I’ve just realised I have a fashion aversion to all things chunky.
I thought it was just in my ordinary life that heavy things reigned supreme - I like my men rough and rugged and my chocolate littered with fruit and nuts. But when looking at my fashion choices of late, or in general really, I am never in an outfit that doesn’t feature a chunky item.
Shoes – Wedges or stacked heels, never a beautiful ballet flat.
Jackets – A statement trench or blazer and only with statement sized buttons.
Necklaces – I've embraced the bib necklace ever since I wore a bib for real.
Earrings – Comparatively chandeliers.
Bracelets – An item I’ve never worked, only bulky bangles for me.
Belts – The wider the better.
Rings – Knuckledusters.
Bags – If it aint got obvious hardware, I aint slinging it over my shoulder.
I am interested to hear what others think, whether you are either one or the other, or a combination of both. Someone who makes delicate fashion choices as opposed to someone with a constantly chunky closet.
Are you a dainty darling or a fashion heavyweight?
With Christmas cheer in the air, and my eyes glued to my Ebay gift Watchlist, I thought I’d drop everyone a line and let you know what I’ve been up to these past months!
Long time no post I know, but I’m not sure whether you’ll want to know why I’ve been to busy to write. Cue the violin … I’ve just come back from a styling job with the Versace hotel on the Gold Coast. Poor me.
Working back late at deadline and having to compromise editorial for advertising space does pay off when you get the occasional perk. And my recent getaway certainly was one of those perks … along with my new bottle of Marc Jacobs ‘Lola’ – believe the hype, it’s divine.
Helping launch our publishing company’s latest bridal magazine, Queensland Wedding & Bride, I was flown up to work on shoots that were taking place at two of the magazine’s largest advertising venues. The first shoot took place at the Palazzo Versace, the hotel of choice for celebrities and the glamour set, while the second took place at QDeck, a new hotel that boasts breathtaking views of the Gold Coast from its 78th floor.
Upon arrival at the Palazzo Versace, I find out that I have my own suite. Complete with spa bath ensuite, two full bathrooms, living room, study, king size bedroom, walk-in closet and private balcony, the suite was bigger than my new apartment. Of course, everything was emblazoned with the brand’s signature Medusa head motif and resort style Versace fabrics. In the words of R Zoe, “I just die!”
The bridal shoot took place on the second day. After climbing the 5 metres it took to get out of the oversized bed, I treated myself to what can only be described as the largest buffet breakfast this side of Hulk Hogan’s plate. Because as anyone whose worked on set will tell you (even a super keen intern), fashion shoots are certainly not glamorous and it was likely to be the only meal I’d eat all day!
That’s not a complaint, just a pure fashion fact of life. From obnoxious models to egotistical hair stylists to umpteen wardrobe changes and bad weather conditions, fashion shoots seem peachy from the outside but are as fun to be involved in as dental surgery. And this one didn’t disappoint.
The models were a beautiful surprise (anyone who believes a model’s Comp card is in for as rude of an awakening as having water thrown on your dial first thing in the morning), but the photographer on the other hand had a pole up his you know what. Or perhaps it should have been a spare camera, for he took so long to get the shoot done that I thought I might have to step in and take the damn frames myself! The following day called for temporary residence at the pool bar. Ten cocktails in total, enough said.
Arriving back in Melbourne, our team put together the six key bridal shoots for the January 2010 issue of Melbourne Wedding & Bride. Some of the locations we styled at included the gorgeous Tesselar tulip farm, The Spice Market, Brighton beach and a very early 3am call at the Melbourne Aquarium. You’ll have to get a copy of the mag once it hits stands – we forced an underweight model to swim with sharks, literally!
I’m currently up to my elbows in tulle. And no, I haven’t enrolled in a ballet class! As part of my new role working for Melbourne’s hottest bridal mag, Melbourne Wedding & Bride, I’m working on a bridal fashion parade as part of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week this August.
Despite not being a particularly bridal person (no inspiration scrapbook from childhood for me), it’s been quite exciting so far to work with Melbourne’s top couture bridal designers and to be involved with Melbourne Spring Fashion Week.
While I can’t see myself in a show stopping wedding dress one day, more along the lines of Carrie’s vintage suit, it’s impossible not to be in awe of the designer’s creations and appreciate the pure workmanship put into each dress. The parade will showcase divine numbers from Mariana Hardwick, Croce Colosimo Couture, Aldo Terlato Couture and Ania G Couture.
