Do you have your hats ready for the spring racing season?

Posted October 13, 2017 11:53:19

Royal Randwick is hosting the richest turf race in the world this weekend — The Everest — and for many dressing the part involves weeks of planning.

Rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney has a long history but when it comes to the spring racing season, the Melbournites have an edge both on the track and fashion field.

Sydney milliner Neil Grigg says he has clients who pare back their look to match the mood in Sydney.

“It’s not has extravagant as Melbourne Cup, not as over the top,” he said.

“Melbourne has been going for much much longer, whereas Sydney doesn’t quite get the numbers … Sydney is still developing.”

Mr Grigg has been a milliner for close to 40 years, and says the lead-up to the spring season is a “mad time”.

“You don’t need to go as extravagant — but plenty of people do.”

He works on about five to six headpieces at a time, with each taking up to six hours to create.

What’s on trend?

Mr Grigg uses traditional fabrics such as silk and sheer crinoline for his headpieces, but has added some new materials for this season too.

“We’re starting to work with metals in the tiaras and crowns,” he said.

“We’re using leather in spring as well as autumn.

“I also use a fabulous material of silk and straw combination, so it just shines and glows.”

Mr Grigg’s hat of choice is the “very chic” pillbox.

“Beautiful pillboxes give you a lovely shape,” he said.

“Other than that, [try] a fascinator, which can be all feathers and flowers and frou-frou.

“Your face is framed by the hair, but you still get a hint of colour with a little shape around the head.”

Neil Grigg’s top fashion tips

Match the hat to the dress

“Say you have a blue dress,” he said.

“You might go with a nude shoe and a bag. You might put silver with the blue in your hat, so it gives you a lift, which you can pick up with jewellery.

“Don’t throw 27 colours into it. Alternatively, have a pink hat with a bit of a blue edge on it.”

Dip the hat

If you want to make it a bit more chic or add some style, give the hat a little dip on one side.

Pay attention to the way the hat dips though — whether it’s over the left or right eye — as it depends on whether the milliner is left or right-handed. The high point of the hat should sit in the centre.

For the men

If you are entering Fashions on the Field, you need a hat.

Doing it yourself?

Start with a solid base like a hat or fascinator and build up.

Think you can’t afford it?

Mr Grigg said hats start from about $30, and affordable pieces can be found at major department stores or craft stores.

“You might not have the most outrageous thing, but find something you feel fabulous in.”

Topics: horse-racing, fashion, sydney-2000

Merino farmers take ‘story’ of Australian wool to spin suiting gold

Posted October 01, 2017 08:15:29

They are unlikely partners — a Tasmanian wool farmer and a fashion designer — but this odd couple are having a big impact on the world of men’s fashion.

The collaboration between Tasmanian superfine wool producer, Simon Cameron, and Matt Jensen from MJ Bale has resulted in a collection of “single origin” men’s suits, all made with wool from Mr Cameron’s farm, Kingston.

“Simon is one of the best woolgrowers in the world,” Mr Jensen said.

“It’s allowed us to create some of the best suiting in the world — but directly from an Australian farm.”

Mr Cameron sends his bales of superfine to Italian woollen mill and fabric producer Vitale Barberis, in northern Italy, where it is woven into high-end suiting fabric.

From there, the fabric goes to Japan where Mr Jensen has his Kingston Collection suits handmade.

“We’ve kept it pretty classic — we’ve got three colours, a full canvas suit, which we handmade in Japan, [a] single-breasted suit,” Mr Jensen said.

Mr Cameron added: “It’s one of those things that you would probably keep for a long time because it’s a special product.”

‘Putting money back into, literally, the grassroots’

The wool from the Kingston is from unmulesed sheep.

That means more work for the farmer — but Mr Cameron stopped the practice of mulesing, where skin is cut off the sheep’s backside to avoid flystrike, long ago.

Careful management is still producing a healthy sheep and a high-quality superfine clip.

“We take out the backs, so that just leaves the two flanks,” Mr Cameron said.

