Wednesday, 24 April 2013

MBFWA 2013: Shows and Showmanship

Despite all the air-kissing and too-eager stamps of approval, the fashion media is starting to tell us what it really thinks. Australian Fashion Week founder Simon Lock penned a refreshingly frank opinion piece for The Australian this week; an analysis on the relative successes and failures of this year’s five day affair.

In particular, Lock’s succinct and forward comments about show production and venue choice jumped out at me. Not only did they ring true and loud for the week that was, but the rumblings of similar sentiment from media leaders was enough to convince me that the issue was about more than glitter and smoke machines.

Hello ELLE Australia / photo: Zimbio
Daytime shows on location should be given only to designers who have the capability and talent to add something really special to the event. Camilla Franks, who produced a most amazing show experience, complete with a teepee and llamas camped in Centennial Park, is a shining example of a designer who should be given a location show during the day. There is no point travelling from Carriageworks during the day to go to a similar warehouse venue.

Carriageworks is a great venue, and its industrial inclination allowed both the necessary space (including a lobby, two separate runways and a presentation ‘box’) and the creative ‘blank canvas’ to cover almost any type of show. Industrial, concreted warehouses seem to be the fashion venue du jour, and for two very good reasons: the starkness will either be the perfect foil to a collection, or it will be the ultimate empty space for creative reinvention.


Carriageworks / photo: Concrete Playground
Lock’s frustration was shared by Glynis Traill-Nash (who has since been appointed fashion editor of The Australian.) She summed the issue up twitter-perfect on Day Two, asking “The questions is, why do offsite shows in industrial venues, when Carriageworks is an industrial venue?”

Twitter: @GlynisTN
That came after Christopher Esber at an offsite warehouse, although it did feature a bright blue and orange matrix of scaffolding. Similarly, the Ellery runway was set up inside an abandoned building in the Sydney CBD. Of course, you cannot take any credit from Kym Ellery's collection, or any power bestowed by big-time model trio Julia Nobis, Ruby-Jean Wilson and Hanne Gaby Odiele. But the question for both shows, and a handful of others, still remains: why go to an offsite venue that is much the same as the one you left? 

Christopher Esber / photo: The Vine
Consider that other designers took the official space and tricked it up a helluva lot more. We saw the extreme in the unstoppable Romance Was Born, who created a magical, perverse wonderland that had every second fashion journo dropping the words ‘mushroom trip’ like they knew how that felt.  Then there were more moderate, but still heavily decorated, shows like Hello ELLE Australia; with its gold glitter catwalk, champagne waiters and giant E-L-L-E balloons. And finally, the shows that incorporated only the subtlest of touches – think Ginger & Smart’s runway featuring only graphic black lines, creating the same geometric print as their garments.

Romance Was Born / photo: Ausmode blog
There was an entire spectrum of production, which acts as proof that the venue has the versatility to cover just about every level of embellishment. 

Of course, that is not to say that none of the shows should be held offsite. There were certainly venues that brought something extra to the table. Lock is 115% right in crowning Camilla Franks the Queen of the Offsite Show. It was an all-encompassing experience, with laughing hippie children playing on wooden swings, llamas wearing Camilla-typical prints, and the ‘runway’ itself housed inside the most glamorous teepee ever.

Georgia May Jagger and Camilla Franks / photo: News.com
And Lisa Ho, whose collection was my favourite of the week, showed in the cavernous foyer of the Art Gallery of NSW. Although the aesthetic opposite of Camilla, it was impossible to deny the grandeur of the marble venue as the morning light streamed in through giant windows.

Lisa Ho / photo: 10 Magazine
At the end of the day, it needs to be about necessity. What is it about a collection that means it needs to be shown somewhere offsite, and what will that venue add? Where is the extra showmanship?

Lock calls for a collaborative effort; that we need to work together to achieve the best possible program. And that means being realistic. If it is just about four more concrete walls, the taxi fares might not be worth it. 

By The Industry Baby with No comments

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

MBFWA: Aurelio Costarella

The Australian fashion industry can tend to be East Coast-centric. Proximity, population density and commerce have created well-connected creative hubs in NSW, VIC and QLD, while extensions out to any state ‘Western,’ ‘Southern,’ or ‘Northern’ are often a little forced. It’s easy to see how the tyranny of distance can force West Australian fashion creatives to switch seaboards.

And that’s what made the second show of MBFWA so special; the celebration of 30 successful years in the biz for an Australian and proudly West Australian great, Aurelio Costarella.

‘Show’ is not an apt term for Costarella’s fashion week listing. There was no runway, no pumping catwalk music. Retrospect was less like a show and more like an exhibition of Costarella glory, curated by the man himself.
Costarella's gallery
At the core of the experience, of course, were the clothes. Couture and RTW for summer 13/14 presented in a gallery like installation of live models. Each girl was regal, mostly still, and vaguely melancholic while showing off the full impact of voluminous skirting in flossy tulle. Or the textural effect of meticulously piled on matte bronze sequins. Or the long, elegant lines of perfectly draped and placed Costarella silk.

