Fashion is a fascinating concept. Besides being something solid created purely out of imagination, it is also a rare marker of human changeability and adaptability over a long and well recorded time period. Being obsessed with the beauty of fashion is one thing, yet having a penchant for historical nerdiness, I find it utterly absorbing that we can track thought processes, leaps and bounds of human progress, climate change and even misguided prejudices through what we wore during our lenghty reign on this planet. Jewellery on the other hand pre-dates all this textile nonsense. We were naked once, it was warm, we didn’t need to be cacooned , so why is it that we chose to adorn ourselves with shells, bones and feathers whilst walking around butt naked? Akin to make up, accessorizing doesn’t fulfill a clear biological need apart from adorning ourselves to stand out from the crowd in a way that a bird of paradise attempts to shut down other birds with it’s sheer spectacular beauty and uniqueness.
Harry Winston once said : “ People will stare. Make it worth their while.” Coco Chanel quipped:” Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory”. Being stylish can mean incorporating so many opposing ideas, yet, it is the ones that make sense to you personally that truly matter. Trends come and go yet timeless style is forever relevant. For my second collaboration with Swarovski and Who What Wear Australia, I’m bringing you 6 classic styling tips that are not only modern now but wearable forever.
1. Is it the show of décolletage or bare shoulders that makes off the shoulder tops so irresistible? To me it is the timeless femininity of the cut that just works in the elegance stakes. Whether it is a peasant, gypsy top or a structured evening piece, dare to bare. Mix with a classic pencil skirt and co-ordinate the colours for the ultimate day to night look ( Yeojin Bae top, By Johnny skirt )
2. Play with accessorizing by layering your necklaces. Choose necklaces of similar lenghts, then use slightly higher or lower loops to fasten them so they sit neatly next to each other . This trick looks best when utilizing the suprasternal notch, ie; that little dent between the neck and the chest. Voila! You’ve just created a one off, unique jewellery combination that no one else will be wearing, whilst showing off an erogenous zone. ( necklaces and watch, both by Swarovski )
3. Swoosh it around. Dramatic, tassled pieces add a visceral dimension to evening wear and announce your presence without reaching for overt sexuality ( Rae official dress, Giuseppe Zanotti heels)
4. Layer your rings on multiple fingers for maximum impact. From the thumb to the pinky, knuckle to tip, play with wearing your rings wherever they may fit – then watch the dazzle as you gesture your way through the day ( rings and earrings, all Swarovski )
5. Choose masculine staples with a feminine edge. Whether mixing up a mannish suit with a delicate camisole or letting your scalloped underwear show just a little underneath a tailored shirt, the contrasting polarities will make each other shine. In this case a tailored trench coat is a traditionally masculine piece, yet it gets a feminine update via silky satin and lightweight tailoring. Belt it up to create a dress that hides as much as it reveals for the ultimate yin/yang balance ( Rachel Gilbert coat, Gucci belt )
6. I love large faced watches on women. I used to buy men’s watches when younger because I loved how they simultaneously made my wrist look delicate, yet toughened it up as well. Better yet, layer the watch up with other favourite pieces for ultimate arm candy.
photographed by Alice Wesley-Smith
Monochrome is a mainstay of most women's wardrobes and a clean,tidy and polished way to dress, especially for work. Best of all, everything can mix and match, eliminating the headache inducing need for making up outfit combinations in the rush of the morning. Sadly, monochrome can also sometimes mean boring, as in yawn inducing separates that go together, yet don't provide any inspiration, cool factor or most importantly - fun. They fill a need, yet don't possess originality or je ne sais quoi. Well, here at M.E.L ,we like to have fun with clothes, so for this story, I picked some sexy, awesome pieces that will work hard at having fun during holidays and beyond...
White doesn't have to mean pristine or virginal. Toughen up white with a leather skirt mixed with a cuddly angora sweater = a devilishly angelic look perfect for a hot date. (Above and here : MLM leather skirt, Life with Bird sweater, Gianvitto Rossi heels,Swarovski rings, by Charlotte diamond necklace )
Black doesn't need to spell s.i.m.p.l.e. This baby makes the best of curves and has cool details to boot ( Dion Lee dress, Christian Louboutin shoes)
Jump on the bandwagon of voluminous , wide legged pants that are all the rage now and next season. Choose flattering high waisted cuts paired with easy t-shirts for a 70s inspired summer ( Macgraw pants, Rag & Bone t-shirt, Gianvito Rossi shoes)
Feminine and polished yet vintage inspired and fun - culottes are the perfect mix of all of the above. Mix with a simple bra top and jacket for urban cool ( May The Label bra top, Shona Joy lace culottes, Christian Louboutin heels, vintage Lover jacket )
photographed by Ana Suntay-Toledo
Voyaging to Ibiza had always been my dream - that island where Spanish summers are hot, cocktails are cold, beaches are beautiful and parties unforgettable. Before I left, my friends retold their stories and added how there are many Ibizas to discover - each time they went they found a new place awaited them. This was somewhat perplexing to me : Is it because new restaurants have opened or they are staying in new accommodation or is it because the weather is different each time? It seemed like a puzzle to piece together and not one of them offered to elaborate on this confusing statement.
