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Friday Follies: A Flying Auckland Visit

A weekend or so ago, I took a flying visit to Auckland, indulging in a Saturday to roam around several neighborhoods (K Road, Ponsonby, Herne Bay) and reconnect with some old friends before they left New Zealand. Here’s some of the great places I visited…and one or two not-so-great ones.

Cherry Bishop dress, retro cut, in Japanese cotton with – are you ready? – BUNNIES.

Cherry Bishop’s store in Herne Bay is stocked with well-cut retro-style dresses she’s designed. Two points of difference here: her skirts are flatteringly pleated into waistbands, not gathered. I prefer this tremendously – it makes the dresses more polished and flexible. And she picks out delicious fabrics that you won’t see on 200 other retro-istas, including Japanese cottons and patterns with New Zealand flair. The velvets of her winter dresses are thick and scrumptious, too.

Annex boutique on Ponsonby Road is unexpectedly charming, with stylish foundation pieces like Three Dots and Petit Bateau tees and knitwear, and chic French hair clips and barrettes. “I try to have things you can’t get online,” says the smiling owner.

Avant-garde Scotties boutique has both Auckland and Wellington branches. In Auckland, tucked away in Herne Bay, they have a small branch with a high-end recycle boutique. The sale rack there had some fantastic deals for $100 and under.

Not so great: K Road…otherwise known as Karangahape Road, the local “alternative” hipster strip…it’s also lost several places that gave it charm, like excellent used bookstores and fabric shops. I’ve outgrown the trendy t-shirt and unremarkable vintage stores that remain. And Nostalgia Restaurant, also known as Prohibition, is certainly a beautiful locale. A friend and I, asking if we might have afternoon tea despite our jeans, were dumped at a table outside by an icily soignee woman, who gave us a grubby drinks menu and…ignored us. Not even ow! Honestly, “sorry, ladies, we have a dress code,” would have been better.

Luckily dreamy Jafa Cafe washed the bad taste out of my mouth. From the lushest pancakes ever seen to vegan raw food platters, they have something for everybody, and it’s casual-as.


Out in the Square 2013, Post I: Burlesque and Retro

Photo post – the Rainbow Troupe’s second performance, and some burlesque and retro style, all at Wellington’s 2013 Out in the Square GLBQT pride day.

Just a hunka' hunka' burnin' love

Miss Honey Suckle as lady Elvis rocked our socks and shook her famous “assels”.

Note the incredible wind bowing down the trees.

Sharing a kiss behind the balloon bunches, right before letting them fly to the skies! Cleverly, they’re in the reverse rainbow order of the backdrop behind them, so they stand out brilliantly.

The butches ranged from boyishly cute to serious swagger!

This year we had both femme beauties and butchy babes for a lighthearted burlesque vision of the 1950s as they should have been.

Yes, I coordinated/produced the Rainbow Troupe again for 2013, with serious production support from Winnie Chester. And what a troupe it was: Salacious Sugar, The Velvet Whip, Atomic Ruby, Miss La Belle, Flic Caracou, Ula Vulk, The Deity Dollicious, and The Purple Rose were our living rainbow, and we had a guest appearance from lady Elvis brought to us by Miss Honey Suckle. More than a few people came by Civic Square especially to see the performance. Thanks to the whole Out in the Square team for making it go like buttah!

And now for some additional glimpses of burlesque and retro style from this fabulous afternoon of fabulosity:

Can I be her when I grow up?

This is my favorite picture of the entire day – a perfect lady. Like the background says, “LOVE!”

Red gold and green!

This stunning burlesque chanteuse shared the stage with us. We’ll be seeing more of her in Wellington!

Not only are they so cute, they're color coordinated

Young volunteers mixing up vintage plus. They were staffing one of several vintage clothing booths – some real bargains out there.

Love the bowler

Edgy burlesque performer Candy Thorne livens up a windy Wellington day.

Bow chicka bow bow!

Miss La Belle, burlesque star and teacher, relaxing after her first performance of the year.

Look out for Post #2 with more great style and atmosphere shots!

This lady, by the way, is magnificently tall

Steampunk Style Everyday…As Seen At Aethercon

One of the delights of Aethercon was seeing other people who had steampunk as a part of their everyday wardrobes. Here’s some inspiring highlights.


