The Knot

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

60 Years Of Communist Rule: Not Everyone Is Celebrating

I was 22 when I visited China, my father's country of birth, for the first time. My great uncle thought it was time that my sister and I were shown the family's land in Xiamen, a short flight into southern China from Hong Kong.

Uncle King took us directly to a winery, sitting abandoned on an enormous parcel of land. It was like a ghost town - empty and clearly unused for many decades.

"Our family owned all of this before the Communists took it from us," he explained, the pain etched into his expression.

"We were famous for making the best wine in all of China," he added proudly.

"What do you mean, they just took it? No one can just take it from you," I stated like a true citizen of a democracy.

√Źn China, they can just take everything they want...and they took everything," Uncle added wistfully.

My father's family fled China. Some went to Canada, others to Indonesia. My father's immediate family crossed the border into the English-ruled Hong Kong where many would
reside in tiny box-like apartments, while dreaming of the large expanses of land they once owned, for the rest of their days.

As the Chinese Communist Party celebrates 60 years of continuous rule, millions of Chinese who lost their homes, livelihood and even country in 1959 and beyond won't be popping the champagne corks with them.



The Beauty Of Noosa

Left: My home for the next week: The Sheraton Resort & Spa, Noosa

As soon as we arrived in Noosa I knew I would be happy here. My enjoyability radar rarely lets me down, which can be a terrible thing when upon arrival you just know it'll all be downhill (this has happened to me at the very best of five-star resorts).

Friends had been telling me for years that Noosa was my sort of place. I can't believe it's taken me 43 years to get here and find out for myself.

I really do love Queensland. We are so lucky to live in a country that requires only a domestic flight up the coast (if you live in NSW, Victoria or Tasmania) to world-class beaches and sunshine.

I like to start a beach holiday with a beach massage if I can. I made my way over to the little hut on the beach where holidaymakers were being pummelled back into shape. Luckily for me one massage treatment was coming to an end and there was an available slot in the schedule. So I slipped right in and within minutes was having the stress literally squeezed out of me.

My masseuse was a woman in her early thirties, for whom life at the office was one big pleasure. She seemed genuinely pleased with her day job and just as I was forgetting about mine, she asked, "don't you work for a magazine?"

That's how I know how old she is.

"How old are you?" I asked.

"32," she replied.

"So you used to read Dolly magazine," I offered with confidence.

"Yes I did and you are were the Editor."

It doesn't matter where I travel in Australia, most women in their early thirties seemed to have read Dolly magazine when I was the editor, more than 15 years ago. Back then there was no real competitor. Girlfriend magazine was a mere upstart start-up and everyone read Dolly. It was The Australian Women's Weekly of teenage magazines.

But the real bonus in this for me was that after all of those years, and two children later, a reader could still identify me. Made stepping out in my bikini just a tad easier (I usually drop the towel at the water's edge). There'll be no pictures, though. Takes more than a reader remembering me as a 23-year-old editor to get me to that special place.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Polanski Epic

Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland on the weekend for a crime he committed three decades ago.

Now aged 76, the celebrated film maker allegedly drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl in the home of his then good friend Jack Nicholson. He fled the US for Europe to escape his likely punishment and has never returned. He remained a wanted man.
So now that he has finally been arrested, commentators across the globe have expressed polar opposite views about his impending extradition to the US to face up to his crime.

In order to form a reasonable view, you need to remove any irrational thoughts relating to his movies and celebrity.

I am a fan of Polanski’s artistic talents. He is a master of his craft, that is undeniable. But if the man in question wasn’t a famous movie writer and director, would we want him behind bars or would we still be prepared to argue for his freedom on the grounds of his age and that he has had a hard and complex life? One would argue that we would want any other man who raped a child (in other words, a paedophile) locked up forever. Witness the lynch-mob frenzy surrounding paedophiles that have actually done their time and released back into the community.

Do we believe that a person should be punished for the crime regardless of age or celebrity? Any reasonable person would argue that all men are equal.

If we believe that a crime committed 30 years ago is an unfortunate part of history, but let’s move on, then should we also forgive and forget war crimes committed under extraordinary circumstances and unlikely to be repeated in peace time? I can’t think of anyone who would agree with that notion.

So why French and Polish leaders are rallying behind Polanski on this issue is quite intriguing. In recent times he gave the world the brilliant film The Pianist. Quite ironic that a movie about the atrocities of the past for which men are still being tracked down and incarcerated should be made by a man who has also committed a heinous crime in his past. We are being asked to never forget one, but forgive and forget the other.

It’s difficult to argue in his favour.



