Oscar Sunday turns L.A. into an all-too-familiar wasteland of wiry women and golden statues, but this year, the days and nights before it were ruled not by red carpets, but the Red Queen and her Wonderland minions, thanks to the highly anticipated Tim Burton film's premiere last Friday. And we think the Academy Awards' pricey getups had nuthin' on the freaky fun fairy-tale fashion of the latter. From Disney duds to dance clubs, little girls to goth tarts, inspiration from the whimsical fairy tale's colorful characters was everywhere, and the parties that had us hoppin' about (trying desperately not to be late!) were found -natch- down the rabbit hole.
Though E!'s post-Oscar bash at the W Hotel's rooftop nightclub Drai's (opening this weekend) was a celeb stop along with Elton John's shindig and of course, the A-list-only Vanity Fair affair Sunday night, W stood for "wonder" (not "winner") a few days earlier when Disney hosted a gathering celebrating many of the products we'll be inundated with for the next months during the fantasy flick's theater run, much of it in a pop-up shop in the hotel's lobby, aka The Living Room. Thankfully, there was very little of the obviously licensed stuff a la Hot Topic (this is a classy joint!). Instead, dresses evoking Alice and the two opposing queens by Sue Wong were displayed along with high-end jewels by Tom Binns, while Opi did manis and Urban Decay did makeup application (both have signature Alice palates on the market), all amidst shrubs sheared into shapes of stop watches and "drink me" bottles. An homage to Burton's Edward Scissorhands, perhaps?
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The next day, the fancifully frilly Royal/T Café & Gallery debuted its Alice-themed high tea menu and offered a children's fashion show from designer Jared Gold, whose own pop-up has been inside the space since the debut of its current exhibit "The Never Ending Story: Fairytale, Fantasy, Obsession." We had a behind-the-scenes look at Gold's "Petite Parlor Presentation of Perplexing Prettiness" since our 3-year-old was one of the models, and surprisingly, the tykes were more well-behaved than we've seen many grown models backstage, though that may be due to the designer's gentle approach. For the most part, he let the kids pick what they wanted to wear, all accessorized by Tarina Tarantino's Bambino bauble line, and once dressed, each gal sauntered throughout the café (old-school ladies-who-lunch style) showing off their adorably tiny ensembles with help from scene queens Jessicka Addams (Scarling/Jack Off Jill) and Larva (door diva at Mr. Black). Both the fashions and T's Alice eats/drinks special - which includes playing card sandwiches, macaroons, cupcakes and of course tea, for 25 smackers - are available throughout March.
THROUGH THE DRINKING GLASS
Left the little one at home later Saturday night, when Alice's darker subtext was explored in what may have been the most appropriate environment in town (and that includes the El Capitan Theatre down the street, where the movie was being screened): Bar Sinister at Boardner's. The long-running eve of alternative decadence was transformed into an impressively wicked wonderland with card, clock and flower motifs throughout, but it was the elaborately costumed patrons who provided the real eye candy. Topless Cheshire Cats, corseted Alices, ghoulish Red and White Queens and some very trippy Mad Hatters (one of whom was guzzling so much absinthe "tea" he ended up taking the go-go platform and gyrating with the club's dancers) frolicked amidst the club's usual black-clad patrons and fetishistic fiends.
The hottest queen was definitely Boardner's grande dame Tricia La Belle, who rocked a heart-covered rubber number by Venus Prototype fit for royalty. La Belle, by the way, commands attention for more than her awesome get-ups. As prez of the Hollywood Hospitality Association, she has been working tirelessly on the Alcohol Sales and Consumption Campaign, an initiative that she hopes will eliminate the 2 a.m. drinking cutoff. Instituted after prohibition ended, the antiquated last-call practice, she says, has "created serious problems with noise, assaults, DUI and more between 1:45- 2:30." La Belle is touting "relaxed consumption" over the cutoff time that sees clubsters guzzling hardest right before they're forced to leave, and often, get behind the wheel. She also wants to implement an alcohol certification program for anyone who serves booze. She'll be discussing these ideas and more when she goes to Washington this week as part of California On The Hill, a summit with leaders to explore economic recovery options and ways to generate jobs and revenue in our state, city and country. Check out the Facebook page Hollywood Rising for more info on the sales and consumption time-change proposal.
CURIOUSER & CURIOUSER
The week wasn't all enchantment and fantasy, thanks to Manifest Equality's mega pop-up gallery in Hollywood. Indeed, Manifest served as a very big, very necessary reminder of a disenchanting reality: Gays are still denied equal rights where marriage is concerned. How Prop. 8 actually got passed in California remains one of the most confounding and utterly disturbing turn of events in our state's history, at least where the creative community is concerned. Obviously, the topic made for some very provocative art. The artspace, which took over a former Big Lots store (us seasoned Hollywood heads know it better as a Pic 'n Save) on Vine all last week, was brimming with colorful, statement-making works, musical talents (Uh-Huh Her, Fitz & the Tantrums, Sea Wolf and DJ sets from Shepard Fairey, Crystal Method and members of She Wants Revenge and Modest Mouse) and jovial attendees, especially Saturday during the closing party we attended. Surprisingly, the crowd was a lot straighter than we expected, but that may be a good thing. This isn't just a gay/straight issue, it's a human rights issue. Sure, some were probably there for the free drinks and music, but Manifest definitely had a communal feel. Here's hoping the event's "vote for love" message does manifest real change soon.