Archive for November, 2013|Monthly archive page

Dedicated follower of… style

In Celebrities, Jewellery, Style icons, Trends on November 30, 2013 at 10:22 am


I had a most enjoyable time on Thursday chatting with Tony Delroy on his late night ABC radio show about trends for the Aussie summer – which starts officially on Sunday.

Also on air with us was Glynis Traill-Nash, fashion editor of The Australian, and it’s fair to say the two of us agreed on every subject, which is always pleasing.

Tony introduced the segment by playing that Kinks classic ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’, which gave me the opportunity to sound off on one of my favourite themes, which is that I don’t really like the term ‘fashion’.

It’s all the connotations of pushing mindless consumerism through manufactured novelty that put me off – what gets me excited is style. Which doesn’t necessarily involve buying anything new, it’s about how you put your look together

As requested by the show’s producer I’d prepared a list of the key style trends for the season and as we couldn’t cover every single one on the show, I’m going to post them on here – and they apply just as well for this Northern Hemisphere winter, just interpreted with a little more skin coverage.

There’s a lot to say – really, I’m loving this season to bits– so I’m going to spread the news over a few days.


Olivia Palermo
My main tip for this season is just to wear whatever she wears. I study hundreds of celebrity paparazzi and red carpet shops every week for my Fairfax Media column, The Rules and I could pretty much write it about her every week.

As well as being naturally beautiful and poised (a very underappreciated attribute these days) Olivia is the reigning queen of self styling. It’s not just what she wears, it’s the little details of how she puts it together. Just look at these pics. She even looks amazing walking her dog…


Alexa Chung is the one everyone goes on about, but I find her styling pretty specific (Knowing Urban Kook…), and it wouldn’t suit anyone without her coltish limbs, whereas we can all pinch ideas from OP. I know I do.

She’s knocked Kate Moss off the top spot in this discipline. (Although I could use pics of Miranda Kerr the odd week as well…)


Feature Jewellery
Mahoosive, blingtastic necklaces and chandelier earrings, as over the top as you can possibly imagine and more, featuring huge multi-coloured fake stones.

These pieces instantly wow up the simplest outfit and are very flattering the way they reflect light on to the face – and distract the gaze from bothersome body bulges. This is a smackeroo of a trend for the older babe (like me ha ha).

The chain stores have amazing ranges right now. I had to walk myself smartly out of River Island’s Oxford Street flagship the other day, lest I buy the whole lot.


I particularly love them with very plain athletic wear pieces (see below) – a look I will be wearing to a friend’s wedding party tonight. A navy sweatshirt, a navy sequinned tube skirt and a bling a ding ding necklace.

Also look at new genres of jewellery, such as ear cuffs – earrings which fit round the curve of the ear – and knuckle duster rings which go over several fingers. And consider different ways of wearing regular pieces, such as identical chunky cuffs on each wrist, or rings on your forefinger (if you have nice fingers, I so don’t).


Athletic wear
Classic sweat shirt styling – the stitched v at the neck, ribbed cuffs at the wrist, neck and bottom – but in lighter weight fabric, kaboomed up with crazy sequin appliques, or pop art prints.

river island big

I did let myself buy this in River Island last week… I work it back with a pleather pencil skirt from Zara.


Here is another sweatshirt I bought recently.

boomAnd wrote about it here

Simple grey marle T shirts (Gap’s are great this season), or singlets work a similar look for hotter weather. I love the style clash impact of a plain grey T and low crotch carrot chinos, with the legs rolled up (a styling detail…), paired with a WOW necklace. It’s all about the styrony – style irony.

If you have the long lean leg length, I also love a fitted athletic jogging pant, preferably grey marle for maximum styrony, with a high-heeled sandal (gold?) and a silky, sleeveless top tucked in and wackadoo with a big old ear cuff and two chunky wrist cuffs. Think Rihanna.


More trends to come soon, meanwhile, you can hear Tony, Glynis and I chatting on the subject, via this link.

The bed’s too big, the frying pan’s too wide

In Heroes, Music, Older women, Pop stars, Rock 'n' roll on November 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Joni Mitchell 

One of the great challenges of being a parent for me has been coming to understand that my daughter is not a Mini Me.

It seems quaint in retrospect but I had simply assumed she would love everything I loved as a child, which boils down to reading, drawing, playing with dolls and a well-stocked dressing up box.

Like all parents I lavished her with the things I craved as a child: a never-ending supply of paper, big packs of felt tips and coloured crayons, bookshelves groaning with wonderful things to read.

I should have saved my money. She’s just not into any of those things.

So I take great joy from one love we do share, which is an obsession with popular music. She’s as open to new experiences in that area as she is closed to books (she could have met Quentin Blake recently – couldn’t be bothered… AGGGH!)

