Weddings: a sweet celebration of love, happiness and two wills bending to become one, or a night to be endured of cheesy dance hall classics, tasteless food* and boring speeches?
My little sister Karen’s was definitely the former.
Karen and I first met at church two years ago, back when I could barely string a sentence together in Spanish. I met her family at church and long story short, I ended up moving in with them and sharing a room with her.
I can safely say that without Karen, there is no way I would be back in Mexico. As my translator and somewhat of a guide, she took me out, introduced me to all her friends, showed me how to catch the bus everywhere (604 baby!) and really made my time in Mexico more than just an exchange. And then, of course, as a sister she listened to me worry about the boy I had a crush on (he’s now my husband), comforted me when all I wanted was to hear some English, dammit, and threw a surprise birthday party for my 21st - complete with piñata.
And so of course there was no way I was going to miss her wedding.
I nearly did though.
On the day of the wedding, we’d all gone to get our hair and make-up done. After, I’d gone out for lunch and to run some errands. But Mexican punctuality combined with my punctuality** meant I arrived home at pretty much the time my family was planning to leave. I had my outfit planned out - one of the benefits of traveling is the pre-planning, and anyone who’s been to Mexico would know there was no guarantee I’d be able to find anything that wasn’t tight, made of Lycra and covered in diamantés - so I threw it on, grabbed my essentials and ran out the door.
Unfortunately, my essentials in Mexico covered only a small coin purse with enough money to get me through the day, but not my wallet. I was in the car on the way to a temple wedding, and I didn’t have my temple recommend.
Since we were already running late***, I asked my family to drop me off by the side of the road so they could keep going and hopefully make it on time. I would take a taxi back to the house, grab my recommend and meet them there.
I hailed the first taxi and told the driver I would pay the meter fare**** if he drove as fast as possible - a pretty good preposition, considering the fact that it was peak hour. We drove back to my place, I threw all dignity out the window to hike up my dress and jump over the fence and ran in to get my recommend. In my mind I thought, ‘Temple ho!’
Then came the ‘Oh, expletive' moment. My mind had been so concentrated on getting my recommend that I'd forgotten to grab enough money to pay for the taxi. I wanted to die, but instead I started crying.
“¡No llores!" said the taxi driver (he was a really kind hearted bloke). I didn’t know what to do. If I went back, I wouldn’t make it to the wedding on time - not a good idea when I’d flown all the way from Sydney for this moment. If I kept going, I wouldn’t have enough money - I only had a 50 peso note and maybe some loose change, in my estimate probably 60 pesos at most. Not enough for a ride I was expecting to cost at least 200 pesos. And I didn’t want to have to borrow money on arrival because I had already caused enough trouble, but it seemed like that was the only option.
I decided to keep going. Thanks to the driver’s knowledge of the city roads, we made it in pretty good time. When we got to the temple, we were on the other side of the road but he said he would do a U-turn and drop me off inside, so I wouldn’t have to run as far in my heels to ask for money. I took out the 50 peso note and tipped out my coins to see how much I would need to beg or borrow (not steal).
Ten peso coin. Another ten peso coin. Two five peso coins.
The meter read 101 pesos. Perhaps I wouldn’t need to borrow as much I’d thought.
Two plus two plus one. I grouped the two and one peso coins into groups of five. Five, ten… Fifteen, twenty. I had a hundred pesos. No manches. The meter read 102.50. Including my 50 and 10 centavo coins, I had enough.
I said to the taxi driver “Tengo 102.50; ¡aquí esta bien!” I didn’t want him to keep driving lest the metre go up. He looked at me, with my hands holding all my coins, and shook his head in a way that said, ‘You are either crazy lucky, or crazy.’ He dropped me off on the temple grounds anyway. By the time we got there, the meter read 105. But 102.50 was fine.
The wedding itself - all three parts - was the epitome of Mormonism with a Mexican twist. The civil ceremony, held in a tiny Sunday school room (the hall had been double booked and was filled with balloons and disco music when we arrived), was beautiful as Karen and Gus completed their paperwork with that cheerful and almost oblivious bliss that only comes on your wedding day, and the religious ceremony in the temple was even more so.