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chris Isaak Just Aged Me

I went to the State Theatre on Tuesday night to see Chris Isaak. My husband bought the tickets as a surprise. Both of us have been fans since the beginning.

Isaak and his band have been together for 20 years and, once I realised this (he shares trivia such as this throughout the show), I started to do the maths that inevitably ends in tears.

Twenty years ago we were in our twenties and now...well you do the maths. I spent much of the evening observing the audience. A sea of grey hair and polite clapping had replaced the energetic crowds of a couple of decades ago. When Isaak asked the crowd to indicate with a show of hands if you had seen him perform previously, about 90 per cent of hands shot up. It was that sort of night. The audience had grown up and older with him.

Maybe it's because I equate Elvis and Roy Orbison with my parents, and Isaak performed songs made famous by both, or the cheesy sequinned suit and quiffed hair, but I felt uneasy about my evening with Chris Isaak.

Don't get me wrong: Isaak puts on a great show. His voice is still incredible and the best of his songs, like Blue Hotel and Wicked Games, are mesmerising. But seeing him in concert made me feel old.

I wondered whether a former art director of mine would still have a crush on him. Women were certainly doing all they could to get close to Isaak, especially when he came down off the stage and walked through the crowd. But it wasn't the bra-slinging display that he would have experienced in his early years. One woman politely kissed him on the cheek. Another stuck her camera phone in front of his face, almost touching his nose. He never appeared to be at risk of being showered in the lingerie of drunken lovestruck females.

We have tickets to see Pearl Jam in November so hopefully they'll reverse the ageing process for us.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The New Fashion: Honesty


This is what I'd love to be able to wear. I fell in love with Thakoon all over again when casting my eye over the visuals from the New York shows on

But of course I can't - I'm a woman over 40 with teenage and tweenage sons. They would never let me leave the house looking like that!

It's usually my 12-year-old who comments first: "Oh god mum, you're not going out wearing that are you?"

Me (a little shell-shocked and after a long pause): "Well, I was going to. Don't you think I should?"

Tweenager: "No way mum, no way."

No matter how confident you are, it's tough to leave the house after that without having changed your outfit (at least once, maybe twice). My far more sensitive husband will generally try to make me feel better by reminding me that our son is 12, "so what would he know about fashion?" But it's a bit like the Emperor's New Clothes. Only a child will tell you the truth (my husband fears upsetting me to be totally honest about what I really look like, mostly).

So when my honest child, who cares far too much about me to let me leave the house looking like mutton dressed as lamb (which is what I'd look like wearing Thakoon Spring 2010) or badly coordinated (although he doesn't understand that it's better not to dress matchy-matchy), tells me that I should get changed I do so immediately.

And that, in my opinion, is one of the worst things about aging. I can no longer wear everything I want to.


Patrick Swayze Made Me Want To Dance

Like the rest of the world, I was saddened by the death of Patrick Swayze. You don't need to be a fan to believe that death by pancreatic cancer at age 57 is a tragedy.

If I didn't choose journalism as a career, I would like to have been a professional dancer. Most of us have a secret alternate existence that we dream about: Hollywood actors, rockstars, sports heroes. If I could spend my days dancing, I would. No surprises then that my favourite TV show is So You Think You Can Dance. I love it. I watch the Australian version and the American series with equal amounts of enthusiam. In my next life, I want to come back as a contestant.

My mother treated me to dance lessons as a child. I studied tap, jazz and ballet. From the ages of five to 13, dancing consumed our after-school ritual and Saturdays. There were esteddfods, concerts, exams. I wore the most amazing costumes that my mother's dressmaker seemed to whip up effortlessly (it's a shame that I don't have a daughter who can wear them - but I do have nieces). And just like the child beauty queens, I wore far too much makeup during my performances (but that's another story). I was actually very good and have countless gold medals and trophies to attest this.

I was 21 when Dirty Dancing was released at the movies. I couldn't believe my eyes. The most incredible dance moves. I believed that Patrick Swayze's character took Baby out of the corner and taught her to dance from scratch. And if she could do it, surely I could do it too (eight years after hanging up my ballet slippers I felt certain I was back to beginners). I have harboured a soft spot for Swayze ever since.

His death this week was devastating for his family, friends and many, many fans. Those of us who love Dance were also touched by his passing.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

For The Love Of Carla

Left: French President Nicolas Sarkozy and wife Carla Bruni

I love Carla Bruni, always have. I love that she was a rockstar model who famously dated Mick Jagger, that she is 13cm taller than her 165cm short husband French President Nicolas Sarkozy and wears flat shoes in his presence, and that she strokes his hand and pats his bottom in public. She is, after all, Italian, one of the most expressive cultures in the world.

