Sunday, March 29, 2009

Claudia Schiffer, still super

Claudia Schiffer could wear a bin bag and still look amazing, but to me she epitomizes ladylike dressing.

She does elegant, polished and casual chic effortlessly, and gets it right day after day. While she looks just as gorgeous as she did in the height of her super days, at 37 she dresses her age in feminine separates - soft bow blouses, lightweight knits and classic cardigans - that embody a classic, understated chic, with more playful elements - like a pair of platform shoes, a printed scarf or leopard print belt - to lend a youthful edge to grown-up power dressing.

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Fair Lady

Oscar de la Renta Fall 09

Lanvin Fall 09

These days when it comes to matters sartorial, where have all the manners gone?

If you take a walk around Sydney, you’ll see a hell of a lot of undies – under sheer cream dresses, there are navy g-strings; beneath bum-grazing hemlines are polka dot boy shorts, visible with every step. Then there is the bright orange skin, after too many fake-tan applications; the bondage dresses (which lets be honest, only look good on a size zero, Herve Leger wearing model); and the of-the-minute, but ill fitting, sky-high heels that look tacky and ridiculous – even more so when teamed with the bondage dress and Oompa Loompa tinted skin tone.

Stripped of any originality, it seems sexed-up just ain’t what it used to be. Somewhere it became seriously vulgar, kind of gross to look at and just plain embarrassing. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a thigh-skimming dress, but ladies, when did we forget how to sit on a park bench without flashing our various bits to the world? When did acting like a lady, with a bit of class, become uncool?

If the recent run of Fall shows is anything to go by, fashion has a new-found sense of propriety and once you’ve mastered it, I bet you’ll never look back. It’s a look that was lauded not only by the establishment – Oscar De La Renta, Chanel, Lanvin – but also the new guard: Phillip Lim, Loewe, Proenza Schouler, Jason Wu…

But this interest in pretty doesn’t have to be boring – au contraire. Think prim leading ladies, with sex appeal. It’s a way of dressing that speaks of cardigans showing off a wasp waist with cinched belts. It’s delicate, sheer blouses worn over a beautiful lace bra. It’s pumps that add an exquisite arch to the foot.

As Calvin Klein’s Franciso Costa once put it “there’s a subtlety to this look. And with beautiful hair…wonderful shoes…you’re done”

Thakoon Fall 09

Phillip Lim Fall 09

Miu Miu Fall 09

Louis Vuitton Fall 09

Chloe Fall 09

Loewe Fall 09

Chanel Fall 09

Valentino Fall 09

Zac Posen Fall 09

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Copy cat

It first happened while having breakfast in a small French café in Kirribilli. A very fake-tanned woman, dressed in a little mini skirt and a far-too-tight singlet teetered in. As my eyes scanned her outfit, I couldn’t help noticing the red sole on her sky-high heels. Christian Louboutin's! In fact, they were a pair of this season’s snakeskin peep-toe platforms. My first day in Sydney and already I’d spotted my first pair. Really? On her? I was intrigued.

When I overheard she worked at the boutique next door I thought I’d investigate. Immediately I spotted the offending shoes but when I turned them over, they weren't Louboutin's at all. The label read Peeptoe Shoes and they were about AUS$1200 cheaper than the real thing. Now I spot women running all over the city in them, every day.

Browsing the racks of Witchery the next day, a very pretty skirt caught my eye. After I picked it up I realised why I liked it so much (and why for some reason it looked so familiar). I had tried on the exact same skirt, seam for seam, and zip for zip, at Phillip Lim in New York only a few months earlier. Fake Christian Louboutin's, fake Phillip Lim, what the hell is going on?

I know it's normal for chain stores over our side of the Pacific to use garments they pick up in Paris, New York and London as inspiration; I mean that is their whole raison d'être, but isn’t this a tad illegal? It certainly brings a whole new meaning to fast fashion.

