So Zara Sydney finally opened! It only seems like it’s been forever already since the new Westfield Centerpoint opened, and the doors to Zara have remained firmly sealed behind construction scaffold until now. Wednesday saw the big opening, with crowds and cues galore. It is sort of sad how excited Sydney is to have Zara. But anyone who has spent anytime in Europe will know how on trend it is, without the designer price tag. I think we are excited just to have a little bit of Europe on our doorstep now! And hopefully Zara’s success (I have no doubt in this) will inspire the likes of H&M to get their butts into gear and get to Australia! They are already in China and Honkers – it’s not that much further away!
Anyway, I graced the shop floor of Zara yesterday, the day after it opened. I must say I am more excited now about it then I have been in the lead up. I can’t wait until I get paid next actually! But the place was crazy. Absolute chaos. Like I said – it’s a bit sad really! But there was security on all doors, on all levels, doing crowd control, and the cues in store were obscenely long for cashier and change rooms alike. I didn’t end up looking properly, but plan to head back in a week or so when the hype has died down a little, and you can actually see the clothes through the crowd. But I must say – in terms of price point, I am fairly impressed. It is definately cheaper then I thought it would end up translating to in Australia. So all round – yay!
Here are some Zara picks that I am loving at the moment:
So, who doesn’t love a royal wedding? If you just answered ‘me!’ then go away! But really – all the anticipation and speculation just days out from The Royal Wedding of our generation, how can you help but get swept along with all the hype? For years we have wondered whether Kate and Wills will even make it to the alter, but once our doubts were subdued, we all wondered when. Months and months of media coverage aside, and finally now we wonder what? Just what will Kate Middleton wear on the big day? Guarantees it won’t be the meringue cloud Diana wafted down the aisle in – Kate is a distinctly modern girl, with her own sense of style. But how will it hold up against the weight of tradition and history. What will the palace approve of, and what will Kate agree with? Whatever she ends up wearing, will be undoubtedly custom designed and beautiful, as well as being designed to bring a small patriotic tear to the eye, as she weds the man she loves in the fairy tale story of so many little girls (and grown women) childhood dreams.
While Kate will be clad in couture, I am not really a traditionalist so here are a few, slightly less traditional but ultimately amazing dresses to tide you over until the big day… Enjoy!
And I am pretty sure any of the Dolce and Gabbana Spring 2011 Collection would suffice.
I don’t really believe in Valentines Day, but I do believe in love. More then almost anything else, so this year I am going to go with it. But only just a little bit. Here are some of the ways that remind me that love is alive all around us, where ever you are in the world..
Love-locked: padlocks of declared love on the ‘Carrie and Big’ bridge over the river Seine, Paris.
LOVE: in the big apple.
At home: all is fair in love and wallpaper prints.
Wherefore art thou: love letters plastered on the wall at Juliet’s balcony in Verona, Italy.
Hopeful street art: Soho, NYC.
Prague: snow covered padlocks hoping for love that lasts for all Winters to come.
All photographs and content is property of Crystal Kruger, unless otherwise stated.
Don’t get me wrong, I respect and revere the grand old house of Valentino. Completely. It’s just not often that I actually find myself longing for it. It’s just not my thing really. At times I find myself in awe of vintage Valentino, or taking inspiration from the details. Other times I admire it from afar, and then proceed to ponder how glamour is so not my in my aesthetic. More often I am simply looking in a trash mag at some Valentino clad celebrity attempting to add some old Hollywood glamour to their ailing red carpet image.
But I am in love with so many pieces from the Spring 2011 RTW collection, that it really is one of those what the – !? kinda moments. Who would have picked it? Crystal in love with Valentino. What is it they always say – you will find love when you least expect it? Or opposites attract? Could this be the beginning of a long and heady love affair, courting the fashion house I once so often ignored?
I highly doubt it, but I guess you never really know huh? I feel certain that this is merely a (Sydney) Summer romance in a colour palette I adore. Fueled also by the fact that lace is just so hot right now and I am utterly head-over-heels with this trend! Not to mention combined with sheer romance, spots and ruffles, a few studs scattered in for good measure, and a hint of leather just to toughen it all up a tad.
Might as well enjoy it while it lasts…
I have a massive penchant for vintage, so whenever I find myself back in the little town I grew up in, Blackheath up in the Blue Mountains, I like to go to a shop called the Victory Theatre. I have no idea what the history of the place is, I assume it was once a theatre, perhaps with silent films early last century, but today and for as long as I can remember, it has been an antique shop.
Over the years this place has changed a lot. I remember exploring in there as a child, through musty clothes on racks, staring at delightfully horrible old paintings and testing out dust cover chairs. I remember listening to the creaking old floorboards emanating from the level above, wondering if it was going to collapse. I also remember going there late at night, heading right to the back of the shop to dine in the ‘restaurant’. I couldn’t tell you thing about the food there, except that I always used to get mushroom soup but the place was kind of scary to a 7 year old.
