The Knot

Friday, August 28, 2009

Desperately Seeking A Cancer Cure

In the past three months, I have discovered that three women in my circle of friends and colleagues have been diagnosed with aggressive forms of cancer. All are in their 40s, two with young children. Two of the women were hoping for the all-clear five years after beating late-stage breast cancer, the third was in for a check-up for another unrelated complaint. The prognosis isn't rosy for any of them.

Cancer is a numbers game and it seems these days almost everyone knows someone who has had cancer. When I share my friends' tales with others, they almost always have a story of their own to share: "a parent, sister, friend of a friend has cancer.."

It seems to be on the increase in my circles, but then that may be because I'm aging and along with that comes the increased threat of a serious illness. Or perhaps the theory that the more technology we're exposed to, the greater the risk of cancer is starting to ring true.

I am a Board member for The Cell and Gene Trust, an organisation that raises funds to support the research of Professor John Rasko of RPA Hospital in Sydney. The Professor is on a mission to find a cure for genetically inherited diseases, including cancer. Every time I hear of a new case of cancer, I know that my time on this Board is well spent and that the need to expand the research potential of Professor Rasko and his team has become increasingly urgent, for the sake of our children.

According to the, British scientists believe they may be just two years away from developing a cure for breast cancer. While this is extremely encouraging, it won't come soon enough for the women I know. Or indeed for any of us if we happen to be diagnosed with breast cancer before that time.

I've had a couple of breast cancer scares, having discovered seriously large lumps that caused my GP to insist on my jumping the queue for emergency mammograms: "I have a very large mass that needs to be checked immediately" (GP on the phone to The Mater Hospital x 2). Thankfully on both occasions, the masses proved to be cysts. But the fear of god ran through my entire being each time.

In the past I've put off having checkups and pap smears for fear of what I might discover. But the fear of discovering too late has forced me to rethink that. Talk about a wake-up call.



Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Parenting Dilemma

When I heard about the six children under six who had been so poorly neglected by their smacked-out parents in Bidwill, in Sydney's outer western suburbs, a chill went through my body.

I started my media career as a cadet journalist for Suburban Community Newspapers and was based at the head office in St Marys, about 15 minutes from Bidwill, for the first 12 months. I did a brief stint as the news reporter for the Mt Druitt Star newspaper during this time and it was here that I realised just how bad some people's lot in life could really be, especially the children.

In conjunction with a major welfare group, we organised for three young children, aged 2-7, to be given Christmas gifts for the first time in their lives. They lived in a tiny Housing Commission townhouse in Bidwill with their single mother. All three children had different fathers and, as the mother chain-smoked her way through a packet of cigarettes during our hour together, she revealed that she didn't have the funds to buy them gifts. We were able to arrange for a toy manufacturer to supply bikes, dolls, trucks. The children were photographed with their gifts for the front page of the newspaper. Seeing the joy on their faces was a life-changing moment for me.

The photographer and I returned a few weeks later to do a follow-up piece for the newspaper, only to discover that the mother had sold all of the toys for cigarette and alcohol money. We were horrified, but what could we do? You can't lock up a parent for selling their child's toys. But you should have seen the sadness in the children's eyes...

The neglected six kids of Bidwill was of course the hot topic of debate on most radio programs this morning. There were people calling for the parents to be thrown in jail, others were suggesting worse. Former football player Mark Geyer, on MMM's The Grill Team, said he'd take them all home and look after them if he could.

How on earth do we protect children from their own parents? This really does need to become a government focus.



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Juggling Sisterhood

I went to dinner with a girlfriend on Monday night who is now living overseas and had popped back to Australia for a high-powered consulting job.

My friend is a former Managing Director of one of the world's most successful cosmetic companies. Three years ago she gave birth to her first child and her life was turned on its head.

Realising that it would be near impossible to keep up the pace that her job required, she threw it in for a more balanced existence. Typical though of my driven friend, she took the opportunity to start her own business, took on consulting work with an international group and changed nappies in between.

Do we juggle too much? A rhetorical question.

My friend adores her child and is stimulated by her work but, like the rest of us who are trying to fit three people's lives into one, she's tired. Can we ever give ourselves a break?

I tell my husband all the time that when the boys finish high school I'm going to hang up my career hat. But he looks at me sceptically and says, "you won't, you can't help yourself".