Loved loved loved this girl. A good deal of her ensemble came from Covent Garden in London, and she asserts that she dresses like this all the time.

We should have gears and dials on our everyday handbags but only if they functionSteampunk with a piratical flair. Remove the costume-flair pennants and perhaps swap out the blouse, and this ensemble of boots-skirt-military jacket-Jolly Rogers can board and sink us three seasons a year.

It's all going on hereThe tailored layers, the textures, the accessories – even if she left the silver-topped cane at home, she’s ready for high tea anywhere.

This lady, by the way, is magnificently tallCream, white, taupe, and black are layered together deliciously – and note her crocodile handbag on the floor!

This is what I'm talking about, mmm hmmm

She kindly let me take a close-up of her bejeweled, manicured hands and her vintage jade, gold, and pearl sword brooch.

Note the steampunk ensemble in the background

And finally, this irresistible moment courtesy of BodyFX. An everyday look for an alternative steampunk universe. What we can take from it is that great toast-turquoise-and-gold color scheme.

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World of Wearable Arts III: More Audience Style

Now for the second installment of my WOW 2012 attendee style shots. People who came in groups tended to come in equally-dressed-up groups. What really knocked me out was  seeing mother/daughter pairs and trios, and even entire families, dressed to the nines.

Perfect dressy casual, IMHOOn the left, green tones with a shot of orange; on the right, a fuchsia flash who lit up the evening.

"Okay, we're going to coordinate for a full range of hemlines, got it?"Three friends…one color palette…three different ways!

Of course the hat has to match

Blue Lady’s amazing coat is made of fluffy, silky dyed sheepskin, and I loved her friend’s overall elegance.

Family group

Multigenerational trio brings it three different ways.

I wish I was related to them, look at those smilesE is for EXCELLENT – two totally different richly hued looks.

Going for glamThis glamorous quartet had plenty of sparkle laced into their black garments. The red dress really stands out in the crowd!

Notice the ASSEMBLAGE OF GIANT GEMSTONES on the second lady from the leftI don’t even know where to begin with this fab family. So amazing.

Can't sleep, clown purse will eat meWith all of this going on, would you believe that it was the center lady’s hat that caught my eye first? I think she’s my favorite out of everyone.

For everyone I got a photo of, there were two that “got away”, so splendid and busy was the crowd. And I certainly learned a lot, including:

  • Stuff about the new camera (will be tightening up focus especially.)
  • Elaborate hair and sparkly black catch the eye in real life, but purses, shoes, and colors stand out more in photos.
  • Having burlesque content on my blog makes it “risque”. Goodness! I had someone say not to a picture on this basis.
  • Business cards. I will have blog business cards in the near future.
  • People are really wonderful, thank you everyone!
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World of Wearable Arts II: Show Audience Style

A huge part of the fun of World of Wearable Arts is what Wellingtonians themselves like to wear to the show. I went down there with my camera and snapped away. I got so many shots that I’m splitting them into two posts. This one is individuals and couples, and the next one is groups and families.

Looking at the show attendees, I saw black, black, and more black, with very few florals, which are supposed to be in – instead, more than a few all-white looks, and white or orange coats. Lots of that orange, from natural to fluorescent. Instead of a lot of vivid lips – Wellingtonians don’t, as a rule, wear heavy lipstick – I saw pale lips and silver-sparkled eyes (glitter, shadow, body-painting-level art). Many of the best-dressed sauntered in very early to take advantage of catered packages and, perhaps, a cocktail night or something. I missed some lookers while I was checking with event security. Ah, well.

This super-fresh redhead built on classic black with shots of color; her glasses were black and white harlequin. Note the shoes!

The only picture I took indoors – she’s so luxurious yet comfortable, with the glorious textiles and the suede boots.

Sweeping motion with his long silk skirt, which caught the wind, and check out the vivid jewelry.

More vivid color in the night with this caped crusader.

This designer made her ravishing silk outfit herself. She’ll be launching a children’s clothing line soon, she says.

The lady in this well-dressed pair teaches costume at the South Seas Film School.

I just adore men in tuxedos, and the striking lady is one of the WOW designers. I’ve just spent half an hour trying to Google her sv-intense name, to no avail.

