Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tailor made...

I am off to visit Shenzhen on Saturday to revel in cheap massages and lots of shopping!

I have a few dilemmas though - where to go and what to get made? The first dilemma is easily solved with the help of some good friends who will help guide me through the maze of spas, tailors and shops filled with designer copies, dvds, handbags and fabrics to help me find that must-have item for the week.

The second dilemma was half resolved when I jumped onto one of my favourite
sites to find some inspiration. This is what I found..

Hmm I think I may have a fascination with black, bows and ruffles!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gossip Girl

Ok so I have recently become addicted to Gossip Girl (watch it if you haven't already)... a show like the OC but instead of it being about a bunch of rich kids on the west coast and at the beach it's about a bunch of rich kids living on the east coast in New York's upper east side.

I haven't watched enough Gossip Girl episodes to decide which show I like better but one thing is for sure, the fashion on Gossip Girl beats the OC hands down - replacing bikinis, singlets and casual Orange County chic are sophisticated,
young and stylish pieces. I find myself almost wanting to be in high school again...
Each character has their own distinctive look and their clothing plays such a big part in establishing their character. Look at the two main girl characters - you have Serena, the rich rebel girl who has recently come back from a mysterious year off at boarding school... Her style is a bit carefree and boho - reminiscent of Kate Moss and Sienna Miller.
Then there is Blair - rich and preppy and who wears cleaner lines than Serena and who you would imagine would only be seen in designer everything.
Eric Daman, the costume designer for Gossip Girl was a former assistant costume designer and stylist on Sex and the City so perhaps that is where some of the inspiration comes from in making these characters and their clothing so distinctive..

In fact, the fashion on Gossip Girl has become so trendy and copyworthy that it is has been the subject of many blogs, news articles and it is even now possible for fans to buy the clothes from the show's official website which allows you to sort by brand, character, episode or product...

Sleeping Boutique

I have been busily planning a trip to Europe with my boy and have been undertaking the fun but frustrating task of finding decent accommodation that doesn't cost a fortune and that isn't grimey and gross, particularly in cities such as Paris and Barcelona.

The challenge was proving difficult - many a time I would think that I found a great place but then it would not pass the tripadvisor test (I have since become skeptical of tripadvisor - I wonder if all those bad reviews claiming bed bugs and dodgy and dirty bathrooms and linen are really true? Or are they just reviews posted by jealous competitors?)

However, after extensive research (and perhaps being a little sucked in by the pictures), accommodation challenge was completed with these two boutique hotels in Paris and Barcelona.

I just hope they are as nice as the photos!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Roll On Summer

News just in that Jets by Jessika Allen will be opening the David Jones Spring/Summer fashion parade. Miranda Kerr - the new DJs glamour girl will of course be clad in one of Jessika's super-luxe suits. I wonder if she'll go two-piece or one? And I wonder if Orlando Bloom will be in Australia again?

On to the one vs two debate... Allen herself appears to favour the one-piece, stating that "it's sexy when you have not as much material cut out of your costume". Allen says her collection has lots of prints with large florals and geometric patterns and various shades of blue or green. Personally, I can never decide which to go with. I am always torn between the stylishness of a one-piece, but then the fun-factor of the bikini.

My final decision is usually the combination of a couple of facts - first and foremost as a sun lover, I just can't resist grabbing the skimpiest bikini I can find for maximum sun exposure. Yes, roll on summer, roll on cancer. I simply can't help myself. Second, I try to tell myself that there's plenty of time for one-pieces, but that the bikini has a limited shelf-life: as soon as I hit 30, I'm seriously going to reconsider the appropriateness of a bikini (unless I work out, like, a lot). Actually - maybe it's not fair to put an age limit on it (that's one thing SATC has definitely taught us).  Once I start crying in change-rooms because a swimsuit looks heinous on me, I'll know that it's time to become a little more demure. Until then... Bring on string bikinis, brazilian waxes and SPF30+!

Old clothes...

Having been inspired by a friend's impressive shopping efforts over the weekend in Tokyo and listening to her tales of the tree lined streets and canals of Nakameguro filled with vintage stores and eclectic boutiques, I have been inspired to do some investigation of my own about vintage shopping in Hong Kong.

