Afternoon tea at Ladurée …

There is nothing better than spending a cozy afternoon sipping tea, eating cake and enjoying the company of one of my favourite people, my big sister. And when you add the creative talents of a renowned fashion illustrator into that mix it makes for a memorable afternoon that combines two of my favourite things … tea and fashion.

A couple of weeks ago, dear sister and I headed to Ladurée at Chadstone for said afternoon tea as they celebrated the launch of their limited edition Melbourne box illustrated by the very talented Kerrie Hess. I’ve always adored Kerrie’s work, and actually own one of her illustrated prints of Audrey Hepburn, so to meet her was an absolute delight.

Friendly, graceful and warm, Kerrie spent the afternoon chatting about her current collaboration with Ladurée and gave us a front row peek into her creative process as she live painted a canvas that was inspired by what she considers the quintessential Melbourne woman. And as you can see from the images I snapped the final results of her work is both chic and elegant … just like the ladies of Melbourne she represents.

 

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I love the Night Life …

 

Melbourne’s love affair with all things Art Deco doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon. You only need to walk around town to see the beautiful reminders in our architecture. And while I do enjoying looking up to the sky and marvelling over these architectural wonders in the CBD, last week dear sister and I headed to Elsternwick, but more specifically to the Ripponlea Estate, to experience Melbourne’s Art Deco inspired Night Life.

Drawing on the fashion collection of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria), Night Life is a small but beautifully curated fashion exhibition of the 1920s and 1930s. It cleverly incorporates garments and accessories of the era with the work of contemporary stylists and photographers, who have put a modern spin on a time that truely was dazzling. Night Life brought back lovely memories I have of the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries exhibition which I attended a few years ago at Ripponlea, and this collection of treasures seemed to be arranged in a similar manner.

Wandering about the home it gave me an opportunity to admire the interior and gardens of this fine estate once more, a task that I never tire of, especially the gardens which are simply tranquil. After our stroll, dear sister and I retreated to the tearooms for a spot of tea and scones which not only promptly warmed us up from the chill outside but capped off a most enjoyable morning catching up with my big sis, and that for me, is always a treat.

A wardrobe refresh …

As I am getting older, I’m finding that I am whittling down my wardrobe considerably, investing in pieces that are not only practical but what I consider timeless. It’s liberating to be honest, being able to free myself of clutter and paring back to the basics with my little twist.

So, I always get excited when Autumn-Winter campaigns drop from my favourite chain stores like Country Road, Mimco, Review, because this is usually the season that I tend to buy the most as opposed to Spring-Summer.

I must stress that these days I don’t have the biggest of budgets to play with and consequently I don’t buy that often, but when I do a lot of thought goes into every purchase made. I like to invest in tran-seasonal pieces that will go on high rotation throughout the year, and this seasons offerings, coupled with spend and save offers from said favourite stores, have made it easier for this savvy shopper to part with her pennies and make an investment.

As you can see below, quite a few pieces from my favourite stores have now made their way into my wardrobe … from the luxe and quirky elegance of Mimco’s accessories and shoes, to Country Road’s soft blouses and jeans, which are an absolute staple in my everyday life. I’m extremely happy with my bounty and know that each purchase is highly valued.

I have worn and adorned myself with everything that I have recently acquired so far which makes me very happy. It tells me that I have made the right choices in terms of how these pieces work with my existing wardrobe.

When I look back on my shopping habits of years passed, I had a burgeoning wardrobe of garments that still had their tags on and never worn. Buying, just in case I needed it and often forgetting what I actually owned. But not anymore. Now, my life and attitude is completely different. I buy based on what will enhance my wardrobe, as well as it’s practicality but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Having less to play with has taught me to be more mindful of colour palettes  and styles.

It also encourages me to be creative with my accessories, to create fresh new looks with the same items and I think that is far more enriching. It certainly keeps me on my toes as the seasons roll round but that is half the fun, wouldn’t you agree?

Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced …

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Collette Dinnigan would have to be one of my favourite Australian designers. I’ve always been drawn to her take on the feminine form, using lace and intricate embellishments to create pieces that evoke a sense of ethereal beauty to not only wear but admire. So late last year, when I heard that the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney was exhibiting, for the first time, a complete time capsule of Collette’s designs I hopped on a flight there to experience the spectacle that was Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced … and the following pictorial is just small peek into this internationally acclaimed designers treasures that were on show.

 

Melbourne style on parade …

It is hard to believe that another year has come to pass with the VAMFF here in marvellous Melbourne, and no matter how prepared I am it nevertheless seems to creep up on me almost unexpectedly. But each year it also promises a new season of sartorial styles to contemplate as the weather cools and this year it did not disappoint.

