Friday, December 31, 2010

Flowers, Dots and What-Nots

I'm getting to a new stage in collecting old clothing.
I'm forgetting where I've picked up many of my second-hand bits and pieces.
It's a bit sad really as so much of the pleasure in wearing something I love is remembering where I got it from, recalling the thrill of pouncing on a treasure, the delight in finding out it fits and then giving it some playtime with its new wardrobe pals.
I made the navy, spotted skirt recently but I can't for the life of me remember where I got the white, 1970s, Mexican-style, embroidered top or the 1970s tooled leather handbag with the chunky buckle.
So annoying.

But I'll never forget finding the boots.
They're tricky to snap using Photo Booth but I've given it my best shot.

My god, they're straight out of the late 1970s!

They're fully lined in a gorgeous black and white cotton paisley.

I was at my local shoe repairer called The Shoe Hospital earlier this year, an incredibly charming old-school repair shop straight out of the 1940s.
It's a bit gloomy and a little dusty and has ancient, wrap-around glass and wooden counters, old signage and Brad the repairer/shoe-maker, a young guy who will tell you honestly whether your shoes are repairable or a lost cause (goodbye ruined black platforms!).
I digress.
I spotted these darlings in the window with other pairs of boots and old shoes lovingly restored by Brad and up for grabs!
They fit my size 10 giant canoe feet - thank you god!
Twenty-five bucks later, they were mine, all mine.
The brown and black leather seems to be woven into a zigzag pattern and they fit perfectly around the ankles.
They're labelled "Zerep - Made in Spain".
I seem to get more wear out of them in the summer months as the cotton lining is cool and I love the look of these boots with shorter skirts and dress.
They want to be seen, not covered up with winter trousers and maxi skirts.

This was taken before stepping out the door to run a stack of pre-New Year errands today.
(Little one reading patiently in the background there).

The hat seems to be either Indian or Middle Eastern - navy velvet with gold cord embroidery and mirrors.
It cost $1.
I wear it constantly.

As for the other details, I piled on metal bangles, rings, a yellow bead and seed African necklace plus an 1950s orange glass bead necklace and shocking blue feather earrings.

The bag has been screaming to be used - isn't it lovely?
It's really sturdy and I love the strap length, the tooling and metal wear.

So much colour with which to greet the New Year - goodbye 2010 you rotten old bugger, hello 2011 you minx!! 
I wish you a year of wonder and excitement all you gorgeous creatures.
Desiree xoxo

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Kiss

When I was about 12 and lived in Fiji with my parents, we sometimes passed ourselves off as tourists and crashed a resort for a swim, while actually holidaying up the road in a beach cabin.
I loved to witness the glamour of what I considered the "jet-set" crowd in their brand spanking new swimsuits, bikinis and resort-wear.
It astounded me that women (and men) could buy a whole new wardrobe for a two-week holiday, including swishy, sarong-style dresses and sky-high, strappy, metallic stilettos. 
I'd watch as women balanced and wiggled down the gangplank of a huge, hulking boat, wearing skin-tight, white, hotpants, sunburnt and giggly after day out spent deep-sea fishing - or something;).
I once watched agog as a gorgeous, blond, Aussie model and her stylist got the creases out of a silk dress using the pool loo hand-dryer.
She later posed in a gold - yes, gold - one-piece cut high on the hip, balancing in stilettos on jagged rocks, with hair flying in the sunset.
It all seemed so incredibly glamourous at that age, yet I was happy to return to our hut and the coral sand beach, where it was peaceful, had no drunks, and held a true representation of Fiji's residents.
I've always wondered if I'd ever be one of those women who wear heels with a swimsuit.
I gave it a try with a Black Milk swimsuit that the Phoenix gave me last week as an early Christmas present.

I think I'll be wearing it with these 1970s shorts I bought at a vintage stall a few years ago and white leather wedges.

I added a bit of colour with one of my favourite scarves, a thrifted, silk, Liberty of London number, a necklace thrifted last week for $3, and 1950s lucite bangles.

Of course, the print on the swimsuit is the famous V-J Day in Times Square snapped by Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1945.

No, I don't think I'll be tottering around any pools in my favourite heels at any time in the near future.
It's fun to watch other people do so, but I think it's best left to Vogue and Cosmo to do it justice.
I do love playing on the romance of the look of a bit of 1940s pool-side glamour though;).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

So Long and Good Luck Wardrobe Refashion

Well hello there you gorgeous creatures.  
Did you miss me?
I think I missed you more.
I've held out for three weeks, but I can't stand it any longer and want to say hi to you all so it might be via vlog for a while - that is, until I have a camera that works.
This vlog posting is inspired by Wardrobe Refashion's imminent closure - I wanted to say thanks to its founder, Nicky from Melbourne.
Here 'tis you beauties.
Desiree xoxo

A video thank you to Wardrobe Refashion from Desiree on Vimeo.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I Love Your Blog quiz

The gorgeous Sarah of Cloud of Secrets tagged me some time ago, for an "I Love Your Blog" quiz.
Thanks so much for thinking of me Sarah.
So here goes lovely readers:).

