Street Style

Opening Night at Seattle International Film Festival

Last night, we had the distinct pleasure of attending quite an auspicious event: the opening-night gala for the 40th annual Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). The largest festival of its kind, SIFF is renowned for the wide range of genres it embraces—from oddball comedies to avant-garde thrillers to tearjerking documentaries—which is exactly why we (and thousands of film buffs each year) enjoy it so much.

Keep reading to see our gallery of event photos (including special guest, actress Hayley Atwell), plus a look at last night’s featured film, a Jimi Hendrix biopic starring André “3000” Benjamin of Outkast (yes, that Outkast).

Looks like we’re in the right place.

L: SIFF staffers at the press check-in. They look friendly, but you’d better have your credentials in order.
R: Complimentary valet service for SIFF red carpet-goers. Not bad!

Serendipitous! We bumped into Olivia Kim, Nordstrom’s Director of Creative Projects and curator of our monthly Pop-In Shops, as soon as she hopped out of her car. Her chaperone for the evening was Raul Becerra from our Designer Collections buying team.

Our friend Rachel Eggers, SIFF’s Marketing Manager, took a break from greeting guests of honor to pose for a quick photo. Chic shades and SIFF lanyards are our favorite accessories at the moment.

These SIFF staff members were kind enough to stop for a photo—and remind us about tomorrow night’s screening of Dior and I, the story of Raf Simons’ first collection at the legendary fashion house. Click to enlarge the photo of her awesome ear adornment.

This fetching film buff caught our eye immediately. Her blouse is vintage and her handbag strap, if you can make it out, appears to be made of real 35mm movie film.

The VIP (and VP) guests just kept coming! We bumped into Kristen Lamey, Nordstrom’s VP of Marketing, and Brett Thurman, VP of Creative Services—who looked quite dapper in a rag & bone tie.

This longtime SIFF veteran could be overheard telling a local reporter stories from the original SIFF 40 years ago, when Rocky Horror Picture Show made its debut. We can’t say we’d rock his headwear, personally, but there’s something to be said for his leather jacket and kilt combo; we’d wager he was dressing this way before Kanye did.

Speaking of dapper neckwear, this gentleman’s tie clip knocked our socks off. It says “Don” on it. He imagined it to be a reference to Mad Men‘s Don Draper. Or Don Corleone. Or Don Juan. Whatever the occasion calls for, really.

More familiar faces. Here’s Liz Marklewicz, one of our Online Features Writers, and her date looking evening-appropriate in matching black-on-black.

And now for the red carpet…

How gorgeous is actress Hayley Atwell?! The British starlet plays one of the female leads opposite André Benjamin in Jimi: All Is By My Side.

Stylish showgoers.

Hey, it’s Olivia again! Being herself, as always. On the right, she and Raul are laughing alongside SIFF Managing Director Mary Bacarella and SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence. Read our Q&A with those two here.


Scenes from inside the reception, prior to the main event.

Now, this gentleman came dressed for the occasion! We forgot our Hendrix tees at home, unfortunately.

Outrageous! Oh, well, we’ll make do…

SIFF’s opening-night celebrations are too large for a standard movie theater. Tonight’s screening took place at Seattle’s McCaw Hall, complete with double balconies.

L: Words to live by, people.
R: McCaw Hall is the year-round home of Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Opera—so it goes without saying that Jimi sounded as good as it looked.

Soon, the lights dimmed and the show started. Jimi: All Is By My Side is not your typical biopic. Rather than recap Hendrix’s whole life, it shines a light on one pivotal year in the guitar god’s journey: the one in which he was discovered by Linda Keith (Keith Richard’s girlfriend) and went from being an anonymous session guitarist in New York to the most original voice in London’s experimental acid blues scene—maybe. Success didn’t come easily, and the film culminates just prior to The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s first big break at 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival near San Francisco. [Photo via SIFF.]

While the film is still too new to have a trailer (this was only the second time it’s been screened in the U.S.), we can show you a couple of short clips. Left: Jimi meets his first manager—and hints at the out-of-this-world ways in which he views music. Right: Linda sums up the problem with dating musicians quite nicely. You’ll have to see the movie yourself to find out how Hendrix responds—Jimi: All Is By My Side gets a wider U.S. release later this summer.

After the movie ended, SIFF attendees were treated to a hallmark of the festival: a Q&A session held by SIFF’s Carl Spence with the film’s writer/producer/director, John Ridley (who’s fresh off an Oscar win for his 12 Years a Slave screenplay), and actress Hayley Atwell—both of whom were quite eloquent in their accounts of the film’s origins, inspirations and collaborative processes. You can get a similar taste in the interview clips above—with André Benjamin (who didn’t make it to the SIFF event, despite the hopes of rumor-mongers including ourselves), Ridley and the film’s other female lead, Imogen Poots.

A SIFF tradition: Each year’s inaugural film screening is followed by a massive party!

L: SIFF sips. Sign us up.
R: Seattleites, mark your calendars for the Golden Space Needle Awards, which close out the festival each year.

We had the chance to shake hands with Hayley Atwell after the show and congratulate her on an amazing performance. At the post-show Q&A, she spoke about often playing prim and proper roles and enjoying the chance to be a bit more “messy” as Hendrix’s passionate, if slightly unstable, love interest during his first year in London. Here, Hayley is flanked by SIFF’s Carl Spence (left) and her date.

That’s a wrap! Here’s an obligatory shot of the Space Needle at night, on our way home from McCaw Hall.

Look for more SIFF coverage coming soon! In the meantime, plan for your own next big event with something chic from Designer Collections.

—Justin Abbott
Photos by Justin Abbott and Angela Sumner