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September 29, 2014

Old is the New...New?

Given enough time, everything comes back around. Style, fashion, food trends. Almost everything we see now has had its time once, sometimes even twice, before. This is sometimes a great thing but sometimes there are certain remnants of the past you'd prefer stayed in the past. I don't particularly wish to see the return of Hypercolor fabric or dark brown matte lipstick. I was a child when Hypercolor was all the rage and I recall walking through Kmart with my mother and rubbing my hands and body all over the clothing, probably much to her horror. As for the matte brown lipstick, my first lippy as a twelve year old girl was Australis Smooth Suede. How very suede it was. A very deep brown shade in a super matte formulation, I felt like Drew Barrymore sans the daisies in my not quite blonde hair.

Then there are the things I would warmly welcome should they ever return. Nestle once made a family size chocolate block which contained cherries and coconut. It was called Cherry Slice. I know this because I emailed Nestle in 2011 describing this chocolate to them and asking if it would ever be reintroduced to the market. In their response they advised it was their Cherry Slice variety but it was no longer produced. I think we all need to send an email to Nestle and urge them to rethink their stance on this.


I think the reason why we have a fondness for things of a time past is due to the nostalgic memories that they often bring with them, and we all know you never really miss things until they are well and truly gone. For myself, it's a combination of this and also the history attached to a particular item. Whether it's a vintage piece of clothing or a tattered old book with handwritten notes in the margins, it makes me wonder who used to own this and what could it tell me if it could speak? I've always had an attraction to older character homes and I love them because I imagine the people and families who have lived there throughout the many years and all the life experiences that occurred within those walls. They may not all be of a positive nature, but life is a journey that has its peaks and its valleys. Additionally, I find so many older products to be extremely well made and produced in a fashion that you just do not see anymore whether it be because that skill is no longer taught and learnt or because modern manufacturing processes have seen it discarded due to being too time consuming or costly.


One person who I know understands where I am coming from is Claire Bissett, owner of In Retrospect. Having opened in July 2014, In Retrospect occupies the old Crystal Waters Irrigation building on 239 Albany Highway in Victoria Park and offers a large range of antique, retro and vintage homewares and decor along with the odd piece of memorabilia and quirky knick knacks.


All the pieces sold here are hand selected by Claire, so it is fitting that she refers to herself as a hunter and gatherer. Claire is personally responsible for seeking out all the unique pieces sold in her store and given the nature of her business all her stock is either one-off or very limited in quantity. Claire devotes two days each week to source new stock and as such the store is closed on Monday and Tuesday.


A special feature of Claire's business is that she can custom make cushions and wall art from the reams of vintage and retro fabric she has on hand, however I have to stress again that the quantities of each fabric type are limited so when it's gone, it's gone. The cushions are locally made while the wall art is produced by Claire herself.

This wall art is made by Claire and is her favourite item in the store.
I came to know In Retrospect after receiving a birthday present from a friend which she had purchased for me from the store. It was a gorgeous china tea set and I came to learn from Claire that tea sets are one of the items she is specializing in. Offering packaged and wrapped three piece sets of a tea cup, saucer and bread plate, these are the perfect ready-to-go gift idea. Although I have a full china tea set I also have a number of different pieces as I find that serving high tea with mismatched pieces to be just that little bit more interesting and fun. For the high tea lovers, Claire can definitely cater to you as she not only stocks many different tea sets but also cake stands, serving dishes and tea pots.


Being situated right at the end of Albany Highway just prior to crossing over onto the Causeway, this little store is a conveniently located treasure cave. If you love your antiques and all things vintage and retro, you must visit. Just be warned that you very likely will not leave empty handed.

The units that the glasses and pitcher is displayed on were repurposed by Claire from a set of drawers she found during verge collection!

September 25, 2014

The Accidental Model

Within all of us there are dreams. There are the dreams we conceive as adults and that we work so diligently to see come to life. Then there are the dreams we carry from our childhood, the ones that may not be the most logical or feasible, but nonetheless we hold onto them in the hope that one day the stars may align just so and fortune will smile in our direction.