1. Why did you create your blog?
You'd think being the youngest of seven children, I'd want everything new, new, new - designer, designer, designer.  I wore hand-me-downs and refashioned clothing until I started sewing all my own clothes in my early teens, yet I have always preferred old over new.  I've been addicted to flea markets and other people's cast-offs and junk ever since I was a child.  Upon discovering original fashion sites like Hel Looks and Style Like U, I realised there might be room for a strange-ling like me so I decided to share my looks and ideas on a blog.  I certainly didn't think anyone would bother reading it!

2. What kind of blogs do you follow?
I adore fashion and photography blogs by people who march to the beat of their own drum.  Even in the short few months I've been here in blog-world, I've witnessed an evolution where many women have climbed out of their cocoons and are testing their creative wings for the first time.  It thrills me and fills my heart with love and joy to see brave experimentation.

The stunning Sacramento was featured on Advanced Style.  I adore her.

Yvan Rodic always makes me want to pack my suitcase and camera, pronto!

3. Favourite make-up brand?
Well, I'm a cheapskate out of necessity.  I'd rather save up for a special pair of shoes or new item of clothing to add to my 95% vintage wardrobe, than spend up big on make-up.  I buy make-up from discount chemists when they have good deals - I love Maybelline foundation and eye-liner, Rimmel lipstick and $2 nail polishes.  A woman was selling gorgeous MAC make-up at a flea market on Sunday and I'd never seen their products before - I bought some gel eyeliners - wow!  I still wouldn't buy them retail though.

4. Favourite clothing brand?
Well, I regret not buying a 1950s ivory satin slip that looked like it had been to hell and back that I spotted at Sunday's market.  I only realised when I got home that I could have dyed it to cover the age-stains.  It looked like it had spent several passionate nights in the back of a Chevy - straps hanging off and seams askew.  Clothes that have seen some life - that's my favourite clothing brand.  Like this.

5. Your indispensable make-up product?
Hands down mascara.  The Phoenix has long, luscious, come-to-bed, Italian eyes and lashes that work on me every time.  Excuse me, I'm drooling and have no idea why I'm talking about his eyes and lashes.  Next question please.

6. Your favourite colour?
Green.  Green.  Green.  Errrm ... oh yes, green!  But at last count, I do own 22 black dresses.

I experimented with red hair last summer.  Even more high-maintenance than bottle-blond.  At least green is versatile:).

7. Your perfume?
I buy cast-off testers when they're on sale.  My favourites so far are *cough* Kylie Minogue's Sexy Darling and Christina Aguilera.  I've never had so many compliments before when wearing them.

8.  Your favourite film?
Oh come on - this is getting really hard now.  It depends entirely on my mood which can swing from Shanghai Express-mode to Betty Blue or Gosford Park in a few hours.

9.  Which country would you like to visit and why?
I would love to return to Spain.  When I hitchhiked from Santander to Cadiz 22 years ago, I swore I would go back and live in Spain.  It's the people - so laid back, so generous, so kind.  I met people who within minutes of meeting them, would invite my travelling companion and I to their homes for a meal, a free bed for the night, a refreshing stop at a bar for beer and tapas.  No strings, just pure hospitality and kindness.  And patience with our slow Spanish:).
I'm desperate to visit Italy and Poland - never been, but I know I would feel at home.

10.  Make up the last question and answer for yourself.
What are you thinking about today?
My heart is heavy for the 29 brave men who died in the Pike River mine this week.  I searched for names I knew but recognised none of them.  Even as strangers, I grieve for them.  My father worked in dangerous conditions of mine and dam construction before he died 16 years ago - there was always an aura of dread and danger connected with the profession he loved passionately.

I'm supposed to pass these questions on to 10 readers, but today I would like to pass the mantle over to those who have the stamina so late in the week:).

Desiree xoxo

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Happens to Bridesmaid Dresses?

