The Knot

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fashion Inheritance

Left: This year's fashion must-have

Charlotte Smith inherited her American Quaker godmother's collection of fashion history. Little did she know at the time that she would become the proud, and a little ecstatic, owner of more than 3000 dresses, dating from 1790 - 1995. Amongst this extraordinary collection were Dior and Chanel originals.

Born in Hong Kong, Charlotte lived in London, Paris and New York, before falling in love with Australia. Those divine fashions now reside on our home soil too.

But rather than keep this treasure to herself, Charlotte has shared her fashion win via an illustrated book, Dreaming of Dior. Available in November. As a fashion enthusiast, I can't wait.


Monday, October 26, 2009

A Personal Journey or a Travel Book?

I was one of the last women on the planet to read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

A New York Times bestseller that has resonated with women in every part of the globe, the book really only piqued my interest when I overheard a group of women discussing it with passion and a sense of purpose.

"When I was in Bali a couple of weeks ago I visited the same medicine man that Elizabeth Gilbert went to," shared one of the women.

"Oh my god, that's what my girlfriends and I are planning to do at the end of the year," shrieked another.

I can see it now: somewhere on the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali sits a man espousing herbal remedies and his philosophies on life with a steady stream of mostly single women beating a path to his door. The book's publication in February 2006 made him an international phenomenon as women the world over attempt to recreate the personal journey that Gilbert took to find herself at the end of a painful and messy divorce.

Now I love a good memoir and this certainly ticks that box, but bestsellers are generally not my first choice when I rock up to Borders for a new read. However, millions of women can't be wrong so I decided to get in on the act and find out what all the fuss was about.

Gilbert strikes me as being a bit obsessive compulsive with her organisation of the book into 108 neat little parts like a japa mala, apparently India's answer to rosary beads. That, and the fact that the three countries she chose to visit all begin with the letter I. But I wasn't going to let that put me off.

As I started reading, it occurred to me that I may in fact be too happy with my life to be able to identify deeply with Gilbert's reason for embarking on this self-discovery. Is it because I'm not single that I don't share the urge to take myself off to Italy on a whim? Maybe it's because I'm not depressed that I have no desire to immerse myself in prayer at an Ashram in India? And I've been to Bali too many times to believe that's where I would find peace.

But this isn't my memoir, it's Elizabeth Gilbert's. And that's why it's fantastic that so many women have been able to identify with her downs in order to search out her means of lifting herself back up. But surely the point of the book is that every person's journey is personal.

Eat Pray Love isn't a travel book, it's a journal of one woman's path to enlightenment and personal enrichment. Be inspired by her, by all means, but for god's sake stop following in her footsteps and go find some of your own.

When the film version of the book is released sometime in 2011, I predict that travel to Italy, India and Indonesia will get a massive boost. And that poor medicine man will never again be at peace.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Anything For Charity

Last Thursday, an article about Cappuccino for a Cause appeared in Annette Sharp's Sydney Confidential column in The Daily Telegraph. The piece gave attention to a great initiative supporting the prevention of poverty - during International Poverty Week. Thank you Annette and The Daily Telegraph.

A couple of hours later I received a phone call from the PR company that provides services to Gloria Jeans Coffees, an organisation for which I am a franchisee. The PR company had received a phone call from social columnist Ros Reines and she was apparently asking questions about the Mercy Ministries and my involvement with Gloria Jeans. I assured the concerned PR that Ros would have been following a lead, rather than attempting to muckrake. I've known Ros for 25 years and that's how she operates. I've also been a tabloid journalist and a lead is a scent to follow-up.

I mention this because my inbox was full with concerned emails from friends and colleagues this morning following an article that appeared in Ros's column in The Sunday Telegraph.

"It looked like she was trying to stitch you up but it ended up being good publicity for you," wrote a friend.

Not true (re: the stitch-up). Ros and I had a phone conversation about this on Friday evening. The chat was positive and she was following up on a suggested lead.