The fact that all of this luxury was dreamt up and pieced together at a studio in North Perth made me smile a little wider. It has always been that way, no matter the ever-increasing heights of national and international success that the brand achieves.

In fact, the presentation was not just an ode to Costarella’s 30 years in the fashion industry, but also to the oft-sidelined talents of WA.

Art by Waldemar Kolbusz
First, the obvious: those looming and deeply evocative artworks that sat pride of place in the center of the room, backdrop to the models’ poses.  The moody, melancholy colour schemes were brought to canvas by Perth-born artist Waldemar Kolbusz. Kolbusz collaborated with Costarella on the pieces, resulting in four emotive palettes that perfectly complemented the garments (strategically) positioned in front.

Costarella accessorised with intriguing, detailed headpieces by Reny Kestel, one of Australia’s most sought-after milliners and a fellow hometown girl. Don’t be surprised if Kestel’s intricate, cage-like masks and iterations thereof show up in the 2013 racing seasons – they are edgy little showstoppers.

Headpieces by Reny Kestel / Hair by Lee Preston
 The classic, swept back up-dos were the work of Lee Preston, who is by now a veritable hair institution in Perth. Whether or not you are keeping a tally, the show was already more-or-less a Best of the West, and then…

There was Grace. Woodroofe, if you don’t know. And that’s just the thing; you probably didn’t. Because even in her West Coast hometown, she is still playing gigs with a $5 entry fee. A smooth, silky croonette (who also happens to be gloriously statuesque and beautiful like a woodland fairy,) Woodroofe was an inspired selection by Costarella. She set the atmosphere for the room, hushed and reverent. Woodroofe is beyond talented, but nationally she was little-known.

Instead of recruiting a bigger name, perhaps a Voice Australia finalist, Costarella plucked a Perth girl and put her on a more national, even international stage. Because it wasn’t just a ‘show’, it was a polished presentation of WA's best to fashion week tastemakers.

And that, on top of 30 glorious years doing fashion, is something Aurelio Costarella deserves resounding applause for. 

By The Industry Baby with No comments

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Tickle Me Textured

There is something to be said for the monochromatic look. Head-to-toe black à la Leigh Lezark, Carine Roitfeld as a gothic temptress, or mixed in with deep navy and chilly grey just like Emmanuelle Alt. There is an easy chicness to black, which has for years coloured my own wardrobe all dark and moody.

Oh, Carine / photo: I Want to be a Roitfeld

For so many of us, a slick all-black ensemble is a style default. Somehow, it can suggest power without a shoulder pad (or with, if you prefer) and allows the total comfort that print clashing just doesn’t always afford.

But what happens when the adventurous mood strikes? Sometimes it hard to look at Taylor Tomasi-Hill and not feel like you could be showing more sartorial chutzpah.

Look, it’s a bit of a stretch to go from black-on-black-on-black to all the colours of Pantone at once.

Turn, instead, to texture.

For the colour-shy, an unexpectedly textured piece is the ultimate party trick. Weightless curls of silk organza or cropped, fluffy volume quickly mix things up. It’s an instant playfulness that sombre black doesn’t usually accommodate.
sass & bide 'His Kingdom' skirt / Cameo the Label 'The National' top 




NB: even though the Cameo top is an inky blue, it was the piece that inspired this post and is too cool to exclude

Or, the opposite in frivolity, textured blacks can elicit the most heady richesse.  The simple opulence of dark brocade or lush quilted leather against simple black cotton is unparalleled.


Elizabeth & James 'Winston' pants / Diane von Furstenberg 'Daria' skirt

Playing with texture builds intrigue in a subtle, look-at-me-closer way with the most basic palette: monochrome all the way.

Basic, that is, unless you want to pile on all textural variations at once. Be my guest. 

By The Industry Baby with No comments

Monday, 25 February 2013

Oversexed: A Response to “The Moments” in Harper’s Bazaar

Just like every other mag hag out there, I snapped up one of the Australian Harper’s Bazaar 15th Anniversary issues and gobbled it up page by page. 

But of everything inside the covers, I could not go past Dana Thomas’ essay “The Moments.” Not necessarily in a good way, either.

The Moments by Dana Thomas / photo: 

An experienced, successful fashion journalist and author, Thomas charts the moments that have defined, shocked and driven the fashion world in the 15 years since Australian Bazaar’s inception. Equal parts tragedy (Lee McQueen, John Galliano, 9/11) and success (Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, the luxury-hungry Chinese economy.) And, a real pro, she traces it all so seamlessly and engagingly. 

