Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Decoration and Books

This book has so many dimensions. It offers ideas on great spaces, showcases gorgeous homes, offer tips on furniture and reinvigorating an old piece and even flower arrangements. If you don't know the website you really, really should get familiar with it.
This book has such a wonderful 'London apartment' feel to it. Konig (who has written for Vogue and Domino amongst others and whose mother in design creator Nina Campbell) has such a wonderful sense of style and mixes it with her humour and taste. There are so many great tips in here. I return to it again and again any time a space needs a little pick me up.
If you were luck enough to read Domino magazine before the magazine folded you are luck indeed and know immediately the type of design this book refers to. The use of space in the homes featured in Domino are genius. Like a lounge room with two distinct ares, one huddled around a TV for home cinema nights and another for the sharing of stories and swapping of tales that focus the sitees on each other. These simple but excellent ideas will be found here.
This book is a step by step guide to being your own interior decorator. It gives you all the tools you need to make your home lovely, purposeful and comfortable. The images are brilliant and showcase the work of the author beautifully.
This lovely book focuses strictly on the bedroom and even more so on the bed. The book is not actually based around decorating your room but about all the lovely bedroom bits and bobs needed for a sanctuary of sleep. Any reader will enjoy the whimsy of this; I almost want a friend to get sick so I can send them this book.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A Crisis in Australian Fashion

Australian fashion has been hit hard this year and its victims are many industry leaders. Some have stepped away, some walked away and others were (sadly) pushed. They will never be forgotten for the contribution they have made to our lives and our landscape...
Alannah Hill
Lisa Ho
Collette Dinnigan
Kit Willow
Sass and Bide

As buying big, international brands has become easier, faster and more affordable it has been easy to fall for the siren song of these well known labels and, it is noone's fault that many of our most creative people are not able to use their creative outlet in a viable way in this country.
There is a lesson to be learnt here though and at the most basic level we must be mindful to support our local designers.

Let's make 2014 the year of the Australian designer and buy from our designers at hand!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

AHM Fashion Exchange

The idea of a fashion exchange is intriguing and beguiling. Knowing that something no longer wanted can be swapped for free is an ideal way to update your wardrobe. AHM are holding exchanges all over the country to help women make a positive change to their wardrobe. This weekend it was Melbourne's turn, on Saturday, at 1000 Pound Bend.
There was a two hour window to drop your clothes in and then a return time of midday to start shopping. You simply hand over your unwanted items, get tokens to 'spend' and away you go!
This is not for the laid-back shopper, you really must be hard core as the snatch and grab is very intense. Even if you don't find something to take home all left-overs go to charity so it's a win/win situation.
Sign up and have a go!

The Design Files Open House

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Vintage Swimwear

The wonderful Nicole Jenkins has been at it again; this time teaching a crowd of wistful summer sun worshippers about vintage swimwear. Nicole is the go to girl of Melbourne when it comes to all things vintage with her boutique. Circa Vintage Clothing in Mitchell House on Lonsdale Street.
Nicole is quick to point out that the focus of ladies swimwear has always been comfort, convenience and functionality and that these simple principles have been the driving force in major innovation in swimwear design and construction for the last 100 years.
And so, here is a brief history...

Swimwear was made of wool which  felt truly unbearable to wear, just thinking of it hot, heavy and heating up as soon as one left the water is awful. Backs were high as a lady did not tan and suits were difficult to wear and care for - the driving force in their innovation.
There is some use of cotton knit here but, used in a men's racing swimsuit. Not yet used for ladies.

Construction changes a lot in this era with cotton knit being used predominantly and suits made with bust cups built it. Backs are lower for tanning and it is also the era of the swimdress and beach trousers for ladies. During the later part of this decade rayon and rubber blend is used to make swimsuits, far more practical.

The beginning of the 'fit and flare' style, suits are made of rayon fail and rubber and often accompanied by beach jackets worn to and from the beach. This decade launched the bikini in the U.S. but they were not seen in Australia until the 1960s.

For the first time there are no buttons or zips required suggesting that stretch had come a long way and that fit had improved. The emphasis is on the figure and swimwear highlights the bust, waist and bum.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Places to go...Japan

Japan is such a wonderful place to visit when you travelling and it is especially good if you are an inexperienced traveller but, are looking for something a bit exotic. It offers you everything both modern and ancient. It challenges you with different language and culture. You can have unique experiences and foods but, it is the safest place to go; you could walk around with your wallet wide open and the only concern would be that you might drop it.

Each city is very different and all worth a visit.
Go to Kyoto, the old capital, for a few days. You will see some of the old Japan there. You can try the experience of dressing in a real kimono for a day. there are even kimono express bars that you can pop into to get it fixed if your walking or sitting has unravelled it.