The reception was more Mormon than Mexican, i.e. it finished at 11 and there were definitely no borrachos; but there was still dancing, 50 more people than were invited, and a gorgeous candy buffet put on by our tía Karla that involved copious amounts of candy hearts (besos!), Hershey’s kisses, marshmallow twists and a tower of cupcakes topped with two paper figures that were meant to carry pictures of Karen and Gus, but due to fact that they’d forgotten to give Karla pictures of themselves, carried images of two totally random telenovela actor-looking people.
But did that matter? Not really. At the end of the day, I asked Karen if the wedding was what she had wanted. Her teal-colored shoes were on the floor. One of her sisters couldn’t make it from Canada for the wedding, but her oldest sister and beloved brother-in-law was there, her family was there, her best friends from school were there and all the people from church who had seen her grow up were there. She had a massive grin on her face, and her eyes lit up as she responded, “Sí”. And that was what mattered most.
* and the ubiquitous and, quite frankly, offensive steamed vegetables.
** well, lack thereof on both of our parts.
*** and feeling like absolute dirt because this was also my fault.
**** you normally bargain a set fare with taxis In Mexico, which is really convenient if there is a lot of traffic
I met Vera Balyura outside Hemingway & Pickett, a store in LA’s Silver Lake district that is run, funnily enough, by an Australian (owner Toby Burke Hemingway is from Melbourne). The store was hosting a trunk show for her label VeraMeat, and the slender, hauntingly beautiful designer was at the door personally to greet guests with her gorgeous companion Fred (a girl, by the way).
Fascinated by her quirky jewellery, I nabbed her for a few quick questions. She was lovely, and I cannot say enough how much I’ve fallen in love with her pieces. I mean c’mon guys - a dinosaur eating fried chicken? ‘Sif not cool.
So you’re a jewellery designer. How did you start? I started off making things for myself. I was modelling at the time, and I’ve always made stuff with my grandfather, like miniatures and stuff so I just wanted to just make things for myself that I kind of wanted to wear. And then a stylist saw some of my stuff and she was like, ‘Oh’, you know, ‘I’d love to feature this’. And she worked with Nylon a lot and so she said ‘You really need to make a line,’ and so I did, and I sent it to her and they ended up featuring me so it was really great.
It’s just something I enjoy doing for myself and I kind of then got into the swing and it grew and grew and grew and now I have a store in Manhattan and other stores like this (Hemingway and Pickett) carry my stuff.
Are you originally from New York? Yeah. Well I was born in Europe but I grew up in New York. I’ve lived there for over ten years, I went to school there and everything but yeah, I come to LA a lot and my sister lives here and I need excuses to come here.
Yeah? Why do you like LA? I like the weather the most.
Funny, that’s what most people say about Australia. The weather!
It’s so good. I’ve actually been to Sydney and I love it, I like the ibises and the bats in the park, it’s very inspiring. Fred looks like a little bat so…
Is Fred your only pet? She is, I used to have a little bluebird with a red belly, it was really interesting and I used to just let it fly around and I had the window open and it would leave and everything and then about a year and a half after I had it, it was just sitting on the windowsill and it was kind of like looking at it me and I could tell it waslike, ‘Can I go?’ and I was like, ‘You can go if you want.’ So he went outside, and then he came back every few months to visit me.
Oh! Do you still see him? Well that was when I was in Brooklyn and now I’ve moved to Manhattan so…
He’s probably gone back and seen new people in your apartment and been like, ‘Who is this?’ I know. He doesn’t see me anymore. But he was such a beautiful, beautiful little treasure.
So have you always loved animals? Yeah I have, especially unique animals or animals that I feel like me pick me. I have a lot of weird animal stories.
Like? Well animals, like even really mean dogs that don’t like anyone, they really like me. And for some reason they’re very calm around me.
Like me and my friend went to this insane asylum just to check it out and it was closed [but] we went to take photos, and one of the family members of the family that watched it - he used to be in the asylum, he stuttered and had a lot of issues - he was there by himself …
He came with this huge pit bull on a chain and the pit bull was just barking ‘ar, ar, ar,’ and then he let it go off the leash and it ran towards us, but it went right past me towards my friend and my friend was terrified with his hands up and I was like, ‘It’s okay, come here,’ and he just sat next to me, like super calm.
