Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Family Heirloom

I believe that I have earned the right to be (not-so-quietly) proud of myself. I have acted selflessly, putting the needs of others before my own. I have gone on an international shopping quest resulting in my purchase of designer clothing and accessories to add to my personal collection. So, SO selfless of me...I can hear the judgement and scoffing, but bear with me.
When I entered the Designers First and Second Exclusives store on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Munich, it was not me I was thinking of. As I fingered the Chanel, Prada, de la Renta and Ossie Clark threads, it was not my pleasure I had in mind. And as I found my two arms sliding through the yellow tweed sleeves of the Moschino trench and then forking over the euros, it was not my future I was planning for. These selfless, charitable acts were conducted in the spirit of charity, for the sake of the family heirloom.
Now, I don’t know whether you were as lucky as I was and inherited a coin or doily collection, but I feel the need for a modern revisitation of the heirloom. If we survey our consumer-driven materialistic society (glorious, isn’t it?!) it is luxury goods which are coveted and hold value.
So, I have made it my mission to acquire a few collectors pieces to pass down to my oh-so-appreciative daughter (who, just for the record, exists purely in my imagination). If I squealed with delight at my 1980’s Moschino coup, imagine how my little girl will enjoy the adoration and envy as she parades her ‘vintage’ coat amongst her teen gal pals!
There IS a slight, just teeny tiny chance that despite its status and value she may cast off the jacket as ‘old’ (something I’m sure we’ve all done in our youth and regretted). But it’s a chance I’m willing to take. 
So, I issue you a challenge. Be selfless. Be noble. Put your unborn spawn first and flex that fantastic plastic on some designer goods. Wear them to ensure they absorb your love and the era. In the name of the heirloom, an ancient tradition, go out and buy that Goyard trunk you’ve always desired. It’ll be an investment in your future child’s future (just don’t try to use that excuse to justify the expense to your partner!)

[Words and adventures supplied by Muds very own overseas correspondent.  Mud Mail sashays the streets of the worlds most fashionable cities and gives us the low down.]

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Putting my fashions on the field

In times of desperation we do silly, out of character things. Last week I was broke and unemployed. The GBP had run out and I was struggling to find how my skills and experience were going to fit in here in Australia. In despair I asked a young relative what she thought I was good at, she pondered........... I began to worry. Finally she replied “you're good at dressing up”. That's super I thought (with a slight eye roll), but how can I make money out of coordinating my mushroom patent waist belt with my up to the minute jewel coloured tartan skirt? Enter a “dressing up competition with a hefty cash prize” apparently. So I did, but I didn't win. Who would have thought?

Saturday, 11 October 2008

The day/night equilibrium

Are there rules for appropriate wedding guest attire in the 21st Century? A dress code can help with tie selection and dress length but it's the finer details I'm more concerned with. I've heard that you should never wear white as to not show up the bride. While others say never wear black “its for funerals” (and fashion editors) only. My Mum says you must always wear hosiery (black tie or cocktail) and my grandmother says you must never attend without a hat (this is her general rule for any function that involves a church or a marquee). So many rules but not enough clarity for me.
When planning a wedding outfit I try to consider the season and time of day the celebration is taking place. Weddings generally run in two parts. Part One: The church service; generally occurring in the late afternoon when the sun is shining. Followed by a short break where the wedding party have hundreds of photos taken and guests begin to get suitably boozed. We then move on to Part Two: which involves the reception celebration and meal, often beginning around half 6 under the stars.
I find this 'day into night' thing the most difficult to get right. It's all about finding the happy medium. I find cotton and any type of floral print lovely for a church service but too garden party for the dancing, drinking and swing band part. I fear satin or sheer evening fabrics become too dressy and possibly too sexy for a parish visit but are more than acceptable for a 3 course alternative drop meal and a quick step with the handsome (hopefully single) best man– are you seeing my conundrum?
Apparently in some parts of the world it's tradition to change outfits in between the 2 parts. This of course would put an end to my wedding outfit woes. Alas, in Australia this would be seen as absurd, OTT and somewhat indecisive. I figure when its my turn I'll push the boat out a little and host both parts in one part of the day. Church, dancing and home before the sun even sets or better still a service just after dusk and quick stepping all throughout the night. This should solve the problem of my guests not getting it right outfit wise. 
**Oh and I've also heard you should never wear the same colour as the invite, you can almost guarantee the bridesmaids will rock up in it also. Which of course would be a disaster. Someone needs to write a book about all these wedding rules. Hmmm... There's a business idea in that.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Part 2