I walked the streets of Soho on Saturday and found my way into a couple of vintage stores...But this wasn't like walking into Endo's or St Vinnies in Brisbane, these stores had designer vintage - Pucci, Diana Von Furstenberg, Miu Miu and the list goes on... But why were there only a few vintage stores in an area known for its restaurants and fashionable boutiques? It seems there are heaps of antique furniture places in Hong Kong but not antique clothing..

Maybe it has something to do with high rents and demand for space in Hong Kong and the lower returns on vintage clothing or is it just that Hong Kong fashionistas don't like wearing old clothes?

I Never Want To Live Here

Longyearbyen in Norway sounds like hell (although interestingly, they have a "no dying" policy - if you become gravely ill you are shipped off somewhere else, and if you die you have to be buried elsewhere after it was discovered that bodies weren't decomposing due to the cold this is a great location for those who wish to be cryogenically frozen - no scientist costs):
  • A summer's day lasts from March until October, but it doesn't get warm - people are still rugged up at the height of summer;
  • In winter, the darkness lasts for months - children attempt to brighten up their world by sticking yellow paper to windows to create artificial sunlight (good to see the imagination is alive and kicking);
  • The local physio clinic specialises in stretching courses to ensure all the muscles are being used as a result of the thick winter clothing residents need to wear restricting their movements (dear Lord...);
  • The kindergarten teacher carries a gun - not because she's gone postal from the shiteous weather, but because of polar bears circling the kindy (the polar bears clearly haven't gotten the memo about the "no-death" policy);
  • Every student attending the local university spends their first day learning how to shoot polar bear. Fun. For hell.

Things to remember about a polar bear:

  • If you happen to be armed, aim for the chest not the smaller target of the head;
  • If you are unarmed when you encounter a bear, toss your mittens on the snow to distract it (personally, I don't see this one working);
  • If Mr Polar Bear snaps its teeth with a smacking sound, you're a goner. Put up a fight, but don't expect to win;
  • If you happen to beat Mr Polar Bear to a pulp - or shoot him in the chest - you must inform the governor (I'm imagining an evil Sunnydale mayor here...) as it is strictly forbidden to hunt polar bears. Even though it's ok for polar bears to hunt children at kindergarten. Go figure.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Feather Boa

Last night my friend and I went hunting around the streets of Soho in Hong Kong trying to find this little bar known as Feather Boa.

It was hard to find as there is no signage (this is what it looks like from the front during the day) - all you need do is find the right door and pull back the curtains. The bar is set inside a former antique store so it is filled with lots of beautiful and eclectic antique furniture, chandeliers and fresh flowers.

The signature drink is a chocolate strawberry daquiri - frozen strawberry daquiri served in a chocolate coated glass! Hard to explain but absolutely divine and a bargain at about AUD$10.

The tip is to go early to avoid the crowds as apparently it gets really busy with bargoers milling around outside drinking.

Feather Boa is definitely a must-see when visiting Hong Kong.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Essentials for the Modern Torture Chamber

  • Shackles
  • Bucket of water
  • Bright light
  • Electric node thingy
  • No food
  • Whips
  • Chains
  • Mean, physically intimidating person (dobermans optional)
  • Bee Gees CD

David Gray (irritating warbler - I'm not surprised) has recently complained about his music being used in interrogations of terrorist suspects.

Top of the pops in "Guantanamo's Greatest Hits" are the theme to Sesame Street, White America - Eminem; Enter Sandman - Metallica; Stayin' Alive- The Bee Gees; American Pie - Don McLean; and the all-time favourite Dirrty - Christina Aguilera. Apart from being incredibly annoying - particularly when played on continuous loop, apparently these songs are sufficiently abhorrent to the culturally pious terrorist inmates, that they are enough to extract a confession.

This is some rather serious torture when you consider what else they're combining this with: sleep deprivation, continuous blinding light, isolation. Add in some physical battering, and you have to wonder how reliable a confession would be when given in these circumstances. Irrespective of the song - as an ageing hag, I can understand the feeling of your head about to explode when music is played loud enough for long enough. I'm pretty sure I would happily say that I had undertaken pilot training courses in Afghanistan for some relief from XXXtina.

