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.