How to Master the French-Girl Cat Eye

THE MUSE AND THE TOOLS Brigitte Bardot on the set of ‘Contempt’ in 1963.
THE MUSE AND THE TOOLS Brigitte Bardot on the set of ‘Contempt’ in 1963. Photo: Getty Images

FEW MAKEUP LOOKS are as enduring, or as tricky to perfect, as the cat eye—that upturned bit of liner that extends past one’s peepers. The coquettish effect is ubiquitous, from runways (see Marni, Chanel) to the red carpet (Cardi B, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus all embraced the cat eye at the 2019 Grammys on Feb. 10). But no one has worn it quite like Brigitte Bardot, who was seldom photographed without her dark winged eyeliner after she broke out in the 1956 film, “And God Created Woman.” “She was a little bit of a feline,” said Peter Philips, the makeup maestro and creative and image director for Dior Makeup. “She wore it in a natural way.” Her inimitable lids became so iconic that in 1961, French cosmetics brand Aziza made her its eye-product poster girl, running ads with the slogan: “For Bardot and for you.”

But are cat eyes for “you”? I’ve often pondered this after my failed efforts to look kittenish left me with liquid liner smeared across my temples. As Mr. Philips explained, a deftly drawn cat eye evokes danger, sensuality and intimidation; my shaky attempts conjure a drunk raccoon or a damp Picasso. He suggests novices start by staring in the mirror—eyes open—and dotting the skin where the wings should end. Tattoo artist and makeup mogul Kat Von D seconded that tip, and she should know, considering she’s been lining her lids since age 12 and has built a cosmetics empire on a best-selling liquid eyeliner.

In a last-ditch effort to overcome my eyeliner ineptitude, I headed to Chanel’s newly opened Atelier Beauté in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, a beauty and fragrance workshop that offers one-on-one makeup lessons. Using the brand’s pencil and liquid liners, makeup artist Cyndle Komarovski gave me a crash course (below) in creating Ms. Bardot’s as-it-turned-out imitable cat eye, which is simpler than it seems. And after nearly two decades of winged failure, finally, my eyes have it.

1. Pencil Eyeliner, $30, 2. Blue Eyeliner, $30.50, 3. Kat Von D Beauty Eyeliner, $20, 4. Eyeliner, $58, 5. Eyeliner, $35,
1. Pencil Eyeliner, $30, 2. Blue Eyeliner, $30.50, 3. Kat Von D Beauty Eyeliner, $20, 4. Eyeliner, $58, 5. Eyeliner, $35,
1. Pick Your Poison

Proper tools are a must. Cat eyes can be achieved with pencil, gel, or liquid, but newbies should stick to a liquid liner in felt-tip or brush form. On me, Ms. Komarovski started with Chanel’s Le Crayon Khôl in black and then layered the brand’s liquid liner on top.

2. Dot Your Eyes

To achieve a clean, graphic line, you must start by looking in the mirror and making dots where you want the wings to end. Ms. Von D suggests stepping back to ensure the dots are even on both sides.

3. Fill It In

Next, trace your lash lines and connect them to the dots. “Fill it in like a coloring book,” said Ms. Von D. “I personally like to start really thin” a la Ms. Bardot. Mr. Philips concurred: “It’s better to start small and to build it up.”

4. Be a Cat Woman

“A cat eye is not just makeup, it’s also an attitude,” Mr. Philips insisted. “You can paint on a cat eye, but if you don’t carry [yourself] like a cat woman, why make the effort?”

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.

More in Style & Fashion

Finally: A Men’s Leather Jacket That Doesn’t Convey ‘Midlife Crisis’

Jacket, $10,700, Hermès, 212-308-3585
Jacket, $10,700, Hermès, 212-308-3585 Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Anne Cardenas

Points of Distinction

WHAT A FEELING Hermès used Étrivière lambskin, a pebbled leather with a suede-like touch, supple enough to forgo a lining.

GET STIFFED The jacket is lithe, but the collar has been reinforced with triangular stitching so you can turn it up in a biting wind.

WHAT’S YOUR ANGLE? Three slanted pockets are accented with aqua-green zippers—or, in Hermès speak, ‘sportive details.’

LEATHER JACKETS bring to mind noise-polluting motorcycles—blame Marlon Brando and the Hells Angels for that—but Hermès, the 182-year-old French label, has crafted a leather jacket that connotes a quainter form of transportation: the horse. “This jacket is made of Étrivière lambskin, an Hermès heritage leather, originally used for horse-harness straps,” explained Véronique Nichanian, the label’s men’s artistic director. Equestrian leather is not a startling choice for a brand that began in 1837 as a saddlery and whose logo still depicts a horse-drawn carriage. Little else about this coat is predictable, however.

Unlike motorcycle jackets with flappy collars and stiff shells, Hermès’s lambskin proposition is airy. It won’t protect you from road rash if you fall off your chopper, but it will sit on your shoulders as gingerly as a cotton baseball jacket.

It’s rendered in inky green, not the usual gothic black or baseball-mitt brown, with bright seafoam strips at the zippered pockets. The result: modern and not the least bit midlife-crisis-y, especially when styled with bright cotton trousers as it was at the brand’s spring show.

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.

More in Style & Fashion

Just How Green Are U.S. Airlines?

Just How Green Are U.S. Airlines?
Illustration: Brian Stauffer

Virgin Atlantic Airways flew the first biofuel demonstration flight in 2008. Eleven years later, no airline has done much more than that. One of the major elements in reducing aviation-produced greenhouse gases has yet to take off.

Newsletter Sign-up

Airlines advertise green initiatives and grab headlines with special flights powered partly by oil produced from plants and other green sources. But biofuel use is but a drop in a very big bucket: United Airlines, ahead of most airlines in green initiatives, burned 1 million gallons of biofuel in 2017 out of 3.36 billion gallons of jet fuel, or 0.03%.

The industry’s move toward reducing carbon emissions has been slow. Improvements in new airplanes have reduced emissions significantly, but with more airplanes flying more people, overall tonnage of carbon emitted by commercial aviation has been inching higher, not lower, in recent years.

