Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Moving Stone Gathers No Moss

If you haven't heard of Shoes of Prey, I'm afraid you've probably been hiding under the proverbial rock.

Founded in 2009 by fellow Brisbanites and former lawyers, Michael Fox, Michael Knapp and Jodie Fox the design-your-own shoes-in-3D website has taken off in a major way both here and overseas. After their third successful capital raising in late 2014, resulting in US$5.5M in venture capital funding from (among others) US-based Khosla Ventures, Shoes of Prey is now expanding its off-line, bricks and mortar presence in the US, as well as construction of a new factory in China. Shoes of Prey had previously raised $4.75M in 2 other capital raising activities. This latest deal leaves the original founders with just under 50% equity in the business.

Along with their concessions at David Jones here in Australia (whose forecast revenue from the shoes has doubled in the first years of operation), Shoes of Prey has recently inked a deal with Nordstrom to open 11 concession outlets in the USA. The China factory will allow Shoes of Prey to expand its output capacity 12-fold as it races to meet the insatiable demand of shoe-lovers globally. In addition to all of this, the deal has enabled Shoes of Prey to hire key staff for the expansion, including a chief marketing officer, graphic designers and senior retail staff. Shoes of Prey also now has an office in Soho, New York.

Suffice to say, these guys are doing the best out of the rest of the class of 2003.

Shoes of Prey doesn't sleep though. They have recently announced a collaboration with Romance Was Born, Australia's boundary pushing fashion house known for its bold, colourful prints and theatrical catwalk shows. This latest collaboration brings a set of 5 gorgeous, Australiana-inspired prints to the Shoes of Prey platform. I am in love!

With sales growing 50% year on year since its launch and gross profits exploding 250% over the last year, there's no stopping Shoes of Prey and its innovative co-founders.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Friday: Artistes

My weekend is all about the arts this week!

The weekend will open gorgeously with tonight's opening night performance of La Sylphide. Queensland Ballet has really stepped up the quality of their performances of late. Much credit must go not only to the genius of Li Cunxin - better known as Mao's Last Dancer - but also to the funding pulling power that comes with his appointment: the performances are much more lavish these days, and often led by principal dancers sourced internationally, bringing a higher quality of production and expertise to our shores.

From this: Queensland Ballet keeping it classy

Friday's elegant main course will be followed up on Saturday night with dessert: a performance by Australia's songbird sweetheart, Kylie Minogue. Key things I hope to see on Saturday night are a modern vampy rendition of Locomotion, lots of fabulous costume changes, oodles of hot back-up dancers, and Brisbane's gay community out in force, looking as delectable as the back-up dancers. Anything on top of that will be a bonus.

To this: ultimate performer, Kylie Minogue

These performances will be spliced by episodes of my current obsession, Twin Peaks.

Incidentally there is a David Lynch exhibit at QAGoMA running until June showcasing David Lynch's visual art works - paintings, photography and works on paper. In addition to this, there will be plenty of fun activities during the exhibition months including a Twin Peaks trivia night, screenings of his most iconic films, and the always-wonderful Up Late sessions.

The exhibition is described as thus:
‘David Lynch: Between Two Worlds’ is a rare opportunity to consider Lynch’s entire creative vision and the relationships between his practice as an artist, filmmaker and musician.
Developed closely with the artist, the QAGOMA exhibition features more than 200 works and is organised around three ideas – ‘Man and machine’, ‘The extra-ordinary’, and ‘Psychic Aches’. Moving between the porous divide of the body and the world it inhabits, the exhibition explores the subjects of industry and organic phenomena; representations of inner conflict; and the possibility of finding a deeper reality in our experience of the everyday.
Note: this exhibition contains nudity, coarse language, violent imagery and adult themes. 

The Lost Highway still rates as one of the creepiest movies I've seen to date. I also heartily believe that Mulholland Drive is more of a spin-out than Donnie Darko and not to be messed with when messed up on illicit substances. For Brisbanites, I highly recommend attending the exhibition, if only to relive some classic cinematic moments!

Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Residence

Nicole Kidman has appeared in Etihad's latest advertising campaign, promoting its A380 Residence suite. Described as better than first class, the suites are the only private living spaces available on commercial airline flights (I'm sure Emirates isn't far behind on this though).
The Residence is a three-room suite at the front of the plane featuring a living room, bedroom complete with a double bed and a private bathroom with shower.The living room features a two-seat leather couch, a dining table and private mini-bar. Both the living room and the bedroom feature LCD TVs for in-flight entertainment.

The only thing missing is a treadmill. Based on some of the very senior executives I know who fly frequently, the hours spent in the sky are unanimously believed to be a wasted opportunity to squeeze in some exercise (although admittedly I'm sure there is plenty of space to do a spot of yoga). I'm not sure I'd fork out $24,000 each way in order to do so, but it sure would be tempting to use points to upgrade if that were the case.
Not-so-simple pleasures.

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

Last week I received a handwritten note. In the mail. It wasn't an invitation to a party or a birthday card. It was just a note because someone had thought of me. It was the nicest feeling to know someone had been so generous as to give me the gift of their handwriting and of their time.

Funnily enough, I had made a New Year's resolution to send more handwritten notes to friends. My girlfriend's note reminded me I haven't written a single letter to a single person all year (NY Resolution fail - not the only one for the year, I'm sure).

Back in high school I was a voracious letter writer. I had pen pals all over the eastern seaboard, and I wrote love letters to a bunch of guys (and they responded, wonderfully enough!). I sorted through my box of high school memorabilia a few months ago and was reminded of my high school self - impulsive, gossipy, dreadfully sarcastic and obsessed with inspirational quotes. Not much has changed!

Of course email wasn't really around then (erghh so OLD) and you certainly couldn't backspace, which meant that you thought a little more about what you said before putting it into paper's perpetuity. You had to think about your spelling, and oftentimes the amount you cared about someone was measured by the number of pages you wrote. Most gloriously, once you'd popped your envelope into a mail box - history's equivalent of pressing send - you could never remember quite what you'd written which, depending on the addressee, sent either a shiver of horror at revealing too much of yourself, or smacking your forehead as you realised the morsel of gossip you'd forgotten to mention.

Simple pleasures.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Who Wore It Better? Apple vs Penny

The Apple watch has been released today with much fanfare and excitement. The watch is available in 3 different types (Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition) in different materials and finishes, at corresponding price points.

The watch has a lot to offer users, but is it really as good as the original prototype set forth by Penny from Inspector Gadget? To me, this is the ultimate watch.

As a kid, I used to scour the show bag stands at the local fair hoping there would be a Penny watch inside the Inspector Gadget show bag. Of course I didn't realise I would have to wait 20 years for said watch, and that the watch would not come with assorted plastic Penny paraphernalia (my earliest Gadget show bag had Penny's face on a ping pong paddle which seemed kinda rude at the time) nor would it retail at the imminently respectable show bag price of $10. (The Apple Watch Edition has a sapphire face and special 18 carat thing-a-me-bobs (say WHAT?!) and will retail at US$10,000).

So for $349 for the Sport or $10,000 for the Edition, is it better than Penny's watch? Buzzfeed tells it like it is:

1. Like Penny's watch, you can make calls from the Apple Watch. 1 - 1.

2. You can make video calls from both. 2 - 2.

3. Both watches synch to other devices (admittedly, the iPad and laptop are a little better than Penny's rather cumbersome book, but even so, the book was marvellous for its time). 3 - 3.

4. Penny's watch has a multi-functional laser beam. Apple's does not. 4 - 3 to Penny.

5. Penny's watch has a flashlight for escaping dangerous situations. Apple's does not. 5 -3.

7. Penny's watch has GPS tracking. Perfect for stalking your partner if you don't trust them (WHAT?!) or - in my best dreams - precisely identifying ice cream shops that are still open at midnight when everywhere else is shut. 6 - 3.

