A truly beautiful Minxy mix of charm, inspiration, practical advice, and pretty projects to simplify and beautify your life and home. - Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity
Remember the urge to bead I was wittering on about recently? Still unwell and in hibernation mode, I haven’t quite got to starting anything yet, but have been focusing instead on the numerous repair jobs I’ve been putting off for some months now.
It’s intensely satisfying, returning these once-loved pieces to their former glory. And I’ve been able to sew while watching favourite old DVDs on the sofa and soothing a sore throat with endless cups of tea, in the downtime while Olive sleeps off her own cold.
I’ve simply no patience for my old Janome today, which is becoming more and more erratic (the old girl might be on her last legs, I fear). Some days, there is comfort in taking the slowest route possible.
My whole family’s been struck down with ‘flu and we’re all feeling a little sorry for ourselves at the moment. It seems a fitting time to flit through pics of Paris from our recent visit.
The most inspiring sights? The Eiffel Tower, Le Jardins Tuileries and Sacre Coeur give you a little thrill just to be there, of course, but mostly I was entranced by the window displays and statues, particularly in the Marais where we were staying. Details in street lamp ironwork, metro signs and gates. Perfectly clipped trees, hidden gardens spied through huge ornate doors, and the glow cast by sun on stone during the golden hour. The pastel rainbow of macarons in patisserie windows, and the delicate balancing act of fitting two plates and two drinks on one brasserie table.
I’ve returned with a clear idea of the next book’s feel and layout, and a thousand design ideas buzzing in my head. It will be a little French-inspired, to be sure, but very Australian, too.
I just read somewhere we came second place in a poll of countries with the best quality of life, after France. I don’t know… I reckon it’s a tie. Even if my blocked nose feels differently today.
Post-holiday malaise has kicked in, and it’s making me want to hunker down and sew, sew, sew – by hand. Take up a painstaking beading project that keeps me busy for months, parked next to the fireplace. Totally change the house around. Fill it with flowers. And I’ve cooked more hearty meals in the past two weeks than I have in ages. But there’s nothing wrong with a little winter hibernation. Without it, who could appreciate the spring half as much?
I found this lovely vintage print for next-to-nix at the Rozelle Markets this morning, along with several bunches of flowers. A perfect start to the weekend, and some things to admire as I prick my finger for the umpteenth time.
My bedside reading has once again turned to coffee table books. I can’t seem to focus on novels now I’m home and writing again… hopefully not a permanent problem.
Two new favourites are the V&A book of Horrockses Fashions, and Perfect English Cottage from Ryland, Peters & Small. The first of these makes me want to run off to 1950s Roma with a suitcase of full-skirted frocks; the second to a bolthole in the countryside where I’ll finally have the time on my hands to bake cakes and learn to crochet. Either way, I should probably appreciate how gorgeous Sydney is this fine mid-winter, and get on with the business of enjoying it. But who can resist being transported to the fairytale world of books?
Horrockses Fashions was one of the most respected ready-to-wear labels of the late 1940s and 50s, and the V&A publishing team have done it real justice with this mix of fabulous frocks, fabrics, illustrations, archive photos and advertising. It’s laid out beautifully – not in that static, uninspiring way some vintage clothing books are – and the story’s an interesting read, too. I can highly recommend it for all vintage afficionados.
And to Perfect English Cottage, by Ros Byam Shaw. Deputy Editor for US fashion and lifestyle magazine W, Shaw really knows how to inspire, and I love her descriptions of these eighteen beautiful homes and their owners – so quirky and intricate, with lots of tips and details on how to achieve a similar look. I’m hooked. Talk about fairytales… it’s Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs without the wicked witch. A particular favourite is the former country home of Virginia & Leonard Woolf, which graces the cover. Delicious reading through and through.
I’m finally able to talk about the new book, and am starting to feel really excited about seeing it in print in just a few short months… finished copies hit shelves on 1 November.
