Pineapples and pincers waste not


The fibre of the future will waste not

Pinatex pineapple fibre jacket

Things are really moving along in the sustainable and ethical fashion sphere and we have to give thanks to @legacyfashion @mrspress and @rawassembly for doing it. It takes a whole lot of dedication and passion to get these events happening and happen they did. The after-buzz is palpable. I’m excited and I know that everyone else is too. And if that isn’t enough we’re also excited to share what we learnt with everyone that’s willing to listen – and those that aren’t.

What do pineapple waste and crab shells have to do with fashion?

You might order your beautiful Pinatex pineapple fibre jacket online and it might arrive in a compostable bag made from crustacean waste - that’s what.

Who isn’t excited by the idea of pineapple fibre Pinatex and packaging made from hospitality refuse in the form of crustacean shells? The biggest take out as a designer is a feeling of comradeship. It is not often that fashion and sharing go hand-in-hand. But this is what’s happening. It’s because we are true believers. We truly believe that there are alternative models in design, business, fibres, fabrics, finishing, construction, delivery packaging – the list goes on. The Legacy fashion summit was about big picture ideas and the raw assembly showcase gives us the tools to achieve them. I saw and handled some amazing silks that I want to use in my garments.

We’re willing to share this information because we know that sharing benefits everyone on this planet. So hurrah to the organisers of these events and their dedication to the cause! Check out their websites for some of the incredible presenters and suppliers that were there from Outland denim to Carapac, there’s lots to be excited about!

Style is everything .... Style is a way of life

I recently watched the documentary ‘The Eye Has To Travel’, about Diana Vreeland’s extraordinary life in fashion.
The documentary makes much of Diana Vreeland’s looks. There are many references to how plain she was and how this affected her confidence as a woman. She mentions early on that her mother called her extremely ugly. Although the images we see of her as a child don’t bear this out and It is implied that her ‘plainness’ was a driving force in her ambition to be the best and which took her to the top as an editor of Harpers Bazaar and Vogue.

Our eyes haven’t traveled very far if this is what we are thinking.
Like other amazing women such as Dorothy Parker and Coco Chanel she is famous for her witty quotes.

‘A racehorse has a little extra pizazz’

‘The best thing about London is Paris!

One of the most quoted is

‘style is everything’…style is a way of life, without it, you’re nobody.

Her sense of style was the reason she landed a job at Harper's Bazaar writing a column called -Why don’t you? Why don’t you get a finger -length leopard skin cape to wear over your country tweeds… and other practical information during the Great Depression.

It was Diana Vreeland’s strong individual style that kept her at the forefront of fashion, dictating and predicting style throughout the decades. She is credited with launching the careers of many famous models, including Twiggy, and Verushka, and capturing the zeitgeist of a generation. She called it the ‘youthquake’. It takes a special canniness to predict the look of the moment, encompassing social mores, attitude and posture, mood and look, understanding something much more than hem lengths and widths.

As an older woman, coy phrase I know, my eyes are peeled for professional women who keep working in spite of their age. There is so much importance placed on youth and the insistence of youthful beauty in our society for women.

It is easy to become depressed, as you get older about your working life and the prospects open to you.  Like Diana Vreeland I cannot imagine not working. There are many older women working into their 70’s and 80’s but largely they go unnoticed.

Diana Vreeland was passionate and her passion for life and fashion inspired all around her.
At 69 years old after being sacked from Vogue she became the director of Moma’s Costume Institute bringing her style energy and vision to this role.

Diana Vreeland worked with a heady mix of people, some of the world’s greatest photographers, models, stylists and designers. She knew how to direct people to create drama and theatre. Fascinating footage shows her at work interacting with women generations younger than herself without fear of being uncool.

Diana Vreeland’s fashion was the sort that excites with its creativity. It wasn’t about the clothes but how you wore them and in what context.

‘A new dress doesn’t get you anywhere it’s the life you’re living in the dress’

Diana Vreeland reminds me of Dickens’s Miss Haversham, Imperious… a grand Dame to be feared and obeyed. She admired professionalism, talent, creativity and uniqueness. Although she died in the late 80’s she still remains inspirational to many women looking for role models out there in the boring land of the suit and blue tie.


Let's see a change and be inspired

Beautiful banksia and kangaroo paw textile print

Perusing the pages of one of my favourite Australian magazines, Frankie, I am often disappointed that our amazing native flora and fauna are often overlooked for Northern hemisphere colonialism choices. 

Young Australian designers need to look more in their own "backyard" for inspiration. I teach at a design school and I am always amazed at the lack of what is local that is represented in the students’ works. There are no possums, koalas, wallabies, potoroos, quolls, bandicoots…. etc to be seen. Instead we are presented with Northern hemisphere creatures foxes, rabbits, deer and bears, all well and good in their rightful habitat.
And as for textile prints that feature florals it is only a brave few designers that stand out, Cloth is one, that uses banksias, waratahs etc. They are not afraid to stand up and stand out, to use the amazing diversity and uniqueness found in the Australian continent, to carve out a niche in an ever increasingly blandly designed world….

Braided and Beaded

Dressing up in old wedding dresses is fun, even if you are wearing inappropriate footwear. Yes that is the toe of a converse peeping out from under the hem as beautifully modeled by my daughter Lena.

This vintage dress was made by hand. No label to reference but the handiwork is all over it. A lining attached by hand and a Cleopatra type braided and beaded decorative neckline. The dress is made of a heavy crepe and hangs stunningly.  The beauty shines through without the clutter so many brides prefer today.

Pearl Button cleopatra dress

Love Vintage Fair Finds

I found some vintage collars at the Love Vintage Fair in Sydney. They are delicate, the fabric and yarn has yellowed with age and there are charming quirks like small pulls and runs. All signs of true vintage beauty being worn and pre-loved. All the more they were hiding in a huge pile of doilies and napkins at one of the stalls. It was very exciting pulling them out one by one of the lucky dip.
Collars were made like this so that they could be laundered and finished separately and attached to garments when necessary. Lost arts, drawn thread work, embroidery, lace-making, lace insertion were skills used to make them. Quiet skills that don’t require machines, just an idea and old, old techniques.

Replacing a collar was a way to extend the life of a garment and create a new look for a dress, a shirt or a jacket. It could transform by hiding worn edges, stains, add interest to, and represent a new mode. It was also a way to wear your skills, so that they could be appreciated outside of the home (not just relegated to doilies). These collars would have framed the faces of the women and girls that wore them, drawing attention to their faces.

Pearl Button drop collar
Pearl Button work collar
Pearl Button sailor collar
Pearl Button net lace collar


Pearl Button Crystal Veil

a sprinkling of crystals along the edge gave this wisp of a veil the weight it needed

Carrickmacross  is a beautiful Irish form of lace which is made by darning into net fabric which creates opaque areas against the transparency of the net.

I have been playing around with this idea in a much less intricate and  (skilled) way. There are lots of possibilities with this technique … for this veil I overlaid lines of hand stitching along the edge with an a sprinkling of crystal beads. This gave the wisp of the veil the weight it needed. To finish off the veil I roughly snipped the raw edge below it.

There are some great websites that specialize in information on this beautiful fabric. You can find out more about it here.