Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Style Stayers in 2009

Of course best dressed lists are completely subjective, and one person's Alexa Chung is anothers Carla Bruni, but that hasn't stopped me having a super fun time coming up with my own top ten. I've picked those ladies whose style has consistently impressed me this year. Some celebs have had amazing red-carpet moments coupled with some serious shockers, so I've tended to eschew them (e.g. Eva Mendes, Marisa Tomei and Anne Hathaway) for those ladies who rarely put a put wrong, both day and night. I've included only photos that I haven't posted before.

Michelle Obama's look is innovative and colourful. There is a whole site devoted to chronicling this oft photographed style-meister, and a quick stroll through will confirm this online devotion is warranted. Her evening-wear is always elegant but youthful and the lady has a phenomenal collection of beautifully tailored, vibrant coats. I'd be happy to spend a day hanging out in her White House closet.

Cate Blanchett appeared on a couple of worst dressed lists again this year. Who is responsible for this madness! Cate's bold crocheted dress - which I blogged about here - seems to have blinded them to the perfection of all her other fashion choices this year. Because Cate is living in Sydney now and concentrating on theatre rather than film, she hasn't made as many red-carpet appearances as usual, but when she is snapped at events, or candidly on the street, she always looks impeccably groomed, lady-like and stylish. For my Cate, dressing is an art-form.

French actress Marion Cotillard benefits from a contract with Dior, but I'm still convinced that Marion's effortless glamour is very much her own. I couldn't find one appearance in 2009 where Marion looked anything but perfect and crazy pretty. So French, so chic.

Sarah-Jessica Parker continues to elicit fashion envy whenever she steps out her front door. She's adventurous while still remaining beautiful and her ability to accessorise is second to none. I might not want to wear everything she does, but I love her wearing it. While I'm not particularly excited about the SATC sequel, I am very excited about SJP's hitting the promo trail in 2010. Bring on more gorgeous head-wear, statement shoes and cute little party frocks please!

While I remain a little bemused by the level of fame Dita has achieved for taking off her clothes and marrying a musician of questionable morality and talent, I can't deny that the lady wears the socks off couture and vintage. Harking back to the glamorous film stars of the Golden Years of Hollywood, the lovely Dita is always 'on' and seems to love fashion body and soul. Her wardrobe is one I'd seriously be happy to inherit.

Thandie Newton loves vintage and colour so she is definitely a woman after my own heart. Feminine and fine without being too frilly, I'm always interested to see what this stunning actress is wearing.

Natalia has the advantage of being a supermodel, and one of the most naturally beautiful at that, but she eschews the usual model off duty uniform of band tees and denim for a romantic and feminine wardrobe that includes a whole lot of vintage. Gorgeous.

Everyone knows I love Diane Kruger. Muse to Karl Lagerfield, Diane styles herself, and never fails to impress whether she is wearing a statement making ball-gown, sexy cocktail frock or she is off duty in jeans and blouse. A real fashion original who just happens to have access to the best of the best ... although I'd love to see her in some vintage.

Carey Mulligan's acting chops have been seriously hyped this year, but her sartorial choices have impressed as well. Unlike other young starlets, Carey has realised that baring flesh isn't always best and has picked elegant but edgy ensembles that seriously flatter. Love her cute pixie haircut too.

And finally Ms Nicole Richie. While Nicole's style might not be my own, the way she works her luxe hippie chic consistently impresses. She was pregnant for much of this year and never looked less than glamorous. I give her big snaps for not being afraid to wear loud patterns, for working so much vintage into her wardrobe, and for having lots of fun with cute accessories too. This girl has come a seriously long way this past decade.