My VAMFF adventure began with an Australian premiere screening of Christian Dior: The Refinement of a Lost Paradise (L’élégance du Paradis Perdu) at ACMI As a nod to the House of Dior’s seventieth anniversary, and knowing that the National Gallery of Victoria NGV will be hosting a premiere exhibition later this year to commemorate this milestone, the documentary was a lovely prelude focusing on Christian’s early upbringing in Granville. An insightful piece, it showcased how his family and childhood home influenced and forged his path as a designer. This documentary is must see viewing for any one that has an appreciation for the iconic design house that single-handedly revolutionised fashion through the New Look, and managed to endure successfully as a brand long after its founders sudden passing sixty years ago. It was a lovely tribute to say the least, and an unexpected but welcomed gesture bestowed upon patrons after the screening by our hosts, ACMI,  included a few samples of Dior perfumes to enjoy. A nice touch indeed.

The next stop on my VAMFF to do list was the Royal Exhibition Building to attend the premiere David Jones Gala runway in order to get a firsthand account of what to expect this season. I had never attended this runway event previously and unlike the other runway shows this was a little longer in terms of duration. Featuring the largest designer lineup of the festival, the showcase was rich in content, perfectly setting the tone of what we can expect to find in stores this Autumn-Winter for consumption.

Highlighting the talents of both local and international designers such as Thurley, Camilla and Marc, Alexander McQueen, Valentino and Scanlan and Theodore to name but a few, the show itself was a pulsating, visual treat set to the live performance by Paul Mac. Personal highlights and looks to steal for me this season included the gorgeous lace ensembles from Lover , Thurley, Alice McCall, Manning Cartell and Nicholas. I was also partial to the beautiful winter inspired florals from Camilla and Marc and the vibrancy of the Russian Doll inspired garments from Carla Zampatti. And to cap off the evening a new issue of Jones (David Jones in house magazine) was duly handed out to patrons for further inspection that would no doubt assist in sales.

Next on my must see was e-tailer Next UK’s Australian launch runway, featuring the lovely Rebecca Judd and Samantha Harris. Next Australia’s lineup was fun, affordable, on trend but most importantly totally wearable. Featuring mens, womens and kids wear my favourite featured items again would have to be their lace offerings which I found to be easy to wear for everyday and would no doubt be kinder on my purse.

In a similar vein as Next Australia, Myer’s in store runway was also good value. The second floor walk ways of the Bourke Street store were converted into a runway, giving all patrons both seated for the event and those who were actually shopping, a delightful peek into what is currently in store for purchase. Joining Myer ambassadors Jennifer Hawkins and Kris Smith on this merry go round parade was also Tim Robards, he of the Bachelor Australia fame which delighted many of the patrons in the crowd. And to add to the fun we were also gifted with a deluxe sample bag of goodies to road test which is always a bonus.

Concluding the spectacle of all the runway events I, along with my sister who was my partner in crime for the duration of the festival, also spent some time taking a leisurely wander about the VAMFF Plaza enjoying all the food and live entertainment on offer, as well as popping into the Priceline beauty salon where we were both treated to a wonderful makeup and hair styling session by the generous ladies at Priceline. A perfectly lovely way to end this adventure, until next time. ​

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Dark Wonderland …

Bendigo is fast becoming one of my favourite go to places in regional Victoria; with its country charm, old world architecture and lovely cuisine it’s hard not to love this town. Adding to this richness is the Bendigo Art Gallery which seems to be hosting a wonderful selection of art and fashion exhibitions of late that has made it a cultural destination not to be missed. So, having said this, back in January (apologies for the lateness of this post!) my dear sister and I were drawn back to this beautiful town to witness the spectacle that was Dark Wonderland.

A retrospective of sorts illustrating the creative evolution of renowned designer Toni Maticevski, Dark Wonderland was a beautiful nod to a true architect of design. After wandering about this rich collection of garments and other wares, it became quite clear that there was very little wonder as to why he has achieved such international acclaim. The man has skills. His approach to manipulating traditional fashion forms as well as his innovative use of fabrics and unexpected materials in garments highlight his masterful ability to push the boundaries of fashion. Truly sublime. But I’ll let the garments speak for themselves … enjoy!

The Flying Dutchmen …

img_1262 Where has the time gone? It has been quite a while since I last posted, life kind of gets in the way and before you know it a year has passed. But, alas here we are and what better way to start off the year than with a wonderful pictorial celebrating the creative artists that are Viktor and Rolf.

Flowerbomb without doubt is my signature scent and I feel that the gentlemen responsible for such a defining fragrance, for me, are indeed worthy of an exhibition. So, when I heard that the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) would be working in collaboration with the designers to curate an exhibition celebrating their work I could not contain my excitement. The moment it opened I was there with bells on and it truly did not disappoint.

