Photographer Claiborne Swanson Frank's new portrait book "Young Hollywood" (Assouline; $75) gives one big glamorous wink to the iconic femmes of film's golden age. The Vogue alum enlisted such rising starlets as Isabel Lucas, Alison Brie and Riley Keough to model, and tapped fashion mogul Michael Kors to write the foreword and contribute wardrobe and makeup.
The 176-page book uses retro styling and archetypal Los Angeles locales to toast "old Hollywood." You'll find Liz Goldwyn in a sleek satin gown striking a stunning pose, á la Greta Garbo, while Lily Rabe channels Katharine Hepburn-style insouciance in high-waisted trousers. But the subjects aren't mere Gloria Swanson stand-ins and Rita Hayworth wannabes playing dress-up. "Young Hollywood" is filled with multitasking hyphenates who are making a big splash in the industry.
"I'm a nostalgic person," Frank said in a recent interview, "but at the same time, I wanted to honor our generation." She explained that the book was driven by her obsession with Audrey, Liz and the like, but maintained, "Their insane talent is re-creating itself in modern times."
"Women are really rocking Hollywood," she said. "They're rising in ways we've never seen." Frank selected more than actresses to shoot — she also included writers, producers, stylists and an entertainment lawyer for good measure.
Each model flaunts makeup that's rooted in one of Michael Kors' key beauty looks, whether laid-back and sporty, sexy or glam. "Most women can have three different moods in one day," Kors said during a recent sit-down. "They can start off feeling like Katharine Hepburn and end up like Marilyn Monroe."
Frank's styling of Kors' clothing hits every major Hollywood fashion moment — from bikini to rebellious biker jacket. In his foreword, Kors writes about taking design cues from film stars and cites such movie muses as Lauren Hutton in "American Gigolo" and Elizabeth Taylor in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." When asked about the new generation's spin on Hollywood glamour, he professed his love for their "rule-breaking" spirit.
"Claiborne took the most glamorous pieces and paired them with army boots," Kors said. "She made the glamorous [look] 'everyday,' which I think is very California."
Alongside the glamour shots, there's a personal essay in which each subject divulges a bit of her own back story. "The portraits are aspirational, but I wanted the text to really portray the human journey," Frank said. There's plenty of loneliness, heartbreak, and rejection lining their varied paths to success.
There's no shortage of "I've dreamed of this ever since I was a little girl" rhetoric. But for every one of those boilerplate missives, there's a compelling story about frantically juggling gigs as a telemarketer, dog-walker and waitress, or being raised by overprotective Jewish lesbians in New York City's West Village.
Perhaps most refreshing is the ethnic and cultural diversity the book represents. Relatively speaking, "Young Hollywood" is a far cry from the sea of sameness that typical Tinseltown roundups tend to offer up.
"I worked really hard at being thoughtful with that piece," Frank said of the book's diversity. She explained her goal was to make the book "inspiring for girls all over."
We may still be waiting awhile for Hollywood to catch up to Frank's brand of inclusivity. But in the meantime, the book shines a light on the likes of Ashley Madekwe, Katie Chang, Tika Sumpter and Ilfenesh Hadera.