Install Theme

Annette Lin


Grace Kelly: style icon at Bendigo Art Gallery

The exhibition Grace Kelly: Style Icon, on display in Bendigo, explores the former Princess of Monaco as a royal, movie star, bride and enduring icon through her fashion and personal tastes.

/ © Everett Collection / Rex Features, courtesy of Bendigo Art Gallery

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.

Read more of my story and see dresses from the Grace Kelly exhibition on

Soft and sweet, sturdy and practical

Warm & fuzzy pink meets practical khaki. Polar opposites that seem perfect for the season. Love.

/ shot by the beautiful Garance Dore

Renny Chivunga

Renny Chivunga / Xiaohan Shen

Can you tell me about what you’re wearing?
Okay, I’ll tell you a story. I went to Brisbane in… oh I don’t know, when I came back from New York and I did the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival, and this outfit - the skirt and the top and everything - was part of one of the looks. I remember being backstage and saying to the stylist, ‘Please! Let me know what that look is!’, and I went and found it straight after.

It [also] just so happens that was the same time colour blocking came in. I was like, ‘Oh my god! I can get away with wearing a lot of colour, and don’t have to worry about it!’ Before, you’d be on the edge if you were wearing too much, like, ‘Who’s that rainbow?’ But now, it’s like ‘Yay!’
It’s a lot of fun. So how would you describe your style?
I like being elegant but I will push things as long as I think I can pull it off. And if I see something really well worn, whether on a catwalk or in a magazine, I will pick up pieces that I think I can work.

Do you follow other fashion shows and magazines a lot?
Yeah, yeah. I’m always on for instance.

Are you a blog person?
Yeah! My friends and I, we’re always comparing and chatting like, ‘What did you think about this look?’

How about Tumblr?
No… but my friends do send me a lot though. They’re like, ‘Oh Renny, look at this, look at this!’ So usually I spend more time with my friends doing it because I work as well as model so usually I don’t have time. But for sure, I definitely do a lot of and 2threads and things like that. And I like to see all the different magazines. I flip through on my break.

Do you have any labels or designers you like in particular?
I have fallen in love with Alexander McQueen. I was in New York and I went to Savage Beauty and oh god, I was in tears.

I did a show, not for him, but for [the label] Alexander McQueen and it was a benefit, the curator of the Met was there and also [Sarah Burton and] they were talking about all the different designs and why each piece was chosen for Savage Beauty. I was so in awe, I just can’t believe how amazing that guy is. To have the main curator  of the Met to be there and talk about each piece – it opened my eyes because… [they explained] the history of the whole collection and what Alexander’s mind was going through at the time too.

But you know, I will wear anything. I don’t mind how expensive, or how cheap it is. As long as it’s going to fit in with whatever I’m picturing. I’m not somebody who goes and buys everything, I need to be like ‘Oh, that will go so beautifully with this piece’, based on what I’ve seen on the catwalk or something like that.

Johanna Johnson on red carpet glamour

So… I’m not really a big Hollywood fan. Red carpet glamour is all very nice, but seriously, who the hell are these people? And why should I care about what they’re wearing, when it’s not particularly stylish or interesting anyway? (The answer to that, of course, is because Tom & Lorenzo care. Duh.)

That said, it wasn’t like I was going to say no when I had the chance to speak to Aussie designer Johanna Johnson. It’s the second time I’ve interviewed her - last time I trekked out to her Paddington studio to speak about Christina Hendricks’ stunning art-deco gown at the Emmy Awards - and if someone’s going to get me to care about the brouhaha on the red carpet, it’s Johnson. Because seriously? I love her. Not only is she classy and beautifully posh without being pretentious, she also produces some of the most stunning bridal work I’ve ever seen in my life. Her designs display a kind of dedication to workmanship long forgotten, and her approach to customer service and just her overall business display some serious work ethic. Respect. 

Hollywood stars have been snapping up gowns by Australian designer Johanna Johnson, thanks to her talent for translating old-school Hollywood glamour for modern sensibilities.

Felicity Jones, Maya Rudolph and Siedah Garrett all wore designs by Johanna Johnson to the Oscars and Vanity Fair Oscar Party this week, while former Victoria’s Secret angel Marissa Miller was also spotted at an Oscars viewing party in a gold vintage-finished silk georgette gown by the Sydney-based designer. 

