Eternal Sunshine of the [ Spotless Mind ][ Interiors ][ Films ]


“All these dreams are yours as well and the only distinction between me and you
is that I can articulate them.”

Werner Herzog, director

Articulating dreams and emotion is the driving task of any artist, (or any creative being) from kids to world leaders to directors of film to interior designers. Can art really save lives? Can one director’s dream save lives? Can design save lives?

Yes. Yes. and Yes.

One spring evening we joined the design-lover hordes at New York City’s beloved Housing Works’ Design on a Dime event. Here designers direct, they create little theatres, mini mis-en-scenes filled with objets d’art, which shoppers go cray-cray snapping up ~ all to raise funds for housing for those affected by HIV/AIDS. At the time I was deeply entrenched in Bernardo Bertolucci‘s 2011 love fest to cinema, The Story of Film: An Odyssey and I could not help seeing the legacy of film in the spaces and people.

Bertolucci’s global survey articulates the vast world of human emotion as seen in the passion of directors, it becomes so clear that Art Invents Style. This style is what connects humanity emotionally and pushes our collective dreams forward.

Come romp with me, see how design directors at Design on a Dime and filmmakers throughout time ~ set styles, create our dreams, and our reality.

The Location, The Scene: Like a Fellini movie, a parade of human souls daily eagle eye the most famous, most chic thrift shops in Gotham. Housing Works Thrift Shops are a library of colorful lives, clothing, furnishings and mementos; an online auction site; and definitely the beloved secret of many a stylish New Yorker.

The Investors, The Producers: This year these events raised 1.3 million! Shove over Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio! We’re getting into Hollywood numbers here, dear design community! Presented by the likes of Elle Decor, National Media Sponsor, Ralph Lauren Paint, HSBC Private Bank, Double Cross Vodka, Viacom, and the New York Design Center.

The Directors: Inspired by this charitable holy grail, over 60 designers signed on to create little worlds. We are talking legendary society designer names, like Charlotte Moss, to donations from major brands like Ralph Lauren and Nickelodeon, to hot young thangs, see a full list here.

+ The Cast of 1000’s:
A merry band of troubadours here! While incomparable to Vienna’s Life Ball, NY’ers marching through were precious Art Hipsters to Design and Media Brand Veep’s to Telly Celebrity Directors: Andy Cohen, Stephen Fanuka, George Oliphant, Evette Rios, Ryan Serhant, Bevy Smith and Lana Spencer, Nate Berkus, chairs. Design Stars made appearances, like Simon Doonan, Todd Oldham, editors Wendy Goodman of New York magazine’s Design Hunting, to Michael Boodro, editor-in-chief of ELLE DÉCOR, also the media sponsor; and to House Beautiful’s Sophie Donelson. Toss in characters like a Fashion Designer, Chris Benz, an Actress, Lorraine Bracco and yes, even add a Victoria Secret Model, Martha Hunt, and let the band play!



One vignette perfectly summed up the arms-wide-open, bright community philanthropy and cultural bounty vibe of the Housing Works vision. A happy, potluck, circus-fest of cultural kitsch was created by Cooking for Others, a culinary adventure invented by journalist Stephen Henderson, who was inspired by world traditions of cooking for others as a gesture of humanity.
You win My Best Director’s Prize, Mr. Henderson, your vignette was so on Message! Are we surprised the director’s husband is the famed the P.R. James LaForce?

Here’s James, above, and below, his vignette, presided over by a director we all know, in this instance, Jesus, posturing like the famous character of Monsieur Hulot in Trafic (Traffic) the 1971 Italian-French film directed by Jacques Tati. Furthering the symbolism, Tati used the word spelled trafic for an “exchange of goods,” rather than “traffic” per se…as he was another acute observer of our modern consumerist pumped society using humor and kitsch to enlighten the masses. Parody and Satire, we’ve seen this year how this vital freedom feeds our souls.
My sense of the absurd, and My Power of Wild Style Award goes to this merry trio we spotted among the throngs of shoppers, below.

