November 30, 2014

A Technicolour Summer

It's a new dawn, it's a new day and it's a new summer. The page has turned over on the calendar today and we welcome the return of the Australian summer. Here come those days of seemingly never ending sunlight and heat. The sun greets us earlier than ever and come evening, hangs around like the dinner guest who just will not leave. The temperatures soar and we're almost shocked to remember just how oppressive the Australian sun can be. However unbearable the heat may become, it's a magical time of saltwater and sand, cold drinks and browned skin.

Summer to me is all about bright colours and fun. A playful and carefree time. It's gratitude for the city where I live, enjoying the beaches and the coastline from which come the long awaited cool afternoon breezes. Summer Rising, a collaborative project by Perth based international artist Francesca Gnagnarella and local well-loved fashion label Ethel & Leo is a celebration of this hypnotic time of year. A visual feast of colours, prints and textures, the pairing was a perfect match made in technicolour heaven.

I was invited to be amongst the first to view this special showcase last week, held at Francesca's beautiful home which doubles as her creative space and gallery. The collaboration between Francesca and Jess, the talented creator of Ethel & Leo, came about almost as a synchronistic event with neither woman having met or even knowing each other but both wanting to collaborate in some form. As Francesca tells it, "when I first saw Jess' dresses at Telstra Perth Fashion Festival I just fell in love with every single one of the them, and the same happened to Jess when she saw my paintings for the first time; she just died." This mutual respect and appreciation for each other's work led to them exploring the possibility of working together. With their shared love of the Western Australian coast and similar vision, passion and philosophy behind their creative pursuits, Summer Rising was born.

Showcasing Francesca's amazing art, ranging from canvasses that cover the expanse of an entire wall to smaller sized pieces enframed in colourful perspex, with Jess' summer ready designs, I found this to be one collaboration that truly worked in harmony. The collection of Ethel & Leo's dresses made in bright colours and fun prints were perfect for the warmer days ahead, accessorized with show stopper beaded necklaces. The shapes were flattering and easily worn by women of all body shapes and sizes. In particular I loved the trapeze style dress worn by Francesca that evening. What's quite exciting is that Jess is turning one of Francesca's paintings, The Future of Now, into a limited edition silk run which will be used in one of her designs.

For her part in this collaboration, Francesca created a series of bright, coastal and summery works to embrace the feel of the exhibition which would work in synergy with Ethel & Leo's collection. She says that it was a fun experience to work with vibrant colour palettes before she starts work on her next series which will be exhibited in Hong Kong and based on an entirely different subject matter. Francesca draws her inspiration from the landscape and finds a great deal of her inspiration in the colour palette offered up by Mother Nature. This is not at all surprising when seeing a vivid painting of orange, red and pink accented by 23 carat gold leaf which looks like it has been plucked directly from the sky and applied to the canvas.

If you are interested in viewing Francesca's work, please contact her via email on and as always, Ethel & Leo can be purchased via their website and from their Claremont boutique.

November 23, 2014

The Graduating Class

To be nothing less than frank and honest, I was a slacker during my university days. I entered higher education as a young and idealistic soul, full of enthusiasm in the pursuit of those few letters that would sit behind my name. That wide eyed enthusiasm lasted likely all of the first month of my first semester. Devoid of the rules and structure that had dominated the prior five years of my education, I was free to do as I please. If I didn't show up to my lectures, nobody knew or even cared. Upon discovering that some of my tutorials didn't even require attendance, it felt like I had hit the jackpot. I had found myself in what my seventeen-going-on-eighteen self would consider to be utopia.

My approach for the next three and a bit years did not deviate much from the easy pace I developed after that first month. My fellow students did not seem to put in more hours and more effort than me, they almost certainly did. Despite my lackadaisical approach, I graduated with better than average grades and most importantly, received those all important letters behind my name. Recalling this time of my life, it was an experience that I did not truly appreciate until it was over. There's something about student life as a young adult which cannot be replicated even if I chose to further my studies now as a not-so-young adult.

Though I have no qualms in calling myself a lazy and less than committed student, I highly doubt the same could be applied to this year's graduating class of fashion design students from Polytechnic West. Dubbing themselves the Umbra Collective, the work of these exceptionally talented women continue to reaffirm in my mind the enormous amount of talent and creativity that comes out of Western Australia. It frustrates me when I hear the constant moans regarding the perceived lack of talent in this state, and in particular, Perth. Those who don't believe we are overflowing with talent, intelligence and creativity should perhaps take a wider look around the ever increasing creative community and in doing so, will surely have their minds blown.

