Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Handbag Butler - gadget love!

A few weeks back I discovered the creative genius that is the Handbag Butler. Designed to protect your handbag from getting scratched and scuffed on the ground, the Handbag Butler is a foldable hanger that rests on a table top or other flat surface, its metal hook extending down to link through the straps of your bag.

After further information, I wrote to the company's founder, Sydney-based entrepreneur Ana Slavka, and was delighted when she offered to send me my own Butler to play with.

On arrival, I was impressed by the swish and dainty packaging, and the nifty purse pouch each Butler can be stored in.

My pink floral version got its first workout at the Time & Tide Cafe in Port Fairy last weekend. Hanging delicately from the table, my purple canvas tote was amply protected and kept out of the way.

Walking through Myer on Saturday I spotted a display of Butlers on a sales counter. I started telling my friend, Dr S, how impressed I've been with mine.  Taken with their practicality and style, she promptly stopped and purchased three: one for herself, and two as gifts for when she goes back to Adelaide over Easter to visit her mum and sister.

There are 24 different designs retailing at between $29.95 and $34.95: the perfect price point to buy for a friend, or to justify as a practical purchase for oneself. And as Ana pointed out, the average woman owns 111 handbags over her lifetime, each one costing on average $140. So that's $15,545 of handbags worth protecting!

The Handbag Butler
Available in Australia, Europe, the UK and the USA

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Port Fairy discoveries continued...

As mentioned in my previous post, last weekend I visited the Port Fairy.

"Beach House", my accommodation for the weekend

The weather was unseasonally warm, and we took a walk around the lighthouse island, watched the local football team in action, and explored the marina.

Detail of a squid boat

I was impressed by the high quality eateries concentrated in the town centre, all clamouring to feed the cashed up city-folk on their weekends away.

But my favourite meal by far occurred out of town, at the Time & Tide Gallery Cafe. Located five minute's drive along the coast road, the breakfast and lunch venue looks out over the crashing waves of South Beach. Billed as the local's getaway, my hosts for the weekend bumped into no less than three other couples they knew while we ate, proving this tagline comprehensively.

The brunch menu wasn't your usual bacon and eggs line up, instead featuring fritattas, egg pies and delectable baked goods.

And an incredible Bircher muesli. The rare kind, that doesn't need more milk or yoghurt to de-stodge. Yum.

Safe to say I'll be visiting again in the near future. I do enjoy it when expectations are exceeded and places surprise me.

Time & Tide Gallery Cafe
21 Thistle Place
Port Fairy VIC
Ph: 03 5568 2134

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Down the coast, away with the fairies

I've got a mad week at work this week, so am going to keep it brief and post some pictures of my weekend trip to Port Fairy. A dear friend of mine, who shall be known henceforth as Seaside K (as against my other friend K who lives in the city), recently moved down to Port Fairy to be near her boyfriend.

They live in a lovely weather board home 200m from the beach, and despite my initial scepticism of small-town coastal life, I was quite taken by the place.

A runner for the Port Fairy football team

A symbol of Australia - the iconic hills hoist

Perhaps coastal towns will always hold a special place in my heart, given I spent much of my childhood in Perth. But if I had to pick somewhere to live in regional Victoria, Port Fairy would probably top the list.

More photos to come.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

My first runway show: L'Oreal Paris Vogue Runway

It's a busy week this week for fashion bloggers around Melbourne, with the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival (LMFF) kicking off officially on the Sunday just past.

Tuesday evening was arguably the most anticipated runway show of the Festival, being presented by Vogue and featuring Australian designers ANTIPODIUM, Arnsdorf, Dion Lee, ELLERY, Friedrich Gray, Gary Bigeni, Romance Was Born and Therese Rawsthorn.

Unlike industry-only fashion weeks around the world, LMFF is more of a cultural program and offers ticketed seating to many of their events. While the front three rows are still filled with industry insiders and press, crowds of women and men poured into the venue on Tuesday all delighted to be a part of the festival on their own terms.

Arriving early to pick up my tickets, I walked past the L'Oreal Powder Room where, I assume, the queues of hot and sweaty girls waiting were being given touch ups before they stepped out into the heat again, only to be accosted by some poor fellow from a research agency who quizzed them on their experience and thoughts on L'Oreal products.

There was an astounding number of Festival volunteers, all young women hoping to gain exposure to the inside machinations of a big fashion event. I eavesdropped on one cluster who, after spotting a girl being questioned by a man with a clipboard, squealed, "Ooh, she's been spotted! Do you think she's a model? Wow, she's so lucky!" More likely he was from the L'Oreal research company, but no matter.

The runway was held at Central Pier in Docklands, and a purpose-built bar has been set up alongside to cater for the ever-thirsty fashion crowd.

As I waited for my plus one to arrive, I observed a mix of local government members, corporate types attending as part of LMFF sponsorship packages, well-dressed women of all ages, and the usual mix of photographers, journalists and bloggers.

