Monday, April 26, 2010

Doing what you damn well please

In my last post I threatened to list all the things I use in creating my style. I'm going to start with something I'd love but will never have the courage and soul to muster - the "I will do as I damn well please for I am superior to you and all your brethren" look, as modelled by Kate:

Kate is forbidden to sleep on our bed. She doesn't need too - there are two lounges, countless blankets and a few hundred feet of sunny corners at her her immediate disposal. Therefore, in the way of all cats, Kate chooses the one place she can't have and shoots me this look if I attempt negotiations to resettle her.

If you are eagle eyed you might spy, behind Kate, the edge of a very lovely Prada skirt and an excellent vintage Jay Herbert bag, both of which I found in my recent New York foraging.

But back to my ingredients. Well, jewellery. I love it. I buy it at flea markets, pawn shops, antique shops, op shops and eBay. I've found it in Paris, Bordeaux, New York, London, Edinburgh, Melbourne and Sydney. I'll buy silver, gold, nickel, gilt, paste stones, semi-precious gems, diamonds, jet, platinum and lucite. I like it small and dainty or large and oppressive. I have deco and and Edwardian earrings, Victorian and 1970s rings, brooches from the WW2 era and beads from the sixties. I never leave home without a couple of pieces.
That's the left hand side of my dressing table featuring my bead collections.

Another ingredient I love, and have done for years, is handbags. Here are three of my favourites:
Ah, my Chanel girls. I found the brown one in the front at a flea market in Sydney, in its box, complete with dust bag, id card and hologram sticker. Forty dollars, I swear. But that's not the amazing thing - this is (and this still makes me want to hit myself with a something blunt and dangerous): there was a white one, being sold in the same condition - box, card, the lot, by the same person and I LEFT IT BEHIND. I didn't need two, I reasoned.

I still find it hard to talk about it.

The one in the middle is black with a Lucite clasp. $70, authentic, Chanel branding and stamps, found sad and dejected in a pile of fakes at the Bondi markets.

The third on is the jumbo 2.55. A glimpse for now but you will see more of her as this blog progresses.

The other thing I love is perfume. Again my love here is a broad church but I'm particularly keen on old, mysterious complex scents in plain elegant bottles. My two favourites are Jean Scherrer and Patou's 1000. Here's a selection from my dressing table.

You can see Cartier's Pasha scent there too - a bloke's scent crammed with sharp fresh lemon scents that are perfect for the Sydney summer - and Rocha's Femme, a fabulous dusty feminine scent filled with flowers and the fragrances of wood.

Next post: skirts, dresses and a smaller, more agreeable cat called Ellie.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I love style. I love the details of a person's style, I love to read about style and I love seeing what people own and use to create their style.

While I consume fashion magazine the way some people drink coffee (continuously, prone to a headache if I miss one) I'm not always enchanted by the people featured in the magazines. I don't think there's any skill to looking good when you're attended to by a cast of thousands and are in regular receipt of armfuls of free clothes. But when you're putting things together based on your own tastes and needs, when you're hunting and gathering your elements of style with a specific budget and within the limitations of of your time and lifestyle, well, that's when style, real style, becomes apparent.

In a short while (and by that I mean in somewhere between ten minutes and three days) I'm going to post my top ten favourite ingredients for creating my personal style. Before I do that I want to share some aspects of the remarkable style of Nat who sits one door up from me at work.

Sometimes I only going to work to see what Nat's wearing. She never disappoints. It might be a carefully blended mixture in black and white - an Anna Sui dress over a Chloe blouse, Wolford tights and Chi Mahara maryjanes. On Friday - if it's quiet and we're all confined to our offices - she'll be wearing a discreet Marc Jacobs knit with inky Paige jeans that just cover a pair of glossy black Marni platforms. Her style, like that of all stylish people, informs her attention to detail and is apparent in all aspects of her life and work. You should see her kitchen table if you're lucky enough to be invited to afternoon tea. You should her talk off the cuff on some complicated aspect of law. You should see her office:

There's a photo album open on the desk and the east Sydney skyline becomes the background for Manhattan.

Love that print! Note the Mulberry Maggie in green patent.

And you should see her dog! He's so stylish he's got his own crew.

Those squirrels are hanging on his every word.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tossing it in

It is an admirable attribute, to never give up. Sometimes I think that knowing when to quit is just as valuable. I say this because I have just quit poetry, which is something that I never thought I would do. I have written it since I was nine. It has brought me more pleasure than anything I know. It has coloured my every thought and statement. But I have had to admit to myself that I write it really badly and that it is a waste of time and energy to keep doing it. I love it so much that I'd rather not do it all than do it badly.

It's like I've had my spleen removed. Sure it's an important attractive organ, and sure I have to make some adjustments but I'm not going to die. And no one can tell. THe scar's covered, the disadvantages of not having a spleen - or writing poetry - are invisible to onlookers. The recovery time is a few weeks but I suppose I'll see the scar forever.

Anyway, the declaration was important. Now I can concern myself with things that I am good at and use photographs to prove it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The washing up

When people say, "so what did you like best about New York?" I squint and waggle my head a little, trying to dislodged the badly shaped sentences because there is no one thing to like best. King Kong isn't there, I didn't see the Northern lights, Truman Capote didn't meet me for lunch at the Moonstruck diner.

It was everything, I try to explain. I saw Christopher Walkin on stage in an excellent play, I went to charity shops that sold mint condition pieces of Max Mara and Pucci like it was no big deal, the cook in my favourite diner used fresh peas in my vege plate, there were black squirrels in Central Park who posed agaist piles of snow, I could buy Bumble and Bumble shampoo in Target, the architecture is beautiful, the cemetries outside of Manhattan are enormous, the news stands sell Twizzlers.

And that's just start. I've been home for three weeks now, unpacked all my loot, settled the cast iron cat on the kitchen table and stared wistfully at my photos. We had such a great time. We couldn't live there, we don't think. Paris, easily, London, probably. Ireland, certainly. But New York City is such a massive concept. If you live there you'd would trouble leaving. In some ways it is its own world, completely unconnected to this world the rest of us live in.

But we'll definitely go back. I can't wait.

So to put New York and indeed March 2010 to bed, here's few more photos. In a day or so there'll be another unrelated blog about giving up poetry and then this will probably turn into one of those "I love all my clothes and yours too" blogs.

Happy times.