Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cocktail Frocks of the Week

There were so many lovely cocktail frocks on the red-carpet this week, that I can't resist posting not one, not two, but three frocks of the week.

Demi Moore looked drop dead gorgeous in this black & white frock with bow accents from up-and-coming US based designer Prabal Gurung. She is nicely coordinated with her hubby too; this couple are too ridiculously good-looking.

I couldn't resist showing the back as well. A bow and a train - what is there not to love?

Jason Wu is another up-and-coming designer, and regular readers would know that I'm rather partial to his use of colour and his elegant shapes. I was excited to see two creations from his latest collection out-and-about this week, and on two of Hollywood's most fashionable actresses.
Diane Kruger looks flawless in this Swiss dot one-shouldered party frock.

And how cute does Leslie Mann look in this yellow mini with peplum and waist cinching black belt?
It is so nice to see pretty, feminine cocktail frocks making the rounds. I'm a bit tired of the hard-edged glam eighties inspired numbers.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Summer Holiday Basics

This will be a quick post as I'm down to the last few pages of new Aussie novel Jasper Jones, and I must find out what happens next.

My summer look this year for workdays and parties will be pretty vintage frocks teamed with cotton cardigans or light jackets (including the floral one I'm wearing above).

But the most memorable moments in my favourite season always occur on weekends and holidays. My two Aussie essentials are shorts and swimwear, and I was prepared to actually by both brand new. Lucky me, I managed to find both pieces over the last week.

These Rittenhouse shorts (Aussie label that makes cool kid basics) were so cute and so eminently wearable I couldn't resist them. They are culotte shorts in a summery light cotton and and elastic waist, perfect for those afternoons spent enjoying schnitzel at the local beer garden. And for skirts and shorts, I'm all about the high-waist, which is all the better for tucking pretty blouses in.

I wore them last weekend to visit the Hyde Park Noodle Markets. I coordinated with a Cheap Monday pink singlet, vintage three-quarter sleeve jacket and patent multicoloured heels from vintage & modern treasure trove Shag.

And I already have a Hotel Bondi Swim one piece but while I was checking out the inter webs for a shortlist of possible swimwear purchases, I discovered this bikini, also from Hotel Bondi Swim and also from their 2008 collection. I had really liked a number of other cossies I had spied, but this one I just adored and I simply had to have it. What is not to love about a bikini with an Australiana tea towel print and a big khaki bow on the bra? I emailed the designers and luckily they had one in left in my size - thank-you my guardian angel - and 48 hours later, it was on my doorstep.
I'm crossing my fingers that my little koalas will get their first swim this Saturday.
And I can throw on my new shorts for the walk down to my new neighbourhood harbour pool.

Monday, October 26, 2009

As if we needed a reason to admire Grace Kelly ...

The Sydney Morning Herald today included an article on Grace Kelly's influence on style seeing as she is about to be honoured with a posthumous Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award.
What a beautiful photo of Grace ... it might be time to give To Catch a Thief a work-out again on the DVD player.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

(Two) Frocks of the Week

When I saw that both Hilary Swank and Carey Mulligan wore Vionnet on the red-carpet this week, my ears pricked up because I thought the house of Vionnet - run by the revered couturier Madeleine Vionnet, who is credited with inventing the bias cut - closed down decades ago. Little did I know that the House was bought and reignited back in the late eighties, only to go through many different owners and designers since, with nothing seeming to stick.

This year it was bought by Matteo Marzotto, who used to own Valentino (and who features heavily in the doco The Last Emperor). He has appointed Rodolfo Paglialunga, formerly of Prada, as head designer, and these two luscious dresses - significant nods to their namesake - are from his first collection.

And now how about the real thing ...

Inspiring Women: Great Biographies

I recently finished Amanda Foreman's biography of Georgiana Spencer, The Duchess of Devonshire, on which the film The Duchess was based. I love a good bio and I'm naturally drawn to women' stories. After reading Antonia Fraser's bio of Marie Antoinette, I'd become pretty interested in Georgiana's era and milieu (Georgiana and Marie Antoinette were good friends).

