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Entries in fur (32)


Anna Karenina

Ever since the first time I read Anna Karenina many years ago, I decided it was my favourite book. Tolstoy’s beautiful, lyrical passages immediately drew me into another world of Russian aristocrats who spoke French – vastly different from the twentieth century middle-class Australia I grew up in (even if I share a Slavic heritage). I couldn’t turn the pages quick enough to find out what would happen to Anna and Vronsky, Kitty and Levin.

Before I knew there was a new film of the novel being made, I had decided one day I would pay a visual homage to Anna. The film has not yet opened in Australia, and I have not paid too much notice to the costuming, although that is one aspect of the film I am very much looking forward to.

I don’t own any nineteenth century clothes, but I do own a vintage Russian-style fur hat, so I’ve taken some poetic licence and cobbled together something to evoke a winter ensemble Anna might have worn.

The black velvet coat is a sumptuous 1950s swing coat, a shape that of course was not in fashion at the time; I’ve cinched it in at the waist with a wide belt. The fur collar is another vintage item picked up somewhere over the years, and the white velvet gloves are trimmed in rabbit fur on the cuffs. Those I purchased in a Melbourne boutique. I think I’d probably need some thermals under there too …

My Anna Karenina is standing before a church in a village called Kukoba, in the Yaroslavl Region, found here.



In honour of Eurovision, I bring you the epaulet. Mine are yet another frivolous rendition, concocted from fur, velvet ribbon and sequins. But this is not so far from the origins of the epaulet as you might imagine.

Louis the XIVEpaulets bear some relation to the tooled leather ‘pteruges’ of ancient Roman military uniforms. However, it was towards the end of the 17th century that bunches of ribbons were worn on the shoulder of the military coat. Men were far more frivolous about fashion in those days, even the military gentlemen, for these shoulder ribbons were in part a decorative trim. Just take a look Louis the XIV’s over-the-top numbers. They did serve a practical purpose too, preventing the shoulder belts from slipping.

It was only after the 18th century that epaulets denoted rank, whether worn on right or left shoulders, or both. Officers were distinguished by more ornate gold or silver epaulets. They came fringed, or winged, or balled, depending upon a man’s division.

Today epaulets have been largely replaced by shoulder straps made from cloth and sewn into the shoulder seam. How boring. 


Tales of the Past (With Morals)

She KNOWS she shouldn’t … but she does

nce upon a time – a year ago in fact – I discovered the most beautiful vintage red cashmere coat, trimmed in rabbit’s fur in a boutique hidden in one of Melbourne’s laneways. The coat was expensive, but irresistible: I purchased it. It curled in ruffles around the hem; it swished like a luxurious cloak around me as I walked. All that was missing was a hood.

That didn’t stop friends and total strangers in the street alike to exclaim, “Little Red Riding Hood!” when they chanced upon me wearing it. This happened so many times last winter that I knew I had to create a tale around this evocative theme.

In the height of the summer gone past I finally had the time to do the photoshoot – and sweltered as I pranced in front of the camera. Then only weeks after, I saw the film poster for Red Riding Hood. I had no idea at all that a new film had been made. The movie poster is certainly full of mystery and foreboding. It actually has nine antecedents, the earliest a silent Czech film made in 1920.

Many fairy tales have sinister origins, and unflinchingly employ gore to fully convey their strong moral themes. Little Red Riding Hood is no exception…


The earliest known tale was had its origins in 17th century French folklore, and was written down for print by Charles Perrault in his collection Tales and Stories of the Past With Morals in 1697. It was he who introduced the red hood.

The oral versions are traced back even earlier, to the 14th century, related by French and Italian peasants, in which the girl rescues herself through her own cunning. These old versions were in fact titled after the grandmother, not the caped girl. There are also links to old Russian and Norse stories.

The German Brothers Grimm tackled it in the 19th century, basing their stories on Perrault’s, but writing a sequel where the girl and her grandmother trapped and killed another wolf, presumably as a form of revenge, or deterrent to future erring wolves. 


