November 30, 2012
If you prick Liz Goldwyn, does she not bleed L.A.? It’s not simply that her genes are as haute as Hollywood gets (her iPhoto of her grandmother Frances Howard is by Edward Steichen, for Pete’s sake), or that’s she’s as glamorous as all get-out with her red lips and her Lanvin. She’s also a serious student of the city’s history—or at least that part of it that pertains to street life. In early November, Goldwyn transformed the Hearst Suite of Los Altos Apartments (where the tycoon William Randolph Hearst installed his mistress Marion Davies in the twenties) into a nineteenth-century brothel for a one-night-only art/film installation called The Painted Lady. She’s fascinated by all aspects of prostitution, high and low, male and female. “In the early days of Los Angeles, the madams had real power,” Goldwyn explains.
Her fascination has spilled over into other aspects of the commercialization of sex. Burlesque, for instance. PrettyThings, the 2005 film and book that Goldwyn made about burlesque queens, has now provided the unlikely inspiration for her latest project, which is all about an entirely different kind of street sensibility. She’s designed a range of skatewear for Altamont using images from vintage burlesque designer Rex Huntington. As much as Goldwyn’s current look channels hyper-sophisticated cocktail culture (MAC Cosmetics commissioned acapsule collection of Deco-inspired makeup bags from her), she insists she was once all about Big Brother magazine, Fuct, and the Menace Skateboard crew, as she explains in the video above. If vintage currently means classic couture to her, it used to be Vision Quest and Bones Brigade T-shirts that jived her buns. In the grand L.A. reinvention-required scheme of things, that makes her a genuine West Coast Renaissance woman.