Part of my role also involves getting celebrity bums on seats. While I don’t think I’ll secure all of the guests on my dream attendance list, which includes Delta Goodrem and Brian McFadden along with Pink and Carey Hart, there will definitely be a few A-listers there to rub shoulders with. They better arrive on time, nothing frustrates me more than a late arrival particularly when it will be my job to help them find their seat in the dark!
Called ‘Dress of your Dreams’, I really hope that when brides attend they are inspired to choose a gown that’s slightly out of the box. I’ve seen enough meringue like catastrophes to last me a lifetime in recent months! Hopefully they’ll also be inspired by some of our favourite local wedding suppliers who are packing the complimentary goodie bags each guest gets with a multitude of wedding wonders.
Picking the models will be an interesting process. Booking models ordinarily can be a feat in itself, but to find a girl who can walk, look mature enough to be a bride and can manoeuvre a 50kg princess gown down the runway is another story. Hopefully the glamorous venue, The Longroom, will be enough of a distraction should they crash and fall.
If you’re a bride-to-be, love fashion or simply love the glitz and glamour of fashion parades, I’d love to see you there!
For more information on Melbourne Wedding & Bride presents ‘Dress of your Dreams’ visit www.weddingandbride.com.au
They say the worst thing is arriving at an event to find that someone is in the same dress as you. I beg to differ. The worst thing is arriving at an event to find that the designer who made the dress you’re wearing is there, and better yet … seated opposite you. Yes, as I’m guessing you’ve concluded, this happened to me.
Two weeks ago during the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival in fact. Culprit: me. Designer: Leona Edmiston. Arriving at a runway show hosted by the gorgeous inner city shopping Mecca GPO, I was sat opposite none other than the Wrap Dress Queen on the runway. Me, who lives in her printed jersey dresses, had no idea she would be showing her collection at the showcase and on the day of the parade, slipped into one of her feminine rose and leopard print numbers.
Not often star struck – unless around favourite authors or Trinny and Susannah - I almost broke out in a sweat imagining her shock to see one of her frocks on a less than modelesque specimen. Had I accessorised as she’d have imagined? Was I the type of person she envisaged in her brand? Far away from each other to not be able to smell respective fragrances yet close enough to see the detail in each others dresses, I spent a considerable amount of the show avoiding eye contact and focusing on looking cool, as opposed to viewing what was cool for the new season.
After the show was over she disappeared seamlessly (despite standing out from the crowd in a signature colourful dress with equally bright opaques), and I couldn’t help but wonder whether her sudden exit resulted from insult by in my choice of (currently in-store) attire. I don’t know what the big deal was really. Her minder come up to me at the end of the show, put her hand on my shoulder and whispered, ‘well don’t you look lovely” in acknowledgement. But I can honestly tell you, I’d much rather have turned up in the same dress as someone else!
I’ve got a lot on my publishing plate at the moment. As well as writing my weekly shopping column, I’ve just taken on the roles of Editor on Melbourne Home Design & Living and Beauty Editor on Melbourne Wedding & Bride Magazine. Amidst the couture craziness, I developed a consuming obsession with Project Runway Australia.
The show has since wrapped (please divert your eyes if you’re watching cable re-runs) and I was completely happy with the choice of winner. Julie’s designs were not only commercially viable, they were inspired. She has a clear point of view when designing and has developed a gorgeous signature style I’m sure Australian women will lap up.
I’m not the biggest fan of Australian productions (‘Aussie Princess’ anyone?) but I have to admit that the our version of the world wide hit was such clearly great TV. From the show taking place in my home town of Melbourne to the creative tasks and guest judges, Project Runway Australia became a part of my weekly fixture along with manicures and Japanese food. The calibre of designers was most surprising. Of course I’m aware of our amazing home grown talent but for some reason, I didn’t expect our contestants to be such great designers.
My favourite, while slightly biased, had to be Petrova Hammond. I met Petrova last year when I reviewed her first boutique for my column. At the time, and I should have put money on it, I could tell she’d be an incredible success story. Her label ‘Lady’ and her subsequent boutique stood out to me as being not only well planned and adorable in her girlie aesthetic, but completely innovative. Petrova has since become known for her signature party dresses in feminine fabrics and styles. Most of her designs can be worn in different ways and incorporate vintage fabrics. The collection she paraded as part of the final three on the show was colourful and a breath of fresh air.
