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Entries in jewellery (179)


Ooh la la, le chignon!

This is simply a fancy way your very good friend might exclaim, “Oh wow, you look gorgeous with your hair in a bun!”

Everything sounds posher in French: chocolat; c’est la vie; un café noir, s’il vous plaît; le weekend. Of course, it’s more enjoyable to annoy your Francophile friends by deliberately mispronouncing the words, par example, ‘cross-ant’ and ‘murky bucup’. However, you do pronounce it 'sheen-yon'.

I like to imagine Madame Bovary wearing her hair in a chignon (she probably did, being French), or Jane Eyre.

This picture actually reminds me of the artwork of a friend of mine, which was an inadvertent result of wanting to show off my Indian silver hairpiece. It is delicate filigree work, and I bought it by weight, which I thought was amusing, but fair. It comes from Zari, a boutique in Swan Street, Richmond.

My hair is quite long, and I like it that way in particular because it gives me the freedom to wear it up in a number of different hairstyles; I rarely wear it out. Occasionally I have an attack of short-hair frenzy and chop it off, but it’s been long for two or three years now. It is also quite fine, so any chignon I create is going to be fairly modest in size; the result above was simply achieved by twirl, twist and pin.

I did experiment a couple of days ago by first teasing my ponytail before twisting it up into a bun, but it very sadly sank all too quickly – like brioche taken out of the oven too early. Obviously I didn’t use enough hairspray. There are some amazing styles out there though; these are just some of them:

Methinks I require the services of a personal maid from Madame Bovary’s day!


Silver I have, gold none

I like white metal best, be it white gold, sterling silver, or stainless steel. I’m not a massive fan of base metals, but I admit I own a pair of nickel earrings: fabulous and enormous hoops with dangles.

I suspect this new cuff is of even lesser pedigree, sadly. Possibly even aluminium or some such other inferior material. However, I decided I liked the Celtic design so much that it should be permitted to grace my wrist. In fact, I bought it yesterday from an op-shop for $5, and already took it out for an air today.

It was actually a second; broken; but hey presto it took me less than a minute to fix it with my jewellery pliers!

You can see I like woven metal. I absolutely adore this stainless steel Kenneth Cole watch with its rectangular, pearlised face. It has had a rough life. I dropped it one too many times on my ceramic-tiled floor with the result that the minute hand loosened. Distraught, I took it to the nearest jeweller on Chapel St. They quoted me over $100 to handle the operation, as they would have to go through the back, dismantling its innards before being able to attend to the dysfunctional hand.

As much as I loved the watch, I declined their kind offer, for I had paid far less for it on eBay. It would be cheaper to simply replace it, and I went so far as to track down the seller, who obligingly auctioned another one just for me.

Meanwhile, I thought I may as well get a second opinion, and this time went to East Richmond where I had once had a battery replaced in another watch. They quoted me $10 for a swift overnight operation. Thank you very much.

On my left hand are two rings I always wear together: the top one with a concave curve, the bottom, convex. I have long loved Russian wedding rings, where three rings are intertwined; the ring on my right hand is based on this idea. A thin ring of polished circular wire is interlocked with a wide, matt band. They are all sterling silver, from Roun, and have seen many years of wear.

Next up is a Danish Skagen mesh watch. Of course I love the silver, but perhaps it’s time to give rose gold a try?


Point me to the boulevard, s'il vous plaît

I call this my hybrid Belle Époque–vaguely forties–with a touch of Helmut Newton’s sixties–new look. I have never worn this outfit on the street before, but there is a strong possibility I will one day: in my fantasy I am strolling down some seaside boulevard under a blazing summer sun. The light sparkles on the waves of the ocean, a breeze ruffles across my arms…

It all began with the serendipitous discovery of the peplum-style top.

As delightfully frivolous as it is, this top is by no means perfect. It is, for starters, a size too small. This unfortunate defect necessitates much undignified gyrating and jumping up and down just to do up the zip.

Each time I put it on and wrestle for grim death with the zip, I mutter through gritted teeth: “I’ve done it up before; I can do it up again!”

When finally I tug it all into place I understand the difficulties women had breathing when wearing corsets. Notwithstanding the constrictions of my ribcage, the plunging neckline gapes somewhat as I lack the physical endowment to fill it out.