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Adorn: Costuming Up Close in Wellington

Saturday, I was at the intricate costume show Adorn, and you should be, too. It’s at The Roxy theater in Miramar here in Wellington, a free event until October 15th.  Saturday was the “soft” opening – the costumers had just finished setting up the exhibit, and were enjoying relaxed conversation with the wide-eyed attendees.

Now that everything is on the internet, there’s still power and charm in seeing special clothing and jewelry items up close – their richness, fragility, and craft. I especially enjoyed seeing Claire Prebble’s ethereal silver filigree corsets and wearable sculptures, and close-ups of Cathy Tree Harris’ work – the details on her corset ensembles are heartbreaking. Flo Foxworthy’s voluptuous ostrich-feather fans were a crowd favorite.

Glorious leathercraft by Nadine Jaggi

Look at that silk and sequin detailing on this corset by Cathy Tree Harris!

Silk and lace corset by Flo Foxworthy

Flo Foxworthy said that even though they are well known as costumers, they are all open to commissions from those who won’t be wearing their works on stage. The full list of exhibitors is:

  • Flo Foxworthy – From burlesque and circus costumes to utterly delicious bikinis and lingerie for everyone.
  • Cathy Tree Harris – World-class corsetry, exquisite fascinators, and more.
  • Clarie Prebble – Glimmering silver, crystal, and pearl jewelery, from bridal to haute joallerie wearable art. This World of Wearable Arts winner had some lovely silver pieces there for sale.
  • Nadine Jaggi – Ornitho Leather Creations – Along with incredible masks, she also does chic feathers-carved-from-leather jewelery.

Wellington has a love affair with costumes, and it comes to the fore at two times of year: February, for the zany Sevens sports event, and September, when The World of Wearable Arts show is in town. This show, intelligently, dovetails with World of Wearable Arts.

A wearable art ensemble by Cathy Tree Harris.

Adorn was the first outing for my new camera, by the way…hope I did the works justice!


The tights look way better in person
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The Grand New Zealand Design Online Shopping Post

It is New Zealand Fashion Week this week. Let us praise NZ Fashion Week for putting together one of the most accessible Fashion Weeks in the world, with scads of events for the general public, including a photography exhibition. If you can’t make it here…this post is a mini-online Fashion Week for you, to allow you to partake of New Zealand style from the comfort of your couch in Columbus, Long Island, or Delft.

The tights look way better in person

Left to right: Karen Walker gold robots, Iwi Designs tights, Trelise Cooper cuff and ring.

I read a spring edition of a New Zealand fashion magazine, which querulously begged us to not shop online overseas to Support New Zealand Business and the ideal of the “boutique” as a curated space. Luckily, New Zealand fashion has gone ahead and started the future – the desginers here are online, and they’re doing international shipping right. Yes, designer clothes are expensive. But there is a market out there for higher-end items, and they’re reaching out to find it. Just as I shop overseas from NZ, you can shop NZ from overseas.

So, why would you shop NZ from overseas?

  • Ethical production – Clothes made in New Zealand are made by workers earning New Zealand wages and protected by our labor laws. That makes them more expensive than other clothes, but it means they are ethically above board, and also…
  • Great quality and construction – I’m one of those awful people who shops with my hands – after I see a garment I like, I grab it and gauge its texture.I turn it inside-out. My little mitts have been all over these clothes and I am happy to vouch for them.
  • Superior fit for some figures – The cuts of Antipodean clothes are often great for taller women, women with “apple” figures, and women with a low hip-to-waist ratio. A friend of mine who’s on the cusp of American regular and plus sizes found that Antipodean plus sizes fit her like a dream.
  • Vive la difference – For something truly different, design from the other side of the planet can’t be beat.
  • Seasonal sales flip! – You’ll be ordering discounted items for the previous summer/winter that will arrive in time for your spring/fall. A lot of New Zealand clothes are also “transseasonal”, wearable any time of the year, as befits our temperate climate.
  • Sane and/or Free Postage – Researching this, I was startled by the designers offering flat rate or even free worldwide shipping. I also know that these online retailers will give you very personal customer service if required.
  • It’s all cheaper than it looks – The NZ dollar ranges between .70 and .80 cents of the US dollar in value.

