Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Make me a Zimmermann model

Frockwriter mentioned that newly repatriated sex bomb Lisa Seiffert would be shooting the SS10 campaign for stellar Australian swim label Zimmermann this week. But hot diggity dog, if US Make Me A Supermodel model mentor, imminent NIDA student and newbie jeweller Nicole Trunfio isn't in the campaign as well. As it happens, Trunfio, like Seiffert, recently defected from Sydney’s Viviens agency to Chic Management. This behind-the-scenes shot from the shoot popped up in frockwriter’s inbox today. Photographer was Simon Lekias, with New York import art director Louisa Gent, stylist Tamila Purvis, Sophie Roberts on hair and Linda Jefferies on makeup. Anyone in and around Sydney’s Hamptons northern beaches over summer, meanwhile, should definitely pop in to Zimmermann's popup store at Whale Beach. Supremely cool idea for a summer store.


McQueen's shoes weren't meant for walking - Abbey Lee Kershaw

daniel jackson for dazed+confused via chic

Had a chat to Abbey Lee Kershaw Monday afternoon while she was working in Sydney. The details of the shoot are yet to be revealed, but I can share one of the more amusing model gossip gems to surface. When talking about how models navigate the runway in increasingly ludicrous designer shoes, we touched on the so-called 'armadillo' shoes from Alexander McQueen's S/S 2010 show (below). Wonder why we didn't see Kershaw, Sasha Pivovarova or Natasha Poly in the show? According to Kershaw, that's because after taking one look at the shoes, the supermod trio convened for a powow and decided to nix it.

alexander mcqueen SS10/style.com

With killer heels already causing one catwalk catastrophe for Kershaw at Rodarte in New York last September, followed by another near miss with similarly extreme shoes in February this year - the latter prompting her to skip the rest of the FW0910 season in order to nurse a knee injury - little wonder she was loathe to take the risk.

And all that's not counting, of course, the too-tight corset at McQueen's SS09 show one year earlier in Paris, in which Kershaw fainted.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Swim Fashion Week axed

swim fashion week SS09/IMG

In what is no doubt some extremely sad news for the Australian swimwear sector, the sophomore edition of IMG's new swimwear showcase, Swim Fashion Week, has been axed. The event was due to take place at Sanctuary Cove on Queensland's Gold Coast from February 23-26 2010. According to The Gold Coast Bulletin, the event collapsed after it failed to receive backing from Queensland Events. Why the organisation was not locked in for a multi-year arrangement remains to be seen.

Hedi Christmas

A short film by Hedi Slimane, created for V Man and starring - who else but - a beautiful, half-naked, excruciatingly skinny 16 year-old boy. In this case, Oscar Nilsson from the Royal Danish Ballet Company. Apparently still an 'apprentice' with the company, perhaps Nilsson was scouted during one of Slimane's infamous "boy safaris".

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guess who's back in town?

the fashion spot

Frockwriter last looked at Lisa Seiffert in October 2008, on the occasion of her topless cover of Danish art magazine S. We noted at the time that since Seiffert departed these shores, she has specialised in the sultry sex bomb niche. That’s a niche, of course, that’s not without its rewards, notably if you can land a Victoria’s Secret campaign. But Seiffert’s most prominent gigs to date have merely seen her hanging off the arms of various male pop stars in video clips. From Robbie Williams' 2001 hit The Road to Mandalay and Eternity to Jay-Z & Pharrel´s 2004 Change Clothes. And not forgetting Sean Combs’ racy ménage à trois clip for his 2006 Unforgivable men’s fragrance – reportedly banned by US broadcasting authorities for tv, with the print ads also reportedly banned by some US department stores. A Sisley campaign with Terry Richardson and the 2003 Pirelli calendar, alongside Sienna Miller, were also in the mix.

A far cry, as we noted, from the demure Vogue Australia September 1998 cover with fellow Queenslander Alyssa Sutherland.

Well now Seiffert and Sutherland have something else in common. Seiffert has just joined Chic Management in Sydney – having apparently ditched Viviens.

Seiffert has not worked in Australia for four years, but tomorrow shoots an editorial with Madison magazine and next week, a swimwear campaign with hot Australian swim brand Zimmermann.

According to Chic, Seiffert has also just shot a global campaign for Guess swimwear and lingerie in LA.

It will be interesting to see what happens from here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Those who make passes at girls who wear glasses: the great Danny Roberts ripoff

danny roberts/wwd (top) dolce e gabbana/swide

Frockwriter has written about up-and-coming LA fashion illustrator Danny Roberts on several occasions. In August, I also profiled him for WWD, with the online version accompanied by a gallery of 21 images. Roberts' distinctive, expressionistic model caricatures are rapidly gaining currency across the net, via his Igor + Andre blog and his various fashion collabs. To wit, Roberts' 'Girls in Glasses' T-shirt, adapted from his mixed media painting based on Chanel's Spring 2007 collection and launched in April through London-based e-tailer Borders & Frontiers, seems to be a runaway hit. Several hundred units have been sold, with the shirt popping up in magazines, on punters on the Lookbook.nu auto street style site and on several high profile bloggers. Not counting a suite of knockoffs.

