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2016-04-21 19.46.30

Fashion.

Its trivial, frippery. Right? Hmm, No.

Fashion may seem trivial but clothing’s ability to transform a person, and communicate a message is something most powerful and deeply rooted in human culture and psychology.

Based on the best-selling novel by Rosalie Ham, now a major multi award winning film starring Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Judy Davis, and Hugo Weaving as well as a veritable who’s who of Australian talent in the supporting cast, adeptly illustrates the power of clothing as a tool for manipulation and ultimately revenge.

“The Dressmaker is a bittersweet, comedy-drama set in early 1950s Australia. Tilly Dunnage (Winslet), a beautiful and talented misfit, after many years working as a dressmaker in exclusive Parisian fashion houses, returns home to the tiny middle-of-nowhere town of Dungatar to right the wrongs of the past. Not only does she reconcile with her ailing, eccentric mother Molly (Davis) and unexpectedly falls in love with the pure-hearted Teddy (Hemsworth), but armed with her sewing machine and incredible sense of style, she transforms the women of the town and in doing so gets sweet revenge on those who did her wrong.”

Official film synopsis.

 

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the preview of the opening of The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition at The National Trust Victoria’s beautiful Rippon Lea Estate. My invitation was on behalf of my friend Erica of recycled-fashion.com and Nuffnang. Many thanks, it was fab!

Now anyone who knows me or reads these pages regularly will know that this subject matter goes right to the core of who I am and what I’m passionate about. One of the highlights for me was a speech given by Rosalie Ham. Read More

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Can you hear it? Listen for it, after Marion’s laugh. It is the unique sound of beautiful sequinned lace, rustling as it moves, almost like soft rain on a tin roof.

It is a sound that Marion Boyce, award winning Costume designer of crime series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and feature film The Dressmaker is passionately keen to share with others. For Marion, the sound and feel of a garment is just as important as how it looks, creating a sensual feast of nostalgia, beauty and joy.

It is early evening and I have had the great pleasure of accompanying Erica of recycled-fashion.com to meet Marion and experience the new accessories designed for her Miss Fisher Collection – Marion Boyce. Even better, our meet and greet takes place at dusk in the beautiful grand Victorian National Trust owned Labassa Mansion.

Its not hard at all to comprehend that Marion has a great deal of love for both the fashions of the late 1920’s early 30’s and the 1950’s particularly Dior’s New Look. All fashion is representative of the time in which it evolved, and in this instance both periods were times of celebration, and new horizons coming out of the hardship of World Wars. This joy manifested in beautiful fabrics, innovative cutting, essentially clothing as art. Marion’s passion for these periods is evident in the meticulous and loving detail of the garments of the Miss Fisher series set in the 1920’s, The Dressmaker set in the 1950’s and now The Miss Fisher Collection. Read More

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Human beings wear clothes, and these clothes are imbued with a sense of the physical body but also the spirit of the person even once the clothes remain and the person has moved on. The light in these dress forms also gave me a sense of being a network of blood and veins. The changing colours being reminiscent of the changes in physical character of an individual over time. These veins were like the skeleton, left behind after the passing of the creature. Speaking to us of the life that once was, now passed.

Well worth missing out on that extra hour of sleep.

Looking forward to White Night 2017. C U There.

Bella

Here are some further extracts from the White Night website regarding the festival and the artist. For more information visit the White Night Website.

Tae Gon Kim is an artist from South Korea who lives in Strasbourg, France. A draughtsman and a designer. Tae Gon Kim translates emotions into technical statements”

 

“White Night (Nuit Blanche) was originally conceived in Paris in 2002. Since its inception Nuit Blanche has inspired an international network of White Night events in more than 20 cities around the world, creating a tailored event that reflects the city’s distinct passions and characteristics.”

 

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By Kenton Greening (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A mosaic of Roman women playing sport, Villa Romana del Casale, Sicily.

What a difference a few metres can make. It’s summer in Melbourne, and for many that means sun, sand, and salt, spending time on our bay and surf beaches. I was in Rye the other day. For those who don’t know it, its on the Mornington Peninsular, south of Melbourne. As you travel south towards the heads of Port Phillip Bay the land narrows (peninsular!) and the long stretches of beach are only a few metres from the shops and houses that line the beach road. On a hot day the beach and streets are buzzing with people enjoying the relaxed summer vibe. Whilst I was in one of these stores in walks a young woman in a string bikini. As I notice her I am struck by how NAKED she looks. Context is everything. If she had of been a few metres away on the sand she would have looked distinctly less NAKED. So what’s the go here? It struck me that clearly there is a generally accepted consensus  that when you leave the beach you add a little more to your body. There were definitely other woman around wearing very little, perhaps just a pair of short shorts, a skimpy singlet top, even just a pair of thongs. Yet there was still a big difference between how NAKED they looked and how she looked. The other influencing factor here is body size. She was very normal. Not terribly over weight, but definitely not thin. A voluptuous girl. It’s pretty unusual to see a woman shaped like that naked in the streets. Another consideration is the amount of fabric that constitutes the bikini, this one had a rather minimal amount. I’d love to include an image, to illustrate my point BUT do you know it’s really, really hard to find an image of a girl in a bikini that is available to use AND appropriate! That might be another blog post…

Now I personally (in hindsight – I was a little taken a back at the time) think she should be applauded for being so comfortable in her own skin. There is no way I ever could have walked around like that. Yet she was clearly completely comfortable and unapologetic. Realistically, it would be amazing if we were all as comfortable and accepting of ourselves as she appeared to be. Another part of this I find interesting is that we are all quite accustomed to seeing complete strangers nearly naked in media and advertising. Whilst I do recall hearing of the odd billboard that has been forcibly removed due to the nature of its content being potentially incompatible with safe driving practices, in general we still see a fair amount of skin in every day life, out and about. But it is sooo different when it is hot, sweaty, and jiggling next to you, isn’t it?