Wow. It’s fun. I don’t know why it is, but it just is.
So animals are where you get most of your inspiration from? Well, I just make things I want for myself, mostly.
And where does the ‘meat’ in VeraMeat come from? Yeah, the meat comes from me laughing [while] walking near the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York) after work and thinking, ‘What’s honest, that I love [and] yet think is funny?’ ‘Meat’ came to mind as it’s something hard to like these days as being vegan is the politically correct thing yet my body type doesn’t allow that nor does my blood type. Long story short, I just thought ‘VeraMeat’ and started laughing. Then I knew I would have to stick with it.
Also, my company is the ‘meatier’ side of jewelry - more interesting subject matter and better materials.
Soft-spoken, charmingly self-deprecating, intelligent and passionate about all that is good about fashion: Susie Lau of Style Bubble comes to Australia for Portable (which, I might add, is my new go-to for all things quirky, gorgeous and beautiful about film. Watch some of them. You’ll never go back to Youtube again.)
LIFEwithBIRD, the label by the too-sweet couple Nicholas Van Messner and Bridget McCall, celebrated its tenth year in existence this morning at the Sydney Opera House with a short but sweet preview of their summer 2012/13 collection.
The clothes reminded me somewhat of the 3.1 Phillip Lim collection shown in New York last year, if only because both displayed soft, languid minimalist shapes with a nod to the geometric, in pastel and sorbet colours. However, the similarities ended there, as Van Messner and McCall gave their collection an Australian twist, literally. Dreamy Australiana-inspired prints, textures, and detailing, such as the lines on a cropped jacket that seemed reminiscent of shark’s teeth, gave the collection a sense of organic femininity that contrasted with the slick hair and futuristic heels to play on the design duo’s strengths of soft directionism and subtle creativity in one of their strongest edits yet.
After the show, Van Messner and McCall had but a moment’s respite before they went back to work, taking advantage of their space in the Opera House for a shoot. The amiable Van Messner (well, both of them are, but I only spoke to Van Messner) stopped briefly on his way for a chat.
So I just wanted to ask you quickly about the collection, how did it come about? What was its evolution?
Well it’s our tenth anniversary year.
Congratulations, by the way.
Yeah, thanks. We just kind of looked back to where we began and with our design process, we always look back, to go forward. So looking back and working forward … there’s really an evolutionary feel.
Do you have a library of all your work?
Yeah we have archives, to see where we came from. We’re not very literal and we’re not very historical, but we like to see what we’ve done and then move forward in a really, you know, progressive direction.
Were there any, sort of, trends that surprised you, looking back? Or patterns?
You know what, I think being two designers and being very young when we started, I think when we look back [we] saw the different directions and different things that we tried. And I think all those little signposts along the way are what’s sort of created the look that we know today. Now we’re very directional and focused and I think it takes those years to really come together and gel and become focused and strong.
Do you feel that, especially looking back at the beginning, that you’ve evolved as designers?
I feel that our confidence has really built. I think that, once you’ve grown that confidence, you start really trusting your decisions and we didn’t have that as much in the beginning. [Now] we’re really nicely focused and driven and really happy with the output, so yeah.
So do you feel that this collection was the proverbial cherry on top of all your collections?
Oh definitely. I mean, showing at the Opera House, it being our tenth year, this is definitely the best. I mean, I always like looking forward, so this is the collection of the moment, we’re really happy with it, we think it’s our best and we love it and basically, you know, next week we’ve gotta start designing so we move on really quickly. But we love this collection, it came out really well, and we love it.
Australian model Olivia Thornton debuts on the international runway
Just three years ago, Olivia Thornton was unknown. Today, she’s walking for some of the most prominent designers in the industry. Vogue meets the Queensland native who’s making her mark on the world stage.
Olivia Thornton was discovered on the Gold Coast at the end of 2009, and after only having appeared in two fashion weeks in Australia – “My first Australian Fashion Week I was still in school so it wasn’t even a proper one, I flew down for a couple days and then went home!” she says – has already made the jump to the international show circuit. See what she has to say about her rapid rise in the industry.
What’s the moment that’s summed up fashion season so far? Probably doing the shows here in Paris because it was the culmination of all my efforts and tiredness and exhaustion. And it was cool being in the line up with some of the top girls.
