Home decor, modern cinema provide (s)TIFF competition

Colin and Justin
Swapping area rugs for red carpets — Colin and Justin, forever taking inspiration from Hollywood in their home design, are ready for anyone. (Photos on red carpet courtesy Colin and Justin)

Holy star-studded moly: We love to party, not least when The Toronto International Film Festival has Hollywood North in its vice-like celebrity grip.

But as each TIFF season blooms, we’ve had to work: during previous festivals, we’ve hosted the hallowed red carpets for CityTV, annually assigned by the news department to capture the buzz for the station’s movie-hungry audience. And we’ve loved every A-listed, celeb-laden minute.

This time ’round though (for the first time in years) we’re missing our celebrity socializing due to frustratingly conflicting commitments. Damn the tricky Rosedale project that’s currently devouring our diary and double damn the schedule for our own cottage extension, a project during which we’re adding a carport, an outdoor dining room and a sauna. Aye, strict deadlines have erased our microphone-totting availabilities, but it’s all good. There’s always next year.

Colin and Justin get up close and personal with fashion royalty’s Tom Ford in last year’s TIFF.

In the meantime, you may recall our interviews with Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Ford or perhaps our convos with silver screen luminaries Richard Gere, Matt Damon and Helen Mirren, amongst hundreds of others.  All fun, if somewhat irreverent grill ‘n’ thrill chinwags …

We also grilled the veritable Queen of Grills, Madonna. Aye, the conical bra sporting, wire-toothed chanteuse, upon a previous ruby-toned TIFF berber, took time to chat whilst, ahem, running manicured hands through our furry Scottish sporrans. And in that moment we felt positively virginal. Touched, by Madonna, for the very first time …

For the record, post interview, we deposited our Cicconi-fondled kilts in hermetically sealed boxes to protect the famous DNA they by that point contained. We’re thinking eGay at a later stage and imagine considerable appetite amongst our clansmen.

Getting up close and personal:

The upside, of course, to checking out from this year’s TIFF, is being able to attend the best parties without having to remain sober enough to brandish our microphones (with at least a modicum of questioning dexterity) the next day. As such, our Paper Plane, Manhattan and Tom Collins intake has skyrocketed. Deelish. But pity our poor, poor livers.

American architect Paul R. Williams. (Wikipedia)
American architect Paul R. Williams. (Courtesy Paul Revere Williams Project )

Matters cinematic, however, still forefront for these bourbon-buoyed boys, now seemed the perfect time to introduce one of our favourite American architects, the late Paul R. Williams.

Beloved of yesteryear’s film fraternity, capturing inner style was, for him, an art form. In achingly cool Los Angeles enclaves like Beverly Hills and Bel Air, the aesthete’s professional excellence became the stuff of celebrity folklore.

Noted for his work with Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Barbara Stanwyck, Williams’ design showcased the best in Hollywood living.

We particularly admire the way in which he mastered multiple architectural idioms: ‘American Colonial’, ‘California Ranch’ and ‘Art Deco’ just a few of the styles that delivered his reputation to the globe’s every corner.

Today, nearly four decades since his death, Williams is still revered as a creative luminary, and one from whom many designers draw inspiration.

One such Williams admirer is international decorator Kelly Wearstler. When vacationing in Miami several years past, we lodged at The Tides on South Beach and chatted with Wearstler, the hotel’s designer, and wife of (then) proprietor Brad Korzen.

The tastefully decorated living room in a Hollywood home originally designed for singer Julie London. (©Benny Chan, from Paul R. Williams: Classic Hollywood Style)
The tastefully decorated living room in a Hollywood home originally designed for singer Julie London. (©Benny Chan, from Paul R. Williams: Classic Hollywood Style)

Set within the hotel’s oh-so-cool mantle are elements which confidently allude to Williams. The dramatic — yet relaxed — atmosphere, clever arrangement of space, the way in which natural light is harnessed and the manner in which artwork is displayed are all aspects redolent of her hero’s stylistic compass.

So impressed is Wearstler that she wrote the forward to Paul R Williams; Classic Hollywood Style, a glossy architectural and design tome authored by Karen E. Hudson, Williams’ granddaughter. “His homes,” Wearstler writes, “withstand the test of time and are as relevant today as they were when built more than half a century ago”. Praise indeed from a woman who is widely regarded as one of the modern era’s most creative talents.

In the 1940s, Williams helped rework the already popular Beverly Hills Hotel and was responsible for the famous neon sign that, to this day, gives us goosies whenever we visit.

And it was Williams, too, this time as part of a co-operative, who designed the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport. Populuxe in style, it’s an atomic age landmark, an unusual twisted configuration and one — as we see it certainly — that resembles a spacecraft touching down on sinuous, bug-like legs.

The Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport.
The Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, co-designed by Paul R. Williams. (Flickr photo)

Immersing ourselves in Classic Hollywood style, we can’t help but swoon.  Every page in this design book tells another story. We love the Harris Residence dressing room: it’s easy to imagine a sexy Hollywood starlet, pert derriere positioned on that fringed footstool, gazing at her reflection whilst applying lashings of Monroe red lipstick. Hey, we can almost smell the hair lacquer as it sets tousled blond locks into a glossy, concrete hive.

Excuse us: we were lost there, for a moment, in the shimmery vision of that mid-century modern dream …

We also love the dramatic grey scale, seen in another image, a visual feast which depicts a typically Williams living room. While composed long ago, it retains much that is relevant today. Time may have passed, but fond regard for his work remains, if anything magnified for the next generation to enjoy.

How to bust out your own L.A. vibe

  • Think big and make a grand entrance; flank your portal with huge topiary bushes and ensure your hallway is as welcoming and bright as possible.
  • The dressing room from the Harris Residence, previous home of Aaron Spelling. (©Benny Chan, from Paul R. Williams: Classic Hollywood Style)

    Max up perceived proportions by employing a predominantly bone or cream-painted palette. Hang outsized black and white photography to set the scene. Think gallery.

  • Fuss up your fenestration with tall, pinched drapery in slate grey linen or creamy velvet, inspired, all the time, by Rita Hayworth’s tumbling pleated frocks.
  • Upholstery should be long and lean with acres of French button tufting to evoke the halcyon days of cinematic majesty.
  • A-listers love chandeliers. This in mind, opt for as much heaving sparkle as your ceiling can support.
  • Flooring, in the smoky, hazy days of Hollywood, was generally layered, so install glossy mahogany or oak (chevron style, if possible) and bolster with a thick tufted rug or a Persian tapestry carpet. Dreamy, right?
  • Prepare for floral liftoff — think curtain-call bouquets for leading ladies and stuff your best vases with plump lilies, delicate orchids and aromatic white roses. Gorgeous.
  • Drinks trollies are a must. Imagine Cary Grant in That Touch of Mink fixing a stiff drink and pouring it over the rocks. Opt for shiny metal finishes and stack with cut crystal decanters and sparkling glassware.
  • Embellish your boudoir with a dramatic dressing table and let it ache under the weight of perfume bottles and horn-handled hairbrushes. And don’t forget the mirror; preferably something three-sided with Art Deco lines.

And so, as the TIFF party scene continues apace, and celebs like Jolie, Kidman and Clooney thrill fame junkies the city wide, we note that Paul R. Williams, one of our favourite Hollywood luminaries, still twinkles just as brightly, his star perpetually in the ascendant.

And, just for the record, if you’re wondering what the “R” stands for, allow us to explain. His middle name, rather aptly, was Revere. A lovely moniker and the perfect word, indeed, to describe the way in which we observe his work.  With utter and unbridled reverence.

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