The Environmental Protection Agency says U.S. commercial-aviation carbon dioxide emissions increased 6.2% from 2010 to 2016. Passenger-car CO2 emissions increased 1.2% over the same period.

United has been a leader among airlines in trying to advance biofuel to reduce overall airline carbon emissions. But biofuel accounted for only 0.03% of United’s fuel consumption in 2017.
United has been a leader among airlines in trying to advance biofuel to reduce overall airline carbon emissions. But biofuel accounted for only 0.03% of United’s fuel consumption in 2017. Photo: United Airlines

“It’s kind of business as usual,” says Dan Rutherford, aviation program director for the nonprofit International Council on Clean Transportation. U.S. airline greenhouse-gas emissions hit a new high in 2017, he says. While passenger traffic was up about 10% from 2015 to 2017, fuel efficiency improved about 3%, leaving a roughly 7% increase in emissions. It’s been pretty much the same story world-wide.

“The increases in demand continue to outstrip the improvements in fuel efficiency, so net emissions continue to rise,” Mr. Rutherford says.

Scientists say carbon dioxide in the atmosphere acts as a heat-trapping blanket that raises temperatures and adds to climate change. They warn that failure to reverse the trend of increasing greenhouse gases could lead to flooding, droughts and other large-scale catastrophes.

Jet airplanes affect the climate in two ways: emitting carbon dioxide and depositing water vapor and particles at high altitude, which form thin clouds that can heat the planet. Scientists say both are minor drivers of climate change compared with other sources. World-wide, air transportation accounts for about 2% of global carbon emissions.

The airline industry committed to three environmental goals in 2009 and may struggle to reach the most important objectives. Airlines are on pace to exceed a short-term goal of improving fuel efficiency by 1.5% a year.

Today’s new planes are about 20% more fuel-efficient than the previous generation from the 1990s, Airbus and Boeing say, and 70% more fuel-efficient than early jets of the 1960s. On a per-passenger basis, fuel economy has improved: Airlines now fly with fewer empty seats and more seats packed into each jet. But most of the improvement has come from manufacturers. Engines get more thrust out of the fuel they burn, planes are much lighter today and aerodynamics has reduced drag.

The split wingtip on the new Boeing 737 MAX improves the efficiency of the wing and reduces fuel burn. The newest 737 reduces carbon emissions about 20% when compared with 737s produced in the 1990s.
The split wingtip on the new Boeing 737 MAX improves the efficiency of the wing and reduces fuel burn. The newest 737 reduces carbon emissions about 20% when compared with 737s produced in the 1990s. Photo: The Boeing Company

The second goal, to have all growth starting next year and beyond take place without increasing carbon emissions, will happen only by purchasing carbon offsets in the marketplace, officials say. Airlines will essentially be paying to plant trees to remove as much carbon dioxide as their new flights create.

Offsets may become a big factor in aviation, likely pushing up ticket prices in the future. Corporate contracts with airlines increasingly include an offset, airline executives say. Companies have to disclose their own environmental impact, and the carbon emissions from employee air travel factor into that.

Offsets typically aren’t expensive. Christine Boucher, Delta’s managing director for global environment, sustainability and compliance, says it costs less than $5 to offset the carbon produced by one passenger round trip between Atlanta and New York.

United and Delta offer carbon calculators and links to making contributions to environmental groups with cash or miles to offset your particular emissions on a trip. Airlines say usage is very low.

The long-term aviation industry goal, experts say, is the most difficult for the industry to achieve: a 50% reduction in the volume of emissions by 2050 compared with 2005 emissions. United, for example, has reduced emissions from 2005 levels by 16%. To get the rest of the way, the aviation industry is counting on future technologies.

“I think we have to get there. It’s not easy, but it is realistic,” says Robert Michael, senior manager of product marketing for Boeing.

Unlike ground activities like electricity generation or road transport, long-haul flying doesn’t have alternatives and will depend on liquid fuels for decades to come. The International Air Transport Association, an airline group, says electric commercial aircraft aren’t likely before 2040. Even then, the weight of batteries and the amount of power needed will be restrictive.

The Burning Question

U.S. airlines have grown more efficient, but carrying more passengers means they’ve burned more fuel in recent years.

Annual fuel consumption for U.S. airlines*

billion gallons

“Electric will not be the solution for all flights, particular long-range flights,” says Hubert Mantel, head of environmental affairs for Airbus.

Much of the hope for future improvement centers on biofuel—oil made from plants or recycled waste and refined into jet fuel that can burn with the same energy in jet engines without any changes to the engines.

What comes out the back of a jet engine burning biofuel is basically as dirty in terms of carbon emissions, though many biofuels do burn with lower sulfur emissions. The big difference in carbon is on the ground in what’s called the life cycle of the fuel.

Plant-based biofuel pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as the plants grow. Recycling carbon waste into biofuel also produces benefits on the ground. Biofuel is cleaner because no drilling is involved and refining products pollute less. If produced near airports, transporting biofuel may result in lower emissions than petroleum fuels, too. Add all that up and biofuel can be 20% to 80% cleaner than regular jet fuel, even though your flight produces the same amount of CO2.

So far, only one airport in the U.S., Los Angeles International, and three in Scandinavia have regular supplies of biofuel, and those are in very small quantities. The industry hopes it can get to 2% biofuel within the next six years.

United is working with two biofuel producers and using all the biofuel it can get. By locking in agreements with producers early, United has biofuel at reasonable prices, says Gavin Molloy, United’s vice president of corporate real estate and environmental affairs.

“If we could power all our aircraft with biofuel today, we’d probably do that,” he says.

For most airlines, cost represents the primary headwind. Biofuel can range from about $4.50 a gallon to $8.50 a gallon. The current spot price for traditional fuel is $1.87 a gallon. As a result, manufacturers have been slow to produce large quantities.

Tax incentives in California led a supplier there to focus on biodiesel for road vehicles rather than jet fuel. In January, similar tax credits were extended to aviation, and United hopes that will improve its biofuel supply.

The International Air Transport Association says aviation fuel should at least get the same tax breaks as road transportation, and is pushing governments around the world to stimulate biofuel development with tax incentives.