“The main fleece pieces — the two bits from the sides of the sheep — are premium wool that gets put into a separate line.

“The backs get put into another line — it’s still good wool but it is more consistent in itself if it is classed that way.”

As part of the deal, MJ Bale is paying an additional contribution to Mr Cameron, which goes towards preserving native grasses and keeping the farming operation sustainable.

“We think it’s a good thing to be doing — to be putting money back into, literally, the grassroots of the country,” Mr Jensen said.

‘It’s a story right through Australia’

Kingston is not the only Tasmanian wool operation involved in a single-origin clothing range.

The historic Tasmanian wool property, Beaufront, sends wool to the Tollegno Mill in northern Italy, where it is also made into single-origin fabric.

“Our family has been farming here for 100 years — we’re really connected to the land,” Beaufront farmer Julian von Bibra said.

“We feel very strongly about our product — it’s a story right through Australia, in many ways, in terms of farmers managing the landscape and producing a product … we’re thrilled to be able to present that story.”

Julian and Annabel von Bibra feature in the Italian company’s marketing, where their commitment to the environment, their animals, and the production of wool from unmulesed sheep is highlighted.

“Our partners, Tollegno, have visited our farm,” Mr von Bibra said.

“They now have a feeling of what goes on in Australia — if we can be selling our story we represent farming more broadly as proud Tasmanian and Australian farmers, and it’s that opportunity that’s great.”

The Italian mill’s confidence in Beaufront is paying off.

It is working on contracts with clothing companies in America and Europe, and with Country Road in Australia.

“Country Road is a client of the mill, Tollegno in Italy, that bought into the concept — they saw the opportunity to tell the story and do it locally,” wool broker and deal negotiator, Alistair Calvert, said.

For the family, it is a special reward to see garments made with their wool.

“As a farmer you produce a raw product — bales of wool — and often lose the fact of where that wool ends up,” Mr von Bibra said.

“To follow it through to garment stage, to be closer to our customer, to meet the various people in the supply chain, has been an amazing opportunity.

“It keeps us focused on what we are doing.”

Topics: wool, agricultural-crops, rural, fashion, design, tas

‘We have needed this’: French fashion giants ban size-zero models

Updated September 07, 2017 15:53:53

French fashion companies LVMH and Kering have signed a joint charter vowing to stop hiring size-zero models worldwide in response to continued criticism the industry encourages eating disorders.

Key points:

  • The pact bans the conglomerates’ labels from using models below an Australian size 6
  • The charter requires models to submit a medical report every six months
  • Curvy model Abby Valdes says the move is long overdue

The pact adopted by French corporations LVMH and Kering, which own brands like Dior, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, incorporates — and goes beyond — a new French law that requires models to provide medical certificates proving they are healthy before they can work.

While the French law set to take effect on October 1 requires both male and female models to present a health certificate obtained within the previous two years, LVMH and Kering said their charter would shorten the timeframe to six months of the job.

The pact also bans the conglomerates’ labels from using female models below a French women’s size 34, which is typically equivalent to a US size 0-2 and a UK/Australian size 6.

The French law initially included a minimum body mass index (BMI) requirement, but it was removed after lawmakers deemed the doctor’s certificate an adequate safeguard.

In addition to fulfilling physical requirements, the charter requires each brand to put a dedicated psychologist at the disposal of fashion models during working eithers — either by phone or in person at the workplace.

The two groups said they introduced the charter with the hopes of setting a new global standard for the fashion industry.

“We hope to inspire the entire industry to follow suit, thus making a real difference in the working conditions of fashion models industry-wide,” Kering chief executive Francois-Henry Pinault said in a statement.

‘We have needed this’

Model Abby Valdes, who wears the average Australian woman’s clothing size of 12-16, has applauded the companies for bringing their standards in line with those of the consumer.

“I’m really proud of them for doing this. They need to uphold it,” Valdes said.

“I hope that this is the beginning of a long, long, list of others who follow suit. We have needed this.”