Given the song and dance that Italian luxury brand Dolce e Gabbana made about bloggers in Milan in September, seating several high-profilers front and centre at its main line show, you might assume that Dolce e Gabbana would be commissioning art directly from any bloggers whose work the company admires.

Although Roberts has yet to do any work for Dolce e Gabbana, there are nevertheless some remarkable similarities between this image, above, that was recently done by an in-house artist to illustrate sunglasses on Dolce e Gabbana's Swide website and Roberts' 'Girls in Glasses' illustration.

Meanwhile, here is the original Girls in Glasses T-shirt, below, as worn by (top to bottom) Fashion Toast's Rumi Neely, Les Mads' Jessie Weiss and Le Blog de Betty's Betty Autier.

And here are a few knockoffs:

1, 2: screen grabs yesstyle.com
3: ebay
4,5,6: screen grabs supplied by Danny Roberts

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cassi van den Dungen - two steps closer to her model dream

camerons via TO2W

OK so where were we on the Tahnee Atkinson/Cassi van den Dungen/Australia's Next Top Model roundabout? Atkinson has just shot the Curvy jeans campaign for Bettina Liano. After losing the Cycle 5 ANTM crown to Atkinson and flipping the bird to the show by turning down contracts with Priscillas and Elite New York, van den Dungen, meanwhile, signed with her childhood modelling agency, Tanya Powell, in Melbourne, then also with Work Agency in Sydney, before shooting lookbooks for Portmans and getting bullied by ANTM’s Charlotte Dawson and Alex Perry. Coupla interesting updates. Apart from currently being plastered all over Portmans front windows, van den Dungen has finally ditched Tanya Powell for Camerons, a boutique - but nevertheless far more serious-looking - Melbourne agency. Most interesting of all: she has just been featured on The Ones To Watch, models.com’s emerging talent satellite site.

In a profile on December 1, TO2W noted:
“Cassi is sensational – her features, her height and her personality all combine to make one super model who is creating interest all over the world. With building a strong book her priority right now, expect to see Cassi on the global fashion scene by mid-2010”.

Fascinating contrast to the prediction by ANTM model mentor Charlotte Dawson, who told her Facebook friends back in July:
“I think Cassi's only going to end up being the poster girl for Sunbury Centrelink”.

Meanwhile, although Tahnee Atkinson reports that she was recently told in New York that she would need to lose weight in order to work in that market (with Atkinson telling Today Tonight last week, "But I'm prepared to do that to go to New York"), van den Dungen told News Ltd that one of the reasons she rejected the Priscillas/Elite contracts was out of concern that she would need to lose weight to work internationally. Which NL duly whipped up into the headline:

"Australia's Next Top Model's Cassi van den Dungen rejected New York deal over weight issues"

Without having set foot beyond Sydney however, she is looking rather thin in this new set of test shots.

Friday, December 4, 2009

First look at Tahnee Atkinson in Bettina Liano's new Curvy jean on TT

Two weeks ago frockwriter revealed that Bettina Liano was about to launch a more amply-cut jean - notably up to a size 16 - and that she had booked Australia's Next Top Model Cycle 5 winner Tahnee Atkinson to promote it. Pierre Toussaint shot the new campaign on Monday and Today Tonight was there. The story went to air last night. I produced/wrote, Sally Obermeder is the reporter, Ray Munro edited.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Sunday Telegraph: The disturbing trend of model deaths

daul kim, backstage @ alexander mcqueen SS08

On November 20th I - along with many others - blogged about the very sad news of the death of South Korean model Daul Kim. The news was all the more alarming by virtue of the fact that Kim's was not an isolated death in the modelling industry - or indeed suicide. As regular readers of this blog would be aware, I have been tracking some of these stories over the past twelve months. Sydney's Sunday Telegraph newspaper asked me to develop the post into a small feature (which they titled "Dying for success"). Many thanks to models.com's Wayne Sterling, Sophie Ward and Vikki Graham for availing themselves for interviews at short notice. Here's the story (which ran last weekend):

THE fashion industry has been rocked by the death of top South Korean model Daul Kim, the latest in what has emerged as a disturbing trend of model suicides over the past 18 months.

The 20 year old was found hanged in her Paris apartment on November 19th, the third model suicide since June 28 2008, when Kazakh model Ruslana Korshunova, also 20, died after falling nine floors from her apartment building in New York.

On October 11 2008, 26 year-old Canadian Hayley Kohle fell seven floors to her death from an apartment building in Milan.

