We popped into the fabulous Pieces of Eight gallery to take a peek at the latest collection of goodie from acclaimed 70's/80's Australian/Australiana designer, Jenny Kee. This sleek little offering, titled "A New Beginning", sees Kee reworking some of her iconic designs in lush Italian yarn knitwear.
To highlight Kee's work the wonderful Benja Harney of Paperform, has cut, snipped and folded a stunning window display of Australian flora in a style that features prolifically throughout her creations. Topping it all off with a giant pair of red eyeglass frames that have become Jenny's trademark look.
There is also a focus on the work of talented artist, Kate Rohde. Along with her beautiful resin vessels, she is showing a new collection of fine jewellery, well worth checking out.
Our annual getaway paradise has just become even more idyllic. The beautiful hamlet of Wye River, a tad over a two hour drive from Melbourne, on the incredible Great Ocean Road, has long been our get out of town, go to haven when we have to escape the invasions that blights our beloved St Kilda, the St Kilda Festival (not really for locals). This year our cohorts, the Clifton-Orr's, became our hosts for this yearly pilgrimage, with the completion of their own amazing beach abode, high on the hillside amongst the towering gum trees.
Local folk. Wildlife abounds, within what feels like arms length from the balcony. The incredible passing parade of birds that drop by to visit is astounding. Kookaburras, parrots of many variety, Rosellas, Cockatoos, Wattlebirds, Fairy Wrens, Magpies and beyond.
Uncomplicated, relaxed style and chic comfort.
Cook up a storm in the chef kitchen, dine in style with amazing bush and sea views and then relax at your leisure on the lovingly restored lowline, leather lounge.
Rooms with views. Its all about the trees, the ocean and the sky.
Mr Brown's home warming gift, a nautical narration from his current Lino cut and collage series.
Soothing suitcases of vintage vinyl gems for aural enlightenment (oh and I think I can see the Cabaret soundtrack peeking out, so the probability of a showtune and the odd show).
Whether blue skies or grey, this Wye River beach is beautiful.
The brilliant boys from Tucker House, Chris, Paul & Glenby are generous and love to share. So if you are in need of a little R & R, their slice of heaven can temporarily be yours. Clock off from work and book in to the Tucker House for a week, or even just a weekend.
So sad to note the untimely death of Steve Strange. The original Blitz kid, famed and feared doorbitch of Blitz nightclub on London. His immortal music piece, as Visage, Fade to Grey, always echo's the early 80's. He altered world to forever.
Mr Brown and fav cousin Jenni D. out and about as Blitz Kidz at an Adam Ant concert in 1981, can you see the influence?
Mr Brown found himself banded together with a select bunch of Melbourne's suitably subtle stylemeisters by that superior scribe of all things fashion & chic, Ms Janice Breen Burns. Her stylish seven were asked to bring forth a treasured item or ensemble from their carefully curated wardrobes, that evoked a special story for their carer.
This article appeared in Melbourne's The Age Saturday edition on February 7th 2015, in the Spectrum supplement. Wonderfully penned by Janice Breen Burns with brilliant image capture by Simon Schluter.
Or read about these fascinating folk and their treasured togs below.
In a hundred years, Adrian Lewis' shiny blue tuxedo could
conceivably be installed in an art museum. It might swivel on a plinth with a
plaque: "Evening wear, circa 2015, debonair Melbourne gent". Or
something similar. Technology will have evolved; perhaps a hologram of Lewis
himself, all snake hips and perforated Prada shoes, will animate the suit, his
black diamond cufflinks glint as he twists and maybe, this long-gone society
cool-cat will even explain, for the curious gallery-goers of 3015, why his tux was
so perfectly perfect for him, for his style, for his personality, and for its
time. Why it was so treasured, and worth preserving. They will hang on
his every holo-scripted word.
Fashion is after all, endlessly intimately and universally
fascinating. We get it, because we wear it, see it all around, judge it, make
complex decisions about it every day. Fashion is the story of us. And, a
century from now, there is no reason to believe we will be any less moved by it
as a visual history of human expression, both intimate and universal, than we
are now. "Fashion is exciting because it is such an accessible form of
design," says Tony Ellwood, director of the National Gallery of Victoria,
host of the blockbuster Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk exhibition.
"It is one that people automatically relate to and understand."
In art museums around the world, fashion and costume
exhibitions have recently begun reversing flagging attendance numbers,
capturing new audiences, ensuring futures. Records have been broken, queues
stretched for blocks, people who might otherwise never have visited an art
gallery, are doing so to file past frocks, move in close to inspect weft,
weave, delicate embellishments, French seams, to learn the social impetus
behind trends, and the stories behind wearers.
