This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Allure Of Old Hollywood (And The Chateau Marmont)

There’s something about Hollywood’s Golden Age that implies mysticism and allure as though the era never truly existed. They say that about Hollywood itself—-that it never truly exists but in our minds. I always felt that if I had a chance, I’d go back to ‘30s-‘40s era Hollywood. It was a time when movie stars were “stars” in the grandest sense. They dressed the part and wore the flowing robes of gods and goddesses in a way that made them untouchable, elusive, and mysterious. Movies and stars, and even Hollywood itself, had magic. Maybe it’s true what they say-- perhaps it was an illusion all along.

 That doesn’t mean we don’t try to recreate it. The Artist, released in 2011, caused a stir in Hollywood. Black-and-white film was suddenly new again and every fashion magazine sought to feature the latest vintage designs inspired by the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s. The Great Gatsby kept it going. Hats and hair-clips, jeweled accessories, feathers and fringe—all of this made it fun to play dress-up again. We know something is missing in the modern era when we begin looking to the past for inspiration.

Up-and-coming fashion designers, Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock of Vena Cava envisioned a vintage Hollywood look for a recent collection. Charlotte Dellal, based in London, opened up Charlotte Olympia, a boutique in Beverly Hills that speaks to anyone who loves classic film: Think glittery Mae West stilettos and pumps featuring the likes of Bette Davis and Louise Brooks.

As I write this, I’m sitting at the outdoor patio of the fabled Chateau Marmont. It all seems quite appropriate. Sofia Coppola often called this place home. She came back to shoot Somewhere. (To date, I believe it’s the only film shoot the Chateau has ever allowed.)

Writers find inspiration here. Troubled starlets find solace here. Even designers find that the Chateau brings out the best in them. The Art-décor inspired patio furniture is simple yet elegant, not unlike the old Hollywood it evokes. My wicker chair is speckled black-and-white with a single stripe of red down the middle. I think there’s a journalist interviewing a playwright across from me. She sort of looks like Andie Macdowell yet more sophisticated, more refined.

There’s a pleasant atmosphere here, not the stuffiness that one might surmise—given its legacy. A cool breeze wafts through the foliage surrounding me. It’s quiet, yet not at all silent. The traffic of nearby Sunset Blvd can barely be heard over the clattering of dishes and the conversations of nearby diners. It’s easy to understand why celebrities feel at home. There’s an implication of safety and seclusion here. The Chateau itself looks like a castle—an architectural anomaly that doesn’t quite fit in with the buildings surrounding it. That makes it all the more magical and alluring. It seems like a place that holds secrets that no one’s talking about. I find myself feeling oddly protective of keeping those secrets even if I only get a sense of them.

As I get up to leave, I spin around and eye a gentleman who resembles Robert Downey, Jr. We lock eyes in a moment of faux recognition. I decide it’s not him, but he’s handsome just the same.
For a moment, I feel awkward—as though I’m a fraud in this Hollywoodland of which I don’t belong. However, this, too, is just an illusion. I belong wherever I am. Like all illusions, it’s based on perception.

Copyright ©2013 by KLiedle

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