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For My Snowed In Friends

In the Northeast of the US, millions of people are about to be snowed in. Trapped at home under travel bans. Trawling the Internet. Hi, snowed in people, have some reading recommendations!

Share With Your Family

  • Help Us, Great Warrior – The bravest, cutest, cheekiest girl-power warrior in all the land.
  • A Redtail’s Dream – Lushly illustrated webcomic based on Finnish mythology about a boy and his shapeshifting dog. Appropriately snowy! It’s complete, too, so you can read it from beginning to ending.
  • Sauerkraut Station – A science fiction novella about a girl who lives on a space station, the boy traveler who comes through, and the events that they endure. Along with sauerkraut recipes and what it means to make a difference.

Longer Reads

  • Drowning Kiribati – The other side of climate change – temperature increases and sea level rise – in the small island nation of Kiribati. More articles here.
  • The Conversation – “The Conversation is a collaboration between editors and academics to provide informed news analysis and commentary that’s free to read and republish.” An intellectual friend sent this to me and I promptly started screaming, “Where has this been all my life?”
  • The Blue Castle – Escape into this adult novel from L.M. Montgomery (you may know her better as the author of Anne of Green Gables). Bobbed hair! Disreputable fellas in jalopies! Unwed mothers! Heavens to Murgatroyd!
  • Books, Free or Worth It – I recommend more free online long reads here. Victorian scenery-chewing and Edwardian South Seas adventures await.

Blog Posts of Mine

  • Vintage Precious Jewelry – “Vintage jewelry seems to baffle people as much as, if not more than, vintage furs. And it has an even higher cargo of expectations about its value and emotional significance. Plus, who doesn’t like looking at shiny sparkly things? So: a post about vintage precious jewelry.”
  • Five Things to Read Instead of 50 Shades of Gray – Gnh. The 50 Shades movie is coming soon. Here are some other options that might make you glad you don’t have anywhere to go…

Illustration above is “Chicago Interior” by Theodore Johnson; below is “Two Women Reading” by Katsushika Hokusai.

Two Women Reading by a kotatsu

For many of us, this is friendship…when you can read together.

Oh my God don't make coats from these cuties.

Furs You Can’t Sell: what to do with vintage endangered animal fur clothing

What do you do with a vintage fur item when it turns out that it is from an endangered or protected animal?

I’ve provided this as a reference to try and help people brought here by my two previous vintage fur posts, Grandma’s Vintage Fur: Is It Valuable? (general overview) and Selling Grandma’s Vintage Fur (sale focused advice). There are no comments available on this post. If I had any information, it’s in here. If you decide you want to contact a local museum (more info on that here) or wildlife refuge about your fur item, you are in a better position to do that than I am, because I am in New Zealand. The links further in this article may help you.[Read more]


Renovating My Hacienda

Site update day! I’ve launched a new look for Ever So Scrumptious, including updated Links – the About Style links now show my absolute, most helpful favorites.

Are blogs obsolete, now that the web is moving towards visual media? No – they’re our online salons, where readers stop by for a coallation of intellectual hospitality. These online spaces give us endless possible “haciendas” as described in Formulary for a New Urbanism. With our smartphones, they’re the friends who always have a note for us, wherever we are. This new site theme is more mobile media friendly than my previous one.

The new year for me has started out with lots of foundation work. I’ve updated this site; a colleague’s site. I spent a day doing what used to be called “housework” but what I often describe as “infrastructure maintenance” because it is the physical plant for my life as a human being. And I bit the bullet and upgraded some wardrobe essentials. The black leather booties I live in. Black pants. Gray pants. Is anything less exciting than gray pants? Actuarial tables, perhaps – but the gray pants open up 15+ work and play outfits for me. They’re the fairy godmother for my wardrobe orphans.

Palette for a redhead.