Over a fabulous Thai meal, my friend and I were discussing similar time frames. But even we became unconvinced when our 'next big thing' ideas started to surface.

I'd like to be able to say that women like us will one day stop and smell the roses but the truth is that they don't smell so sweet for us unless we've planted them, watered them, cut them and arranged them. It's how we are wired, it's in our DNA, how do we stop this?

The thing is that juggling is fine is you have an end goal in mind - even if you never allow yourself to reach that end point. Sharing and venting with like-minded girlfriends once in a while, who truly do understand, is all the inspiration I need to keep those balls from coming down unexpectedly.



Does My Bum Look Big In This?

The news that retailer Jeans West has introduced a butt cam to its changing rooms was welcomed by a hoard of women who need to know how they look from behind before they can commit to a purchase.

Clearly designed to give Jeans West a competitive advantage - the rationale being that if customers can't differentiate between stores on any other level they will choose the one that can show them what their bum looks like - the move has at the very least provided some much-needed free media attention.

I'm assuming that the cameras cannot be seen by anyone else in the store and that there won't be any film in the cameras to create a lasting documentary of our change room dramas. Does this worry anyone else? Maybe I'm paranoid but I'd hate for my bum to end up on youtube.



Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fashion's Genius x 2

Above: US Vogue Editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and Creative Director Grace Coddington

Anna Wintour said it best toward the end of The September Issue: "Grace Coddington is a genius".

The documentary about the making of the September 2007 issue of American Vogue, released in Australian cinemas this week, highlights Coddington's place as Wintour's right arm in the success of the world's most influential fashion title.

The movie's producers appeared to be attempting to compare and contrast the styles, both physical, creative and commercial, of the two women throughout. Wintour's sleek, glamorous grooming versus Coddington's wild and natural look. Wintour's elegant shoes alongside Coddington's orthopaedic-style sandals. Coddington's passion for telling a story against Wintour's cold calculations of the overall mix of colours, styles, moods and hairstyles.

Coddington received almost as much camera attention as her boss. During the cinema session that I attended, there were audible gasps from the audience every time Wintour dropped certain images from one of Coddington's fashion shoots. It became evident that $50,000 worth of images were dumped from one fashion shoot alone which, depending on which woman had your sympathy by this point, was either a gross waste of resources by Wintour or negligent overspending by Coddington.

The scene reminded me of the fashion shoot that I was forced to chop in half for my first issue as Editor-in-chief of ELLE Australia. The Fashion Director had returned from a fashion trip to Jamaica and I was keen to see the images as the issue was about to close. I was shown a dozen different pictures for the first shoot, featuring Sudanese model Alek Wek: all shot at night against a barbed wire fence with black clothing. The images were beautiful and arty but you couldn't see the clothes. Apparently the photographer didn't want to do the typical beach thing with colour - oh no, as an artist he wanted to try something new and fresh, a little bit like what Fashion Editor Tonne Goodman experienced on the very ordinary Sienna Miller shoot in Rome. Photographer Mario Testino decided not to photograph the Colosseum look that Wintour was hoping for because it wasn't working for him.

Unfortunately, readers of fashion magazines don't have the luxury of a fashion editor to stand next to them to explain the value of fashion as art as they gaze at the images in bewilderment. And so like Wintour with the Galliano images, I proceeded to chop the story back to six images. Suffice to say my Fashion Director didn't hang around for as long as Coddington has, but then I wasn't editing American Vogue.

Wintour's job as the editor is to edit the magazine for its readers. Readers only know what they see when they are staring at the newsstand or giving a magazine an indecisive flick. An editor has a minute to wow her before she gets bored and picks up a competitive title. Wintour's seemingly brutal cutting of fashion shoots is done for that very reason. She's not selling an art magazine, or compiling a photographer's portfolio. Hers is a commercial proposition at the very heart of a multi-billion dollar global fashion industry. And for that Wintour makes no apologies - not even during the film's most poignant moment when she shares her family's obvious disapproval of her line of work - and nor should she.

The September Issue confirmed that Wintour is worth every penny that she is paid; that Grace Coddington is an extraordinary talent that has taken US Vogue into its own fashion stratosphere; that Andre Leon Talley is extremely keen on himself and the art director is a total yes man. Both men were completely disappointing. Both women proved even more fabulous than I was anticipating.