So, as they sometimes do, stars came together and offered a quick trip to this balearic paradise a couple of months ago. Renting a beautiful house with dear friends on top of a hill with a sparkling pool and sunset vistas. Heaven. And we did have fun! Languid lunches and long nights, swims and cocktails and even a sail to Formentrera...but everyone said; it will be a different Ibiza next time.
Then, one afternoon, I had a look at the art hanging in our rented villa and found a big cork board with amazing pictures. There was Vera, the woman who rented the house to us , in all her Ibiza editions. In a pink vinyl jacket and a perm hugging Charles Bronson, in an iridescent swimsuit with Naomi Campbell in the early 90s, looking rock n'roll in black leather with Gary Coleman of Different Strokes, innocent in white with Johnny Hallyday and bohemian with some French band . That's when I realized; this is why each time people visit Ibiza it changes. The experience of this island depends so much on the people you are with, the things that you are attracted to at that particular moment in life and what kind of style you want to emulate. Ibiza itself is merely a gateway to experiences so it's up to you which part you magnetize yourself to and attract into your sphere. Glamour and attitude never go astray in this corner of the Med and fashion is as much an expression of your aesthetic as an advertisement of what sort of lifestyle you aspire to.
Mainly though, I realized : Vera, in all her experimenting incarnations , might be my spirit animal .
Dress by Shona Joy
Necklace and bracelet by Swarovski
Sandals by Proenza Schouler
Ziggy played for time, jiving us that we were Voodoo
The kids was just crass,
He was the naz
With God given ass
He took it all too far
But boy could he play guitar...
Not to mention could David Bowie write a mean song! I have been wiling away this Queen's birthday long weekend by cranking up the tunes and fondly remembering all my Bowie inspired air guitars and karaokes I thought I ruled at but probably completely drunkenly butchered at the time, his androgynous features and out there costumes and the incredible DAVID BOWIE IS exhibition at the V&A in London last year where I got lost for hours in every little detail of his life. I think everyone always references David's early bisexuality and drug taking as defining him but I always felt these were a phase in a creatively rich life of someone incredibly thirsty for the new because he was always, from the very beginning just a bit different - smart and well read and incredibly dedicated with a completely different spiritual compass to the society he was born into - a contrarian as well as a visionary. What I found most fascinating about David was that he did these visualization drawings even when young ; he'd draw a music video from conception to finish, or draw himself in situations that he wanted to experience and guess what? He ultimately made his drawings come to life - perhaps proving to himself the Law of Attraction.
Metallics have been ruling the runways the last few seasons as different trends emerged : the 80s, the disco era, futurism etc but my love of metallics has never been about trends as much as simply about the feel of the fabrics , the way they reflect light and the sheer variations of texture and sheen they can deliver. Here are some of my favorite metallic pieces I'm in love with now and how I wear them...not so much Ziggy but all metallic goodness and a touch of rock n' roll none the less.
David Bowie sang : "Heaven loves ya, The clouds part for ya, Nothing stands in your way when you're a boy" and that may be true but even if women today are still treated like possessions, abused, murdered and taken advantage of, I still, deep down , feel completely privileged and honored to be a woman. We are less violent, more communicative , more nurturing and open and, well let's face it - actually have exciting fashion (and of course shooeeeesss! ).
Maybe I am innately optimistic or perhaps I feel like things are changing quicker today in a technology saturated world where remaining an island of ignorance on an increasingly clued in planet Earth is becoming near impossible. Possibly, I feel like violence is on it's way out and people are becoming more conscious of their ingrained but outdated hatreds. Perhaps we as women are getting smarter, learning more , emancipating ourselves, supporting each other. Or conceivably I am disillusioned because I live in a country where misogyny is not publicly cool, although still sometimes practiced.
Last week, however, I attended the In Style Women of Style awards and was left completely gobsmacked by the achievements of incredibly smart, beautiful women in a myriad of categories including business, beauty, fashion, charity and community, entertainment, arts and culture, environment and more. Seeing these inspiring women who successfully tackle work, children and charity take the stage , I got a little teary in a way that only pride can make your chest feel like it might explode. Would you believe, in this room, no glass ceiling existed, no tall poppy syndrome, no misogyny. Women celebrated women and spurred them on, providing incentives and platforms to strive for even more. Then a man took the stage to accept an award on behalf of his wife who couldn't make it and made a rousing speech that exalted his strong, highly achieving woman in a way that would , I am sure , guarantee him back rubs and more for the rest of his life. Let's face it, the guy was our hero. Women swooned, men shifted in their seats.
Females, very often guilty of undermining and judging other women out of jealousy ,resentment, religion and traditions need to make the first move and unite - after all we do make up 50% of the world and without us the world as it is couldn't go on. Men, very often shaped by the same traditions, religions and patriarchal attitudes need to follow suit, because today needs not only feminist women, it needs feminist men too. History need not be repeated, beliefs need not stay the same and if any century can and will rewrite the rules it is this one. Girls : Keep swinging', we always work it out!
If you would like to contribute to the development of women around the world, check out the charity that directly empowers girls where it counts : by providing education , jobs and infrastructure here !