She’ll embrace any genre of music and among her favourites, at the age of 11 and a half, are tracks by the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Glen Campbell, David Bowie, Madness, Kraftwerk and Dean Martin.

Then there all the ones we’ve discovered together, like Daft Punk, Gotye, Rihanna, Maroon 5 and Tinie Tempah. She’s made me appreciate Eminem.

But the most satisfying moment for me was when – with no pushy prompting from my side – she fell in love with Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning, which I’d put on a playlist.


Being able to tell her that the song she so adores by Crosby, Stills & Nash – Our House – was written by Graham Nash about the actual house he actually shared with Joni Mitchell in Laurel Canyon in the late 1960s, was a golden moment in my life. Her eyes visibly widened…

ladies of the canyon prauls

I can still remember so clearly when I discovered Joni Mitchell myself, when I was exactly the same age my daughter is now, in the early 1970s.

My older sister was playing the album Blue on repeat and after a few days of hearing it, there was a lightbulb moment when my ear picked up the Jingle Bells refrain in the song River, in its intriguing minor key.


At my earliest opportunity I liberated the record (of course it was a vinyl record…) from my sister’s collection and took it into my bedroom, to have a better listen to that interesting bit and in the process lost myself in the whole album. She never got it back.

Joni Mitchell has been a constant companion of my life ever since. I know every line of every song on her first eight albums, from Song to a Seagull, through to Hejira, by heart.


And the thing that made me realise I’d found my soul mate when I met my best friend at uni, was discovering that she did too. We talked about those lyrics for hours. We still do.

So while Peggy and I might never be able to discuss favourite books the way I had imagined we would, I’m fairly sure we’ll share a love of Joni Mitchell’s music – and those amazing lyrics.


While tooling around the internet looking for some good clips to include with this post, I came across two interesting facts about Joni.

She turned 70 this month – happy birthday, Ms Mitchell – and there’s no ‘Personal Life’ section in her Wikipedia entry. Which makes sense when you think about it.

It’s all in the songs.

Which songwriter has written the soundtrack for your life?


I picked this video because she’s singing one of my favourite of her songs – Help Me, the most brilliant description of the first thrilling/terrifying days of a new relationship – but also because I was at this concert. Wembley Stadium 1974, the first big gig I ever went to.

A pilgrimage to see my idol.




Beyond patina

In Book, Home, Interiors on November 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm


Fashions in clothes change in the blink of a blogger’s eye, but trends in interiors move on more of a continental drift time frame. You don’t quite notice it happening and then suddenly it becomes clear that a major sea change has taken place.

For ages the dominant theme was the shabby chic aesthetic beloved of my generation. I can still remember the moment I clocked the window of Cath Kidston’s first shop in Holland Park, which my best pal and fellow junk shop buccaneer had specially taken me to see.

I was rendered speechless, looking at a display which was almost identical to my own kitchen. Exactly the same red and white china flour and sugar cannisters, a basket identical to the one I keep potatoes in, blue and white Cornishware and many other items I’d sniffed out in dusty corners of jumble sales, boot fairs and bric a brac shops over the years.


The feel was nostalgic for kitchens of the 1950s – not the shiny Chevrolet, diner 1950s, but the British provinces of that era. A world of potato mashers with painted green wooden handles, flowery tea cups and embroidered tablecloths. A utopian lost land from just before I was born…

I was half thrilled, half horrified that Ms Kidston had found a way to market it, quickly becoming full horror as the style filtered down the consumer food chain until every mass market store had tacky made-in-China versions of my lovingly curated bits of junk. (And when it has even hit nail art, you know a look is over…)


By then I’d moved on (in every room apart from the kitchen), into my version of Kelly Wearstler’s fabulous LA aesthetic, feeling marvellously vindicated in my choice of enormous Chinois table lamps and yellow glazed chintz curtains with white pom pom trim, when I stumbled upon her seminal book Modern Glamour.


Meanwhile a new interiors genre had popped up by the same organic mechanism as shabby chic – the generation younger than mine was nostalgic for the early 1970s, as I had been for the 1950s, and their Cath Kidston was Orla Kiely.

That geometric world of mustard and sage green (it has always looked like caravan curtains to me) has joined Cath Kidston in the mass market and a new style has now emerged, generated by the next generation to rise up to home owning age – which is how this works, I now realise.

orla kiely ceramics

This is a return to the cherished junk sensibility I relate to – loving the soul in things which have been used and become more interesting with wear. That was a large part of shabby chic, but this takes it to another level, treasuring things which are fully grubby and broken with age.