But while most of the world have embraced France's first lady, I discovered recently that the French don't necessarily feel the same way.

"Sarkozy is a loser," announced a French colleague, in Sydney on a business trip.

"His wife leaves him during the campaign for Presidency and then he marries a girl who has slept with all of France...well not all of France because she hasn't slept with me."

He expressed astonishment when I professed that I would be a card-carrying member of a Bruni fan club, if indeed such a group existed.

"The whole world seems to like her," he acknowledged, "but not in France".

"Sarkozy could have any girl he likes and he chooses a girl like her."

Bruni is a successful model turned singer who is more famous than her husband in most parts of the world. The French President lights up when he sees her. That's the kind of girl she is.

Again, this is a clue that France has desperately needed someone like Sarkozy to lead this country of extremes into a modern world where women can also do, say, think whatever they want to without fear of judgment.



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Valentino In Living Colour

My favourite line in this promo is when Valentino asks his partner in life and business Giancarlo Giammetti to tell him how his public appearance went: "tell me the truth".

"You look a little too tan," was Giammetti's response.

Critics have described the documentary Valentino The Last Emperor as "funny, moving and ironic". Valentino is after all as famous for his glamorous gowns as he is for his ever-tanned skin.

Director Matt Tyrnauer, also a Vanity Fair journalist, was given access to the famous haute couture designer's private and business life to capture the days between his seventieth birthday and final fashion show in the wake of a takeover of his brand by a private equity firm.

The yachts, the private jets, the matching dogs. This fashion doco has it all.

Valentino The Last Emperor is due for release in Australian cinemas on September 17. I can't wait.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Speaking In Generational Tongues

Apart from being quite a funny program, Channel Ten's Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation proved to be a revelation, and not just because host Sean Micallef may have finally found his television niche.

The series was created to show-up the knowledge gaps that are created by being a certain age at a particular time in history. But it was also like a social experiment exposing the communication styles of different age groups. It didn't matter that the contestants were chosen because they were funny or famous. There were still obvious behavioural differences between the teams.

My 12-year-old observed that Generation-Y were really annoying because they could never give a straight answer to anything. From one week to the next, throughout the series, Gen-Y would workshop the answer to a question with the host, not necessarily with one another. They seemed to be searching for an affirmation before they could commit to an answer. It drove us crazy.

Generation-X, when asked a question, would tend to workshop the answer between them before reaching agreement and then responding. They were by far the least showy and less needy of the generations - and not just because this is where I fit into a generational group, in the absence of Generation-Jones.

The Baby Boomers were flying solo, even though they were supposed to be working as a team. By far the most confident of the groups, they would yell out the answer, whether they were sure of it or not, mostly without consulting one another.

Gen-Y are exactly the same in the workforce (at the risk of generalising an entire generation). They say exactly what's on their mind, without self-editing. I find myself thinking, 'well that was far too much information' most times that I am in conversation with one of them. Similarly, the Baby Boomers in the workplace are most likely to be the ones who impose their views on others - it's their way or the highway. Gen-X of course are perfect, but then I am biased.

The lasting impression created by Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation was that we seem to have become less confident and more candid with each generation. I blame the Baby Boomers.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mick & Jerry's Baby Grown Up

Left: Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall's youngest daughter, Georgia May Jagger, aged 17

Left: Jerry Hall with her three oldest children Elizabeth (left), James (right) and baby Georgia, circa 1993.

It feels like only moments ago that Georgia May Jagger was the pouting pretty baby of the Jagger-Hall union. Look at her now.

Stunningly Bardot-esque, these images are a stark reminder of why most father's fear their little girl growing up.

The children of The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and former model Jerry Hall have managed to avoid the attention of the Australian media, mostly (or maybe I've just been reading the right publications). So it was a huge shock for me to see Georgia in all her teenage glory in the advertisement for Hudson Jeans, given that my most recent visual memory of her was as a cute baby in her mother's arms as in the photo above.

Talk about a wake-up call. How old am I?

Photo 1:
Photo 2:


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hair To Dye For

Carrie Bradshaw is the poster girl for '40 is the new 30'. So news that Carrie and Co are back in the saddle making a sequel to the very fabulous Sex & The City movie caught my attention immediately.

The source of the news for me was online beauty bible*, edited by our twenty-something version of the modern-day IT-girl writer, Zoe Foster. So naturally Carrie's hair was the focal point. And isn't it something to behold.