They had what I believe was a mixture of faux and real cobwebs draped over the décor, and ancient rusting candelabra hanging over the tables, that swung dangerously if anyone walked along upstairs. It had a dishevelled ancient old mansion thing going on. With mismatched everything from plates and spoons to chairs, well worn rickety old tables and candles everywhere dripping wax into strange contorted slightly creepy looking shapes. I remember thinking it was just like the scary old castles I saw in cartoons, and that surely at night, when everyone was gone, that it must be haunted.
These days, it has had a facelift or two, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a few spirits floating around looking after their prized old possessions. However it is and probably always has been really, a fabulous place to shop for things out of the ordinary. If vintage and antique are your thing, this is well worth the trip. When I go there, just as I always have, I start off gazing at the antique rings, and subsequently begin day dreaming about the antique wedding ring I want one day. I love that rings tell a story, and that they are so personal. Every single one has a story. I like to try them on and wonder who they belonged to, and how they ended up in a shop and no longer on someone’s finger…
There is plenty to look at from home wears, jewellery, clothes, art, books, general junk and some other stuff. Seriously! Its crammed with bits and pieces, a mixture of real antiques, priced as so, and vintage/second hand pieces, at a more purse friendly level. On my most recent trip one of the guys who works in café that is now out the front, and makes quite nice coffee and excellent risotto, was trying to pick me up in the most hilariously ridiculous conversations I have had in a long time. It put a smile on face for a long time after that.
On that particular shopping trip, which started just as coffee, resulted in browsing, and ended in spending, I got a gorgeous floral dress that I love to bits and have lived in this summer, and a sweet little musical jewellery box. Which wasn’t so little, and is actually kind of heavy, as I discovered on the long journey home to Sydney, and a gorgeous red leather bag.
The dress isn’t the most ancient of dresses, probably 80’s I’d say, but is actually gold! It is so effortless and light. The pleats are so sweet, and I love the print. It was in pristine condition, and cleans really well. It doesn’t even have a hint of old lady/charity shop smell. I think I paid something like $15 for, and it didn’t need any adjusting to make it wearable. That’s what I call a good buy. No stain removing, hemming, sewing, replacing buttons, or altering sleeves. Good to go. As a bonus it is ‘sensible’ enough to wear to wear to work and still look like me. Yay.
The jewellery box cost me a little more then that, and is completely cute. Its mint green and hand painted with scenes of the European country side. It reminds me of an illustration of the Spanish hill sides in an episode of Maddeline! I thought twice about buying it, because it is broken in one part, but tried to walk away and couldn’t. I just felt an undeniable connection with this thing. I couldn’t imagine my life without it. I think maybe that sounds weird, unless you have a moment like that of your own. Belieive me, I’m not crazy!
Anwyay, it’s a musical box, that plays a tinny tune I don’t recognise, but feel drawn to none the less. It also had two little figures inside that turn – a bride and a groom. The bride has met an untimely demise somewhere along the way, so a lonesome groom stands tall inside. I feel bad for him, and want to find something to replace the empty gap, but have not so far come up with a feasible solution. So for now he stands as my little guardian groom.
And the bag – I think that speaks for it’s self in that glorious rich red tone. In perfect condition. Real leather. Stunning.
Hope you enjoy my purchases as much as I did. It’s a place I recommend you check out yourself!
Today I spoke to my friend Jessica, who is on an adventure in Europe right now. It was some ungodly jetlagged hour in a grungy London hotel room, when sleep evaded her. But she told me something sweet that couldn’t contain her awe and wonder. She said to me, ‘Oh my god Crystal, nothing prepares you for how beautiful London is! The buildings – wow! I love London.’ And then I wanted to cry.
I have a strange and lusty fixation with that city. Not something that can be justified considering the limited time I have spent there – two weeks surely doesn’t count for much. And yet I have always had an affinity with London, even before setting foot on the ancient streets. Going there only made me love it more. It felt like home. It was overwhelming.
So many things are different there, and yet so many things the same as here. London made a huge impression on this impressionable young girl, who has been yearning to go there since sometime before childhood (forever!). I don’t even think I can quite explain why I love it.
It is somehow magical. And quirky eclectic. It’s old and historical; full of stories. It is full of photos waiting to happen. It is fashion. Its colour and noise. Old meets new, and the future. It is old weathered brick walls. Its people and things from everywhere and some other places too. It is the gateway to Europe. It is the rain and the light. Art and design. The snow and the greasy spoon cafes. All that architecture. It is the city that makes other places make sense – the ‘motherland’ of a once far and wide empire. It makes me happy and makes me smile. And it’s mainly that this isn’t even the half of it. But it also makes me cry. And I would like to think it needs me there. It fills me with inspiration and exploration. It makes me feel like a better person.
After having done my own pilgrimage around Europe, it felt like a homecoming returning there, for just one more fleeting night. It felt right. It truly made me weep to leave. On a Finnair flight headed for Helsinki, silent tears streamed down my face as the wheels of the plane left the tarmac, and we flew out over London just waking up to the morning light, and another day. I cried and I wanted to have my own another day. I guess it may have been partly because I had barely slept in three days (blame Amsterdam), and it may have been because I was a little homesick too.
But I don’t cry in public. Ever.
So dear London: (And everyone else of course!) Please excuse my self indulgence. It’s just that I love you. For real though and not like a stalker.
