The Knot

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why Demonise Madonna?

Caption: Madonna and daughter Lourdes in Malawi.

Madonna has been copping a serious amount of flak for her efforts to adopt a second child from impoverished Malawi.

I've been trying to get my head around it. Why is she being treated differently to Brad and Angelina, who have adopted more children from third-world countries than any other celebrity coupling, if you discount Mia Farrow and Woody Allen? The Pitt-Jolie clan have even reportedly described their clan as a 'rainbow family' and have allegedly said they want two of each colour so that no one child feels left out. I recall the world gushing when those statements were made public some years ago.

But poor old Madge tries to go back and save another child from a life of certain poverty and she gets dumped on from every height. She even gets criticised for wearing a Chanel tracksuit in Malawi. Grow up, she's worth zillions. And if she's not wearing Chanel tracksuits than I don't know who is. It's not like the poor kids of Malawi would have been able to tell the difference.

Madonna wants to adopt four-year-old Mercy James, a big sister for three-year-old David Banda whose adoption was finalised last year. With her in Malawi were daughter Lourdes, 12, and oldest son Rocco, 8. Truly a family affair. So why is the world so cynical of her intentions?

I know many wealthy people who wouldn't think to put their hands in their pocket to help a friend in need, family member in need, let alone an African child in need.

How can the life of orphan Mercy James not be improved by all that Madonna can offer? She should be celebrated for her actions instead of demonised.



Friday, March 27, 2009

On The Subject of Chris Martin...

I know it's not love because I already have that.

But Chris Martin gets my vote for the thinking woman's pin-up man. I was smitten from the moment I heard the beautiful Green Eyes from the album A Rush Of Blood To The Head. And then when I saw Coldplay in concert at Sydney's old Horden Pavilion a few years ago I understood completely why his actress-wife Gwyneth Paltrow fell madly after seeing the band play a small gig, in the days when they could still play a small gig.

I'm a hands-girl. I love a strong, but gentle pair of hands and during the concert that I was party to, the camera zoomed in on Chris' hands as he played the piano. I was hooked.


Will You Be Wearing Gwyneth?

Gwyneth Paltrow's much-anticipated foray into fashion will launch in London next week. Mostly when I hear that a celebrity is writing a book, joining a band, designing for Spring/Summer I cynically shrug my shoulders. Care factor? Usually zero.

But Gwynnie is another thing entirely. She has an innate sense of style that swings naturally between boho chic and luxe, so I cannot wait to see what her debut collection brings.

She has collaborated with French label ZOEtee's and fashion commentators at are predicting a "luxe, sophisticated yet very wearable collection of instant hits". Who wouldn't be looking forward to that?

Proceeds will benefit the London Kid's Company, one of her favoured charities now that she's a parent to Apple and Moses, her children with Coldplay singer Chris Martin.

And in her spare time, the 36-year-old offers lifestyle advice via her website and is writing a cook book. And, because she clearly has no need for sleep, Gwyneth was also planning to launch a chain of gyms with her personal trainer Tracy Anderson until the economic downturn reduced the disposable incomes of her target fitness fans.



Shattering Glass Ceilings

ABC Managing Director Mark Scott has appointed two women to a couple of the organisation's most senior roles. And both are over 40!

Is it possible that two highly experienced women in the media have been promoted to roles they have been working most of their career toward? Juggling partners and children, both are mothers of three, it has been suggested that their 'multi-tasking' skills will stand them in good stead. No doubt they are extraordinarily talented too.

Kate Torney becomes director of news next month and Kate Dundas took up her new post as director of radio yesterday.

Ideal role models for young women entering the media today.



Thursday, March 26, 2009

Feeding Fashion

Her younger brother is called Pierce, it's also her middle name and her grandmother's maiden name. Lauren Bush insists that's why she's chosen Lauren Pierce for her fashion label, rather than her more famous moniker.

Niece to George W Bush (her dad is his brother Neil), this model and activist-turned-designer makes clothes that do more than look good. The debut collection for Spring/Summer '09 features unique pieces made from sustainable textiles, hand-dyed by women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ten percent of profits will go directly to Women for Women International, a not-for-profit organisation helping women in post-conflict zones.