Petrova and her business partner Skye recently relocated their Armadale boutique to fashion destination Flinders Lane. Still with an intimacy that made the original store so charming, the new space was personally renovated by the girls and is a pure delight. With white and lilac walls, lace patterned floor, a staircase attached to the ceiling and whimsical illustrations by Eveline Tarunadjaja, the boutique is a dolls house where grown up girls are invited to play dress ups.
On Friday night I had the pleasure of meeting with Petrova and seeing her latest collection. Dressed in sky high black peep toes heels imported from overseas, a Lady purple silk gown and just in time for Spring Racing, a purple fascinator she’d made, Petrova greeted me at the door and despite her new found fame hadn’t changed a bit. The collection launch, complete with fairy bread and cupcakes, was imaginative and sure to get the attention of all important buyers.
Entitled ‘Glass Flowers’, Lady’s latest collection was inspired by the fragility of glass and draws inspiration from the The Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, a famous collection of highly realistic glass botanical models at the Harvard Museum. Many of the flirty pieces, including silk halter neck gowns, lace shift dresses and frilly silk numbers in a colour palette of lilac, apricot and sage, are reversible or can be worn in multiple ways allowing the wearer to inject their own personal style into an outfit.
I can’t wait to see her next body of work. Petrova shared with me some secrets from her upcoming Autumn/Winter collection that she just completed the Look Book for. The out of character ‘dark’ collection centres around a fairytale theme juxtaposed against a modern cubist feel.
Now that Project Runway’s over I suppose I’ll have to find a new show to become addicted to. I’ve tried watching The Janice Dickinson Modelling Agency but while she’s absolutely hysterical, the quality of the show is pretty lame. Project Runway America is about to start but I don’t know whether I could take Heidi for another 12 weeks. It just came to me, America’s Next Top Model! I hear that next season there’s a transgender model!
There’s a definite feeling in the air when you’re at shopping sales. In this case the occasion is Boxing Day and the location is by far the most sought after, Chadstone.
I’m not quite sure that I like the feeling (there’s enough anxiety, desperation, disappointment and frenzy on Christmas Day without needing it enter my zone on a retail therapy mission) but every year I throw myself into the craziness that is trying to buy what you don’t really need just because the price tag has been lowered to a figure you see fit (or that it should have originally been priced had the shop not been greedy).
Waking up out of a heavy sleep brought on by a stomach filled with unnecessary second and third helpings of pudding, I figured there was nothing else better to do with my Boxing day then spend it as per usual with 50 million chaotic strangers in a sales filled shopping centre.
This year I was after a few things, generally I prefer to have a list, so I knew where to go and what I didn’t need to buy or see. I wanted to change something I was given for Christmas (don’t we all?), see if that dress I’d been eyeing off for months had been reduced and due to the amount of clothes I’d bought in pre-Christmas sales I needed some coat hangers. Forget slashed televisions and electronics, I was only leaving my warm bed to purchase essentials.
I started off pretty poorly. After stealing a DVD I was after out of a somewhat abandoned trolley I made my first excessive purchase. Followed by a Gwen Stefani animal print overnight bag. And a pair of wedge heels. And a pair of chandelier earrings.
There was plenty more I could have bought and pretended to justify but there’s always something in the back of my mind at Boxing Day. Do I buy this now or wait and see if the price goes down even further at the New Year’s Day sales? I have the worst luck in that respect. After something I’ve bought has only just settled into my closet I find it with a red price sale sticker or in a discount bin so much so I now don’t go back to stores I’ve purchased from for at least a month so I don’t kick myself. I couldn’t help buying a gold and diamante costume bracelet though, there’s no way that gorgeous baby could be left a week later!
I was quite annoyed at myself for veering off track, we’re all lucky I don’t operate heavy machinery for a living, but that was nothing compared to how frustrated I was and always am with the spectacularly stupid shoppers who decide to ruin my experience each year.
I’m all up for fight, believe me if you mess with something I’m after you’re a dead man, but really folks, do you have to snatch singlet tops out of people’s hands like you’re trying to acquire canned food for another Y2K bug scare? Didn’t think so. And another thing. Do you really need to buy Christmas plates, serviettes and bonbons when the day doesn’t roll around for another year? Exactly. Oh, and to the woman who stood on my open toed sandals and in the process bruised the entire top of my foot, Santa certainly won’t be visiting you next year!