Last night after an amazing Japanese meal, my boyfriend and I saw Blue Valentine at the Dendy in Newtown. I know this has been out for a few weeks now and I have been dying to see it, but wow. I am so glad I made finally got around to it.
This is what I wore. I think it was a little bit vintage inspired with the cream lace skirt, but also a bit whimsical with the pink bow and the polka dots. It was feeling a bit too girly girl for me, so I added a black studded belt and the black studded brogues from the last post. I think the contrast sort of matched the movie in a way…
Romantic movies always tell tales of people falling in love in the most beautiful circumstances, and I feel they often leave viewers with unrealistic expectations for their own relationships. And you may expect that of this movie because it stars Ryan Gosling of Notebook fame, and Michelle Williams, who many still associate with teen drama Dawson’s Creek.
Blue Valentine however is a heart wrenching insight into the entire cycle of a relationship, from the first intoxicating glance, through hardships overcome, right until the end and the breakdown. The actors are intense and real. You believe them, always. Over the years Michelle Williams has really grown into a brilliant actress, who picks brilliant left of centre, serious movies.
What a stunning movie in the simplicity and normality. It has a sense of reality and almost monotony, but in a good way. You see the characters doing normal, average every day things, going through the motions. It rang strong and true. Blue Valentine successfully weaves the story, through flashbacks of the early days in love thrown in between the spiralling breakdown of what was once such a sweet and true relationship. It breaks your heart to see what they become and how they change. Especially in contrast with what they wanted when they were young.
You just want them to be able to go back to the way things were, but that’s just it – you never really can. And this movie isn’t afraid to show you that; there is no happily ever after. It doesn’t cut to the credits after the protagonists kiss and make up like a Jennifer Aniston Rom-Com. I find it so poignant and it feels real in it’s tragedy. I watched the breakdown of my own parents’ relationship, and heard the reminiscence of bittersweet memories – how beautiful and hopeful it was in the beginning, and knowing what it became.
In saying all this, I hope naively that no one has to ever go through any of this, but I know it can’t be so. I walked away with so much on my mind. This is not a movie to see if you want a happy ending. But it is one to see if you want to be moved, and to feel love ring true around you. It is a movie to see if you need perspective and insight. And in general, I think it is a movie everyone should see.
On Saturday I went to lunch with four of the most amazing girls in the world and one of the cutest babies out – Zoe and her gorgeous little girl, Nat, Sarah and Jess. These girls are some of the amazing people I met at fashion college, save for Nat, while still being amazing, is an old friend from school and one of the best people I know.
The dress I wore, I recently designed and made with my holiday-induced free time. It’s sort of a bit reminiscent in silhouette of Dior’s New Look; it has a certain vintage feel to it. But I think all at once it ended up a bit dressier and a bit edgier then I had anticipated. Which sounds like a strange combination, but have a look – what do you think?
| Bag- Thrifted vintage leather | Belt – Vintage leather, thrifted from St Vinnies |
I got an amazing book for Christmas that I found in Kinokuniya (the website looks a bit dodge, but seriously the store in the Galleries Victoria, is the best bookshop in Sydney), called Pattern Magic. Sounds naff, but have a look at it! It’s really not. Apparently it is a Japanese book that has been published in English. It’s a little bit lost in translation, but beautiful and it really got me inspired to go back into designing my own clothes after a very long time of feeling stuck after I finished fashion college; it felt like I was in a creative black hole. Anyway, this design was influenced by one of the techniques featured in this book, called deppari. Basically it uses the unevenness of the body to make fabric stand up. The book is full of techniques that are a little bit different , and often very sculptural. They certainly have no been seen in any other pattern making tomes I have come across. Most of which are riddled with 80’s aesthetic, and make for general hilarity.
Anyway this is my first ‘what I wore’ post and I am kind of nervous about it. I am no fashion model.
I have satchel bags on the brain 100%. It really is an affliction. I can’t stop thinking about how much I need/want(?) one. I have been browsing them for a while, and they are the It bag to have right now. If you don’t have one, and you care, then now is the time to rush out and buy one! Go! Stop reading now and run. I will still be here when you get back. And even if you don’t care what fashion is saying, a satchel bag is classic and versatile; something you will always go back to. What more convincing do you need?
Personally I’m torn between vintage and new. There are so many cute vintage satchels out there, and I am partial to a good vintage wonder to tote all my junk around in. I saw some gorgeous man style ones at Rozelle markets last Sunday, all real leather for amazing prices, in good condition. I was soo sorely tempted and would have made the commitment if it hadn’t been for numerous splurge purchases that directly proceeded said satchel discoveries.
In terms of new, the choices are numerous and will continue to grow as the tickle down effect filters high-end designer trends down to mainstream saturation overload. But until that happens I’m going to enjoy the likes of these beautiful Mulberry bags – the Tillie and the Alexa. Does Mulberry ever really get it wrong? I swear, they make the most lust worthy bags ever. Every season I want at least 6.
