Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Maggie T on the pink tracksuit trend: "WTF??"

Maggie rocking Hall Ludlow - definitely NOT Juicy Couture - 1959/Athol Smith

One of the great things about having a blog is that you can use it as a repository for absolutely anything. A fleeting observation. An overheard comment. A solitary Polaroid. Or indeed, archived material which enjoyed negligible exposure the first time around. A case in point, this Q&A with Maggie Tabberer.

It was done in July 2006, for an ill-fated gossip column I was commissioned to write for a new weekly newsmagazine to be published in the Southern Highlands - the sleepy stretch of country villages located approx 1.5 hours by road from Sydney.

Due to various business problems, the mag was dropped from weekly to monthly after just four issues - with the publisher swiftly bailing. All up only five editions of my column, High Society, saw the light of day.

Given that the column's material, I was later informed, "managed to offend almost all of the Southern Highlands", its demise was undoubtedly great news for some.

What was so offensive?

Perhaps the candid musings of a few high-profile fashion names who either live, or have weekenders there, and to whom I had thrown questions for a series of Q&As.

They included model impresarios Peter Chadwick (Chadwicks Models) and Kathy Ward (Chic Management), designer Rebecca Davies, retail queen Belinda Seper and media personality Maggie Tabberer. (The now Highlands-based veteran fashion photographer Sam Haskins was definitely on my to-i/v list. FYI Haskins in fact now has his own blog).

Maggie Tabberer (nee Margaret May Trigar) began modelling in Adelaide in the 1950s but her career hit its stride in Melbourne, where she was discovered and mentored by Helmut Newton (who, some may be unaware, began his career in Melbourne).

Tabberer went on to enjoy a very high-profile career as a television personality, author and designer - of the plus-sized Maggie T line - and remains one of Australia's true fashion icons.

Imagine my surprise therefore when I asked Maggie T for her thoughts on the Highlands fashion scene - and she didn't mince words.

I expected the comment in question to be edited from the published version. It was, I was told, removed - only to be reinstated, with asterisks, because the editors thought it was so amusing.

Here's the i/v:

What is the first thing you do when you get down to the Southern Highlands?
Maggie Tabberer: Unpack the food - that goes straight into the kitchen. Then the plants get taken out of the bright room, the conservatory/kitchen, and placed around the house. All the blinds go up or down depending on the weather and there I am. It always looks wonderful. I have an amazing couple who take care of it for me. I make coffee or tea or pour someone a drink and away we go. I like to go out and walk around the garden and see what’s poking its head through. I walked out the other day and there were… well they weren’t rabbits with the lovely little white bottoms, they were hares with legs almost as long as mine. I said, “What are you doing here? You’ll find yourself in a jug or a pot”.

What can't you live without there?
In winter, it’s the pot belly [stove]. In summer, the new air conditioning in the kitchen. Creature comforts are high on my list.

Do you think people in the Southern Highlands are well-dressed?
Some of them are. There are two mixes down there. There are the pink trackies with the ugg boots. Pale pink. Why in fuck’s name would you buy a pale pink tracksuit? I can never imagine. And then there’s the navy blues. That’s usually the pleated skirt, the very beautiful white linen shirt and either a knit or a wrap. And usually a flat brogue and colour-matched stockings. It’s the extremes of society down there.

What's with all the retired models and model agents?
We’re used to dealing with very beautiful things: beautiful models and beautiful photography and beautiful layouts. So we’ve all come to our senses at this stage of our lives and decided we’re going to go to the most beautiful place that’s available without driving 2,300 miles. We just love the beauty of the area. And the friendliness. I just think it’s just so nice. That village thing. I actually think it’s what the whole bloody world needs now.

And finally - are you related to Mr T?
The Mr T who used to be on telly? [Laughs] I wish. What you should have asked was, ‘Is Mr T related to you Maggie?’! He likes a bit of gold and silver, and usually comes with ten tonnes of chains around his neck and big knuckledusters on his hands. No connection to speak of darling.


Paul said...

I've never seen the words "pale pink" used with such devastating contempt. Delicious!

Patty Huntington said...

I'm loving Blogue BTW. You should follow up the Goths story...

Dataceptionist said...

Nothing like a bit of colourful language to help make someone seem so down to earth.
Great piece.

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