“I think [celebrities] like the fact that it’s made in Australia [and] the fact that we’re doing all the old-world hand-finishing,” says Johnson, whose main line focuses on red carpet-worthy bridal wear while creating personal relationships with customers. “We’re trying to give a very high-end product and service different to what’s out there.”

Johnson’s presence in the US has skyrocketed since Christina Hendricks wore one of her gowns to the Emmy Awards in September last year, as women stateside fall in love with Johnson’s almost artisanal approach to design – a typical Johanna Johnson dress often features meticulous embroidery and Swarovski crystal detailing, hand-finished in Johnson’s Paddington studio to her exacting standards. 

No wonder Johnson says that each piece is “all a little bit a part of me”. 

“They’re all beautiful to create,” says the designer, who personally searched for “the right leather, as soft as I could possibly find,” for Felicity Jones’ Vanity Fair Oscar Party dress and who worked with her team in Australia to turn around a custom Italian silk wool gown for Maya Rudolph in eight days to wear to the Oscars. 

“[Maya’s team] approached us – they had seen a gown in our collection but wanted us to make it custom and in that particular colour [claret]. 

“I actually had to ask my staff to come in last Saturday and work all weekend; my team are so, so wonderful,” she says. 

Johnson, who has held annual presentations in Los Angeles for the past four years, will be taking more frequent trips across the Pacific this year – she is hoping to open a head office in New York soon. “It really helps to be on the ground. I can approve fittings over Skype but it’s not the same. I like having my hands on them and doing the fittings myself,” she says.

But despite the time away from her husband and two small children, she won’t be regretting the extra travel.

Referring to the endless meetings, fittings and lack of sleep as she helps women, famous or not, look their most glamorous, she says: “This is what I really want to do. This is what our brand is all about.”

See the whole story and more images of gowns on the red carpet by Aussie designer Johanna Johnson on

Felicity Jones at the Vanity Fair Oscars after party /

Street style 2.0: stylist Ondine Azoulay captured at London Fashion Week by Dennis Swiatkowski X NOWNESS

Alexander McQueen autumn/winter 2012/13

There are, I’m sure, a limited number of people out there who would look at Sarah Burton’s latest collection for Alexander McQueen and think, “Ooh! I would wear that!” But wearable is possibly the last word one would use to describe the clothes seen on a McQueen runway anyway. Wearable they are not; what they are is a brilliant manifestation of the intersection of artistry, drama and the form of the human body.  

Romantic, feminine and striking, for autumn/winter Burton took the darkness of the McQueen aesthetic and imbued it with a sort of nostalgic fantasy that manifested itself in dusky autumn flora. Close-up shots revealed the embroidery, the deft way in which the collars fell to subvert our notions of tailoring, and the intricate layers of chiffon that seemed to revel in artistry. This was fashion literally rendered as beauty. Methinks Alexander McQueen would be proud.  

Alexander McQueen autumn/winter 2012/13 at Paris Fashion Week / Monica Feudi via

Gary Bigeni gives both online and traditional retailing his love

Designer Gary Bigeni pays the same attention to detail to his luxe, draped-to-perfection womenswear as he does to running his burgeoning business both online and offline. Here, he talks about how he makes sure both his digital fans and his traditional bricks-and-mortar stockists receive the love they need.


Gary Bigeni / Xiaohan Shen via

You have your online store and a number of online boutique stockists as well. Why did you want to start selling online in the first place? 
I really wanted the opportunity to interact in a more direct way with my customers and make the Gary Bigeni label more widely available both through Australia and also internationally. I also believe it is important to continue to evolve your business and make sure you stay on top of how customers shopping habits are changing. 

How have you handled selling both online and in retail? 
I’ve had a strong presence in both local and international boutiques for quite a few years now, well before I opened my online store. The boutiques are such an important part of my business and have been very supportive from the beginning. To ensure I continue to support these stores I deliver my collections to them a couple of weeks before I release pieces on my online store. 

I have worked hard to find a balance between my existing stockists and my online store, as it’s important not to forget those who have been with you from the start. 