Although Kohle was one of many virtual unknowns struggling to make names for themselves in a fiercely competitive business, both Korshunova and notably, Kim, had achieved far greater success, securing magazine covers and lucrative advertising contracts.

And yet both Korshunova and Kim also left a trail of social networking site posts behind them talking about heartbreak, loneliness and depression, with Kim already once having to defend her mental state on her two year-old blog I Like To Fork Myself.

On October 11, just one month before she died, Kim even used the terms “cut ur wrists”, “jump out a window” and “cry for help” in a blog post called “Say hi to decided”.

“The industry is definitely in shock over the news of Daul Kim's suicide” said Wayne Sterling, a prominent New York casting director and the editorial director of the website models.com, whose closely-followed world rankings of models are considered the industry’s unofficial benchmark. “People are asking...How could we have missed the signals? There have been a lot of tears and some guilt about all of our superficial assumptions”.

But the suicides are part of a wider pattern of recent model deaths that have many asking about the hidden risks and dangers of an industry that remains largely self-regulated.

Not counting the eating disorder-related deaths of three South American models in 2006, which reignited the Size 0 debate and prompted a raft of industry initiatives, on July 7 last year Canadian Diana O’Brien was murdered while on assignment in China.

Then on October 11, coincidentally the same night that Hayley Kohle died, 20 year-old male American modeling star Randy Johnston died from a heroin overdose in Connecticut.

“We all have to accept that yes there is a serious problem” said Sterling.

“Common decency now would demand that designers, editors, photographers and agents should address signs of depression and fatigue and stress in young models as clear problems that could amplify with tragic implications” he added. “We're dealing with human beings here, not inanimate mannequins”.

Speculation is currently focused on the mental health of Australian modeling star Catherine McNeil, who was photographed last week in Sydney with a series of mysterious cuts on her arms.

McNeil’s mother contradicted the official statement from Australian agency Chic Management, that the cuts were the result of a skateboard fall, by stating her daughter fell down stairs and has also been “depressed”, with McNeil’s grandmother adding that Catherine is “burned out” by the industry.

Chic Management declined comment for this story on either McNeil or Daul Kim. Chic’s New York affiliate Next Models was Kim’s American agency.

"This was the tipping point - enough is enough now" said Australian model and author Sophie Ward of Kim's death.

Ward has experienced the modeling rollercoaster both first-hand and through the eyes of her sister Gemma Ward who, by early 2007, had risen to the world number 1 position, before disappearing from the business altogether following a segue into acting and the January 2008 death of close friend Heath Ledger.

“Without a strong sense of identity, I think it's very easy to lose oneself in the demands of a million people, and forget who you even were to start with” said Ward. “Yes I went through dark stages of existential doubt but I wouldn't call it depression, it didn't last as long”.

“Of course my family were vital, but you can't survive in a hotel room with just a telephone, or a blog. You need many voices, many hands, all around you, to get your mind off those pressures, and enjoy life".

Sydney’s Scene Models director Vikki Graham conceded that although she believes agents are not therapists, the size and pressures of the business and the speed of communications have helped depersonalize the industry.

“Models don’t come into the agency like they used to before, now every model’s got a BlackBerry - but a BlackBerry doesn’t tell you whether they’re feeling down in the dumps” said Graham, who also believes agents should be both aware if there are personal issues affecting a model’s work and prepared to cancel jobs.

“They’re not machines” she added. “There are times when they can’t do a job. The model has to take priority over the booking”.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fashion copies - back on the Australian current affairs agenda

As some may already be aware, I am currently working as a producer at a nightly Australian current affairs program called Today Tonight on the Seven Network (which explains my lack of posting of late). It’s a program on which I worked 10 years ago and it’s interesting being back, working on a mix of stories. In terms of fashion stories, it’s been a great opportunity to get some subjects to a much bigger audience than I do on this blog or indeed via the other outlets for which I normally write – try 1.7million per night (including web traffic). On my first day back I broached a couple of story ideas with executive producer Craig McPherson, top of the list being a subject that I have blogged about on several occasions: the fashion industry discriminating against plus-size consumers. Another fashion story aired this week – the rampant plagiarism across Australia's $1.8billion footwear sector.

The genesis for this story idea was a great July post from Australian shoe blogger Matt ‘Imelda’ Jordan. In his post, Jordan discussed a direct copy of a shoe design by London-based Dane Camilla Skovgaard, by Australian mid market shoe manufacturer Tony Bianco.

Most interesting of all: the subsequent tip from Jordan that Tony Bianco had dispatched a series of intimidating legal letters in the hope of obtaining a retraction of some of the claims in the post.

The audacity was breathtaking.

As revealed by Jordan, not only had Tony Bianco done a faithful reproduction of Skovgaard’s signature S8001 sandal – the style which originally made her name – but had even attempted to engineer a fake celebrity endorsement to promote the company's copy.