As a child, I grew up in the era of The Supermodel. The cohort which was made up of the likes of Christy Turlington, Elle Macpherson, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Cindy Crawford. The original and the best. Though some may debate exactly who make up the original band of supermodels, these ladies are it for me. I grew up seeing them splashed on the covers of all the magazines. Long, bronzed and toned limbs generally sporting a high cut bikini. It’s no surprise then, as it is no surprise now, that little girls often grow up with the dream that they can one day find themselves plastered on the cover of a glossy magazine and sashaying down international runways.

I was no exception. Throughout primary school I was very fond of the after school activity and often asked my mother to enrol me in various programs. One I always drifted to were the modelling and deportment classes, although it was more for the fun aspect than anything serious. I certainly was not blessed with the necessary stature nor the luscious locks or impressive facial bone structure that almost all models possess. A model, I would never be.

 
Fast forward twenty years to the present time where I find myself on the receiving end of an email inviting me to be one of the Restyle Runway fan models for the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival. I guess the saying “never say never” is continually uttered for a good reason. Though it was hardly an invitation to Paris to be a clothes horse for the European fashion houses, the ten year old in me was awakened. Me, on a runway during a fashion festival. Okay then. We can do that.

The two Restyle prompts I played along with at home - stripes and lace!

For those unfamiliar with the Restyle challenge, it is something that has taken place during PFF since 2012. Its purpose is to showcase to the public how op-shop clothing can be incorporated stylishly into your wardrobe, in turn supporting charities and the people they assist. With bloggers invited to apply, each year a group of official Restyle bloggers ise chosen and for the first time this year the ‘fans’ were encouraged to play along at home and follow the daily outfit prompts. I shared two outfits (here and here), the best I could do given the lack of time on my part. It really is a time and labour intensive exercise and full credit must be given to all the bloggers who have been involved with Restyle since its inception.


After a week of emails back and forth between the event organizer and the Restyle stylist, the day of the first show arrived. The most difficult part of it all was waking early on the Friday to make it to the city in time for our hair and make up call. I’m not a morning person so this was a big deal for me. It's times like these that I am most certainly thankful that I live a short drive from Perth city. All the more time for me to sleep in.

Spending so much time back of house prior to the shows was an eye opening experience. The amount of work and sheer number of people needed to pull together what an audience sees as a thirty minute fashion show is immense. Two or three hands working on one head of hair, two people pulling your clothes on and off for you and make up artists hustling to get everyone’s face ready as the clock ticks. For myself, my hair was still being worked on barely five minutes before the commencement of the first show. With two stylists setting the final section of my hair, it was a mad dash to rip off my clothes to change into my runway outfit and head backstage with my shoes in hand.

Runway photos by SOUL of Shu

The second show was definitely a more easy paced affair. We had all been through this once already and we knew what to expect. I was smart enough to ensure that I got into the stylist’s chair early in the morning, so with my hair and make up finished with a couple of hours to spare, it was a waiting game. This is something else I learned. Models do a lot of waiting. Back of house was filled with models, the real models, waiting to get their hair styled, waiting for make up to be applied, waiting for the next show to start. 

Though initially somewhat apprehensive to participate in the show, ultimately I am glad I accepted the invitation as the entire experience was a bundle of fun. It was wonderful to meet new people as well as catch up with the bloggers who I already know. I can now tell that ten year old girl to hang in there because she'll realize her dream when the time is right.

Photo by official TPFF photographer Stefan Gosatti
Yep, took a photo of the media pit!






Gotta have the iPhone selfies!





Just chilling pre-show in front of Myer with Fashion 2.1, Hayley and Jenelle from Inspiring Wit
The look for the first show. My hair had been washed the night before so it had to be worn in its naturally curly state.

September 22, 2014

Hello Parry. You're So Lovely.