Thanks to Red Carpet-Fashion Awards, Just Jared and Mrs-O for some of the pics, and now feel free to shout me down in flames or tell me who your favourites where this year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Snaps

I'm briefly back in Sydney after 10 days staying at my folks place up North. Next stop is down south to visit the father-in-law to be, and apparently the betrothed plans on taking me to a rodeo for New Year's Eve. That should be an interesting adventure for an avowed city mouse like me. Can anyone help me with an idea of what to wear?
Meanwhile here are a couple of my holiday snaps. My parents have the world's smallest Christmas tree and Santa hadn't arrived as yet when this photo was taken, but you get a good look at one of my new 'old' dresses; a 1950's cocktail frock with a matching sleeveless jacket that buttons up the back. No label, so likely it was handmade. Thanks Coco Repose! You also get a good look at the Vermeer print which I picked up for my Mum at the Mauritshaus in The Hague last year. I didn't realise it was so huge when I bought it. The real Girl with a Pearl Earring is about a quarter of the size!
I also couldn't resist including a shot of me on the beach on Christmas Day with my beloved pug Elsie. Up until Christmas the weather was sparkling and I got in a swim and sun bake every day. Then the weather turned overcast and stormy, probably giving my poor skin cells a much needed break, but even on stormy days, the beaches near where my parents live are stunning. And Elsie always has fun, no matter what the weather.

Books I've Liked & Books I've Loved

Summer is a time for bikinis, halter-necks and swimming past the breakers but also, for me, it is a time for concentrated reading. I was delighted when I received a care package from Allen and Unwin recently that included several lovely new books, not the least of which was this V&A history of the Dior label. I consumed it wholly in one evening and found it a fascinating read ... I loved the details which explained how Christian Dior grew his Parisian couture house into a thriving international fashion empire within a decade, and there were lots of great pics. But while my collection of fashion books continues to grow steadily, fiction is honestly my full-time love. Here are a few of the novels I've finished lately.

I loved Madeleine St John's Women in Black (Text), and this Booker nominated and recently re-released title was thoroughly enjoyable too. The story's essence will find a friend in anyone who has ever had their heart broken, and I know that definitely applies to me!

The Essence of the Thing is published by Text.

I think only Alice Munro herself would be able to write the words that would correctly sum up the beauty of her short stories. Her latest collection focuses on damaged people, and while that doesn't always make for the happiest read, these stories will stay with you for some time.

Too Much Happiness is published by Random House.

I knew little about this book or it's author before I picked it up, but by the time I said goodbye to it's lovable characters, I was so glad that I had. Reminiscent of fellow Canadian - and my all-time favourite novelist - Carol Shields prose, this story touches on all the important things in life such as friendship, family, love, illness and death, but wrapped up in a seemingly simple plot.

Good to a Fault, published by Allen & Unwin, won a Commonwealth Writer's Prize and I can certainly see why.

Lorrie Moore's bestselling short-story collection Birds of America was published when I was studying creative writing at university, and it had a profound effect on me. Now Lorrie has turned her hand to the novel, with interesting results. This is really a blackly humorous meditation on the current state of America, packaged as a coming-of-age novel. It is a really hard one to critique or to explain why I liked it, suffice to say that I really did.

A Gate at the Stairs is published by Faber.

I was a bit sceptical about this book while I was reading the first 40 or so pages, but my friend Cath said it was one of the best books she had read this year, so under her recommendation I persevered. Once I allowed myself to believe that 13-year-old country boys could be that witty and articulate and I generally embraced the awesomeness of those said characters (after all, it is a pretty long time since I was 13), I became enthralled with the story and hooked on it's suspense. Another great coming-of-age novel, with a murder mystery to boot. My heart warms to read strong Australian storytelling.