Here’s what else I’m planning this year:

  • Burlesque and Cabaret – Still emceeing, but I am taking a step back, partly because there’s some marvelous new emceeing talent in Wellington with Victor Victorious and Constance Craving. And this means I can go to more shows! In the audience!
  • Work – My buns off. I’m looking at e-commerce and I’m looking at some intriguing Day Job projects.
  • Style – Polish, polish, polish. Quality, maintenance, grooming. Right now, I have three workwear silhouettes: slim/wrap dress and boots, slim/straight trousers with knit top and Professionalish Jacket or Cardigan, slim/straight trousers with button-down top. I have a palette, which is shown to the right here. I have some nice Going Out dresses and a costume closet and a sewing machine. And for this year, that’s fine. I don’t feel I need to reinvent the wheel, especially because mainstream boxy silhouettes and restricted colors aren’t lighting my auburn-hourglass fire, and because…
  • Travel – My partner and I are going to visit my family and friends in the USA. I’m very excited, even as the budget requirements for this make it a good year to be content with my wardrobe. I also have a super secret project coming up in late March that will involve a bit of travel – more on that closer to the time.
  • Sewing and Writing – I’ve resolved to do more of each. Of both. Of all of them.
  • Life Infrastructure – Big changes under way as my partner and I combine our forces into one residence. We are going to create our hacienda, together.  Most excited!

Femme 3.0 for 2015

2014 was a stepping-back-from-trends year for me, but I can’t say I wasn’t warned. In a downtown cafe in Wellington, late last summer, a woman walked in, rolling her bicycle. Beneath her fine-boned face and giant Paris Hilton sunglasses, her T-shirt declared: TOMBOY.

Only the way that TOMBOY felt the nTomboyeed to declare herself with large letters was a surprise. New Zealand has been one of the global incubators of both tomboy style and “sporty luxe”, two trends that went worldwide in 2014. A sporty, one-of-the-blokes attitude has long been rewarded in NZ, extending to dress and grooming. Even when Lorde dons lipstick, or New Zealand high fashion, it’s dark and defiant. Lorde’s column-of-concealing-black is the latest link in the dark chain chronicled in Black: The History of Black in Fashion, Society, and Culture in New Zealand.

About the time the TOMBOY appeared, the New York Times feverishly discussed the increasing casuality in clothing and women – women over 30, reading between the lines – backing away from fussy clothing. Cathy Horin sums it up: “Lately I’ve noticed many more women, all of them in the zone of careers and complicated family routines, all of them with an eye for fashion, gravitating toward an almost boyish uniform of slim-cut trousers, pullovers and flat shoes. Or a leather jacket with bland layers underneath. They’re hardly wearing makeup, so their complexions look fresh…”

Robin Givhan expands her gaze: “But this is also the new norm. Fashion is technical, pragmatic, and cool, full of swagger and confidence. Everyone wants to look strong and capable. Everyone can be pretty if they like. The concepts of masculinity and femininity are in flux. Whom do you love?”

One of my favorite fashion bloggers recently declared that she is turning towards androgynous/rocker chic, and her new standard for whether she wants to wear a garment is, “Is this something a badass would wear?” Others veer towards simplicity because, currently, it sounds smarter – you’re saving your decision-making for more important things in your life than what you’re wearing. If Steve Jobs’ turtleneck isn’t for you, there’s always Project 333 to narrow yourself down to a small capsule wardrobe. The more exquisitely curated and artisanal, the better.

Left to right: COS (the new upscale H&M spinoff), a woman with enough warmth and verve to make a gray sweater look appealing for fall, and Celine.

Autumn 2015 trends are coming and resistance is useless. Left to right: COS (the new upscale H&M spinoff), a woman with enough warmth and verve to make a boxy gray sweater look appealing for fall, and Celine. I’ll just retreat to the back car of  Snowpiercer now, where I belong.

2014’s minimalism with a side of androgyny isn’t going anywhere in 2015. It has its benefits. Running a small wardrobe makes it easy to drop a style and recreate your look with a new aesthetic, or, for the anti-consumerist, to rewear favorites constantly. Tomboys and butches are getting the spotlight they deserve. It’s easy to adopt this style on a budget. One of my favorite blogs recently discussed the expansion of tomboy style, which I support one thousand percent. But I worry that there will be an anti-femme backlash. If this new turn really was about nothing but comfort, we’d still all be in our jersey dresses from 2006. And men would be joining us. Something else is up.