When launching its “Sexy Roberto” shoe to the Australian fashion press, Tony Bianco sent out US red carpet shots of celebrities Cindy Crawford and Halle Berry in Skovgaard’s originals. There was no mention of Camilla Skovgaard’s name on the mailout.

Tony Bianco’s lawyers seized on several points in Jordan’s post: notably his accusations that Camilla Skovgaard had “unleashed her lawyers” on the company and that Tony Bianco was guilty of “copyright infringement”.

Both were factually incorrect. But the David and Goliath factor made for a great story.

Although Skovgaard did consult lawyers at the time, the only representatives to contact Tony Bianco were from her US PR team.

Having failed to register the design in Australia, moreover, a straight copyright infringement case would have been indefensible.

Due to changes, in 2003, to Australia’s IP legislation, unless a designer has registered each and every design they hope to protect in this market, they are unable to in fact enforce copyright. This is unlike numerous other jurisdictions, for example the EU, where designers have an unregistered design right.

That’s not to say that Skovgaard doesn't have any legal rights here. Sources say that she would probably have little trouble proving “reputation” for the design (make that designs - it later emerged that TB has copied two Camilla Skovgaard shoes this season). The fake celebrity endorsement is a separate matter.

Only problem – she has been told that she's looking at a minumum $50,000 investment to get a case up, with of course no guarantee of success. That's a big ask of a young, independent designer.

All the companies mentioned in the story were of course offered right of reply. Noone took up the offer.

Their respective responses when I called requesting interviews were fascinating. One company even claimed that it had come up with the design in question five years ago.

It is entirely possible that Sportsgirl's Camilla Skovgaard knockoff was even supplied by a manufacturer that was already knocking off her shoe under its own brand, thereby vastly increasing its market. A big return for zero design investment in other words. Sportsgirl declined to identify the supplier of the shoe.

It’s interesting how companies that copy, often seem quite indignant when they're called out on it.

Some $400,000 in court ordered damages has been awarded for design/copyright infringement cases over the past 12 months in cases mounted by Australian companies that have taken advantage of the new Designs Registration Regime and opted to register designs.

The first fashion victory under the new system was Review versus The Discovery Group in March 2008.

Although not working for TT at the time, I was interviewed that month as talent for the program’s story about the Review case. I had the temerity to mention that it wasn’t the first time the company, which owns the Charlie Brown and lili trademarks, had copied others. I provided one example of a devoré velvet poncho with a peacock motif, first shown by New Zealand label Sabatini at New Zealand Fashion Week in September 2004 – and copied six months later by Charlie Brown.

On three previous occasions, I had written about Charlie Brown’s cheaper version of the poncho, which turned up in store the minute the Sabatini poncho appeared on the cover of the Winter 2005 catalogue of Australian department store David Jones and, notably, once word spread that the poncho was walking out the door at DJs.

But Brown had been called out for copying as far back as 1998 - by Marion Hume, then the editor of Vogue Australia.

After I mentioned the Sabatini incident on Today Tonight, Brown also threatened legal action. To date, nought's come of it.

Back in 1995, I wrote a 4,000 word expose on copying in the Australian fashion industry for the now defunct Australian current affairs magazine, The Independent Monthly. It was the year before the launch of Mercedes Australian Fashion Week and the emergence of a new generation of export-focussed designers. Australia was still locked in a culture of so-called "designers" sending international designer samples in to magazines to be photographed (still with the labels attached) while the "designers" were busy manufacturing their copies.

The story kicked off with the infamous anecdote from the Bicentennial Wool Collection at the Sydney Opera House in 1988, for which nine international designers were flown to Sydney, including Sonia Rykiel, Kenzo and the late Gianni Versace and Jean Muir. During rehearsals, Claude Montana had to be physically restrained from clocking Marilyn Said and Barry Taffs - the designers behind the Covers label. Covers had been selected to represent Australia in the show and Montana felt that their collection showed a little too much Montana influence.

Called Fashion Thieves, it was a cover story and it prompted three separate television profiles, including A Current Affair.

That story was the reason I wound up working for A Current Affair for a brief stint in early 1996 - before quickly heading to Today Tonight, where I stayed for three and a half years. I am often being reminded of this story. Several weeks ago Oyster’s Alyx Gorman drew my attention to the fact that it’s even cited in an article in the Journal of Australian Political Science.

Now I’m back in current affairs tv - still talking about copying. Because 21 years after the Bicentennial Wool Collection, many Australian companies are still shamelessly copying international designers.

For sure, copying exists everywhere. As the Tom Gunn girls pointed out in their TT interview, the London high street is notorious for quickly turning around catwalk trends. The "fast fashion" retailers Zara, Mango and H&M have revolutionised the business, turning around catwalk trends - although not necessarily one-for-one copies - at lightning speed.

