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.

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