But I felt more than a little let down with Thomas’ (brief, biting) analysis of where fashion stands now. Her dismissal of this new decade’s sartorial trends as wholly unsexy and just a bit dull left me scratching my head. Frankly, there is more to it than screeching “not enough cleavage! Not enough thigh!”

And here’s why.

“Back in 1998, though, it was all about Tom Ford at Gucci. Who will ever forget those interlocked-G G-strings? The velvet hipsters? The sharply tailored Mafioso suits? The plunging white jersey gowns and to-the-floor minks?...[In 2004, Ford] launched his own successful and (sadly) more demure brand. (Hey, Tom: bring back the sex, please.)”

The essay sticks to quite a narrow view of what is ‘sexy.’ There is little denying that super deep necklines, thigh-high splits, and g-strings scream sex (if not always comfort.) But if the past 15 years have afforded us anything, it’s a broader idea of sexiness.

Today, that includes but is not limited to: exposing the more unusual erogenous zones of décolletage, shoulder blades and shoulders; entire garments cut in lace, evocative of night-time negligée; and man-style dressing, in trousers and boxy blazers that play with proportion, calling to mind that old adage about leaving things to the imagination.

Catherine McNeil giving some sexy shoulder for Prada Fall 2013 RTW / photo: style.com

Sexy is not a term just reserved for 1998 Tom Ford for Gucci anymore. So it seems strange to keep falling back the old concept, particularly in an essay about fashion’s evolution of a decade and a half.


“The clothes are surely safer and more commercial – publicly traded companies don’t want to take the risk of a failing collection that would cause their stock value to fall – and as a result we’re dressing more conservatively; I’d even venture to say boringly. (Again, Tom: bring back the sex, please!)

So, all of our clothes bore you?

Jokes aside, I respectfully disagree with the suggestion that the collective dress sense since 2010 has been ‘boring’ (Side Note: if 2000s were the ‘noughties’, is 2010 onwards the ‘tens’? Ew.) What, exactly, is conservative about this:

Colour and bloom of Spring 2013 street style / photo: Tommy Ton for style.com

Unless, of course, Thomas is tying conservatism back to that notion of baring skin. Boring = covered up; sexy = exposed? Not only is the perception of boring/conservativeness extremely subjective, such a simple argument doesn’t do justice to the power and function of fashion.

At this level (we’re talking major houses, fashion weeks, and Meisel shot fashion spreads) fashion is both a driving and reactive force to society. In the nineties and noughties that Thomas pines for, fashion drove the idea of exposed, skin-flashing sex. It was glamorous, fabulous and fun. Brands like Versace, Cavalli and Gucci pushed the idea through to all levels of fashion consumption, right to the high street.

Today, sex and skin are everywhere. From a set of 14 year-old butt cheeks hanging out of denim cutoffs, to the widespread cut-out trend, to Miranda Kerr resplendent in green velvet slashed to the navel from both directions.

Kerr sultry in Gucci / photo: Style Me Romy

What came next was the reaction. Amongst all this flesh, a spark of something else arose. As it always does, fashion reacted to provide its own alternative. Covering up is the new subversion. Without getting too ‘girl-power’ about it: where stripping down was once the source of a woman’s sartorial command, now layering up is wielding a fresh kind of power.

Really, this has always been the case. It’s the same way that Coco Chanel’s boxy, boyish designs of the 20s freed women from corsets and allowed them the practical, utilitarian and easy fashions that wartime necessitated. The very same way that Christian Dior’s famed New Look – tiny nipped waists and full skirts with huge volumes of fabric – came in and dismantled the frugal war-style that Chanel had helmed.

It comes and goes; the trendsetters have a way of overwriting what came just before them. Fashion is always answering it’s own questions, only to pose new ones all over again. And this new covered-up mood is no exception.


“For me, however, the biggest change in fashion in the past 15 years is how it seems to have sunk into an existential funk. Back then, fashion shows were exciting and sexy and wholly unpredictable – boobs fell out, Naomi Campbell fell on her toosh. It was a real party atmosphere. Today they feel like a corporate tradeshow…”

Look, perhaps that mad, sexy (oh, how the essay is littered with that word) unpredictability of fashion may have fallen by the wayside. But, in my mind, they fell so that this domain could be taken more seriously now than ever before.

Campbell tumbles for Vivienne Westwood in '93 / photo: businessinsider.com

It’s not just about ‘the show’ anymore – as a business, an industry, fashion reaches much further than that. It incorporates people and jobs that did not exist 15 years ago. Social media manager, anyone? Online content producer? Not just for the brands either, but for all of the media, PR, production and countless other agencies that tumble together in this world.

The business of fashion is growing and adapting all the time, always becoming a new beast. That is not to say that just because it is a business, fashion can no longer be fun and creative. But to sit and pout about being bored is a real disservice. Considering that Thomas is very firmly and comfortably entrenched in the lucrative business that is fashion, this new seriousness can hardly be a bad thing, can it?


