Dana Thomas

Stories by Dana Thomas

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    Henri Huet's Vietnam War Photos on Display

    Huet’s shots of soldiers slogging through rivers and casualties strewn in the mud show not only the trauma and destruction of the war but also, at times, the poetic beauty of a ravaged land.
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    Bulgari on Parade

    Despite recessionary bruises, the luxury jewelry house stages a glittery 125th-birthday retrospective.
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    The Looming Battle for Hermès

    LVMH’s Bernard Arnault has an insatiable appetite for luxury brands. Now the ‘wolf in cashmere’ is licking his chops over one of the last family-controlled companies in the business: Hermès. Will he win, and turn class to mass?
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    Valerie Plame Movie 'Fair Game' Opens in Cannes

    When columnist Robert Novak unveiled Valerie Plame as a CIA undercover operative in his syndicated column in 2003, Plame reportedly confessed to a friend, “I didn’t plan for this day.”
  • Clothes That Made The Man

    Valentino's designs are as suitable today as when Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O wore them.
  • Sunset Marquis Hotel, Hollywood

    For most of its 45 years, it's been known as a discreet retreat for the wild and famous: Courtney Love wrote a song about the place, Brad Pitt moved in when he and Jennifer Aniston split and, most famously, '60s rock icon Janis Joplin spent the last year of her life there. Still run by its original owners, the Rosenthal family, the Sunset Marquis has just completed a $20 million expansion, adding 40 high-design Mediterranean-style villas. ...
  • Saïd Taghmaoui: From The Ghetto To The Global Screen

    Saïd Taghmaoui may be the most unlikely movie star ever to come out of France. The youngest of 10 children of Moroccan immigrants, he grew up in la Cité des 3000, the notorious ghetto in Aulnay-sous-Bois, the poor Paris suburb and flash point for France's race riots in 2005. He dropped out of school at 14 and became a delinquent, spray-painting his graffiti tag wherever he could. He got into boxing, and by the time he was 17 he had made it to the French championships twice. He proved a deft break-dancer and joined a French gangsta-rap group called Assassin. In 1995, Taghmaoui teamed up with aspiring filmmaker and friend Mathieu Kassovitz to make the revolutionary film "La Haine" ("Hate"), a blunt look at the turbulent lives of the residents of the French projects. The film earned wide acclaim and won Kassovitz the best-director award at Cannes. And it set Taghmaoui on a course to global fame.Today the 34-year-old actor has scored a string of big Hollywood roles unmatched by a French...
  • Branded For Success

    American couturier James Galanos talks about how fashion has changed, and dressing Nancy Reagan.
  • When Rock Was Young

    In March 1955, the teen drama "Blackboard Jungle" hit U.S. movie theaters, with a rollicking tune called "Rock Around the Clock" played during the opening credits. Within weeks, American youths around the country were jitterbugging to it; by July the Bill Haley and His Comets song had reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts. It stayed there for eight weeks, turning the fledgling sound called rock and roll into a bona fide musical genre.This summer, in honor of the 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, the Fondation Cartier, a contemporary art center in Paris underwritten by Cartier jewelers, celebrates those early years with "Rock 'n' Roll 39-59" (through Oct. 28). The fun, interactive exhibition tells the stories of rock's first stars, from Haley and Presley to Little Richard and Buddy Holly. It's a lively tale, revisited through music, film, photographs and memorabilia—including a vintage Seeburg V200 jukebox that visitors can play free of charge. "From the day I started...
  • Everything a Man Wants

    In his ten years as creative director of Gucci, American-born designer Tom Ford not only turned luxury fashion into a hedonistic fantasy, he helped take it global and mass-market. Three years ago, after failed contract negotiations with the Gucci Group, he abruptly left Gucci and his post as creative head of Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, and withdrew from the fashion scene. Now Ford's back, and with a new model: bespoke men's wear in a sumptuous setting with impeccable service. He opened his first store on New York's Madison Avenue in April. Earlier this month, he announced his plans for expansion, including stores in London, Paris, Milan and Beverly Hills within three years and another 100 or so franchises worldwide by 2017. NEWSWEEK's Dana Thomas spoke with Ford, who was dressed in a chic charcoal gray hopsack suit and an old white Gucci shirt, at his headquarters in London. Excerpts: ...
  • Faceless Fashion

