Tuesday, 23 February 2010


Bloody buggery bum! I'm so cross, I had this lovely pair of green satin shoes on laybuy at Mollini, and when I went to pick them up, I found that the shop had suddenly closed, and the whole company has gone bankrupt. So I can't have the shoes or my money back. Luckily I had only put $30 on them, but I wanted them!!! They were so pretty, with a little peep-toe and a swirl of satin on the front, so grown-up and classy, and such a wonderful emerald colour.

(Ok, before you feel completely sorry for me, I did pick up a pair of the same shoes in black for $20 at the factory outlet, but they aren't green! Booo.)

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Costume Collection

Yesterday evening I went along on a group tour of Loel Thomson's Costume Collection. It was organised by Nicole Jenkins from Circa Vintage Clothing, and I highly recommend going along next time there is one. Loel Thomson has been collecting everyday clothing, from the 1800s to the 1960s, for over 25 years. The Costume Collection is housed in a converted computer parts factory in Bulleen, and Loel and her husband live in former offices (he has his own workshop downstairs). The displays in the museum are changed frequently, with only a fraction of the total collection on display at any one time. She also has a library stuffed with the most amazing collection of books on clothing and fashion, including vintage magazines dating back to the 1830s, and a whole collection of lace. You can read an article about the collection in The Age here.

Currently in the museum, there is a display of winter fashions from Victorian times to the 60s; Victorian mourning clothes, jewellery and ephemera; a collection of hair jewellery; and a selection of items made from animal parts that would be illegal and in poor taste today, including an elephant foot plant pot, a tiger skin rug, an arctic fox stole, a koala tea-cosy (yes, made out of a read koala!), and some other rather creepy things. The best thing is that the collection is not just clothing, but all the other bits and pieces that make up a costume. Each model is fully clothed, with shoes, gloves, hat, jewellery, etc. There are lots of other interesting things as well: a moustache cup (so you don't get tea in your moustache), a lovely lady's travelling box with lots of little bottles that all fit in neatly, devices for ironing and crimping fabric, underwear, Australian trench jewellery, and lots more clothes. All the clothing is out in the open, so although you can't touch, you can get a good look from all angles in a way that is impossible when things are in glass cases.

I also met (quite by fortuitous accident) the lovely Marie from Vintage Suburbia, who's blog I've been reading lately. She was wearing a sweet vintage frock, black with pink flowers scattered over it, pink gloves and a straw and lucite handbag. Very classy.

Friday, 12 February 2010

R.I.P. Alexander McQueen

I was so sad to hear that the fantastically talented Lee Alexander McQueen died yesterday. He always had such amazing and beautiful collections, and he will be sadly missed by all of us who did not know him but were inspired and delighted by his work.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Darling Dita

I know there are quite a few people out there who don't like Dita von Teese, for various reasons, but you have to admire the sheer artifice of her look. I can't help but be impressed with the amount of effort she puts into looking impeccable at all times. She is first and foremost a performer, and her face is her fortune, as it were. God knows what is says about her personally, that she remains in character as Dita rather than Heather Sweet (her real name) offstage as well as on. But she is certainly delightful to look at, and I always salute people who make a sartorial effort and provide some eye candy!

What I'm most interested in, is what she wears during the day, her "ordinary" clothes as opposed to the ones she wears to red carpet events. Clothes that mere mortals can actually relate to (though probably not afford). Most of these photos are from JustJared.

Firstly, a few coats. A lovely tartan trench coat, paired with a black straw beret, opaque black tights and black heels.

Even when leaving the gym, Dita looks chic, using a leopard-print scarf and a matching bag to glam up a plain black coat and black flats with bows.

Looking amazing in Paris in a wonderful 40's style turban, black fur coat over a black dress, and square-toed black satin heels. Note the tasteful gold accessories - small earrings and bracelet, and she's even matched it with the black patent bag with gold hardware.

What does Miss von Teese wear when she goes to the supermarket? Why, spike heels of course! I love this rather demure dress that still manages to be very sexy, and the shoes with their diamante decoration at the front are totally over the top.

Another trip to the supermarket, this time in a double-breasted red coat, with very full bishop sleeves, and black Mary Janes.

