Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in umbrella (32)

Tuesday
Sep182018

Let it Rain!

In a Melbourne spring, one must be prepared for rain at all times. Melburnians are famous for vigilantly checking the weather forecast no matter what the season, and many of us keep a tiny folding umbrella in our totes, or in our drawers at work against sudden need. I am no exception to this rule, and I own a formidable array of vintage umbrellas in different colours so that I can match my outfits.

This vintage 60s frilled umbrella is one of my favourites. I have owned it for a long time. I love vintage brollies for they are generally sturdier than their modern counterparts because their skeletons have more ribs, made from steel unlike the flimsy aluminium contraptions manufactured today. They are therefore much stronger in a high wind. However, mishaps can still occur, and last year they did.

I felt a bit dreadful about this, like a vintage murderer …

First of all, I lost the tip of one spoke, which meant that the covering pulled away. There are no umbrella repairers these days, so I came up with my own solution: find another vintage umbrella in an op shop and cannibalise it for parts! I felt a bit dreadful about this, like a vintage murderer, but I managed to find one – in a vivacious shade of lime green – that was already broken: it was unable to be opened. This made me feel better about hacking off its limbs. (It annoyed me that the op shop was still charging $5 for it, the same price as a functional umbrella, but I supposed it possessed, after all, what I required.)

Naturally, while I was doing this photoshoot and after amputating the silver tips, the umbrella suddenly operated normally! Typical. However, it must have been aggravating for the original owner if the umbrella was randomly becoming stuck – most inconvenient at the sudden onset of a shower. But I had what I needed and repaired the blue brolly, squirreling the remaining tips away.

… some time later another freak accident tragically occurred.

After all these misadventures, some time later another freak accident tragically occurred. One day, when I was walking along the street with the blue umbrella dangling from my wrist by its tassel, an aforementioned high wind suddenly gusted along and bizarrely caught the umbrella against my own limbs and snapped off the handle! Who would even expect such a thing to happen? I was quite indignant.

Fortunately I work at a theatre that has a Props department, and I paid a visit to its manager. He is an amiable man, and was happy to be of assistance. A few days later, my umbrella appeared on my desk, and when I saw him, he told me he had reinforced the shaft with a length of steel, and then had glued the plastic handle back on. What a miracle worker! He warned me to treat it gently henceforth, but it certainly seems very sturdy again – not that I plan a bout of play sword-fighting or anything anytime soon.

Hurrah! LET IT RAIN.

Photos: March 2017, September 2018

Monday
Jul232018

Blue Girl

When I was growing up, I was never into Holly Hobbie. I was of course I familiar with the image of the famous blue girl, mainly through collecting swap cards (the Australian version of trading cards).

Holly Hobbie, the eponymous character of the artist, was created in the late 1960s and subsequently sold to American Greetings who disseminated her throughout the world.

The original Holly HobbieHolly – the character – was famous for her rag dress and giant bonnet, and when I first spotted this patchwork 1970s maxi dress at a giant vintage warehouse sale, I immediately thought of her. The dress tickled my fancy, and although I doubted I would ever wear it in public, I bought it as it was priced at only $10. It is a great pity the belt was missing; I have substituted a silk scarf.

When I recreate these dress-ups, I like to challenge myself to create costumes out of items I already own. My bonnet is actually a modern hat designed to look like a headscarf and bonnet hybrid; my boots are also modern, recent op shop purchases, and my umbrella is vintage 50s or 60s. The umbrella is not authentic to Holly Hobbie, but rather inspired by other cutesy 70s characters – it made a more interesting picture than without.

I’ve owned the dress for nearly two years, and have yet to wear it out. I am trying to make a conscious effort to wear all the vintage clothes and accessories I have collected over the years – it feels wasteful otherwise. Perhaps this colourful dress is simply waiting for the right occasion.

Photo: May 2018

Tuesday
May082018

Birds and Brollies

I love fun and kitschy pins and brooches and am amassing quite a collection. Most of them I have bought in Melbourne op shops (thrift stores); a very few bought online; and a couple are leftovers from my childhood (a crimson enamel and diamante butterfly) and teenage years (a frilled sea-serpent wrapped around a sword and swallowing the red glass pommel).