When I was in London last Christmas it was all I could do to stop myself from buying one, even though I had just bought a very dandy piece of luxury leather from Luella, just round the corner five minutes earlier. Up and down Conduit Street, I kept trying to convince my best friend to invest, because every one of the bags I picked up would ‘love her forever’. Especially in the Mulberry store. And I really meant that. Because you would have your Mulberry forever. The gorgeous colours and deceptively simple designs never fail to entice me. And oh! The leather is so beautiful and soft and drool worthy. And this is coming from a vegetarian!
I want that little gold plate with the cut out tree to grace my person. Right now. Mulberry has recently decided to grace Sydney shores with its presence… keep watching this space in the coming weeks. You never know, I may just have a lapse of rational judgement and find myself in knee deep in debt, with a lusty look in my eyes as I take deep inhalations of the lightly leather perfumed air exuding from my new satchel…
Another worth mentioning is French & British Confectioners, who make amazing patent leather goods that make my heart soar. So, so gorgeous and very affordable. They are really well designed, feminine pieces that exude cult brand following power! Do it.
I’m loving The Kooples right now! I first saw the ads in British Vogue a while back, and I fell in love with the aesthetic instantly. They feature beautiful real life couples dressed darkly, clad in crisp tailored clothes. They ooze sophistication; Savile Row meets military styling with a healthy does of rock and roll attitude.
If you visit their website you’ll find the clothes behind the looks and video clips of the couples chatting about each other and things like how they met, why they love each other, sharing a quick kiss here and there. It sounds like it should be vom-inspiring, but it really isn’t. More like compelling. Filmed somewhere moody and slightly dishevelled makes for a contrast to the tailored, clean, sharp, structured looks the couples wear. It was gorgeous and edgy and modern. And oh-so-European. (Even the American guys.) You watch them and they make you want to be them. So badly. And isn’t that what any good ad campaign is about?
I don’t entirely think I could pull off this look and honestly I am slightly envious of those who can. The women’s wear is definitely menswear inspired, and I think you either need to be really pretty or conversely androgynous to make it work. I am neither so I shall admire from afar. Although I do want to invest in one of their coats, but honestly there are limited opportunities in Sydney to whip one out of the wardrobe, so I’m not sure if I can justify it. But hey, maybe I will just have to go gallivanting around Europe again next winter to make sure it’s not a wasted purchase. Couldn’t have that now, could I?
Can Sydney make The Kooples work for them? I’m not sure, because a lot of what we wear is fairly relaxed and light. The Kooples is very classic and structured in comparison. What do you think?
We have done this before, these endings,
and I’ve told you how I don’t think I can do this any longer more times then that.
But we always pick up the threads of the conversation of our lives, just months later.
For now, a circle completes. Our end (again).
And as I walk away from you
towards this waiting plane
I glance back.
Just as you knew I would.
I think I feel your lips on mine,
remember like phantom pains
where my heart once was,
where your hand once was; around my waist,
the way you your lip goes up when you smile, talk.
The way you always hugged me, as though it could be the last.
You were forever the beautiful one.
Being around you, I always felt more worthy, more attractive. Proud to know you.
One final look, I round a corner, I’m boarding. It’s over.
And I know Paris waits.
But it’s no consolation really.
Ok, so I’m obsessed. I can admit it. And really, let’s face it, this is an affliction that as hounded humanity for all of time, and will continue to do so indefinitely. So I am not really that strange, right? What I am talking about is the insatiable urge to know the future. It is inherent in all of us, to at times, want to know what is heading our way. I just happen to want to know this, pretty much all the time, which sees me frequenting the website of respected astrologer, Jonathan Cainer.
Each day cainer.com provides me with a little piece of ambiguous potential insight into my day, and on the weekends – the whole week ahead. It is a simultaneous action, opening three tabs on the Safari browser on my Macbook, morning coffee close by – Facebook, Hotmail and Cainer. Whilst a large part of me is skeptical of the majority of the astrologers that trash weekly mags provide, Cainer rarely does me wrong. Sure there are days when I really cannot entirely relate to what he is saying, but more often then not, he is scarily acurate, in his vague worldly notions. And I think that is the key really, to good predictions for the entire cast of people who all possess the same star sign. How can you outline absolute specifics for such a large oart of the population? We can’t all win the lottery in the same week. Suss much? What a freak coincidence that would be. So I enjoy the way in which Cainer outlines concepts and ideas, rather then outlining absurd specifics about meeting the love of my life, losing my phone, and coming into a cash windfall. All in one ridiculous whirlwind day. I’m sorry, but all that is BS. It strikes me as ludicrous that any publication would even consider publishing such junk, but alas, sensationalising things is all the rage, and in the end it makes things sell.
Cainer is really feeding my addiction, rather then actually fulfilling my need to know the future, but that is ok. His wise words bring comfort and insight, new perspectives and just general provide a little bit of hope for good things to come. And like I said, he is very often accurate. Some days it is like a desperate burning desire to know what is coming, where you just need something to tell you, from an ‘other-wordly’ source, that yes, things will be ok. It will work out, and you are a good person. Mostly I believe this, but at times you just need to hear it from someone else.