To say that the last few days have been hectic would be an understatement. I once heard the saying "fashion never sleeps, so neither do we" and after being sleep deprived since Thursday, I now personally understand the truth in this statement. Being involved with Telstra Perth Fashion Festival this year has been enormously enjoyable and a crazy fun experience but I will be looking forward to washing my hair of all the copious amounts of hair spray, scrubbing my face clean of the runway ready make up and falling into my bed wearing my soft but extremely unfashionable pyjamas.


Before that can happen, there are still shows to see and events to attend. I don't know how the professional models do it. For myself, walking in the two Restyle Runway shows has consisted of early mornings and hours spent back of house, either having my hair styled, make up applied or just sitting around waiting. The models, who are all effortlessly and amazingly beautiful, have been doing this for days on end and multiple times each day. After just one show I am crying out for my bed. 

Wearing Hello Parry to Hello Parry. Of course. Shelan of Shelan Creatives in white and myself in black. Photo by Soul of Shu.
Blogger central in the front row
Fatigue aside, one show I was delighted to attend was the unveiling of Hello Parry's collection. I must thank Sandy and the team at Hello Parry for my invitation to sit front row. It was the perfect vantage point from which to view their collection which consisted of beautiful feminine styles mixed with a touch of sports luxe, because we girls all have a little bit of gangster in us. What appeals to me most about Hello Parry is that they offer many attractive and wearable pieces at an affordable price tag. Their spring/summer range is full of light and bright colours, prints and gorgeous fabrics. While not all the new pieces are on their website as yet, I spied a couple of pieces on the runway that I must get my hands on once they drop. For some key pieces to include in your wardrobe as the weather in Perth warms up, wander over to their website and introduce yourself to Hello Parry.

September 16, 2014

Irasshaimase

At some stage between being a child and reaching adulthood, birthdays and their accompanying celebrations seem to fall out of favour with many people. As a child, your birthday ranks way up there with Christmas. The parties, the cakes, the games and the gifts. Birthdays are a real highlight of a kid's life. Then, people become adults and all a sudden, birthdays become just another day. Not a reason to celebrate, and for some not even a reason to commemorate or acknowledge. I'm not saying this is entirely exclusive to women, but my fellow ladies are prime culprits when it comes to tiptoeing past a birthday, as if it's almost a shame that we should find ourselves celebrating another year of life. It's a universal truth that each year our ages clicks up one notch for all of us. Growing older should not be something we shun or spurn. If we are not getting older there's only one other alternative and that alternative does not appeal to me at all.

As a devotee of the birthday, mine is one I look forward to each and every year and I probably spend the six months prior planning my celebrations. According to my superannuation fund, this year's birthday was a "life event" being that I left the departure lounge of my twenties and moved into the next decade. In super fund world this means I can increase the coverage of all my insurances without the need for any medical assessments, but in my world this means celebrating on an even bigger scale than usual.

The main celebration for my birthday (yes, I did celebrate more than once) was a dinner party with my nearest and dearest at Nobu Perth

The birthday girl in her birthday dress
For functions outside of the main dining room of the restaurant, Nobu has two private dining rooms available for the exclusive use of your party. Although the one room would have accommodated everyone, I'm not fond of squishy environments so I chose to book out both rooms. The rooms are decorated simply but elegantly, to which you can add your own personal touch, and overlook the pool area with a balcony for the dastardly smokers. Assigned with dedicated and attentive waitstaff, it is the perfect venue choice for a special occasion.


If you've not ever been to Nobu, you may not know that upon arrival all of the staff greet you with an enthusiastic shout of "irasshaimase!" which is a traditional Japanese greeting, generally upon arrival into a place of business.  My first time at Nobu, it was somewhat startling but now when dining at other Japanese restaurants I have noticed they also greet their customers in the same way.


