Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wanring: Mispellings Ahed

You know how basic spelling errors really, really shit me off?  Well, locally someone spotted these portable flashing roadworks signs that look like they had been typed out by toddlers, and posted them on Facebook: 

It annoys me so much that people can be so thick, but there is nothing I can do except sigh, and then giggle. And then google. And this is what I found:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

FrockQ: Philomena Kwok, Featherhead

The talented creator behind hair accessories label Featherhead gives us the rundown on her brand, her inspirations, and her feathers:

How long have you been designing for, and how did you get started in the industry?

I've been making and designing jewellery since I was fourteen! I first started out with my jewellery label, the purpose divine, making bespoke bridal jewellery and pieces in silver, resin and semiprecious stones. It was great fun, and I used to have a stall at Paddington Markets in Sydney.

Last year however, I started Featherhead - an accessories label making the sorts of things I actually wanted to wear. It was partly inspired by a trip to Japan where I spent a month gawping at the fearless and totally fab girls in Tokyo. The fashion may not have always been right for everyone but it was definitely FUN and the girls there must have had a blast getting dressed and accessorising every day. Experiencing things like that definitely washes into you. When I came home I started a millinery course to expand my skill set and try my hand using some different materials - the rest is Featherhead history.

What is it about feathers that inspires you to create your pieces?
I've always found feathers incredibly fascinating and used to collect them when I was tot. You never Ever find two the same, so even after working with them for so long I am still astounded at how beautiful and unique they are. Some are ethereal and wispy, others bold or irridescent with unbelievably vibrant colours, its hard not to be inspired by something so pretty and textural.

My favourite thing to do at the moment is to use gorgeous natural toned feathers and then add in a contrasting splash of colour with bright dyed feathers. It adds a edgy toughness without taking away from the natural beauty of the feathers.

Do you have a particularly favourite piece that you've created?
One of my recent favourites is a crazy shoulder piece I put together for a fashion parade raising awareness for the Aids Trust. Huge red ostrich epaulettes and dripping with heavy metal chains. I wish I could get away with wearing these every day! The piece had been put on a bit wrong in this photo but you get the idea. Too much fun!

How would you recommend wearing your feathered creations?
I'd recommend wearing a Featherhead piece to add a subtle edge to a toned down urban look. Either an unexpected splash of softness and colour with a cute feather hair clip, sweater dress and tights, or a textural edge with one the snakeskin lined cuffs or necklets, skinny jeans and boots.

What trends are you looking forward to rocking for Spring/Summer?
I cannot wait for warmer weather to wear my feather epaulettes pinned onto cute singlets and tanks (interesting shoulders are the best thing since skinny jeans)! And just enough sunshine to wear a cute tshirt dress, big wispy feather earrings and gumboots without tights underneath. I'm not ready to give up gumboots just yet!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hands Off Mr Twiddle!

I watched the BBC biopic Enid over the weekend (starring the always lovely Helena Bonham Carter). While it didn't always paint a rosy portrait of one of the most beloved children's authors of all time, Enid Blyton, it did make me all wistful and nostalgic for the days when I could curl up with the Famous Five and the Faraway Tree and Malory Towers. I read them again and again and again, much in the same way children have been doing for 70-odd years now.

But of course, the modern world is going to get the better of us, and 'update' the 'old-fashioned' language in her stories to make them more 'accessible' to today's children. What a load of codswollop. Nobody's going to update Austen or Shakespeare or Dickens, because they are pieces of history in their own right. I'm pretty sure kids nowdays will be able to grasp that a "school tunic" is a school uniform, or that a "house mistress" is a teacher. Why must we insit on raising a generation of idle-minded idiots? The amount of young adults out there who think it's ok to communicate exclusively in text-speak, to be lax with basic grammar, and to not even attempt correct spelling, is downright disturbing. Let's not raise the next generation in the same way.

As Children's Book Council President Maj Kirkland told ABC radio yesterday, the language in Blyton's books is "unique and loved by children". It's quaint, it's idealistic - but we're talking about the under-12's here. There's a great line in the BBC film where Blyton, being interviewed on the radio, says she "cares nothing for any critic over the age of 12". (Actually, I hope that's a direct quote from the lady herself!) In other words, grown-ups: butt out and let your kids experience the same innocent, magical worlds we did (and our parents, grandparents...though no doubt the people who came up with the idea of 'modernising' were never allowed to read Blyton's books on account of them being anti-feminist or racist or classist or other such '-ists' that your average 9 year old is going to consider).