In mid-2013, the future got started. We were hearing about the new Soylent, Leaning In, and phones we wear on our wrists, and Piketty’s polarizing Capital in the 21st Century made its quiet August 2013 debut. Compared to the last decade, this one is looking stripped down.  I’m not surprised that many of us are recoiling from a culture of constant, ornamented regard. (All this black and white and colorblocking, is it our subconscious attempt to disrupt CCTV surveillance?) Dressing in comfortable androgyny has many practical advantages in 2015 -  flatter, thicker-soled shoes, looser clothes, neutral colors, and less makeup are easier in dramatic climate-change weather, more affordable to maintain when times are tight.

2014 was also a year of women’s and queer rights advances and setbacks, and acrimonious dialogues about feminism. High femme style for women drops off when feminist discourse and social changes accelerate. Will being busty, curly-haired, big-eyed, wearing orange and pink and lace, be denigrated as unintellectual and inappropriately uncontrolled? “To fuss and preen. That seems silly, somehow, weak.” I’ve been in that space before: it was called The 1990s. The popular blogger Vixen Vintage recently wrote about both backing away from high-femme vintage wear because of sexualized reactions to it, and about her thoughts on using vintage culture as escapism.

Nonetheless, in cultures of restraint, it takes courage to express excess. Us femmes have to deal with the dichotomy of what we should be – recycling clothes, repudiating brands, wearing intelligent neutrals that all go with each other, somehow “doing what we love” while also “disrupting” some paradigm or other, those damn kale smoothies – and what we want – the shimmer of the new, of self-expression, a long sunny spring day with children or with solitude and a cat, the kale served up in caldo verde soup.

So, with culture having put high femme on the shelf for last year and probably this year as well, it’s a good moment for our research laboratories here at Ever So Scrumptious to formulate the next femme. Femme version 3.0.

First, it’s useful to define Femme 1.0 and 2.0. I see Femme 1.0 as femme-ness expressed through modernity from 1918, the end of World War I, to 1965. There is no “femme” without an alternative or an opt-out – it is never femme if it’s mandatory – and it was in the 20th century that high femme became a choice, mirrored by ever-expanding androgynous options for women. Even in the 50s there were pared-down Katherine Hepburn, bobby-soxer, and bohemian options. Femme 1.0 had queer and feminist bug fix releases throughout the later 60s and the 70s, and was then withdrawn from the market for Pangender Disco Glam.

Femme 2.0, I place from September 11th, 2001 to mid-2013 – see my previous pieces Cupcakes Against The Abyss and Relaxed With A Chance of Apocalypse. We were sifting through the ample female-signifier artifacts of the last century and turning up the dial to create something hyper-feminine. 1950s dresses for everyone, eyelash extensions, hair extensions, a billion red lipsticks, cupcakes, and difficulty in buying a woman’s T-shirt that wasn’t blinged. This was the time of the burlesque scene and the pin-up photographer. Femme 2.0’s riches included feminist body positivity, carving out a place for self-care and women’s friendships in increasingly frantic times, and the sheer fun of swirling skirts. But after a dozen years of Femme 2.0, recursiveness has set in. The cupcakes are getting stale if Femme 2.0 can be parsed this tidily:

I'm worried, yes, but they'll tear my pencil skirts and lipstick out of my cold dead hands

Pin-up femme formula: feminine beauty for everyone, or boring style cloning?

If you’re in the radiant red heart of pin-up, enjoy it – it’s delightful for a while to experience the attention and joy. But I have observed that the pin-up flowering lasts for an average of five years for many femmes I know, and what happens next is interesting.

Femme 3.0 is what I see happening next. Femme 3.0 is just as deliberate, but more knowing. Philosophically, it retains the steely feminist undercurrent of previous femme defiance. There’s more talking and arguing than in Femme 2.0 – technology makes feminist issue discussion everyone’s fight. No, I am not going to shut up, and I bet neither are you.