On a final note, I wonder why the preoccupation with ‘sexy’? Ironic, yes, seeing as I have just dedicated 1000 words to dissecting sex in fashion. But why does it have to be sexy-or-nothing. There are other moods, other purposes.

You know, I don’t always feel like a 1998 sex cliché. So I’m glad there are skirts and jumpers and pantsuits and fascinators out there that communicate the other messy, complicated and decidedly un-sexy facets of my self.

By The Industry Baby with No comments

Monday, 18 February 2013

Top to Tee

I wore a t-shirt on my first day at Marie Claire.

Some may call me crazy, but I view t-shirts as an "always" option. Comfortable and confident without trying too hard, the humble tee is a quick ticket to effortless style without screaming “I-really-really-thought-about-this.”

Of course, I didn’t exactly breeze into the Pacific Magazines building wearing a holey tee and pilled trackie pants*. Swagger-rending t-shirts may be, it is still worth dressing them up in the trappings of something fancier.
Softest heather grey and brushed silver hardware / photo: me

If it’s heather grey and as soft as hugging a bunny, let a dazzling statement necklace drape lazily over the neckline. There is something so sophisticated about shining, clear gems resting atop easygoing, light cotton. It always makes me feel like a rich, Russian ballerina, even though I am not remotely any of those things.

No introduction necessary for (by now) cult Jil Sander brights / photo: Susie Bubble
On the flipside, a white tee cuts like a diamond. The shape (crew, v-neck, whatever-you-please) and fit (baby, oversized, form-hugging – you name it) are almost irrelevant, so long those fibres are as white as they were on Day One. Plus, it presents a surprising opportunity to be bold. Colours will pop, so take the chance on fuchsias, or electric blues, or marigolds. Or all of them together, who cares? You can get away with flashing fashion borlz, so long as you play it out against the crispiest of white tees.

The lineup / photo: me
Then, there is the addictive black tee. Of which I currently own about six, with no signs of slowing down. Somehow, it is an incredibly liberating feeling to head out at cocktail hour – to a bar, a club, a party – wearing a t-shirt. Subversive, even. But it’s far too versatile a piece to ignore. Leather shorts, flippy skirts, palazzo pants…it all works. My favourite thing to do is come over all Emmanuelle Alt (read: cigarette jeans, four inch heels and a blazer thrown over the shoulders.) Try it and see if it doesn’t make you positively stomp around with attitude.

Easy luxe / photo: Rosie Tupper for Vogue.com.au
But the reason why the simple t-shirt hits staple status is because there is literally something for everyone. For a current season update, source one in military green. For girly cues, there are floral prints and pastels. For the adventurous, embellishments so heavy you will slouch.

Cool points: 10,000

* PS: In case you were wondering, I wore my grey cotton v-neck with black-on-black brocade cropped pants, grey Prada tote, black croc-print pointy flats, and a longline blazer draped over my shoulders Alt-style.

By The Industry Baby with 4 comments

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The New Me

It's been a while, yes. But there have been some pretty large-scale changes in my life in the past seven months. Here, let's list them:

  1. Quite unexpectedly finished my university degree in June. 
Didn't even realise, tried to re-enrol. A phone call to Student Administration resulted in a very succinct "yep, you're done," and I spent the next three days crying. That sounds incredibly pathetic, but it was such an utter shock. Don't worry, I've finally digested the information and haven't looked back.

2. Byline was finally put in print.
This was such an enormously proud moment for me. The wonderful Christine, editor of Box Magazine (quick, go buy it!) commissioned me for four stories after I interned with the incredible Box team. I was, and still am, totally rapt! Check me out in the current Summer 2012 and the upcoming Autumn 2013 issues.

3. Scored a fashion internship at Marie Claire, stuffed my suitcase and moved to Sydney!
Which is where I am typing this from right now. This city is beautiful, full of life and really my home away from home. So far, the first day of my Marie Claire fashion stint was a sensory overload of fluffy feathers, a luxe rainbow of fabrics and stilettos galore.

The good life / photo: Sydney Visitors Bureau

In all it's clichéd honesty, this feels like a turning point; the beginning of something. I am doing things I have never done before (see: living with strangers, imposing a budget.) So, I'm returning to the blog with a renewed interest.

Hopefully you'll enjoy reading along.

By The Industry Baby with 2 comments

Monday, 12 November 2012

On the Other Foot: Lauren Burvill Interviews Me

It's no secret that I am usually more comfortable asking the questions than answering them.
 
Yours truly in Rome / photo: Sean

But, when the very cool and clever Lauren Burvill from Student Flights presented the opportunity to ask me some questions about my European sojourn at the beginning of the year...I jumped at the chance!

If you would like to find out just how obsessed I am with Paris, or why I was doing shots at a Helmut Newton whiskey bar in Berlin, click here. 