I could go on with a list of misbehaved shopper ways (don’t scan twenty items at a price point when there are just as many people lined up behind you) but after all I’m sure there are things I do when sales shopping that annoy the hoards around me. Like finding a car space. Without fail I never have to circle the car park.
L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Week has been crazy to say the least. Crazy because of all the events and running around and crazy just because I'm there. Have you ever had a dream, a really wild, imaginative dream that you never thought would come true? Well imagine it does and you'll kind of understand how I've been feeling. It has been my dream for my whole life so far to be in the front rows of fashion week and this week I have been.
I've been seeing all of my favourite designers parade their new collections sitting in priority seating next to celebs, designers and writers who I admire. Don't think the scenario is wasted on me, I was literally pinching myself at my first show and am still amazed to be there. I have to admit, I do work really hard and now thanks to my column I am getting my name out there a bit more but I still feel like I don't deserve to be there…especially when I'm sitting next to fashion writers like Rachel Wells whose work I have to read every Sunday morning despite whether I have a massive hangover or not.
There I am, little old me, Michaela Skilney, in my $30 dress and $50 shoes (swear to god!) sitting alongside Natalie Basingthwaite and Peter Morrissey. My first parade was L'Oreal Runway 1 featuring Alice McCall, Camilla and Marc, Kirrily Johnston, Marnie Skillings, Tina Kalivas and Toni Maticevski. The designers had been grouped together as the themes of their collections were quite similar. Almost all of them based their designs around the 60’s mode look with mini dresses, short and long sleeved, teamed with long sleeve skivvy’s, stockings and chunky platform heels. It’s a cute look which most of us can pull off and saves us going out and buying a whole new winter wardrobe Simply update your summer dress with a new pair of shoes and hosiery! The following day my best friend and I went to see Esprit's Skywalk. She's the Esprit store manager at Southland and seeings as she gives me 50% off all my purchases there I thought it was only fair to return the favour with a free ticket and lots of champagne!
If you didn't see any shots in the media of the event you probably won't believe it but models actually walked in the sky! They walked headfirst on cables down the tower in the middle of Melbourne Central in Esprit gear, the most ingenious runway I have seen so far and a great collection of easy to wear casual gear too. They have the cutest grey long sleeved knit you can wear with leggings, or ambitiously without…and when you get it half price it’s even better right? That night I saw two more L'Oreal Runway parades. The first showed new collections form Anna Thomas, Christine, Fleur Wood, Kate Sylvester, Mad Cortes, Martin Grant, TL Wood and Willow while the second parade astounded me with collections from Bettina Liano, Roger Grinstead, Morrissey, Nevanka, Su, White Suede and Alannah Hill.
Keep you eye on label Nevanka. Their collection was sugar sweet and refreshing. Coloured skivvy's in pinks or lilacs teamed with satin floral print dresses were sent down the runway on models who were holding Hessian bags filled with fresh flowers. An adorable concept and the floral fabric platform shoes by Lula were just as cute. Morrissey had a beautiful black and white floral patterned long sleeve dress I have to get my hands on and Bettina Liano had some gorgeous cream wool items I want to snuggle up in.
Alannah Hill, have I mentioned to you how much of a huge fan I am? Her collection was gorgeous and feminie as always with surprisingly, quite a bit of black. Her runway appearance turned into a Broadway show with atleast 20 young girls dressed in black dresses with dark wigs and bowler hats tap-dancing at the end. I will certainly be tap, tap, tapping my way into Alannah Hill this winter! As high couture as Australia is going to get were the designs from Aurelio Costarella, Gwendolynne, Richard Nylon, Jayson Brundson, Lisa Ho, Nicola Finetti and Wayne Cooper on the L'Oreal Paris Runway 6.
Gwendolynne's huge collection of cream lace ethereal creations completely blew me away and were incredible stunning and Jayson Brundson's tie shouldered dresses in white are at the top of my shopping list. The craziest and most imaginative collection for the whole week would have to be milliner Richard Nylon's, a constellation inspired collection of wire and diamante star headpieces worn on scantily clad models. That's what fashion is all about, being fun!