Celebrity Gossip

Most days, I think there just can't be enough celebrity gossip in this world. Other days, no.

This gorgeous creature, Dorian Leigh recently passed away aged 91 (good innings, sweetie!). Obviously, she didn't look like that when she died. According to another model of her time, Dorian had bucketloads of oestrogen - the way some men have too much testosterone (I believe we call them bastards). And in perfect testament to all that woman - she needed 5 husbands to satisfy her. Mmm... delightful!

Like all gorgeous NY girls-about-town of that era, Dorian was friends with Truman Capote, and there are suggestions that she was more than just a little like Holly Golightly - our favourite prostitute from Breakfast At Tiffany's. But Ms Leigh was not just a gorgeous face, intoxicating sensuality and a body to covet - she was super smart too, studying calculus at New York University and going on to use her maths skills as an aircraft wing designer. As an engineer, she earned 65c per hour. As a model, she earned $1 per hour. I'm no calculus student, but I know which I would prefer.

Clearly seeing those dividends, Dorian worked her tuckass off: she apparently graced seven Vogue covers in 1946 (more than two thirds of the year's Vogues! - I wonder if readers got bored with that?), and in the next six years appeared on at least 50 more magazine covers. Dorian started modelling at the ripe old age of 27 - although she did manage to convince Harpers Bazaar that she was just 19 (and these are the days before botox).

After modeling, Dorian opened one of the first modeling agencies in Paris, ran gourmet restaurants in France and had successful catering operations in the United States, among other endeavors. She wrote several books about food, including one about pancakes and another featuring fritters. Wow. She was one busy lady. No wonder it took her so long to think about issues of mortality.

In other celebrity news - quote of the day: 'I can sing better than she can. If Madonna gets it [the lead role in 'Evita'] I'll rip her throat out!" said Meryl Streep back in 1996.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fashion Channel

It's probably a huge coincidence, but the TV shows I like usually feature very well dressed people. Well... Perhaps with the exception of The X Files, but there was still something smouldering about Mulder's dark suits and Scully snapping on those latex gloves of hers...

We all want to believe the X Files film that is on its way into cinemas will be great...

Again, I digress. For whatever reason I am attracted to sexy programming - Boston Legal (mmmm.. legal chic!):
I fall in love with Alan a little more every time he does his close

Absolute Power - another BBC program featuring some of the best suited-up man-dressing I've ever seen (but why not... It was the genius of Stephen Fry. He did deliver the film Bright Young Things which was a veritable feast for a 1920s fashion-lover):

PR means never having to say you're wrong.

Yes - that's spots, stripes and checks all at once.

Sex and The City and Patricia Field's bold, sexy wardrobe.

The list is endless. So why, why, why God, why am I so obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Her clothes are hideous! Observe:

Those boots! She wore them for TWO series, pretty much every episode. I can only imagine that, in Californian heat, you would get quite a sweat up while you're slaying vampires in those pleather wonders. And the high-waisted everything. And not high-waisted in a cool 70s way. High-waisted in a poorly designed, badly manufactured kind of way. Things get worse when the make-up staff suddenly discover fake tans in season 3. My god - Buffy and Cordelia look like they've been barbecued. And while we're on the topic of Ms Cordelia Chase (expertly played by Charisma Carpenter - a tragic, Hollywood name. She was doomed for the sitcom casualty ward) - who I love - even her outfits leave a lot to be desired. And she's meant to be the well-dressed rich, popular girl! Buffy was on TV in the late 90s, so you may think that's an excuse. I can't accept that. Even the good folk at BH 90210 (EARLY 90s - even ickier) were dressed better than their Buffy colleagues. [And if the Sunnydale High looks familiar to anyone - it's the school from BH 90210!].
I'm quite sure that as well as my general obsession with all things vampire and the fact that Angel is regularly shirtless (even naked - insert pervy chuckle) it's the witty one-liners that also keep me hooked:
  • "Now is it time to have a talk about the facts of life? ... You know, 'cause that whole stork thing is a smoke screen" - Xander
  • "... you could ask him for coffee some night. It's the non-relationship drink of choice. ... Okay, sure, it's hot and bitter, like a relationship that way, but..." -- Willow
  • "Being called an idiot tends to take people out of the dating mood."; "It actually kind of turns me on."; "I fear you." - Buffy & Xander
  • "People underestimate the value of a good ramble." -- Buffy
  • "Oh, he's a vampire. But the cuddly kind. Like a care bear, with fangs." - Cordelia
  • "Cordelia, your mouth is open, sound is coming from it. This is never good." - Buffy
  • "I laugh in the face of danger! Then I hide until it goes away." - Xander
  • "I told one lie. I had one drink."; "Yes, and you were very nearly devoured by a giant demon snake. The words, "let that be a lesson" are a tad redundant at this juncture." - Buffy & Giles
  • "I have all these thoughts, and I'm pretty sure they all contradict each other." -- Cordelia
  • "Being this popular is not just my right, but my responsibility." -- Cordelia
Ok. I'm getting carried away.
Could it be that a TV show is more than just the clothes?