People tell me it’s because I am young, and perhaps a little naive, but I still believe that there are endless opportunities in the world. So I look forward to tomorrow, and I want confirmation that there is a reason why I am not jaded, cynical and bitter. I still believe that anyone can pretty much achieve whatever they want, if they really try. I love the mystery of possibility, the potential of change, the way the out of nowhere something amazing can happen. I want the unknown of the future to keep me hoping, and open to love when all seems lost. I want to feel like the world can still be a magical place, where anything can happen. I want to know that there is a reason for what happens, and equally, what doesn’t. I am human, we all want these things. We wish to justify our whole lives to ourselves, every decision along the way, unless we are inclined to spend all our time blaming everyone else for everything bad that has ever happened. Which as far as I can see, is no way to live. It’s apathetic. And in a country like ours, I just don’t believe there is any excuse for apathy. You can not tell me we should all just accept ‘our lot’ in life. The future is yours to create. You have to go for it, because, let’s face it, nobody else is going to do it for you.
And if that means I take comfort in reading my horoscope, an art form that many will try to dispute and discredit, whilst trying to work out what is best for me and my future, so be it. I’m not romanticising the future, I just don’t see what the point of living is, if you don’t have hope and aspirations. And while sometimes I know I spend a little too much time thinking about what might happen, and not enough on what is happening now, at least I have hopes and ideas for what I want my future to look like, and I take action to achieve them. Not everyone can say that. So excuse me, and my small addiction to Cainer’s daily dose of wisdom.
Try it sometime. You might surprise yourself. The future is coming, like it or not.
In the past few years, I have been unfortunate enough to have to partake on numerous occasions in the grand old tradition of hunting. For a job that is. It is almost as though, as the human race has evolved over the eons, we have transferred our hunter/gatherer instincts from the basic search f0r food, to you know, provide oneself with energy and sustenance, blah blah, to the far more fraught task of finding a job. That will result in being able to buy food. And a house. And pretty shiny things. Oh and what a hunt it is! Welcome, to the new face of the hunter/gatherer.
The modern day job hunt, is far more tedious task then the daily gathering rituals of our prehistoric ancestors. The job hunt I fear, has become a bit of an art form. As I, and many of my friends finish school, university, Tafe or the like, they seem to find themselves with a common denominator – unemployment. Or more specifically, undesirable employment, that was just about bearable whilst studying, which now needs (it has moved beyond a want) to be replaced with a better job in their area of qualification. But as they try to do this, they increasingly find that their degree or diploma is fairly worthless in the real world. What employers want today, and thus what we should have been gathering all along, other the skills and knowledge that we foolishly thought would be enough, is a mystical little thing known as experience.
Ahh, experience. The stuff of recent graduates nightmares. A little catch cry you may hear them weep, ‘how do I get experience for this job, if no one will employ me without any experience, so I get some experience?!’ It is the ultimate Catch 22. For an entry level position, not only should you have completed tertiary studies, but you should also, magically have racked up two to three years of paid experience in the industry of your choice. Despite the fact that seemingly no one will give you the opportunity to gain said experience in the first place. And the work placements, you faithfully attended? Pft. Whatever. It turns out it means next to nothing. So you get to wondering, what was the point of all those years of hard work? When really, you are still stuck in your crumby dead end job, that got you through Uni – just; and that you are now (and probably always were) majorly over-qualified for, and that is possibly the cause of all aggravation, frustration and hate in your life. Why, you wail?
Another lovely aspect of The Hunt, is the old adage – it’s all about who you know. I have to say, there is something in it. As much as it dismays me, and fills me with outrage at the inequity of it all, I do think it is true. You know someone working for the company you are applying for, and you are a shoe in. They even possibly are the only reason you heard about the job opening at all. Friends in high places and all that. Wink wink. And again, I wonder, how do you get to know lots of useful people in the myriads of companies you are applying for jobs at? Obviously you must not only be studious in Uni, but also very industrious as a social butterfly, hunting, then gathering nectar and friends and influential people into your repertoire. Or else pick a field from the beginning, that all your family already work in. Much simpler in the end really.
This is all without mentioning, where the real perseverance is: the actual job hunting. Seek.com and I are very close now. We go way back, and while I wouldn’t always say that we get along, we understand that we are mutually necessary to one another, and thus we have come to an agreement. It is not only easy, but possibly also necessary to spend hours online hunting for jobs. For once you have found a job that you are qualified for, you then try to suss out – who is the company? Where are they based? Do I want to work for them? Should I worry whether I don’t, because it’s a foot in the door, stop being fussy! After you decide to apply, knowing full well that it is unlikely that you will be contacted at all, even for a reference, you then go to the trouble of doing some research on the prospective employer, so you can make some educated sounding, sweeping statements in your cover letter. All of this takes time, so get comfortable. You may wish to invest the funds you don’t yet have on a laptop. And some nice PJ’s. Then this process can be repeated again and again, 20, 30, 40 jobs later, 2 rejections 3 cups of coffee, and a whole lot of silence.
While I am not entirely sure what the trick is, to getting a job you actually want, or even just a foot in the door, I do know that there is hope, and that you just have to keep at it. And in the meantime, all this applying, and spinning of cover letters and resumes makes you much better at knowing and selling your attributes (in a completely non-prostitute kind of way). You get good a working buzz words, dropping lines about team players, having the ability to work independently, your exceptional computer skills (which if you didn’t before, all this job hunting and CV writing should have got you pretty much up to scratch) and being prompt and reliable. You tell them what sets you apart, why you are good for the job, and why you really feel like you can make a difference. And you sort of start to believe your own hype. Which is good, because by the time you actually get an interview, and the nerves hit, it all would have been like a fabulously drawn out, self-enforced study session, prepping you, my hunter/gatherer friend, for the grilling!
