Monday, September 29, 2008

Hello, my name is Kat and I'm an Online Shopping-aholic.

I actually said that once, or along those lines, in an interview with Girlfriend magazine. But I meant it. Online shopping is the dogs bollocks, man. For a self-confessed and rather proud shopaholic, the 24/7 global shopping strip available at your fingertips is thrilling, to say the least. Of course, Frock You is my personal fave (!)- last night I picked up the GRAB Hunter vintage blue skinnies I've been eyeing off for ages (perfect for Spring, more flattering than pale denim but work back perfectly with lighter colours) which were conveniently marked down a few weeks ago to $99.95; the Little Potty Red Shoes Hollywood Smile Skirt in bold purple; the GRAB Pleat pocket vest which is soooo comfy and sooo cool, looks much better than the pic - cos it's black lightweight cotton knit it's hard to get the detailing in, but it will be perfect for layering over tees and tanks, with shorts and over frocks to gove a bit of balance betweeen girly/tough in the summer; and the cute Birds of a feather Venus s/s jacket, though I took the last one cos it's been one of my fave pieces ever since it landed instore. It felt like a nice big reward after a long week!

In more gratiuitous Frock news, you'll be pleased to know we've picked up a few more particularly awesome labels for high summer/winter 09: Motel is a UK label with loads of street cred, insanely popular in the motherland but just making its mark here and in the US. Favoured by cool songstresses like Duffy and the Ting Tings, I can't wait for the first range in Nov - it manages to walk that fine line between girly and rock chic, with an ample dash of quirkiness thrown in. Oh and it's priced from about $60-$120 so you won't need to take out a personal loan either. We've also taken on Mimosa, the brainchild of the smark chicky behind GRAB - basically, as she's gotten older she created a more grown up range aimed at the 25-35 market (roughly; neither me or my mum fall into this category but I've shown her the samples and she adores it, so it's honestly more of a classic, dressier range for everybody). They have been getting heaps of press lately and the winter range has SO many gorgeous coats you'll be hoping it's freezing for 6 months to get to wear them all; beautiful lacy party dresses with delicate ruffles and silks, soft angora knit cardis and tees, and a few uber-cool printed frocks which are totally trendy but also a classic shape. Priced from $89-$200, it'll be one of our more exxier lines, but once you see the items you'll know why. Investment dressing, baby!

Oh and speaking of babies, we'll be getting the funky Freshbaked in for Winter 09, following on from our new label foray into Sooki Baby, Yunginz, and Lucca P. Plus I've got my eye on a few independent, vintage inspired labels from Melbourne, a couple of baby and todler shoe ranges, and some more established labels you'll know and love.....all in the name of making your tot look as cool as you!

But enough of the Frock. If you've ever visited and whiled away a few hours drooling and lamenting over your chapmagne-on-a-lemondae budget lifestyle, you'll know why I often return there to gaze lovingly at sequinned frocks I'll never wear, handbags worth (or at least priced) more than my car, and luxurious knits gleaned from the hair of a rare Nepalse silky mountain goat calf (or something). The best thing is that 'cos it's based in the UK (with a US site as well, shop accorindg to the AU$ value), their seasons are literally the polar opposite of ours, so summer stuff is all on sale! There are a number of items sitting in my cart that I'm hanging out for, but even though they are all great buys, when the $55 shipping is added it makes me stop and wonder if it's worth day soon I'll crack, I will (especially if they have another free shipping week, hint hint).

And ebay. It's a bit dodgy, there is so much awful crap on there, but occassionally you'll stumble upon the exact frock you've been looking for for months, but not wanting to shell out $500 for. Then it becomes a daily obession to chekc back and make sure you haven't been outbid; to search for a few other things just in case, and before you know it you've got 11 auctions "ending soon" and you're winning all of them, even though really the only one you want is the original dress. So much for clearing out one's wardrobe to compile a neatly edited, complementary, failsafe and flattering option. Clutter it with crap you "won" on ebay and revel in the glory of a bargain! Keep it interesting....
I should stop gleefully reliving my online shopping moments of late and actaully go and run my own online shop. There were new markdowns over the weekend and this week there'll be loads of new stuff from GRAB and French Kitty, as well as kid stuff from Itch and Monster Baby. I can see orders coming in as I type this, so at least I know I'm not the only one with a spending habit (and ps, if you're wanting a rundown on like, every online shop worth it's e-salt, check out . Kellie the site owner has just been away on a shopping trip to Hong Kong so no doubt she'll have some shopping gems to share with you soon. And some interesting storeis about foregn toilets. Seriously, once you get going, it's a never ending topic. More on that later).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Departure Lounge