Sass & Bide was my last L'Oreal show and boy, it was an amazing show in true Sass & Bide fashion. Sure, the collection of singlets and mini's probably aren't very appropriate in Winter but no doubt girls will be sporting their look anyway. The show opened with a hot young 20 something guy dressed in street gear who sang opera and it just got better from there! Their metallic leggings were my fave teamed with tanks and boots. You need a body like Mischa Barton to pull the look off though so I think I’ll stick to my winter dresses and tights!
Looking at the iconic nature of celebrity is nothing new to consider. We are fascinated and captivated by the lives celebrities’ lead which for most of us are unimaginable. Without knowing why we’ve placed them up on a pedestal and without a doubt each of us could list a musician, actor or artist who has been influential over how we dress, think and want to be.But it is not just single celebrities that have shaped the way we are. Having examined the last fifty years, what most of us wouldn’t consider is just how much impact a celebrity couple can have. When two people in the public eye become an item their combined popularity and profile can be powerful.
These couples’ names become synonymous with one another as we learn to look at them in a new way, as a single entity. They have influence over everyday things such as our personal style and what’s on trend to more substantial standards such as how we want our relationships to be. Our lives, priorities and tastes change over time, just as who we look up to does, and celebrity couples over the years have been a representation of what we like to wear as well as our ideals as a society.
Sonny and Cher were the first couple that people looked at as a unit. They had successes individually but once the two of them started tweeting ‘I Got You Babe’ their popularity skyrocketed and all of a sudden they were the couple everyone was envious of. In a time where divorce was finally becoming acceptable to talk about in society, Sonny and Cher gazed into each other’s eyes on camera looking so much in love making both their style and relationship enviable. Soon girls had long straight locks and fake eyelashes like Cher and guys would be walking around in paisley shirts and brown corduroy suits like Sonny. This was the first sign of just how influential a couple could be when the public liked not only them, but their sense of style.
A new double act entered the sphere in the late 60’s and shook up all ideas people had about a traditional couple. Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick were eccentric creatures to say the least with fashion alternative to match and represented a new way of underground living where people began to appreciate art house films and anything that contradicted high culture. Sedgwick was a skinny, androgenous looking girl who became a star in Warhol’s films and as rumour has it, cut her hair short and dyed it silver in homage to her lover. Women began to imitate her look as it was easy to do; cropped hair, sleeveless roll necks and sleek tights topped off with incredibly black eye make-up. Warhol’s look was a little less accessible to the masses but his legacy was far greater then fashion, he dictated what would be fashionable in general. His art, magazine and films had major success all over the world.
She may have been blamed for the demise of The Beatles but whatever was said about her, there’s no denying that once Yoko Ono and John Lennon became an item they had a significant impact on the society. Lennon fell in love with the experimental artist Yoko after they met at one of her exhibitions in London. They soon became inseparable. Their whole image in terms of style and persona was about peace and love in a time where war was a hot topic. Their ‘Bed-In’ protest campaign to promote peace sparked an international movement where people from around the globe protested not just against the Vietnam War but for equality in general. You’d see them out at these gatherings in all white ensembles with long flowing hair and holding flowers, a look that caught on with other protestors and a look that will forever be associated with that time. Their eccentricities were soon accepted and praised by those that were initially sceptical about Yoko and to date, they’ve remained one of the most talked about couples in recent history.
When Rolling Stones’ rocker Mick Jagger hooked up with Texan born model Jerry Hall in the early 1980’s, no one could have predicted the influence they would have over their 22 year relationship. No one, in fact, thought the relationship would last longer then a nano second as Jagger had an infamous reputation and Hall was engaged to Brian Ferry (until she fell pregnant with Jagger’s baby!)
The larger then life pair are the first couple that come to mind when you discuss relationships between models and rock stars. They had confidence and weren’t afraid to be public about their relationship but most of all they oozed sex appeal. Separately they were sexy enough but when put together they were a damn hot couple. They had an over red carpet style that would see Jagger in coloured suits and black sunglasses while Hall would wear figure hugging dresses, jewellery to the max and long blonde hair tousled over her shoulders.
Madonna and Sean Penn became another ‘it’ couple of the 80’s and as the two of them were so successful in their own fields of acting and singing, it was inevitable that public couldn’t get enough of their pairing. Just as ‘Like a Virgin’ hit Number 1 in America, the two decided to wed and their 1985 nuptials were the biggest spectacle Hollywood had ever seen. Helicopters flew overhead while Penn responded to the ruckus by carving out ‘F-Off’ in giant letters on the sand below their cliff top ceremony. People were also interested in their look as a couple. Here was Madonna, a tiny blonde pop star wearing white lace with a dark clothed in-and-out-of-jail Sean Penn. From the beginning the press deemed their relationship to be doomed but that didn’t deter fans from dressing like either of them during their marriage.