Meet the 3 of the B.O.R.N.TO STYLE show cast members here, Jonathan Bodrick, Brandon Hood, JJ Langan. Jonathan’s real-life vintage shop in Harlem is the setting for the show, a Mecca calling the un-stylish to get make-overs. Of course, I gave them the option of a pic with or without me, and then because they were all fronting about me in the photo, I had to mess with these rising stars and photobomb them next!

BORN -Jade-Dressler

Life as jump cuts is as French as Jean Paul Gaultier Breton stripe T’s everywhere, including in the film he gorgeously styled, The City of Lost Children Stripes were all over the vignettes, perhaps a trend symbolic of our new wave feeling, a moving of boundaries, contrast, rebellion, and dreams.  The energy, textures, and colors of this vignette get My “Almost Almodovar”Award. The teen bedroom was designed by Nickelodeon, inspired by their show ‘Bella and the Bulldogs.’
Zees whole sing, verrry French New Wave meets lost American teenager, verrrry, verrrry À bout de souffle (1959) dir. Jean-Luc Godard.

Nickelodeon bedroom

Below, designer Miles Redd has his wise way with stripes, angles, geometrics, film lights, and mirrors with a ponderous head plopped in the middle. An esoteric, cinematic take with roots in Metropolis, (1927) dir. Fritz Lang, yes?


Another candy-striper was designer, Scott Sanders’ whose beach vignette drew in design surfers in droves, like a gyrating Annette Funicello. Inside his beach cabana world, you understood his Ralph Lauren background, he began Lauren’s interior design biz. On message, his homage-to-summer vignette was smartly merchandised like a shop. No wonder his clients are art stars and moguls of entertainment. No surprise this beach party mesmerized the frenzied shopper folks, who slowed down, staring at the array of cool, like one stares at the sea for life’s answers.
Here as does Audrey Hepburn in Two for the Road (1967) dir. Stanley Donen.

Scott Sanders’ Beachy Haven.

No casting couch, just a peek at whole parade of Stars passing by Scott’s Casting Cabana, here. Of course, the red carpet mantra, “And WHO are YOU wearing tonight?” was incessantly bantered.

I played paparazzi here with my mobile, snapping Scott with Marisa Marcantonio creator of the Stylebeat blog. As a vast background to her encyclopedic design brain, she smartly opts for the well-tailored, New York uniform of black.
(PS. She also wins My Gina Lollobrigida Look Alike Award.)

Some girl named Jade on the left, Scott in the middle with the super elegant and legendary designer, Jamie Drake. What is Jade Dressler wearing? More on that later, but first: Am I thrilled to be wearing Jamie Drake Hot Pink in my pic with him? Are you kidding me? Beyond thrilled!

Jill-John-and Scott-Sanders
Thank Jill John from Serena & Lily for all those yummy turquoise and cherry tangerine notes of style in the cabana. Who designed that cheery red jacket note of style on Scott? Thom Browne custom tailored, thank you! My Best Man Style Award goes to Scott, make sure you see the footwear below.

While Bari Mattes, above, posed with her dear friend, Scott, I played stylist and held her exquisite Chanel bag for her. Bari has been a co-director among top-notch directors, like Cory Booker and Tory Burch, so what other designer besides Chanel was she wearing? We honestly don’t know, but we LOVE her sartorial director-genius style, a perfect combo of politically-correct Michelle Obama-esque career wear in a very playful polka dot bikini pattern.

George Oliphant, Emmy award winning host of NBC’s George to The Rescue also swung by Scott’s cabana. We love that his bow tie matches his perky, fun personality plus Scott’s Tangy Tangerine color of the night. Plus George’s 1950-ish small check shirt renders all perfect with the dark navy jacket. Who cares WHO he’s wearing? We care more WHO he is!