Be warned: it was the antithesis of a typical early-20s backpacker holiday. Shared accommodation is most certainly not pour moi.  

Where did you - or would you - go on your dream holiday?

By The Industry Baby with No comments

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

MBFWA 2013: Shows and Showmanship

Despite all the air-kissing and too-eager stamps of approval, the fashion media is starting to tell us what it really thinks. Australian Fashion Week founder Simon Lock penned a refreshingly frank opinion piece for The Australian this week; an analysis on the relative successes and failures of this year’s five day affair.

In particular, Lock’s succinct and forward comments about show production and venue choice jumped out at me. Not only did they ring true and loud for the week that was, but the rumblings of similar sentiment from media leaders was enough to convince me that the issue was about more than glitter and smoke machines.

Hello ELLE Australia / photo: Zimbio
Daytime shows on location should be given only to designers who have the capability and talent to add something really special to the event. Camilla Franks, who produced a most amazing show experience, complete with a teepee and llamas camped in Centennial Park, is a shining example of a designer who should be given a location show during the day. There is no point travelling from Carriageworks during the day to go to a similar warehouse venue.

Carriageworks is a great venue, and its industrial inclination allowed both the necessary space (including a lobby, two separate runways and a presentation ‘box’) and the creative ‘blank canvas’ to cover almost any type of show. Industrial, concreted warehouses seem to be the fashion venue du jour, and for two very good reasons: the starkness will either be the perfect foil to a collection, or it will be the ultimate empty space for creative reinvention.


Carriageworks / photo: Concrete Playground
Lock’s frustration was shared by Glynis Traill-Nash (who has since been appointed fashion editor of The Australian.) She summed the issue up twitter-perfect on Day Two, asking “The questions is, why do offsite shows in industrial venues, when Carriageworks is an industrial venue?”

Twitter: @GlynisTN
That came after Christopher Esber at an offsite warehouse, although it did feature a bright blue and orange matrix of scaffolding. Similarly, the Ellery runway was set up inside an abandoned building in the Sydney CBD. Of course, you cannot take any credit from Kym Ellery's collection, or any power bestowed by big-time model trio Julia Nobis, Ruby-Jean Wilson and Hanne Gaby Odiele. But the question for both shows, and a handful of others, still remains: why go to an offsite venue that is much the same as the one you left? 

Christopher Esber / photo: The Vine
Consider that other designers took the official space and tricked it up a helluva lot more. We saw the extreme in the unstoppable Romance Was Born, who created a magical, perverse wonderland that had every second fashion journo dropping the words ‘mushroom trip’ like they knew how that felt.  Then there were more moderate, but still heavily decorated, shows like Hello ELLE Australia; with its gold glitter catwalk, champagne waiters and giant E-L-L-E balloons. And finally, the shows that incorporated only the subtlest of touches – think Ginger & Smart’s runway featuring only graphic black lines, creating the same geometric print as their garments.

Romance Was Born / photo: Ausmode blog
There was an entire spectrum of production, which acts as proof that the venue has the versatility to cover just about every level of embellishment. 

Of course, that is not to say that none of the shows should be held offsite. There were certainly venues that brought something extra to the table. Lock is 115% right in crowning Camilla Franks the Queen of the Offsite Show. It was an all-encompassing experience, with laughing hippie children playing on wooden swings, llamas wearing Camilla-typical prints, and the ‘runway’ itself housed inside the most glamorous teepee ever.

Georgia May Jagger and Camilla Franks / photo: News.com
And Lisa Ho, whose collection was my favourite of the week, showed in the cavernous foyer of the Art Gallery of NSW. Although the aesthetic opposite of Camilla, it was impossible to deny the grandeur of the marble venue as the morning light streamed in through giant windows.

Lisa Ho / photo: 10 Magazine
At the end of the day, it needs to be about necessity. What is it about a collection that means it needs to be shown somewhere offsite, and what will that venue add? Where is the extra showmanship?

Lock calls for a collaborative effort; that we need to work together to achieve the best possible program. And that means being realistic. If it is just about four more concrete walls, the taxi fares might not be worth it. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

MBFWA: Aurelio Costarella

The Australian fashion industry can tend to be East Coast-centric. Proximity, population density and commerce have created well-connected creative hubs in NSW, VIC and QLD, while extensions out to any state ‘Western,’ ‘Southern,’ or ‘Northern’ are often a little forced. It’s easy to see how the tyranny of distance can force West Australian fashion creatives to switch seaboards.

And that’s what made the second show of MBFWA so special; the celebration of 30 successful years in the biz for an Australian and proudly West Australian great, Aurelio Costarella.