The woman in red pictured above was well-shod with these babies on her feet, spotted before she entered the bar:

And on my way in I spotted Luke Sales from Romance Was Born. Sadly the camera didn't come out in time and I only got a shot of his colourful sweater as he was walking away.

Then it was time for the show itself. We found a complementary copy of this month's Vogue on our seats and grabbed a glass of champagne before the lights dimmed and the music started pumping through the speakers.

First up was Romance Was Born, featuring sequins, rhinestone embellishments and lots of glittery additions. They emphasised the shoulders and upper body volume, with paint splattered leggings.

Ellery offered a pleasing combination of long blazer jackets, shorts and ultra mini body con dresses. The colours were primarily pastels, with a vibrant watermelon asymmetric dress appearing towards the end.

Fredrick Gray wasn't as technically interesting as hoped, with sliced leggings, ruched body con dresses and torn knits featuring.

Antipodium channelled outback Australia with checks, tartan and a definite Pioneer Woman theme, emphasised by oversized toy goanna lizards draped around some models' necks.

Gary Bigeni chose an asymmetric,  slouchy theme featuring stretch jersey fabrics in white, grey and soft pink. Micro short hemlines were again the theme, although Gary did also feature the only maxi dress of the evening.

Arnsdorf's collection offered viewers oversized blazers, over-emphasised sleeves and high-waisted pants.

Dion Lee was the absolute highlight, and was deservingly awarded the LMFF Young Designer award for his collection. His panelling and structured approach to the bodices and shoulder pieces was technically inspired. There was a 1960s Space Age feel to the clothes, as the angular lines, strong shoulders and missing panels emphasised the torso and called to mind the images of Jane Fonda in 1968 cult flick Barbarella.

Therese Rawsthorn closed the runway with petal skirts emphasising the hips, long blazers and more slouchy fabrics in baby blue, cream and blonde.

Contoured dresses finishing just below the bottom were a dominant theme, meaning come winter we'll all be walking around tugging our hems down in desperation. Nude, soft pink, off-white and grey were the primary colour pallate, with splashes of watermelon, orange or dark red being the brighter shades of choice. Blazers and shoulders continue to dominate, so keep those shoulder pads working hard!

Afterwards, giddy with excitement, we went back into the Woolshed and I had the pleasure of meeting up with Candice from Super Kawaii Mama, and then Phoebe from Lady Melbourne, Alicia from Sea of Ghosts, and Fashion Hayley.

Me, Alicia, Phoebe and Hayley. Melbourne blogging celebrities! 
(The others, not me, obviously.)

For more fashion coverage of the evening, see Phoebe's write up in Melbourne Street Fashion. Also, if you are interested in viewing high quality images of each runway look, visit PicApp and search for LMFF 2010, plus the designer you are interested in. Thanks again to Akisa from Beauty Swatch for pointing me towards such a great reference.

Although the runway shows are likely sold out by now, have a browse through the LMFF Cultural Program for many more fabulous events throughout the city over the next couple of days.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A new retail space opens - Fashion Gallery

The week before last I attended my first fashion party – the launch of Fashion Gallery in South Yarra.

Jetsetting Joyce from MEL: HOT OR NOT had asked whether I wanted to be her plus one, and then I subsequently received an invitation from the lovely Becx at PRVille in my own right as an occasional fashion blogger. Oh, the thrill!

In suitably Melbourne style, the entrance to Fashion Gallery located off a quiet street, in an alleyway, and through a hole cut in a corrugated iron roller door.

We treaded carefully up the dimly lit staircase, and found ourselves in an old clothing factory being put to excellent use: the presentation of collections relating to the fashion and apparel industry. There was a jewellery installation, brightly-coloured jeans hanging from the roof, shiny leather shoes originating from Portugal, and sheer fabrics and draped structures attracting the inquisitive fingers of many an attendee.

Fashion Gallery in the brainchild of Dave Brennan, who, as the founder of Chapter 11 Apparel, felt keenly the challenges of running an emerging fashion label. “It can be hard to attract buyers if you are working in isolation”, he observed.

Fashion Gallery has been conceived as somewhere up-and-coming labels can band together, sharing the overheads of the space and using the warehouse cum showroom to display their merchandise to the public. The gallery concept means that while Fashion Gallery is not a retail outlet in the traditional sense, visitors are still able to purchase items that catch their eye.

As enthusiastic bloggers, Joyce and I arrived early compared to the achingly trendy fashion crowd that later began to filter in, and as a result we were able to get some clear photos of the installations.

My absolute favourite was the men’s shoe label St Lucia Footware, founded by Patrick Butler and Robert Ashton. Their Portuguese-manufactured brogues, boots and slip ons were a delight to behold. When I spoke to them they had meetings lined up with various senior buyers, and I hope someone has the sense to take them on board.

Patrick Butler from St Lucia Footware

Clothing label Sosume is the result of a multi-national collaboration between Alex Trimmer (Melbourne), Wil Fry (Sydney) and Paulina Petkoski and Rachel Kozub, currently based in New York. The partnership has produced a range of enchantingly moody casual wear, including some beautifully cut jackets.