But Australian copycats enjoy several other unique advantages. This was pointed out in a piece to camera in the original script for the TT story, which wound up being cut when we lost two and a half minutes.

There is also our proximity to the Chinese factories, exacerbated by the fact that we are a season behind the northern hemisphere. This means copies can be on shelves before the originals have even arrived.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

KAREN's black and white Christmas

After the eye-popping February cover featuring Olivia O’Driscoll with blue lips, here is a sneak peek of the December cover of Australasian fashion magazine KAREN: a surrealist composite by London-based Australian photographer David Standish. The image features no less than three images of Russian (tks JT) model Alice Fadeeva, whose unique look could be yet another composite - of Monika Jagaciak and Iekeliene Stange. Not surprisingly, Standish cites Surrealism and American photographer Man Ray as major influences in this TO2W iv.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bettina Liano launches the Curvy jean - taps Tahnee Atkinson to front it


Bettina Liano, Australia’s original jean queen, is the latest Oz designer to pay hip service to the larger sizes issue. Frockwriter can reveal that Liano will launch a new jean line called Curvy next month. Aimed at the more curvaceous woman, it consists at the moment of two jeans: a new style called Curvy and a "curvy" adaptation of Liano’s classic True Bootleg style. Curvy is a straight leg, mid-rise jean in a vintage wash. Both styles are cut to allow more room around the bottom and thighs and will be available in sizes 8-16. According to a Bettina Liano spokeswoman, Liano's jeans usually go up to a size 12 (even though Liano’s website indicates they may reach 14). To kick off the launch, Pierre Toussaint will shoot new campaign images in Sydney on November 30, with Australia’s Next Top Model Cycle 5 winner Tahnee Atkinson.

This is interesting for several reasons.

Firstly, the ongoing controversy over the dearth of designer clothing in larger sizes.

Not that 16 is by any means tapping into the plus size market. But as Melbourne blogger Hayley Hughes and I recently discovered when we took two hidden cameras into Chapel Street to shoot a story for Australian current affairs television program Today Tonight on how the fashion industry discriminates against larger sizes, it was extremely difficult finding anything on Chapel Street over a size 12. For someone who writes about the industry, this even surprised me. Brisbane blogger Nicholas Perkins also took part.

Click here to see the Today Tonight story.

Secondly, as we know, this year’s ANTM placed quite some focus on the body image issue and it seemed almost a fait accompli when curvy Atkinson won the competition – even though runnerup Cassie Van Den Dungen appeared to be the better-equipped of the two for an international high fashion career.

Meanwhile, Atkinson recently visited New York and some appear genuinely shocked that Atkinson was not welcomed with open arms by the New York market.

Atkinson will join the upwardly-mobile Jess Hart as a current season Bettina Liano poster girl.

PS. In the TT story, the figure of $10.5billion refers of course to the estimated fashion component of Australian clothing retail sales [source: IBISWorld]. And yes, Gossip is indeed an American, and not a British, band. As I have blogged previously. The word British inadvertently slipped into the script and I did not realise until it was too late. My apologies.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why is Daul Kim the fifth model to die in 18 months?

Condolences are due to the family and friends of Korean model Daul Kim, who has died in Paris (on the 19th) at the age of 20. Details have yet to be clarified, but New York magazine’s The Cut is reporting suicide (since confirmed by South Korean consular officials). This is yet another very, very serious wakeup call for the modeling industry. It is the fifth model death of which this journalist is aware since June 28 last year - three of them allegedly suicides.

On June 28 2008, Kazahk Ruslana Korshunova fell to her death from a New York apartment building. Although ruled a suicide, a petition was launched to attempt to have the case reopened.

On July 7, Canadian Diana O’Brien was murdered while on assignment in China.

Then on October 11 – yes, on the same night – American Randy Johnston died from a heroin overdose in New York, while Canadian Hayley Kohle fell to her death from a Milanese apartment building. Although Kohle’s death was ruled a suicide, her family also raised questions.

Kim will be remembered not just for her brief modeling career. (I met and photographed her backstage, above, at the Alexander McQueen show in Paris in October 2007).

Kim was also a sensitive and creative soul, who was quite outspoken and raised eyebrows on her two year-old blog, I Like To Fork Myself. There was the time she called out Japanese fashion brand Undercover for being racist. And another occasion when she gave Barneys the finger (literally, in a photo) for its poor customer service.

Some of Kim’s musings were however quite dark and on several occasions she found herself having to defend her mental state on the blog.