I had half watched the film starring Keira Knightley before picking up the book; when I say half I mean that it played on my TV while I went about doing something else such as housework, writing or reading. I'm terrible when it comes to watching television at home, as I try and multi-task all the time, to the detriment of pretty much every task, I'm afraid.

So honestly I came to the book knowing very little about Georgiana other than that she was an ancestor of Princess Diana, super famous in her day and that she had endured a very bad marriage. Amanda Foreman's biography is such an intelligent, thoroughly researched and nuanced read, that by the time I finished it I came away feeling as though I had known Georgiana personally. Amanda's inclusion of so many of the Duchess' intimate letters certainly helped.

It really is a very strong, well-written biography which gives a wonderful insight into Britain at that time. Georgiana was a very intelligent woman who was ahead of her time. Not only did she set the trends in dress, she was also one of the first women to become involved publicly in politics as the doyenne of the Whig party. She canvassed for them, door knocking all over England; something that was practically unheard of for women at that time.
The film - with its fabulous costumes - concentrates largely on Georgiana's marriage, her relationship with her best friend and husband's mistress and her love affair with Charles Grey. With the book you get this but so much more; you learn about her groundbreaking political career, her staggering gambling debts, her literary leanings and so much more.

As mentioned, I have also read Antonia Fraser's excellent biography of Marie Antoinette. As a woman, I certainly preferred Georgiana - she came across in her biography as truly one of a kind - but Fraser did great justice to Marie Antoinette and her life story by bunking so many of the myths about her. Sofia Coppola's divine film adaptation of Fraser's book (and I say divine mainly because of the art direction and costuming ... so, so gorgeous) helped to disseminate Fraser's version of her life to an even wider audience. I watched The Duchess properly after finishing the book and now I rather fancy watching Marie Antoinette again too.

Besides I love being reminded of my visit to Versailles last year as part of my European adventures. Le Petit Trianon is one of the most beautiful man-made spots I've ever encountered, and the opulence in the Palace of Versailles is mind-blowing. The over the top spending of the French aristocracy might have contributed to a revolution (and been downright immoral too), but it almost made me glad they'd lived like that, just to be able to see so much beauty in one place.

And here are a few of the other biographies I've enjoyed lately. Does anyone have any recommendations for me?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

If You Wish Upon a Star

They say that if you wish upon a star, your dreams will come true. Now it seems that adage holds true when it comes to wishing and hoping for a tropical print sarong dress. After drooling over them on Ebay and Etsy and all my favourite vintage sites, by chance I happened upon a truly gorgeous one whilst on a spontaneous window shop today. And lo and behold it fit like a glove. If there are higher powers at work, they were smiling on me today.
I was to meet my friend Helen in Surry Hills for lunch, but with half an hour to spare I treated my senses to a window shop in the Sydney Antiques Centre (where I was very tempted by a bright red Japanese side table which would look nifty in my flat) and then somewhat recklessly strolled into Coco Repose, knowing full well I never walk in there without buying something.
Today it was this dress ... I can't wait to take her on her first external outing.
Oh, and yes, I did get half my hair chopped off today. It had gotten so long I could almost wear it as a dress! Definitely time for a refresh.
P.S. The Sydney Antiques Centre is launching a special section dedicated to fashion this week. I'll definitely be reporting on it shortly.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Moving house always has me mooning over furniture and home wares. As well as being an avid collector of vintage fashion, I'm also an occasional collector of retro and antique bits and bobs. The betrothed calls them my "clutter" as like many a bloke he tends to be a fan of minimal post-modern furniture or big, dark manly antique items made of now endangered types of wood. Basically the kind of thing that wouldn't look out of place in Jimmy Stewart's study.

The fact that I'm drawn to pastel, flowery and cutesy objects probably doesn't help. I tend to find these collectibles at flea markets and antique stores or my Mum, a big fan of antique collectibles, picks them up for me on her travels.

My Mum gave me this set of antique miniature vases, that have their own set of wooden shelves, as a 26th birthday present, and it is still one of my absolute favourite possessions.