I tortured my naturally wavy brown hair with straightening irons all through my twenties, wore my hair tied back in a ponytail as a time-poor mother of young children in my thirties and bought into the whole GHD-thing in my forties (back to straightening). I hated my natural curls, cursed them endlessly. That was, until yesterday, when I fell in love with the PRIMPED photo of Sarah Jessica Parker on the set of Sex & The City 2. Yes the dress is gorgeous, the shoes are to obsess over (surely I'm not alone?) and let's not even mention the legs at her age, but it's SJP/Carrie's divine golden brown locks that have started me thinking, and thinking, and wanting.

So now I want to embrace my waves, for the first time in my life. I plan to grow my hair and let it twist and turn where it may. But it looks as though I may be about to embrace colour again. I haven't coloured my hair since my second child was born 12 years ago (no time, no energy). But as my youngest son gets set to join the high school ranks it may be time to express myself again, or at the very least allow my frustrated hairdresser (hairdressers get bored with people like me who say yes to a cut and no to a colour) to express himself.

The last time that I felt this excited about a new hairstyle was when I went crazy over Anne Hathaway's hair perfection in The Devil Wears Prada. This one's much more exciting though because I think I finally have the right hair type to achieve it (my hair was never going to be as sleek as shiny as Anne Hathaway's) and because Carrie (SJP will always be Carrie to me) is squarely in my age bracket (SJP is six months older than me). So I won't have to risk the mutton as lamb tag.

* Declaring my hand: I am the Publisher of this world-class website so I am in the fortunate position of being able to read it all day for professional reasons.



If 40 Is The New 30, What Do I Wear?

Above: Trenery Spring Summer 09/10

I am a long-time Country Road cardholder. I joined up many moons ago when Country Road was really hot, then moved the card to the back of my wallet when Country Road became mumsy and boring and then pulled it out again when Creative Director Sophie Holt brought the label back to life.

So I have been more than a little intrigued with Country Road's decision to launch its big sister label Trenery. Aimed at an 'older' audience - which is marketing-speak for 40-plus, the inaugural Trenery catalogue arrived in my mailbox today with the new season Country Road catalogue.

I immediately fell in love with the gorgeous little tops and cute side bow dress in the Country Road catalogue (I'm unlikely to ever wear that dress so I will buy the top version and wear it with trousers or a longer skirt). Yet again Sophie Holt has nailed a contemporary urban look for work. Then I flicked open the Trenery catalogue and was given a rude awakening about the fashion expectation of someone my age. Crisp, clean and simple, the Trenery range is probably how I actually dress most of the time, especially when I am in a hurry and don't have the time to indulge my creative urges. I grab the safe option, throw it on my back and race out the door. That's what Trenery says to me.

But fashion's about aspiration. I want to see clothes in a store that I can dream about - frocks that I can't stop thinking about. But there's no twist to Trenery Spring Summer 09. No spark, nothing special. I think I may even have items like all of those represented in the catalogue in my wardrobe already. What I'm likely to add to my wardrobe of classic pieces this summer is a gorgeous top with a stand-out feature, something the Country Road designers have understood so well of late.

So instead of embracing the Trenery catalogue, I found myself engrossed in the Country Road version - apparently aimed at a woman of a more youthful age. So what is a forty-something woman who isn't semi-retired or a full-time soccer mum to do?

Do I don the 40-plus uniform presented by Trenery or do I ignore this categorising of fashion by age and continue to wear what inspires me?



Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Thank God For Della Bosca's Girlfriend

Above: John Della Bosca and Belinda Neal

I have found it very difficult to feel sorry for Federal MP Belinda Neal in the wake of the news that her husband and the father of her two children, NSW MP John Della Bosca, has been cheating on her with a much younger women.

Usually this would raise my ire, but like the newspapers that have shown so little sympathy for Neal thus far, I don't care about her. Sorry to break ranks with the sisterhood, but the only time that I've felt any emotion at all about this couple in the past week was when I heard that Della Bosca thought he might be the next Premier. Over my dead body.

So I was actually relieved when the "sex scandal" broke because it meant that Della Bosca would not be Premier and that his wife would not be the State's first lady (or whatever the comparable term is for the wife of the Premier). The thought of the Iguana couple sitting pretty at the head of our State almost made me physically ill last week.

And then just when I was thinking we'd need a miracle or that we'd have to move to another state (in the past it's been proven that where there's smoke, there's fire when it comes to the political rumour mill), along pops the 26-year-old girlfriend of the would-be Premier and, just like that, his political career is over and we can dare to hope for more.