    Quick: name the designer for Yves Saint Laurent. How about Gucci? Céline? Givenchy? Chloé? Seven or eight years ago, the answers were easy: Tom Ford, Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, respectively. All were fashion stars who had become household names, and their stardom drew the spotlight onto their brands, increasing sales exponentially. Some of those brands grew to the point of doing more than $1 billion a year in sales. In return, the stars commanded multimillion-dollar deals, commuted on the Concorde, were ushered about town in limos andshowed up on red carpets almost as often as the celebrities they dressed. They worked large, and they lived large. They weren't just the creators of luxury fashion; they were its emblems.But now celebrity fashion designers have gone the way of the power suit: they're so last century. Luxury brands no longer swipe stars from their competitors, as Christian Dior did in 2000 with Yves Saint Laurent's famed menswear...
  • Home Shopping Network

    In the old days, ladies traveled to Paris to attend the couture shows in the ornate salons of the designers' headquarters. Afterward, they met with their personal vendeuses—or saleswomen—to try on the creations they desired. Then they hit the slopes or the beach until their garments were ready. Couture was a fun and civilized affair for clients, and a very good business for fashion houses.During the past two decades, however, as the number of people enjoying such lavish lives of leisure has declined, couture has struggled to survive. In the 1950s, according to the Federation Française de la Couture, there were 20,000 clients; in the 1980s, 2,000, and in the past 10 years, the number has dwindled to a few hundred worldwide-mostly wealthy socialites and businesswomen-who still regularly visit top designers for made-to-measure clothes. Several houses—including Yves Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro and Versace—have shut their ateliers. The twice-annual couture weeks in Paris have shrunk to...
  • Cannes: Defending Terror

    On Sept. 30, 1956, a beautiful young Algerian revolutionary named Djamila Bouhired planted a bomb in an Algiers bar that killed 17 people. The bombing was the turning point in Algeria's fight for independence from France. Bouhired was arrested, tried in court, found guilty of terrorism and sentenced to death. Then a young French lawyer named Jacques Vergès who supported Bouhired's anticolonial cause took on her case. Through a relentless press campaign in France and wily legal moves in Algeria, Vergès managed to get Bouhired pardoned and released. She went on to become the emblem of Algeria's successful fight for independence—the French withdrew in 1962—as well as Vergès's wife and the springboard for his career as the defender of terrorists and despots.Director Barbet Schroeder explores the enigmatic Vergès in "Terror's Advocate," a clear-eyed documentary that debuted to raves in Cannes last month and hits French movie theaters this week. Schroeder has a history of examining the...
  • Cannes Surprises: Small Films Win Big

    For the first time in as long as anyone can remember, the film that critics and audiences felt should win the Cannes Film Festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, actually did. After spending 12 days watching 22 films from all over the world, the festival's main jury, headed by British director Stephen Frears, selected Cristian Mungiu's “4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days,” a stark, gritty tale about abortion in communist Romania, as the best. “One year ago, I didn't even have an idea of a project,” Mungiu told the black-tie crowd of 3,600 in the Palais des Festivals, after receiving the award from guest presenter Jane Fonda. “Six months ago, I didn't have any money to make it and didn't think we'd be in Cannes, in any kind of competition.” He added that winning was “good news for small films from small countries. It looks like you don't necessarily need a big budget with a lot of stars.”The rest of the awards certainly proved that. Early buzz suggested that awards might go to such...
  • Cannes Loses Some of Its Fun