“It’s not a technical issue anymore,” says Michael Gill, IATA’s director of aviation environment. “The cost is the main factor.”

Write to Scott McCartney at

Let Us Know

How high a priority are eco-friendly airlines to you? Tell us in the comments.


Appeared in the February 14, 2019, print edition as ‘Airlines Struggle With the Goal of Going Green.’

This Iconic Hollywood Restaurant Lets You Travel Back in Time

Sixty-four years after this half of the Musso & Frank Grill first opened, it’s still referred to as the ‘New Room.’
Sixty-four years after this half of the Musso & Frank Grill first opened, it’s still referred to as the ‘New Room.’ Photo: Jessica Sample for The Wall Street Journal

LONG BEFORE Hollywood Boulevard had its Walk of Fame, it had the Musso & Frank Grill. Or, as it was originally called, “Frank’s Café”—the brainchild of entrepreneur Frank Toulet. He opened the joint in 1919, just as Hollywood was completing its metamorphosis from rural backwater to the movie capital of the world. With the nearest eateries still miles away, Toulet figured film workers might appreciate a convenient place to dine.

By the early ’20s, when Toulet joined with restaurateur Joseph Musso and renamed the place “Musso & Frank’s Grill,” it was already the center of the Tinseltown universe. (The apostrophe ‘s’ vanished sometime later.) Charlie Chaplin was a regular. Soon, the owners upscaled the décor to what became the dominant style for the first generation of Hollywood power-lunch spots: all dark wood and deep leather banquettes. Movie deals were made over the “Continental cuisine” of French-born chef Jean Rue—from lobster Newberg to the perennial Thursday special, chicken pot pie.

Later, Musso & Frank became a favorite haunt of novelists like Faulkner and Fitzgerald. “The Screen Writers Guild was right across the street,” said present-day proprietor Mark Echeverria. “After their scripts were hacked apart by studio executives, they’d go to the Guild and complain…then cross the street to Musso’s and get drunk.”

It was a fine place to do so. Orson Welles once described the vibe at Musso & Frank as “like being in the womb.”


THIS ICON’S current home, established incrementally between 1934 and 1955, occupies two large rooms in the building next to the original space. But the “new” venue is as dark, quiet and womblike as the old. Everything from the wallpaper to the coat racks hails from the restaurant’s midcentury heyday. Chefs still sear chops on the original “exhibition grill” behind the lunch counter, the mahogany bar is the same one at which Raymond Chandler allegedly sat and wrote a chapter or two of “The Big Sleep.” Even the wait staff, in their red jackets and black ties, seem timeless. Some have worked here for decades.

The clientele is perhaps a little motlier than before—business brokers, dressed-up couples, casual drinkers in jeans. Otherwise, the main nod to modernity: a much-needed infusion of technology. “When I started in 2009,” recalled Mr. Echeverria, “our bookkeeper had this huge leather book. Every morning she would creak this enormous thing open, and start writing in it in calligraphy.” The book’s been replaced with 21st-century software. Meanwhile, so as not to alarm the regulars, front-of-house changes have been stealthier. Like the faux-vintage wooden speaker cabinets, fabricated by a studio prop master, which camouflage the dining room’s modern sound system. Equally subtle: chef J.P. Amateau’s small tweaks to Jean Rue’s blander, decades-old recipes. The new secret ingredient in the updated Grenadine of Beef? “Well…,” admitted Mr. Echeverria, “it’s pretty simple: salt.”

The Musso & Frank Grill At 100

Still serving one of the best martinis in town

Bartender Ron Sheriff with one of Musso & Frank’s prize offerings, a dry martini, stirred.
Jessica Sample for The Wall Street Journal

POWER HUNGRY / Musso & Frank Has Been Feeding and Watering the Movie-Studio Set Since the Silent-Film Era

1919: Frank Toulet opens Frank’s Café at 6669 Hollywood Boulevard. The Hollywood sign hasn’t been built yet.

Circa 1922: Toulet teams up with restaurateur Joseph Musso, renaming the joint “Musso & Frank’s Grill.” Jean Rue comes aboard as head chef.

1927: Two Italian immigrants buy the restaurant from Toulet and Musso. Their names are Joseph Carissimi and—amusingly—John Mosso. Mosso’s descendants run the restaurant to this day.

Musso & Frank’s exterior in 1928.
Musso & Frank’s exterior in 1928. Photo: Musso and Frank Grill

1930s: The Stanley Rose bookstore opens next door. Then the Screen Writers Guild opens its headquarters across the street. Both attract literati like Ernest Hemingway and Dorothy Parker. When they need a drink, which is often, they hit Musso’s.

1934: Part of Musso’s original space becomes a bar nicknamed “The Back Room.” The main dining room moves next door, to 6667 Hollywood Boulevard.

1955: The Back Room closes. Its mahogany bar finds a new home next door.

1967: Ruben Rueda starts working behind the bar. He remains on the payroll today, as Musso and Frank’s longest-serving bartender.

1976: After 54 years, chef Jean Rue decides to take some time off from work. He dies two weeks later. Musso & Frank has had just three head chefs in 100 years.

2009: For the first time, Musso & Frank installs a sound system.

2018: “The Kominsky Method” Netflix series debuts. In it, an aging Hollywood actor and his even older agent meet regularly to ruminate on life and showbiz. Their lunch spot of choice: Musso & Frank.

Keeping Tabs

The classic cuisine that fueled Hollywood’s Golden Age is still on offer at Musso & Frank, like time machines on a plate—or in a cocktail glass.

Grenadine of Beef and a dry martini, both menu staples for the past several decades.
Grenadine of Beef and a dry martini, both menu staples for the past several decades. Photo: Jessica Sample for The Wall Street Journal
Grenadine of Beef

Medallions of filet mignon sauteed in oil and butter, served atop gravy and—just in case it wasn’t rich enough—drizzled with béarnaise sauce.

1939: $1; 2019: $36

Welsh Rarebit

A stainless steel gratin dish laden with tangy cheese fondue. Dip the supplied toast points deep into the cheese to unearth hidden treasure: strips of bacon.