In a similar mood, we spotted this tangy tangerine crochet flower lapel pin on Michael Ventol‘s dark plushy jacket. Michael is a salesman at Housing Works Chelsea, see how smart these people are? I saw and loved a similar tiny paper rose lapel pin on a dapper luxury real estate salesperson later in the week. No designers mentioned for this trend, but perhaps we can credit this au courant, “heart on lapel” style to The Godfather, courtesy of Marlon Brando‘s eerily elegant rose lapel pin whilst petting soft cuddly kitten, below?

Speaking of grandparents, my own lapel pin, here below, is courtesy of my grandmother. And I am wearing Jade Dressler. ( Editor’s note: This top was formally known as a pair of Nepalese trousers that I turned upside down, made a hole for my head, impulsed by my own incessant, archaic, Luddite and madcap-director desires to design and make my clothing.)

Sean-Mellyn-Jade-Dressler 2
This machismo chest puff posing above?  Inspired by artist Sean Mellyn‘s beefcake leather, here with me. I shall not insert a pic of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, because we all know Sean is a softy heart of the best kind;-) He is in fact, A Director With a Way, with flowers, Monet, and all things design.

Design-star Rio Hamilton shows us his treasure-find of the night, a sleek black bird. Was there ever a design match? Rio’s ever-sleek self captures the best of the design flock through his work with Assouline and his Mon Oncle blog. (I know! Crazee! I confirmed it…Mon Oncle as in Jacques Tati! Now that’s the kind of Designer-I’m-Wearing/Homage-to-Director we LOVE!)

Middle, stylist and blogger Raina Kettleson, luscious curls designed by “Universal”, me again;-) and on the left, the fab “What will you bring home?” graphic T’s all the volunteers wore. No, I did not bring Raina home, cute as her curls may be.

Jade-Dressler-Andrew Joseph
This above? Not a 3-headed creature from a Japanese monster movie, just star-PR director, Andrew Joseph and I getting kissy huggy.


Here is The Karim Abay, publisher with Paper magazine, along with Neal Beckstedt, another talented style director.  Pop culture note: The Karim showed me a picture he took of The Kanye‘s necklace on his mobile, taken up close at during the mag’s “Hubby of Kim” matching April cover shoot. Not really a matching cover, no man-parts on that cover, btw, just a thoughtful, pensive Kanye.

Why is the photo of the Victoria Secret model here? Honestly, I didn’t know where else to plop her. Neal’s way more subtle and gorgeous room follows after.
(and I do love Martha Hunt‘s dress and whole look;-)

Voila, Neal’s room…

Like the random picture of the model, Neal’s original and subtle style did not remind me of one specific film. The creamy colors, warm woods, black lacquer, maps and figurative art did hint of a set design for a film in the “Commedia sexy all’italiana,” genre.
More on that to come.



Black Girl (1966) dir. Ousmane Sembène is often called the first sub-Saharan African film by an African filmmaker to receive international attention. I call it astonishing for its hollow sound and deep emotional orchestration. We noticed quite a number of booths made instantly gorgeous by large photographs of African faces and features (above from Marc Houston‘s room) as well as the ongoing trend of dark, dramatic sultry walls.

Patrick James Hamiltons room, above, centered by luscious lips.

And here, Patrick beams on the right, as his room attracts the hordes of typically black-clad New Yorker shoppers. Below, designer Marc Houston‘s room, before the enigmatic, large portrait of the African woman as seen above was placed. Great to see how this rendered the whole room noble.

Here below with the designer, myself, and the crowning image. Marc’s subtle set mood-swinged from Dutch 17th century, to an undefinable modernism, to a play of scale and reality that touched on the pure magic of another African film, the visual-stunner, Cannes Jury prize-winning film, Yeelen (1987) dir. Souleymane Cissé.

Yes, I am coyly not including images from these two films. I want you to seek them out, they are a holy grail.

My favorite piece of art in the show, in Marc Houston’s vignette is in the back there, the shape-shifting collage of two images, and here below. Ya feel me?!