Phillip Lim Spring 09

Witchery skirt- in store now

Wittner Sassy pumps - which also come in black

YSL Tribute pumps

The real thing...Christian Louboutin's

The cheeky Peeptoe impersonators

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Remember taking a trip to the library in primary school? The librarian would sit at her desk - nose in an encyclopaedia sized book, hair coiffed, manicured nails, eyes in the back of her head when you were getting up to mischief.

When you’d finally picked out a book, after lots of deliberation with friends, you proudly handed over your library card and she’d smile at you warmly, commenting on what a great choice you’d made. She’d then write your name (in pencil) on the first page of the book and also in her big record book, after she had slowly ruled a line under the previous child’s name, all the while taking sips from her dainty tea cup.

I had forgotten how lovely going to the library could be.

Whenever I’m alone in an unfamiliar city, a bookstore usually becomes my favourite companion. I can spend hours lusting after coffee table books, new novels, travel guides and modern classics. But while browsing through a bookstore in Paddington, the hefty price tags deterred me and I left empty handed and unfulfilled.

Taking a trip to Sydney’s library crossed my mind, but you need to hand over more information than you did to enter the country just to borrow a book - like proof of address, which when you’ve been here a couple of days is just plain impossible. Walking home a little miffed, I spotted a hidden brown sign pointing to the community library on my little street in Kirribilli.

I opened the slightly ajar door to find a room no larger than your average living room, filled floor to ceiling with hundreds of books. At the teeny front desk was a little old lady, dressed a glamorous summer dress and straw hat. According to her, I’d found the friendliest library in Sydney – I could borrow any book I wanted after filling out a card with my name and address, which she then filed. That was it. Once I’d made my choice, she took a pencil, wrote my name in the front of the book and in her record book and told me to come back soon and tell her all about it.

Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon set up camp in a library, spending hours
researching any treatments that may save their son
in Lorenzo's Oil

The Harry Potter trio in their beloved library

Katherine Hepburn as a librarian in Desk Set

The Breakfast Club kids, serving school detention in the library

Sunday, March 15, 2009

G'day mon amies

After a bit of a quiet patch (I returned to Auckland with no internet and I've arrived in Sydney with no internet) I'm back, this time on the sunny shores of New South Wales.

And so, another adventure begins and the challenge of finding your spot in a new city and looking for an apartment starts all over again.

While it's certainly no New York, I'm sure Sydney will have it's own good points - which I'm bound to discover (and report back on) after a bit of an exploration and guidance from some lovely Sydney-ites.

In the meantime I'm blinding people with my winter legs, enjoying delicious coffee from any cafe I walk into, getting frustrated because all the decent restaurants close at 10pm on a Friday night!, and cringing at all the orange fake-tanned girls that still think leggings are pants.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Goodbye, New York

Well I'm finally in the air, bound for L.A. on an American Airlines flight that has wireless! America never ceases to amaze me.

Though I will miss many things about New York, the cold is something I definitely won't (this morning it was -11 Celsius which is a tad too chilly for me), so as I bid farewell to this lovely city I came to call home, I leave you with 15 things I fell in love with during my stay - you might even say, New York's best bits...

1. SoHo in the morning. Before the tourists have arrived, with the sun lit cobble streets, the uberchic New York women on their way to work, the cabs making their way down the empty streets - between 8-10am, SoHo is a beautifully quiet and magical place to just go for a walk.

SoHo's famous lofts

2. Brunch at Brown Cafe. Started by a bunch of Aussies a few years ago, their down-under coffee skills were certainly passed along in this Lower East Side café. Amazing lattes, amazing baked eggs, amazing raisin toast, amazing almond croissants…you get the idea.

3. Escaping to Central Park.

4. Vintage shopping in the Lower East Side. This indie district puts Auckland's K’ Rd to shame – in a five block radius, there are more than 25 breathtaking vintage stores, some harder to find than others, for hours of fun-filled rummaging. My favourites? Fox and Fawn, Marmalade, Daha Vintage, Some Old Rubies and The Dressing Room.