‘Show’ is not an apt term for Costarella’s fashion week listing. There was no runway, no pumping catwalk music. Retrospect was less like a show and more like an exhibition of Costarella glory, curated by the man himself.
Costarella's gallery
At the core of the experience, of course, were the clothes. Couture and RTW for summer 13/14 presented in a gallery like installation of live models. Each girl was regal, mostly still, and vaguely melancholic while showing off the full impact of voluminous skirting in flossy tulle. Or the textural effect of meticulously piled on matte bronze sequins. Or the long, elegant lines of perfectly draped and placed Costarella silk.

The fact that all of this luxury was dreamt up and pieced together at a studio in North Perth made me smile a little wider. It has always been that way, no matter the ever-increasing heights of national and international success that the brand achieves.

In fact, the presentation was not just an ode to Costarella’s 30 years in the fashion industry, but also to the oft-sidelined talents of WA.

Art by Waldemar Kolbusz
First, the obvious: those looming and deeply evocative artworks that sat pride of place in the center of the room, backdrop to the models’ poses.  The moody, melancholy colour schemes were brought to canvas by Perth-born artist Waldemar Kolbusz. Kolbusz collaborated with Costarella on the pieces, resulting in four emotive palettes that perfectly complemented the garments (strategically) positioned in front.

Costarella accessorised with intriguing, detailed headpieces by Reny Kestel, one of Australia’s most sought-after milliners and a fellow hometown girl. Don’t be surprised if Kestel’s intricate, cage-like masks and iterations thereof show up in the 2013 racing seasons – they are edgy little showstoppers.

Headpieces by Reny Kestel / Hair by Lee Preston
 The classic, swept back up-dos were the work of Lee Preston, who is by now a veritable hair institution in Perth. Whether or not you are keeping a tally, the show was already more-or-less a Best of the West, and then…

There was Grace. Woodroofe, if you don’t know. And that’s just the thing; you probably didn’t. Because even in her West Coast hometown, she is still playing gigs with a $5 entry fee. A smooth, silky croonette (who also happens to be gloriously statuesque and beautiful like a woodland fairy,) Woodroofe was an inspired selection by Costarella. She set the atmosphere for the room, hushed and reverent. Woodroofe is beyond talented, but nationally she was little-known.

Instead of recruiting a bigger name, perhaps a Voice Australia finalist, Costarella plucked a Perth girl and put her on a more national, even international stage. Because it wasn’t just a ‘show’, it was a polished presentation of WA's best to fashion week tastemakers.

And that, on top of 30 glorious years doing fashion, is something Aurelio Costarella deserves resounding applause for. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Tickle Me Textured

There is something to be said for the monochromatic look. Head-to-toe black à la Leigh Lezark, Carine Roitfeld as a gothic temptress, or mixed in with deep navy and chilly grey just like Emmanuelle Alt. There is an easy chicness to black, which has for years coloured my own wardrobe all dark and moody.

Oh, Carine / photo: I Want to be a Roitfeld

For so many of us, a slick all-black ensemble is a style default. Somehow, it can suggest power without a shoulder pad (or with, if you prefer) and allows the total comfort that print clashing just doesn’t always afford.

But what happens when the adventurous mood strikes? Sometimes it hard to look at Taylor Tomasi-Hill and not feel like you could be showing more sartorial chutzpah.

Look, it’s a bit of a stretch to go from black-on-black-on-black to all the colours of Pantone at once.

Turn, instead, to texture.

For the colour-shy, an unexpectedly textured piece is the ultimate party trick. Weightless curls of silk organza or cropped, fluffy volume quickly mix things up. It’s an instant playfulness that sombre black doesn’t usually accommodate.
sass & bide 'His Kingdom' skirt / Cameo the Label 'The National' top 




NB: even though the Cameo top is an inky blue, it was the piece that inspired this post and is too cool to exclude

Or, the opposite in frivolity, textured blacks can elicit the most heady richesse.  The simple opulence of dark brocade or lush quilted leather against simple black cotton is unparalleled.


Elizabeth & James 'Winston' pants / Diane von Furstenberg 'Daria' skirt

Playing with texture builds intrigue in a subtle, look-at-me-closer way with the most basic palette: monochrome all the way.

Basic, that is, unless you want to pile on all textural variations at once. Be my guest. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

Oversexed: A Response to “The Moments” in Harper’s Bazaar

Just like every other mag hag out there, I snapped up one of the Australian Harper’s Bazaar 15th Anniversary issues and gobbled it up page by page. 

But of everything inside the covers, I could not go past Dana Thomas’ essay “The Moments.” Not necessarily in a good way, either.

The Moments by Dana Thomas / photo: 

An experienced, successful fashion journalist and author, Thomas charts the moments that have defined, shocked and driven the fashion world in the 15 years since Australian Bazaar’s inception. Equal parts tragedy (Lee McQueen, John Galliano, 9/11) and success (Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, the luxury-hungry Chinese economy.) And, a real pro, she traces it all so seamlessly and engagingly. 