Cappuccino for a Cause was a great success in my Gloria Jeans store - mezzanine level of Borders Bookstore, Westfield, Bondi Junction - due largely to the help of some fantastic people and products.

Huge recognition must go to: Melissa Hoyer, Channel 9 fashion commentator and writer; Zoe Foster, editor-in-chief of Australia's best beauty website; Alicia Richardson, editor of Australia's new, stylish wedding website and Yasmin Boland, astrologer for Body & Soul, Cleo and Madison. Each woman twittered about her in-store appearance. Yasmin also alerted her following to her appearance in-store via her website and they came in droves. She charged them a small fee for a reading and all proceeds were donated directly to our cause.

These are four incredibly generous people.

Revlon donated 200 units of full-size lipstick and nail polish to support our efforts. It was certainly an enticing offer that saw many customers make the switch to a cappuccino and support the cause. Many customers mentioned they would now be choosing Revlon products over all others because of the beauty brand's strong show of support for victims of poverty.

Netball Australia donated a Gilbert netball, boasting autographs from the world champion Australian Diamonds.

Author Jessica Adams, a known supporter of charities that assist the less fortunate, donated 10 signed copies of her books Vintage Alice and The Summer Psychic.

Jo from donated 8 eco-friendly products that clean your home and help save the environment at the same time.

A special mention must also go to Kerrie and Tessa of Instyle magazine who generously offered to hand out our Cappuccino for a Cause postcards to the many women who attended their style workshops in Westfield, Bondi Junction this week. If you haven't had the chance to get there to see one of their workshops in action, you should do so this week. A brilliant magazine produced by some genuinely charitable people.

It was so incredibly generous of all of those companies and people to donate their products and time for this worthwhile cause. Let's offer them our support in future.

I am grateful to my wonderful team who work at Gloria Jeans Borders Bondi Junction: manager Nick Meng and the crew who helped make October 16 and 17 a success: Joe, Simon, Desiree, Clara, Jackson, Lucy, Dennon, Felicia and Emily. They run my show and worked tirelessly behind the scenes and behind the counter to make Cappuccino for a Cause happen.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Australian Diamonds (55) defeat England (44)

Media alert – Wednesday 14 October

The Australian Diamonds have defeated England 55-44 in an encouraging display in Bath this morning.

Coming off the altered format of the game at the World Netball Series in Manchester the Diamonds showed poise and skill to overrun the English by 11-goals.

The Diamonds will now travel to Jamaica to take on the Sunshine Girls in Kingston on October 17 and 18.

Australian Diamonds shooting statistics:

Susan Pratley 27/32 @ 84%

Sharelle McMahon 28/35 @ 80%

Player of the match – Sharelle McMahon

“It certainly was nice to come away with a win coming off the Test matches in New Zealand and Australia and then the World Netball Series. It was a bit of a tired game from both teams really,” said Diamond coach Norma Plummer.

“Neither team looked really fresh but we got the win, the girls worked extremely hard and their defensive game was fantastic especially in the second half. We were five down at one stage and we brought that back to take the lead by half-time.

“I thought (Susan) Pratley and (Sharelle) McMahon’s work in the circle together was fantastic and Kim Green worked tirelessly on the outside. Bec Bulley came on at half-time because Mo’onia is only coming back from the ankle injury so we thought we’d only get a couple of quarters out of her. Bulley did a really good job she cut down Pamela Cookey (English goal attack). Cookey didn’t put many goals up after that so she did a fantastic job.

“(Going to Jamaica) It’s not about improving on anything at the moment, our game is fairly solid and we’ve got the options and we will need to use the options when we are in Jamaica. It’ll be really hot there compared to here and that’ll just zap the energy from the players. We’ll have to use our bench wisely to get across the line because Jamaica will be quite fresh compared to us."

“We started slowly and England got a bit of a jump on us in the first quarter. We ended up finishing a few goals down at quarter-time then they stepped out in the second quarter, so I think we were down by five at one stage in the second quarter,” said Diamond captain Sharelle McMahon.

“We fought back really well in that second quarter and ended up going into half-time two-goals up which was great.