An elderly couple, dressed in cream: pant suit, skirt suit, shuffle painfully to their seats on this slow and dreary intercity train, matching silver hair, sunspots and smiles. To see them, to watch them talk, interact, be one together so completely, you’d believe it was a love of a lifetime. To look, who would, who could possibly know that she was beat by her first husband, that she lost her first child to his battering? Who would, who should know that he spent the first forty years of his life, being too afraid to actually go after what he wanted, not even knowing what that was, after spending thirty-five of those years being given orders. First from a cold and precise father, followed by a callous, calculating Lieutenant. A war on the frontline and back home – a wife lost to another man, one unfit to fight, who offered nothing to his country, nothing to the cause, but who was simply just there. Convenient.
To see them, this smartly suited pair, how could you know, that their redemption was each other. Displaced childhood sweethearts, she learnt to trust and believe again, he realised what it was he’d been fighting for all along. They hold hands, and spend their concern on one another, laughing in unison, both trying to hide the fear that lies within their eyes. A fear of the day when they will no longer be together, when one will be left behind, bereft of their soul and their purpose, their salvation. Each others saviour in lives that didn’t seem salvageable, reflected in the well worn wrinkles of their smiles, their hearts aching, etched on to one anothers sleeve. To see them, is to cry. Doomed by time and inevitability, it is a tragedy.
They are so beautiful.
Paris has to be one of the most exciting and romantic cities in the world. Paris is an absolute icon, and the number one visited tourist destination in the world. I have to say, it was one of the top things that I was looking forward to seeing in Europe.
Having been there and left again, my perception differs. What was once in my mind, a quaint and charming city, remains now as one of the most beautiful, but a lot less Parisian then expected. While I am certain that there are still place in Paris that meet my cobble stoned street, coffee sipping, Chanel wearing, cigarette smoking, poodle walking idealisms, central Paris is no longer this. The days of Madeline are over, and there is nothing I can do to save them.
Sights ticked off the list, Notre Dame, Arc du Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, the Moulin Rouge, the Seine, Champs Elysees, the Louvre, and oh so many more. Less desirable sights, now seen: soldiers wandering the gardens of the Lourve, casually strolling the Metropolitan, toting giant assault riffles; scalpers, dodgy looking men – everywhere, selling tourist shit off massive key rings and out of their pockets. Multi-coloured, flashing, light up Eiffel Towers, half dead roses to lovers, flying plastic thingys…
Oh, and a tourist to Parisian ratio of about 2:1. Full on. It seems to me, these days, many travelers prefer to experience their holidays through the lens of their video camera, then through their own eyes. The city is littered with inconsiderate travelers who feel the need to film approximately umm… ABSOLUTELY-EVERY FRICKEN-THING. These people litter Paris, soil it with their presence, pretty much ruining all the sights by standing in the way, or insisting that their entire, extended family and the other random tourists they met at their hotel, have a photograph in front of whatever it is you are trying to see, obscuring it from public view, as well obscuring it from actually being seen in the photograph. I don’t understand it, nor am I going to attempt to. Just take in deep breaths and count backwards from ten… nine… eight…
Anyway, no matter how hard I try now, Paris, or at least the idea of Paris, feels like a myth. A great hazy tale from history of romance, intrigue, beautiful specimens of men and women, designer gowns, charms and graces. This Paris, the one we all have, situated high on some ludicrous pedestal in our minds, where we play the femme fatale – the beautiful protagonist, who gets swept away by an arrogant, yet absurdly charming, chain-smoking Frenchman. I’m sorry, but this Paris doesn’t exist. Or if it does, I can’t help but feel it is the exception, not the norm. I don’t know what I really expected of Paris and don’t get me wrong, it is a fabulous city, filled with wonderful sights, great dramatic histories, priceless artworks, and soaring architecture. But somehow, the charm was just not there. I didn’t fall in love with the city of my daydreams. In fact, it almost feels like a break up of sorts. That horrible moment where you realise that nothing is what it seemed to be in the beginning, or what you wanted it to be in the end. Just something that looks good in theory, and boy, does it look good! But once you get to know it, the image is shattered, when reality hits. The honeymoon period is over, and when it comes down to it, Paris is just a grungy, urban city with it’s problems, just like any other.
I can’t help but wonder, if I went to Paris neutral, free from the associations and glamorizations that the media use to define it, whether I could have loved it for what it is, instead of mourning what it is not.
As our time here in London draws to an untimely close, I wonder how I can leave this city, and I wonder, when I will be back. Next year holds a whole lot of mystery for me. I have so many decisions to make about the direction of my life. This is the first time, in the longest time, where I am totally free to actually make choice. What I decide now will shape the course of my life to come.