But I felt more than a little let down with Thomas’ (brief, biting) analysis of where fashion stands now. Her dismissal of this new decade’s sartorial trends as wholly unsexy and just a bit dull left me scratching my head. Frankly, there is more to it than screeching “not enough cleavage! Not enough thigh!”

And here’s why.

“Back in 1998, though, it was all about Tom Ford at Gucci. Who will ever forget those interlocked-G G-strings? The velvet hipsters? The sharply tailored Mafioso suits? The plunging white jersey gowns and to-the-floor minks?...[In 2004, Ford] launched his own successful and (sadly) more demure brand. (Hey, Tom: bring back the sex, please.)”

The essay sticks to quite a narrow view of what is ‘sexy.’ There is little denying that super deep necklines, thigh-high splits, and g-strings scream sex (if not always comfort.) But if the past 15 years have afforded us anything, it’s a broader idea of sexiness.

Today, that includes but is not limited to: exposing the more unusual erogenous zones of décolletage, shoulder blades and shoulders; entire garments cut in lace, evocative of night-time negligée; and man-style dressing, in trousers and boxy blazers that play with proportion, calling to mind that old adage about leaving things to the imagination.

Catherine McNeil giving some sexy shoulder for Prada Fall 2013 RTW / photo: style.com

Sexy is not a term just reserved for 1998 Tom Ford for Gucci anymore. So it seems strange to keep falling back the old concept, particularly in an essay about fashion’s evolution of a decade and a half.


“The clothes are surely safer and more commercial – publicly traded companies don’t want to take the risk of a failing collection that would cause their stock value to fall – and as a result we’re dressing more conservatively; I’d even venture to say boringly. (Again, Tom: bring back the sex, please!)

So, all of our clothes bore you?

Jokes aside, I respectfully disagree with the suggestion that the collective dress sense since 2010 has been ‘boring’ (Side Note: if 2000s were the ‘noughties’, is 2010 onwards the ‘tens’? Ew.) What, exactly, is conservative about this:

Colour and bloom of Spring 2013 street style / photo: Tommy Ton for style.com

Unless, of course, Thomas is tying conservatism back to that notion of baring skin. Boring = covered up; sexy = exposed? Not only is the perception of boring/conservativeness extremely subjective, such a simple argument doesn’t do justice to the power and function of fashion.

At this level (we’re talking major houses, fashion weeks, and Meisel shot fashion spreads) fashion is both a driving and reactive force to society. In the nineties and noughties that Thomas pines for, fashion drove the idea of exposed, skin-flashing sex. It was glamorous, fabulous and fun. Brands like Versace, Cavalli and Gucci pushed the idea through to all levels of fashion consumption, right to the high street.

Today, sex and skin are everywhere. From a set of 14 year-old butt cheeks hanging out of denim cutoffs, to the widespread cut-out trend, to Miranda Kerr resplendent in green velvet slashed to the navel from both directions.

Kerr sultry in Gucci / photo: Style Me Romy

What came next was the reaction. Amongst all this flesh, a spark of something else arose. As it always does, fashion reacted to provide its own alternative. Covering up is the new subversion. Without getting too ‘girl-power’ about it: where stripping down was once the source of a woman’s sartorial command, now layering up is wielding a fresh kind of power.

Really, this has always been the case. It’s the same way that Coco Chanel’s boxy, boyish designs of the 20s freed women from corsets and allowed them the practical, utilitarian and easy fashions that wartime necessitated. The very same way that Christian Dior’s famed New Look – tiny nipped waists and full skirts with huge volumes of fabric – came in and dismantled the frugal war-style that Chanel had helmed.

It comes and goes; the trendsetters have a way of overwriting what came just before them. Fashion is always answering it’s own questions, only to pose new ones all over again. And this new covered-up mood is no exception.


“For me, however, the biggest change in fashion in the past 15 years is how it seems to have sunk into an existential funk. Back then, fashion shows were exciting and sexy and wholly unpredictable – boobs fell out, Naomi Campbell fell on her toosh. It was a real party atmosphere. Today they feel like a corporate tradeshow…”

Look, perhaps that mad, sexy (oh, how the essay is littered with that word) unpredictability of fashion may have fallen by the wayside. But, in my mind, they fell so that this domain could be taken more seriously now than ever before.

Campbell tumbles for Vivienne Westwood in '93 / photo: businessinsider.com

It’s not just about ‘the show’ anymore – as a business, an industry, fashion reaches much further than that. It incorporates people and jobs that did not exist 15 years ago. Social media manager, anyone? Online content producer? Not just for the brands either, but for all of the media, PR, production and countless other agencies that tumble together in this world.

The business of fashion is growing and adapting all the time, always becoming a new beast. That is not to say that just because it is a business, fashion can no longer be fun and creative. But to sit and pout about being bored is a real disservice. Considering that Thomas is very firmly and comfortably entrenched in the lucrative business that is fashion, this new seriousness can hardly be a bad thing, can it?