1954: $1.50; 2019: $16

Dry Martini

For many customers, really the only necessary item on the menu. Always stirred, and always served with a ‘sidecar’ refill in a tiny carafe on ice, for maximum elegance.

1953: 55 cents; 2019: $13

More in Off Duty Travel

‘Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment’ Review: History Through an Ideological Filter

Albert Bierstadt’s ‘Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite’ (c. 1871-73), left, and Valerie Hegarty’s ‘Fallen Bierstadt’ (2007), right
Albert Bierstadt’s ‘Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite’ (c. 1871-73), left, and Valerie Hegarty’s ‘Fallen Bierstadt’ (2007), right Photo: From left: North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; © Valerie Hegarty/Brooklyn Museum

Salem, Mass.

One of the provocative displays in “Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment,” the elaborately polemical exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum, places Albert Bierstadt’s luminous “Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite” (c. 1871-73) alongside its evisceration. In Bierstadt’s painting, the cataract’s mist disperses spectral light as towering cliffs nestle Edenic wildlife. To the right is a swollen replica of the painting in a similarly gilded frame. It hangs askew, bent, its bottom melted and charred, its images gouged by fire or sabotage. This is Valerie Hegarty’s “Fallen Bierstadt” (2007).

It isn’t a deconstruction; it’s a demolition. And we are meant to cheer the effort, for it is close to the exhibition’s own.

Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment

Peabody Essex Museum
Through May 5

In over 100 objects—ranging from a mahogany chest to a Georgia O’Keeffe oil, from a 19th-century Tlingit robe to Linnaeus’s 18th-century lists of species—we are swept along in a narrative that invokes Native American history, American history, natural philosophy, environmental science, and progressive politics, in service to what the catalog calls “ecocritical art history.”

The show originated at the Princeton University Art Museum, where its curators—Karl Kusserow, at the Princeton museum, and Alan C. Braddock, who teaches art history and American studies at the College of William & Mary—also edited the ambitious catalog. At the Peabody Essex, the curators—Austen Barron Bailly and Karen Kramer—substituted some works and shortened exhibition text. (The show next travels to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Ark., May 25-Sept. 9.)

And what is its argument?

Take Bierstadt: These landscapes, we are told, were meant to show the West free of human presence, even though Indian tribes had been there for millennia. “Paintings like this one,” we read, “legitimized U.S. land theft and violence against Indigenous people.” “Fallen Bierstadt” is an attack on that idea; it “questions the way such traditional landscape painting idealizes nature.”

Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘The Lawrence Tree’ (1929)
Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘The Lawrence Tree’ (1929) Photo: © Georgia O?Keeffe Museum/ARS

The erasure of history in Western landscapes, it is suggested, is also true of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s 1858 plan for Central Park, also on display, along with a period photograph of its barren earth. The exhibition correctly points out that both omit the fact that some 1,600 residents—including a majority African-American community—were moved to make way for an idealized Nature.

Thus, what we don’t see becomes the main point—at least until the exhibition reaches contemporary times, when so much of what we see are explicit images of environmental depredation and what is called “environmental racism.” “Browning of America” (2000) by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith shows a map of the U.S. stained with brown streaks, which are meant to be “reasserting Indigenous presence.”

The source of the violence against indigenous peoples and the environment, we are informed, is an ancient Western conception of Nature: “The Great Chain of Being”—a hierarchical ordering of the natural world. It is reflected in Linnaeus’s lists of species, or in a 1579 engraving by Diego de Valadés that “positioned God in Heaven atop a descending scale” of life.

Nathan Begaye’s ‘Snow Cloud’ jar (1998)
Nathan Begaye’s ‘Snow Cloud’ jar (1998) Photo: Peabody Essex Museum

This Chain, it is suggested, justified mistreatment of non-European humans and nonhuman life forms. In contrast, tribute here is paid to the ecological understanding of indigenous peoples. The robe woven by a Tlingit artist reflects “deeply held beliefs about the interrelationships between humans and other beings” and affirms values “encompassing the natural world and the wider universe.”

Actually, the exhibition affirms an even steeper hierarchy than the one it attacks. The indigenous good guys are “interconnected,” “inclusive,” “organic”; the nonindigenous are expansionist, hierarchical, rigid. Race also becomes a marker. Grafton Tyler Brown’s “View of the Lower Falls, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone” (1890) is here partly because the painter was African-American. His “unusual” perspective, we are told, is “more intimate” than that of his white predecessors. It is also far less accomplished—though this is not suggested. But the catalog affirms Brown’s “early assertion of environmental justice.”

Meanwhile, the mahogany chest (1755-74) recalls that “enslaved Africans and Indigenous people located, cut down, and moved mahogany logs,” depleting old-growth forests. A silver urn (c. 1800) recalls the “poisoning, maiming, and death of millions” in South American silver mines. This approach sweeps all before it; every museum—like all of history—is a charnel house.

If this perspective seems familiar, it is because it is now at the heart of American education. But almost everything about it is also open to question. Ever hike in Yosemite? In the 19th century it was not a delusion to be amazed at its vastness, nor was it a distortion to see few humans; the Western regions were immense, and Native populations were mostly nomadic hunters and gatherers.

As for the Great Chain, it is one of many Western attempts to comprehend the world’s variety; in many respects—as with Linnaeus’s classifications—it allowed for increased understanding. Moreover, the main period here, the 19th century, was precisely when hierarchy was being questioned in physics, biology and politics. In fact, the most important aspect of the U.S., as European observers recognized, was that it dissolved many social boundaries. As for slavery, ultimately the contradiction between slavery and these ideals made it untenable.

Were there depredations? Moral stains? Surely. But seeing American art and history through this exhibition’s monochromatic, ideological filters turns history into a morality play, its lessons as leaden and obvious as the comments posted at the exhibition’s end, when visitors are asked for environmental recommendations: plant a garden, eat less meat, impeach Trump, don’t use straws.

A Crucial Step for Averting AI Disasters

A Crucial Step for Averting AI Disasters
Illustration: Daria Kirpach

Artificial intelligence isn’t always intelligent enough at the office.