In the early 90’s a young British model and an American bad boy movie star became an item and caused a complete media and social buzz. Kate Moss and Johnny Depp began a relationship that saw them walk down red carpets at premieres, attend fashion shows, go to nightclub openings and in the process create a paparazzi frenzy that had never been seen. Forget Paris Hilton, this couple were the first sign of societies insatiable appetite for tabloid gossip. Before Moss’s appearance was tagged as ‘Heroine Chic’ by the press, Moss and Depp had a unique look that made its own headlines, a look that was just as unlikely as their pairing and just as intriguing. It was a time where grunge music was in its hey day and people wanted an alternative to the norm. Everyone wanted to be like them, they were just plain cool. Girls wanted to look like Moss with her wavy unstyled hair and spot-on fashion sense and guys wanted to look like Depp with his eclectic sense of style and withdrawn attitude.
In contrast to the untouchable nature of Moss and Depp, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise were a couple that people could identify with and this saw their popularity rise in the mid to late 90’s. They became not only Hollywood’s golden couple but everyone’s favourite couple. Obviously we know differently now, but at the time they were a couple that stood for stability and tradition. Their long union mixed with clean reputations and careers were a glimmer of hope in a society that was dealing with rising divorce rates and actors who would last all but five minutes in Tinsel Town. They personified love, grace and charm and as they were two of the biggest movie stars, their many public appearances fuelled everyone’s hunger. Kidman, a statuesque porcelain beauty would appear on red carpets in classic, feminine dresses that highlighted her skinny frame while Tom was a heartthrob who wore tailored suits and had plenty of charm.
In the naughties we are finding ourselves in a new era in which celebrity is much more accessible then it has been in the past. Reality TV means anyone can now have more then just their fifteen minutes of fame and anyone can be transformed into a pop singer over night. The young hot Hollywood phenomena we’re obsessed with has created stars out of socialites and attractive young rich kids. There are so many celebrities around that for the most part we can’t keep up!
Jennifer Lopez and Puff Daddy stand out for being the most high profile hip-hop relationship we’ve ever seen this decade and Sienna Miller’s relationship with Jude Law was one that we couldn’t get enough and who can leave out Victoria and David Beckham, a truly fashionable couple who lives a life of pure opulence. But the true test of an iconic couple is the test of time. It’ll be a few decades before we can decide whether metrosexual Becks and stick thin Posh contributed more to society then matching fragrances.
Long time no entry I know. Why the tardiness you ask? Aside from the fact that work has been crazy (it’s hard work being a professional shopper you know!), I’ve also just returned from overseas.
I was bitten by the travel bug some time ago and ever since I have an insatiable appetite for travel quite like I have for overly expensive shoes. I’ve seen a bit of Asia and travelled throughout America but I was yet to do Europe and was finding that if I didn’t get it out of my system I was going to explode (and who wants to split their new jeans?)
My first stop was Holland. Of course I made it to Amsterdam (that gingerbread I bought off that strange man had a surprising effect) but also went to Arnhem and Maastricht. All I can say is that if you have any slight self-esteem issues it’s best to stay away! Ok that’s a little extreme but seriously the men and women in Holland are the most attractive bunch of people and most fabulous dressers I’ve ever seen. Both the men and women are at least 6 foot tall, have perfectly straight white teeth, all ride bikes everywhere so have killer bodies and when it comes to clothes, that have it down pat. The women look like they’ve stepped out of a magazine spread and the guys could all pass as Calvin models. It’s no surprise then that Holland had some amazing fashion stores. It’s impossible to know what size you are thanks to their crazy 30 and up system so my advice is to just grab a whole bunch of stuff and head for the change rooms. This is particularly important when you enter a department store like H&M where there are constant sales and as a result constant girl-rushes for the what’s on the racks.
Holland effort: I bought 3 dresses and 1 handbag in Holland.
