Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Opals

It is my firmly held belief that no Opal has ever been tastefully set. Not one. It just hasn't happened. And I have spent a great deal of time searching for evidence to the contrary. A friend claims to have once come across a beautiful Opal ring in a vintage store, but by the law of Photos Or It Didn't Happen, her evidence is sadly inadmissible.

Anyway, this tweet from The Cut recently sent my Opal fiending into overdrive - and it's no coincidence that the Lightning Ridge Opal pictured is a loose stone.

Before I continue, apologies to anyone who knows anything about gems or jewellery - what follow are but the musings of an ignoramus... but I wonder if my general aversion to Opal jewellery (as opposed to just the stones themselves, which I adore) is in part due to the fact that Opals seem always to be cut either in a cabochon shape or otherwise are left looking a little rough. The former style has certainly not been in fashion for some time but I think we're due for a comeback - indeed, for me cabochon-cut gems invariably evoke memories of trips to Terrific Scientific (Sydney kids come geddit) and the subsequent purchasing of mood rings. If that ain't primo 90s revival juice, I don't know what is.

But then there are also the unfortunate associations with Australian souvenir tackery. The horror of the gem-bellied silver koala pendant and its cousin, the dolphin charm bracelet has done much to tarnish the Opal's reputation. And yet I must admit that there are some forms of Australiana, specifically the type that depicts native flora and fauna, that I find tremendously appealing. Take for example the botanical illustrations of Ferdinand Bauer:

I once attempted to create a fabric print using his illustrations, and would love to see the idea executed by a more skilled hand.

Then of course there's the often brilliant work of Romance Was Born. Though I found their earlier use of May Gibbs' heavenly Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie illustrations a little too literal, their latest collection, "Cooee Couture" is exhilarating and beautiful.

Long live the label's collaboration with Linda Jackson: 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


I've recently been re-re-re-watching Robert Altman's much (and very unfairly) disparaged Prêt-à-Porter (1994), and, let me tell ya, if you require a little boost of renewed enthusiasm for the never-ending 1990s revival, it's all here. Using a combination of staged catwalk shows and real footage from 1994 Autumn/Winter Paris Fashion Week, the film does a lot to create in me a sense of nostalgia for an era that no (hashtag) child-of-the-nineties should feel.

There's Gianfranco Ferré for Christian Dior:
Hello sports luxe, I thought I hated you, but here we are. What an incredibly cool collection for a fashion house so wrapped up in its own traditions. P.S. Could these designs have been the inspiration for Mona May's iconic tennis court costumes in Clueless (1995)?
I'd like to think so.

And here's Christian Lacroix
Any declinist narrative of the 21st century should include a lament for the folding of the Christian Lacroix label in 2009. The heady, rich glamour of mid-1990s fashion is so evident in this collection. The Balkan-ish surface decoration and headdresses in Lacroix's collection hints at a trend that is fully fledged in Jean Paul Gaultier's:
I find Gaultier's collection so beautiful but at the same time have to work hard not to think of the objectionable adjectives that would doubtless be used to describe it - ethnic, tribal, gypsy, exotic... ew.

On a happier note, did you spot Bjork?
I adore the short scene featuring Sonia Rykiel's Autumn/Winter 1994 collection:
When did models stop walking like that? I know everyone goes on about Linda Evangelista's "$10,000 to get out of bed" line, but boy do these women earn every cent. See also the fictional Cort Romney's (played by the heavenly Richard E. Grant) collection, which actually featured Vivienne Westwood's designs:

Westwood's real-life show was similarly theatrical - and it was Carla Bruni who modelled that fur g-string:
And Kate Moss got her boobs out.
What else is new?

In a very different vein is Xuly Bet's collection for the fictional designer Cy Bianco (played exquisitely by Forest Whitaker. SPOILER AHEAD...: Cy Bianco and Cort Romney make out. Heaven):
There aren''t enough dust-ups on catwalks these days.