In April 2007, shortly after she launched the blog, Kim wrote:

“and thanks to stupid tv show from korea ppl think i like to
torture myself and thanks to that im getting lots and lots of
suicide emails on a daily basis
but im definately not depressed, and i dont want to killmyself”

In October 2008, after hamming it up with some mates in some photos, and censoring some of them after complaints from her mother, she wrote:

"thank you but
i dont care

and i was not high or drunk
i dont even smoke cigarettes.
i go to bed early and i dont party. i rave at home.

but my mother emailed and told me that she is upset and
worries about my mental state so its censored.

i listen to my mother.

i am okay im just having fun with my french gay boys...."

In this very bleak post "Say hi to decided", dated 11th October, Kim's fate looks to have been sealed.

It's a pity that her family and agents did not realise how depressed and lonely she was until it was too late.

RIP Daul Kim.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Four Australian Victoria's Secret Angels?

elyse taylor/sonny vandevelde

Could Sydney super agency Chic Management be en route to supplying four Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show models this year? That’s what frockwriter is wondering, following the news that Elyse Taylor has been been cast in the 2009 show, which tapes in New York on Thursday. Victoria’s Secret Angel Miranda Kerr is of course a given and Abbey Lee Kershaw is also a strong possiblity, given her appearance in the show last year and her recent VS ad work with Behati Prinsloo. Sarah Stephens may even make a second appearance after, we hear, receiving a special request to attend the castings. If all four Chic-ettes turn up on the runway, that would surpass the agency’s VS model hat trick last year. (Updated: Stephens was not cast. Only three Australians walked in the show).

Taylor is on a roll at the moment - and not before time. The face of August’s Rosemount Sydney Fashion Festival, she is the November covergirl of Vogue Australia. Taylor left Australia to try her luck in the US in 2005, at the same time as her once close mate Miranda Kerr. Although Taylor has worked steadily in the interim, a high profile has so far eluded her. It will be interesting to see the two former best friends strut their stuff together on the one mega catwalk.

Amusingly, Taylor’s dad Ross is a senior executive at Australian intimate apparel giant Pacific Brands, which operates labels including Bonds, Berlei, Playtex and Hestia in this market.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lady Melbourne fronts Peppermint

Yes bloggers are so hot right now. You only have to check out Bryanboy’s new rabbit-in-headlights masthead pic taken at the SS10 Dolce e Gabbana show – for which he, The Sartorialist, Garance Doré and Tommy Ton were plonked frow alongside fash industry stalwarts Suzy Menkes, Anna Wintour and co, complete with laptops. Blogger collab windows kicked off with The Sartorialist and Saks Fifth Avenue back in October 2006, but reached critical mass this year, with Holt Renfrew hooking up with BB and others and Brisbane’s own Jean Brown dedicating an entire installation to Imelda. Well frockwriter can reveal that in the recent SM tradition of hot net babes who are rucking up not only traffic, but modeling tie-ins (eg Julia Frakes and Fashiontoast's Rumi Neely now repped by NY's Next Models), Phoebe Montague, aka Lady Melbourne, is due to appear on the cover of Oz eco magazine Peppermint. If some (if not many) fash mag slags are picking up content from the blogosphere, good to see a little credit finally being given where credit's due.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Ragtrader social media debate


Along with local fashion industry consultant Kate Vandermeer, I was recently invited by Australian fashion industry newsmagazine
(this country’s version of WWD), to be involved in a mini panel discussion about social media and the fashion biz. Conducted online via Gmail chat and moderated by new Ragtrader editor Assia Benmedjdoub, an edited transcript of the debate was published in the September 25 (print) edition. Due to popular demand, the original transcript was finally published on ragtrader.com.au yesterday.

I added some additional info via email shortly after the discussion (which appeared in the print version only), after realizing that I had neglected to mention Cover It Live in my personal hitlist of SM platforms/apps – a live dialogue box application that I had used this year to cover both the Golden Globes, the Oscars and then, in tandem with my esteemed blog colleagues Bryanboy and Matt ‘Imelda’ Jordan, the D&G, Dolce e Gabbana and Gareth Pugh FW0910 presentations in Milan and Paris.

And yes, in case you’re wondering about the title pic for this post, I fed a cut-and-paste of the entire discussion into cute word cloud generator Wordle.

As we Twitter towards the close of a year in which social media was second only to the economic climate in terms of priority discussions for the fashion business the world over, very interested to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Plus size fashion discrimination on Today Tonight