“We held that lead through the third-quarter and put our foot down again in the final quarter which for us is really nice because often we get a lead and don’t really go on with it. So it was really good that we got in front and in the last quarter took it away from them.

“It was great to get back on court, in the World Netball Series Mo’onia and I would warm up with the team then go back into the stands to watch so it was definitely good to be back in with the group and out on court again.

“We have a pretty long trip ahead of us now heading over to Kingston and then only about a week in Jamaica, so things will be moving pretty quickly for us.

“I thought by the end of that match we had a really nice flow and a good understanding between the players on court, so hopefully we can build on that against Jamaica.”

Diamonds starting positions:

GS - Susan Pratley

GA - Sharelle McMahon (Captain)

WA - Kimberlee Green

C - Natalie von Bertouch (Vice Captain)

WD - Renae Hallinan

GD - Mo`onia Gerrard

GK - Bianca Chatfield

Kate Beveridge

Rebecca Bulley

Susan Fuhrmann

Natalie Medhurst

Lauren Nourse


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Cultural Differences Are Vast

Above: Screengrab from Hey, Hey It's Saturday featuring the controversial Red Faces skit

When a troupe of men dressed up as The Jacksons appeared on the Red Faces segment of the second reunion show of Hey, Hey It's Saturday, I immediately cringed with horror because Harry Connick Jnr was a guest judge.

When the camera panned across to take in the American singer's pained expression, I knew that he was also thinking the American press won't be kind to him on this one.

The very idea that Connick Jnr appeared on a television program in which black performers were sent up in a comedy skit is really at the root of the drama over this relatively uneventful incident. As Daryl Somers showed during the program, the same guys performed virtually the same skit (albeit before Michael Jackson's skin colour began to pale) a couple of decades ago - and no one was outraged then.

The difference was that this time there was a celebrity from a country that is trying so hard to be politically correct in the face of a local media looking to catch someone out, 24/7.

As Connick Jnr expressed on the evening, Americans have been trying so hard not to make black people look like buffoons.

And that's really where the cultural differences between our two nations lies. The point of the skit wasn't to send up black people. In defence of Dr Anand Deva, who portrayed Michael Jackson and felt the need to defend himself to The Australian, it was merely a send-up of celebrities. It's something that is very Australian. Virtually every comedy sketch does it on a regular basis.

If we think this is racist, then are we happy with Chris Lilley's portrayal of an Islander teenager? Why weren't we outraged when The Chaser sent up Osama Bin Laden? Because Australians have developed a unique way of looking at life and the ridiculous little things that occur. We take the piss. That's what we do.

But that doesn't mean that Connick Jnr was wrong to defend himself on the program on Wednesday night. He had to. He didn't have a choice. If he hadn't taken a stand against the perceived racist nature of the content he was judging, instead of being branded a racial superhero by his countrymen, he would instead have been branded a racist. It appears to be how the gutter press operates in the US.

This incident wasn't really about racial prejudices for me. Instead it highlighted the vast differences in perception, humour, attitudes and freedom of expression between two clearly vastly different cultures.



Saturday, October 3, 2009

Egos Gone Wild

Left: Golfer Greg Norman and wife, tennis great, Chris Evert

Why does one spouse always have to be the support crew? Aren't we developed enough to allow two unique individuals with passions to thrive?

Apparently not. The sporting world's power pairing offered career couples, sporting and otherwise, a ray of hope when they wed 15 months ago. Greg Norman and Chris Evert were going to show us how both could continue to be leaders in their sports and harmoniously equal in marriage. A state that many other couplings of dual achievers have failed to reach.

Norman's former wife Laura was the first of the doubters when she stated on the eve of their marriage that they were too alike for the union to last. Laura may well have been right as it appears their egos may have gotten in the way of a loving marriage with the couple announcing their decision to split yesterday.

I honestly thought it would last. I watched the 60 Minutes interview, I thought I saw the spark. What I may have been seeing instead was two people basking in the reflection of their own glory. It now seems they may been each other's latest trophy rather than the love of their respective lives.

What a shame.