Kate Spade

My love for Kate Spade meant that I was in heaven when I spied the Kate Spade store conveniently located close to my work.. bright handbags, cute keyrings, polka dots and that familiar green lured me in but my favourite one of all.. kate spade paper.

Now I acknowledge that although I love to look at it, I really have no use for any of the kate spade paper items... thank you cards, save the date cards, note cards, personalised stationery....(the only exception being the new kate spade diary I purchased to replace my much loved but much used filofax) but as I was saying who needs note cards when you have facebook, emails and blogging?

Perhaps I should do as Kate says though and maintain the tradition of handwritten notes by investing in some pretty notecards and sending them on to much loved but scattered friends?

Gourmet bites

The black opaque windows, lush velvet chairs and the chandelier says it all.. you have entered a burger joint.

They say Duke's Burgers is the ultimate for burger lovers in Hong Kong where a standard burger will set you back about $20 aussie (apparently it is very worth it!). Topping the menu is the braised US short ribs & truffles burger topped with foie gras (sounds a bit gross and costs about about AUD$40 - see pic).

Word on the street is that gwen stefani had a hand in designing the interior which cost about a squillion! I will let you know how it is once I have checked it out!


I don't know what this means, but my friend Jenny has plans to "blog hog" my blog. Yes - I've given two other super fabulous ladies (Jenny in Tokyo and Phuong in Hong Kong) access to this blog. I've requested narrative. Narrative, people! Narrative!

Anyway. She can blog-hog all she likes. She just better be as Divine as Miss Piggy while she does it.


How Does This Happen?

The Case of the Bat Bra
A British teenwas "shaking head to toe" when she discovered a baby bat curled up in her bra after investigating "vibrations" she believed to have come from her mobile phone.

Abbie Hawkins, 19, of Norwich, south-east England, said she was quietly doing her job as a hotel receptionist when she decided to examine the "strange movements" in her underwear. "I put my hand down my bra and pulled out a cuddly little bat. It looked cosy and comfortable and I was sorry for disturbing it," she said according to press reports. She went on to say that "it looked quite cosy and comfortable in there so it was quite rude of me to take it out. I felt quite sorry for it. Perhaps I should have left it there and given it a good home." [Where, darling? Your underwear drawer?]

Hawkins explained that she had not noticed anything when putting it on. "When I was driving to work, I felt a slight vibration but I thought it was just my mobile phone in my jacket pocket."

Boy Talk: Pants v Skirt

As I stood in the lift, pretending to watch the numbers but really secretly observing the fashions in the elevator, I compared myself with the girl in front of me (as girls are prone to do). We were similar in some ways - well, not really. We were both wearing heels [hers barely fell into this category, being a mere 2 cms off the ground and in, frankly, shoddy condition], and like me she was primarily wearing black. She had one of those heinous Guess handbags that rape my eyes everytime I see one. But the key difference here was she was wearing pants, and I am wearing one of my difficult-to-breathe-but-worth-it-for-the-waist-accentuation skirts. Seriously, these high-waisted skirts work miracles - I feel like Jessica Rabbit everytime. Which at first was hard to feel comfortable wearing, given our obsession with the androgynous, hipless, pre-pubescent skinny look.