An honorary spokesperson for the United Nations' World Food Program, Lauren was the driving force behind the UN's launch of the FEED bag, sales of which benefit children in developing countries.


Visit to see how you can get involved.


House OR Work?

While we're getting hung up on who does more housework - men or women (the answer is as obvious as the fact that this old chestnut will get dredged up every five years), spare a thought for the women of America who are being forced to do more than their fair share.

My definition of housework is: anything that involves planning, directing and executing in the home. And that involves children if you have them.

Proof that the economic crisis couldn't possibly get any worse, the wives of the former big-earners are apparently being told to give up their jobs to care for the children because nannies are no longer an affordable necessity. Nannies are the new disposable luxury and they are being dumped in the wealthier parts of America as homes previously dripping in liquid assets are now running dry.

So that means even more work around the house and, more importantly, less work outside of the home. I don't mind that I still do the majority of housework, so long as it doesn't interfere with my career, which is truly my me-time.

For a great read about the true crisis affecting American women, visit:


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Women vs Men

NOTE: Right-click on the image and open it in a new window to see the detail. It's worth it.

This, emailed to me from a girlfriend:

He said to me . . . I don't know why you wear a bra; you've got nothing to put in it
I said to him . . . You wear pants don't you?

He said to me . . ..... Shall we try swapping positions tonight?
I said . That's a good idea - you stand by the ironing board while I sit on the sofa and vegetate!

He said to me. ... What have you been doing with all the grocery money I gave you?
I said to him . .....Turn sideways and look in the mirror!

He said to me. ...... Why don't women blink during foreplay?
I said to him .. . They don't have time

He said to me. . How many men does it take to change a roll of toilet paper?
I said to him .. . I don't know; it has never happened.

He said to me. . Why is it difficult to find men who are sensitive, caring and good- looking?
I said to him . . . They already have boyfriends.

He said...What do you call a woman who knows where her husband is every night?
I said. . . A widow.

He said to me . .. . Why are married women heavier than single women?
I said to him . . . Single women come home, see what's in the fridge and go to bed. Married women come home, see what's in bed and go to the fridge.

Send this to a smart woman who needs a laugh and to any men that you think can handle it.


Cheers To Carla!

When Carla Bruni married French President Nicolas Sarkozy, it felt as though the universe was suddenly perfectly balanced. I'm certain that that's how it must have felt to French designers.

Bruni, one of the most photographed and ogled models of the eighties and nineties, is now included in Top 10 lists of the world's best-dressed women in publications across the globe. She adds enormous value to the French fashion industry, and to fashion in general, as she continually supports the industry that put her on the map.

Snapped wearing the best of France's best, from Galliano to Gaultier, Bruni is still the perfect clotheshorse at 41- even in her newfound flats (she stands four inches taller than Sarkozy barefoot).



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Arrogance Personified

I was in a high-powered (code for the most senior of executives) business meeting a couple of years ago when talk turned to my speeding offences. I'd been hit with five speeding tickets in one month in the Cross City Tunnel. It didn't seem possible and yet the tickets were evidence that it happened. Without thinking twice, I trotted off to my local RTA and paid the fines, knowing full-well that I would then be on a probationary licence, with the risk of having it suspended if I was caught speeding again in that 12 month timeframe.

On hearing of my "stupidity" (for accepting responsibility, not for speeding) I was informed that I was "crazy" for accepting those fines personally by a couple of the men around the table. Apparently 'the thing to do' was to assign those tickets to someone else, preferably someone you didn't know but at the very least a relative with a lower risk of losing their licence. I was informed that this was a common practice.

The carefree manner in which this advice was given, that bordered on arrogance in my opinion, took me by surprise. I wondered if they realised that the practice was illegal. No doubt they did, but clearly they didn't care.

So when former judge Marcus Einfeld was sentenced this week for a similar crime I thought about those men again. I wonder how many of them were made to squirm, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

Photo: 2008/03/20/1205602540346.html


The Future of Women

Top: Sam Brett.
Below: Kathryn Eisman.

I have to say that I'm a huge fan of any woman who just gets on and does it. Doesn't complain when she hits a roadblock, keeps pushing ahead when the plan goes pear-shaped, finds another way to get what she needs.

That's why I find women like dating blogger Sam Brett and media personality/author Kathryn Eisman just so damn impressive.

