Sunday, 28 February 2010

Two pieces of silver...and gold and turquoise

In the wake of some rather unfortunate events that occurred a few years back, my knee-jerk reaction was to charge in to every self – help section of every book store on every High Street this side of the river. My bedside mountain of books resembled ‘Hogglewick’s’ new age best sellers list of the decade. Dare to say I was more confused than an egg - laying cow in a chicken coop....however, Mr Oliver James you did have some very good points and Matthieu Ricard., I salute you!

Ironically, however, the very place that I made a bolt from some 20 years ago is the very place that brought peace, insight, solitude and space for thought – as I write this I am astonished that I find myself confessing that it is the Roman Catholic Church that this very spiritually sloppy, prodigal daughter is referring to. I hasten to add that although my actual attendance over the past two decades has been way below par, I continued to pray to St Anthony when having misplaced an item and regularly said hello (and still do) to my dear Aunt Audrey who, on the day of her funeral, had the good grace to turn James Taylor’s ‘You’ve got a Friend’ on the CD player as I wept inconsolably into the bathtub.

Having now established my presence in the local Catholic community, I hesitate to a jolt each time I pass the confessional box, partly because it’s so intriguing, like some cavernous Opus Deim hideout, and partly because all my mortal wrong doings, however trivial, come seething to the fore. I am yet to gather up the fortitude to confess to Fr Michael in his ascetic tardis, I am boldly spilling the beans on my Judas-like secret here in cyberspace in the hope that GOD will tune in to MTFS’s frequency and grant forgiveness along with issuing a few token Hail Mary’s.

“Forgive me father for I have sinned, it has been 7 304.84398 days since my last confession and.....I sold not just any dog, but the family dog off for a pair of Yves Saint Laurent Earrings" – ouch!

Yes, it’s bad and Wise man Solomon would have been writhing in his grave.....but there is so much more to the story which makes it all the more forgivable – the dog hated living with our family, in fact she hated it so much that she took a kamikaze leap through the fly screen on to a very hard surface outside, leaving a cartoon cut-out of her figure. So, in a win-win scenario, I was instructed by my ever-industrious mother, to march over to the nearby neighbours (where said dog had been retreating to each day), with two pieces of paper in hand: one being an endorsement of the dog’s pedigree bloodline and the other, an offer too good for any pedigree dog-loving family to refuse. In return I was to receive a cut in the takings; the rest was my mother’s to spend on a pair of exquisite YSL earrings that would take pride of place on the ‘Mother of the Groom’s’ delicate ears at a wedding that would ironically take place in a park opposite the aforementioned dog’s new digs. The guilt of that act has wafted in and out of my consciousness in sporadic waves over the years...but now finally, I can lay it to rest.


Photo credit:

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Close - knit frock

As a fashion conscious teenager with a penchant for 'haute couture' (but seriously lacking the funds to feed my desires), much of my leisure time was spent scouring my mother‘s bedroom closet looking for my next fix. Each time I entered the Narnia - like world that lay beyond, I knew I’d return with either a magnificent Oscar De La Renta gown, a beautifully tailored Liberty print skirt or maybe a colourful piece by local designer, Rae Ganim.Sometimes my teenage sleepover compradres inadvertently became accomplices in these sartorial clandestine adventures – I had not yet 'discovered' boys; in any event their pimply, gangly frames were no match for the sleek lines, silky textures and colourful fabrics that filled not one but two wardrobes in our family home ( the spare bedroom closet was enlisted to accommodate any overflow of items).*
One frock in particular rests fondly in my memory – A chic and sophisticated V necked knitted Missoni piece with geometric designs that somehow all matched up perfectly; it even had a matching belt. I admired the colour, texture and neatness of the gown but never once questioned its heritage.

On learning recently that the Missoni family had publicly opened their home in Sumirago for the first time in three generations, as part of their S/S 10 launch, I was intrigued and wanted to vicariously enter their dreamlike designer environs. Flicking through the pages in ‘Pop’ magazine, it was comforting to see that the Missonis appeared like any other close-knit family (albeit a famous and wealthy one) enjoying each other's company in a relaxed and unassuming manner. Even after peering more closely at the pages I was convinced that their smiles and warmth were genuine. I closed the magazine satisfied that a well loved and remembered frock was born out of love, depth, beauty and family.

*Foot note: Several years later,upon my mother’s tastes changing rather dramatically, the spare bedroom closet resumed its original purpose. Her collection of salubrious gowns were gallantly bestowed upon well deserved friends, family and opportunity shops.Instead, she developed a die hard system (with her comrade Daph), of turning doilies into ponchos, table cloths in to dresses and pillowcases in to handbags that we all wanted to get our hands on!

