If you were thinking right about now that seemingly every celebrity—and his mother—has caught Project Runway fever, you’d be right. The story usually goes: Celebrity has zero design background. Celebrity is approached by investors to slap his name on a clothing label executed by a team of designers. And said celebrity is dubbed over night a celebrity/designer.
Andre Benjamin is all too familiar with that scenario. Years ago, the entertainer— more widely known as one half of the hip-hop duo OutKast—signed a licensing deal with investors to launch an OutKast clothing line, which made a chunk of change, but admittedly had little to do with Benjamin’s vision. “I learned quickly that unless you’re putting the money up for it, your sign-off doesn’t mean anything because they send you things a day after it’s too late to change anything,” Benjamin recalls. “I knew from that point on, I wanted to make clothes that I could really stand behind and understand.”
A style icon in his own right, Benjamin has since recently launched his namesake menswear line, Benjamin Bixby, a moniker referencing Benjamin’s fashion design alter ego, and a deliberate departure from his identity as a musician. The line is completely self-funded, and the rugged-meets-clean cut pieces, sketched by Benjamin himself, have clear references to 1930s collegiate prep. I sat down with Benjamin last night, just before 7x7’s private party hosted in his honor at Bloomingdale’s, where he put on his designer hat and let us in on some of his fashion insight.
One of the most common questions I get right around this time—the calm before the gala season storm—is “Where should I go shopping in San Francisco for a party dress?” And with all the back-to-back events that hit in September and October, the ladies are typically looking to avoid the horror of all fashion horrors: the dreaded McFrock that shows up all over town on every other gal the same night. Other than the usual department store suspects, where else can you shop on short notice for that next formal affair?
I’m a fan of Eater—for the record, I often find it’ssnarky-lite tone quite entertaining (I’m sure I will retract this when Paolo,the editor, starts poking fun at my overuse of the phrase “for the record” likehe did with SF Weekly’s Merideth Brody’s “enticing”—butI’ve never been a fan of their Deathwatch column, which encourages readers tonominate restaurants they deem doomed. They’ve put Avenue G, Yoshi’s and Senson this watch.
I discovered products from Night Owl Paper Goods at an event with eco-friendly merchants and fell instantly for the postcards made of sustainably harvested yellow birch with sweet and simple designs of birds, flowers and butterflies (pictured). I bought a couple but they sat on my desk, where I admired the designs for a while—then I finally went ahead and framed them. Now I plan to go with my original intention of sending them by buying a few more.
The SF Film Society U.S. premiere of Robert Mailer Anderson's
Days before Halloween, the U.S. premiere of Pig Hunt (created by director Jim Isaac, co-writers Robert Mailer Anderson and his cousin, Zack Anderson, executive producer Nicola Miner) received its SF Film Society debut at the Clay Theatre.
What do you hope audience members will take from Wall-E?
Andrew Stanton: I hope they are just as entertained as with other Pixar movie experiences but in a fresh, new way.
Oakland musician turned documentarian Justin Dillon has always used his guitar like an AK-47 (see Love is the Greatest Revenge). Now he's using it like a video camera for a rockumentary with a cause—Call + Response. After learning about atrocities in Russia while traveling with his band, Tremolo, Dillon decided to embark on a life journey to eradicate the slave trade.
Some people find shopping at thrift stores to be an arduous task. I’ll admit that several years ago I used to think the same. I would usually emerge from a Goodwill store empty handed, feeling defeated and worried that I had picked up the lingering scent of mothballs during my unsuccessful hunt. Soon I realized that the problem wasn’t the stores I was visiting—it was me! My theory is that in order to hit the thrift store jackpot, you need to be shopping with an open, creative mind, lots of free time and even more patience.
Seasonality. It’s is a word bandied about a lot here. “Our menu is seasonally driven …” How many times have you heard a chef say that?
For some reason, tomatoes are the most seasonally sacred of all vegetables and fruits: Should an unwitting chef serve a tomato in January, I guarantee the Chowhounders will log on to vent about the sacrilege. While the average diner might be vague on the seasonality of an artichoke (it has two seasons here: spring and fall) and have no guilt about munching on green beans year-round, everyone knows that a slice of tomato=a slice of summer. (And, for the record, summer ended September 21st.)
Not surprisingly then, last week I went to order a sandwich from The Sentinel, chef Dennis Leary’s tiny sandwich shop, and noticed the note: “No more tomatoes until next summer—sorry.” Then Jessica told me that she was at Tartine and ordered an open-faced sandwich that was listed as having tomatoes on it—only to be told that tomatoes would no longer be served with it because tomatoes are out of season.
You may recognize the sexy trio backing up blue-eyed indie-cutie Zooey Deschanel in this December's Jim Carrey comedy "Yes Man". It's San Francisco's own, Von Iva making their big screen debut and singing along Ms. Zooey in the fictional band Munchausen by Proxy. Von Iva also wrote the song "Yes Man" specifically for the film (it'll run over the end credits). This isn't the first time the ladies have contributed to a Hollywood production (see Showtime's The L Word or the 2008 Jerry O'Connell/Heather Graham movie Baby on Board), but it is the first time you can see them rocking the big screen. The film comes out December 19th.
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