For style, Femme 3.0 relaxes, a little. It gets more creative and edgy than out-to-please pin-up. I picture, in wistful Pinterest-browsing moments, remixing the best of Femme 2.0’s advances and vintage loves into a subtle, aware, and maintainable approach that is still highly feminine. That’s the idea. In actuality, I have never been this busy in my life when I wasn’t at a university, and taking ten minutes to polish myself up in the morning, or once a week, gives me more backbone for my day. Enough that it’s worth the decision-making ergs.

Two lovely inspirations towards Femme 3.0 style.

Femme 3.0 also has values. For myself, making a conscious decision to retain femmeness while moving with the century, I choose these as my essential feminine qualities:

Valuing the femme gaze. The male gaze? That’s so 20th century. Now that everyone is seen all the time anyway, the regard of a feminine woman has gained a curious power, a value for being in short supply. The key to the popularity of Pinterest is the ability to share our gazes – even porn has changed to prioritize webcam exchanges where a woman sees and talks back to the porn consumer (NSFW link here).  I resolve to value my own gaze/time/attention, and that of other women.


Resolution for 2015: I will only make cupcakes if they are explosive cupcakes.

Generosity. When our regard, and its aural parallel, our listening space, are valuable, sharing them is a gift – a way in which we are generous. Another part of generosity is recognizing privileges in these difficult times, carrying them lightly, taking nothing for granted, and respecting the stories of others.

Reveling in tech. In 1954 an accomplished woman could do social dancing. In 2014 an accomplished woman can get the wireless rebooted. Ironically, I couldn’t go to not one, but two, Geek Girl Dinners in 2014 because I was providing after-hours tech training.

Inhabiting the body. There are many diet and exercise extremes right now, and endless voices telling us what we should do and how we should be in our skins. Worse, there is endless distraction from being in our own bodies. I’m exiling devices from my bedside to get my sleep back, and working on diet and exercise during my tech work days.

Style keynote: individuality. Scrolled with tattoos, dressed in homemade garments, adorned with a perfect artisanal jewel, touched with mystifying fragrance, inspired by phases of the moon or a favorite molecule, dressing for one’s own features and desires, in sliding fabrics of flattering colors.  And lipstick. They’ll pry lipstick out of my cold, dead hands.

Literacy and history. There’s still so much to learn and read and watch. A friend visited me over the holidays and it turned out we had each – as Americans – read parallel sets of 20th-century British women writers. “Why is it that I haven’t heard of Barbara Pym and you’ve never read Cold Comfort Farm?” This is just an example. Here’s hoping I have 53 more years ahead so I can get through some of it.

And remember: you’re a closed circuit, baby. You’ve got the answers in the palms of your hands.

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Friday Follies: Who’s Lookin’ Good Today?

Happy New Year! Angie at You Look Fabulous encourages us to consider our style goals for 2015. Mine include staying polished (or trying to), quality rather than quantity, and making more out of the clothes I already own. Silk button-down shirts, I’m looking at you.

Nail artist Jessie Mills has some fun with New Zealand’s summer craze by creating a Lewis Road chocolate milk themed manicure. I’ve had two international visitors over the past two months. At first they scoffed at the idea of a national chocolate milk craze – then, when they learned that the milk was barely available due to high demand, they got interested in trying it.

Fabulous interview with 90s rap artist Neneh Cherry about feminism and her current projects.

I’ve been entertaining visitors, spraining my ankle, helping my partner renovate his house, and spraining my ankle again. Miraculously, I tripped departing a hot tub and did such a tumble that I landed without spraining it a third time. Both of my visitors enjoyed partaking of New Zealand and Australian design.

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Friday Follies: Some Style Solutions

Contemporary women’s fashion has had one of its sea changes into something strange and androgynous and blocky. Mainstream retailers aren’t handling this well – clothes in most of the stores along Lambton Quay in Wellington look nearly identical, spookily corporate. Here’s some options on the independent continuum.

Wellington femmes: run, don’t walk, to Honour Fashion. This preloved shop is exceptionally well curated, with a full range of sizes up to 18 (with plenty in size 14 and 16), and has a very tempting range of dresses. The prices are just what they should be, too.

Clothing by Desiree came to my attention at a fabric sale, Fabric-a-Brac. I’m one of those awful, awful people who shops for clothing with my hands. And based on Desiree’s fabrics, they pass the touch test! Contemporary, but a lot more wearable  and interesting than many of the season’s alternatives.