It is with a smirk that I now reflect on how amiss my assumptions of New York were. It really is the city of love. It’s no accident that the capital is filled with ‘IheartNY’ merchandise; however it would be more accurate for ‘NYheartsU’ to grace the infamous $1 tees. If Paris is a designer clad judgemental mother-in-law and London a trendy trapped by tradition Grandma, New York is an arms wide open so good to see you best friend. For as I trepedatiously took to the downtown cobblestone laden streets in my improvised get-up, I felt the warmth of acceptance. With each block we passed I became aware of the eclectic fusion of fashion; power suits on Wall Street, statement accessories on the trendy TriBeCa set, knock-off apparel in China Town, indie glam in SoHo, boho  couture in the West Village, ill fitting suits and toe cleavage on busy business broads in midtown, labelled loafers on ladies who lunch in Park Ave, cycling shorts and bikinis in Central Park, b’ball caps and tanks in Harlem and a melange of adventurous and daring ensembles. It really did appear as though you could do no wrong by this fabulously embracing city.
When my luggage finally did arrive I welcomed my precious possessions with a new found eagerness and discarded my rehearsed and carefully composed combinations. Instead, waist sashes were clashing headscarves, tops were altered and layered and accessories refashioned with an experimental gusto I had misplaced since I put my sewing machine into storage.
As I experienced my own fashion revolution, as though in sympathy, the city was having one of its own, in the form of the bi-annual New York Fashion Week. My schemes of sneaking in unseen through a conveniently placed tear in the Bryant Park tent to catch a glimpse of the latest delicacies from Betsey Johnson or Badgley Mischka were clearly fantastical fantasies. However as I lusted longingly for the fairytale world within the tents, I was unaware that I was in prime position for what I still believe is the best fashion show I have and may ever see...
As the last model in Peter Som’s collection sashayed her way off the runway and the crowd applauded (all the while trying to catch even the slightest response from under Anna Wintour’s Oliver People’s), the REAL parade began. Down the red carpeted stairs came the throng of invitees...upper east side heiresses and wives of millionaires in their exquisitely styled ho-hum offerings, magazine types in ambivalent muted pantsuits, photographers in uniform tees and jeans, hair and make-up artists in more mind-boggling takes on black than one would assume possible, fashion interns in their best (and for the most part, entirely applaudable) attempts at designer on a budget and models on ‘lunch’ breaks in creatively conceived pairings of comfort and couture collection...all this blending exquisitely with the milieu of the 6th Avenue passersby at noon, unaware of celebrities and designers posing and air-kissing around them. This blend of high fashion with the street its canvas enthralled me and, if it was at all possible, encouraged me into an even deeper love of fashion and New York.
Waiting at the airport at the end of my delicious journey to the big apple with my bulging baggage, I found my gaze unusually drawn to the souvenir shops and next thing I was purchasing a collection of kitsch ‘IheartNY’ merchandise. My initial bemusement at how entire families kitted themselves out in the namesake tees had long since been answered; they DO heart NY. In a city that opens its heart to one and all there's really no other way to express your feelings for it. Even the most articulate wordsmiths would fumble at this task. So it is that despite all my efforts to embody this city in descriptive and adoring prose, I join the dollar-tee clad masses by simply but proudly declaring that “IHEARTNEWYORK!”

[Words and adventures supplied by Muds very own overseas correspondent. How exciting!! Mud Mail sashays the streets of the worlds most fashionable cities and gives us the low down. Look out for more super stylish fashion stories from abroad.]