I still adore the idea of Blyton's "old-fashioned" worlds where tea-time was drenched in lashings of ginger beer and jelly; where the naughtiest misdemeanour schoolgirls were involved in were delicious midnight feasts in the dormitory; and where honesty and good old-fashioned hard work were always rewarded. They not only encouraged a sense of right and wrong, but also encouraged the use of one's imagination - a giant tree with rotating worlds at the top? A flying chair? Ridiculous - but such fun when you're a child! Characters called Dick and Fanny and Mr Twiddle? Snigger, snigger; but isn't it a good way to consider how different generations use different words, instead of simply erasing them from history?

The stories might be, at a basic level, much the same even with updated language, but keeping those 'old-fashioned' words not only expands one's vocabulary (desperately needed in today's 140-character-limit society) but encourages kids to learn. Yes, learn. Figure out the meanings using their brains. And, fundamentally, to simply enjoy the whole point of a story - to be whisked away to a different time/place/world and have some jolly good old-fashioned fun.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Street Style: Touches of Spring Denim

I live in denim over winter. Springtime down here usually isn't warm enough to cast them it off completely, so it's nice to give it a fresh run with some new heels, a cute tee, a loose shirt and flats...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Old School Discipline (or, How To Raise Well-Mannered Children)

Bet you thought this post would involve whips and such, didn't you? Sorry to disappoint, but I'm actually referring to a chapter in the book I just finished perusing, by the Allisons Vale & Rattle, How To Boil A Flamingo And 49 Other Lessons in the Lost Art of Being A Lady.

(In case you're wondering, should a flamingo be not available, a few tropical parrots will suffice to seriously impress your next dinner party guests). Short chapters, adapted from household and etiquette guides from the 17th & 18th centuries, brim with tongue-in-cheek instruction and practical advice on everything from How to Picnic, Sit for a Portrait, Choose A Wet-Nurse (never a redhead), How To Employ Your Fan, and How To Manage Your Servants with Mistrust and Misgiving. In short, it is a neccessary compendium and companion for any lady who wishes to make her way successfully amongst society.

Though highly amusing, some of the advice was not as outdated and ridiculously extravagant as perhaps it might first appear. The chapter on "How To Raise Well-Mannered Children" could do with liberal distribution in the 21st century. (As could the possible addition of a chapter, "How to spellcheck your Facebook status updates, especially if you are a teacher and cannot grasp even the most basic spelling and grammar." You aggravate my sensibilities in the most extreme manner, people!) Would it be so bad if rules such as the following were "instilled in children from a young age"?

-Take what you are served [at mealtimes] whether it be to your taste or not. Eccentricity in regard to nourishment should be avoided at all times. How many teatime tantys would be avoided if this rule was strictly enforced!

-Do not present yourself at the table unless your hands and face are clean and hair neatly combed. Well, the hair thing isn't gonna happen, but the basic "clean your hands" before eating rule is a good habit to get into.

-When invited into the company of your betters, do not sit or speak until bidden. Perhaps they could sit without incurring the wrath of society, but learning not to interrupt other conversations and only to speak in turn is an important basic etiquette that alot of adults could do well to remember, as well.

-Use your napkin habitually. Not your sleeve, which becomes a vertiable petri dish of snot, vegemite and dirt on any avergage day.

The chapter advises that, "a mismanaged child is but a regrettable stain upon the fabric of polite company and may be expected to achieve naught in life but the breaking of his poor mother's heart." Uncombed hair at the dinner table might not be a precursor to a life of insubordinate idleness, but would a few old-fashioned manners go astray in the modern world? I think not, and I would also like to suggest compulsory spelling examinations right up to and including tertiary education (longer if you will be spending your working hours in the schooling system). Hmph.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So You Think You're From France?