Valdes is one of Australia’s most successful plus-size models, having worked with labels such as Tommy Hilfiger and Marina Rinaldi over the span of her decade-long career.

But she still continues to experience discrimination on a regular basis within the industry.

“I have been living in New York for 10 years and certainly had a stylist or two look me up and down and just say, ‘I don’t know what to do with you’,” she said.

Valdes said it was time the rest of the industry started to shift its mindset to promote a healthier and more realistic message across the board.

“We’re real people and women, we want to see ourselves everywhere and these minus sizes and size-zero sizes, I don’t know anybody in my real life who looks like that,” Valdes said.

“I think when you’ve got a size that doesn’t exist, like size zero, you’ve got a problem. When you want kids to be in a size that is minus, you’ve got to take a look at that.

“We’ve got a voice to express ourselves … it’s high time they stopped trying to tell us what we want because we’re the consumers.

“It’s time we tell them what we want and we are.”

Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Stella McCartney are among the major labels to adopt the new casting requirements.


Topics: fashion, womens-health, health, women, france, australia

First posted September 07, 2017 15:26:18

From catwalk to sidewalk, teens didn’t always aim to shock

Posted September 04, 2017 10:54:27

In the 1960s it seemed baby boomers chose their wardrobes based purely on the clothes’ capacity to appal their parents.

But young people’s fashion didn’t always aim to shock, as shown in a 1940s photo of young women chatting and doing their make-up in a railway carriage’s powder bar on display as part of a new exhibition.

Wait, a powder bar?

“Railway travel used to be really luxurious — you had silver service, powder carriages, beautiful sleeper carriages,” said Natasha Cantwell, co-curator of Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) exhibition Catwalk to Sidewalk: Melbourne Street Fashion.

The young women in this powder bar are wearing clothing “typical of teenage fashion from the era”.

“It was about creating their own aesthetic, but they didn’t want to disrupt … They’re saying, ‘I’m a teenager but I’m also part of society’.”

Just a generation later though, young women were rejecting Melbourne society’s fashion traditions.

London model Jean Shrimpton famously wore a white minidress to Derby Day at Flemington in 1965; most media outrage however was saved for her lack of hat, stockings or gloves.

Four years on from this hatless hemline heightening, state government photographers captured this image of 1969 Moomba queen Janine Forbes which strikingly conveys the generational divide in fashion at the time.

“[Forbes] just completely stands out there in ’60s fashion,” Ms Cantwell said, noting the women either side of her came from the same generation as the girls in the powder bar.

State photos refashioned

The exhibition, now on show at PROV’s Victorian Archives Centre in North Melbourne, was timed to coincide with Melbourne Fashion Week.

Half the exhibition is current street photography, with the other half being historical government photos repurposed as fashion shoots.

“The strange thing about government photography is that a lot of it is incidentally interesting,” Ms Cantwell said.

“They might be recording a billboard, but they’ve actually created a really interesting cityscape.

“They’ve got a snapshot of the fashions of the time [from] people who just happened to be randomly walking past.”

A photo of women at Derby Day in 1936, possibly a promotional photo showing the places you could access via public transport, serves as a great contrast to today’s spring racing fashion.

“Fashion in 1936 was more aimed at older, wealthier women,” Ms Cantwell said.

“They’re dressed up in their finest winter clothes, which is surprising as it’s November.

“They’re dressed, some of them, completely head to toe in fur. That would be incredibly expensive, I imagine.”

Topics: fashion, library-museum-and-gallery, photography, 20th-century, human-interest, history, north-melbourne-3051, melbourne-3000

A model for Dior in the 1950s on life in the French fashion house

Posted August 29, 2017 18:08:48

In the 1950s, Svetlana Lloyd began working as a clothes horse for the rich and famous.

She had wandered into a Christian Dior boutique and was promptly appointed a mannequin, or model, in the French designer’s Paris fashion house. Each day, she would be dressed in the latest pieces for the benefit of the house’s wealthy clientele.