One major company built a job-applicant screening program that automatically rejected most women’s résumés. Others developed facial-recognition algorithms that mistook many black women for men.

The expanding use of AI is attracting new attention to the importance of workforce diversity. Although tech companies have stepped up efforts to recruit women and minorities, computer and software professionals who write AI programs are still largely white and male, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.

Deborah Harrison, left, leader of the editorial writing team for Microsoft’s Personality Chat project, works with diverse colleagues from various creative, technical and artistic backgrounds to write small talk for bots.
Deborah Harrison, left, leader of the editorial writing team for Microsoft’s Personality Chat project, works with diverse colleagues from various creative, technical and artistic backgrounds to write small talk for bots. Photo: Baret Yahn

Developers testing their products often rely on data sets that lack adequate representation of women or minority groups. One widely used data set is more than 74% male and 83% white, research shows. Thus, when engineers test algorithms on these databases with high numbers of people like themselves, they may work fine.

The risk of building the resulting blind spots or biases into tech products multiplies exponentially with AI, damaging customers’ trust and cutting into profit. And the benefits of getting it right expand as well, creating big winners and losers.

Flawed algorithms can cause freakish accidents, usually because they’ve been tested or trained on flawed or incomplete databases. Google came under fire in 2015 when its photo app tagged two African-American users as gorillas. The company quickly apologized and fixed the problem. And halted work a couple of years ago on an AI screening program for tech-job applicants that systematically rejected résumés mentioning the word “women’s,” such as the names of women’s groups or colleges. (Reuters originally reported this development.) An Amazon spokeswoman says the program was never used to evaluate applicants.

Broader evidence of bias came in a 2018 study of three facial-recognition tools of the kind used by law-enforcement agencies to find criminal suspects or missing children. Analyzing a diverse sample of 1,270 people, the programs misidentified up to 35% of dark-skinned women as men, compared with a top error rate for light-skinned men of only 0.8%. The study was led by Joy Buolamwini, a researcher at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass.

The findings have spurred calls for closer scrutiny. Microsoft recently called on governments to regulate facial-recognition technology and to require auditing of systems for accuracy and bias. The AI Now Institute, a research group at New York University, is studying ways to reduce bias in AI systems.

An algorithm can become a black box in the marketplace, however. Algorithms can learn and make predictions on data without being explicitly programmed to do so. This process continues in the background after a program is built, says Douglas Merrill, CEO of ZestFinance, a Los Angeles maker of machine-learning tools for financial-services companies.

Douglas Merrill, CEO of ZestFinance in Los Angeles, says diverse employee teams may have more conflicts, but they also produce better AI programs.
Douglas Merrill, CEO of ZestFinance in Los Angeles, says diverse employee teams may have more conflicts, but they also produce better AI programs. Photo: Jeff Galfer/ZestFinance

Any biases in the algorithm can skew companies’ decision-making in costly ways. One financial-services company’s algorithm noticed that people with high mileage on their cars and those living in a particular state tended to be poor credit risks, Dr. Merrill says. Each factor alone made some sense, but combining the two would have led the company, unintentionally, to reject an undue number of African-American applicants, he says. After ZestFinance rewrote the algorithm and added a large number of additional criteria, many of those same applicants proved creditworthy.

Eliminating bias up front among those who write the code is essential. “That’s why we work so hard on building diverse teams,” says Dr. Merrill, a former CIO of Google. Asked about the makeup of his 100-person workforce, he ticks off a half-dozen groups his employees represent, including a high percentage of women, as well as military veterans and people with disabilities.

“The biases that are implicit in one team member are clear to, and avoided by, another,” Dr. Merrill says. “So it’s really key to get people who aren’t alike.”

Successful AI programs promise to open up new markets for some companies. Ford Motor Credit found in a joint 2017 study with ZestFinance that machine learning may enable it to broaden credit approvals among young adults and other applicants without lowering its underwriting standards.

Some Fortune 500 companies are using tools that deploy artificial intelligence to weed out job applicants. But is this practice fair? In this episode of Moving Upstream, WSJ’s Jason Bellini investigates.

Younger applicants are often routinely denied loans because they don’t have a credit history and their incomes are low, Dr. Merrill says. Machine learning allows lenders to scrutinize a much larger number of decision-making criteria, including whether the applicant has paid rent and cellphone bills on time, made regular deposits into savings accounts and other measures of responsible behavior. This may help identify many more creditworthy young people. “The answer to almost every question in machine learning is more data,” Dr. Merrill says.

A spokeswoman for Ford Motor Credit says the company is continuing to work on machine-learning applications.

Affectiva, an AI company based in Boston, has attracted more than 100 corporate customers by amassing a database of 4 billion facial images from 87 countries. It develops technology to read the emotional expressions on those faces accurately, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. Companies use its software to study consumers’ reactions to proposed ads and promotions, and auto makers use it to monitor drivers for drowsiness and distraction.

At one point, Rana el Kaliouby, Affectiva CEO and co-founder says, women working in the company’s Cairo office asked, “Are there any people in here who look like us?” Engineers quickly added images of Muslim women wearing hijabs.

“You need diversity in the data, and more important, in the team that’s designing the algorithm,” Dr. el Kaliouby says. “If you’re a 30-year-old white guy who’s programming this algorithm, you might not think about, ‘Oh, does this data set include a woman wearing a hijab?’ ”

Beyond racial and gender diversity, Microsoft recruits employees with diverse creative and artistic skills to help write conversational language for its Cortana virtual assistant and Personality Chat, an AI program that handles small talk for bots developed by others. Team members have included a playwright, a poet, a comic-book author, a philosophy major, a songwriter, a screenwriter, an essayist and a novelist, whose professional skills equip them to write upbeat language for the bots and anticipate diverse users’ reactions, says Deborah Harrison, a senior manager and team leader. They also teach the bots to avoid, say, misusing ethnic slang or making sexualized remarks.

One team labored over how Cortana should respond to a user who announced, “I’m gay,” Ms. Harrison says. Her team came up with a pleasant, nonjudgmental response: “I’m AI.” But they weren’t satisfied, she says. It was a teenage visitor to their lab who suggested a tweak that finally pleased everyone: “Cool. I’m AI.”