I Heard They Eat Cigarettes

It was difficult not to notice the bright paint-bespeckled jeans by I Heard They Eat Cigarettes, nor the imposing beaded shoulder pads by jewellery designer Jude. Another clothing label that drew my attention was Kollate, with its draped dresses and loose-fitting pants, perfect for layering in Melbourne’s winter.


I regretted the decision not to wear my contacts that morning. I probably came across as a bookish blogger, particularly after an awkward misunderstanding with a PR girl whom I misheard and was subsequently convinced she worked in the music industry. Ah well.

Me, with sexy glasses, and Phoebe from Lady Melbourne

It was lovely to run into Phoebe Montague from Lady Melbourne, and her plus one for the evening, Mark. Red Bull and Vodka O catered the alcohol for the evening, and when I left, the mix of designers, models, PR bunnies and fresh-faced hangers on were merrily celebrating the achievements of each installation.

You can visit the 12 fashion installations at Fashion Gallery during standard retail hours, with extended Friday trading.

Full list of designers on show: I Heard They Eat Cigarettes, Sosume, St Lucia Footware, Camilla Welton, Jude, Kollate, Chapter 11 Apparel, Kosi Kosi, Borscha, Tor Mathieson, Small Time Crook, Sea Pony

Fashion Gallery at Oak on Chapel
33 Simmons St (entrance off Oak Place)
South Yarra 3141
Opening Hours:
Mon - Thu 10-5, Fri 10-7, Sat 10-5 and Sun 11-4.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

End of an era: Le Louvre moving from Collins St

On Friday I went to a networking lunch at The Firm, and as I walked back along Colins St I spotted Le Louvre, with large "Moving SALE" signs on the iconic facade.

I've always been too intimidated to go inside, but this time I figured time was running out if I wanted to visit one of Melbourne's most exclusive boutiques in its original location.

Bolstered sightly by the sight of another woman (who didn't look too posh) walking out of the heavy door, I popped my head inside.

Most of the stock had disappeared, but the owner, Georgina Weir, still had some bolts of fabric available and a couple of designer left-overs, including a Stella McCartney blouse and a Lanvin jacket.

Despite reading about how Georgina can strike fear into the heart of the most self-assured fashionistas, the woman I spoke to seemed friendly and accommodating. She refused to elaborate on the rumour that her new store, on Daly St in South Yarra, would feature pink glitter spraypaint and a radical change of style.

"Well, you'll just have to come by and see", she replied, with a twinkle in her eye. Her leopard print lamp shades and staircase allude to a mischievous sense of humour, and perhaps this time I won't wait eight years before I decide to visit.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Wild weather excitement

One of the wildest storms in years hit the city yesterday at 2.30pm, leaving Melbourne awash with scenes straight out of a 20th Century Fox disaster movie.

I knew the afternoon was going to be wet so I'd managed to get most of my errands out of the way during the morning. Miles and I were grabbing a coffee at The Final Step before heading home to read the paper and curl up on the couch.

On stepping into the street and seeing the dark sky, Miles herded me up the hill towards home more speedily than usual. And his expeditiousness was well-timed: as soon as we stepped into the apartment the heavens opened.

We stood on the balcony and watched hailstones the size of falafel bounce onto the roofs opposite us,  soon joined by heavy rain. But it was the wind that really got me - the branches of the tree opposite were ripped off and soon the hail was coming sideways into where we were standing, forcing us to retreat indoors.

I tried to capture the intensity on my first blog video, but I must admit I'm not sure it does it justice. Perhaps just admire the size of the hailstone and then cross your fingers I improve my filming technique!

Then the power went off, and our bathroom started flooding. Oh, the excitement! We spent the rest of the afternoon mopping up the water and eavesdropping on the neighbours clustering in the courtyard. Nothing like the excitement of a minor natural disaster to bring people together! 

When we went for a walk down the street to buy some candles you could see the leaves blanketing the streets:

And drifts of hailstones:

Turns out we should have walked a bit further towards Chapel St, where we would have seen this:

From The Age: The corner of Chapel St and Commercial Rd. 
Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

There are dozens more photos here, and official coverage here.

Some facts and figures, taken from The Age:
  • 36 millimetres fell in Melbourne (29mm between 3 and 4pm)
  • Southern Cross Station closed after the roof collapsed, dozens of country train services cancelled
  • Widespread road flooding
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Aquarium, Chadstone Shopping Centre and The Jam Factory Cinema Complex evacuated
  • Flemington Australian Cup horse race meeting called off
More storms of apparently the same intensity are due this afternoon, but at the moment the sun is shining bright and the damp from yesterday is steaming off the ground. It was so exhilarating I'd almost like to see it all again, but I'm sure Melbourne's emergency services are relieved, after receiving over 2500 calls for help yesterday.

Did you experience the storm yesterday? Or have you been caught out by the weather on another occasion?

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