Go to Hiroshima. The history speaks for itself and in addition to that you have a simple, easy to navigate city reminiscent of Melbourne. You must eat Okonomiyaki here. Hiroshima claims to be the birthplace of this traditional vegetable pancake and they are the best you will ever have.
Go to Osaka. This is  a big city with everything you could want. Interestingly, there is an ancient castle still in its city centre, complete with secret samurai passages etc for defence. You should also try to visit some of the temples here, they are magical.

Miyagima Island is a must. It is believed to be so sacred that even the shrine was built in the water off the land. To walk under the shrine you must visit at low tide. The island is populated by deer who are given free reign of the island. Expect one to walk into a shop or two to have a  stand off in the street. Deer are sacred in Japan, they carry the souls of the dead to the afterlife. Bow to the Miyajima deer and it may bow back to you!

Tokyo is essential with its many districts and areas. Harajuku is fun and offers cheap, crazy fashion it's really best for people watching. But nearby are all the high end stores to seduce you with their wares. Because Japan is such a booming market the high end labels are well priced. Go for cosmetics as they are the most competitive.
You must try to stay in a Ryokan, this is a traditional hotel with tatame floors, screen doors and futon beds. They offer such a magical experience and no more expensive than a western style hotel. A journey to Japan would not be complete without visiting a Japanese bath house. Every hotel will be able to recommend one and it really is essential, for a traveller there is nothing more blissful than a long, hot soak.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Lantern Books - Floral Inspiration

A lovely box of books from Lantern arrived recently and it reminded me of how integral books are in my life. At every point, books serve as inspiration; for thought, ideas, design and style.
In this instance it is Grandiflora Celebrations and Grandiflora Arrangements.
These titles are so inspirational. Since my first quick flick when the books arrived I have been obsessed with flowers. I love fresh flowers in the house but, they are often a cheep bunch from the local greengrocer rather than anything fancy. The greatest effort I make is to cut the stems, fill the vase and plonk on the table. There is a lot more to it than that, I am aware but, I lack the skills. Fortunately, I can still enjoy the flowers.
 I would fill my house with flowers all the time if I could and since the arrival of these books the desire has become much greater. I have found myself checking the buds on my hydrangea obsessively. I photographed paintings of flowers at the Gallery of NSW. I photographed a very type of flower in a park on a recent picnic and I have chosen several Georg Jensen vases from the website to go and purchase on my next visit.
When visiting friends with small daughters I love to bring little posies for the girls. They are always delighted by them. To have a special arrangement in their room or at least just for them. Very young children will pull the petals off and throw them in the air; this is another magic moment. Older girls might be inspired to paint or draw the flowers and some still press them; what is clear, is all enjoy them.
The same must be said for adult women also. I don't know any who don't enjoy beautiful flowers in the home or garden. One wise woman taught me that one must never give flowers without a vase, it is thoughtless, especially at a dinner party or other event where the hostess will have 101 things on her mind and finding a vase for your flowers is the least of them. Either bring them in a vase or, better yet, send them after as a thank you this way you won't spoil the decor.
Here is my recent inspiration, may it inspire you also.

Friday, 8 November 2013

What to dinner with Vogue and Georg Jensen

What do you wear when you are invited to dine at Quay in Sydney with Georg Jensen, Vogue Australia and Wish magazine?

The answer is simple:
Country Road dress
Edenborough Evans jewellery
YSL pumps

The Country Road dress was a last minute switch and one I am glad I made. The YSL pumps were a no brainer. Being tall is a blessing and being even taller in these shoes (my partner described them as 'practical' when I bought them) really made me stand out in the group. I will be forever grateful to the lovely Kate and Anna from Edenborough Evans for their 'confetti' cuff and necklace, not normally a gold girl this was a switch for me but, the the black dress it felt right and this is Sydney after all.

Thank you to all for a wonderful night!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Collette Dinnigan Goodbye

Collette Dinnigan has recently announced her retirement from the fashion world. In her official statement she sited an inability to achieve a satisfactory work/life balance as her main reason for this decision. Before we examine Dinnigan's career let us first acknowledge the difficult yet admirable decision she has made. Let us also admire a woman who has the honesty to say that she has not been able to have it all; that her professional success has come with sacrifices. I admire women who can admit to their limitations, we all have them and they make our own limitations seem a little more okay. This is not a woman who will tell us she can eat whatever she wants and not have to worry. Why women feel they must build this fantasy of easy perfection about themselves is a mystery. A woman who says 'I am what I am because I work damn hard for it' will have far more respect and admiration for being direct and honest about her life and that is just what Dinnigan has done.