Finally, on non-fashion note, it is worth noting that Prêt-à-Porter contains Julia Roberts' finest performance in any film ever:


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

hands away

There is a scene in All About Eve in which Anne Baxter, playing the title role, demands that Addison DeWitt (played by George Sanders) leave her presence.

She sharply pulls open the door to the room and snaps, "Get out!" In that voice, Sanders' DeWitt replies, "You're too short for that gesture." OMG. Best movie burn ever.

On a semi-related note, I have recently become aware that my brain contains a (unintentionally compiled) list of Favourite Gestures in Film. Here they are.

Elaine Miller (played by Frances McDormand) in Almost Famous, pointing to Simon & Garfunkel's pupils as they appear on the cover of their album Bookends - "Honey, they're on pot."

Another one from Almost Famous; Penny Lane's elegant bird flipping

In Marie Antoinette Kirsten Dunst glides her hand outside the window of the carriage taking her home after a night of masked partying:

The gesture feels slightly anachronistic, perhaps because I've seen Dunst pull a similar move in Sofia Coppola's earlier film, The Virgin Suicides:

Donnie Darko is a film I used to love but now seldom think of. One of the few things that has stayed with me is the strangely poignant and funny exchange of waves with which the film ends:

With the exceptions of Shadow of a Doubt and Rebecca, I don't tend to like Alfred Hitchock's heavier psychodramas. And perhaps those two don't fit into the category - I certainly don't find them as draining as Vertigo and, say,  Marnie. There is, however, one little bit in Vertigo that I can't get enough of. 

Scottie and Madeleine visit a Californian Redwood forest and look at a displayed cross-section of one of those ancient trees, the rings of which have been labeled with various corresponding events in human history (anthropo-dendrochronology?):

Madeleine points first to one ring and then to a slightly larger one:

Here I was born... and there I died.

Images stolen from Screen Musings

To be very clear, I totally don't get this movie. In fact until re-watching the clip for this post, I wrongheadedly thought that Madeleine pointed first to a larger ring, and then a smaller one, to indicate some mysterious birth/death reversal.

All I know is that there's something excellent about the way Kim Novak's gloved hand gently points... 

Just for kicks  I'll sometimes reenact the gesture and accompanying lines when faced with a particularly difficult crossword - Here I was born... and there I died.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bruce Woods Designs

Bruce Woods is a Chicago-based knitwear designer. These are some of his beautiful creations:

Bruce hand-makes all these one-off pieces himself and you can buy them on his new website.

My mother introduced me to Bruce when I was about 15. She, my friend Katherine and I were on holiday in the US and visited him in his Chicago apartment. I remember marvelling at both his (extreme) height and (excellent) style. He also cooked us all an amazing breakfast.

In fact my mother and Bruce have been friends since the mid-1970s, during which time they were flatmates in New York's East Village. Here is a photo of them both at my mother's wedding to her first husband (hint: it was a Green Card marriage. Quel Scandale!):

She is the one in the middle wearing the red shawl and a look of consternation (pangs of guilt, mother dearest?) and he is on the right, wearing a red beanie.

Undoubtedly the greatest thing about this photo is that the man standing behind Bruce is not a priest.

Originally posted June 7 2012

Thursday, May 30, 2013

World's #1 Daughter

From Brisbane's Paddington Antique Centre (aka. heaven), here are a pair of antique Czech glass kaleidoscope glasses I bought for my mama:

I'm all about Czech glass at the moment, to the point where I think I might spend my life savings on this BOOK OF BUTTONS: 

Have you have seen anything so goddamn delightful in all your life? 

Friday, May 3, 2013


From The Complete Gone With the Wind Trivia Book By Pauline Bartel, here's a nice factoid for your brains:

Selznick insisted on complete authenticity in the costumes. For instance, he directed Walter Plunkett to use expensive lace to make petticoats for the ladies. Ann Rutherford, playing Scarlett’s sister Carreen, voiced her opinion that the cost was extravagant especially since the audience would not know the lace was there. “But you’ll know it’s there,” was Selznick’s reply. 