Earlier versions were far ‘grimmer’ than the sanitised and happy-ending of the 19th century authors’: Perrault’s story ended badly, with the attractive, well-bred young lady being eaten by the wolf. End of story. No woodcutter. No rescue. Basically it was a warning written to good girls: beware of (human) wolves, especially those quiet, gentle seducers who enter your home.

…Perrault’s story ended badly, with the attractive, well-bred young lady being eaten by the wolf

Other interpretations include literal warnings against wolf attacks, wolves being genuine predators; natural cycles, such as solar myths, or seasonable fables, ie spring as an escape from winter – also akin to the notion of rebirth; puberty rituals; and sexual awakening – the red cloak symbolising the menstrual cycle, and the dark forest, womanhood. ‘The anthropomorphic wolf symbolises a man, who could be a lover, seducer or sexual predator.’1

The first and last seem most likely to me, as often the simplest and most obvious explanation is the true one – and the neatest.


Scroll down for some lovely vintage art, and some more modern interpretations from today’s photographers.

Carl Offterdinger (1829–1889), German children’s book illustrator

Walter Crane (1845-1915), English artist and book illustrator

Margaret Ely Webb (1877-1965), American children’s book illustrator and author of art textbooks

From an anthology of fairy tales, 1927

Manga style by Aurore, 2006; (click image for link)

LOVE this coat too! Dakota Fanning stars in Karl Lagerfeld’s shoot for Vanity Fair, Jan 2007

Natalia Vodianova stars in Mert Alas' and Marcus Piggott's interpretation of the fairy-tale for US Vogue, Sep 2009; click image to see more imagesI do like this interpretation of the ravening wolf transformed into faithful friends. Singer/actress Selena Gomez as Little Red Riding Hood, Dec 2010Suitably mysterious. Red Riding Hood film poster, 2011

1. Wikipedia


Inflation 1986: Girls’ Night On the Town

It’s 1986, and Birdie is in her mid twenties. It’s the era of big hair, and big shoulder pads. Never one to hide her light under a bushel, Birdie sports both, with her hair wrapped in a high Madonna-style ponytail, and shoulders clad in a massive leopard print coat. “I loved that coat,” Birdie says. It came from Clarence Chai, an ‘amazing’ shop in Collins St, Melbourne. Her girlfriend Louise made her earrings from black resin and rhinestones. (Big earrings were big then too.)

It’s a girls’ night out on the town, and Birdie is at Inflation nightclub with three friends. Two of them – Zan and Sherine, sisters – were singers in hot bands: Zan in funk-rock band I’m Talking, and Sherine in the seven-piece pop/rock band Big Pig. It was Zan’s big night: she was recording a film clip for the song Trust Me, a current hit – hence the enormous sequinned stars! Her other friend Jasmine, Birdie adds, always sported a great pillbox hat. All are wearing that other Eighties staple: frosty eyeshadow.

Birdie herself was staying at the Regency Hotel with her friend who was a music reporter for the National Times. She was on the road with Cyndi Lauper, so she and Birdie were hanging out in an all-expenses-paid hotel room waiting to chat to Cyndi. Ah, good times. 


Another Naked-Lady-Winning Performance

Scrolling back through the SNAP archives recently, I came upon these photos from my Oscars-inspired story earlier this year. I had another good giggle and decided to share the outtakes and extras with the world.

Give me a long gown, a naked lady statuette to grasp, and a post-production mike, I could (and did) ham it up for hours making tearful speeches and waving my arms about histrionically.

Click on image for larger version

The gown in question – in true Oscar-style – has had only one outing to my cousin Naughty Amelia-Jane’s evening wedding a few years ago. I love its completely backless elegant 30s style. The heavy black satin falls beautifully, and the draped boat neckline folds over the shoulders prettily, giving a little glimpse of plum-coloured lining.

The rhinestone earrings and bracelet are vintage, and came from a long-gone Sydney boutique called, appropriately, The Jazz Garter. A vintage Russian squirrel fur completes the picture.

And that’s a wrap.