Sunday, December 9, 2012

"What's Your Wrap" - Traditional Home Magazine, December 2012

Tradition Home Magazine, Dec 2012 Cover, "Perfect Packages"

The holiday issue of Traditional Home magazine did an 8-page spread of fabulous and festive gift-wrap from "wrap artist extraordinaire Alton DuLaney"! It was a fun project to be a part of and the finished product is a beautiful portfolio of exquisite wraps.

Tradition Home December 2012 "What's Your Wrap" with Alton DuLaney
"Put the present in presentation" has long been my motto when it comes to wrapping gifts for any occasion, as a proper wrap can turn any purchase into a thoughtful gift, by showing that you have taken the time to go the extra distance, and actually wrap it by hand. The paper, ribbon, bows, and embellishments, become paint on a canvas, materials to help execute a creative expression.

 For this story, Senior Style Editor Krissa Rossbund provided me with images of home decor pieces, and I was challenged with creating wraps that reflected the style and mood of the decor.

Apparently, my efforts were successful - "DuLaney exemplifies artistry with parcels that achieve sculpture-like status. From wild to trendy to glamorous, their frills, finery, and finishing touches sing with the joy of gift-giving."
Traditional wraps by Alton DuLaney, Traditional Home Dec 2012.
For the "Traditional" theme, an armed chair is placed in front of a damask wallpaper. The wraps reflected this rich tradition, with baroque patterns, pleated paper, and embellished with fabric trims and tassels, confirming "that tradition and good taste are forever in style."

Wild wraps by Alton DuLaney, Traditional Home Dec 2012.
The 'Wild' theme was particularly fun for me. Here I incorporated multiple layers of animal print, along with a zipper opening to reveal a second pattern below, and chains to embellish a ribbon and bow.

"Animal patterns - untamed in the wilds of fashion and furniture - provide the perfect skin for an unexpected gift."

Glamorous wraps by Alton DuLaney, Traditional Home Dec 2012.
Glamorous is such a gorgeous word, and something I strive for in both my personal and professional life. I also love a clean palette of black and white with a pop of ravishing red. A jewel encrusted mirror and sparkling wallpaper provided the perfect backdrop to explore the luxe life.

"Following fashion's lead, ebony-patterned papers flocked in luxurious velvet, printed in party dress patterns, and bejeweled with glittery crystals sparkle like stars on a midnight clear"

Colorful wraps by Alton DuLaney, Traditional Home Dec 2012
'Colorful' is perhaps easy to attain, but for this theme I also wanted to add a touch of elegance, which I did by adding layers of shimmery ribbons atop bold patterned papers, "making packages merrily au courant".
Trendy wraps by Alton DuLaney, Traditional Home Dec 2012.
For 'Trendy", I really wanted to have some fun, so I played with varying scales of hounds-tooth, a hand-cut silhouette in black on silver paper, and embellished a peacock printed paper in one of my favorite materials - feathers!

Traditional Home called it: A "riff on chic fads for your favorite fashionista."

Classic wraps by Alton DuLaney, Traditional Home Dec 2012.
Classic is a word that means different things to different people, but when it comes to fine china, classic defines the genre. For this theme I used the Blue Willow pattern as a leaping point and then wrapped various hat-boxes ready for hanging on the wall or admiring under a holiday tree.

"The beloved combination of blue and white is perennially in style."

Modern wraps by Alton DuLaney, Traditional Home Dec 2012.
The last theme, 'Modern' sounds the cleanest and simplest yet proved the greatest challenge to create stark elegance without being boring. I relied on the old art-school dictum and design dictate that less is sometimes more when observing pure line and form. Traditional Home agreed, "One of modernism's precepts is that even in its simplest form, a graphic element makes a statement", which my wraps clearly do in this image.

Overall, I wrapped nearly 50 gifts for this story, which the talented team at Traditional Home turned into an inspiring editorial of couture gift-wrap, with Rossbund heralding me as a "paper virtuoso".

Coming from a background in fine arts, and with a love of home decor, this was a rewarding collaboration, an amalgamation of beauty and design.

For the whole story, pick up a copy at your favorite news stand, or check out the Traditional Home website at:

Special thanks to my friends at The Feather Place, (in LA and NYC) for providing me with the finest peacock feathers. They carry the largest feather inventory in the US if not the world:

And in case you forgot, I teach an on-line gift wrap class that will help you put the present in presentation:

Friday, July 27, 2012

"the little house that could"

It was the summer of 1999 and I had just arrived in NYC, excited to be in the big city, ready to conquer the world, and looking for work. I was determined to put the wig styling skills I had learned in New Orleans to good use, and so naturally Patricia Field's was my first stop. When I entered the store on 8th Street I was greeted with: "Hey, it's Alton On The Spot!" Luck was on my side, as a long lost friend was working behind the counter. She sent me to the SOHO store on West Broadway, where the wig department had almost shriveled into non-existence.