I've rounded up the following in the spirit of "but you'll know". And here's to you, Selznick, ya mean old bastard.

According to the Met Museum  the inner inscriptions of cartouches and epithets of Thutmose III suggest that the cuffs were a gift of the king.

Ok, a strong breeze might mean that They'll Know, too, but I'll be damned if I can resist a good contrasting lining.

I've seen variations on the "diamonds on the inside" ring. The simplicity of the outer design here makes this one my favourites. Sah clevah. 

And finally, did you know that in their early days, the Ksubi (then Tsubi) boys inscribed their jeans with original poems? I haven't been able to find any images so I guess I'll just post their 2011 Kolors video (again):

Now that's poetry.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

order for the garter

It seems like a weird oversight that a resurgence of sleeve garters hasn't accompanied that of collar tips (which, I'll have it noted for the record, I picked up on ages before the trend happened. Dick yeah!) and the massive shirt trend in general. Here's Robert Redford wearing some in The Sting (made in 1973 but set during the 1930s):

Be warned - the sleeve garter is not without its detractors. Writing in the Perth Sunday Times on May 26, 1940, the writer Richard Hughes (using the pen name "Dr Watson"), made particular mention of this unusual accessory. Regarding the victims of "Australia's Last Bushrangers," Patrick and James Kenniff, Hughes wrote:

If P.C. Doyle hadn’t worn a pair of shirt-sleeve garters to keep his cuffs at a fashionable length, and if he hadn’t been so effeminate as to carry a bar of soap… the charred and pounded remains of the two corpses would not satisfactorily have been identified as Doyle and Dahlke.

Wait, maybe that is an endorsement for sleeve garters? I'm also not sure if he's being tongue-in-cheek about the soap thing, but I suspect he was a nothing-in-cheek kinda guy.

And while we're on it, how grand is this ad for calculators from the November 6, 1952 edition of the Brisbane Courier-Mail?

Someone should let Contex know that the gay 90s are totally having a revival moment.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Young + Free for 1% Glue

Dear friends, I recently entered the 1% Glue Fashion Design competition, and would actually die of heaven if you could go to this website:
and "like" (you need a facebook account, which is a bit blergh) my collection, Young + Free by Anusha Rutnam.

Here is my collection, oh lordy I hope you like it.

TAFE Ultimo's 2012 Applied Fashion Presentation

In late 2012 I attended the catwalk presentation of designs by students from TAFE Ultimo's Applied Fashion Design and Technology course. I left the show with a plan to blog about it straight away. Four months later and here we are.

The best thing about the show was how dramatically varied the different collections were. For example one minute this gorgeously subtle dress by Emma Noord came down the runway. (Dove grey and daffodil yellow? That's a dream combo, right there.)  -

Nek minnit you've got Cassilda Parkinson's heavenly creatures gracing the catwalk:

There was a definite other-worldly vibe in the room when, during rehearsals, Parkinson's models sauntered past backstage. It was like being present as an emissary of wood nymphs had entered the room. I'm pretty sure I heard the distant tinkling of wind chimes and smelled orange blossom on a mysterious breeze.

Ahem, going on... Anna Priestly's collection was another stand out, with a fantastic Saint Augustine Academy vibe:

I cannot overstate the effectiveness of dressing a row of tall, attractive women in dark glasses. It's just so cool and intimidating.

And speaking of cool, I give huge props to Rosanna De Couvreur for her fearless swimwear collection:

Everything about it was just shockingly good. I can't get enough of the Magritte bathers. Here is a woman who understands that high fashion is all about the bush.

My absolute favourite collection, however, came from Zenji Kato - and this despite my total incomprehension/ fear of menswear:

I feel like such a geek being even tempted to use the term "Japanese avante-garde", but I mean, if the deconstructed half-blazer fits, right? And even though I would count Rei Kawakubo and Shinichiro Arakawa as being among Kato's aesthetic forebears, I also really feel like he's bringing something wonderfully new to the table. What else do you want?