Dinnigan is one of the most successful designers Australia has ever know. She is the only Australian designer to show her collections at Paris Fashion Week and she has achieved international success and recognition in her time as a designer.
She has set the benchmark for Australian designers and Australian style. Her pretty dresses have been de rigour for every stylish woman in Australia for more than a decade. It was Maggie Alderson who described a Dinnigan dress as the ultimate safety dress. Paired with a denim jacket, she wrote, could make you stylish and comfortable in any sartorial minefield.
 Not only has Dinnigan been designing the most amazing dress for some time now she has also taken her talents into a more accessible Collette for Collette Dinnigan line (sold at David Jones stores), she did swimwear under the same diffusion label and even worked with Target on a lingerie line.
When the Australian ballet was celebrating its anniversary Dinnigan took her existing skills in children's wear and designed the most beautiful ballet clothes for little girls, again sold at Target.
Dinnigan knew when and how to take calculated risks and step out of the comfort of her high-end designs. As an astute business woman she recognised that diffusion lines and lending her name to more mass produced lines would not degrade her signature line. The quality of her product, her excellent eye for fabric and detail never once failed her. It is unusual for any designer not to have one terrible season from which they must come back and prove themselves but, not Dinnigan she was consistently excellent and will forever remain an icon to all designers and any lover of fashion.
From Chic Exchange we wish her a very happy future, we hope to see her return and we wish she and her family many of the happiest memories any person could wish for.

Thanks you Collette. xx

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Travel Essentials

When travelling is is important to travel as light as possible. This way you don't have to schlep your things endlessly with you, you never have to worry about luggage weight and you have more room for those exciting overseas purchases.

With this in mind, here is my daily essentials for travel so that you can pack as light as possible.

1: The Longchamp bag
It would not surprise many women to hear that your day to day handbag is quite heavy. For this reason always travel with a Longchamp bag. It is so light and packs easily if you purchase a bag while travelling.

2 Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour cream
Use it as a moisturiser, lip balm and hand cream. Great is warm weather or very cold. This is a must.

3 The Make up bag
Stuff it with band aids, paper, pen, perfume, lipstick, earphones and more. This will help you when on the go of a day and every night as well. There is nothing in here that won't get used on any sort of journey. Band aids will help keep you walking, even with blistered feet, earphones will keep you entertained or at least disengage you from odd strangers and a Chanel Boy lipstick will help you be ready for anything- even a last minute opera.
4. A card holder
All those loyalty card offers are just as good overseas as at home (some even better); do sign up for them and keep them for your next visit. Always take a card from your hotel so that if you can't find your way back (it happens) you can at least get a cab and show them the address to find.
Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Buses and Bikes

As the song goes, I've been around the world a couple of times or maybe more and by being in a number of sticky situations there are some important lessons I've learnt but, specifically for travelling there is less wisdom to impart.
For those who, like me, are geographically challenged the most important thing you can do it stay on the street. Do not be tempted to go underground and use a train system. Stay above ground and walk, cycle or bus your way around everywhere. This the very best way to get to know the lay of the land and navigate a new city more effectively.
A travel experience is not just about the landmarks you see, the meals you eat or the mementos you buy. It is about what strikes you about a city, where things are, how they interconnect, how the homes and buildings are similar and different to that of your own city.
A supermarket is the greatest place to visit and the first thing I  do when I go anywhere. It tells you how people live by what they consume daily. It is the best sociological indicator we have today.
In order to get around in a city catch buses, walk or cycle. The bus is usually the cheapest option for transport and many cities now have bike hiring schemes for visitors. As a tourist you have all the time in the world so take it and look around as you travel.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Dem Hills.

I have just returned from Sydney for a dinner with Vogue and Georg Jensen (more on that later) and want to share some of my highlights for anyone planning a visit.

Obviously, the Harbour Bridge and Opera House are amazing - they aren't icons for nothing and the Danish Design exhibit in the foray is well worth a visit. It includes many quintessential danish design products and highlights the talent we enjoy from our Copenhagen cousins.

The Marco gallery on Oxford st Paddington is well worth a visit. It currently has a portrait exhibition on and shows the variety of talent out there. A highlight is the Brigitte Mcnab portrait of a woman with daisies.

Paddington market is also a great spot on a Saturday. Have breakfast at Crate and then wander around. The market is full of emerging talent and on trend bargains.

The bookstores on Oxford st are very good. Ampersand is a used bookstore and cafe and they do an exceptional breakfast there. The bookstore across the road from there is also very good with mostly new books but some second hand - take a look.

Most of all the landscape is a delight. It is amazing how much more tropical Sydney is to Melbourne. The bright blooming jacaranda are a joy and the variously coloured terrace houses are a delight to the eye. The many tiny back streets are so reminiscent of London and the mews houses you see there.

Expect your calves and butt to recover a few days after your visit as the hills are a great surprise and offer a very good workout. Make the most of it.

If you are off to Sydney, make sure to stop in at The Commons off Oxford st, a wonderful bar that you go downstairs to. Sit back, have a Pisco Sour and enjoy the people watching and the music.