RutshireForeverUpper-end Wellington designer Twenty-Seven Names is taking the UK by storm with their latest collection, based on the writing and characters of Jilly Cooper. It’s all rawther too preppy for me but it would be ideal summer-wedding wear for those who like contemporary classic garb. Rutshire Forever, indeed.

If it’s all too much or you just don’t have time, here’s another option. I ran into a long-term Woman in Tech colleague who was looking smashing, and asked admiringly where she’d found her sophisticated red shirt. She said she’d received a substantial promotion at work and felt that she needed more than her usual uniform of jeans and casual shirts. “I used the personal shoppers at Farmers. It was fantastic.”  Importantly, my colleague didn’t just look polished, she looked like herself. Farmers has also vastly improved their online shopping experience. I wish they didn’t rely so much on synthetic fabrics, but they are still New Zealand owned.

Meanwhile, my wardrobe continues to be its usual mix of 40% thrifted/swapped items, 40%  items from US and UK petites retailers, and 10% new NZ purchases. I’m wearing a lot of olive-with-leopard-print this spring.

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Friday Follies: Redhead Edition

This week I was charmed by the blogs of two redheaded New Zealanders. There’s Daily Oxford – useful tasteful makeup advice for mature faces combined with a rural New Zealand life rich with horses, dogs, and weather worries. Helga von Trollop is magnificently extreme. I particularly enjoyed this post of hers here, where she illuminates her circumstances and shares her sharp wit as well as her smashing red-white-and-blue outfit.

Whenever I’m in doubt as a curvy redhead, I seek the middle ground between Oxford and von Trollop and ask myself: what would Christina Hendricks do? The talented and privileged actress is in a position to try most stylish looks. If something in her many style ventures didn’t work out for her, she took one for Team Redhead and I appreciate it. A 109-image look book for her is here.

Eyebrows often vex redheads and redheads-by-choice. Us redheads-by-choice  benefit from a bit of brow makeup to bring our face and hair together with the next level of polish. Refectocil has two dye options for redhead brows: Chestnut (good for auburns and henna hues) and Red (good for cherry/punk shades). And this sane, cheerful video shows us how to do everyday redheaded brows with powder and pencil. Note that the eyeshadows she’s using to create auburn-ish brows are soft, not dramatic, and the result is balanced eyebrows, not cinnamon caterpillars.

Not to dis caterpillars, by the way. I love the irresistible cinnamon wooly-bear caterpillars – I remember petting them gently as a child in New England. But I try not to recreate them when it’s brow time!


BRB, Being a Woman in Tech

Ever So Scrumptious has been a little thin on entries this year partly because I’ve been busy being a Woman In Tech â„¢. With the many dialogues about Women In Tech lately,  and because today is Ada Lovelace Day, when we honor and share stories about women in STEM, here’s my experience.

I consider myself a Woman in Tech who focuses on documentation, communication, design, and usability. Like many Women In Tech, it’s a second career for me, and I made the transition with a master’s degree in Scientific and Technical Communication at an engineering-focused school. (In New Zealand, I see people transitioning into tech comms with this diploma, and into programming with intensive Dev Academies like this one.)

A high percentage of web administrators, STEM marketers, and technical writers are women. Is this an interstitial way to be a woman in tech? Yes. Am I “not as technical” as a programmer? Yes. Does it mean that I am one of 4 women out of 100 technical employees at my workplace? Yes. If you aspire to be a Woman in Tech, those of us in interstitial roles have been dealing with tech office politics and sexism for you, often years in advance, and smoothing your way.

The personal qualities that have helped me in tech are: being resilient and persistent, being totally transparent with employers and clients, being personally on the geek continuum*, and making time for a second shift of self-education. People in Tech have a second shift of staying informed, via self-driven learning, going to talks and conferences, and participating in professional groups. My American accent has also helped in workplaces where the programmers come from around the world. I’ve been told, “You sound like the TV and we can understand your English!”