    “I’m an auction whore!” cried Sharon Stone, slithering across the stage in silver lamé at amfAR’s 14th annual Cinema Against AIDS dinner at the famed Moulin des Mougins restaurant in Cannes on Wednesday night.And indeed she was.She raised the stakes on a luxury yacht cruise, replete with a Chanel surfboard and other choice goodies, by offering a kiss by George Clooney to the winning bid right then and there. A svelte young brunette woman won, at $350,000, and trotted up on stage before 600 black-tie VIP guests to get her bonus. “Lay it on her, George!” Stone wailed. And with a gentle swoop, arm firmly around the woman’s waist, he did.During its 60-year existence, Cannes has been known as much for its parties as for its films. Big blowouts for a thousand in rococo villas overlooking the Mediterranean, small postscreening dinners for a hundred at the beach. There’s the Vanity Fair party, a swank ‘do around the pool at the Hotel du Cap, and amfAR up in the Provençal hilltop village of...
  • Film: Cannes Director Makes Daring Choices

    For the past 60 years, the Cannes Film Festival has been a veritable cirque du cinéma: topless starlets line the beach, crowds fill the streets and protests, parades, and all-night parties make headlines. For decades, Cannes was the place to premiere big Hollywood studio pictures: Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” were among the classics to have their debut there. But throughout the ’90s, Hollywood avoided Cannes, in part, because of France’s merciless critics, but also in large part because Cannes didn’t schmooze with the studios. That all changed when Thierry Frémaux, a young, suave English-speaking French cinephile, was named artistic director in 2004. Each year, Frémaux has made increasingly daring—and commercial—choices for Cannes. This year is no different. Among Frémaux’s 50-plus official selections are renegade filmmaker Harmony Korine’s “Mister Lonely” (the story of a Michael Jackson lookalike who falls for a Marilyn Monroe lookalike), “Sicko,”...
  • Waiting for Inspiration: Beckett's Impact

    Samuel Beckett is best known for his perennially reprised 1953 play "Waiting for Godot," about two men expecting someone who never arrives. But there is far more in the Irish Nobel laureate's canon, and as a new show at the Pompidou Center in Paris sets out to prove, his influence on other artists has been profound. "Samuel Beckett" (through June 25), explores the writer as a lasting cultural force by presenting an excellent mix of memorabilia and portraits of him, as well as works inspired by him. While the pieces themselves are individually powerful, the exhibit as a whole fails to explain them or how they connect to Beckett, who died in Paris in 1989. Intentionally or not, the show is as abstract as the author himself.Only by reading into the exhibit's brief, esoteric descriptions—or by touring with a curator—can viewers fully grasp the contours of Beckett's life. Born in 1906, he was raised a Protestant in the well-to-do Dublin suburb of Foxrock. He studied French, Italian and...
  • Fashion Business: Reviving Lacroix

    For 20 years, the name Christian Lacroix has stood for two things in fashion: complicated clothes and capital losses. But that's about to change. Three American brothers who bought Lacroix from the French luxury group Moët Hennessey-Louis Vuitton (LVMH) two years ago are using their no-nonsense business acumen to reinvent the label. They have pulled the disparate lines into one, cohesive ready-to-wear collection and planned a major expansion into the United States, setting the company on a course to become profitable—for the first time—within two years. "This [restructuring] is what I've always wanted to do," Lacroix says in his immense new showroom in western Paris. "I was on my hands and knees begging my successive presidents at LVMH. It's a complete relief. It's as if I were reborn."And what a grand entrance he's making. Last week Helen Mirren picked up her Oscar for best actress wearing a Lacroix made-to-order gold lace couture confection. "It held me like two angel hands," she...
  • Art: David Lynch's Ways of Seeing