For years and years, the future has been fairly predetermined for me, for all of us really. You spend almost all the years of your life that you can remember, at school. Firstly primary, and then onto high school – probably a decision mostly made by your parents. Beginning high school seems like the biggest deal at the time, and then all of a sudden, there you are at the School Certificate. For me, whether to leave school or not after year ten, was never a decision to make. Long ago discounted, I had lived with the assumption that I would complete the HSC for most of my life. When it comes to deciding what to do after school, well now that is a decision. A huge one. But after that hurdle, it’s back to having a predetermined outlook. Uni took me three and a half years, and I have never worked so hard in my life. Finishing six months early, kind of left me in a little bit of a limbo, but proved highly useful, being able to work and save for this trip, in that time. Even then, there was no real choice about what to do with my future, since I knew I would be away for two months. It made getting a permanent job difficult and a little bit futile, it made plans hard to make. The time has been defined almost entirely by this trip. It was my reason for doing all the things I had to do. But now… When I get back. What exactly?
One option lies in coming to London to work for a while, and I guess now, it really is an option. Before this trip, it was a bit of an unknown. Now London is like an old friend. It is such an easy city to be in, it’s so much like home, but still different enough to be interesting. There is so much to do and see here, more then we could possibly ever do in two weeks. And if London or England isn’t enough for you, try Europe. Just next door really. Flying over the channel, between France and England, it took just minutes. I watched the lights of one city melt away into the ocean, only to shortly be re-lit as the winter skies of London. It’s magical, and it’s crazy.
How do you possibly try and comprehend this part of the world? The British love Australia for it’s space (and weather), but Australians love Britain for it’s proximity (and homely qualities, hard to come by overseas). I love London for the winter,for the accents, the tube, for Banksy and Invader, for the way Londoner’s do winter fashion so well. I love London for the cute IndieBrit guys, for the diversity, for the culture – the galleries and museums, the exhibitions and the sheer quality of what you have access to. I love it for the history, and for the snow, I love it for the Great British designers, Oyster cards, for the mayhem of Oxford Circus at Christmas, for the Tower of London, and for the Thames. I love walking the streets, imagining who walked there before me, what history has passed before me. And I love the way it is such a central hub, there are literally people from all over the world here. It is a true and great international city.
Boxing day sees the start of our tour, and a real eye opener to Europe, the rest of the world really. I can only hope that it clarifies a lot of things for me. Other options next year are endless, I won’t bore you with the details. All I can say, is that I am sad to see the end of our time in London. Tomorrow is Christmas Day, the only day of the year, where London shuts down completely. And that is it.
It is all over.
But Paris waits.
The bag you wear defines who you are, shows watchers what you are about.
The other day I bought a Luella Bartley handbag.
It is beautiful.
There is nothing quite like the smell of a luxury leather good.
I saw three other people today wearing my faux Chanel styles, five quid handbag. That’s ok, because I didn’t want Luella to get rained on.
It’s crazy, the relationship a woman has with her handbag.
No matter what size or style bag you have, no matter how many pre-designated functional pockets it may have, no matter how regularly you remove accumulated clutter, it is a universal fact, that you will never be able to find anything in your handbag.
A bag is all in the detailing.
Jimmy Choo on New Bond St London at Christmas, offers complementary cocktails upon entrance to their store.
Handbags can make or break an outfit.
We are told that a designer handbag will last you a lifetime, but I am happy if I use it for a year.
That handbag will still love you, when no one else does. I love you Natalie, the Burberry bag said. It’s true.
Where did you get your Invader tote? Just down by Camden Lock, from the markets we were lured into by the peddling Santa Claus, wearing matted fur of red and white.
That handbag will still love you, when no one else does. I love you Natalie, said the Anya Hindmarch bag, with gold stud detailing.
Marc Jacobs shit crazy bags with the fluro coloured abseiling rope accents. Mmm.
Truth: sales assistants take you more seriously when you have to walk into their shop sideways, like a crab, due to the large nature, and number of your designer shopping bags swinging jauntily from your elbow.
In Winter, your handbag is even more critical. It may be the sole thing, breaking up the block of colour and texture that is your coat.
It’s ok to see two dream bags on one day.
Please shoot down the next person that you see with that hideous sequin leopard print shoulder bag. I thought I left them behind when I left Sydney, but there is, to my horror, even more of them in London.
I will always love you Natalie, squealed the Prada hobo.
Yes I just used the words Prada and hobo in the one sentance. Oh look, I just did it again.
Oh, and yes handbags can talk. They do it all up and down Conduit St.
It seems silly, that as human beings, we spend so much time talking about the weather. But it’s got more then something to do with filling awkward silences, and starting conversations with people that we have no idea what to say to. I think it also has to do with the unpredictability of the weather, and the way that we have no control over it. Humans love to control things, to feel like they have a hold on how things are panning out. The history of the world is based around this concept. But none, not even the most O/C of us, can truly control every aspect of our lives. Not really, and this scares us a little. And so, in some vain effort to recapture just a little control, we choose to waste hours and hours of our lives, hours that we will never get back, discussing the weather – complaining about it, noting it’s quirks, it’s patterns, and more importantly, trying to predict it. And now here it is, a blog for comparing the weather between cities. (This is riveting, don’t lie.)