There is a special kind of excitement and anxiety associated with selecting an outfit (or rather, an entire suitcase full of them) when your intention is to impress. For me this usually involves playing “dress-ups” or a mock fashion parade of mixing and matching, experimentation and accessorising that one of my girlfriends must dutifully endure (okay, okay, they love it!). Never have I deliberated, packed and repacked so much as in the lead up to my first journey to New York. I was so determined to impress that city and have it reciprocate my affection that this process consumed me in the preceding days...and weeks!
As a die-hard Sex and the City fan and recently addicted slave to Gossip Girl, I held certain expectations of the competition I would have in my bid to win the city’s heart as I pounded the pavement on Madison and 5th, Park and 7th avenues. Surely passing arms would swing a sea of Speedy’s, Spy’s and Paddington’s, slender frames would be swathed in couture from Alexander McQueen to Zac Posen and skyscraper high Loubs and Choos would become passé. While I pride myself on a wardrobe of old faithfuls and a handful of high streets, dotted with designers and a few vintage treasures, I felt completely out of my league at the prospect of walking alongside the Carrie’s and Blair’s, Serena’s and Samantha’s...but I discovered my concerns were entirely erroneous.
My first lesson came as I touched down in NYC...and my luggage did not. Assured that it would arrive by the next evening I was faced with the prospect of meeting my lover (New York that is) in my cattle-class creased clothes and simple sandals. My obvious instinct was to immediately fork over for some fabulous threads. After all, I usually happily raid the racks without any such valid reason. But whether it was my fear of being refused entry to any desirable shops in my aircraft attire (nightclub bouncer style) or my blind stubbornness, I decided I would cope. A quick detour to Victoria’s Secret was a non-negotiable (mental note...Mother was right...always carry a spare set of smalls!) before we reached the TriBeCa loft we would call ‘home’ for the next ten days. As my partner sourced emergency caffeine fixes, I managed to turn my tired dress, some safety pins, one of his business shirts and some makeshift accessories into what I believed to be a pretty damn hot little outfit. So, it was not the first date with the city I had dreamed of, but more a ‘like me or leave me’ encounter.    [to be continued]

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The sewing room

I've spent the past week holidaying with my aunt. Whilst exploring her extraordinary home I happened to stumble across her terribly cute sewing room. It seems Aunt Sandy has a room bursting with haberdashery and a niece who can't have enough full circle skirts. So much fun to be had.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Waist of the time

Every season the same question - Where's the waist? Fashion editors are telling me to "Bring back the belt!.... this Spring/Summer its narrow, high and perfectly polished". Fashion TV are going with "wide low and super sleek". There's thick and studded, skinny and patent, high on the waist, way below the hip, metallic embellishments and faux skin. Hello complicated.
I figure the safe way out is to just wear one. I'm not sure where to place it exactly, what width it should be or what aesthetic constitutes this season. But from what I hear, we all need to belt up quick smart!  Cinch one high over a blazer or drape some leather low over a maxi gypsy skirt (ps. when did boho come back?). It seems if you're keen to make a major statement this season, add a belt (of any kind) and you'll bring instant fashion cred to any old outfit.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Random Emotional Setback

When I go through a break up I find the best possible way to deal is to avoid avoid avoid. If he drinks uptown I'm heading down. If we frequent the same gym I'm purchasing a tread mill. If he's Coles I'm Woolworths. If hes's Tesco I'm Sainsburys. There's no Ross and Rachel "lets hang out" scenarios here. You get the idea.

In saying so, I didn't cope so well when London Fashion Week decided to come to town. It was like my past reared its not so ugly head and I just wasn't ready for it. I wasn't wearing my best “run into your ex outfit” and I still hadn't lost that extra 3kgs that apparently reminds him of what he's missing out on.