What was your favourite show? Either Mary Katrantzou in London or Thierry Mugler – I would probably say Mugler because it was such a good line-up of girls and a fantastic collection, as always.
How does it feel to be doing all these big shows overseas, especially Mugler? I think when you’re going to fashion week you always have the thought in the back of your mind like, “Oh you know, there are so many girls and so many beautiful faces, why would they book me?” [So] it was definitely a massive honour, it was really, really exciting to be in that show and I’ve kind of followed his work for a long, long time so… yeah. It was really exciting.
What do you always have in your bag during fashion week? Trail mix and my iPod – apart from the essentials like phone and wallet and stuff.
How do you kill time backstage? If I have friends in the shows, we’ll hang out and chat but if I’m by myself I usually read, or write, or draw or listen to my iPod.
Your favourite thing about being a model? Definitely travelling and the people I get to meet. I met my boyfriend through modelling, and I’ve met girls who are fast becoming some of my closest friends.
And the worst thing about modelling – or aspects you don’t like as much? Castings, especially during fashion week, can get kind of gruelling. And sometimes travelling – I mean it’s a good thing, but with a lack of routine and living out of a suitcase for six months at a time, it can get a little bit frustrating. But it’s all part of it.
How do you feel having made such a meteoric rise in the modelling industry, is it a bit surreal? Um, yeah. It seems a little bit. But to me it doesn’t feel that rapid, [it more] feels like I did it step by step. But at the same time, it has happened relatively quickly [and] when I look back maybe six months ago, I never thought I’d been doing this so soon – or doing it at all.
And looking to the future, are there any brands, photographers or stylists who you’d really love to work with, in your ultimate modelling fantasies? One thing that I’d like to do is a lot of the big shows for a fashion week. And then I guess the ultimate thing would be to book a beauty campaign – that would be really nice. Any opportunity to work with any of the big designers, and anything further than a show, like a campaign would be awesome.
Under the dim lights of the Bendigo Art Gallery, film excerpts and family photographs are woven in amongst Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Givenchy gowns in a sartorial exploration of Grace Kelly’s multilayered identity.
“We really wanted to make her quite human, to give the audience a view of her not just as a Hollywood star or as royalty, but also as a mother, and a wife, and a very important part of the history of Monaco,” said Tansin Curtin, senior curator of the Bendigo Art Gallery. “The exhibition adds a bit more of a holistic approach to her and her style.”
Working with Andrew Cannon, Honorary Consul of Monaco, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London where the exhibition was originally curated, Curtin assisted in organising over 100 pieces of clothing and jewellery into four aspects of Grace Kelly’s identity - as a princess, a bride, an actress and an enduring style icon - to depict her as more than a movie star who traded a burgeoning film career for love and the regal life.
Curtin also added three dresses to the original exhibition collection: a pastel green Maggy Rouff evening gown, an official copy of Kelly’s wedding dress designed by US designer Edith Head, and the gown worn at the centenary celebration of the kingdom of Monaco.
The pieces “showed the kind of fashion that [Grace Kelly] loved and her personal taste,” said Curtin. “She had a really lovely personality and that really comes through, particularly in the centenary ball gown [which] we selected for inclusion because it shows Princess Grace’s love of dressing up and fancy dress balls.”
“The gown… is both extravagant and whimsical and allows us to see how Grace Kelly grew into her role as Princess of Monaco.”
The exhibition was opened last week by Princess Charlene of Monaco, whose custom Swarovski-beaded blush dress by Sydney designer Johanna Johnson would have done her mother-in-law proud.
If you’re not familiar with Bic Runga, you should be. The NZ singer’s voice is ethereal and haunting, and her soft Kiwi lilt turns her music into seductively sensitive melodies. On top of that, her ethnically ambiguous looks (her father is Maori; her mother was a Chinese-Malaysian lounge singer) mean she has a kind of unique beauty that’s absolutely fascinating. I spoke to her for vogue.com.au about, well, life. Here it is:
For Kiwi chanteuse Bic Runga, five years off, the birth of a son and a new partner both in life and music has given her a new perspective. Here she reveals her laid-back approach to style and just how much being a mother has changed her as an artist.
How would you describe your style?
It always has to be effortless; I never want to look contrived. You have to look like an extension of yourself.