Write to Sue Shellenbarger at

More From Work & Family

Annie Leibovitz on Being Envious of Herself

Annie Leibovitz
Annie Leibovitz Photo: © Annie Leibovitz

After Annie Leibovitz’s start as a staff photographer for Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone in 1970, her first cover for the magazine—a black-and-white portrait of a boyish-looking John Lennon—ran in January 1971, when Leibovitz was just 21. Almost a decade later, she took the now-iconic photograph of Lennon nude and curled around Yoko Ono in bed, just hours before Lennon’s assassination; the print became the magazine’s striking memorial cover. Leibovitz’s other subjects for the magazine, where she worked until 1983, when she left for Vanity Fair, included dozens of other artists who shaped the era, like Patti Smith, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley. Now, in Annie Leibovitz: The Early Years, 1970–1983, a new show opening February 14 at Hauser & Wirth in L.A., Leibovitz revisits that work for the first time. The photographer combed through thousands of images to select the more than 4,000 pictures in the exhibition. She talks about curating the show with WSJ.:

WSJ. Magazine: What was your emotional reaction to looking back on your early work?

Annie Leibovitz: Well, it is very emotional to see that period. Installing it in L.A., I realized how the work was really born in California. I worked for Rolling Stone for 13 years, and for the first seven or eight, a lot of the work was there: driving the highways, the offices, living in San Francisco and going down to L.A. to do work. There’s some of my family pictures in there as well. And a lot of people I photographed aren’t with us any longer, so both those things become very emotional to me. The writers Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson aren’t with us anymore. You look at it and you see this bygone era of sorts that resonates with today and what’s going on with our politics today, on some level—kind of mirroring the Nixon period.

But I can also stand outside of it and look at it as the story of a young photographer learning how to take photographs. Learning how to see, learning how to look, learning. You know, I was obsessed. Everything was about photography. I had my camera with me all the time and I lived with my camera. On some level, to grow up for me was having to wean myself from all that—to start to have a life.

How did you choose the photos in the show?

I wanted it to overwhelm a young photographer… I’ve always been in love with the series in photography, how photographs sort of bounce off each other, and how they give it a new meaning when you see them next to each other, like brothers and sisters. In the end, I’ve always understood that the power of my work is going to be the body of work.

How did your eye develop over the years?

At one point I thought maybe I was a journalist. But I realized that I probably was not, because I had a point of view and I thought the work was stronger if it had a personal point of view.

TOUR DE FORCE Leibovitz was the tour photographer for the Rolling Stones, whose fans are pictured above, in 1975. “I turned into a nocturnal animal,” she says. Rolling Stones tour, Cleveland, Ohio, 1975
TOUR DE FORCE Leibovitz was the tour photographer for the Rolling Stones, whose fans are pictured above, in 1975. “I turned into a nocturnal animal,” she says. Rolling Stones tour, Cleveland, Ohio, 1975 Photo: © Annie Leibovitz, The Early Years, 1970 – 1983: Archive Project No. 1

At what point did you realize your talent for portraits?

I don’t think I ever thought that way. I think that I got tired of having a label of some kind. When I worked at Rolling Stone, I was a music photographer, and then when I went to Vanity Fair, I was a celebrity photographer. I realized, maybe people will leave me alone if I just said I was a portrait photographer, you know? In portraiture, you’re allowed to take some license. You’re allowed to use journalism, you’re allowed to use creativity, you’re allowed to go off the grid, go off the deep end, you know? You can have all different ways of approaching how to take a photograph.

I first looked back at this period of work in 1990, in this book that had John Lennon and Yoko Ono on the cover [Annie Leibovitz: Photographs, 1970-1990]. When I first looked at it, I thought Oh, I’m so envious of that young work. It’s just so pure and energetic and out there and journalistic, and it was very powerful. I did try to integrate some of that in my portraiture. And that’s kind of where I’m at now. I think I’m kind of a hybrid—it looks a little bit like journalism, but it’s still a very set up, posed picture.

You’ve written before that the best photos you’ve made of musicians were of the Rolling Stones on tour. Still true?

Yes. I was asked to be the tour photographer for the 1975 Rolling Stones tour, and of course I said yes, because Robert Frank did the 1972 Rolling Stones tour and Robert Frank was like God to me. [The band was] very open. I was hired to get publicity pictures, and after the first week I never saw the daylight again. I turned into a nocturnal animal. So I was very ingrained and working in a way that was very special. So they, of course, are the best [of my] work of that period of musicians. I didn’t look at the work for a long time afterwards because I didn’t want it to be so romantic and it just still has a sense or a feeling of romance. But I’m long past that now, so.

What’s the most important thing you could achieve with your art?

Having done this for so long, almost 50 years, sometimes it’s just about having a record. The body of work takes over. It’s bigger than me. It has just a sense of history, and I feel committed and responsible to working until I can’t work any longer and continuing this body of work to look at this period of time.

Is there something about the way you work that gets subjects to open up?

When you’re young, no one’s paying any attention to you. Imagine you’re a girl, size S. No one’s really paying attention, and I think that I wasn’t really known until maybe the ‘90s, when I did that book and people began to connect who I was with my photography. Sometimes it works against you to be known, and people don’t really want to deal with that. But that being said, I think that I’m pretty direct. I’m pretty straightforward and no-nonsense and we get to work right away.

FAMILY MATTERS Marilyn Leibovitz, Dulles International Airport, Virginia, 1972 / Samuel Leibovitz, Silver Spring, Maryland, 1972
FAMILY MATTERS Marilyn Leibovitz, Dulles International Airport, Virginia, 1972 / Samuel Leibovitz, Silver Spring, Maryland, 1972 Photo: © Annie Leibovitz, The Early Years, 1970 – 1983: Archive Project No. 1

What books do you read?

When I first started taking photographs, in ‘69, ‘70, there were not that many photography books, there were just a few. But now it’s pretty prolific. I’m just looking at two catalogs that are just incredible: that David Wojnarowicz catalog from the Whitney, which is an incredible volume, and then also the Brassaï catalog from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s show. That’s what’s sitting on my table right now.