The lovely blogger Gaia from Alices-Adventures in Wonderland just introduced me to this fabulously well put together Etsy store called Trampoline. Trampoline offers unique antique and retro finds for home and life, some for practical use and some for collection and decoration. And they are all presented and photographed so beautifully. Check these out:

I picked the Dutch dishcloth because being a half Dutchie myself, I'm always drawn to quaint memorabilia from the land of windmills and delicious cheese. I've already got a nice little collection of Delft Blue china and some rather twee Dutch dolls and old postcards.
My new flat has a much smaller kitchen but pretty much all the other rooms are larger (hooray). The happy result is I have more space to fill-up with cool things. With a wedding coming up the likelihood of those spaces filling up in the next six months or so is pretty slim, but meanwhile I can daydream about how great one of these groovy mid-century modernist bookcases or perhaps this styling coffee table would look in my new abode.

They are all from Bikini Furniture at the Sydney Antiques Centre. Not so far from my hairdresser, where I'll just happen to be on Saturday. Hmmm ...

Monday, October 19, 2009

So much vintage, my head is spinning ...

This past weekend was the bi-annual Love Vintage Fair at Canterbury Racecourse; by far and away the largest and most eagerly anticipated event on the vintage clothing calendar. In the past I've rocked up on a Saturday morning, when the Fair resembles Tokyo's Shinjuku Station on a busy Monday morning, but this time around I decided to make the journey on Friday evening. The opening night crowd was far more manageable and many of the keen shoppers were suitably attired in their best vintage gear; ladies, men and children all looked wonderful . My dear friend Cath and I got an early look at many of the amazing vintage finds that were no doubt snapped up by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around.

A vintage clothing fair is a little bit like a mall for vintage lovers, except unlike a mall your chances of seeing the same thing twice are almost nil. There is usually something for every taste and every style of collector; from those who love antique hand-made lingerie, to crafty types who collect vintage fabrics and ephemera to sculpt into lovely new things to ladies like me who are suckers for pretty 50's, 60's and 70's dresses. There is so much to tempt. I love meeting new vintage vendors I haven't encountered before and bonding over our passion for beautiful bits and pieces from the past. The whole evening really did have my head spinning and my wallet yawning as money spontaneously ran-out.

Truth be told, I didn't go too crazy, as my recent move has already had my bank account shedding tears. I bought a Christmas gift for my Mum (who is one of those crafty types, clever thing) and the cute pink plastic brooch I'm wearing above.

What really impressed me at this year's Fair though, was the quality of the vintage hats on display, perfect for the current Spring Racing season. I met this wonderful mother and daughter from Adelaide - Briony Nottage - who create one-of-a-kind hats from vintage fabrics (they also create teddy bears!). There were several I was sorely tempted by. I also met Jacinta Sanders, an enthusiastic collector and vendor devoted to the art of millinery. I had come across her great E-bay store shop circa 239 before, but the hats she had available in the flesh were even more gorgeous. And in her case I couldn't resist. I purchased a very glam hat from the late 1940's which I'm keeping under wraps as I may decide to wear it for my wedding. Meanwhile I keep trying it on when the betrothed is out of the house.
Here are just a couple of the hats you can bid for at Jacinta's e-bay store right now ...

A wonderful coincidence for the evening was meeting new author Charlotte Smith, owner of the Darnell Collection, on the same day I received my advance copy of the book from the publisher. Dreaming of Dior, which arrived gift-wrapped in fashion illustrations, is being published by HarperCollins on the 1st November. The gift-wrap - for media and select retailers - is an inspired marketing move and I love the cover treatment, which features a classic New Look Dior dress overlaid with black felt.

Charlotte and I posed with our books by her stall, which featured some of her priceless vintage clothing collection, inherited from her American quaker godmother Doris Darnell. The collection is too precious to be for sale and Charlotte told me she is now continually adding to it. It includes more than three thousand pieces dating from 1790 to 1995, many of which are designer couture made available to fashion design students to draw inspiration from.