Online shopping tips and links galore behind the cut!! [Read more]

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Friday Follies: Zeitgeist Zelda

Yes, I’m emceeing another show coming up – Miss LaBelle’s House of Burlesque is bringing back Frolic Lounge. This is…sold out. And Miss LaBelle’s next round of classes is fully booked – I believe you can get on a wait list, and that the burlesque name “Zeitgeist Zelda” is still available.

Hubba hubba! Aaaa-oooo-ga!

Now that I have your attention with that hot pink graphic, go and devour Karen Finley’s poem Black Sheep, then read it aloud to the misfits you love.

Then, cheer yourselves up by giving each other makeovers! If ever a blog will change the way you put your outfits together, it is Inside Out Style Blog. Antipodeans, she’s based in Melbourne and doesn’t get too brand-name-y with her recommendations, making her more useful than many style blogs for those of us Down Under.

Style at MakerFaire – Parts 1 and 2 – women and men of all ages get their geek on.

Digital print fabrics have been impacting fashion over the past several years. Burda’s take on them is inspirational. And, yeah, yeah, mandatory Spoonflower link here. I think these will lead to a serious change in clothing over the next several years.


Moody Antipodean Dreams of NZ Style

I feel like talking about style geography for a couple of posts. What is New Zealand style? My overseas friends ask me, sometimes. I think of breezy, pure-faced beauties, I give them names and imaginary lives.

Angela lives in central Auckland and transposes a clean, minimalist beachiness onto rich-girl dressing….

Aroha lives in West Auckland or Waiheke and drapes her lanky limbs in avant-garde merino, feather-trimmed woven-flax, and large jade or bone jewelry…

Winona lives in Wellington, her hair chopped into an artful bob against the Wellington gales, and is delicately quirky in hand-made hats and brooches and clever sundresses…

None of them wear enough lipstick. But the clothes dreamed up by New Zealand designers fit their straight up-and-down, tubular-belle  bodies beautifully.

Oh, how I dream of edgy New Zealand fashion. Of drifting around and hanging my Bill Hammond paintings while draped in a Cybele tunic. Wearing radical Ricochet or strapping Minnie Cooper or Minx shoes on my feet. But I am confounded by fit. They don’t make clothes for hourglass figures here. For a petite hourglass, Ricochet pants gap at the waist and the extra ankle length slumps on the ground. Minnie Cooper stopped making shoes in my foot size, and Minx never did. Cybele’s stuff – on my imaginary beautiful frenemies Angela and Aroha, it looks like a moody Antipodean dream, but not on me.

The white tunic top with the twist in it makes me especially sad.

Oh elegantly draped Antipodean casual-expensive style. WHY DO YOU TORMENT ME SO.

I sat down to think of an NZ clothing supplier that I like, that suits me. And the one I came up with is Australian. I rather adore Cue, because the beautiful clothes, for once, fit me reasonably well. Somewhere in Australia, saying “Crikey, mate” over her Foster’s and a kangaroo steak, is an hourglass fit model hired by Cue.

Once in a while I’ll thrift up something from a Kiwi designer that works. From Workshop, or Kate Sylvester, or defunct designer lines like Glory and DNA. Short and hourglassy, I have luck in Wellington at Tempt, at Duncan and Prudence, and at Good Score. When I lived closer, Moa Boutique in Auckland let me live the dream of a modicum of NZ style and good fit.

I’ll go back there again someday. In the meantime, I’ll dream an Antipodean dream…

Reindeer games, anyone?

A Burlesque Christmas

On December 3rd, I went to the Christmas party for Miss La Belle’s House of Burlesque. Here’s some style shots from the festivities!

Reindeer games, anyone?Atomic Ruby, or, as we called her for the night, “Jessica Reindeer.”

A Christmas cracker, she isFanciforia Foxglove in seasonal crimson and green!

Such a lady!The delightful Delicia Minx, elegant for evening.

More lovely than a summer's dayPenny Pins shares a vintage find with us.

Absolutely ravishing, dahlingScarlett DeLight has the best champagne smile!

This blonde beauty is ready for the earth to moveHoney Suckle is as smart as she is beautiful – she picked out those particular shoes after a 5.+ Richter earthquake rattled Wellington earlier that night. “How high do YOU want your heels to be in a quake?”

A quiet moment...beautiful on the inside, tooPossibly my favorite image of the evening: Busty la Belle, having a sweetly pensive moment before performing. What’s under that delicious vintage robe? You had to be there to see it.