What’s it all about? Well… for as long as I can remember, I’ve been passionate about clothes. They are my first, and most enduring, love affair to date. I buy far too many glossy magazines, and puzzle over how I can spend half my life shopping, yet still find myself standing in front of a vast rack of outfits each morning, despairing that I have nothing to wear. Over the years, clothes have comforted me, given me confidence, lured potential lovers, made me invisible, secured jobs, aged me and given back my youth. And yes, they have betrayed me.
A Life in Frocks is about the ‘divine obsession’, a woman’s love for clothes. In particular, it’s meant to be a personal, entertaining, joyous – and seductive – exploration of the significance of clothes, filtered through my lifelong sartorial infatuation.
To read pre-publication endorsements from Vogue’s Kirstie Clements and Melissa Hoyer, click here and scroll down the page. The first event in the schedule is a book club talk at The Victoria Room on Saturday 20 November, with Books & Nooks. More details to follow soon.
When I think of Burgundy I think of sunflower fields spied from the back of a car, dusty little villages, and the grand architecture of Cluny; home to an impressive abbey. But most of all, I think of the rustic stone farmhouse we stayed in on our France trip, games on the lawn, and the bustling brocantes we visited on Bastille Day in the small village of Cormatin. You can see we were blessed with gorgeous weather.
And the beautiful linen… I could have filled up a ship container with the stuff; along with plush armchairs, vintage trunks and chandeliers aplenty. How to narrow these down to a few images? Tricky indeed, but here they are.
Stay tuned for Paris…
The lovely people at Hopscotch Films are offering Crafty Minx readers 10 x free double passes to the new film, The Kids Are All Right, a sexy comedy of errors starring a superb cast; Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo and Mia Wasikowska.
A warm and fun film about a very modern family, it’s being compared to Little Miss Sunshine and was a huge hit at Sundance. Opening on 2 September nationally, here’s the blurb below.
To win a free double pass, leave a comment here by Sunday 22 August telling me what your favourite, most inspiring film is and why you love it so much – winners will be chosen randomly from the best responses.
If you’ve seen the new book or indeed read the posts here, here and here, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of oilcloth, and particularly the Frida Kahlo-esque brights used for projects such as this kite here in The Crafty Kid. Children love the bright prints and I can’t stress enough how easy oilcloth is to wipe down when used as a tablecloth, apron or purse of any sort. It’s also pretty simple to sew, and I don’t bother changing the presser foot on my machine to an upholstery one (although you do have to take it a bit slower when stitching oilcloth if you don’t want to bust too many needles).
Ben Elke, the wholesale importer for Mexican oilcloth in Australia got in touch recently to show me some of the new range they’ll be bringing in, which is just gorgeous and very retro. Order direct here from Me Too Please, or from any of their stockists throughout Australia. My locals are Balmain’s Prue Trollope and Beezaar in Rozelle.
Check out the current issue of Vogue for my latest article, ‘The Beauty Bubble’. What’s it all about? Front-row seats, upgrades to first class, faster service… there really are perks for looking perfect (as if we didn’t know! actually, there’s much more to it than that…)
Fascinating people I interviewed for the piece were NY-based Aussie model, Nicole Trunfio; actress, model and producer of the HBO series In Treatment, Noa Tishby; sociology professor Salvatore Babones and psychologist Denise Greenaway. Let me know your own thoughts on the subject if you get a chance to read it.
I’ve mentioned Dandi before in an earlier post but just realised I haven’t done a separate post yet on their gorgeous fabrics and homewares range. Check out their original, very Australian-vibed designs and particularly the oilcloths, which look fab on the table and wipe down so easily for low-maintenance kitchen chic.
Speaking of oilcloth, I’ve been buying up new designs from Cath Kidston as well. I’ve loved her modern twist on retro fabrics for ages but it was seeing them in every friends’ home we visited recently that had me returning to her stores not once but thrice. Also good for a look and online order if you’re feeling flush.