We have a jones for 2Michaels. The sister-twin interior designers bring an in-your face, stark and smart beauty that reminds me of Danish films like Persona (above, 1966) dir. Ingmar Bergman.


The close ups of Joan in The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer spoke to us of this very Danish simplicity and hip sense of cool (c’mon, peep that fur rug on sisal!!!) All night we’d run into one or the other sister looking for the other.  Granted, not crying, like Joan of Arc did in the movie, but um, LIKE THE MOVIE!

Inspired by this “Danes on Design” simplicity, I am inspired to tell the whole history of film in 3 images! The first below is known as the first film ever,Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory (1895) dir. Louis Lumière. Lumiere of course, means light in French, and how utterly amazing is it that women exiting a dark factory into the bright sun was the first-ever film?

…to the end of this movie, Nostalghia (1983) dir. Andrei Tarkovsky.

Where all the story’s action was centered on a writer, his dog and travels within his country landscape, at the end, the camera pulls back and back and back, to the sounds of Native American chanting, wolf-like dog howling, and emptiness, until you see his whole world framed in a ruined cathedral, sunlight and then, like stars, snow falls softly.

These astonishing images echo the creative passion to bring light and calculated movement to echo out and expand our vision. Whether in a sketch, an interior or a film. THIS wow’s.



The Operatic, The Melodramatic, The Technoscopic Life. The real…slow…time perspectives of dir. Sergio Leone have influenced the likes of Stanley Kubrick, Baz Luhrmann, and me! I was transported into that 70’s real-time laconic and emotionally loaded style, as I became mesmerized by the multi-level terrariums in the vignette designed by Tom Lenz for 513. Anything spaceship-like instantly transports me and I pictured a set from Roger Vadim’s Barbarella, with a mini Jane Fonda inside leaping from frond to frond.

The only thing that can pull me from Barbarella is a setting for one of my all time favorite film genres, “Commedia sexy all’italiana.”

My Italianate Casa Bella Prize Award goes to Corey Damen Jenkins & Associates‘ malachite walled camera.  One of the most swanky vignettes at the event, it’s an ornate lure for some Sex Comedy, with flashing 70’s wardrobes, hairdos, kinky antics, a hilarious script, and lotsa skin. LOVE.

Comedy. Tragedy. The sheer design intensity and the gorgeous green walls also reminded me of the kind of signature Fassbinder melodramatic room antics seen in The Story of Film:

Fassbinder misery
The set of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) (aka Die Bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant) dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, was almost totally restricted to a woman’s bedroom, decorated and dominated by a huge wall reproduction of Midas and Bacchus nude and romping, a brilliant background to the woman’s woes upon her fur rug.  The Standard for The High Art of Angst.

And one more stunner in that genre. This tour de force vignette hit all the trends we loved in the show, with the expressionist paintings, striped chairs, and gold footed sheep who like to graze and read design magazines. Brava, Megan Winters Design,you stopped us in our tracks on the strada!

female graffiti art


Tamara Stephenson‘s room at first glance was an innocent, sweetly pale pink “pillow” atelier/shop and delivered some dizzying intensity via the above striking Italianate graffiti portrait, above. The combo eerily continued along with muted, mysterious people screened on her new collection of pillows she designed with Susan Young. Suddenly, I was Kim Novak shopping for flowers in Vertigo (1958) dir. Alfred Hitchcock.



Pushing the femme fatale envelope further, the vignette from Danielle Colding Design felt like a surreal homage to the allure and fantasy of women depicted in magazines and movies via the sky blue cloud/petal-like walls and well-scaled curation of images.

And, because the world needs more directors and designers of the female stripe, these quotes from the interview with Jane Campion in Bertolucci‘s film survey:

“The big betrayal of the female is that women want to see themselves through men’s eyes, so they are very interested in what men do. (with film)”

And her quote on cultivating creativity or the muse:

“The subconscious is like a shy pet…if it trusts you, it will come out and play…if you sit for 3 hours and nothing really happens, will you stay for the 4th hour?”