The chefs at Nobu have put together a few different function menus, but of course I had to create my own. Being familiar with the menu, I chose my favourites and a couple of dishes I'd yet to try but had always wanted to. With so many standout dishes it was hard to choose but I got there in the end, deciding on the scallop tiradito, kelp salad, soft shell crab and watermelon, pork gyoza, black cod miso, chicken kushiyaki skewers, creamy spicy crab and the pork belly. If that sounds like a lot of food, it was especially when taking into consideration that on the night we were mistakenly served an additional dish that was not on my menu. By the end of the night, were were stuffed and sewn up.


The order in which we were served was cold dishes followed by the hot dishes. Starting on a perfect note was the scallop tiradito. Very fresh, sweet and tender scallop meat cut with amazing precision served with a tangy citrus dressing that was cut through with a bite of heat from chilli. It was spectacular and some of my friends told me that this was one of their favourite dishes of the night.


Another standout dish was the soft shell crab and watermelon, which at the time was only on their 'secret' menu but has now been included on the restaurant's dining menu. Generous portions of deliciously seasoned and crispy soft shell crab and cubes of watermelon were served with a sweet, salty and spicy sauce that was similar in taste to the Vietnamese dipping sauce nuoc cham. It seems like a strange combination to serve soft shell crab and watermelon together but it worked exceptionally well.


As simple as they were, the pork gyoza were very moreish and I happily downed a few. This was probably my downfall as I went in hard at the beginning so toward the end I struggled. The black cod miso is one of Nobu's signature dishes and unfortunately being served toward the end it was impossible to enjoy too much of it, but it was as I knew it to be. A tender fillet of cod that flakes into layers at the touch of a chopstick, it's a must have dish if you're at Nobu.


The creamy spicy crab is a richly flavoured dish that packs a significant amount of heat. Not anywhere near the level of heat that I can manage, but it is spicy and not a meek and mild heat that is just labelled as being spicy. Fish roe is incorporated throughout the dish; I love the little bursts of roe between the teeth and it makes for a good textural addition to the overall very smooth and creamy consistency.


The pork belly which was served on the night was not how I remember it, even though it was the same pork belly as I have had previously at Nobu. The pork belly I remember was paired with a sticky caramel, that was both sweet and spicy in flavour. This flavour combination seemed to be missing from the caramel and instead I got the overwhelming taste of ginger which sat atop the pieces of pork belly as a garnish. The pork was very tender but devoid of the crisp crackle that is probably one of the most enjoyable aspects about pork belly.


The chicken skewers were a last minute addition to the menu as I was concerned that the dishes I initially had chosen would not be enough. Simple skewers of chicken meat that were strongly flavoured of black pepper, I enjoyed these the least and would have happily done without them, from a perspective of enjoyment and also because the food ended up being very substantial so it really was not needed.


A bonus dish was served on the night, that being the prawn tempura which was intended to be served to the function which was held in the main dining room but was mistakenly brought to the private dining rooms. At the time this came out I was not in the room so my friends tucked in, oblivious to the fact that it was not meant for us. Generally I don't enjoy or order tempura but this was very enjoyable as the tempura batter was not excessive and the prawns were doused with a fiery sauce which further added to the taste and enjoyment.


Our waitstaff that evening provided exceptional service. They were never too far to take our orders for more drinks (the lychee martinis are crazy good) but at the same time they were not hovering around and allowed us the privacy that you essentially are seeking when you decide to book a private dining room. 

Party favour #1 - cassette tape USBs for my mixtape!
Party favour #2 - keeping with the Japanese theme, hand made pencils wrapped in washi paper. I do love a theme.

Great food and drinks, even better company, it was a memorable evening and was exactly how I wanted to celebrate my birthday. I enlisted the help of my cousin, who in a past life was a DJ, to put together a mix tape of thirty of my favourite songs. These were one of the party favours I gave out and also served as the backing track to our evening. I get a kick out of the thought that I am the first person, and quite possibly will be the only person, to have NWA's Straight Outta Compton boom through the speakers in the dining room of Nobu.

Birthday cake made by Flavia at Sugarplum Sweets

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