I’m also reading Beto O’Rourke’s blogs. I’m very impressed with him and his stream-of-consciousness writing. He’s out there meeting people and he’s telling their stories. He’s out searching, and I find it very appealing because I can identify with that.

And what’s next?

Well, it’s hard for me, I can’t tell you what I’m doing, literally. But this year I am working on a series, of course, of portraits throughout the year of a lot of politics. This weekend I’ll be doing one, but I can’t tell you who they are. But you can imagine. And suffice it to say, whoever you can think of, that’s what I’m working on.

Corrections & Amplifications
Leibovitz combed through thousands of images to select the more than 4,000 pictures for the show. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated she selected more than 5,000. (February 13, 2019)

Can a Grown Woman Wear a Hair Bow?

Why We Love Them

DURING MY CHILDHOOD in the Chicago suburbs, every day was a hair-bow day. Piano recitals and church on Sundays were cause for embellishment, sure, but so were apple picking and playing soccer. So my heart skipped a beat when, decades later, in my capacity as a fashion reporter, I watched the hair adornment come down the spring 2016 Oscar de la Renta runway in its simplest form—black and loosely tied. Since then, hair bows, once the territory of girlish characters like Hello Kitty, have become a signature for fashionable women like Ariana Grande and Kate Middleton. I have eagerly tried them in many forms,…

Is It Healthy to Study in Bed?

Is It Healthy to Study in Bed?
Photo: iStock

With extracurriculars, academics and a social life to maintain, goal-oriented students have to squeeze time from their hectic schedules to get homework done. The result? Lots of studying, writing and reading happens while lying or lounging in bed. Though many parents insist children study only at a desk, they may be surprised to hear what experts think about where and when it’s best to review and learn. We gathered informed opinions from experts in education psychology, sleep medicine and ergonomics.

Doing the Homework

As a debate about homework escalates nationwide, a perhaps less-discussed issue is where this home-studying takes place. Among those who recognize that much of it happens in bed are industrial engineers and furniture designers. Over the years they have come up with across-the-bed tables that angle laptops for proper typing, reading pillows that cradle the neck, back and arms, even hard-sided lap pillows for resting a laptop on.

These can all help bed-studiers be more comfortable. However, Atul Malhotra, a physician and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, with a focus on sleep medicine, notes: “Lying down or sitting upright doesn’t impact your brain function—your posture doesn’t matter.”

The only widely known study specifically on students doing homework in bed versus at a desk was published in May 1968. Of the 100 or so college students they surveyed—admittedly at a time when studying was quite different than the screen-based work now—the researchers at the University of California, Davis, found no difference in grade-point average between those who worked at their desk and those who studied in bed.

“The assumption that there is a single type of study environment optimal for all students appears unwarranted,” the authors concluded.

One concern is that being cozy in bed typically brings on sleepiness, which may compromise a student’s ability to retain information, says Harris Cooper, a social psychologist with a specialty in education at Duke University. But he adds that figuring out how you learn and study most effectively at a young age isn’t a bad thing.

“If they are getting their work done and it is of quality, then knowing what environments work for them will prepare them to be lifelong learners in various locations,” Dr. Cooper says. The professor of psychology and neuroscience suggests parents and students track progress over time to see if they are, indeed, producing as good work in bed as at a desk.

Losing the Last Page

When someone reads a book just before falling asleep, and puts the bookmark on page 89, it’s common not to recall in the morning what happened on page 88, Dr. Malhotra says.

“That which happened right before you sleep doesn’t register, so many people have to re-read page 88—but they will remember page 87,” he says. He doesn’t take issue with one of his daughters who studies in bed with music on. But he suggests that anyone who does homework on the comforter at night go back a few pages or at least 10 minutes’ worth of work in the morning and redo and review it. Also, if you have to read and retain something important, don’t read it just before sleeping, as the few minutes just before sleep aren’t optimal for memory retention.

“Read it, then brush your teeth, then go to sleep,” he says. He also doesn’t mind a little morning lie-in coupled with studying. “You’re often free from distractions in bed in the morning, before the day’s chaos begins,” he says. If you find comfort in bed when the sun comes up, that might be a good opportunity to learn and retain new information.

Getting to Neutral

Standing with arms relaxed at your side is considered the “neutral” posture, with no stress put on any particular part of your body, says ergonomics specialist Janice Fletcher at UC San Diego Health, an academic medical center.

She makes sure people get close to neutral while working at their desks, adjusting keyboards so that the elbows are slightly wider than at right angles, and wrists are either straight or slightly bent downward, “never flexed in the ‘tell it to the hand’ position,” she says. She also places monitors so the neck is neither flexed nor extended. Perhaps surprisingly, the second-most neutral posture is lying in bed flat on your back, though not much studying can be accomplished in that position, she admits.

Ms. Fletcher is fine with people studying in bed, though she suggests that rather than just plopping onto a mattress to do homework, students should plan a little.

The best posture for reading in bed, she says, is sitting up with your back against the headboard and pillows under your arms to raise the reading material to eye level.

“That way you don’t have to bend your neck to view the book or device,” she says. Find a flat surface for writing or supporting a computer on your lap, and use a soft light to prevent a glare that may harm the eyes. For homework involving lots of paper and books, a desk might be a better choice, but bed-studying can be done effectively. “Make yourself as neutral as possible” by sitting similarly to the way you would if you were at a desk, with the help of cushioning, she says.

“If you’re at neutral, you’re more comfortable,” Ms. Fletcher says, “and I would guess you’d be less distracted because you wouldn’t be thinking about your discomfort.”

‘We Just Need to Create a Moment’: Art Market Looks to L.A.

Cayetano Ferrer, ‘End Credits on Hollywood.’ The arrival of Frieze Los Angeles this week is stirring up L.A.’s ambitions to become a global art-market hub like New York, London and Hong Kong.
Cayetano Ferrer, ‘End Credits on Hollywood.’ The arrival of Frieze Los Angeles this week is stirring up L.A.’s ambitions to become a global art-market hub like New York, London and Hong Kong. Photo: Cayetano Ferrer/Hammer Museum/LAXART

Is Los Angeles ready for its art market close-up?