Last week, Ms Lloyd, now in her eighties, helped launch an exhibition of Dior’s work at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

She spoke to Lateline about what it was like to work with the fashion great in 1950s Paris and the impact of his death 60 years ago.

On getting a job as a ‘mannequin’

Monsieur Dior had 15 regular models who worked the year round, five days a week, from 3:00 to 5:00 every day. And he wanted to have women of various shapes, sizes, ages and heights. He didn’t care if they were pretty girls as long as they had an allure, and were chic.

I walked into the boutique, and before I had time to actually ask for a job I was whisked upstairs during the lunch hour.

Monsieur Dior was seated together with [design studio director] Madame [Raymonde] Zehnacker and I said, ‘What do I do now?’ [He said] ‘Walk, then come back’… And there it was. I went downstairs and they gave me a [note] for the hairdresser the next morning. And they said ‘You arrive at 2:30 and be ready to show the collection at 3:00’.

On Christian Dior, the man

He was always very quietly spoken. He had a very quiet voice, a little bit high-pitched, and he was always solicitous of his girls and the models. He didn’t want us to be too tired or stressed.

For the first season you got nothing. If you stayed on for the next season you were allowed one free outfit but it wasn’t new — [it] had to be one either you had worn or somebody else had worn. [It was] the only couture house in Paris that paid overtime.

I loved working. I didn’t enjoy the life in Paris, because social life in those days, for a mannequin, was about zero, because [the job] was considered prostitution. It was a very dull time outside of work.

On fitting famous people

The majority of his clients then were private clients, ladies. Twice a year they allowed themselves two or three weeks to do fittings, because each outfit was separately made and had to have fittings, including the corset that was sewn into their clothes.

I wouldn’t like to say naughty words but the Duchess of Windsor was really very rude and a very unpleasant person. First of all, when she looked at you, she had a nasty expression and she always found something unpleasant to say.

There’s a photograph of me showing the Saint Laurent grey dress, which sold 9,000 times, by the way. [Italian actor] Sophia Loren is sitting in the front. It was the sort of outfit that would not have suited her at all, because she was so curvaceous. Well, she’s sitting there thinking: that’s not for me.

On the great designer’s death in 1957

He died of a heart attack; he was away in Italy. It was quite a shock. They brought the body back, and the director announced that nobody was to leave that six months. No worker, no model — no-one. You had to stay the six months that were coming. We were issued with black coats. The house was closed, but everyone had to come in and clock in, as you do in factories, which was the usual. In other words, we were not allowed to stay home.

The director announced, in effect, ‘the king is dead, long live the king’. And he announced that [Yves] Saint Laurent — who was the same age as some of us — we had to call him monsieur; he would carry right on, after that week’s mourning.

On life after fashion

[Now] I’m not involved in fashion at all. This was only my second career. My fifth career was lecturing and that’s what I loved most of all and did for 25 years.

I feel like a ghost [here at the exhibition]. Am I in ’57 or in 2017? It feels very strange.

Topics: arts-and-entertainment, fashion, design, melbourne-3000, france

Magnifique! Christian Dior couture exhibition opens at NGV

Posted August 25, 2017 11:26:06

Rounded shoulders, boned bodices, padded hips and full skirts — it’s the style most often associated with Mad Men.

But while the television show is set at the start of the swinging sixties, the couture it has become famous for was so influential that it was started more than a decade earlier.

This new wave of fashion which became famous for establishing the unfurling hourglass silhouette came to life at the hands of Christian Dior, one of the finest designers of his generation.

Dior’s revolutionary designs celebrated femininity and elegance after the austerity of World War II.

And after years of making ends meet on the factory floor as their men fought in foreign countries, the ‘New Look’ spring-summer collection unveiled in 1947 rejuvenated the fashion world.

Seventy years after its debut, more than 140 garments designed by Christian Dior Couture between 1947 and 2017 will go on display at the National Gallery of Victoria from Sunday.

“The exhibition will invite Australian and international audiences to discover some of the most significant couture designs of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries,” National Gallery of Victoria director Tony Ellwood said.