And that's the long way of saying that I loved The September Issue.



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Keeping Up With Generation Jones


According to, the annual Associated Press Trend Report has chosen the rise of Generation Jones as the number one trend for 2009.

For the longest time I have been lead to believe that I am a Gen Xer. The label sat well with me relative to the other generations as, year of birth aside, I'm too cynical to be a baby boomer and too driven to be part of Gen Y. So I was curious to learn that in fact I'm neither.

My generation, born between the years of 1954 and 1965, are characterised as less optimistic, distrusting of government and generally cynical. Sociologist Jonathan Pontell named us Generation Jones due to our apparent in-betweenness of a generation lost or anonymous (hence the common name Jones) and our yearning or craving for more (keeping up with the Joneses).

I would hasten to add that Generation Jones could also be described as the generation that doesn't suffer fools. And while wanting to work alongside the best can be liberating, it's also undoubtedly the major reason for an enduring sense that there must be something more. Unlike the baby boomers I know who have put their career before their personal needs and the Gen X-ers I know who put their personal needs before their careers, I have struggled with both. My Generation Jones value system has prevented me from engaging with those who don't share my principles and outlook. That's apparently why I always feel like I'm fighting for something.

"It is said that Jonesers were given huge expectations as children in the 1960s, and then confronted with a different reality as they came of age in the 1970s, leaving them with a certain unrequited, jonesing quality." Wikipedia

I feel like a child who has met their real family for the first time. A sense of belonging can be a powerful thing, especially when my new generation includes the likes of Barack Obama.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Am Woman Hear Me Roar

I had just turned seven when Helen Reddy released I Am Woman. I recall hearing it on the radio and listening intently to the lyrics. Clearly too young to fully comprehend its intent, I did like what I was hearing.

With an Italian mum and Chinese father, I grew up in a family with traditional values - meaning that the females served the males. It was something I fought against from an early age. It never sat right with me that perfectly able-bodied males needed a woman or girl to get them a drink while they sat back and enjoyed the footy, even before I heard Reddy's song. Clearly I wasn't alone.

The song immediately became the anthem of the women's liberation movement in the seventies and now, 37 years later, it has been included in the 2009 Top 10 choices of significant Australian sounds.

Its greatest contribution, aside from being a catchy tune, is that it gave a voice to what many women were thinking and feeling about their station in life. And that's why I was delighted to hear that it had been included along with the likes of Yothu Yindi's Treaty and The Vegemite Song in the National Film and Sound Archive.

The inclusion of Reddy's most famous single in this important list means that a new generation of women will be exposed to it. Generation Y won't identify with its message in the way that Gen X and the younger Baby Boomers have because the good fight was fought for them. They already know that if they have to they can face anything.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Educating Ashley

I knew there was a reason I liked Ashley Judd the minute I first saw her on screen in Kiss The Girls more than a decade ago. According to The Daily Beast , Judd has enrolled at Harvard University to study for a master of public administration.

Judd's passion for learning was fueled when she recently decided to complete the degree in French that she began before her successful film career took off.

She officially became one of my girl crushes (the other is Diane Lane) when I found myself at the preview of Someone Like You in 2001. Beautiful in a strong, smart way Judd was always most likely actress to use her brain and success for the good of others. Putting her mind where her mouth is, the 41-year-old publicly campaigned for Obama at the last US Presidential election before taking on her master's degree at Harvard's Kennedy School, which boasts world leaders as graduates including Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.

Appointed Global Ambassador for YouthAIDS, an education and prevention program of the international NGO Population Services International (PSI), promoting AIDS prevention and treatment, Judd is active in political and humanitarian causes and speaks and demonstrates at pro-choice events.

Celebrities who use their fame to grab attention for worthy causes get a big tick in my book.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Nude Or Not?

Fashion designer Stella McCartney is being sued for using the word 'nude' in naming her latest fragrance Stella Nude.

According to a report on UK Vogue, the daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney has attracted the wrath of U2 Bono's wife Ali Hewson, who owns a company called Nude Skincare.

Do we really believe there would be brand confusion between McCartney's style and that of the eco-focused Hewson? Or is it more likely that the Nude Skincare line was planning to roll out a Nude fragrance of their own someday?

Consumers are either savvy enough to know the names behind their brands these days or happy not to care. In my book there is a big difference between Stella Nude and Nude Skincare. Now if McCartney were to launch a range of Stella Nude Skincare there might be something to get annoyed about.

