress up” as the icon they’re trying to be. Once the internet viewer sees them they falsely believe they’re a genuine fashion expert reporting on the latest. Realistically their presence dilutes the value of a viable design photographed by David Sims or Mario Testino for Vogue.

Letter to Diane Von Furstenberg Written by Diana Vreeland

In 2019, despite those who’ve successfully written fashion blogs and posted selfies without prior training, a portfolio with strong clips is still a requirement. A blog can be part of that if it’s consistently well written. An excellent way to ensure that is to get a solid education, take additional journalism and fashion classes, and write for a publication occasionally.

When this is achieved it’s possible to re-educate consumers who see clothing as disposable, a problem exacerbated by the internet. Whether they’re coached in fashion coordination, or creating a signature style, it should be a priority for responsible fashion bloggers. While social media can benefit fashion journalism profoundly, experience shouldn’t be overlooked in the process.

Works Cited:

Azher (Ali), Fateh, “How Social Media Is Changing Fashion”, Huffington Post, January 19, 2017 (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-social-media-is-changing-fashion)

Sabahat, Raza, “Positives and Negatives of Social Media”,Voice of Journalists, May 18, 2015 (https://www.voj.news/positives-and-negatives-of-social-media)

Materise, Maria, “Is Social Media Changing the Role of Journalists?”, Cision, August 7, 2015 (https://www.cision.com/us/2015/08/is-social-media-changing-the-role-of-journalists)

Bruzdaam, “Social Media Makes An Impact on Fashion Journalism”, Beginning Journalism A University of Wisconsin Edu Claire course site about journalism,”October 23, 2013 (https://cj222wordpress.com/2013/3/10/23.social-media-makes-an-impact-on-fashion-journalism/)

Manlisa, Racco, “Vogue.com Slams Fashion Bloggers: ‘You are heralding the death of style'”, National Global News.ca, September 26, 2016 (https://globalnews.ca/news/2963638/vogue-com-slams-fashion-bloggers-you-are-heralding-the-death-of-style/}

Marlo Thomas is That Woman!

Marlo Thomas Collage

When I first read the article Marlo Thomas: That Girl Grows Up in AARP magazine (December 2016) I couldn’t believe it’d taken her so long to create a clothing line. From 1966 to 1971, her sitcom That Girl was like a Vogue magazine come to life. Young and fun, besides Twiggy, she was one of the first women I ever saw wearing “The Carnaby Street Look” popularized by Mary Quant. Now she wants to bring her fabulous eye to fashion and help those who need it-women 40 and over-with contemporary clothing.

That Woman Collage

To come up with her designs she mined the That Girl archives and updated 15 interchangeable pieces that include a “draped front jacket”, matching pants, a suede moto jacket, a print skirt, and other pieces. Available in five colors to accomodate women of various ethnic groups, they’re also available in size small to 24X. She started selling them on HSN (Home Shopping Network) in January 2017.

The Collection in Action:

Initially I thought when I saw the “draped front jacket” on Colleen Lopez, the host of The List that it overwhelmed her because the dark color of it blended so closely with her pants, but then when she replaced it with the same jacket, in Peony Pink, and Thomas matched it with a keyhole top in the same shade it looked elegant. A model then came out in the same jacket, this time in cream, with matching pants and Thomas said, “You can wear it as sort of a suit,” proving the flexibility of the separates.

After examining the vintage McCall’s Sewing Patterns Thomas promoted, in the past, I saw the similarities between the simplicity of the designs then and what she’s recreated today. Pared down to appeal to a specific target customer, while I loved to way all of the pieces worked together, I wouldn’t have minded a few more design details on the “textured pullover sweater.” A nice row of pearl buttons on the shoulders perhaps? The pants too suffered from under-designing and might’ve been more versatile with a wider leg.

Marlo Thomas Collection

Yet what those items lacked in daring they made up for in versatility. The sweater would work with the pants and they would also work with the keyhole top. For this line, the magic seems to be in the coordination, giving the wearer more freedom and making her a permanent member of the fashion scene.