Here is Dita in a lovely emerald jersey dress from Rachel Pally, which she has teamed with a leopard-print clutch, sunglasses and heels. I love the full bishop sleeves which are gathered into a long, tight cuff, and the gathered side panels of the skirt.

A very pretty 50s style frock, which looks like it is made of a heavy satin. Matching black satin heels with square toes and a red patent bag.

Below is a selection of50s style sundresses, including an amazing one with 3-dimensional red flowers that has got to be vintage.

For a more preppy look, Dita likes sweaters or cardigans with bows and collars.

A nice wintery look in vintage Dior. An interesting idea to team a short-sleeved wool (?) dress with over-the-elbow black leather gloves, but it seems to work quite well.

For as near to relaxed as Dita gets, we can see her at the Coachella Music Festival. No gumboots here. Instead, she sports one of my favourite outfits, a red and white playsuit with wedges, and of course a parasole to protect that lily-white skin. I love her cherry necklace and that natty little hat.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Books of 2009

Last year was not so good for me in the book reading department. Out of my goal of 52 books, I only managed 41, down from 2008's total of 46. Also, I only read 5 books from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list. Must try harder!

As I mentioned last time, I keep a notebook of all the books I read, with a short description (so I can remember what they were about) , some comments, and a rating out of five stars. The books I gave five stars to last year were:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - lovely older children's book about a little boy who is brought up by the ghosts in a graveyard after his parents are murdered. Sweet and scary.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George - written in 1959, it tells the story of a teenage boy who leaves home and goes to live in the Catskill mountains. I adored this book when I was a child, and it is full of little drawings and explanations of how he hollows out a tree for his house, makes deer-skin clothes, traps animals, etc. Gorgeous.

The Town House by Norah Lofts - beginning in the 1480's in England, it follows the fortunes of a family who live in a medieval house, starting with the man who built it, and going down the generations. Each character has a wonderfully distinctive voice, and it is meticulously well-researched. Most delightfully, this is the first book of a trilogy about the house, and although written in the early 60's, they haven't dated.
Thank you to meegan for recommending this author!

Dog Boy by Eva Hornung - this is definitely my favourite book of the year, and once I had started it, I had to stay up until four in the morning to finish it in one sitting! A four year-old boy is abandoned in an empty apartment block by his uncle, in a freezing Russian winter. Desperate to survive, he follows a dog home to her den, and is brought up along with her puppies. The bonds between the dogs, and between the boy and the dogs is beautifully explored, without any sentimentality or anthropomorphism, and the way he fits into the pack is so clever and realistic. Amazing.

The City and the City by China Mieville - very clever detective story set in a fictional Eastern European city that is actually two cities superimposed upon each other.

Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist - Swedish horror-ish story about what would happen if the dead came back to life. Sad and thought provoking as well as scary.

Some other books I enjoyed:

Stardust by Neil Gaiman - lovely fairy story about a man who meets a fallen star

The Darkness of Wallace Simpson by Rose Tremain - clever short stories

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt - the friendship between an artist and an art historian, and how their families intertwine over 25 years

The Seance by John Harwood - a ghost story set in Victorian England

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters - another ghost story, this time set after WWII, about a country doctor who forms a bond with a family living in a run down mansion.

The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies by Sathnam Sanghera - interesting story of a Seik childhood growing up in Wolverhampton, by a man who has only recently discovered that his father is a violent schizophrenic.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - a missionary takes his family to the heart of the Congo in the 1950's.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - a older children's book about a boy who lives in a future settlement where all the women have died, and all the men can hear each others thoughts.

A friend of mine, who is absolutely obsessed with superhero comics, has been kindly lending me selected titles, so I've read Batman: The Dark Knight (ok), Batman: Hush (lovely art), Batman: Year One (interesting), The Watchmen (amazing), and Kingdom Come (ravishing looking paintings by Alex Ross). There were some others that I didn't like so much, and I much prefer DC to Marvel.

Jitterbug is hosting a Book of the Month Club over at her blog, Destination 1940. This month the book is The Grapes of Wrath, which is also on the 1001 list, so that's what I'm off to read!