Yes, i am changing the side info thingy thre ---------> to "almost daily" blog or something like that; being inspired everyday to write about something is bloody hard work! And, after collapsing in an exhausted heap yesterday and spending the afternoon in bed with cups of tea and the Flight of the Conchords dvd, I am under strict doctors orders to take it easy and spend a month sunning myself on Santorini. Admittedly I wrote that particular prescription but I do feel it would work wonders. At any rate, the "taking it easy" vibe is a definite for summer. Getting through winter on minimal sleep and eating mainly coffee and nuts (as in, cashews and the like) has done wonders for a sz 8 figure but not so much for my state of wellbeing. It'll be a tie-dyed yoga and wheatgrass summer, baby. Oh and speaking of which, well sort of, I have just been in Melbourne to do the Winter 09 buying (not as fun as you might think, in fact it is quite stressful, especially when taxi drivers leave you stranded in random outer suburbs and quite a long way away from the safe confines of the sleek showrooms one becomes accustomed to); and come Jan/Feb you'll be in for a treat, all the ranges so far have been fabulous. A lot of them have been focussing more on modern designs, rather than rehashing "vintage" over and over again, and GRAB in particular have done the best winter jackets, like, ever. Get in early for those, they are smokin' hot. Everything seems a bit more grown up for 09 as well, less ditsy prints and girly cuts, and more of the effortlessly cool, softly tailored looks with lots of sheer, lace and zips thrown in for good measure. Exciting!

Actually one of the best and worst things about going to Melbourne is the observations one can make in the airport/on the plane. You can always spot the departure lounge for the flight headed to Tassie, one doesn't even need to look at the screens to find the gates. Just follow eitehr an RM WIlliams hat, bogan tracksuit, loud swearing or the over-hairsprayed/too much eyeliner/cheap jeans crowd, and you'll be on the flight home in no time. You might also end up in Adelaide, but it's a nice place to visit. Luckily on my flights there and back I did not get seated next to any smelly/loud/annoying/talkative locals, but they were definitely there. Oh, boy were they there. Behind me in fact. One particualrly attractive oversized lady with token scraped back hairdo and cigarette tucked enticingly behind her over pierced ear had two kids who climbed over each seat to get to theirs and kicked the back of our chairs the whole way home. I ignored this, knowing that kids and travelling don't always mix well. What I couldn't ignore was this woman's ridiculously loud swearing, at everyone else and her poor kids, her comments that "there are problems with the landing gear, I know it, I know thats what it is" when we had to circle around the airport twice (a common occurence when descending into Launceston, the runway is short and pilots can overestimate it. Alot, apparently); her loud chattter to herself apparently about how she has a 26 hour flight to San Diego at the end of the year, we can only hope it's a one-way flight and pray in unison for the people who get stuck next to her; and her oversized carry on bag, possibly in proportion to herself which she left in the middle of the aisle halfway up the plane while she chased her kids; meaning everyone behind her had to wait around to get to their seats for like 5 minutes til she moved. OH MY GOD. There's always one, isn't there. At least it was something to amuse me, there's not a whole lot of scenery on a night time flight over Bass Strait. I did have the latest issue of Madison ready to devour but couldn't concentrate enough. No matter, I'll read it on my newly leisurely evenings off. Bliss.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Baby or Balenciaga?

September is a really busy month for all the gorgeous S/S 08/09 deliveries, so forgive me for not having a spare minute to scratch myself, let alone write the blog. It will be back up and running as usual in about a week! Added to that, for once nothing has really got my goat enough to warrant a daily rant. Except for a little excerpt from Grazia magazine I noticed the other day over at GWAS.....

To Baby or Not To Baby is a genuine issue among women today. And men, probably, but who cares. None of the articles I've read in the last few months have asked a male opinion. In the one camp are the women who love the idea of motherhood, and the goal of having a family is one they hope to achieve. On the other side of the trench are the career-oriented people who can't see why you would give up your career, lifestyle, time and body for motherhood. In the middle is the fading argument "we all have a choice"; even though it's true. Every female does have the choice to choose career or family or whatever they like. There isn't a right or wrong answer, really. Just alot of strong opinions. Obviously I fall into the pro-baby group, to be perfectly honest I didn't intend to be a mother so young, but the best things in life are often unplanned. Like most, I thought travel, career etc etc until perhaps my late 20's when hopefully I would be in a stable relationship, financially secure and all that. That would've been fine, but the experiences and opportunities of having Charlotte in my early 20's have been worth it; I wouldn't change it for the world, and I've definitely not misse dout on anything except a lot of hangovers.