All of the attention given to Stella Nude has heightened my interest in trying the new fragrance. With a bit of luck the talented designer will sell copious amounts of perfume to pay for the legal bills that will surely be mounting.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

WE Are The (Netball) Champions

Media Release – Friday 14 August

Australia dominates Pool at World Netball Youth Championships

With one Pool game to come the Australian 21/U side have dominated their opening matches at the World Youth Netball Championships (WYNC).

During the last three days the young Australians have convincingly defeated South Africa, Samoa and Botswana and will now face Fiji in their final match before the quarter-finals.

Australia is set to meet the major title-threats; defending champions New Zealand, England and Jamaica in the Final Series.

Australia faces Fiji on Saturday 15 August.


Australia (73) defeated South Africa (22)

Australia (89) defeated Samoa (38)

Australia (97) defeated Botswana (11)

For more WYNCinformationincluding match reports and tour diaries:



Shoe Envy


Everyone who knows me is well aware of my shoe obsession. It is well-documented that I had to unpack my suitcase at JFK airport on the return leg of a recent trip to New York, to redistribute weight. Seventeen pairs of shoes were the culprit. I bought seven pairs while I was there, but only four were for me. By deduction its clear that I took 10 pairs with me.

We were there for eight days but with day and evening options, I managed to wear them all.

A few weeks have passed since I bought a pair of shoes and already I'm professing adoration for another. The YSL sandals that you see above are what I am currently dreaming about.

Yes that's right. I dream about shoes. Always have. Even when I was playing with Barbie as a child. I have a niece that does the same.There must be a gene that causes this behaviour. I am clearly powerless to resist.

I ship shoes in from London, courtesy of a net-a-porter shopping addiction. I know it's irrational and I am the first to admit that I own more shoes than one person could hope to wear in a given season. But I love shoes in a Carrie Bradshaw way. Like my Sex & The City favourite before she got hitched and given an entire glorious room to display her shoes, I store them in their boxes in no particular order.

Every time I buy a new pair, I tell myself that it may be time to part with an old pair - but so far I haven't listened.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The September Issue Is Coming....

Above: Anna Wintour takes centre stage in The September Issue.

The much-anticipated The September Issue, a documentary about the making of US Vogue's September 2007 edition, is due in Australian cinemas at the end of the month.

Weighing five pounds, the September edition is the thickest magazine ever published apparently. Makes sense. Advertisers would have been made aware of the fact that Anna Wintour and crew were making a documentary of their publishing endeavours for that edition so the savvy marketers would have signed on immediately in order for their brands to be included in the discussion and immortalised on film. A great marketing opportunity all round.

Stylish Fashion Documentaries - The Daily Beast

Posted using ShareThis


Wedding Fever

I am in the process of launching an Australian chapter of the world's number one website, The Knot. As a result of the compelling content we are engaging with day in, day out, most of the never-been-married girls (as opposed to the single, divorced women) have developed wedding fever.

Never before have I heard so much talk about diamond rings, white dresses and floral arrangements. Not uncommon for the staff of a wedding website granted, but it's becoming extraordinarily personal...and determined.

I'm running a side bet with the rare few who have been there and done that as to which one of our eligible bachelorettes (I apologise for the reference but I got hooked on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette again courtesy of new digital channel Go) gets engaged first.

Will it be the one who emails her partner images of favoured engagement rings? Or the one who bought a sparkly dress that she dubbed 'the diamond' as an incentive (his)? Or perhaps the one who leaves wedding magazines next to their bed - on his side?

Or will it in fact be the one who is sitting back watching the wedding fever take hold of the rest of the office while remaining cool and quiet on the subject?

Experience dictates the more that women encourage a proposal, the longer it takes for them to get one. Alternatively there's nothing wrong with a woman doing the asking if she thinks her guy could cope (warning: not all men can cope).

The betting's wide open at the moment. Watch this space.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Defining A Generation Of Loners & Losers

Left: Director John Hughes.


Director John Hughes defined what it was like to be a teenager in the eighties. His impressive body of work, that was kick-started by the success of Sixteen Candles in 1984 starring Molly Ringwald, examined the darker side of puberty.