Photo credit:

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Scarf of sentiment

Chinese philosopher Confucius once said “We should feel sorrow, but not sink under its oppression.” This sentiment was distinctly evident in the hours following this week's untimely passing of talented fashion designer Alexander McQeen. The enigmatic designer tragically took his own life just days after the passing of his own mother. Despite the heaviness that lingered in the air surrounding his Old Bond St store and the draping of black cloth over mannequins in his shop window, McQueen followers found solace in the purchase of his iconic skull scarf (scarf sales at his Liberty concession rose 14 fold the day following the designer’s death). Whether as a tribute to a tortured 21st century artist or seeking comfort in the scarf’s lustrous texture, one cannot help but note the symbolic nature of such a gesture – the soft lines of the smooth silk peppered with macabre skull figures.I too hope to join the parade of mourners if not by purchasing his scarf then by visiting his monument on Old Bond St.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

I MOOF therefore I am

The biscuit has skipped out of town for a few weeks, so I have taken the opportunity to indulge in a new found passion - it does slightly tick the more unusual box, but no, it’s not vexilollogy or train is the visually and tactilely (yes, this is a word ) all consuming world of felt. Most commonly mistaken as a tool for introducing toddlers to shapes and colours, felt is so much more than this. I recently spent a whole evening mesmerised by an array of felt covered cushions on a home decorating website which culminated in my investing in one very comfy little felt covered treasure.I have even tried to sex it up by giving it a gen Y style acronym - MOOFING. To possess something that is 'MOOF' is to behold a soft, colourful and sometimes functional treasure that is Made Out Of Felt.

The half baked bunny above is my very own rudimentary interpretation of MOOFing (sans ears and belt).I do strive to improve my moofing skills and with time I hope to one day create a nifty felt 'shopper' which I might just team up with a pair of felt lined ear muffs.

Dumpling Dynasty Bunny making kits are available from deliciously eclectic on-line shop Wu & Wu

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A tapestry called Florence

In 1971 American singer- songwriter Carole King released the single ‘Tapestry’, which became a number one worldwide hit. Meanwhile, in Sydney, Australia, the real life tapestry of Florence Broadhurst was unfurling in an unpredictable and colourful manner. At the time of her death in 1977 (which to this day remains a mystery), the stupendously talented wallpaper designer had seen many re-incarnations in her professional life.Starting out as singer, performer, artist and then as dress salon proprietor (under the alias of Madame Pellier), she went on to leave her enduring legacy by designing wallpaper in "the only studio of its kind in the world".
Could it be that Florence was revealing her internal landscape to the world through her bold designs?
It is only now that I contemplate the possibility of my favourite Broadhust designs being a story book of sorts. Her iconic ‘Horses stampede’ may well have been designed after a wild night of passion between the sheets in which her son had been conceived. The recurrent bird themed prints were clearly her untamed soul yearning to transcend the banal and everyday.....and it is so obvious to me now that her popular ’Japanese floral’ design was devised in a moment of sentiment while reminiscing her days spent touring the Orient.

Whatever the meaning behind Florence’s designs, there is no denying her talent and eye for marrying colour with design.

Florence Broadhurst prints are available through custodians 'Signature Prints'

Monday, 8 February 2010

Blue and Green make Aquamarine

The biscuit is a very insightful little being - it is she who has truly educated me on the palette of primary colours and their more complex little cousins, secondary colours. I have had many a chaotically constructed water colour creation bestowed upon me by the biscuit. In lesson one I was instructed to squidge my finger into the pot of green paint, then splodge it into the blue one and voila! Pure magic, a spectacular Aegean blue masterpiece before your very eyes...
This brings me to two very important pieces of advice that were handed down to me by my mother as an awkward tweenie
1.’Always be true to yourself’ – Be True i.e. don’t tell a lie because GOD is watching, To yourself i.e. To Me!
2. A skirt isn’t always a skirt if it’s a dress
From the moment I received these two nuggets of wisdom, I thought I’d be OK throughout life’s rumpled rollercoaster of ups and downs (NB. On my 16th Birthday I also received a copy of ‘The Prophet’ and a poster called ‘Desiderata’ which had some handy and helpful tips and answers to some of my prepubescent insecurities especially Para 3 see exerpt below)

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

It has only very recently occurred to me how very helpful those two little pearls have been to me.
In fact, had I not been wearing a skirt as a dress as recently as Christmas day 2009, I would have been wearing none other than my underwear!
Which brings me back to the purpose of these ramblings, they are a very long nod to colour, style and my mother, who is certainly the pearl in the heart of my oyster and who’s strong sense of colour, texture and style have been the most wonderful heirloom a daughter and granddaughter could inherit.