In recognition and celebration of completing their studies, the fourteen ladies making up the Umbra Collective wowed their family, friends and members of the public (including me!) with a fashion show held on Thursday night at the Claremont Showgrounds. A sample collection from each graduating student was paraded up and down the runway, the culmination of their years of hard work and dedication.

Designer: Melanie Cooper
Designer: Melanie Cooper

So impressive was the standard of their designs that I very much look forward to seeing where these ladies go in the next few years in their future careers in the fashion industry. It's always wonderful to see emerging talent appreciated and most importantly encouraged and nurtured on a personal and professional level. Having reached the next stage of their careers, I wish the entire Umbra Collective a beautiful journey forward. If it is anything like what was seen on Thursday night, the future is no doubt going to look good.


Designs by Holly Mumford. Beautiful colours and geometric prints. A very fun but still sophisticated collection that suits life in Perth perfectly. 

Designs by Natalie Fullwood. Classic, elegant and feminine. 

Designs by Jasmine Nash. Wonderfully dreamy bridal creations. The tea length dresses are very modern whilst still classic and no less of a wedding dress due to the beautiful use of fabrics, laces and beading.

Designs by Sarah Hua. The use of ropes to embellish the outfits added a literal twist to the fresh nautical theme.


My favourite collection of the evening. Designs by Rosemaree White. Every outfit was absolutely incredible. Very luxurious in the use of laces, beading and feathers creating beautiful textures. Feminine and sensual pieces that I would most definitely love to have hanging in my wardrobe. 

November 02, 2014

Gifting All The Way

Christmas season is upon us once again. Don't try to ignore it. It's already November and the days won't stop ticking along just because you're not ready. I don't really exchange Christmas gifts with many people but I really do enjoy the process of finding just the right gift for a person and being creative and imaginative with it. Last year I was completely surprised with a Christmas gift from someone I hadn't expected to receive a gift from and of course I had nothing to give in return. I understand that the concept of presents comes with no expectations or obligations and are given unconditionally, but if someone gives me a gift I of course want to give one back. It had to happen as well that the unexpected gift was given to me on Christmas Eve which left no time to find a suitable gift to give in return before Christmas and really, who wants to spend the last frantic hours before Christmas trying their luck in the department stores? Using this as my excuse it bought me some time to think up the perfect gift and I spent the next few days after Christmas getting together all the bits and pieces. To be honest, I was pretty damn impressed with my efficiency. However, had Myer's Giftorium been around I probably could have got myself sorted with that gift on Christmas Eve with enough time left to put together a batch of chilled egg nog.

Launching on November 8, the Giftorium is like having Santa's workshop at your nearest Myer store. Taking the frustration out of Christmas gift shopping, Myer has already hand picked the perfect present for any and every body in your life. With twelve different Christmas themes such as Dapper Dad, Miracle Mum and Food Fanatic, it's sure to make shopping easier for you so that you can kick your feet up a lot sooner with that glass of egg nog.

I was invited to the media launch event organized by Myer a couple weeks ago introducing this new shopping concept and got to have a special preview of what the Giftorium is all about. I enjoyed myself just as much during the event as I did browsing through the Giftorium. I brought my little cousin along with me as the organizers welcomed us to bring children, if we had them, and I don't so I borrowed her for the day. With face painters and balloon artists on hand, she had a great time being made over as a tiger while enjoying the delicious dessert buffet.

The selection of gifts under the twelve different themes cover all budgets and there's enough variety to suit just about anyone. One thing that I found really special was the R&A Leather Gift Monogram Station. This monogram service is available with any of the leather goods in the range and something like that really adds a nice touch, especially when it's a gift.

Every Myer store in Australia will have a Giftorium and each store will also host a range of activities in the lead up to Christmas. Something new which has never been offered by Myer before is their Same Day Elf Delivery service which sees your gift delivered within a 2km radius of the CBD by a fleet of uniformed elves! How cute is that?! I want to use that service just to have something delivered to me by elves!

Myer was also very generous in gifting me with my own Sodastream system, which looks to be one of the must-have products of the coming season, and I also received a Kambrook Blitz2Go blender which is such a handy item to have in my kitchen! My smoothie making in the morning is so quick and easy now. Both products are available in the Giftorium and they're definitely worth checking out. I've seen quite a few people make really interesting drinks with their Sodastream and for someone who enjoys sparkling water it eliminates the need to keep stocking up on the bottled variety.

I'm a huge advocate for anything that makes life that little bit easier and the Giftorium definitely does that. In addition to the great selection of gifts, all the little extra services and perks make the entire experience much more enjoyable. Be sure to visit your nearest Myer Giftorium, and give Santa a kiss for me.