It was to be my first job in NYC working with club kids, drag queens, trannies, party promoters, fashion designers, stylists, nightlife legends, and other misfits and outcasts. Soon I was managing the beauty departments for both stores including 2 salons, 2 wig stations, 2 cosmetic counters, and some of the biggest personalities I had ever encountered. The stories are far too many to share, but it was an era of outrageous memories, new friendships and countless parties.

My career there lasted for two long years, what seemed like a lifetime then. From Wigstock 1999 through the fall of the Twin Towers in September 2001. Being only a few blocks from what was suddenly referred to as "Ground Zero", prompted me to journey a little further down life's path, so I left for Rio de Janeiro where I would spend a year before returning to Manhattnan and once again reinventing myself, in that city where dreams are made.

Now, like something of a time capsule, the documentary is out, "The Little House That Could", a film by Mars Roberge, that captures some of the essence and magic of that 'little house' and the big family it fostered. Honestly, I never really liked Patricia Field, nor do I think she particularly cared for me. But I did a good job, and did my part to keep the place running smoothly, along with creating some artistic wig creations along the way. For the friends, the memories, and the experience, I am forever grateful. So thank you Patricia Field for doing what you do, and thank you Mars Roberge for capturing it on film for us all to enjoy again.

the little house that could
See the trailer.

Friday, June 1, 2012

"L.A. Style - Herb Ritts"

L.A. Style by Herb Ritts at the Getty Museum LA, 2012.
Herb Ritts is a master of the black and white photo. So when I heard about the exhibit, L.A. Style at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, I was excited to see the show. What I discovered was crisp lines, undulating curves, breathtaking contrast, sensual forms, and an overall inviting visual delight - all that even before I saw the first photograph.

The exhibit is at the spectacular J. Paul Getty Museum, designed by Richard Meier, is in itself a masterpiece, nestled in the hills between downtown Los Angeles and Malibu. Riding the tram from the parking structure to the museum campus only builds the anticipation, as it twists and turns through lush landscaping, clinging elegantly to the side of a hill, delivering the bedazzled museum visitor to the main plaza.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
Mr. Getty came from big oil money, and is often credited with being among the first American billionaires. Luckily for the art community, he had a passion for art, and upon his death, created one of the largest and best funded art foundations in the world.

The campus is a complex of well thought out buildings, exhibition spaces, public squares, gardens, fountains and vistas.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
There are a number of wings of the museum dedicated to various periods of art, as well as educational facilities, restaurants and cafes.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
The main garden was closed during my visit to be remodeled, but it was scheduled to reopen on May 27, 2012 - so I advise allowing plenty of time for your visit to explore the grounds and the exhibits.

(At 5.30 my date and I were asked to kindly board the tram back to the parking garage, as I was considering never leaving.)

After an extensive exploration of the architecture, I finally made it into the featured exhibit, a striking collection of black and white prints epitomizing the undeniable L.A. Style.

Ritts is perhaps best known as a celebrity photographer, having shot numerous musicians and actors for album and magazine covers.
Madonna by Herb Ritts.

Ritts is also heralded as an photographic master for his stark homo-erotic photographs of men rendered in classic Greek and Roman poses. He helped elevate the male physique to artistic status, before his untimely death from AIDS in 2002 at the young age of 50.
Fred with Tires by Herb Ritts.
For me what is most impressive with this collection of photographs in particular, shot in the 1980's and 1990's, is that the perfect composition, stunning contrast, and sharp resolution was all achieved before the introduction and widespread use of digital media and Photoshop. In other words, these images were taken the old fashioned way, on film, and printed by hand in a darkroom.

The collection of photographs on hand range from the classically beautiful to the sexually charged, with many oft the images being instantly familiar, iconic even.

It is an exhibit well worth seeing: beautiful artwork in a beautiful setting. Art lovers and tourists alike all seemed mesmerized by the experience.

My date, Michael James, embodying the true spirit of L.A. Style at the Getty Museum, LA, 2012.

The exhibit L.A. Style is on view at the Getty Museum through the end of August 2012.

For more info visit:
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"The Total Look"

Image by William Claxton of Peggy Moffitt at The Total Look, MOCA, 2012.
There is a fascinating fashion exhibit currently at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Pacific Design Center location in West Hollywood, chronicling the extraordinary collaboration between the designer, his muse, and her husband (the photographer).