Jean Shrimpton in the Lower East Side

5. Hidden bars. The thrill of discovering yet another hidden gem never fails to excite me; there are hundreds of bars in Manhattan and Brooklyn hidden behind obscure doors, down unexciting stairwells or just in the middle of no-where. Some of the better ones include 151, Chloe 81, Beatrice Inn, Apothéke, Bobo and Larry Lawrence.

6. Delicious, addictive, mouth-watering cupcakes.

7. The quaint boutiques in NoLita. In a time when even luxury brands are considered mainstream (for their ‘oh that's Prada/LV/ Karen Walker!’ obviousness), sometimes it’s nice to own a beautiful dress that no-one else owns/knows where you got it from. Street after tree-lined-street, NoLita is home to the best boutique shopping in New York with young, up and coming designers continuously opening new stores in the charming little area. And if you need a coffee pit stop, try Ruby, an Australian café that knows how to make a proper cup of coffee.

The lovely NoLita

8. 'The Ivy' at Chloe 81. Most Wednesday nights, we would pop down to Nylon magazine’s (thing/event/excuse to drink, or whatever) The Ivy at Chloe 81, conveniently located just across from my apartment. A bit of a scenster event, The Ivy is a great night for some amusing people watching, and the dark underground bar complete with scattered candles and corner leather booths made our blatant staring very possible, much to our delight.

9. Times Square at night. No matter where you are around Midtown, the fantastic bright lights of Times Square are always somehow visible, with the 'woooow' factor never dissipating.

Audrey Hepburn in Times Square - my reaction exactly

10. Rooftops. Nothing beats drinking in New York's skyline from your very own rooftop. Everyone has access to one - some are bare, some have luscious gardens, but it doesn't really matter when they all give you the same result. Sipping a glass of wine in the evening and gazing at a lit-up Empire State Building, sunning yourself complete with brolly, deckchair and lemonade gazing over at the Empire State Building, having snowball fights with your boyfriend, reading a book in the afternoon sun, now looking over Downtown...who needs a back garden when you have skyscrapers?

11. Williamsburg. On a Saturday morning, you'll find all the burg' indie kids dressed in some version of Hunter gumboots and Anoraks walking their mini pooches (not the posh kind, the cute mongrel kind that look like teddy bears), plaid shirt wearing couples going for walks to get the paper and a coffee from Olso, fur coat wearing friends scouring the vintage stores together and skinny jeans wearing kids riding retro bicycles through the streets. It's basically a community where everyone is eternally, effortlessly cool.

12. Brooklyn Bridge. Walking over it, the view from it and the view of it. It's an all-round great bridge.

14. Cafe Habana. Hands down the best breakfast I've ever had - the price ($5.95 for most meals) is just a bonus.

15. Flea Markets. Last but not least, you can't forget New York's incredible flea markets, where you can get hoards of costume jewelery extremely cheap, classic vintage pieces like a 70's Bill Blass dress (for me the one that got away - I'm still not over it), Kenzo pants and Calvin Klein shifts from the 80's and even YSL cashmere for $5 a pop. The best flea market by far is Brooklyn's indoor market in DUMBO (because no-one wants to stand outside in -6 Celsius trying on fur coats, no matter how cheap they are).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Snow, snow, snow, snow

Photos courtesy of the New York Times and The Daily News

I should be in a taxi to JFK airport right now, getting ready to fly to L.A. and then onto Auckland. But instead, I'm sitting at my local cafe having breakfast and watching a blizzard unfold - the worst we've had all winter, go figure.

According to the New York Times, New York dispatched 1,600 plows to deal with the storm and an army of salt spreaders who put down 130,000 tons of rock salt on the roads and pavements. Not that it does much good - as soon as a plow goes past a blanket of snow falls minutes later, which seems to be good news for the kids being dragged in toboggans by their Starbucks carrying mothers.

While 6-inches on snow fell on Manhattan overnight, another 5-inches is expected to fall by the end of the day - that's a whole 11-inches of powdery snow! If I weren't in such a bad mood about my cancelled flight, and if my gumboots weren't packed right at the bottom of my suitcase, I'd be having a lot of fun right now.