This pair, which I think are from the 1940s or 50s, I bought last Saturday in two different op shops. I was quite tickled to find the umbrella because I had been searching on Etsy last week for umbrella pins – if you’ve been reading this journal for a while, you know I go through quite a few brollies, so I thought it quite expedient that I should have one in brooch form. I also love birds of every kind, and already have a few others in my set, so the swan is a lovely addition.

I tend to wear brooches more in winter because so many of them are made from heavy metal, and weigh delicate summery fabrics down too much. Now that the weather has cooled at last, they shall come out to play!

Thursday
Mar012018

Autumn Marches In

It was amazing how Melbourne turned on the autumnal weather right on cue. The morning began with grey skies and by the time I was walking to work, graduated to rain. I had to wear a raincoat when the day before I was gallivanting about in a sleeveless summer dress!

It was cool, but not quite as cold as this picture suggests, which I took quite a long time ago, wearing one of my super-jumpers – it’s so warm the cropped length and sleeves are a boon.

The umbrella I’m holding is vintage, probably 60s or 70s, and the periwinkle gloves (it’s difficult to capture that colour on camera, but they are definitely purple-tinged) are 1960s. I find that with umbrellas, it’s a case of they certainly don’t make ‘em like they used to, and vintage brollies are far more sturdy because they generally have more spokes. I’ve never had a vintage umbrella blow inside out, no matter what gale is blowing.

By lunchtime today the clouds had cleared, and tomorrow will be quite warm, and Saturday we will return to beach weather! Ah, Melbourne, as the song says, we really do enjoy four seasons in one day.

Happy autumn!

Photo: July 2016

Wednesday
Feb282018

Summertime Gothic

Time was in Melbourne when many goths wandering like lost souls through the streets were a very familiar sight. Having gone through art college myself, they were never a threatening or repugnant presence to me as they were to some, and I was always intrigued (and entertained) by their bold sartorial expressions.

What a spectacular head dress! (from @mywitchery; outfit @burleskacorsets-blog.)Their mania for emulating the darker aspects of the Victorian period in respect of dress seemed to work well for winter – frock coats, puffy sleeved shirts, cloaks, big boots – but I marvelled that so many seemed at a loss as to what to wear for summer, always a concern for sweltering days in an Australian city, even one so far south as Melbourne.

Melbourne Goth & Victorian Picnic 2017I always felt sorry for them, suffering on broiling days in their multiple floor-length layers. They really needed a stylist I decided, poor things, to help them figure out a ‘summerweight’ goth look. I was sure their angst-ridden expressions had more to do with suffering from imminent heatstroke than affected Victorian anguish.

You don’t see many goths in Melbourne anymore however. Perhaps the old goths of the 90s and Noughties have grown up, or moved to the suburbs and got haircuts and real jobs. Research lead me to discover the goth movement is still going strong in Europe, with many large annual festivals (mainly in Germany) still being held and attracting tens of thousands, with steampunk and even ‘steamgoth’ now entering the field as well.

Melbourne Goth & Victorian Picnic 2017One way to keep cool – not for everyone however; Melbourne Goth & Victorian Picnic 2017In October last year, the Melbourne Gothic & Victorian Picnic was held in the Fitzroy Gardens (north of the city proper), it is pleasing to discover. However a quick perusal of photos shows that most goths are wearing quite heavy garments for mid-spring, with a few concessions in the form of punk-inspired torn lace or lingerie – a revealing look not for everyone.

I’ve long wanted to do a tongue-in-cheek homage on a summer version of typical goth splendour, but have held off until I secured just the right outfit. I finally found it, and here it is to celebrate the last day of summer: a billowing silk, floor-length dress featuring some cobwebby lace in the yoke, a nod to gothic Victoriana for the more modest young lady. The loose skirts, low back and front, and sleeveless cut make it perfect for an Australian summer.

Add a lace parasol (I only had a cream one, but a real goth might prefer tattered black) to protect one’s delicate pallor from the burning rays of the Australian sun, a dour expression, and you’re good to go. For an evening wrap against potential night chill, consider a black lace shawl which can be prosaically wrapped round the shoulders, or draped over the head for that funereal aspect.

Visit A Study of Goth Subculture (2009) for both dissertations and detailed fashion information; a relatively recent story at The Conversation on Goth, Steampunk and the State of Subculture Today (2016) is also worth a read.

Photos: March 2017