Sam Brett was an intern at New Woman magazine just a minute ago, when I was Publishing Director there. She pushed her way in (in the nicest possible way) and then ensured that she made enough of an impact that we'd want her to hang around for longer than originally intended. And she certainly did stand out. I doubt that I could name another intern during those years and I knew Sam's long before she made a name for herself as one of the first 'celebrity' bloggers. She made sure I knew who she was.

I met Kath Eisman at a Lancome dinner. As luck would have it, we were seated next to each other and hit it off immediately. I loved her energy, self-confidence and respect for an old media hand like me. She made such an impression on me that when I launched my own magazine the following year, I had her name on the list of my 'dream team'. But I didn't have to call her. Savvy to the bone, she phoned me to put herself forward for a regular column. And she knew exactly what she wanted to write about and had a list of suggested story ideas.

Sam and Kath are still in their twenties, a much-maligned generation that's typically labelled impatient and self-gratifying. If they represent the future of female entrepreneurs in this country, then those of us who have fought the good fight before them will have done so for good reason.

Photo sources:;


Monday, March 23, 2009

Guerilla Tampax Stunt


Puts a new spin on the 'monthly gift' that keeps on 'giving'.

I don't want it either.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

In Support of Sue Morphet

I've watched the tarring and feathering of Pacific Brands CEO Sue Morphet with disbelief. And yet I should have believed that it could happen. Of course she would be branded Australia's 'most hated' CEO. Worse than outgoing golden handshake man Sol Trujillo, worse than any of the CEOs who have collected massive bonuses for themselves and their executive teams while their companies and shareholders were left significantly financially worse off. Worse than all of them.

Sue is one of the very few female CEOs of a publicly listed company. She reached this 'pinnacle' of her brilliant career by building solid bricks beneath her. She was the highly successful GM of a number of Pacific Brands' businesses before being anointed to the top job by a capable Board, at the recommendation of her predecessor and mentor.

I have known Sue professionally for most of my media career and she is a clever, capable and honest woman.

Let's not kid ourselves. If it was commercially viable to manufacture clothing in Australia, then why is almost every other Australian fashion brand produced off-shore? Country Road, Sportscraft, Saba... even Australia's favourite workwear King Gee. I don't recall a public lynching when many of those manufacturing jobs went to China.

Sue's price for capability and honesty was to be treated like public enemy number one. If Sue hadn't taken the very tough decision to manufacture the Bonds brand in China and thereby increase the likelihood that Pacific Brands would remain profitable and viable in the current climate, who knows how many more jobs would have been lost down the track.

I am a shareholder of Pacific Brands and Sue Morphet has my complete support.

Photo: The Age


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Influencers on Consumer Trends 2009 by TrendsSpotting

This is shaping up to be an interesting year indeed. Peasant dresses and lipstick - here we come.


So That's Where My Money Goes


This is just so accurate. I have so many pairs of designer shoes that have been flown in from Europe on my credit card. I have calculated that instead I could have: a)bought a new car for cash, b)put a deposit on an investment apartment, or c)made an upfront yearly payment on the school fees and attracted a little discount in the process.

OR I could look into my wardrobe each morning and light up when I spy my favourite pairs of shoes. Call me happy.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Meaning of Michael Jackson

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks you'll know that Michael Jackson has announced a final, final concert series designed to get his finances back into the black.

I was a massive fan of MJ as a young teenager and still love every one of those hits that made him one of the world's richest entertainers two decades ago. But even I wouldn't pay a cent to see him in concert now. He's just too weird.

So it got me wondering who would be likely to see him in concert. He's planning to have 10 of them. Apart from the nutters (men and women) who still follow him around the world declaring their love and undying devotion, I couldn't come up with a single other group.

I did a bit of online research and also conducted a mini vox-pop. It would seem that much of the press and social chatter about the former King of Pop paints him as a joke.

During my investigation I discovered that he has actually become a joke:

"A little boy was asking his mum questions about God.
"Is God black or white?
"Both, his mother answered.
"Is God a man or a woman?
"Both, his mother answered.
"Is God gay or straight?
"Both, his mother answered.
"Mum, is God Michael Jackson?"


The trouble with consultants...