“The exhibition will be a celebration of Dior’s most landmark moments and designs.”

The gallery has also commissioned and acquired two Dior haute couture dresses, Essence d’Herbier and Look 10, Bar coat which will also be on display.

Dior’s association with Australia goes back further than most people realise.

In 1948, a year after the fashion house’s couture collection changed the face of fashion, 50 original creations featured at the spring fashion parade at David Jones in Sydney.

It was the first time a Dior show was shown outside of Paris.

Christian Dior Couture president, Sidney Toledano, said the gallery’s modern exhibition was a historic moment.

“This exhibition will be the biggest Dior retrospective ever held in Australia,” he said.

“It will cover seventy years of creation, presenting the emblematic work of Christian Dior and his successors, including Maria Grazia Chiuri, who arrived last July and is the first woman at the head of the couture house.”

Dior’s life expressed in his dresses

Christian Dior opened his fashion house in 1946, after working as a fashion illustrator and designer.

Ahead of his first show, public interest was so intense that some invitations made their way to the black market.

Dior’s designs would spark a renaissance of French couture, and become the start of a fashion empire with willing models from sections of royalty, aristocracy and Hollywood.

He would become known for dramatic evening dresses and sweeping, glamourous ball gowns which experimented with volume and form.

“In a machine age, dressmaking is one of the last refuges of the human, the personal, the inimitable,” Dior said.

“Finally, everything that has been part of my life, whether I wanted it to or not, has expressed itself in my dresses.”

The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture will be at NGV International from August 27 until November 7, 2017.

Topics: fashion, design, arts-and-entertainment, library-museum-and-gallery, melbourne-3000

The art of fashion: Paolo Sebastian couture featured in gallery

Posted August 04, 2017 16:01:28

As a kid, Paul Vasileff would wander through the wings of the Art Gallery of South Australia, admiring different masterpieces.

It never crossed his mind that, one day, he would be looking at his own collection.

“To think that now my work is going to be showing here and people are going to be coming to see it is a surreal and wonderful feeling,” he said.

“I’m very honoured.”

Mr Vasileff’s renowned fashion label, Paolo Sebastian, is celebrating its 10th birthday with a special exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

The carefully crafted couture designs will feature in the Melrose Wing from October as part of the Adelaide Fashion Festival.

“My view on fashion is that it is an art form so I think that it deserves to be shown in our gallery,” Mr Vasileff said.

It’s been a big year for Mr Vasileff, who was named Young Australian of the Year and last night awarded an Entrepreneur of the Year prize in Adelaide.

He takes pride in knowing his gowns are made locally in Adelaide.

“I would really like people to have more of an appreciation of where their clothes are coming from and how they’re manufactured and who’s making their clothes,” he said.

From catwalk to gallery walls

The announcement coincides with the creation of a new gallery fund, to acquire and exhibit more examples of Australian and international fashion.

It’s part of a renewed push by the gallery to strengthen its relationship with the fashion industry.

“This gallery is really committed to building and developing a fashion collection,” gallery director Nick Mitzevich said.

“The exhibition will demonstrate why fashion is such an important element of art and craft and design in the 21st century.”

The gallery’s fashion collection currently numbers about 600, with the earliest dress from 1780.

“The collection has been dormant for many years but with the great snowballing effect that’s happening in Adelaide … it’s a great opportunity to draw attention to this collection,” Mr Mitzevich said.

“[We want] to make sure that we make the best use of it and to make sure that we help promote Australian fashion.”

Premier Jay Weatherill, who announced the Paolo Sebastian exhibition, said South Australia was proving to be a driving force in the fashion industry, with Mr Vasileff helping to put it on the map.

“Over that period he has really created some magnificent and beautiful fashions that we’ll all have an opportunity to enjoy,” the Premier said.

The exhibition will run from October 7 through to December 10.

Topics: fashion, design, arts-and-entertainment, human-interest, sa, adelaide-5000