All this, ironically, in an era of unprecedented mass
fashion production and mega-chains: H&M, TopShop, Zara, Uniqlo, et. al.,
churning out eye-popping numbers of historically cheap clothing. Perhaps it is
happening BECAUSE of it. Just as many of us are dressing to global trends for
peppercorn prices, looking similar to each other in so many ways, our
fascination for the rare, the unique, the stories behind fashion, is also
blossoming. A counter fashion trend. The word "heirloom" has
even been bandied in fashionable circles for the first time since the
early-20th century. And, it is being bandied as an adjective. Longevity has
returned to the lexicon of luxury fashion. Wardrobes and landfill sites may
indeed be brimming with $39.99 frocks and $10 T-shirts, but categories of
fashion worth treasuring and storytelling are also swelling. Adrian Lewis'
midnight blue satin tuxedo is a fine example. Nicole Jenkins' silk scarf is
another and Phillip Rhodes' Homburg hat, yet another. They are among seven
people, renowned for their striking style, we invited to nominate their
favorite wardrobe item, and to tell us the story behind it. In a hundred years,
they might also be telling it again…
As exuberant and colourful as his art, and as passionate and boyish a fashion maverick as he ever was in his youth, Brown was key in the clique of flamboyant expressionists who built Melbourne's identity in the 1970s and 80s, as a source and hotbed of avante garde and high fashion from designers as far flung as Antwerp, Paris and Tokyo. "I've always lived this way; exuberantly is a good word for it. I think you MUST live your life authentically; you MUST be passionate in everything you do." Brown regularly explodes out of his own envelopes, forcing his art into new directions barely recognisable from the last; from muscular distillations of pop-cultural motifs of alley life and graffiti for example, to vivid abstract pattern fields pocked with hopping blue birds.
Brown's hat is a remodelled version of many he has worn since the early 1980s, from Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren's World's End London boutique. It was his signature style, in other words, decades before US singer Pharrell "Happy" Williams adopted it as his own. Brown's coat, with its striking pattern of alien foliage and shadowy skulls, is an elaborate marvel from a recent Yohji Yamamoto collection. Brown owns it by a quirk of timing after being embarrassed (but chuffed) to receive an envelope full of birthday money from a group of loving friends. "We [Brown and his partner] were in Tokyo and I saw this coat; so exotic! I put it on and swanned around in the shop, then I looked at the price and – whoosh! – I put it straight back but Peter said, 'Nooo! THAT's what you're going to spend that money on!', so I bought it and felt very special; it's a piece of love."
Veteran milliner of biting intelligence, wry-to-arid wit,
oft-arched brows and magnificent whiskers with a penchant, in sartorial
matters, for excellent craftsmanship over fashionable fads. "I often
encounter young shop assistants who want to spruce, or fix me up. I think
they think; if only I got myself in order, I might look quite nice. But I've
never bought a fashionable thing in my life. I've always thought those
[fashionable] things are for good-looking people." Rhodes is one of few
classically trained (at the table of infamous millinery legend William Beale)
milliners in Melbourne. It is a distinction that lures many of the city's more
discerning clients for his couture designs, a substantial seasonal order from
Myer for his ready-to-wear collections, and a permanent spot on the Melbourne
Theatre Company's list of revered costumers (millinery) for productions such as
La Cage Aux Follies and Geoffrey Rush's The Importance of Being Earnest.
For Spectrum's photo shoot, Rhodes chose this refugee from
the MTC dress-up box, an Homburg-style hat which he trimmed with a jaunty spray
of Austrian pigs-bristle, itself a gift from an intuitive sister. "She saw
it and thought it would be perfect for me. It was. The hat was apparently made
for a Chekhov production but never used, possibly because of its energy. When
[an actor] walks on stage with a prop, you see, it has its own energy. You must
extinguish the energy (put it somewhere), or do something with it. Anyway, it
was handed to me: 'You should have this; you would actually wear it'. Perhaps
because I'm a bit old-fashioned in my manner? A bit oldy-worldy? And I do
wear it. It's been perfect; so beautiful, so beautifully made. William Beale
always said that something extreme, something extrovert, should be faultless
and this is; it speaks to the quality of its making. I am wearing it with my
Kenzo [elaborately embroidered vest] that I bought at Daimaru 20 years ago. I
love it because it's ornate. I don't feel overly flamboyant in it, but it is
Collector, award-winning author (Love Vintage, Style is
Eternal) and much-admired owner of Circa Vintage, a remarkable storehouse of
fashions dating back through the uber-glamour decades of the 20th century, to
her earliest treasure, an exquisite 1832 silk gown "that pre-dates
Melbourne". Out of Circa's ever-swelling racks, Jenkins sells to
like-minded private collectors (local and global), and lends to filmmakers
(including for the yet-to-be-released film The Dressmaker starring Kate
Winslet), stage and television costumiers, photographers and stylists in search
of vintage fashion's Holy Grail: authenticity. Ladylike, quietly spoken with a
tendency to black frocks and practical, low-heeled shoes, Jenkins' elegant
conservatism (the product of a classic social struggle, she confides, of the
naturally introverted) is visually countered by bright lipstick and a shock of
fuchsia pink hair: "My cherry on top."