For me, working in tech is fulfilling because I love intellectually engaging work that makes a difference. Often, I’m providing training, and trainers know that empowering reluctant tech users can be the hardest part. Male reluctant users are more stubborn than female ones. A freelance client who never really gets a grip on their web site/social media and comes back to me for changes is more profitable, but the clients I never hear from again because they GET it, and run with it – those ones give me a warm happy glow. (And referrals.)

What about the negatives? Harassment, ageism, men not wanting to work with a woman? I have encountered all of these, but in the earlier part of my tech career – later I learned to seek out employers and workplace cultures that made gender less of an issue. They are out there! A good guideline: even though I don’t have children myself, workplaces that support parents with their policies are often OK workplaces for women with their culture. This is vital: when women leave tech, it’s usually because they are fed up with the culture. I have noticed a quiet dynamic of software development teams hiring 1 – 2 women, but no more, and replacing this woman with another woman if she leaves….

Another factor about working in tech is that, to anyone not in your immediate field, more than two sentences about what you actually do will zone them out of your conversation. (Someone once actually fell asleep while I told them.) I have a few glib, nimble sentences to describe what I do, and unless my fellow conversationalist is in the field, we usually leave it at that.

Do you want to be a Woman in Tech? But not in marketing? May I suggest the following, based on your personal strengths:

  • Good at math but hate programming – Search results optimization and web site/software use analysis.
  • Great with people – Training and support.
  • Multi-lingual – Localization/translation management. This is an enormous field.
  • OK with both programming and interpersonal communication – Information architecture. Documentation. Wrangling WordPress or Drupal. 22% of websites around the world are now WordPress. And I was recently asked, “Do you know any Drupal programmers looking for work? Drupal experts? Please?”

Also note that:

  • If you have an undergraduate/graduate science degree but aren’t working in the field –particularly with physics, mathematics, and geology – tech employers will pay attention.
  • In New Zealand, about half of the interesting jobs with open-minded companies are in out-of-the-way industrial neighborhoods. The other half are in the cities where we’d all prefer to work.
  • There’s an increasing trend of women operating tech businesses with women as clients – for apps, e-commerce, and communications. I’ve just wrapped up a site for one independent business owning woman and I’m about to do another. Mind you, I do see some of these businesses peddling very girly blog designs that, perplexingly, cost 30% – 50% more than non-girly blog designs. Because, presumably, they are DESIGNED?

To bring this back around to style…As part of the Women In Tech dialogue, we are getting scrutinized in fashion magazines and style spreads. 70 Startup Women Show Us What They Wear to Work is an interesting glimpse – look at who’s there and who isn’t. This piece, How to dress for a conference like a fashionable lady scientist, is one of the best guides I’ve seen.

From what I’ve seen, if you are very good at being a Woman in Tech, you enter the blessed realm where you can wear almost anything you want. I’ve seen bushels of goth jewelry, pink hair, and other forms of edgy dressing. As a mere mortal, my default Woman in Tech outfit is: a third layer/jacket, sleek comfortable trousers, booties, and business-time makeup with lipstick. Eyeglasses are important and often strategically deployed. Modest tops are essential, because if I’m not framed sitting at a desk or table, I am walking up to someone at their desk, or leaning over them at their computer. With their eyes at my chest level. I’ll fill necklines in with necklaces (jewelry is where vintage fits into my work wardrobe).

None of this is as chic as these women here, but I’m not a forward-facing staffer of a retail website or Marisa Meyer: I’m writing about programming microwave radios to send cellphone transmissions, or setting up websites. When I want to wear a skirt or dress, I will, but usually in the same colors the tech guys are wearing – blues, grays, blacks.

This is the face of a woman in tech – me! Photo courtesy of a fellow woman in tech, Sarah Wheaton.

If you too are a Woman in Tech, be it coding, STEM academia and research, or interstitial roles, I’d love to hear about your experiences and style thoughts in the comments.

* The social meaning of being a nerd/geek has changed tremendously over the past 30 years – a great piece about that here.

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Friday Follies: Only the Best for You

Two don’t-miss events for this weekend and next weekend: the Wellington Orchid Society Show is on at The Dowse art museum. A mere $2 opens the doors to a botanical wonderland, including cultivated New Zealand native orchids and a plant sale to die for.

