Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in travel (68)

Saturday
Dec242016

The Christmas Spirit

I’ve been so busy in the last few weeks I left it to the very last minute to dream up a seasonal story for you. I thought about cheating and showing you pictures of outfits from Christmases past, and that of course got me thinking of Charles Dickens’ story of A Christmas Carol (1843).

Ebenezer Scrooge, a nasty, mean old man, is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come. They all show him various visions and give him some nasty shocks, which prompt him to change his ways.

The Ghost of Christmas Past is an androgynous figure of indeterminate age, robed in white. On his head is a blazing light, reminiscent of a candle flame, and the spirit also carries a metal cap, made to look like a candlesnuffer.

Whatever you are doing this Christmas Eve … take a moment to lift a cup of cheer (a wine, an eggnog, or a spirit) …

I delved into my archives to find a picture of me wearing a Moroccan jalabiya, bought in the seaside town of Essaouira when I was travelling there many years ago – it was perfect for this story! The fabric is a beautiful cream satin crepe, with a narrow brown and cream striped trim along the edges of the seams. (Incidentally, the backdrop is a medieval palace in Sintra, so there is plenty of reminiscing of travels past to be had here.)

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, it is, if not a religious observance, a time to spend with family or other loved ones. Some we cannot be with on the day, and some are forever lost to us, so there are remembrances as well. Whatever you are doing this Christmas Eve, whether rushing around or relaxing, take a moment to lift a cup of cheer (a wine, an eggnog, or a spirit) to them.

Here’s to a wonderful Christmas Eve!

Photo: May 2012

Friday
Mar182016

Summer Luggage

In homage to my vintage leather hatbox, I bring you some ads for Prada luggage from the 2006 Spring/Summer campaign. Of course I am partial to the rose-trimmed hatbox, but my favourite is the enormous vanilla bag in the third spread. (Isn’t it funny that people use ‘vanilla’ to describe white, after the ice cream of course, when a vanilla pod is actually quite black?) I love white in general, as high-maintenance as it is – it is a far more energising and uplifting non-colour than black.

I also enjoy the languor of the model, Sasha Pivovarova, lounging about decadently with her white cat, as though it is far too much effort to rise, and I love the dove-grey socks, and the bamboo-soled shoes. There are quite a lot more images in the series than I managed to collect; you can view them here.

(Click on images for larger versions.)

Tuesday
Mar082016

Holy Hatbox!

In January, my friend Sapphire and I went vintage shopping. I was looking mainly for various household items – mainly storage boxes or drawers, preferably wooden. Of course, when one goes vintage shopping, one keeps an eye out for anything; you never know when you will stumble upon some treasure.

Hatboxes are the Holy Grail of vintage shopping for me. I’ve owned some in the past, ‘cheap’ vintage boxes made of cardboard, although they were lined in beautiful stylised floral Forties fabric, and still bore the original travel stickers on the outside. I actually found these on someone’s rubbish heap in the street where I lived as a teenager! I couldn’t wait to get them home fast enough. They were in very good condition, and I actually used them as travel luggage when I went on camps and the like. Unfortunately, a few years later when I lived in my first apartment after leaving my parents’ home, they were stored in the garage and very badly damaged by damp and mould after it was flooded. Sadly, I had to throw them out.

Hatboxes are the Holy Grail of vintage shopping for me …

I have kept my eye out for hatboxes ever since. The only ones I ever saw were also cardboard, some in the most disgraceful rotted condition with criminal (and laughable) asking prices of $80 or more! This time, while doing a second circuit of a vintage bazaar looking for something to store my vintage gloves in (yes, I own that many), I almost literally stumbled over this hatbox that I had missed the first time round. It is in very good condition for its age, and incredibly cost only $45. It is also lockable, and I am considering having some keys made for it.

Made of yellow leather, the hatbox is lined in pale peach moiré rayon. There are two pockets, one large one in the lid, and a smaller one in the base. The interior is in perfect condition; while the exterior has an expected amount of wear, with only one area along one edge that is badly cracked (you can see that in the photo). The original label inside reads ‘Garstin, Made in England’. It is a pity, but I can’t find any information on this luggage brand. It does smell a bit musty inside, but I have been airing it out and storing a large bag of dried lavender in it, and it is slowly improving.

I can’t wait to use it next time I go travelling!

(For the record, I am wearing a new vintage 70s shirtwaister by Australian label Sportscraft, 70s eelskin bag and a 90s straw boater; the shoes are by Nine West.)

PS. Happy International Women’s Day!

Photos: February, March 2016

Tuesday
Jan262016

International Arrivals

Today is Australia Day. There is a lot of controversy in this country about whether we should celebrate our nationhood on the 26th of January as it is in fact the day Europeans invaded a country that belonged to the indigenous people, decimating and dispossessing the population. Aboriginal people call this ‘Invasion Day’, ‘Day of Mourning’, ‘Survival Day, and in the last few years ‘Aboriginal Sovereignty Day’. It is a commemoration of deep loss.

Aboriginal woman Professor Jakelin Troy is the Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research at the University of Sydney. “We shouldn’t have to be marching and protesting and making big political commentaries in order to get recognition – that should be built into this day,” she says. “There should be, in all the advertising that goes out about Australia Day… it shouldn’t be this frivolous, frothy sort of stuff about barbeques and coloured towels and spending the day at the beach. It should be, you know what does Australia Day mean for all Australians?” [From Creative Spirits]

In that spirit, I’m sharing what Australia means to my family. Everyone who has emigrated here has a personal story. My parents and three older sisters escaped from Communist Yugoslavia, and, via the Catholic Church in Austria, were accepted as refugees into this country. Australia, to them, meant freedom. It also meant that they felt fortunate enough to have one more child. If they had not immigrated here, I may have never been born!

The photo above shows them arriving in Melbourne in 1969 via a domestic airline, most likely from Sydney; probably my uncle who was already living here took the photo.

Yes, there are tragic things that happened in the past, which are difficult if not impossible to atone, but here and now I personally am grateful that I can call Australia home.  

Wednesday
Apr092014

The Rain in Spain

A bleak rainy week is upon us Melburnians, which is the perfect time for yet another umbrella to shut up shop.

Truth to tell, this cheap little brolly from Bershka broke one of its wings a long time ago – I just couldn’t bear to part with it. I hate throwing away souvenirs, even if they cost €5 and were bought in an emergency.

A couple years ago I was in Barcelona for a few days in the middle of summer. Some freakish rainy weather hit (Audrey did say ‘the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain’), but I couldn’t bear to spend a lot of money on an umbrella that I would only use for a few days.

So I spent probably an hour hunting high and low for a cheap one (I recall rejecting a stylish €35 brolly from Mango on the grounds that the last Mango umbrella I bought – in Vietnam – broke in the first storm in Melbourne on my return) until finally, and discontentedly, I settled on this frilled and spotted version.

I can’t remember when the spoke broke, in Europe or after my return, but I know the umbrella was still pretty new. And so I couldn’t throw it out, not after its ridiculous history: all that trawling in the rain to find it, and dragging it all around Europe and all the way back home …

For two winters I persevered and wrestled with it, but no longer. I had a big clean out of my closet at the end of January, and I decided this brolly had to go – the old must make way for the new. It was a wrench, but it had to be done.

I promise tomorrow I will actually put it in the bin.