Jenkins tells the story of her lavish hand-screen printed
silk scarf, big as a rug and predominantly pink, by controversial Melbourne
artist Christopher Graf:
"Before I moved to Melbourne from Sydney, I would come
here to buy clothes, stroll around Chapel Street, see what everyone was doing.
The crown jewel in the 1990s was the remarkable shop of Christopher Graf, a
glorious wonderland of a shop, everything sugary, so colourful, so beautiful.
All your troubles would just fall away. I always wanted to buy everything. But
then, for whatever reason, he left Chapel Street. Such a sad loss. Later when I
moved to Melbourne, I found we had friends in common on Facebook and I wrote,
thanking him for the happiness, the joy he'd given so many people. I wanted to
support him; we should all support local artists so they can keep working.
Eventually we met, at Fashion Torque [the regular industry soirees hosted by
stylist Philip Boon and designer Jenny Bannister] and – oh – it was such a
pleasure and a privilege! I love his incredible sense of colour, the way he
mixes those subversive, naughty elements in his work. I love the world through
his eyes. One day, a package turned up and in it was this amazing scarf …"
Melbourne's gentleman jeweller, as renowned for his
warmth and wide circle of A-listed friends as he is for his clipped English
consonants and impeccable etiquette. Lewis' client list for custom-designed,
hand-crafted exquisitries is long and discreet; his diffusion project, a
limited-edition series called Adrian Lewis One of Ten, will be his first
toe-dip into technology-assisted fine jewellery design in a 20-year career.
Modernity and tradition are comfortable halves of Lewis' persona and
"I've always been interested in fashion, but I suppose
my English background means that plays out on a conservative level," he
says. In the 1990s, Lewis was regularly listed on The Age's "Best
Dressed" list for his neo-classic jigsaws of cutting-edge European and
Japanese labels. "I still buy a lot of Japanese, but I also wear Rick
Owens, Chronicles of Never, custom shoes by Andrew McDonald ..." They're
all unarguably Arctic-cool niche brands, but high on quality, low on overt
visual impact. "Some people dress for attention, a louder statement,
others for those quieter points of difference; the play of textures, fabrics,
colours, the twists and turns, the gorgeous simplicity of a beautiful
Today, Lewis' story is one of connoisseurship more than
provenance, a descriptive tally of his perfectly perfect tuxedo, dress shirt,
bow-tie, cufflinks and shoes. "I have three tuxedos in my wardrobe but I
love this Hugo Boss most because it has an edge; it's a gorgeous midnight blue,
not black, and it's shiny satin, not matte. It's iconically classic but it's
also got that twist. The shirt is simple too; a finely textured cotton jacquard,
no (visible) buttons. And, the bow-tie, hand-tied. I would NEVER wear a fake.
There is something so sexy about a hand-tied bow-tie. The shoes are Prada,
perforated leather; you simply wouldn't wear a patent shoe with a suit like
that. The cufflinks are black diamonds, four carats each in simple 18-carat
white gold settings. I designed them myself and wear them everywhere. They're
perfectly simple; an absolutely perfect expression of classic simplicity."
The Human Chameleon, fledgling milliner and pouting
sprite-about-town best known for drifting in the wake or posing on the
arm of exotic milliner Richard Nylon. The pair concoct fantastic complementary
ensembles before many of Melbourne's PR-driven social kneezups and arrive to a
clatter of camera shutters and admiring clusters of fellow A-listers. "I'm
not afraid to wear stupid things," she says.
In daylight and out of the limelight, Walker is no less a
head-turner. "Ironically, I never started to dress up to stand out. In the
beginning, I did it to fit in: I was the ugly duckling, the awkward one who
looked like a boy amongst all these well-formed girls. I couldn't do the
mini-skirt and high heels with the top and boobs thing because, well; 'Who does
she think she is? Is she trying to be gorgeous?'. Walker's friends dressed for
boy-catching while her own modes synchronised with her moods, wit, whims and
music. "I listen to pop and go out in glitter and sequins, sometimes I
listen to R & B and wear drop-crotch pants and high-top sneakers, other
days I listen to folk and walk out in long flowing skirts and lots of beads. I
dress up because I get bored easily. I like to keep life interesting and
exciting by transforming into a new characters. I find 'normal' very boring. I
usually have a wig in my handbag for quick costume changes."