When we travel, the weather suddenly becomes even more of a novelty. It becomes less predictable, and more noteworthy. It colours the day; and give tone, and mood to your holiday snaps. The weather will most certainly be different to where you have come from, and quite often, is the very reason for traveling in the first place. It will determine what you do and wear you go. What you wear, what you eat. How you sleep. If you sleep.
Traveling to northern hemisphere in Winter, has caused for much questioning and wonder on the behalf of most. As far as I am concerned, Winter is beautiful. I think this in Sydney, I think this in New York, I think this in London. I will think this in San Francisco, and I am sure I will do so traveling through Europe. I love rainy days. Everything feels fresher afterwards. The wind has a similar effect on me. As far as I am concerned, if it is cold, I can always dress warmer. If it is too hot, I can only remove layers to a certain extent, before I get arrested for indecent exposure. And there are only so many ice-creams and refreshing cocktails that can be consumed before one gets too fat to remove said clothes, without the scorn and ridicule of the general public. So anyway, off that tangent and back to Winter. Who doesn’t find the possibility of snow exciting? I don’t think I will ever get sick of snow. There is something so magical, so enchanting about. Standing outside, as the snow falls down upon you. Its amazing. So are the newspaper headlines, that promise for a white Christmas.
The light is different here in Winter. Everything looks that little bit more atmospheric. Especially when the sun doesn’t seem to fully rise until after 11am, and sets prior to 4 in the afternoon. Even at 10 in the morning, it looks as though it should be late afternoon, on a wintery afternoon in Sydney. It’s very disorienting when you try to keep track of the time. Or what day it is, for that matter. I have never been good at keeping track of that at the best of times, but that’s what being on holiday is all about really. Once you stop trying to quantify and regiment things, just relinquish your hold, you will be fine. Time is relative, after all. After struggling to grasp time for a few days, I have gradually stopped checking my phone for the time. For the first time in years, I look at my phone less then maybe, 4 times a day. It still often surprises me by what time it says, but not so much now.
What else can I say about the weather in London? Well, it kinda reminds me of the Blue Mountains really. This comparison creeps me out a little. But it is similar, in it’s sheer unpredictability and changeability. Yesterday, visiting the Tower of London, the day started off as a warm sunny morning, the warmest yet; hazy at first, but clearing. Within about an hour or arriving, the day had become bitter and grey, the sharp wind, biting bare skin, whipping off the Thames. Then out of nowhere, it starts pouring with rain, even though I could see blue sky just near us. Within a minute or 2, the rain becomes snow. Having been lulled into a false sense of security about the temperature that morning, we were hideously underdressed for the turn of weather, and flee inside, only to return outdoors within minutes, to find it has all passed. It is still freezing, but now looks like twilight, during the middle of the day. And you know what, tomorrow will probs be completely different.
But I still love Winter.
So London, huh?
For the majority of my life, I have dreamt of coming to London, wondered when, and how, who with, what for, and why. It has always drawn me, for a myriad of reasons. For the history, the fashion, the proximity to Europe, the accents. Lots of other reasons too, I guess. When I travel, I dream of finding that one place in the world, that so resolutely feels more like home to me then anywhere else. Somewhere where everything will click, and suddenly make sense. I suppose I have spent a long time wondering, if London could be that place.
In the few days I have been here, I have to say I have fallen in love with this city. It’s beautiful. I always wonder why people come to Australia, and now I have to question that even more so. Sydney is a village. Sydney is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but the six degrees of separation, is actually about three. London’s population however, is only slightly less then that of the entire of Australia. Put it into context people!
Walking the streets of London, I can’t help but be struck by how old everything is. There is a real sense of history throughout the city, that Australia couldn’t possibly ever hope to rival. England, is, I suppose, the motherland, of our dear nation. Being here though, certain things about Australia make more sense. And you begin to realise the full extent to which things in Oz are named after things that already exist in Inger-land. Nothing is original. And apparently nothing is sacred either. But being here, it feels more like home, then being in New York ever did, or could. I find it amazing that three nations, England, Australia and America, so inextricably linked once, sharing the same origin, speaking the same language, could, over a few hundred years, become so culturally distinct and diverse from one another. And the differences are marked.
When you leave Australia, it is easier to comprehend the notion of the global community. You see how interconnected the rest of the world is. Everything you buy, has been made or grown somewhere equally as exotic as where you stand. Egypt, Romania, The Czech Republic. When you are in Australia, everything has been made in Australia, or China. As a country, we apparently value our independence, and are trying to be a self-reliant as possible. Almost a bit stubbornly, really. But in a way, it has paid off. GFC? We weren’t hit nearly as bad as anywhere else. They are still feeling the crunch here, yet at home we are pretty much in the clear, proof be seen in raising interest rates.
And while I’m not sure quite yet, if London is that place, where everything suddenly feels right, I certainly know that it is a place I already feel sad to have to leave. Overall though, London is a very easy city to be in. Maybe this is because of our historically strong link towards our founding nation, maybe not. But it’s easy to absorb. Easy to stumble upon things. London accents are very easy to aquire. Tube’s are frequent and easy to catch. Oh- and pounds are very easy to spend!