The designer in question is Rudi Gernreich, an LA based designer who revolutionized fashion with his innovative take on knits, his development of the tube dress, and his exploration of swimming garments. He boldly explored such concepts as the topless swim-suit and see-through garments, as well as an explosion of color and graphic paterns.

The Total Look at the MOCA, May 2012.

In Peggy Moffitt, he found both model and muse, with her waif-like figure, heavy false eyelashes and  make-up, and her 'five-point' pixie hair-cut, Moffitt was the it-girl of the 1960's, and willing to help Gernreich push the boundaries with his outre designs. She made national headlines in the mid '60's when she posed in Gernreich's topless bikini, known as the 'monokini'.

The Total Look at the MOCA, May 2012.
 The third member of this 20 year long collaboration was Moffitt's husband, the photographer and artist William Claxton, who carefully preserved all of the bold looks in countless photographs and videos.

Through the end of May 2012, this collaboration is on full view at the MOCA. Dozens of designs are on display, showing the excitement of the moment, and the degree of their collaboration. Original Gernreich pieces are on display next to fashion shoots by Claxton of Moffitt wearing the items back in the day.

The Total Look at the MOCA, May 2012.

It is intriguing to see how thoroughly Gernreich designed his looks, from the garment to the headpiece to the shoes and accessories. Clear vinyl dresses contain only three strategically placed polka-dots, or nude body suits feature what appears to be a knitted bikini on top of it, but is actually a one-piece body-suit. Further, it is a pleasure to see how naturally Moffitt embodies the designs, not only wearing them but living them, complete with enormous silk rose earrings or matching one-inch kitten-heels. And then there is Claxton, who painstakingly documents every look for posterity.

It seems a perfectly harmonious collaboration between designer, model/muse, and photographer. Interestingly, after Gernreich's death in 1985, Moffitt retained legal rights to many of his designs and original designs, and continued to promote his work through books and exhibits, including this one at MOCA. When I asked the museum attendant what ever happened to Ms. Moffitt, I was thrilled to learn that she is alive and well, living right here in West Hollywood, and that she had even stopped by the museum a few days before to see the exhibit.

The concept this exhibit really emphasizes is the importance of creative collaboration. Often when we see a beautiful image of a striking woman in a magazine wearing something amazing, it is easy to forget how many artists were involved in bringing this image into existence. Here, 'The Total Look' shows us at least three key players: the designer, the model/muse, and the photographer.

If you are in the LA area, and want to see the exhibit, you had better hurry, as it ends soon.

The Total Look at the MOCA, May 2012.

The exhibit, "The Total Look: The Creative Collaboration between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt and William Claxton" is on view now at the Museum Of Contemporary Arts, Pacific Design Center, in West Hollywood through 20 May 2012.

For more info:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Love is like a Butterfly"

Asprey NYC Valentine's 2012 by Alton DuLaney.
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, one of my clients requested that I 'romance' their window display, adding something seasonally appropriate without changing out the entire window set. I shopped all of NYC looking for the right element to add a touch of class, whimsy, and poetry, deciding in the end to work with an existing theme I had included in the original window design - the Butterfly. For as Dolly Parton said in a famous song, "Love is like a Butterfly".
Asprey NYC Valentine's 2012 by Alton DuLaney.

One of the products, a vida poche in bone china, has a beautiful butterfly print on it, as does the ad campaign which supports it. This became my inspiration, adding 3-dimentional butterflies which seem to fly off the graphic and out into physical existence.

Asprey NYC Valentine's 2012 by Alton DuLaney.
I carried the butterfly theme, and the color red, throughout all the windows, adding pieces with rubies and pink diamonds to the jewelry windows, as well as sterling silver hearts, and a delicate red butterfly perched on the edge of the display.

Asprey NYC Valentine's 2012 by Alton DuLaney.
All product are featured in red, when available, like this red enamel cocktail shaker. Then, the display is accented with the thematic butterfly.

Asprey NYC Valentine's 2012 by Alton DuLaney.
The leather window, originally featuring business and travel products, is refreshed with a selection of red leather products including an alligator handbag. And although not exactly visible in this photo, a strategically placed butterfly adds continuity to the window.

Asprey NYC Valentine's 2012 by Alton DuLaney.
Overall the window is a beautiful yet subtle statement, to dear Saint Valentine. "As soft and gentle as a sigh", and yet visually impactful.  The striking red of the featured element, catches the eye, and then delights the viewer with its playfulness. 

Maximum effect from minimum input.

A major spring window is currently in the works, which I will share here in late March or early April. Until then, Happy Valentine's Day!