"Do you know what the trouble with consultants is?" asked a high-powered girlfriend who'd been instructed to recruit the best people she could find on a contract-basis.

"Where do I begin..." I responded.

"They don't develop long-term initiatives because they may not be here for the long-term.

"Everything is for a quick win, in the hours that they are being paid to find one.

"You ask them to imagine what the company could sell for in five years' time if we hit our targets now, but they don't expect to be there at the end."

Here for a good time, not for a long time. Yes, the thought has crossed my mind on many occasions in the past 12 months.

A year ago I launched a luxury lifestyle magazine with more passion than money. I was literally the only person working on the project full-time. Everyone else, including the art director, was employed on a contract basis. They invoiced me for the hours they worked and I didn't have to commit to any form of leave payment or superannuation. I didn't have to commit to them either, which may sound like a great start-up strategy – we're all taught to keep the costs down in the beginning. But it's actually false economy.

My team was brilliant when they were on task. They did the best that they could with limited resources. It's just that they were only committed to thinking about the project for the hours that they were being paid to do so. Which meant that I was the only person thinking about the magazine 24/7.

I'd love to say that I have a monopoly on good ideas but I've found that even the most promising ideas don't turn into something really great without a team of people who can brainstorm the idea into an outcome. Or maybe I just think that way because I'm a woman.

I've worked with consultants and I've been a consultant and I can tell you that without commitment there is no happy ending.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Paris Fall 2009

Paris Fashion Week rarely disappoints. Sitting front row at Chanel in 1998 is still one of the highlights of my fashion magazine editing career.

This season I fell in love with (because fashion for crazies like me is akin to a romance) Miu Miu (left) and Hermes (below).

For both designers, the fabrication is deliciously rich, the cut has a sense of purpose and the colours are just so damn elegant I want to cry.

In the current climate, where saving is better than spending, I may not get to wear either of those collections this season but I can dress vicariously through the pages of and

When I'm having a down day, instead of rushing to a store and giving myself a lift with a little fashion or beauty purchase, I now log on to net-a-porter and put everything that I wish I could have in a shopping basket. My shopping basket is often pages long. Before I can be tempted to hit the 'buy' button and be forced to liquidate my assets to pay for them, I close the site.

Bizarrely perhaps for some, I get a huge thrill out of this exercise. That's not to say that I never ever click the 'buy' button, because the number of black waxy boxes tied with beautiful cosgrain ribbon piled up at the back of my wardrobe is evidence that I do.

However, I now know that I don't always need to close the deal to be happy. And that's an important breakthrough for my bank account.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Digital Generations

My 11-year-old son thinks he has the coolest grandfather in the world. Dad, at the age of 68, has discovered the joys of new technology via his grandchildren and in the process he has developed a deeper connection with them.

Last night and the night before, and I suspect for many more evenings to come, Lachie and my father have conversed via skype. Lachlan taught dad how to download it and then instructed him right through to the pressing of the button to start the video.

As I was ironing the next day's school shirts, I could hear the conversation clearly.

"No Papa, I can't hear you and you can't hear me because you have the sound on mute," Lachie said patiently.

"Yes we can hang up the phone now because we can hear each other on skype. We don't need to do both."

And then, "yay!" when they finally got it to work.

For the next half hour the conversation consisted of my dad saying things like, "you look so clear, can you see me?" - over and over again.

My dad was visibly overwhelmed with the fact that he could be sitting in his study in the Blue Mountains and be able to see his grandson who was 80km away. He sat there with the broadest smile on his face, proud of himself for being so technologically advanced and loving the fact that he can now see his grandchild whenever he wants.

Dad doesn't just have skype, he also has an ipod touch. And that's what truly makes him cool in the eyes of his grandchildren.

"Papa's really old but he tries to have all the latest things," Lachlan said, getting right to the point.

Technology has bridged the vast chasm between my pre Baby Boomer dad and my Net Generation son because not a day goes by without dad phoning Lachlan (even though he now has skype) to ask him about a new functionality with the ipod touch. Lachlan connected him to the internet and downloaded all the relevant (and some not-so-age-relevant) free applications. The only thing he hasn't done is choose his music. And that is exactly the point at which we are reminded that the two are in fact generations apart.

You can't have everything.