Rather than focus on the cheerleader cheese Hughes, who died this week of a heart attack aged 59, captured what it felt like to be a loner and a loser. To his great delight and success, most teenagers of the eighties could relate to his characters. In fact most people of any generation could identify with the feeling of being the forgotten child, the kid picked last for team sports, the insecure one trying to disguise it with rebellion.

The movies that would later define his film-making career, including The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, cemented his affinity with awkward teenagers. Two decades later, Hughes' films have achieved cult status with Generation X. He is unlikely to be forgotten.

The Breakfast Club

Ferris Bueller's Day Off


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Copy Cat Or Just Catty?

Collette Dinnigan S/S 09 (left) S/S 09 and Thurley S/S 09 (right)
Source: The Daily Telegraph

The big story in Australian (an important qualification) fashion today is that the queen of our local industry Collette Dinnigan has taken umbrage with the amount of inspiration that a rising star, Helen O'Connor of the Thurley label, has injected into her latest collection.

And fair enough too if in fact O'Connor had copied Dinnigan. To my untrained eye there is a fairly significant difference between the two signature styles. The Thurley label is young and whimsical. Collette Dinnigan is elegant and sophisticated. Sure, they both share modern and pretty. But is that enough to qualify for the rip-off tag?

According to David Jones fashion maven Collette Garnsey, whom one would assume to have a trained eye after all of her years working closely with fashion, and who is responsible for nurturing the success of the Thurley label through David Jones, there are no similarities between the two designers' styles.

There was a suggestion that Dinnigan may have had her nose out of joint when she discovered, while seated front row, that Thurley was given the prestigious opening to Tuesday night's Spring/Summer showing. In years gone by, Collette Dinnigan almost always opened or closed the show. Surely a successful designer like Dinnigan wouldn't be bitter about a relative newcomer getting a bit of a leg-up in the industry that she dominates?

Perhaps Dinnigan should be more concerned that fashion label Willow received all of the accolades from Australia's band of fashion magazine editors post-show. According to The Daily Telegraph's Annette Sharp in Sydney Confidential today, the Editors of Vogue, Grazia and Marie Claire all declared Willow as among the hits of the night. Apparently not a single editor mentioned the Collette Dinnigan label.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

IDM Ties The Knot For An October Launch

3rd August 2009


Independent Digital Media (IDM) has announced a significant step in the creation of its high-quality women’s lifestyle portfolio of websites with an innovative, one-stop wedding site,, set to launch in October 2009.

IDM has entered into a license deal with the world’s #1 wedding website, which has an average of 2.3 million unique browsers globally per month, to launch the hugely popular site in Australia.

“ already boasts more than 31,000 monthly Australian-based unique browsers, which gives us a strong local audience from day one,” said IDM’s Publisher Marina Go.

“IDM differentiates itself from competitors through innovation and elevating both the user experience and the advertiser experience, and this new site will be a perfect example of this approach.”

The site is set to become the most comprehensive and integrated wedding site in the country, a mix of locally produced editorial and international content.

Former Westfield’s Editor Alicia Richardson has been appointed Editor, and Conde Nast New York’s former Accessories Editor for Modern Bride Magazine Tania Riddell has been appointed Fashion Editor.

“We’re so excited to be working with such a strong editorial team. Together we’ll collaborate to combine our vast archives with fresh local wedding planning content, creating an inspirational and practical resource for Australian brides,” said The Knot Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief Carley Roney. will join IDM’s beauty site, which launched in August last year and is now considered Australia’s leading premium, dedicated beauty website.

“Our goal is to launch five key online lifestyle brands. has beauty covered and we are confident will become the market leader in the bridal category,” said IDM’s Deputy General Manager James Hannan.

“With the Australian wedding market worth $5 billion, 110,000 weddings a year and the average price of an Australian wedding at $30,000, not only has broad appeal, but will cater to a relatively recession-proof market.”

Site features include:
• Unique format of searchable directories of everything from gowns to jewellery to flowers to honeymoons
• Photo galleries of ideas for all wedding elements from engagement to reception
• Advice on etiquette
• Planning tools covering budgets, guest lists, gift registers and seating plans
• A virtual scrapbook
• Community forums
• Real Weddings landing page, live from 3rd August, features a competition to win a Palazzo Versace escape prize; and a there is a display advertising package to be won for clients who sign up to join the directory with an enhanced listing from launch.