I digress. Pants. She had skin-tight pants on. She had a great figure. I suddenly felt less like Jessica Rabbit, and more like Jessica Simpson post-John Mayer (for the ill-informed: fat). And it got me thinking about boys and their preferences. I've had countless boyfriends who have tried to tempt me into wearing jeans more often - so much so, that some of them have bought jeans for me. "Oh, lovely!" you say. No, no, no - it was all for their viewing pleasure. The request that I wear jeans was always prefaced with a "you look so hot in pants, babe" (I shudder at the thought of these comments and the accompanying leer) and then "I just don't know why you don't wear pants more often". Groan. But when I saw the girl in the lift - and maybe it was my run-in with a fat-making mirror during my lunch break - but I suddenly felt like perhaps I should be wearing pants more often.

Unless you look like Mossy, I remain unconvinced

I can only assume that the obsession with them is mainly because skin-tight pants are pretty clear when a boy imagines you naked. In the eyes of a lecherous male, if your pants are tight enough, you're basically naked - the cloth is merely a second skin. They know where your hips start (if your pants even reach that high). They know the width of your thighs (ok, some muscle tone is missing, but candle light can be just as deceptive), they know where your crotch ends - i.e. the height of your hip, and they can get a pretty good idea of the curve of the bottom. In some particularly tragic cases, they are also well-informed about your nether regions by the presence of the infamous, and yet increasingly prevalent, camel toe [if you're fat, it's a moose knuckle]. The only thing they don't know, in boy talk, is whether "the carpet matches the curtains". **I am suddenly hating men.**

So what to do? I love skirts for the curves they accentuate, and the mystery they create (in my mind). And I'm not really one for dressing for men - I dress for me [and the occasional girl ;o)]. But the preference is clear. And that girl looked scrumptious, despite her rape-my-eyes handbag and boring shoes. And I'm smack bang in the middle of a drought, times are tough. Do I crumble and wear jeans? Or stick to the skirt and hope for a good old fashioned, skirt-chasing gentleman?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Come Fly With Me

Come fly with me, let's float down to Peru
In llama land, there's a one man band
And he'll toot his flute for you
Come fly with me, we'll float down in the blue

Who doesn't love the thrill of travel? Packing your bags. Relishing a new stamp in your passport. Saying hello to old friends at the airport. Buying make-up duty free. The joys!

Sometimes I wonder though, if the fun hasn't been taken out of travel. It's so accessible - definitely a good thing - but that also means we take the ability to travel for granted. Gone are the days when an hour or two in an aircraft meant hours preening in the mirror before departure. Gone is the matching luggage, carefully handwritten name tags. Now a piece of dirty ribbon or a sticker from the Phi Phi Islands is sufficient for us to recognise our battered suitcases.

Take mine for example. My trusty green suitcase has travelled the globe (and has more travel to do, by gum!) and yet it is one of the ugliest, most embarrassing items I own. And worse - not only is my suitcase a sight for sore eyes, but my own presentation on aircraft has at times been revolting. I wouldn't go to the chemist dying of the the flu dressed as badly as I have upon embarking an international flight.

Compare this to the dream I have in those heady, early days of packing: Louis Vuitton suitcase (minimal luggage of course). Hermes head scarf. Pashmina. Bottle of Evian (bottled water is itself a luxury in these terror-fied times). Dark sunglasses. Perfect hair. Radiant skin and smack-ready lips.

While Louis Vuitton and Hermes is a little out of reach for most people (where's that rich husband when I need him?), the Samsonite Black Label range is to die for. Remember when people used to dress up for travel (so I hear, anyway)? That era of glamour travel has been revived by Samsonite.

The range comes in multiple colours (including gorgeous hues of pink, elegant tweeds and stunning faux animal skins). Of course, it's not yet available in Australia. Again - a trip to HK is required here.
Just as sweetly reminiscent as the exterior, try this interior on for size:

Catch me if you can...


Ooooh I just love these watches from Italian watch manufacturer Toy Watch.

With all the breathy gushiness of Carrie in Sex and the City I say: "Me likey!".