The Darnell Collection is apparently well-known to vintage afficiandos in the US, but they may not know that it is now residing in Australia with Doris' god-daughter. When Charlotte inherited the gorgeous gowns they arrived with catalogue notes which told the story of each dress and it's original owner. It is these stories which form the basis of this delightfully illustrated book.
I know I've said this a thousand times before in press releases, but this book really would make the perfect gift for a fashion loving friend. The stories and dresses I've dipped into thus far have seriously warmed my heart. Love, love, love it.
More on another new book I purchased at the Fair later ...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

(Vintage) Frock of the Week

Actress Rose McGowan stepped out in this statement making vintage Bill Blass dress this week. You've got to love a dress that makes the wearer appear wrapped up like a present. Very stylish indeed, especially against her flawless porcelain skin.
Though I'm not a fan of Marilyn Manson's music, I've got to give him snaps for his taste in women. Rose McGowan, Dita von Teese and Evan Rachel Wood are three well-dressed and highly original ladies.

The Bride to Be at Afternoon Tea

And this time I'm not referring to me, but rather to my dear friend Erin who is getting married in a mere three weeks time. Last weekend her bridesmaids hosted a delightful high tea at the QVB Tea Rooms to celebrate Erin's forthcoming nuptials. Erin is a fellow vintage loving girl and she had originally purchased a 1950's party dress to wear on her wedding day, at the Love Vintage Fair back in April.

She subsequently fell in love with a new Lisa Ho gown that she will be wearing instead, so rather than letting her pretty dress languish in her wardrobe, it had its first outing with its new owner at the High Tea. Doesn't she (and the frock) look lovely?

Her bridesmaid, Ruth, looks very pretty too. I'm looking forward to seeing the bridal party on the big day. I'll definitely be taking loads of pics!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Missing in Action

I moved house on the weekend - a truly horrible experience, which after four moves in five years I am well and truly exhausted by - and am now on the other side of the Harbour Bridge, sans broadband and telephone for at least another week. How will I survive? Anyway, that is why I am and will be missing in action for sometime, although the lack of Internet access is keeping me focused on the task at hand i.e. unpacking.

You wouldn't believe all the clothes I discovered that I had completely forgotten I owned. And aren't I truly thrilled that this weekend I will be presented with the most excellent of opportunities to acquire even more, when the second Sydney Vintage Clothing Show kicks off on Friday night in Canterbury. I will definitely be there, and will be posting about it upon my return to the land of blog.

And on a completely unrelated note, has anyone seen the cover of the November issue of US Vogue? Ignoring the excess of photoshop (it seems pretty obvious that these ladies were never on the same beach together, let alone that beach, and no-one who has seen September Issue will be surprised), I just have to comment on how bewitching Marion looks in that voluminous Prada dress. It is just about gorgeous enough to distract me from Nicole Kidman's weird posture.

Down with excessive photoshop!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Favourite Fixations

The lovely Greetz from Greetz from Tiz posted the other day about her current obsession for berets, and it got me thinking about my current obsessions. I've talked about Hawaiian dresses in a previous post (and how sunny and fresh is this lovely one from Vintage Kitten?) but some other fixations that are occupying my waking moments between bed and work include:

1950's fashion models like the ridiculously elegant Jean Patchett

And 1990's supermodels, whom I grew up idolising and are now making a delightful comeback.
Hurrah for models with personality!

Vintage hats, perfect for Spring racing, like this royal blue feather concoction from Circa Vintage Hats.

My obsession with vintage costume jewellery endures. The brighter they sparkle and shine the better.

Holidays. Half the fun is dreaming of your destination and the beautiful memories then comfort you for weeks. One of my colleagues just spent the long weekend at beautiful Seal Rocks on the North Coast, and I quite fancy staying in this very house, next to the lighthouse there. Summer is coming - yippee!

Karl Lagerfeld's stand-alone ready-to-wear collection was understated and eminently wearable perfection but his collection for Chanel was truly squeal inducing. It included another one of my fixations; floral prints. Love, love this print and this dress. And I love that he had Lily Allen performing on a runway which resembled a barn-yard.

Robert Pattinson.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

The feminine and elegant Governor-General Quentin Bryce (obviously the foxy lady in co-ordinated green) plus

sartorial risk-taker and international trendsetter, the lovely US First Lady Michelle Obama.

And last but not least ... cardboard boxes. Because I am in the midst of moving house and I'm completely surrounded by them. Who knew I had so much stuff.