I listened for an accent too – Australian. Reason being for this is when I Iived in Bondi years ago I would see many tourists similarly clad (or unclad!) fairly regularly, also when I traveled through the Mediterranean regions. This just illustrates how different cultures have different unwritten codes around what is the social norm. Yet we all have them. We have them because these codes provide a degree of comfort to the majority. But society and social conventions are constantly evolving. I remember when I was a small girl that it was very common to see males walking around with no shirt on. Now with our understanding of skin cancer that it relatively rare, although not exactly head turning. I hope she had tons of sunscreen on!

So what if this had of been a guy? Walking around in one of those European man-style thong bathers?  Now that would have turned heads!

Cheerio,

Bella

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I consider myself to be relatively in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to my own body image. As a child, teenager and in my twenties I spent more time thinking about my body shape than I do now. I think that’s probably pretty normal. Whilst I have always stressed about the size of my thighs, my lack of a waistline and heavy arms, I never got involved in dieting to extremes, somehow still having an inner picture that whilst I didn’t look like a model, I was still ok.

I started working out in the school gym as soon as it became available. This was partly due to a shy nature, it was a good way to keep myself occupied in a constructive way at lunch times, and partly due to the threats of one of our sports teachers. I will never forget Miss Moore. Athletic, deeply bronzed olive skin, petite in height and frame, swinging thick black hair and a take no prisoners attitude. Intimidating in many ways. I’m sure she had good intentions. However when she told my year 11 class that in her experience and opinion by the time we were a year or two out of secondary school most of us would be overweight and unhealthy and it was all down hill from there, I was alarmed. As a young woman with increasing body consciousness it struck fear deep into my heart.

I developed an unhealthy and unrealistic vision of the body that I wanted to achieve and started working out. Now when I say the body is unrealistic and unhealthy, well that all depends upon your perspective. If I was able to achieve that body, I feel quite sure that I would be very healthy and fit. However from the starting point that I had, and my genetic make up, it would take a good deal of hard work, dedication and discipline.

Over the years I have realized that whilst I have continued to work out, take care of my health and desire to improve my health and physique, I have never had the depth of desire that would drive the levels of effort and discipline necessary to achieve that body.

In the mean time I have traveled, worked, played and generally lived. A lot of the time there were elements of life that negatively contributed to the state of my health or fitness. Late nights, unhealthy meals, alcohol etc. All very normal, nothing extreme, but all an important part of my journey.

In my late twenties and early thirties I had children and whooo man. What a challenge that can be! I became enormous! With the first pregnancy, I was comfort eating for two, in shock about the impending changes to my life. With number two, well I never really lost a lot of the weight from the first pregnancy and then she was a huge baby. So by the time I had finished pregnancies, births and breast feeding my body barely resembled my body from before.

I found this time immensely challenging. I was exhausted, over weight and to be honest depressed.  Around this time,  I trained as an Image consultant. Learning about body shape and creating a more desirable body shape through clothing spurred on my desire to change, this time with a different focus on maximizing my ability to dress the way I wanted to. In my head it was less about my health and more about my perfectionism in crafting a look.

After a few years with this approach I started to become aware of the messages I was passing on to my girls. Some of the thoughts that emitted their lips alarmed me. In respect of them, I won’t share but it made me rethink some of my choices in life.

Over time I believe I have managed to get myself back into exercise and an acceptable level of fitness. I have been very fortunate to have the support and encouragement of not only a great partner but some wonderful fitness professionals. I no longer hit the gym five times a week, realistically I only manage three at best. But I believe my attitude to my fitness and my body is more sustainable.

However, I am no pin up girl. I still have a considerable spare tyre around my waistline as well as excess kilos all over. What has changed is that I now accept that. I know that I could be fitter and slimmer and have a pretty clear concept of what would be required of me to get there. I continue to look after my diet and exercise but what has changed is the nasty little voice in my head has got quieter.

So here is the thing that has subdued that nasty little voice.

I have two beautiful, intelligent, delightful daughters. Like most mothers I try to be the best role model I can, to guide and encourage them to recognize and value their uniqueness and to understand and accept the diversity of people in their world. I have tried hard to raise them with a healthy diet and a healthy attitude to sleep, exercise, food, indulgence etc etc.

But what they have given me through no fault or intention of their own is acceptance of myself. In my experience most parents at some point realize that their children are fundamentally different from one another. Whether that be through genetics or environment and a desire to differentiate themselves from one another and their parents, over time they develop their own interests, personalities and…. physiques.

My girls are both lean and muscular. Not highly motivated in competitive team sports but both very active and more interested in personal goals and achievements. One has definitely inherited genetics from her father with a very small frame, lean muscle and little body fat. The other, it’s harder to pinpoint but she is also developing a lean muscular frame. The differences in their frame were pointed out to me by a pediatrician when they were 3.5 and 2 years respectively and I struggled to see the difference at the time. Now its obvious.

The point is they are who and what they are as a result of many different factors, genetic and environmental. Despite living in the same house, with the same food and parents they are increasingly different. They are both just as beautiful, healthy and lovely as one another. Just different. And so am I.

To finish, as a women there also comes a time that when you realize that if your very slim, narrow hipped, 13 year old has moved into size 8 ladies jeans, then it is perfectly reasonable that your 40 something, curvaceous, muscular, post two children butt will best be accommodated in something substantially larger. And that’s OK.