I noticed some of your favourite designers include Lanvin, Proenza Schouler, Balenciaga and Acne. Can you tell me why you like them?
To me, they hit all the right notes. They’re not too conservative, and they’ve got a really artistic edge to them.
Do you see parallels between yourself as a musician and designers?
Well, I have a lot of respect for designers because I don’t understand how they do what they do. Out of New Zealand we’ve got a lot of really great designers, and they’re all really strong, artistic and yet practical people. And that’s maybe something I don’t share with them and the music world. In music, often things are quite haphazard and we don’t tend to be quite as practical.
And the other thing I admire about people like Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester is that after they had children, they never missed a beat. They have businesses to run. When you’re making four collections a year, you just can’t drop the ball. You might make an album every three or four years and it’s actually a lot easier really, so I admire how hard these people work.
And I guess you took a break after your last album.
Yeah, that’s what I mean, really. I took five years off, and it’s unheard of in the fashion world to do that. So I have a lot of respect for people who keep their businesses going – it can’t be easy.
Music’s obviously such a big part of you. Did you feel something was missing while you took a break?
I love my full-time job as a mother, but it felt like there was something I was aching to do. And if you don’t eventually get back to your work and the thing that makes you happy, then you can’t do a good job of anything. At this point I’ve made my new record and I’m so happy with it, and I feel more myself now. So I have my family and I have my work and they’re all excellent. The two things nourish each other.
Can you describe what it was like doing the album for you? It seems like you had a lot of fun.
I did have a lot of fun. It was produced by my partner, Kody Nielsen, and creatively, we are a really good team. But it’s not always easy working with your partner, because it’s 24/7 and you don’t get to come home and complain about your boss. They’re always there with you. But whenever there’s conflict it’s really good for me to know exactly what it is that I want to do and be able to articulate it. So it’s been a good experience.
It’s nice to work with someone you connect with. How would you describe the feel of the album or the message you were trying to convey?
When you spend five years away, you really need to have something fresh when you return. I went out of my way to make something that was not like anything I’d made before. Even just by the cover artwork, there’s wind in my hair, and I guess it best sums up the music. There’s a freedom about it, and it’s optimistic while still being honest.
And so where do you think you’ll go from here, music-wise?
Well, now that I’ve got this great partner in Kody and we work so well together and I’m really so happy, I want to start making records much faster. It’s quite important that I have him now because before I felt so alone when I made albums. I want to make more and more records and not waste so much time.
See more of my interview with Bic Runga and some beautiful photos by Xiaohan Shen on vogue.com.au
A pared-back approach to cooking that focuses on fun and good flavours. Also, I kind of love her jumper.
Name: Victoria Yee Howe
Current location: Brooklyn
Daily uniform: Mini skirts, boots, a big wool coat, dark sunglasses and a thoughtful perfume. I try to buy either very cheap, old clothing or really expensive new clothing and not much in between. My dream uniform involves a lot of Comme des Garçons, Jil Sander, Erdem, Peter Pilotto, disco jumpsuits, impractical high heels and vintage Alaïa.
I have a few: …big dreams and grand plans.
In the kitchen, I swear by: Old movies humming in the background, sharp knives, and a retractable Sharpie. A Kitchenaid mixer and Vitamix if I’m feeling flush. Solitude if I’m working on a deadline—can’t bust out the ninja moves unless I’m alone.
The taste I couldn’t live without: Too hard to choose one, but I’d be very sad if I never got to eat pickled vegetables, salted milk chocolate, dim sum and strong hot tea ever again (but please not all at once).
Carbs are: …something a lot of other people seem to like talking about?
This week I can’t stop buying: Black truffles, edible gold spray paint, and blackwatch plaid.
My mother taught me: Good manners
My cat, Banana, is: Obviously the shit.
I’m dying to go: All over the Middle East, North Africa, Lake Baikal, St. Petersburg, the Kamchatka Peninsula, backwoods China. Basically…almost everywhere? Especially the places you’re not supposed to go.
This gal certainly ain’t no wallflower. Love the juxtaposition of casual insouciance, an infective attitude and more bling than a Copacabana samba dancer. Of course, she is wearing more clothes than said dancer in the first place, so I suppose that’s not hard.