A new contemporary-art fair, Frieze Los Angeles, kicks off Thursday on a movie studio’s back lot, and its arrival is stirring up the city’s ambitions to become a global art-market hub like New York, London and Hong Kong.

Los Angeles has been building a thriving art scene for decades, yet it lacks elements that tend to define the world’s blue-chip marketplaces—like a centralized gallery district and a clearly defined art season with high-profile, internationally followed auctions.

Nevertheless, Los Angeles’s art scene continues to mushroom: Between 2010 and 2017, art-related jobs in Los Angeles County grew 32%, outpacing New York, according to a newly published study on the creative economy commissioned by the Otis College of Art and Design.

Mike Kelley’s ‘Unisex Love Nest,’ which Hauser & Wirth will show during Frieze, has been tucked away in a European collection since it was created in 1999.
Mike Kelley’s ‘Unisex Love Nest,’ which Hauser & Wirth will show during Frieze, has been tucked away in a European collection since it was created in 1999. Photo: © Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts/Hauser & Wirth

The purchasing clout of Los Angeles’s collectors is also climbing. Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas, said the West Coast and particularly Los Angeles has been the house’s third-biggest source of new clients—after mainland China—for the past three years running. Sotheby’s West Coast chairman Thomas Bompard said twice as many $5 million-plus artworks were sold to Los Angeles collectors last year compared with the previous one. Buyers there, he said, are getting more comfortable competing in the “big game.”

The addition of a well-known franchise like Frieze is the latest sign of the city’s ascent, market watchers said. “Los Angeles has never had that choke-point week where the auction houses and galleries get the art world’s undivided attention, and we sell big,” said Muys Snijders, U.S. head of postwar and contemporary art for Bonhams, which does hold auctions in the city. “We’re clearly looking to see if Frieze L.A. could become that pinnacle.”

Victoria Siddall, director of Frieze Fairs, said Los Angeles is overdue to claim its own slot in the event-driven, international art calendar, and when she and her team started thinking of expanding to the city a few years ago, they saw that this week in mid-February was relatively clear.

“We’re not pioneers,” Ms. Siddall said. “L.A. has an extremely strong art scene—we just need to create a moment to get everyone there at the same time.”

Works like Irving Marcus’s ‘Fifty Years Ago’ will be on view at Parker Gallery as part of Frieze.
Works like Irving Marcus’s ‘Fifty Years Ago’ will be on view at Parker Gallery as part of Frieze. Photo: Irving Marcus/PARKER GALLERY

Other fairs like Paris Photo Los Angeles have come and gone from the city over the years, unable to gain enough traction to continue. Local dealer Sarah Watson with the Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery said she thinks other fairs, in Goldilocks fashion, opened with too many or too few galleries.

With 70 galleries and a four-day sales window, she said, “Frieze feels just right.”

Nearly half of the galleries in the inaugural edition are from Greater Los Angeles. Local dealer David Kordansky plans to show paintings and wry sculptures that Kathryn Andrews created after she bought several film props, including a long, mercurial finger wielded by the villain in the “Terminator” movies. Parker Gallery, which opened two years ago in a Tudor-style house in the Los Feliz neighborhood, plans to show several brightly colored paintings by Sacramento artist Irving Marcus, who is 89 years old.

Several international galleries with local outposts like Hauser & Wirth are bringing pieces by Los Angeles’s hometown icons like Mike Kelley, whose $1.8 million bed installation, “Unisex Love Nest,” has been tucked away in a European collection since it was created 20 years ago, said Marc Payot, gallery partner and vice president.

Kathryn Andrews, ‘T-1000,’ (2019)
Kathryn Andrews, ‘T-1000,’ (2019) Photo: Kathryn Andrews/David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles

The Frieze tent, designed by Thai architect Kulapat Yantrasast, will be set up beside the back lot of Paramount Pictures Studios. Visitors will be invited to wander a few blocks of New York street sets on the back lot nearby, encountering artworks along the way. The artist Lisa Anne Auerbach has tasked an artist-actor with the role of “Psychic Art Advisor,” doling out collecting advice from one of the mock brownstones, said fair curator Ali Subotnick, previously at the Hammer Museum.

Karon Davis, co-founder of the city’s hip Underground Museum, plans to place her white sculptures of children around the set of a school. Some of the figures in her installation, “Game,” sport antlers, a nod to the way school shootings have left some children feeling hunted, Ms, Subotnick said. The fair runs through Sunday.

Lisa Anne Auerbach’s ‘Psychic Center of Los Angeles’
Lisa Anne Auerbach’s ‘Psychic Center of Los Angeles’ Photo: Lisa Anne Auerbach/Gavlak, Los Angeles, Palm Beach

Museums around town are showing support by holding cocktail events for VIPs and walk-throughs of their new exhibits, some of which just opened. These include the Hammer’s retrospective of Los Angeles conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg and the Marciano Art Foundation’s show of Glenn Ligon’s searing wordplay work. At least two additional fairs are also opening in tandem with Frieze—a local mainstay that shifted its dates to open in step, Art Los Angeles Contemporary, and a smaller, new fair called Felix LA, co-created by the collector Dean Valentine.

For all the talk of wrangling the broader art world’s attention, Austrian dealer Thaddaeus Ropac, who is showing at Frieze, cautioned that the fair’s long-term success won’t likely hinge on convincing the same set of international collectors to keep flying back year over year.

Karon Davis, detail from ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people...and neither does Trump’ (2018)
Karon Davis, detail from ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people…and neither does Trump’ (2018) Photo: Karon Davis/Wilding Cran Gallery, Los Angeles

“The Europeans will come at the beginning, but they won’t always come,” he said.

Hamza Walker, executive director of the nonprofit art space LAXART who is overseeing a series of artist talks at Frieze, said the true test will be if Frieze can cultivate more collectors from the industry that is this city’s lifeblood.

“When museums have galas, Hollywood is in the house,” Mr. Walker said. “But we need the fleet of producers, directors and lawyers buying contemporary art—they’re the real money in this town.”

Write to Kelly Crow at