8. Penny's watch also has a strong magnet. In the modern, non-crime fighting world, I expect this would enable you to collect your keys off the bench from a distance as you run out the door. 7 - 3.

9. Penny's watch DETECTS RADIOACTIVITY. While you may not think that's important now, in a potentially post-apocalyptic world, I can definitely see the benefit of that! 8 - 3.

So there you have it. Penny's watch - devised 20 years ago - is still far and away the more advanced product. Sadly, it doesn't exist. While I couldn't bear to part with my beautiful, wedding-gifted Rolex, I can see the novelty value of an Apple watch. But not for $10,000!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Happy Friday: Let's Hear it for the Girls

International Women's Day has rolled up again, and I'm sad not to have been able to make it to the usual lunch I attend on someone else's corporate credit card. So I'm just making up lots of empowering speeches in my head as I try to swim through the piles of work I feel I am drowning under.

I have been racking my brain to think about what has changed over the year since last International Women's Day. Has the place of women in society been improved? Apart from Dolce & Gabbana finally pointing out to the fashion world via it's Milanese fashion show that women get pregnant and have babies and can still be fashionable, I'm not sure. Tony Abbott as Minister for Women hasn't exactly revolutionised Australian women's rights, nor has he galvanised anyone into action over the myriad issues that still exist (and that's just for women in our lovely developed country - pity the women stuck in the sinkhole territories where they still can't safely attend school, drive a car or publicly exhibit their personal style).

Dolce & Gabbana

As the economy takes a nose dive, all the luxuries we had previously been thinking would come our way have ground to a halt. We were at dizzying heights at one stage, believing women might get half pay for 6 months while we raise our children (still pretty poor when compared to generous Scandinavian countries and even Iran, where women receive 2/3rds of their regular pay from public funds for a period of 12 weeks following the birth of a child).

But worse than that - and also believed to be linked to the worsening economy - are the rates of domestic violence in our country. So far this year, 2 women per week have died as a result of domestic violence. It's a little sickening to read that statistic. This is an increase on the usual level of 1 per week.

One woman per week in Australia, on average, dies at the hands of a violent partner. That number is increasing.

Thankfully, a national conversation around the issue - which is now being framed in terms such as "national emergency", "crisis levels" etc - is occurring. As State and Federal governments cut services - including closing women's shelters - vestiges of hope for many women are being snatched away. We simply can't allow it to happen, and nor can we allow women and children to suffer in silence as they are abused at the hands of their so-called "loved ones".

This isn't a situation that only affects women in lower socio-economic situations. As Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year, anti-domestic violence campaigner and mother to an 11 year old boy who was shockingly bashed to death on a cricket pitch by his violent father, very movingly and passionately stated on the ABC's Q&A program on Monday:

“I live in a nice house, I am an independent, single woman, I'm a professional, I’m educated — if it can happen to me, it can happen to everybody.”

If you think about it, you probably know a female who has at one point suffered abuse at the hands of a partner. I know a couple. They weren't killed, and they have moved on and have healthy relationships with other people now. But it happened to them, and as Rosie Batty can attest, it can quite easily spiral into something far worse.

So while at a micro level we should be looking out for our friends, at a macro level, it's time we did more. Gender inequality is linked to many things: pay inequities, maternity leave injustices, unconscious bias in the workplace, and domestic violence. We can't let these things slip through to the keeper any more, and we can't let a worsening economy hold us back from looking out for our friends, sisters, mothers, daughters and the girl on the bus copping it from her boyfriend.

Don't just talk about it, do something!

It's a long time to White Ribbon Day here in Australia, and an even longer time until the next International Women's Day. I hope we see progress, and I hope we all contribute in some way to improving the rights and safety of women. I think the national conversation is moving in the right direction, but ultimately it's our actions that speak louder than words.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Shoesday: Barbie Girl

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley does a mean Barbie impersonation for Japanese Vogue this month. There are plenty of lust-worthy shoes as you might expect from Barbie. My favourites are the polka dot ankle boots.

Some people consider the shoot a little creepy, I consider it fierce. I'm sure Tyra would approve.