On the pro side of the list: it is adorable! I like the colours, the geometric pattern and most of all the peplum-like balloon shape. Its exaggerated proportions demanded a contrasting lower half. I remembered the very long and narrow, navy linen Donna Karan skirt I had put aside, unworn.

I had not yet tried the outfit on, but it put me in mind of something a Belle Époque beauty might have worn whilst taking a turn on the promenade in gentlemanly company. That evocative picture plainly required the presence of a hat to complete it. And I had just the one: an enormous red saucer by Mimco. Uncrushable, it can be moulded into any shape.

It still left an expanse of bare flesh that demanded decoration; so on went half a dozen bangles that I never ordinarily wear (they hamper me), and a necklace handmade by myself from golf-ball-sized translucent beads. Green platform heels by Mollini were the last accessory to complete the ensemble.

Below are the vintage originals that evoke the spirit of my strange hybrid.

Both fashion plates possess different but similarly exaggerated proportions. At the turn of the 20th century, long narrow skirts became fashionable, called the ‘hobble-skirt’ – because women did, of course. It wasn’t enough to restrict their breathing!

The wasp waist and enormous skirt of the forties’ New Look translates into my tight empire-line waist and billows of fabric. Mini peplums (above left) and narrow skirts were also popular. These two looks below are from the fifties.

Quite different to mine, this hat (left) is also large enough to hide the face and retain a sense of mystery – and of course shelter one from the blistering rays of the Australian sun.

The look of now, on the beaches; a back bared beautifully to the waistline, and the stunning counterpoint of a hat as wide and sheltering as a beach umbrella. This one, in mango pink straw, is anchored against lifting sea breezes with a wimple of nylon marquisette. Weedmans, Brisbane and Surfers Paradise, 84s.

Main photo: original photograph of backdrop by Robin Lowe.
Illustration credits:
(Top left) Fashion plate, 1912-13, Dresa, from A History of Costume in the West by François Boucher; Thames & Hudson, 1966. (Top right) Pochoir fashion illustration Dieu! qu'il fait froid by Georges Lepape of a fur-edged coat by Paul Poiret, for La Gazette du bon ton, 1913, from The Fine Art of Fashion by Julian Robinson; Bay Books. (Middle left) ph: Henry Clarke, 1953; (middle right) ph: Henry Clarke, 1951; (bottom left) ph: Irving Penn, 1959; (bottom right) ph: Henry Clarke, 1956; all from In Vogue, by Georgina Howell; Condé Nast Books, 1991. (Left) Australian Vogue,  Summer 1960; ph: Helmut Newton.


What I Actually Wore #0003

Serial #: 0003
Date: 29/09/2008
Weather: a few showers, 18°C
Time Allowed: 5 mins

Last Monday’s weather forecast dictated I should wear pants. Since it was spring I couldn’t possibly wear winter woollies, so I immediately decided on these VM silk/linen trousers. I really like them but they are hard to wear, demanding a slim-fitting top. Good posture is imperative too, or they scrunch down – which is a really bad look for front pleats.

I love wearing different shades of grey, so this wool t-shirt was an easy pick (my concession to the cooler weather). It was an inexpensive purchase from Kookaï; basic, except for the neckline detail that creates the look of a double layer. I have worn it so many times.

The wool fedora adds a jaunty touch, but I usually like to wear my hair tied back when I wear any hat.

My hair is quite long, so I feel a bit inelegant with it out; I think it distracts from the graphic silhouette of a hat, too. Hats make enough of a statement on their own without messy hair falling all over one’s shoulders.

This necklace is a great conversation starter, and never fails to provoke attention. Made of base metal, it’s actually two individual loops intertwined, and they can be sculpted into any shape. I turned it into a bow-tie last Saturday night! I dread the day when a kink develops from over-zealous twisting and they snap. 

Some colour was required to save the outfit from dreariness, so on went the double belt – there are two silver rings interrupting the tan leather on the sides that you can’t see – and the orange patent shoes. I bought these new on eBay, attracted by the gorgeous colour. For once photographs didn’t lie! I own a lot of neutral-coloured shoes, and this past winter had a hankering for coloured footwear that would offset a typical outfit such as this. Grey skies are gloomy enough.


Top: Kookaï
Pants: Veronika Maine
Hat: Morgan & Taylor
Belt: Alta Linea
Shoes: Aldo
Necklaces: Ishka
Earrings: Palm Beads
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Ring: NGV Gallery Shop

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