Bare brick walls are a big part of it, copper is the metal of choice. Wood is grainy and unpainted, old upholstery is left in ragged situ and the ideal wall finish is multiple layers of old wallpaper and paint. Mirrors must be well foxed. Vintage industrial pieces (preferably rusty) are highly sought after and stuffed birds de rigeur.


Random feathers, coral, shells, skulls, bones, lengths of rusty chain and bits of old rope are ideal ornaments. Books should be falling apart at the seams. Ragged old flags are must have wall hangings. Old lampshades can dangle in an unlikely places. Electrical cables are of the plaited silk variety and on show. And you can do a lot with an old ball string.


I call it Beyond Patina and I do rather love it. In its purest form it can make me feel a little queasy (I’m not keen on actual dirt and I can’t bear taxidermy), but I like it all the more for that. I want to be shocked by the new.

Share-Design_Sibella-Court-051The poster girl for Beyond Patina is Sydney’s own Sibella Court (and all the images in this section are her work). It will take a while for her full-on aesethetic to filter down (and while I love her work, I was heartily repulsed by the filthy collar of an old Chinese jacket featured in one of her books) but it will happen.

lamp, tea for joy

Copper is already emerging as a strong trend in entry level light fittings and I predict it’s only a matter of time until you can buy wallpaper printed to look like layers of old wallpaper and paint. Maybe you already can.

Which is your preferred decorating era?

PS. This is a good opportunity to introduce you to my very beloved friend, the interiors stylist Hilary Robertson.

Hils’ style is to me the very best combination of Modern Glamour with Beyond Patina. Here is one picture of a beautiful shoot the New York Times did of her Brooklyn apartment. You can see the rest here


And her own website is here.

She’s one to follow on Instagram too.

The root of the problem

In Grooming, Hair on November 11, 2013 at 8:38 pm


This post is not sponsored, PR generated, or in any way influenced by anything except my own recent experience. Now we have that clear I can get on to the fun part.

It isn’t very often you encounter an absolutely new genre of beauty product – an idea so clever and new it blows your mind and makes you go WOW! But that happened to me last Thursday when I was getting my hair cut by my treasured stylist Giles Robinson at the John Frieda salon in Mayfair.

When I first met Giles on a magazine shoot about six years ago, he was a young gun at the salon, who did the odd bit of editorial. Impressed by his work on the magazine story and his lovely personality I went into the John Frieda flagship in Aldford Street for a cut and I’ve never been anywhere else since.


With his talent and intelligence, he has quickly risen up the ranks so he’s now the king of demonstration – officially ‘Director, Training and Education’ – for the latest brand dreamed up by John Frieda and his business partner (and fellow genius) Gail Federici.

The first life-changing product those two came up with was Frizz-Ease and since then they’ve dreamed up the Sheer Blonde shampoo and styling range, quickly followed by Brilliant Brunette and Radient Redhead, and the Luxurious Volume products (which I find give brilliant root lift on home blow dries).

Read more about them here:

Now they’ve done it again with ColorWow.

It came up by chance when I was chatting to Giles about what he’s been doing since I last saw him and it turns out he has been gadding around the States with legendary hairdress Ken Pavés (who does Victoria Beckham’s barnet among many other stellar heads) and in the QVC studios demonstrating the product with him and with Kevin Moss, the UK-based John Frieda Creative Director.

This legend (a very funny and very nice legend…) was cutting another lady’s hair in the chair behind mine in the salon that day, so by lucky chance I had an intro to the range from two gurus and all I could do was sit and say: WOW.

This is basically, make up for hair. At first I was bit – meh – about that as a concept. It looks like an eye shadow compact: a sleek black box with brown compressed powder in it (there are six shades from platinum to full black), a brush lying along side.


OK, I thought, that’s clever. I’d dab the lightest blonde shade on my roots where my highlights are growing out and it will make them look light again – but won’t it come off all over my clothes?

No, said Giles. It sticks to the hair so well it’s waterproof. But not shampoo proof – you wash it out – but waterproof. So even if you are covering up grey roots on jet black hair, you can use the product and go swimming without the pool looking like a squid attack.

I was quite impressed with that – then the big reveal happened. I had a go with it, dabbing at my roots with the powder and that’s when I said WOW… because not only does it make the dark roots disappear, the reflectors in the powder bounce the light off each hair shaft, so it looks exactly like shining, freshly highlighted hair – and not at all like hair with eye shadow on it.

As Kylie would say, wow wow wow wow.

At £28 ($49.95 in Aus) for a one-colour compact it’s not cheap – but it could seriously extend the time before you need your colour doing, so you’d make it back.

It’s in store now – check on Google – so go have a play and tell me what you think. I’m still thinking WOW.

Here’s a video showing the product in action.

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