Here is the video player for the first story I pitched and produced after arriving back at Today Tonight. It looked at plus size discrimination at the designer end of the fashion market. The story aired on 27th October 2009. It took a while before I could source the correct embed code for the Seven/Yahoo videos and in the blur of the past six months back on deck at the program, I overlooked blogging this as a standalone. So here it is finally (posted 24/04/10, but backdated). Many thanks once again to the awesome Hayley Hughes aka Fashion Hayley, who was happy to hit up Chapel Street for two days, wiretapped by a tabloid current affairs crew. Also Nicholas Perkins and Antipodium's Fenella Peacock. It took chutzpah to talk about this issue on prime time television. As the story mentions, 18 fashion designers and major retailers were approached for comment, including companies that do cater to 16+. All declined. Reporter Laura Sparkes, one of my absolute TT faves, voiced the story. Damian Moncrieff edited.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pru Goward channels Mad Men for SoHi Magazine

kylie coutts/sohi magazine

Behold Australian politician Pru Goward in the sophomore edition of SOHI Magazine – which, for those unfamiliar with goings on in the NSW Southern Highlands (a fave weekend haunt of many Sydney fashion, film etc folk, including Nicole Kidman), is shaping up to be the creative version of the glossy, bi-monthly, glorified luxury property catalogue High Life. Snapped by Kylie Coutts, Goward - the Member for the seat of Goulburn and the state Shadow Minister for Community Services and Women - wears a vintage 1950s pink linen dress and hunting cape as she stars alongside several other local highprofilers (notably, fashion retailer Belinda Seper, below) in a retro-nosed spread called, hilariously, 'Role Models'.

kylie coutts/sohi magazine

According to SOHI’s editor, the Exeter-dwelling photographic agent Rebecca Wolkenstein, the spread was inspired by 1950s German photographer Regina Relang and is in keeping with the mid-century ambiance of the rest of the issue, which features the work of noted graphic designer/illustrator Don Fish.

Of course, any pop culture aficionado will take one look at Goward’s image and note, “Um, doesn’t she look like one of the secretaries or long-suffering homemaker wives in Mad Men?”.

That is, the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning AMC series which depicts the shenanigans in and around a fictitious early 1960s Madison Avenue ad agency, during the still halcyon days of chauvinism and racism, prior to the passing of the 1963 Equal Pay and 1964 Civil Rights acts. The old skool typewriter and teacup props really don’t help things.

Goward is of course the former federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner Responsible for Age Discrimination with the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. And who noted of her first day in NSW parliament two years ago, "I have never worked in any profession as male-dominated or as ruthlessly sexist as this. I was quite shocked by it."

She would have loved Sterling Cooper.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Is the world ready for the first Aboriginal supermodel? Samantha Harris certainly hopes so. It has been a childhood dream for this 19 year-old Aboriginal Australian, one that started at the tender age of five when her mother entered her in the first of many beauty pageants. Harris says she spent the rest of her childhood “wondering why you had to have blonde hair and blue eyes to do well in modelling competitions”. Although beaten to the 2004 Girlfriend Model Search crown by (blonde-haired, blue-eyed) Abbey Lee Kershaw, making the final round of that high profile Oz modelling competition – which has springboarded Catherine McNeil and Alyssa Sutherland, among others – was enough to put Harris in orbit. It’s been a slow burn since then, involving lots of Australian Fashion Week and David Jones runway shows, with her biggest get a 2006 shoot with Patrick Demarchelier for US Glamour. But things could be about to change. Harris has just wrapped up a go-see fortnight in New York, where these new test shots were taken.

Harris has five years modelling experience in the low-stress local market under her belt. Her mother agency Chic Management is now grooming her for the Fall/Winter 2010/2011 runway season which kicks off in four months’ time. So let’s wait and see.

Apologies for the lack of posts in recent weeks. I recently rejoined Channel Seven’s news and current affairs unit here in Sydney after a long hiatus, for a short producing stint and have much less time.

Thanks for continuing to support the blog (the traffic keeps ticking over). I will blog as often as I can. I’m currently working on some fashion and modelling stories, which I also hope to bring to the blog in some form.

all photos: courtesy chic management

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cat McNeil benched for gaining weight?

vogue germany via trendhunter

Well that's one theory floated by today's edition of The Sunday Telegraph in a story about McNeil's absence from the SS10 show season. McNeil's Australian agent, Kathy Ward, tells the paper that she has not "heard anything". Even if, one assumes, McNeil's mother agency Chic Management must have a good idea why McNeil was promoted on showcards for the New York and Paris legs, but failed to show at either. Frockwriter understands the weight theory has a little more credibility than the other option suggested by the paper - a "mystery virus". If correct, this would make two of Australia's most successful models - coincidentally both Chic Management girls - forced to sit out the season because of the draconian casting criteria of the high fashion runway circuit. It's fascinating that although everyone in the business knows that that's exactly how things work in fashion and that this is the reason why Myf Shepherd did not book more shows in New York and why she skipped the rest of the season, ditto Ali Michael two years ago and Gemma Ward one year prior to that, few are willing to go on the record about it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Anaessia's Sue Vanikiotis gets her mitts on Karl Lagerfeld

