Fans create Wes Anderson world

The New York TimesMarch 19, 2014 

Paige Joost likes the “awkward, naive, but dark quality” she sees in the themes of Wes Anderson, the fabulist moviemaker, and she loves the washed-out Polaroid palette he often works in, which reminds her of the 1970s, a place she has never visited.

Joost, 23, a designer at Urban Outfitters in Philadelphia, likes to tack up vintage objects, clothes and artwork on her walls at home to mimic Anderson’s visual collages. She also makes Pinterest boards devoted to Anderson’s films, and for a project in her last year at the Savannah College of Art and Design, she knitted an elaborate pair of gold knickers inspired by the hues of “Moonrise Kingdom,” the 2012 Anderson fable.

When she offered them for sale recently on Etsy, the crafts bazaar, they sold almost instantly, even though she priced them at $150. (The knickers are made to order, and she has since sold another pair.) “It turns out, a lot of people are searching for Wes Anderson things,” Joost said, chuckling at the understatement.

Joost’s cable-stitched underpants, in fact, are among hundreds of objects on Etsy inspired by the work of Anderson, whose latest film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” opens Friday.

The Wes Anderson wedding

Parodied, pilloried but also deeply beloved for his extreme approach to cinematic storytelling, in which artifacts from a predigital universe – handwritten notes (and certain typefaces), vintage suitcases, taxidermy, rotary phones – throb with urgency and loopy meaning, Anderson has nonetheless acquired a fan base devoted to his visual tics and flourishes. Some of these fans make art and design in homage to his work; decorate their homes in Wes Anderson hues, with Wes Anderson paraphernalia; and even marry in celebrations based on their favorite Wes Anderson films.

The “Wes Anderson wedding” is a particularly deep stylistic rabbit hole, a theme party that resonates for the cohort that looks to Make magazine or Rock n Roll Bride, an English blog and annual print publication, for decorating tips rather than to Martha Stewart.

For their 2011 wedding, at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, Calif., William and Naomi Pisnieski wanted “to feel like we were inside the Royal Tenenbaums’ house,” said William Pisnieski, 36, head of postproduction at Authentic Entertainment, a reality television company in Los Angeles. “We loved the aesthetic of the films, the bittersweet nostalgia, the tangible objects. We like the specificity, the connection to – something. Especially in this day and age, when things are not so tangible.”

Some of the props that Sugar & Fluff, the couple’s party planners, assembled for the ’do included vintage board games; a fur coat like the one that belonged to Margo, the Gwyneth Paltrow character in the film; and wooden tennis rackets, along with an old-school photo booth where guests could pose with those props, and place cards and signage in Futura, Anderson’s oft-used typeface.

As Naomi Pisnieski, 37, a private chef, said, “The way Wes puts his thumbprint on everything in his films is what we wanted to do with our wedding.”

And apparently they’re not the only ones. Aasim Rizvi, of Sugar & Fluff, said that he often gets inquiries for Anderson elements like “centerpieces made out of old books, midcentury curated furniture and custom topiaries.”

The Wes Anderson home

In decorating their home, the Pisnieskis drew from the canon as well (a taxidermy wildebeest head is a prized possession, Naomi Pisnieski said), using as an assist “The Wes Anderson Collection,” Matt Zoller Seitz’s fulsome coffee-table book devoted to the auteur’s style, out last fall.

Taxidermy, bad art, Polaroid tints: Susan Garbett, 31, an artist who lives in the Elyssian Valley neighborhood of Los Angeles with her husband, Lane Kneedler, 37, director of programming at the American Film Institute, listed the Anderson elements assembled in their bungalow.

“I love the Wes Anderson universe, as do many of my friends,” Garbett said. “I’ve discussed paint colors and wallpaper choices with folks based on his film’s colors. I’ve bought some dècor items or art that could be inspired by some of his films.”

Garbett’s own work includes line-drawing portraits in the style of those from “The Royal Tenenbaums,” which she sells on Etsy.


Lacey Lamberth, 29, lives near Nashville and makes pillows stitched with Anderson quotes, like “What Kind of Bird Are You?” from “Moonrise Kingdom,” and Anderson motifs, like the red knit cap from “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou.” Lamberth said she pored over the Anderson color palettes that so many have assembled online.

“His films are lovely-weird, and always beautiful,” she said. “And that’s how I want my home to feel.”

True fanatics, however, turn to the Rushmore Academy, the Facebook page devoted to all things Wes Anderson. Dave Weiss, 41, a photo editor at a custom publishing house in Manhattan and one of the page’s administrators, did not have a Wes Anderson-themed wedding when he married Katie Harrigan, also 41, 10 years ago, but he understands the impulse.

“I think that with decorating your home or planning a wedding, there’s a real expectation and desire for everything to be just so,” he said. “Especially now with Pinterest and blogs and magazines reinforcing that and showing people the range of creative options. So they dovetail with Wes Anderson’s movies, because his films are the embodiment of that notion of making things just so.”

Paul Rudnick, the humor writer, concurred. “It does make total sense that he would become an Etsy icon,” he said.

This week, Libby Gelman-Waxner, Rudnick’s alter ego, reviewed “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” noting that she had always liked Anderson, even though she understands those who are wary of his films because, as she put it, “They can feel like those kinds of toys which are so expensive that your parents won’t let you play with them.”

As Rudnick said: “Everything is so chosen, which makes the movies both deeply romantic and a little bit crazy, and I think that’s what people respond to. You can tell how much he’s in love with the worlds he’s creating. It’s only a little bit scary that people are turning themselves into Wes Anderson props.”

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