It's not for everyone, and I don't think anybody should have a baby just because they "have to", in the same way they "have to" have the latest shoes or bag. If you're not ready, then don't. It changes literally everything, and from many of the opinions I've read there are many women out there who have worked really hard to achieve their lifestyles and they don't want to give it up. Without sounding rude, I think that is an awfully selfish and materialistic way to put things (an honest Vogue columnist recently said she'd prefer Balenciaga to baby bags, props for being so bold as to admit to it but it still seems a bit crude). They complain because their friends with kids don't have as much time for them as before, or aren't as interested in them. That should be a pretty obvious given, really; if you're a high achieveing 30-something presumably you don't need looking after as much as a newborn. The best response to the issue has been good old Frankie magazine, which sensibly went along the lines of "I'm not read for a baby, but my friend gave birth to the most gorgeous little bundle of joy you could imagine, and even though our coffee dates are structured around naptime, we both give a little to make it work." Jetting off to Rio on a whim sounds glamourous, but sometimes good old fashioned family time, fattening as it may be, is much better for the soul. And probably the environment, even though the comments in Grazia that really pissed me off was; "the carbon footprint created by a single child is enormous,"; "having children is selfish, it's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet,"* say two childless-by-choice women. I'm sorry but that is mildly ridiculous. If nobody had kids in order to save Mother Earth the human race would have about 100 years left to exist, no? And I think the carbon footprint created by a stilettoed old bag would be bigger than a toddler's....again, I have to add, it is about choice. If one of my friends told me they never wanted to have kids, I wouldn't agree but it is their choice and I would respect it. I don't agree with people who would rather have designer bags then a child, by choice not by circumstance (I always feel so sorry for women and men depserate to start a family but can't when I read about this issue, how much must it hurt them to hear about people that can, but won't?), but it is up to them and it's not really my business how they choose the lead their lives. I hope they would have a better reason then a grand plan of rescuing the planet, but we should be thankful that we live in a society where we can choose such things.

*Gets off high horse*!

*courtesy of GWAS

Monday, September 15, 2008

Film Review: The Painted Veil

Our resident film buff Renee A is chuffed with pretty landscapes and rebuffed by a truckload of cliches in The Painted Veil:

Well, first of all, let’s look at the things I liked about The Painted Veil:

1) It was pretty to look at – lots of sweeping shots of rural China at sunrise, lovely period costumes and attractive actors.
2) It had a fairly decent plot: British doctor travels to China to help fight against a cholera outbreak in a small Chinese village. Doctor brings along spoilt brat unfaithful wife who doesn’t love him and the two of them try to make the best of things.
3) It has Edward Norton in it.

And the things I didn’t like:
1). The lead characters were distinctly unlikeable and unsympathetic for most of the film.
2). Both lead actors stepped onto the set of this film and promptly forgot how to act. Naomi Watts and Edward Norton have done some very good things in their careers, but for some unfathomable reason they decided the best they could do for this movie was to act as though it was amateur play night at the local theatre.
3) From about halfway through the film, the plot begins to feel as though it’s a join the dots sort of affair. You can almost feel them ticking off the boxes as they go along. “Right, take spoilt brat wife along. Check. Find a convenient place for her to begin to redeem herself. Check. Have her fall in love with her husband. Check. Get them drunk at a convenient time after they’ve begun to sort out their issues and get them to have passionate sex. Check. Have something happen to one of them soon after this discovery of love that allows for maximum drama and tragedy. Check.”
4) The very last scene is unnecessary and a bit twee. It assumes the audience are incapable of individual thought and the ability to use their own imaginations. For a film that had some lovely subtle moments throughout, the complete lack of subtlety in the last five minutes makes you feel as though you’re being smacked in the head by a panicking director who doesn’t trust in the intelligence of his audience.

Despite my issues with it, I actually enjoyed watching this film. Well, most of it anyway. The first half of it is good. It’s all dreamy and pretty and sad. But slowly, as the film continued, I began to get the distinct impression I’d somehow ended up on the Hallmark Channel and I was about to see an ad for Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. Which is disappointing, because it had the potential to be so much better.

Two out of five pretty Chinese sunsets.

By the way, despite having not bothered to write a review for it, I highly recommend Juno. It rocks.