    David Lynch is standing in the basement gallery of the Cartier Foundation in Paris, sipping a big cappuccino as he oversees the installation of "The Air is on Fire," a retrospective of his work (through May 27). The 61-year-old film director and artist is dressed in a crisp white shirt, black trousers and a long black smocklike coat that gives him the air of a mad scientist. His hair is tousled and wiry and a mix of metal tones, like much of his art. As he talks about having so much of his work on show—35 paintings, more than 150 photographs, dozens of drawings and film projections—a water pipe suddenly bursts in the ceiling, flooding the gallery. Visitors dive for cover and workers scramble for buckets. Yet Lynch remains calm, drinking his coffee. "Rain is supposed to be good luck," he says, looking at the water pouring from the ceiling. "And this is, in a way, rain."That distorted view of life—turning what most might consider awful into something romantic and positive—pervades...
  • The Rebel Shooter

    Photographer William Klein has always been a rebel. When he started shooting fashion in 1955, he says, he wanted to "invent and find new ways of doing things." By putting models in real life setting and printing the images in extreme black and white contrast, he radically changed the way clothing was presented in the glossies. When he decided to make documentaries, he grabbed a handheld 16mm camera and went out in the street to discover, as he puts it, "little miracles." So when the Centre Pompidou proposed a retrospective of his work, Klein naturally wanted to make the show revolutionary, too. And he has succeeded. "William Klein" (through Feb. 20) is as modern and unexpected as Klein's half century of work.A few days before the show opened last month, Klein gave NEWSWEEK a personal tour. The journey begins with a wall-size collage of dozens of images--a preview of what is to come. Among them is a 1984 portrait of French crooner Serge Gainsbourg in drag, a plume of cigarette smoke...
  • Moving the 'Mona Lisa'

    Henri Loyrette promised a new and improved Louvre when he took over as president and director of the august Paris museum four years ago and, step by step, he has delivered. Last week he unveiled the biggest transformation yet: a new viewing space for the "Mona Lisa," Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece and the most-visited artwork in the world. Alone on a south-facing partition in the center of the 19th-century Salle des Etats, protected by four centimeters of greenish bulletproof glass, Da Vinci's 16th-century portrait of Florentine lovely Lisa Gherardini smiles serenely. Sharing the gallery is the new installation of Veronese's mammoth "Marriage at Cana," which was restored in 1992, as well as a selection of Venetian Renaissance works by Titian, Tintoretto and Bassano.More than 6 million people visit the Louvre each year--the most in the world. And 80 percent--some 20,000 a day--come to view the "Mona Lisa." Loyrette, former director of the Musee d'Orsay, inherited the project from...
  • THE RISE OF 'ROME'

    Niobe, the wife of one of Caesar's soldiers, wanders down a crowded cobblestone passage in the filthy, overcrowded slums of ancient Rome to make amends with her scorned sister, Lyde, a butcher. Their disagreement, naturally, is over a man. The market heaves with activity--hawkers sell live chickens, rabbits and partridges--as Niobe reaches out to touch Lyde's arm. Lyde recoils in anger and runs to the back of her shop. "Cut!" yells Steve Shill, one of the half-dozen rotating directors of "Rome," the sprawling new HBO-driven television series set in 52 to 44 B.C., now wrapping up filming at the famed Cinecitta Studios outside Rome. The slums are part of a gigantic set built on two hectares and in six soundstages--the largest in Cinecitta's history--that also includes replicas of the Forum, the Senate, the Temple of Jupiter and even the facade of Alexandria Harbor in Egypt. "The scale is enormous and incredibly ambitious," says Frank Doelger, one of the show's executive producers. ...
  • WHEN HIGH FASHION MEETS LOW

    On a frisky Friday night in September, Paris's chic and hip flocked to the rooftop restaurant of the Centre Pompidou to celebrate fashion's coolest new collaboration: Karl Lagerfeld and H&M. That's where Lagerfeld unveiled his new clothes for the Swedish retail chain. Like his work for Chanel, the designs were slick and savvy: skinny black pant-suits, crisp white shirts, mod shifts and chiffonlike cocktail dresses. Unlike Chanel, however, they are all priced under $150--and most under $100. Fabulousness isn't about price, Lagerfeld says. "It's all about taste."Are couturiers who design clothes for the masses the future of fashion? Looks that way. Some are fighting the trend led by Didier Grumbach, president of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the chief French fashion lobby. But many of the big names are nonetheless joining the movement. Along with Lagerfeld, there is Isaac Mizrahi at Target and guest designers at several British retail chains, including Hussein...
  • MCFASHION DESIGN