I'd broken up with London a good 6 weeks ago. I'd been through the process. I'd cried, I'd packed my things, I'd had the painful goodbyes and will I ever see you again moments. I was over officially him. However, just when my new city and I were about to move onto the “not just a rebound but significant relationship” stage, LFW had to turn up looking better than he'd ever done before (how do they always manage to do that?). He took me by surprise. I just wasn't prepared for his grand return so soon. Everything looked so nice and shiny, like the new improved version. So edgy, trendsetting and of course so very British.

To cope with this return of the ex situation; I did what every red blooded, once heart broken female would have done. I splurged on an unnecessary item (tights in this case – I'm on a budget). Called my girlfriends for emergency happy hour cocktails. Drowned my sorrows and bored my support group with “why did I leave him again?” style questions. At least I didn't cut my hair.

Friday, 19 September 2008

The Costume Department

I'm sure it never really intended to play such an important role in fashion history. Once upon a time it was only seen on Christmas Eve during a terribly drawn out ABC version of The Nut Cracker. Today, it's worn by toddlers worldwide at their fairy and goblin themed birthday parties. The most copied being the “soaked by a bus version” on the opening credits of a stupidly successful television series. It seems these days, if you haven't worn layers of tulle and tried to pass it off as a skirt you're not really 'fashion'.
Personally, I spent a good 80% of my upbringing wearing one (I have the toes to prove it). Therefore, have never been a huge follower in the real world. I tend to believe this soft, romantic, fairytale skirt has its place and that place is the stage. I admit, I was a fan of Carries tiered version but I've never had a hankering to replicate it. I've worn many petticoat versions under full skirts but never felt the need to expose them.
Due to my somewhat dramatic nature and love for quirky over accessorised labels such as Alannah Hill; I often find myself holding back with outfit choices in fear of crossing the line from outfit to costume. A red and white polka dot dress can look sweet; add a patent round toe Mary Jane and I'm getting paid by Walt Disney to have my picture taken with children. The tutu unfortunately falls into this 'costume' like category for me. In a conscious effort not to look like Swan Lake I have always opted to leave the tutu to the professionals rather than risk looking like an overweight version of Margo Fonteyn.
Today, however, in the snaps above, I've decided to push myself over the edge, cross the line and be a little bit crazy (said in sarcastic tone with jazz hands and major eye rolling action). Searching through the ballet cupboard, oh yes ladies this cupboard actually exists in my family home, I took the step, here's my best “tutu for the real world”- best keep an eye out for passing buses.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A project about an Australian runway

With 2 of the 3 finalists hailing from Queensland, there's no denying Brisbane is carving its own place in Australian fashion. Sunshine state resident, Lee Buchanan embraced rich royal blues and yellows, embellished brooch accessories and gorgeous embroidery fit for a Buckingham Palace ballroom.

However, it was neighbour, Juli Grbac (you heard about her here first!) and her self confessed "girly girl" dresses that won her the coveted crown. While judges were sold on the commercial viability of her frocks, I was loving her obsession with tailoring, fine fabrics and understanding of the female form. The wear anytime aspect of the collection was also ticking my box. I plan on investing in a few satin slips to be worn with opaques and pumps during the day and strappy jeweled heels come sun down.

This super feminine tiered number (grey, on model) was Julis star garment. I was also a major fan of the emerald and grape jewel coloured pleats that she injected into her show; giving the collection a little depth and shaking the muted pastels up somewhat. Look out for Julis spread in an upcoming edition of Madison Magazine. And if you're lucky enough to be involved in Melbourne Fashion Week, get yourself a spot at her show. No longer famous only for our enviable climate and big country town feel. It seems Brisbanites are putting their stamp on the style map, I have a feeling Grbac is just the beginning.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Kensington Gardens

The Peter Pan collar is back with a vengeance. I've been a fan since I was a girl (a small one; who didn't really want to grow up, but did). It now seems bloggers world wide are getting in touch with their inner J.M Barrie. If you don't have the patience for etsy or access to vintage fashion, I suggest you layer a round neck tight T over a long sleeved collared shirt (a small close fitting, flat collar with rounded ends that meet in the front would be best). Everybodies doing it (apparently).