Frockwriter told you that promising RAFW newcomer Anaessia was showing at New York Fashion Week. And that Anaessia designer Sue Vanikiotis bumped into Vera Wang while in the Big Apple. Well, demonstrating that Sue and husband Nick Vanikiotis are as canny marketers as they are highend eveningwear specialists, here’s a brand new fash tourist shot of Sue with none other than Karl Lagerfeld, into whom the duo bumped at famed Parisian emporium Colette over the weekend. The encounter was in between appointments at the Tranoi trade show during Paris Fashion Week. Kaiser Karl was, they report, surrounded by five bodyguards.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Katki people

I have Pebbles Hooper to thank for first alerting me to Areez Katki. New Zealand fashion royalty (Hooper is the daughter of World co-founders Denise L'Estrange-Corbet and Francis Hooper), the Auckland hipster was rocking one of Katki's very distinctive hand-knitted dresses on Day One of Air New Zealand Fashion Week. I TwitPic'd a shot, only to spot another ANZFW delegate wearing a similar dress the following day. Although not officially part of the event, Katki seemed to be omnipresent at it. When I learned that his work had been given pride of place for the week in the front window of James Dobson's cool three month-old Children of Vision store in St Kevin's Arcade, I headed to take some shots and have a chat (albeit one with crapola picture/sound - but you get the gist).

Comparisons to Michelle Jank seem obvious here.

In 2000, Jank became the first designer to be accorded a solo show at Australian Fashion Week straight out of design college and she was buoyed by media hype.

Many Australians would recall the anecdote of leading British retailer Joan Burstein being so excited by Jank's debut collection of "demi couture" vintage doily-festooned dresses, Burstein raced backstage to secure an international exclusive, leaving her handbag on her chair.

In the interview I mention that Jank had trouble producing garments after the initial rush. My apologies, that should in fact have been, Jank had trouble selling the garments, some of which had high four figure price points. It later emerged that Burstein had not sold a single dress.

Katki's price points do not seem particularly high - under NZ$1000 for example for a one-off dress.

A designer himself (under the Jimmy D label) Dobson, pictured below, clearly has a good eye for emerging brands. Children of Vision is a great little store.

ANZFW in The New York Times

Last week in Auckland I shot a photo diary for The New York Times' style blog The Moment. Here it is (with one or two supplied shots from a key show unavoidably missed), together with a writeup on the event (along the lines of what I did for The Moment on RAFW back in May). Another Australian net-specialist journo in attendance, Linlee Allen, also did a model post and pic diary. I have many more shots that weren't used that I will try and blog asap. Here is also a link to my aggregated Twitter coverage of the event, for anyone who did not catch that on Twitter in real time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oyster shelved

oyster via obsessee

A few weeks ago frockwriter received a tip that Australia’s longest-surviving indie fashion/lifestyle magazine Oyster had closed. It was dismissed as nonsense at the time by editor Paul Bui, who said he was about to put out his next issue. Very similar rumours began circulating late last year, following the news that Oyster’s then parent of 12 months, Destra Corporation, had gone into receivership. On November 20, 3D World Publishing co-founders Jonathon Morris and Monika Nakata reacquired the company and its various publishing interests, including Oyster (only to sell 3D World to Street Press Australia in July). Well as it now emerges Bui has since left the magazine, along with editor in chief Rachael Squires and art director Eliza Iredale, citing creative differences with the publishers - part of what frockwriter has learned has been an exodus of staff since the Destra buyback, that includes beauty editor Leticia Dare, sub editor Hilary Board, sales director Zoe Sainsbury and Oyster Vision producer Alex Goddard. This leaves Morris, Nakata, ad manager Prav de Silva and former intern-turned-web editor Alyx Gorman, who is acting editor – while attending to fulltime university studies. Gorman confirmed that there will be no December/January issue and that the magazine is going on hiatus online until further funding is sourced. No monies are owed to staff. Update 5.52pm: According to publisher Monika Nakata, a Feb/March issue will go ahead.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kate Sylvester once had a mohawk

Or so she told me at the conclusion of this video, below, recorded after her Diamond Dogs AW10 show in Auckland on Wednesday night. The collection was inspired by a 1980s Auckland punk-turned-gossip writer by the name of Judith Baragwanath, aka Black Lips, due to her signature black lipstick. Baragwanath was in fact the second local show muse to emerge in as many days, after Annah Stretton dedicated her show to 1940s Auckland burlesque dancer Freda Stark. All the Sylvester hallmarks were there - masculine tailoring, lingerie, sporty grey marle, swans - but this collection was particularly well pulled together, from the hometown theme to the disused industrial warehouse venue, punk styling and the edgy Horrors/Crocodiles/Stranglers soundtrack. Considering the boxy tweed boyfriend jackets, the smart ciré trenchcoat, military-nosed suiting, bodycon microdresses with exposed, articulated seamwork, punk hardware and faux fur chubbies, little wonder that US glamour blogger Rumi Neely later noted she could see herself in the entire collection.

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