    On a frisky Friday night in September, Paris's chic and hip flocked to the rooftop restaurant of the Centre Pompidou to celebrate fashion's coolest new collaboration: Karl Lagerfeld and H&M. There Lagerfeld unveiled his new clothes for the Swedish retail chain. Like his work for Chanel, the designs were slick and savvy: skinny black pant-suits, crisp white shirts, mod shifts and chiffonlike cocktail dresses. Unlike Chanel, however, they are all priced under $150--and most under $100. Lagerfeld wants to prove that fabulousness isn't about price. "It's all about taste," he says.Are couturiers who design throwaway clothes the future of fashion? Looks that way. While some are fighting the trend--led by French fashion's chief lobbyist, Didier Grumbach--many of the big names are joining the movement. Along with Lagerfeld, there is Isaac Mizrahi at Target and guest designers such as Hussein Chalayan and Sophia Kokosalaki at TopShop and Eley Kishimoto for New Look, to name a few....
  • HE'S GONE OUT OF FASHION

    During the 1990s, Tom Ford was fashion's superstar, making hedonism hip again as he helped turn Gucci from a family-run Italian leather-goods company into a global luxury conglomerate. But in April, after a year of tense negotiations with Gucci Group owners PPR-Pinault Printemps Redoute, Ford quit not only Gucci but fashion. Since packing his designer bags, he's put together a book, "Tom Ford," that covers his 10 years at the company. Now he's set to launch a new career as a movie director. NEWSWEEK's Dana Thomas lunched with the suave 43-year-old Texan in Beverly Hills last week. Excerpts:THOMAS: It's been six months since you left fashion. What do you miss most?FORD: Not having a voice in contemporary culture. Not being able to take what I see happening, turning it into something, pushing it out there and having it become a part of the fabric of our time. But right now I love not designing and if I do go back to it I think I will ultimately be better off for taking a break--I've...
  • THE NEXT RODEO DRIVE

    When Louis Vuitton first opened its store on Nanjing Road in Shanghai in 1995, CEO Yves Carcelle remembers that the traffic was mainly locals on bicycles, and his was the lone luxury brand on the block. Last month Vuitton vaulted Nanjing Road onto the level of such chic shopping streets as Rodeo Drive and avenue Montaigne when it inaugurated a two-story, 1,350-square-meter global store that carries all the company's product lines, from watches to ready-to-wear. With its 10-meter-high checkerboard glass facade and its walls covered in a double-layer screen of aluminum monograms, the store is the most dramatically designed retail space in China today. For years, recalls Christopher Zanardi-Landi, Vuitton's general manager for China, when analysts spoke of the mainland's luxury market, "everybody said, 'In the future, in the future.' Now there's been a change in tense. Now we are here."Indeed, the Chinese appetite for luxury goods is ravenous, and it's only going to grow. LVMH, the...
  • LUXURY FOREVER

    At the Hermes original flagship store at 24, rue du Faubourg St-Honore, in the heart of Paris, slim saleswomen dramatically unfurl silk scarf after silk scarf for clusters of Japanese shoppers and chic Parisiennes. Tailors take measurements for made-to-order suits and millinery experts size up chapeaus to be worn at the next big wedding or horse race. On the mezzanine, jewelers fit watches or help select the perfect pair of cuff links. In the back, saddlers take orders. To be measured, however, customers must make their way upstairs, where they straddle a leather sawhorse--just as clients have for more than a century--as the man in the worn cowhide apron takes out his tape measure and gets to work.That, in a snapshot, is what sets Hermes apart from its competitors in the luxury business. As its fall ad campaign, shot by the late Richard Avedon, declares: "Nothing changes, but everything changes." More than 50 percent of the products in the company's 225 stores worldwide are new each...

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