Jane Campion, director



Movies and interiors are at their best when they transport. The Thief of Bagdad (1924) dir. Raoul Walsh flew audiences into the exotic, as did dir. Lotte Reiniger and her precious, animated The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926.) Reiniger invented her animation 10 years before Disney and surprise! she was clearly a style influence of artist Kara Walker.

0 R UMAX     PL-II            V1.5 [3]
A trip to the Paradise of Marrakesh was imagined by Design on a Dime’s Founding Chair, James Huniford of Huniford Design Studio. All the visual cacophony of a bazaar was the essential alluring message of the event and fit the function. We LOVE.

Wasn’t there to witness the shopping frenzy descending, although we did catch the first one on line:

Caught! A winking and laughing Kati Curtis laying claim to a set of blue lacquer Chippendale-style lattice bamboo chairs, very smart!

Segue her stylish snake bag to more exotic people we spotted strolling at the bazaar:

Leslie-Silverman-Victor-John- Villanueva

Cool kids and super fun to boot, Leslie Silverman and Victor John Villanueva, and whoa! Photobombed by another fellow from the B.O.R.N.crew, B.O.R.N. store manager and singer-songwriter, Terry Artis!

Victor John Villanueva-necklace
makes these necklaces. This one. Don’t get me started on my second favorite movie genre, Japanese monster movies. I decided this necklace is either a pixel Godzilla or that strange ape that always appears in Laurel and Hardy movies.

Laurel and Hardy-ape
Next, and way better dressed, my award for Costume Design on The Coolest Couple of the Evening goes to…

Arpana Rayamajhi
a jewelry maker from Kathmandu, Nepal, here with multi-disciplinary artist, Bruno Levy. Casting! Call-backs for their laid-back intensity! Wardrobe! Make sure you see her embroidered handbag, mix of leather and shine with folkloric, plus bedhead hair!

Arpana- Rayamajhi-Bruno-Levy
Directors! Take note! Smoldering good looks with the ability to turn the tables at any moment! LOVE!


The table-turning sequence above, in Stalker (1979) dir. Andrei Tarkovsky has glasses moving as if by a ghost, dandelion seeds floating through, haunting train whistles, dogs barking…a symphony of visual and sound. The light intensity in the gaze of the girl, with her golden head scarf framed by the verticals of the window reminded me of this vignette:

Flair Design on a Dime
The sinuous golden forms against the wispy wallpaper made this vignette by FLAIR, and this elegant cart-like table an excellent, unpretentious spot to display one’s Oscar.


This golden and black tones makes the stark white “casting couch” here beckon and sing like a cloud. LOVE’s here include the double chandelier echoed in the candle cluster, the long pillow bolsters, much more luxe than square, and the two green notes on the back table. A little cascading-like-hair plant and plexi pyramid are as beguiling as two green eyes of a cat. While we love their catalogs, kudos to the designer from Pottery Barn who orchestrated this scenario…A BIG GOLD OSCAR!

In closing, an homage to all the directors that inspired and why this one image we began with, Daisies (1966) dir. Věra Chytilová, sums up all we love about cinema, this event, and the Design on a Dime cause. In the end, as creative kids, its important to share our most precious dreams, creativity and relationships, honoring our dance together and the ultimate responsibility we have as designers to inspire via the rhythm of our times and encourage the eternal flowerings of creativity.

This Saves Lives.




Paparazzi people images from Alvaro Montagna, here below with meself, Jade Dressler, the writer, director and designer of this blog, with Scott Sanders. This image of us is from Rio Hamilton. Additional vignette images from Felix R. Cid, Sarah Sarna and Billy Farrell. Additional people and film imagery thanks to late night Netflix, Google Search and My Mobile balanced with champagne, stilettos, and a director’s lust for the moment.

THANK YOU Everyone! Alvaro-Montagna-Jade-Dressler-Scott-Sanders


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