Ed's note: please write one dear wench, I missed it at the flicks and my local video store smells like wee, so I haven't bothered to rent it out yet, but I feel I need to.....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ads that Piss Me Off: I am not peeved all the time, seriously

I hope The Gruen Transfer comes back on tv quick smart. Advertising and consumerism is endelssly fascinating, to me anyway - what makes people think the way they do, purchase the way they do, what makes them tick? But there are some ads I just don't get. And they're all targeted at me. Well, not me, I mean the suited square glasses type ad people didn't sit around a massive polished table and go "hey let's make an ad for Kat", but my gender, age group, income level and all that boring statistical malarky.

1). The Phillly ad with those annoying chicks with wings. I haven't bought Philly since those ads came out, and I won't because every time I look at it it makes me think "watch your weight" and "I'm giving in to that ad I detest!". I mean, if they're in heaven, why are they working? And dieting? I'm sorry but heaven is not some sort of slick office with trashy mags. I like to think of it more like Monty Python's Meaning of Life, where it's a hotel with a cabaret show, and Christmas every day! When I cark it I don't want to go low fat ,or be the awkward new girl in the office, or indeed, work. So, basically, instead of thinking, ooh Philly on toast yum yum, all I think is: confusion. And if angels have to watch their weight, well I sure as hell aren't going near that Philly. Just in case.

2). The Tic Tac ads. You know with that annoying smirky woman with not quite an American accent, who looks like theres always something in her m0uth, presumably a tic tac? Yeah it's an OTT Yankee ad but seriously, it doesn't make me want a tic tac or think tic tacs are cool, or indeed bother to give them a grammatically correct capital letter when I type the name. And yet, the tagline is ingrained into my brain; it's not just a mint it's a tic tac. Argh!

3). There's an ad on occassionally for Skechers and I seriously hope it's a type of in joke because it is awful. Skechers are pretty ugly in general anyway, and maybe this ad is just out of my age target group, but anyway it's just a giggly bunch of American teens and all they do is go "Oh I love my Skechers" "I Know" Like yeah" "totally" "like, right?" AND THATS IT. I refuse to buy Skechers because they are not the street shoe wth street cred. The ad tells me nothing about the shoes except that annoying american teenagers with limited vocabulary wear them. And I don't want to be an annoying American teenager. So I won't wear them. I know, like, right?

There needs to be good ads and bad ads. It helps the world of advertising go round. Those 3 ads might shit me no end but at least I remember them. I might not go and buy the product but I've got the brand emblazoned in my memory. And branding is where it's at, amn. Like, totally.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Peas Are Not Art

It's been a long time between blogs but if you had just wasted an hour and a half of your precious time waiting for a free studio while ageing perpetual Arts students take shadowed photos of toenails or peas or something equally as inspiring, you'd be peeved off enough to abandon cooking your gourmet family dinner (of sausages; I am probably spreading salmonella all over the keyboard as I vent) to get back on the blogging horse. And leave punctuation and short Hemingway sentences far, far behind.

Because, people, I am not paying my staff generous amounts to sit around and eat youghurt sultanas and other assorted health food store snacks while we wait for op-shop clad wannabe photographers to get their act together, figuratively and literally. Usually I love arty types; I admire their ability to throw mismatched outfits together and look damn cool; they hold interesting conversations and are usually chilled out, easy going people (it's just their art that is brooding and dark. That, or they hide it very well); they make great friends and probably great pets too. But they have an innate inability to observe the rules of a booking sheet, to follow a clock, and to appreciate that some of us work for a living (nasty! vicious! you capitalist cow!). I'm sorry but we now have to lug copious amounts of clothes and accessories, cameras, lights, bags and ourselves back there tomorrow, still not 100% certain that we'll be able to get it done. Grrr. This would usually pave the way for a classic Things That Piss Me Off Post but my sausages are sizzling at me, turning to a pitiful shade of charcoal. There is more to come though, don't worry....and incidentally, peas make much better crispy snacks than they do still life portraits. Hmph.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Service with a Smile/Grimace

If you've ever been gainfully employed in any industry which requires you to deal with other people ie customers, no doubt you have a story or two to tell about that crazy/funny/bitchy/smelly person who scarred you for life and made you thankful that you own antiperspirant and a sense of humour. They exist in every industry, in every shop, and every Sales Assistant/Hospitality Worker/Call Centre Employee etc etc has dealt with them. Even when it is cyber-service, they still exist and probably come off ruder than they actually are because the majority of people still have no concept of e-etiquette. At least you can't smell them online. Whenever I have a 'long' day dealing with eejits, I head on over to good old Vogue Forums and gleefully flick through this thread: because remember people, there's always someone worse off. Like the poor boy someone just posted about who got slapped because the company he worked for dared to try and be green by charging 10c for a plastic bag (I imagine he works at Borders). Only in America, you might say, except if it was there and not in laidback Aus at least Customer would've been slapped with a lawsuit. I've worked in retail, I've worked in a call centre, and after a university degree and mind-opening travel, I still work in customer service, of sorts. (Soon, people, soon I will have a high backed office chair like Darren Lyons and simply sit in my office doing mega-bucks deals while my expert team field customer queries. Away, vile peasants!). Why? There is a genuinely nice feeling you get when a customer is genuinely appreciative of the help you give them, if they come away with good advice or help or a smashing new outfit or face cream. It's like you've done your little pile of good for the day.