Thursday, 11 September 2008

In a blaze of glory

Whether worn with jeans and a retro concert t shirt or over a floaty feminine maxi dress, the blazer always seems to pull together a look. High School saw me wearing an over sized moron blazer of sorts (fit wasn't high on the agenda at the uniform shop). I dabbled with major shoulder 'paddage' at my first job interview smack bang in the middle of the 90's. While last week, I gave way to the power of trend and added a tuxedo jacket to my already overcrowded wardrobe. 
I'm predicting SS08/09 will see the blazer grow some serious tails. I stole these from a family member who once loved a bit of hot shoe shuffle (let's hope he's hung up his tap shoes). I'm loving them casually with jeans and may attempt throwing them over a cocktail dress in the future. I admit, they're a risk and I could have missed the mark completely with this one. If so, I guess I'll be coming home with my tail between my legs (pun so intended).

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Here's looking at you kid

Today I'm in my home town. It's small - nice but small. My mother suggested a day out shopping, I said no. I explained I couldn't handle the small town staring "oooh look who's back". The small town gossiping "hasn't she put on weight". The small town looks "what on earth is she wearing?". My mother then sharply put me in my place. "They're not looking at you love, you haven't lived in this town for 12 years. They have better things to talk about than you, more interesting people to stare at and more scandalous people to gossip about. They don't even know who you are in this place". So I went, they didn't stare and I bought fabric. Lots of fabric. Lots of small town floral fabric. I'm not quite sure why. 

Monday, 8 September 2008

All wrapped up

For many years I've lived by the notion “if you have to tie it,  don't buy it”. It's quite a general, day to day rule if I'm to be honest. I accomplished the shoe tying skill a good year after my fellow class mates. I  still struggle to wrap odd shaped gifts and tie ribbons around them with only 2 hands. Let's not even start with my inability to use glad wrap successfully. Just imagine the level of fear involved with the terribly popular  “flatters every body shape” wrap dress. (Note to non dress obsessed readers: 99% of wrap dresses are made from jersey and of all fabrics this is the least forgiving. Making this iconic dress a triple threat. You have to wrap it around your person, tie it to the side and watch the lycra cling to last nights extra scoop of raspberry sorbet – c'mon, where's the fun in that?). In desperation, I once decided cut and quality could possibly be where my problem lay. Alas, not even a DVW could give these somewhat curvy proportions a pleasing silhouette.

Yesterday, however,  I was  convinced by my “wrap dress wearing friend” to once again try on the dress from hell. What a pleasant surprise. When I explained my woes to the sweetest store manager at Leona Edmiston (QP Bne) she explained, “the heavier the jersey (LE signature sleek jersey in this case) the more weight on the hem. The heavy hem then causes the dress to  fall down the body rather than stretch across it”.  I did a lot of smiling and head nodding having not a clue what she was on about. All I knew was that a discovery had been made, I was wrapped, tied and needed a lay-by form. Diane best watch her back, I think Leona's about to tap and unwrap her signature piece.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Everything old is new again

Trends come and go so quickly in this fickle world of fashion. One minute we all want to be sailors, the next Scottish dancers. Stripes, tartan, maxi, mini. One month our super skinnys are sitting below the belly button and the next we're pulling the wider leg option over our ears (exaggeration intended). So often I feel bound by the laws of seasonal trends. I need to become free of this as keeping up requires constant reading, watching and $$$$. The latter I most certainly am lacking currently.

Ironically the "old world" never really seems to go out of fashion. For some reason vintage (40 years and beyond) and vintage inspired can nearly always make an appearance, be respected and appreciated, even if it's not your thing. A slight nod to the bygone era (genuine article or reflective of our grandmothers wardrobe) and everyone is happy to pass it off as vintage rather than out of date.

Fashion week saw me prance around in this special number. A few observers commented "What a lovely dress - is it vintage?" "That dress is sweet, I bet it's thrifted and from London". Neither actually. It's Australian and brand spankin' new (no busted zips here ladies). It's just designed by a super smart lass who also agrees vintage never goes out of fashion and fortunately always seems to pay her bills.