Avant-garde, innovative, cerebral, these are just a few terms that spring to mind when taking in their creations. And with over 40 works on show from the Houses’ archives, Viktor and Rolf: Fashion Artists is the perfect nod to celebrate the duo’s 25th anniversary.

Wandering about I couldn’t help but liken their pieces to a work of art, they seemed to just leap out of the frame and come to life. It’s wonderful. Adding to this wonder were the beautifully crafted Victorian dolls that are dotted throughout the exhibition. These dolls have become synonymous with Viktor and Rolf, all handcrafted by a Belgian doll maker with each doll wearing an intricately crafted miniaturised version of a key collection piece. It’s incredible. Consequently, Viktor and Rolf have carried on this tradition for each of their major collections adding a new doll dressed in an emblematic design. It’s quite symbolic really, the perfect capsule piece that represents the essence of the times through their designs for posterity.

One of the personal highlights for me in this showcase would have to be the Timepiece installation that was specially commissioned for the exhibition … a Victorian doll walking the runway. Performance art at its finest and simply marvellous, it was a lovely way to complete the experience.

But, I’ll let the photographs speak for themselves and hope that you will be inspired by these fantastical creations, just as I have. And if you are in Melbourne and adore fashion then this is an experience you do not want to miss, but you will have to hurry as there are only a few weeks to go until it all comes to an end.

So with that I say happy anniversary V&R … here’s to a delightful design duo that truly are originals.


 

Shoes glorious shoes

As I ventured into town over the weekend I couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit giddy. I was about to have a behind the scenes tour of the National Gallery of Victoria, but more specifically a behind the scenes tour and talk of their shoe collection. 

The talk was a part of the VAMFF cultural program and although the festival is less than a month away it was the perfect prelude to it. Lead by our ever so knowledgeable host, senior fashion and textile curator, Katie Somerville, the points of discussion centred around the meaning and cultural significance of the shoe and why they are considered an important element within the realm of fashion and textiles. 

Since the talk was slated for only an hour the shoes open for discussion was a small but carefully selected sample that the gallery has amassed over the decades. Some of the footwear presented I had seen before at previous exhibitions the NGV hosted over the years but others I had not, and felt very privileged to witness some amazing shoes that were not only so fragile, but so delicately constructed. It was a visual feast to say the least, and since I appreciate anything to do with the history of fashion this talk was right on point.

Joining Katie for this lively presentation was bespoke shoemaker Claire Best who also shared her insights into the design and creation of footwear. Here she shared her history as a shoemaker and presented some of her own shoe designs in various states so we could gain an appreciation of the process. This side of shoe making is something I know very well since my father was also in the shoe trade for over 50 years as both a designer and production manager for Footrest shoes here in Australia, when shoe manufacturing was certainly at its height and on a larger scale. But it was lovely to hear how passionate this young designer was going back to basics and making custom wears for her clients, one shoe at a time. 

Below are a couple of images I was permitted to snap and hope that you, like me, appreciate these rare and beautiful creations. So on that note, all I can say is all hail the shoe!

  

  

The Dressmaker

On the back of the success of Jocelyn Moorhouse’s cinematic adaptation of The Dressmaker, dear husband and I ventured off this past weekend to see the National Trust of Victoria’s tribute exhibition to the film at Winchelsea’s Barwon Park Mansion.

I had never visited Barwon Park Mansion before and I must say it was the ideal location to host the exhibition. Situated in the rural surrounds of Winchelsea it perfectly evoked the atmosphere of Rosalie Ham’s ‘Dungatar’ as featured in the novel and film and consequently was the perfect back drop to tell the story of local girl turned couturier, Tilly Dunnage … played in the film to perfection by the wonderful Kate Winslet.

Inside the stately homestead, littered throughout every room, garments and accessories harking back to the 1950s was like music to my ears. Vintage at its finest, with cinched and polished creations, everywhere you looked it was a visual treat highlighting the power of the ‘makeover’, a common theme in the story.

To add to the wonder of the exhibition, an in conversation event was also unfolding featuring the author herself and the amazingly talented Marion Boyce, costumer designer extraordinaire who is also responsible for all of the divine costumes of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries fame. While dear husband and I did not get a chance to listen in on the discussion, I did however by sheer chance bump into Marion Boyce whilst waiting for access to the ladies and offered a few words of praise to her. A lovely surprise indeed, she was ever so gracious towards me in our interaction and it was a moment that made my trip to Barwon Park and the exhibition that much more special.

Here are just a few snaps of the exhibition that will no doubt delight. Enjoy as you step into the world of The Dressmaker.

  
  
  
  
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