Next stop was Belgium. I stayed in Brussels and Brugge and absolutely loved it there. Brussels in particular is really cool with fantastic murals and street art everywhere including my favourite cartoon of all time, Tin Tin! Shopping there isn’t so much about fashion as it is about antiques and art so I didn’t accumulate anything aside from about 10kg of chocolate that I can’t even look at anymore. If anyone has been to Belgium they’ll totally understand. You go there thinking how amazing the chocolate and waffles are going to be but after you’ve seen every second shop selling them and they’re the last thing you smell before you go to sleep at night you never want to touch them again. Note to self, when I need to kill my chocolate cravings head back to Belgium!
The absolute highlight of my trip whether it is cliché to say it or not was most definitely gay Pari. Seeing Carrie Bradshaw on that balcony in Sex & The City was the final straw for me and since then I have really made an effort to save and get there (and save for my shopping once I got there!) Everything is so beautiful and unlike anything we have in Australia. The buildings, the gorgeous river Seine, the food, the people, there’s just so much to love and just so much to want to stay there forever for.
Arriving in Paris was a dream come true so much so I almost cried when I saw the Eiffel Tower as I was driven to my hotel. I watched Funny Face as a kid (only the best film Audrey Hepburn ever made) and couldn’t wait to see all the attractions like the Eiffel, Arc De Triomphe, Champs Elysses, Sacre Coeur, Monmatre, Galerie Lafayette…Yes you read right, Galerie Lafayette was high up on my to-do list next to Notre Dame and the Moulin Rouge. It really is more of a tourist attraction then an actual department store. Just as when visiting the Louvre I knew I would never be able to afford a Leonardo, I knew as soon as I entered Lafayette I would never be able to afford a Galliano. The five or so storey building is so ornate on the inside with an amazing glass ceiling and a white Eiffel Tower hung upside down. After drooling over Dolce I went to somewhere a little more my speed, a fabulous Parisian flea market where I betted my English eyes and convinced a poor Frenchmen I’d chosen 3 vintage dresses off a 5 euro rack when in fact they were 15 euro each.
Paris effort: I bought 1 handbag, 3 vintage dresses, 1 brand spanking new one and a pair of shoes.
I think I was far to optimistic about what the weather would be like in London. I knew it was the rainiest year on record yet I still imagined I’d be splashing round in a pond under the sunny skies of Hyde Park before dancing around the famous Peter Pan statue. Hmm, not so much as a sliver of sun came through the clouds during my stay but hey, that’s what Harrods is for! Harrods is what I can only describe as an indoor museum for all things shopping related. It’s far too simple to call it a department store, it’s much more then that! Heaven perhaps?!
Then there’s of course Notting Hill and Portobello Road (please take Petticoat Lane off your lists, absolute letdown.) After you’ve finished looking for Hugh Grant in the leafy streets of Notting Hill head to Portobello Road markets, the best market I have ever seen in my life. The massively long street, at least a few km’s, is covered either side with stalls and little stores selling everything from antiques and knick knacks to vintage clothing, jewellery and emerging designer pieces (Sass&Bide got their start there.) There is so much to see and so many people, the atmosphere is electric. Like a deer in the headlights I was so shocked by the place I didn’t know where to start and as the day was coming to an end with no purchases in hand I felt a little depressed. Then, as if it had read my mind, a vintage clothing store popped out of nowhere with a signed photo of none other then my favourite singer of all time, Madonna! The exclusive store requires you to ring a bell before entering and once you are let inside by its owner your eyes are on stalks. Saturday Night Fever meets Olivia Newton John meets The Supremes meets Sienna Miller. Absolute heaven. And knowing that Madonna had bought tons of gear in their for the promo tour of her Confessions album and the possibility of her touching all the racks in store made it possible for me to justify spending quite a few pounds on a black disco dress.
London effort: 1 vintage dress, 1 handbag, 1 leather jacket, 1 black trench and a partridge in a pear tree!
Overall my shopping, I mean sightseeing trip of Europe was amazing. As I sit here back in the bleak Melbourne weather I’m romanticising the idea of packing up with belongings and setting up a little home under the Eiffel Tower. I’m still bitten by the bug, I wish I wasn’t. All I can think about is getting back on a plane and visiting some far away land where the weather is warm and the shopping is preferably tax free. 2 jackets, 1 pair of shoes, 3 handbags and 8 dresses has left my bank account dry! Oh and the Red Light district in Amsterdam you ask? As I always say, g-strings don’t flatter anyone particularly if you’re a large pregnant 50 year old.