Walker was in radio before quitting (from boredom,
naturally) and switching to fashion studies. Nylon was one of her tutors, then
her friend, then employer and co-costume conspirator. The pair's creative
synergy has blossomed into a small pop-cultural phenomenon that slipped quickly
into Melbourne's offbeat heart. "I'm lucky to live in such a creative city
... You can get away with anything!"
Walker's oversized cardigan was a gift from her grandmother.
"She bought it in Hong Kong, in the 1970s I think. She loved going
dancing, ballroom dancing, but a long-sleeved cardigan was too hot so she put
in the chiffon sleeves. The pattern is iridescent sequins and there's beading,
and it has a beaded fringe. My nan [Doreen, 94], is a very elegant lady, loves
shiny sparkly things, a bit like a bower bird, and wouldn't go anywhere, even
to Woolworths, without a twinset and a hat. The cardigan's too big on me but I
don't care; I like a boy-style fit. I think there's a bit of a grandma inside
me; I'm romantic, and I do like my tea." (Walker's sequinned shorts
and glitter heels are from Lady Petrova and her "Heart over Heels"
headpiece, her own Human Chameleon design.)
A uniquely feminine force; part bombshell glamour, part Mary
Poppinsesque primness, who has lured thousands of young female fans to her
niche-net blogging moniker, Lady Melbourne. She is foremost a journalist and,
for that professional distinction, rare among fashion bloggers. Her output is
original and exclusive and predominantly sprung from fashion's "better
end", its loveliest and most flattering products and procedures favoured
by, and photographed on, her alter-ego, Lady Melbourne. Montague was blogging before
many knew what it was, so has also naturally expanded her job-list to teaching
and speaking about how it is best done.
Montague's wardrobe story – of a va-voom coral crepe wrap
dress and luminous lavender/white wool coat – springs from her first loves:
Melbourne itself, and the clutch of small-fry manufacturers still producing
glamorous, good-quality fashion in the city.
"I was born and bred in Melbourne, went to Northcote
High. I've lived in other cities: Sydney, London, but there is no place like
Melbourne. I love it. And I love this label, Kuwaii, because they work here,
they make here. This crepe dress is three or four years old, and I'll wear it a
lot longer. The block colour, the style; it suits my figure and my personality
and it's just so well made. The coat is Kuwaii too. There's only one of these
and it's mine! I went in to the showroom to do a pre-order and they were only
going to make this style in charcoal and navy but, I saw this wool. Look at it.
So beautiful! So, they made it for me in that, with silk cotton lining. I think
clothes are a reflection of who you are, your emotions and your connections and
this coat is like that to me; it's calming and serene and beautiful like
Melbourne's sunsets and jacaranda trees."
The dark beauty behind Heart of Bone, a collection of fine
metal and gem skull rings touted as tiny iconographic works of wearable art,
Abrahams is a traffic-stopping glamazon, equally renowned for her eclectic
career in antiques, art and fashion, and for her brood of happy, curly blond
kidlets. Heart of Bone was launched last year after Abrahams' apprenticeship of
sorts under cult jeweller William Griffiths of Metal Couture. The collection's
popularity rocketed among Melbourne's art and fashionisocrats and Abrahams'
remarkable marketing skills also quickly secured its first international clients
including Miley Cyrus, Joel Madden, Jean Paul Gaultier and Katy Perry.
Abrahams' story is of a beloved, albeit disintegrating
leopard jacket, a pair of platform bootlets so high they would topple a less
practiced wearer, and a simple T-shirt she transformed with a set of Sharpie
pens. "I used to be an avid op-shopper when I was a teenager. I used to
wag school and do every op shop in Melbourne. I picked up this coat in
Sandringham at the local op shop, which isn't around any more. It's from the 60's
and is in a pretty sad state now. Every time I wear it, it rips in another
place and breaks another piece of my heart. I did this hand-drawn skull with
Sharpies [pens] on a Kloke Tee shirt. It's an awesome shape for a pop-up
installation I did at Alice Euphemia which, sadly, is no longer there either.
All good things must come to an end, I guess. These Giuseppe Zanotti boots are
so special to me. A very dear friend bought me these for my birthday a few
years back. He's gone too now. Every time I wear them I think of him. And these
are all my rings that I carve in my Richmond studio. They are all based on
iconic characters and I love them each in their own special way. Hopefully
these will all outlive the leopard jacket and I'll be able to hand them all
down to my daughter. If she wants them, that is!"
Pride March Melbourne celebrated its 20th parade on Sunday, with it's usual rambling rabble of dykes, poofs, trans, drags, bears, leather daddys, trannys and their associated supporters and sundry sympathisers turning on the colour and spectacle that we've come to adore over the past 2 decades.