Melbourne label Chip Chop! have had a couple of seasons off, but are back this Spring with a bang, bringing us their trademark witty tees with a quirkily Frenchy twist. Frenchy's a word, isn't it? Plus, they've gone all out with some luxuriously delicate silk tops, amazing accessories and THE cutest blazer you'll see all season. The new items have a slightly higher price point (tees still at $79, which is pretty good for hand-printed, limited run, made in Australia pieces) but they're so gorgeous that it just doesn't matter. Editorial are running with them like wild things, so snap up a piece quick smart!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Street Style: Blouses & Knits

Somehow, looks that were once associated with being a bit old and frumpy, are getting a slick new re-invention. Like the blouse. I've not heard anyone say "blouse" for years. Or fugly, chunky knits, which are not to be shuddered at, but rather, emabraced as warm and cosy. Get both in your wardrobe, stat - both are totally wearable now right through til Spring!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Old Spice Voicemail

You've probably seen the award-winning ad for Old Spice. And if you haven't, trust me, you want to:

Even if you still don't want to buy Old Spice, you can now get it, scent-free, on your voicemail. The Old Spice Voicemail Generator lets you create a semi-personalised answering machine message, according to gender. Mine went:
Hello callers, the lovely/talented/intelligent and beautiful/sophisticated lady at (phone number) is unable to take your call. She's busy riding a horse backwards with me. But she'll get back to you as soon as she can. Thanks for calling. I'm on a horse.

Hehe - perfect for some Friday afternoon office time-wasting fun!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bookshelf Porn

In my ideal house, quite a few rooms would have floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Some might have the books arranged by colour, some by size, some simply a delightful mishmash. Some old, some new, some borrowed, some blue...currently most of my books still live at my Mum's, and what we can fit into our place are stacked quite anally (by theme, then in alphabetical order) on a Fantastic Furniture basic white bookshelf. Practical, yes, but exciting? Nope.

Bookshelf porn, however, is a nice little escape route to other people's fantastic (in the adjective sense, not the chain-store sense) shelves. The kind of website that you can spend a happy hour flicking through, coming away with a renewed determination to revisit the closest bookstore and stock up (and then stack up). Check these out:

(I found this site through The Early Bird Catches the Worm!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Voila! Bastille Day Stripes - and Pikelets!

I learnt something at my daughter's playgroup today. It's Bastille Day! Well actually, that fact had been tucked away in the recesses of my mind, but the French seem to be lying low after the World Cup *supressed snigger* so it didn't click. At playgroup, we made pikelets, as pancakes - or crepes - would be quite difficult with 25 four year olds clamoring for a turn. Tonight we whipped up a batch for dessert, just to keep the spirit of the day going. And no, we're not really French at all, but only a small % of the population have Irish blood, yet St Paddy's day is practically a national holiday all the same. Why not celebreate other culture's holidays? It'd almost be un-Australian not to take the chance for a bit of a shinding!

Of course, nothing says French more than stripes (beret, bicycle and baguette optional). Fittingly, this French Connection Stripe Top ($49.95) is just the ticket, preferably with ballet flats and a chic silk scarf tied at the neck.
And, if you're not willing to tackle pancakes (or have little mouths who are intent on 'helping'), here's the super easy pikelet recipe which is an absolute winner, and open to loads of variations. You can't go wrong! (I didn't, and that's saying something):

1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
1 tbs caster sugar
3/4 cup (185ml) milk
1 egg
Melted butter, to brush, plus extra knobs to serve

Sift flour and sugar together into a bowl with a pinch of salt.

Whisk milk and egg together, then add to dry ingredients, whisking until smooth.

Heat a non-stick frypan over medium heat and brush with a little melted butter. Drop level tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and cook for half a minute or until bubbles appear on the surface.

Turn over and cook other side for 1 minute until golden.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nude Spring '10 Sneaky Peeky!

One thing that never fails to excite us here at the Frock is shoes. Well really, does anybody who is of the female species? A friend of mine recently announced that she'd bought her first pair of Louboutins on her recent trip to Europe, which was greeted with as much enthusiasm as if she'd announced she was expecting her first child. Another friend works in a cool shoe store, and our conversations tend to refer to shoes by their name, as if they were simply other acquaintances - "Seen Saskia lately?" "How's Avery doing for you?" "How cute is Billy!"

Nude is one of our most popular labels, with on-trend as well as classic styles that are reasonably priced  AND totally wearable (and really, you can't ask for more than that), Here's what we'll be getting instore shortly for Spring/Summer '10:

Avery Peeptoe Laceup Bootie $199.95
Cupcake Double Knot Peep Heel $179.95
Rainbow Witch Strappy High Platform $179.95
Wildrose Wooden Platform Sandal $179.95
Sugarplum Big Buckle Wedge $169.95
Chipchop Peeptoe Clog $169.95
Chipchop Peeptoe Clog $169.95
Buttons Skimmer Military Ballet Flat $99.95