When I worked for Westpac in order to fund trips to the UK, the occassional customer was nice enough to put in a compliment, or to even say "thankyou, have a nice evening". I even helped a nice old gentleman work out the interest he was earning and the fees he was being charged to the CENT because he was friendly. I also got yelled at by a possibly illiterate and definitely stupid woman who rang up to change her address, but refused to identify herself, assuming that my supercomputer and "the system" could tell who she was merely by her voice. After nearly wetting myself with laughter at her "threats" I put her on hold to go through to a "supervisor" at which she yelled again for being "passed away". If only, love, if only. Then there was the mysterious nameless lady who was not in fact a westpac customer, but took great delight in telling me how she escaped from her relationship, presumably with a man but possibly with reality, to be isolated in the snow capped mountains of Switzerland. And once she got there, Westpac swindled her of $30k. I mean, what do you say to that? "Sorry to hear that ma'am, but perhaps that's what happened in your Mills & Boon and not in fact, in your life? And also, there aren't any shops up there, so you wont need your $30k anyway".

Of course, it works both ways: as a customer you have a right to expect good service, but as a customer you also have the responsibility to treat the person serving you with respect and just a hint of good manners. It's incredibly annoying when you honestly wish to browse and you keep getting pestered by a salesperson working on commission and/or terrified of being mystery shopped, and thus making sure they go through every step of the Good Service Manual. Saying firmly but politely, "No thankyou I do not wish to purchase your expensive 3-step skincare with my little pot of eyeshadow", "Thankyou I will try this lush hand cream but no I won't purchase it", "Spray me with your designer perfume there but please don't aim for my eyes" generally means customer walks away having gained service, and salesperson is satisifed that they have followed their employers guidelines and will get a shift next week. I am always way too afraid to be rude in a restaurant in case my meal gets spat in, but if I sit for twenty minutes waiting to be served and still not even a glass of water or a menu, well, I take issue. By glaring at the snotty waitpersons and stomping out of there, being sure to tell everybody I know not to visit said eating establishment because the staff wee in the soup. It works. Oh and FYI: usually if customer orders and pays for a chicken sandwich, he or she expects to get chicken in it. Not just tomato, cheese, onion, bread and an exasperated sigh and curt response when he or she politely asks for the chicken to please be included before he or she consumes said sandwich. FFS.

But I digress. In a perfect world, customers and customer service people would exist in harmony, words such as 'please' would be sprinkled with gay abandon throughout conversations, and regularly cleaned teeth would be flashed at each other between non chapped lips by expression of satisfaction. Alas, it is not so. At least it's good fodder for late night forum posting.

(Disclaimer: 99% of FrockYou customers are completely lovely and respond well to smiley emoticos and polite conversation, and in turn get fast service and fabulous frocks. The other 1%, well, they will find themselves blogged about, trust me.....)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sponsor an Entrepreneur

One of my friends is one of those travellers with a spirit of adventure, who doesn't mind dodgy toilets or risking stomach bugs or being stranded in the Middle East. I am in total admiration of her, because even though I am categorised as a restless traveller, the furthest off the beaten track I've been is a 4-star island resort in Malaysia and the most at risk of catching a foreign disease was from a dodgy Paddington hotel in London which had a new bathroom but had charmingly kept the same traveller-imprinted doona and sheet sets for the past decade. Oh and the time my friend and I flooded our backpackers room in Glasgow, and then nicked off early the next morning hoping no-one would notice. Another set of friends spent their honeymoon volunteering at orphanages in South America, and the afore-mentioned travelling amigo has decided her next trip will be to Ghana to volunteer at a newspaper. It's inspiring stuff, but if like me you're mildly afraid of civil war, drug trafficking or extremists, you could lend a hand to the global community through this great little web site: . You simply sponsor a budding entrepreneur in the developing world, for as little as $25. It's all about making poverty history without plastic wristbands. Brilliant.