I've never been a bridesmaid so I don't know what it's like to have a closet full of unwanted, rumpled, depressed, frou-frou.
My frou-frou sees quite enough use thanks very much:).
But I do love discovering these usually hideous, but sometimes gorgeously hopeful, spinster-frocks.
I like to imagine this 1960s, green, shimmery, silk gown is one of those wee dears that tip-toed blushing down the isle, only later to be grabbed, tugged, wet-down with toxic fruit punch and lastly fumbled with in a sweaty knee-trembler outside the local church hall.
No such action for this frock last night at my daughter's end-of-year Celebration of Learning.
But no matter how much I style this frock, it always grabs centre-stage.
Maybe it's the frill, maybe it's the colour, or maybe its just saturated in good times.

 I love the beaded straps.

The first, fragrant frangipanis of summer.

What have you done with your bridesmaid dresses?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Take the Colour and Run

Since my turn as the Lady of Bacongo, I've been obsessing about colour.
Is it because spring is here?
Colour is a gift and it can lift one's spirits above some of life's harshest and testing challenges.
The smell of mint or a simmering curry can transport me to another time and place.
So too, experiencing a colour can zap me back to many happy memories like attending my first Hindu wedding where the bride was draped in bright red and gold with hennaed hands, or when I cut open my first pawpaw to reveal its golden flesh and shiny black seeds.
There's power in colour.
This is a 1970s cotton maxi dress that I've given the chop.
I love it's fluttery sleeves and A-line skirt.

I decided to pile on the colour with a green silk scarf I learnt how to tie here.
Add mismatched feathery earrings, 1970s thrifted sunnies, piles of jewellery and Docs and it's a day of comfort-plus with a bit of ZING!
I've left the Docs unlaced and just tucked them into the boots so they're a bit more breezy to wear - once the humidity kicks in tho', no doubt they'll be banished to the disproportionately enormous winter closet.

The bag is called a bilum and it's from Papua New Guinea.
Bilums are crocheted from cotton string and I love that this one, which I thrifted for $1, is made from oddments, giving the bilum some mixed-up, fluorescent colour.
Bilums are incredibly strong and special ones are made to carry babies in.
Which looks very cute:).

The floral print on the dress is entirely made up of dots.

Here's a close up of all my piled on junk.

I think I need me some 'o this soon.

Thank you everyone for bearing with my volatile blog which prevented so many of you from commenting. Grrrrrrrr.
I changed the background and voila - fixed!
It's so amazing to read your wonderful comments.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Say Hello to Dorothy

Some special little darlings in my closet have names.
Usually it's because they're rather unusual or they put me into a joyful mood when I slip them on.
Most of the names are usually very un-PC and wonderfully disgraceful - but little Dorothy, my spotty, cotton, early 1960s dress is rather tame.
She's been taken out of hibernation ready for summer and had her first outing today.
Dorothy likes to be noticed.

For her first outing this year, she went to a school fair.
Here, Dorothy was introduced to Ike, one of our local celebrities who dresses daily in gloriously nutty, colourful garb, always wearing a plastic flower lei, one of his selection of sombrero hats and with crazy polka music blasting out of the boom box strapped to his mobile scooter.

Ever ready with a smile Ike is regularly seen jumping off his scooter and spontaneously doing a street-side jig.
Today he made his presence felt when he jumped up and danced with some belly dancers.
Gotta love that zest for life.

I'm sure there are many others who wish they had Ike's energy and fearless demonstration of his love of life and music.
Dorothy was in good company today when she stepped out with my 1960s, orange, frilly brolly; 1950s black and white hat; old jewellery, plus denim DIY messenger bag and walking shoes.
Glad I didn't wear heels - I nearly did.
I took a frilly fan along just in case it got hot.

How could I forget my favourite sunnies bought at an Auckland flea market a few years ago.
They're from the late 1940s from what I can remember the owner telling me.
These babies are coming out to play a lot more this summer.

Here are a few pics of a couple of messenger bags I made ages ago but never got around to putting up detail shots.
The blue bag is made out of a pair of jeans that were too big but I couldn't part with.

I cut the jeans off at the crotch, turned them inside out and sewed the bag closed along the crotch-line, taking in the spare fabric in a small fold.
I made curved edges, sewed the button opening closed (leaving the zip in) and made a flap and strap out of a jeans leg.
They had big flared legs so a generous sized flap was easy.
I used spare fabric for the lining and some spotty fabric for a pocket.
I had an old pillowcase that died so I cut out the embroidered part and sewed it onto the flap before the lining was stitched to the denim bag.
Decorated with badges.

And here's the one I made for my little lady out of scrap fabrics that she chose out of my stash.
I love her choice of badges and vintage brooches; I did a simple running stitch by hand on the flap lining to make her feel special.

I love that she actually uses it a lot:).
Hope you're all having a wonderful Saturday! 
Desiree xoxo
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