Look how fun they are! Imagine going for a run along the river with one of these strapped to your arm! And this is just the fluoro range - they have crystal (think clear, chunky straps - but beautiful faces from mother of pearl with crystal spots to mark the hours) and super old school (me no likey, but each to their own) and ceramic. I just adore ceramic watches, and they also have plastoramic (guess what elements are combined there?). I remember when Chanel introduced its ceramic watch range - I was in Harrods, London when I saw them and in a burst of enthusiasm almost bought one. I was stopped in my tracks when the (Australian) sales assistant said "it's hot, but have you converted that into Aussie dollars?". Aah the perils of travel. Thinking the price tag in pounds is actually AUD. *sigh*

But Toy Watches are known for the cheapness! Unfortunately, they're not available in Australia. Why so surprised? Looks like a little trip to Hong Kong may be in order...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

These Boots Are Gonna Walk All Over You

I'm wearing my grey shoes today. It's been pouring with rain, I don't want to wear flats and I don't want to destroy my other gorgeous, hideously expensive shoes. So I'm not in an all-grey outfit - there's definitely colour here - but the shoes look fabulous! I'm so pleasantly surprised I keep running to the toilets to admire my outfit.

When you are self-conscious about something, it's always the thing you notice most about other people. So as well as being a keen shoe-observer today, I couldn't help but notice the walks moving all these shoes along. Shockingly, some of the prettiest shoes are driven into the footpath by the most masculine of walks. Delicate shoes are being stomped around - legs slightly apart, toes splayed and even some slight bending of the knee. It's the legs apart thing that makes them look like men - feet splayed like a duck perhaps can be forgiven when it's pouring with rain and you're dodging puddles. Perhaps.

I've always noticed when a woman stands with her legs apart, and while I undertand the need to create light between the legs so we don't look like we have a solid tree trunk as legs, it's rather ridiculous when you're in constant flight. Clearly these women in the lovely shoes think about their image as they get dressed - why don't they realise how they ruin it when they walk like men? Not to mention the cost of getting the shoes reheeled. And seriously. Where do these people learn to walk like that? I thought women moved like women unconsciously. Maybe it's all this rubbish about needing to be a part of the boys club to get ahead. But you don't have bows on your shoes if you're trying to do that, do you?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Speaking of Hitchcock

And thinking of Agatha Christie ...

Observe these stunning shots from Vogue Italia. These shots evoke that post-War era of intrigue captured so beautifully by Agatha Christie. Murder on the Orient Express, luxurious cruises down the Nile, and that impenetrable, mysterious world of the aristrocracy.

I've been obsessed with the 1920s silhouette for several years now, and montages like this serve to deepen my obsession. My interest in that era of bespoke tailoring really began in the late 90s with The House of Eliott, a BBC program that ran in Australia for a couple of years. I simply fell in love with that post-WWI fashion era. What impressed me most was that the frugality of the times that came with the end of such a devastating war didn't dampen the spirit of innovation or experimentation. And yet there wasn't that exuberant push toward extravagent styling - it was still so restrained, yet so deeply fashionable. The attention to detail, focus on luxury materials, pioneering of new designs (when has that happened lately really? we recycle, recycle; mass-produce, mass-produce) and just good old fashioned hand-sewing (especially the beading!) appeal strongly to me. And not only did the Eliott sisters inspire my interest in fashion, the show cemented the bond I have with my mother.

Sunday nights spent watching the ABC with mum were symptomatic of my late teens - no matter the angst between us the Sunday screening somehow bridged our divides for an hour each week. A chocolate would pass hands, we'd glance at each other at some new development in the plot, gush over clothes once the credits rolled. I was always secretly glad that even though I didn't have a sister, at least I had a mother who appreciated clothes as much as I did. Her sewing of my dance costumes every November played into our joint obsession with fashion and tailoring, as we played with beads and sequins (the more the better) and hemlines (I like them short). My rite of passage after-school-job was as an assistant to an eccentric, Lebanese man in his tailoring and menswear store. It was a cloistered world - Lebanese coffee, warm bread, a store packed with clothes, old-fashioned cash registers and strange customers.
The sound of a sewing machine, pearl-headed pins, tape measures around the neck and spools of thread are the memories I carry of the end of my highschool years, and an obsession with bespoke that will probably last forever.