Jasper Jones is published by Allen and Unwin.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Favourite Shade

This masterful Lanvin Spring 2010 cocktail frock is featured in the January issue of Vanity Fair, and it is just about my favourite shade of pink in the whole wide world. It is a pure pink that is neither demure nor shocking and I rather want to swathe myself in it and gobble it up at the same time. I've been perusing the Pantone colour chart in order to name this gorgeous shade, and these two - Pinker Posey and Pink Pearl - are about the closest I can find thus far. I know Christmas time is all about red and green, but I never abandon pink for too long.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Very Merry Aussie Christmas

Christmas, Melbourne, 1942

A few of the things I love about the Christmas holidays: steamy weather; the sound of the ceiling fan as I lay in bed at night; running off to the beach for a late afternoon swim; Christmas cake; prawns and oysters and all sort of fish market goodness; catching up with family; movies during evening storms; watching friends and family open their gifts; new books, new DVDs and surprising, lovely gifts; silly Santa costumes and bon-bons; the sound of fireworks in the distance; and finally and most especially a respite from my normal life and the time to regroup, reconnect and read a whole lot of books. Merry Christmas all.

Monday, December 21, 2009


My 1950's Anne Fogarty dress arrived in the nick of time to be included in my holiday suitcase. I'm really happy with it; it fits like a glove, has a gorgeous full skirt (it will look amazing with a crinoline) and I love the faux denim look, which means it can be dressed up or down. Many thanks to April from Land of 1000 Dresses.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


The very entertaining ABC 1 television program Collectors has finished for 2009, but looking back over recent episodes, I noticed two segments which I think will delight vintage fashion lovers and/or collectors.
I've raved about Charlotte Smith and her gorgeous book Dreaming of Dior in a previous post, and last month the Collectors crew paid Charlotte and her dream wardrobe - known as the Darnell Collection and inherited from her beloved Godmother - a visit. Check out the clip here:

The lovely Pia Anderson - singer, model, stylist and all round 50's aficionado - is coordinating my wedding, and she also made a recent appearance on the program. Her collection of 1950's clothing, accessories and household objects is mind blowing, and the lady always looks traffic stopping gorgeous. If you love that colourful and kitsch decade, you should definitely check out her interview here.

You get a close look at Pia's frocks in this clip, but she also has an amazing collection of costume jewellery, one item of which she has agreed to lend me for my wedding. What do you think of this glamorous diamante necklace? She has earrings and bracelet to match, oh my.

Photographer credit is Louise Whelan.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chanel of the Week

Karl Lagerfeld's muse stepped out in this stunning Spring 2010 Chanel dress to announce the Golden Globes nominations this week. The original Chanel tweed suit of the 1930's appears to be a never-ending well of inspiration for Mr Lagerfeld, and whom are we to complain when it produces prettiness like this. I can never seem to get enough of pouffy skirts and floral appliques - in pink no lest - are virtually guaranteed to rock my world. Delightful.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More Cinematic Joy

This is another film post, but it is only because there is so much goodness on the horizon for 2010, both in terms of drama and fashion inspiration. Famous director Ridley Scott has passed down his expertise to daughter Jordan, who looks like she is about to make critical waves with Cracks, starring the crazy beautiful Eva Green. It is a boarding school drama set in the 1930's and Eva, who plays a teacher that the students look up to but who has a secret past, looks ravishing and super stylish in her period garb.

I love the innate elegance of 1930's style, but apart from the aesthetic delights of this film, what girl can resist a story of intrigue set in a ladies boarding school? I never went to one, so they still evoke a kind of romance mixed with terror for me.

As far as boarding school dramas go though, Picnic at Hanging Rock has to be my favourite of all time. Released in 1975, I've been fascinated with this film since childhood. The Aussie bush, the eerie music, the use of natural light, those beautiful turn of the century white dresses and especially the gorgeous Miranda who is the alpha female whom the girls and boys and the film's audience all want to get close to.

Here is a nice video tribute to this classic ...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lovely Elizabeth

I've had a tough week so I've decided some random Elizabeth images are in order. The legendary movie star had heart surgery recently and her numerous battles with illness have been well documented and all endured in the public spotlight. I doubt she can recall a time when she wasn't famous. She actually tweeted about her recent op ... almost enough to make me join Twitter. What an amazing lady, and what a breathtaking face. Enjoy.