On a final note, I wonder why the preoccupation with ‘sexy’? Ironic, yes, seeing as I have just dedicated 1000 words to dissecting sex in fashion. But why does it have to be sexy-or-nothing. There are other moods, other purposes.

You know, I don’t always feel like a 1998 sex cliché. So I’m glad there are skirts and jumpers and pantsuits and fascinators out there that communicate the other messy, complicated and decidedly un-sexy facets of my self.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Top to Tee

I wore a t-shirt on my first day at Marie Claire.

Some may call me crazy, but I view t-shirts as an "always" option. Comfortable and confident without trying too hard, the humble tee is a quick ticket to effortless style without screaming “I-really-really-thought-about-this.”

Of course, I didn’t exactly breeze into the Pacific Magazines building wearing a holey tee and pilled trackie pants*. Swagger-rending t-shirts may be, it is still worth dressing them up in the trappings of something fancier.
Softest heather grey and brushed silver hardware / photo: me

If it’s heather grey and as soft as hugging a bunny, let a dazzling statement necklace drape lazily over the neckline. There is something so sophisticated about shining, clear gems resting atop easygoing, light cotton. It always makes me feel like a rich, Russian ballerina, even though I am not remotely any of those things.

No introduction necessary for (by now) cult Jil Sander brights / photo: Susie Bubble
On the flipside, a white tee cuts like a diamond. The shape (crew, v-neck, whatever-you-please) and fit (baby, oversized, form-hugging – you name it) are almost irrelevant, so long those fibres are as white as they were on Day One. Plus, it presents a surprising opportunity to be bold. Colours will pop, so take the chance on fuchsias, or electric blues, or marigolds. Or all of them together, who cares? You can get away with flashing fashion borlz, so long as you play it out against the crispiest of white tees.

The lineup / photo: me
Then, there is the addictive black tee. Of which I currently own about six, with no signs of slowing down. Somehow, it is an incredibly liberating feeling to head out at cocktail hour – to a bar, a club, a party – wearing a t-shirt. Subversive, even. But it’s far too versatile a piece to ignore. Leather shorts, flippy skirts, palazzo pants…it all works. My favourite thing to do is come over all Emmanuelle Alt (read: cigarette jeans, four inch heels and a blazer thrown over the shoulders.) Try it and see if it doesn’t make you positively stomp around with attitude.

Easy luxe / photo: Rosie Tupper for Vogue.com.au
But the reason why the simple t-shirt hits staple status is because there is literally something for everyone. For a current season update, source one in military green. For girly cues, there are floral prints and pastels. For the adventurous, embellishments so heavy you will slouch.

Cool points: 10,000

* PS: In case you were wondering, I wore my grey cotton v-neck with black-on-black brocade cropped pants, grey Prada tote, black croc-print pointy flats, and a longline blazer draped over my shoulders Alt-style.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The New Me

It's been a while, yes. But there have been some pretty large-scale changes in my life in the past seven months. Here, let's list them:

  1. Quite unexpectedly finished my university degree in June. 
Didn't even realise, tried to re-enrol. A phone call to Student Administration resulted in a very succinct "yep, you're done," and I spent the next three days crying. That sounds incredibly pathetic, but it was such an utter shock. Don't worry, I've finally digested the information and haven't looked back.

2. Byline was finally put in print.
This was such an enormously proud moment for me. The wonderful Christine, editor of Box Magazine (quick, go buy it!) commissioned me for four stories after I interned with the incredible Box team. I was, and still am, totally rapt! Check me out in the current Summer 2012 and the upcoming Autumn 2013 issues.

3. Scored a fashion internship at Marie Claire, stuffed my suitcase and moved to Sydney!
Which is where I am typing this from right now. This city is beautiful, full of life and really my home away from home. So far, the first day of my Marie Claire fashion stint was a sensory overload of fluffy feathers, a luxe rainbow of fabrics and stilettos galore.

The good life / photo: Sydney Visitors Bureau

In all it's clichéd honesty, this feels like a turning point; the beginning of something. I am doing things I have never done before (see: living with strangers, imposing a budget.) So, I'm returning to the blog with a renewed interest.

Hopefully you'll enjoy reading along.

Monday, 12 November 2012

On the Other Foot: Lauren Burvill Interviews Me

It's no secret that I am usually more comfortable asking the questions than answering them.
 
Yours truly in Rome / photo: Sean

But, when the very cool and clever Lauren Burvill from Student Flights presented the opportunity to ask me some questions about my European sojourn at the beginning of the year...I jumped at the chance!

If you would like to find out just how obsessed I am with Paris, or why I was doing shots at a Helmut Newton whiskey bar in Berlin, click here. 

Be warned: it was the antithesis of a typical early-20s backpacker holiday. Shared accommodation is most certainly not pour moi.  

Where did you - or would you - go on your dream holiday?
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