Next weekend, on Friday the 17th, get ready to Charleston at the down-low delicious Black Rabbit Speakeasy. Assembled by some of Wellington’s cabaret finest, this is: “Our very own, one-night-only, custom-built speakeasy and dance hall. We’ve taken everything that made the the 1920’s twinkle and roar, and bound it with contemporary prohibition and the lasting need to party. ” Tickets are $20, a bargain considering the lineup.

There’s a new made to measure clothier in Wellington, Velvet Cherry. Full disclosure: I helped with her website and some catalog/portfolio photos, which meant I got to look at her steampunk, lolita, and Victorian garments from the inside out. And I was impressed. She does wonderful formal and occasion wear, costumes, AND fuller-than-usual-but-not-full-out-crinoline petticoats that are ideal under pinup dresses. She focuses on natural fabrics and excellent finishes.

Slider-Victorian2And finally our Jo Malone giveaway winner, chosen by random draw, is….Chrissi! Chrissi, I am getting in touch with you.


Jo Malone Boutique Launch and Giveaway!

More fragrance adventures! This Tuesday, I was invited to attend the launch of the Jo Malone fragrance pop-up boutique at Kirkcaldie and Staines here in Wellington. Of course, I went!

They’ve carved a corner out of the second floor of Kirk’s. It’s not the the serene sanctuary of the Jo Malone boutique in Auckland, but it is enough room for the full Jo Malone range, and it’s next to the cafe to allow time to make fragrance decisions. We were pampered with flutes of bubbles or juice, delicate canapes chosen to offset the fragrances, and the soothing tones of a harpist.

MaloneLaunch-partyThe full Jo Malone range was there -26 fragrances and additional home scents for candles and diffusers.


The full Jo Malone fragrance line within reach

Based on the crowd, the powers that be might have underestimated Wellington’s appetite for Jo Malone. Tuesday night, after two days of operation, they had already sold out of the Cologne Intense of Tuberose Angelica.


A tremendous crowd around the Jo Malone brand ambassador (center, floral dress)

In the Jo Malone line, the standard colognes have fewer notes than other lines – the idea is that you combine and layer two or three of the colognes to create your own scent. But I enjoy a simple fragrance with clear notes, and I think they’re very wearable on their own, especially in New Zealand.


The promise of elegance in serried ranks of bottles – the 30ml sprays are well within reach

I asked the Jo Malone acolytes what they would recommend for…

  • Someone just getting started with fragrance? The clean and crisp international favorite of the line, Lime Basil Mandarin.
  • Someone femme? “Peony and Blush Suede layered with Wood Sage and Sea Salt.”
  • Someone intense and edgy? One of the Cologne Intense line. These seem to be less for layering – even on the sample slip they were oily and strong. Once sprayed on the skin, these weren’t going anywhere.

Blue Agave and Cocoa wasn’t in the forefront but it’s the sample slip I keep coming back to. Wood Sage and Sea Salt is just made for New Zealand. And there’s a green tomato scented candle??


Trying to choose a scent diffuser: challenge accepted

I look forwards to going back to revisit some of these – the pop-up boutique is open until the end of December. Mark Conroy (our scent sommelier from here) also says that there are going to be some other interesting new fragrances launched at Kirk’s in the lead up to Christmas.

Thanks to the Jo Malone brand ambassador I have a FABULOUS giveaway for you – a boxed Pomegranate Noir candle. MaloneLaunch_candleThis is 200 grams of lush, ripe fragrance deliciousness with a 45 hour burn time. I will be selecting the winner at random this Friday night. To be in to win, leave a comment on this post telling me when you would light up this candle. Getting ready for a glam night out? A romantic night in? A decadent party? Telling sad, romantic ghost stories?

The winner will be selected at random from the comments. You can enter until 6 PM Friday the 10th, New Zealand time. This giveaway is only for people with a New Zealand mailing address.

The only problem with the Jo Malone approach emerged later in the evening. I was at a gathering of friends. Someone said, “You smell nice. What perfume are you wearing?” And, after the fragrance layering, the answer was complicated…