Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Fresh as a daisy

I work with Daisy, and I love to check out what she’s wearing every day. She always looks so fresh and bright and jeune fille – like a pretty spring day! This has in part to do with her wardrobe’s colour palette: there are quite a few light hues, and also the air of wonder in her wide eyes that make me think of Bambi exploring the world on his wobbly, new-born legs.

It amuses me to compare her with myself at a similar age: fresh out of art school when grunge was big, I wore a lot of vintage, and colourful eccentric items that allowed me to adopt a different persona every day. It took me a while to pare down!

…But fashions change, and Daisy has refined a look that is sophisticated and modern, yet certainly not hard.

How would you describe your style in general, Daisy?
Well it has definitely evolved over the last few years. But at the moment I like to wear more classic, feminine pieces that still have a modern or unique edge to them. I love beautiful clothing and appreciate it, but it usually has to be paired with comfort.

Did it take you long to put it this outfit together?
No – about three minutes! I knew it was going to be a warm day so I thought it would be a good opportunity to wear a dress. That’s what I love about dresses – they cut out all the work, and are the ultimate in comfort. And because this dress is pale, I like to pair it with the hot pink flats for a jolt of colour.

Yeah, I love adding bit of acid to something pretty. It makes a great contrast. And your nail polish is a great match! Where did you source the shoes from?
They're from Witchery. I had been searching for weeks for new summer flats without any luck when I stumbled across these beauties. The patent pink detailing makes them feel very fresh and summery.

That dress also has some great details: the slight puff to the sleeve and the inverted pleat. Who is it designed by?
It’s by the French label Ba&sh, and came from a shop called Chambermaid on High St, in Armadale. It’s silk and feels amazing to wear because there is quite a bit of weight to it with the full lining. I love wearing it because it was a gift from my boyfriend.

What a great boyfriend! I also really like the button detail – like a built-in brooch. Tell me about the other jewellery.
The bangle is new and I’m in love with it. It was a gift from my boyfriend’s parents, who bought it for me in Paris! And the necklace was a birthday present from one of my best friends. I tend to only wear jewellery if it has sentimental value; I like looking down and being reminded of the person who gave it to me.

That’s sweet. I’ll be keeping an eye out the next time I see you wearing a ring, then! Thanks Daisy!


Rapunzel’s grandmother

On the arm of the chair sits my friend Rapunzel’s grandmother, Anne. Rapunzel has very little knowledge of her as she died when her mother was 16; the latter did not talk about her much except to reminisce how much she adored her.

Anne gave birth to Rapunzel’s mother in the 1940s, when she was about 36, quite old for that era. Judging by the clothing of this trio of girls we guess this photograph was taken (in Wangaratta, as written on the reverse) in the 1910s.

Recalling a black and white photograph of Anne on her mother’s dressing table, she remembers how she gazed at in fascination.

As a child, Rapunzel thought Anne was the most enchanting woman: dressed in a long satin gown, fur bolero and a tiny little hat.

The most glamorous touch was the string of pearls around her neck. Rapunzel fondly imagined she was at a fancy party, but when she saw this photo more recently, she realised Anne was actually standing near a rusty corrugated iron fence. “How Aussie is that?” she laughed to me.

As for me, I was equally fascinated by this relic from Rapunzel’s family archive. A tiny little photograph – half the size of today’s standard – the card thickened with age, I brought it up close to peer at it in delight. The photographs of Julia Margaret Cameron immediately sprang to mind. Although they are from an earlier year (she photographed Alice Liddell, Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for Alice in Wonderland), they have the same soft, gentle quality; portals into a long-vanished world.

These three little Australian girls have a mischievous look in their eyes however, unlike Cameron’s models. Some of the latter adopt an impassive stare; others present their profiles as they gaze into the middle distance, forever lost in their own thoughts. A century later, we can only admire them.


Blinging in the new year

Sadly I didn’t see the fireworks on New Year’s Eve: I was far from the banks of the Yarra. We only glimpsed the smoke in the sky, but that’s no reason not to celebrate.

Reflecting on the pile of loot I brought home with me from my holiday, I have made a new resolution to spring-clean my drawers, downsize my closets.

Not these babies, though: they are distinctly upsize.

Whilst shopping in the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, I wandered into Aldo (which sells only shoes here in Melbourne) and pounced on these enormous rhinestone earrings in delight. They were ridiculously large and I didn’t need them. I put them down. I was searching for an evening bag, after all.

Of course, when I finally returned to buy the clutch I had my eye on, my gaze fell upon the earrings again. Temptation won out, and observing that they in fact matched my belly-dancing outfit excellently, I snatched them up and purchased them before commonsense had a chance to prevail. If I would not stop at an outfit that jingles, then why boggle at these oversize chandeliers?

So raise your glass: here’s to having fun with fashion this year. Bling-bling, darlings!


Sweet dreams are made of these

I am not an avid collector of vintage lingerie. What little I do have in my lilac-scented drawers I have simply happened upon in the course of ordinary ‘hope-shopping’.

That being said, I have managed to unearth some pretty delicates, among them this diaphanous short-sleeved robe with its remarkable lace trim, and the mint green striped slip, also trimmed in peppermint lace. You also may have seen my ruffled long underwear on my profile page; they’re extremely amusing.

This robe has long-lost its label, but it must be made of nylon or its ilk, and the Kayser ‘Satin Stripe’ slip of tricel with nylon. Although the artificial fibre does not stop the robe from floating about me like a cloud, of course they would be even lovelier if they were made of silk.

I’m sure I would loll still more decadently, like a thirties star of the silver screen, a glass of champagne at my elbow and sweet dreams in my head.

Below are some illustrations of lingerie from British and Australian Vogues.

Headlined Lingerie to linger in, these illustrations accompany an article entitled 'The Happy Invalid', by Rosamond Harcourt-Smith.
British Vogue, January 1947.

From cami-slips in pale blue, to carnation printed harem-hemmed half-slips, to stockings in the new colour of 'Pumpkin'… stockings and lingerie are two of a kind.
Illustrations: May Routh; Australian Vogue, June 1960.

Sleep cool this summer, brevity is news in slumber wear; here, four young, engaging looks…
Photograph: Duffy; Australian Vogue, June 1960.

And most amusing of all is this bright orange liftout: Vogue's undercover story: the new foundations. In 1960, there were only three figure types: the triangle, the inverted triangle, and the rectangle.

I particularly love 'and the best clothes to go for are those with a decided Chanel or Balenciaga bias…' That still stands true today! If only I could afford the real thing.

Perhaps I'll get lucky and something will appear in my Christmas stocking?


Cutting edge

This has to be one of the very best covers Australian Vogue has ever done ­– at least as long as I have been reading it.

Back when I bought it I was already at art school, but it didn’t take a graphic design student’s eye to see that the sharp graphics and literally cutting-edge composition made a striking cover. A cover that must have been influenced by iconic magazines of this era, such as the Face; a cover that had visual appeal and would guarantee hands would reach for it on the newsstand.

I particularly like the typography, the way in which it fills the negative space, and interacts with the model’s silhouette. You would never see Australian Vogue cutting a face in half today!

It is amusing to note however that the cover does not at all fulfill its promise with the editorial layouts inside.

Still, I’ve kept my original copy on my shelf for 18 years on the strength of it.

Australian Vogue, April 1990. Photograph: Martyn Thompson.