What was the process like for setting up both sides of the business?
I have been very lucky in setting up the wholesale side of my business as boutiques have had a genuine love for the brand right from the start. Launching my online store was a bit more challenging, simply because it took longer for me to get my head around the technical side of e-commerce. I wanted to make sure I understood every part of the process as it’s so important to get your online store right. 

I’ve learnt so much along the way and I’m still learning. Online stores need constant maintenance, updating and love so I keep building on my knowledge as the store grows. 

I’ve heard other designers say their own online store lets them deal more directly with the customer, without having to dilute their brand. What do you think of this? 
The direct dialogue with customers is my favourite part of the online store. Customer feedback is such a vital tool to help build my brand and I really enjoy finding out what women want from the label. It helps me get to know what kind of women my customers are and the more I understand them, the more it assists me with designing my collections. A lot of my customers send emails asking questions about fit, colour and fabrications and they seem to really enjoy getting emails back from me directly assisting them with their purchases and recommending pieces.

Online shopping – it’s the future. Agree or disagree, and why?
Both. I believe in traditional retail and online shopping working hand in hand, rather than it being one or the other. I don’t see why we can’t do both. I see such value in the face-to-face customer service that boutiques can provide and love the in store shopping experience.  

On the other hand online shopping gives me access to hard-to-find and international labels that I can’t get in Australia. Similarly I want everyone, not matter where they are, to have access to the Gary Bigeni brand. I hope that as online shopping continues to grow exponentially that it doesn’t mean we lose the personal interaction of boutique shopping.

See more of my interview with Gary Bigeni and photos his new collection on

Stars and style at the David Jones autumn/winter launch

The cream of Sydney’s celebrity crop joined fashion industry insiders at the David Jones autumn/winter launch on Wednesday for a night of stars and style.

Dannii Minogue, Delta Goodrem, Megan Gale and Gracie Otto were present along with Anna Plunkett of Romance Was Born, Nicky and Simone Zimmermann and mother-and-daughter duo Carla Zampatti and Bianca Spender to watch the department store present the upcoming season’s collections.

Perhaps buoyed by the fact that it was Valentine’s this week, a theme of whimsy with romantic overtones ran through designers’ outfits, particularly in regards to colour, prints and patterns.

It was clear the Zimmermann sisters had florals on their mind, with Simone Zimmermann’s elegant wrap dress covered in a black-and-white floral motic, and Nicky Zimmermann’s lace babydoll top and dusky rose pants also featuring a botanical theme.

Bianca Spender
took a turn to the dark side in a predominantly black jumpsuit, but instances of orange and red in the jumpsuit’s print lent a sense of fiery passion to the outfit. 

Meanwhile, Anna Plunkett of Romance Was Born channelled playful femininity in a fitted colour-blocked metallic dress paired with coral-hued hair – and a slick of bubblegum lipstick to finish her look off. 

But wait, there’s more: read my Storify story on spotting the best dressed at the David Jones autumn/winter launch on

Akira Isogawa, because he has the sweetest soul, and Christine Leetham / Xiaohan Shen via

Topshop releases designer t-shirt collaboration

Christopher Kane, Erdem and Richard Nicoll have collaborated with Topshop on a t-shirt collection in honour of the store’s 10-year anniversary of supporting young fashion talent.

Along with other designers who have benefited from the British Fashion Council’s young designer support scheme NEWGEN, sponsored by Topshop, they will each design a limited edition t-shirt embodying their signature aesthetic. 

Other designers participating include Peter Pilotto, Gareth Pugh, Roksanda Illincic, Jonathan Saunders, Mary Katrantzou, Emma Cook and Marios Schwab.

The shirts will be available from the Topshop store in Melbourne and online at during London Fashion Week, with proceeds donated to a charity to help homeless young people in Britain. 

See more designer t-shirts X Topshop at


Mary Katrantzou t-shirt X Topshop / Topshop

Interview: Corey Wallace

I met Corey outside the David Jones model casting chilling with Nicole.  Although he was much taller than me (not hard), it wasn’t bad chatting to him, although I did have to squat to be tête-à-tête thanks to the weird inclines of the street we were on - which is kind of awkward next to someone whose job is just to be incredibly good-looking. 

But he was pretty chill. In fact, truth be told, he was a lot of fun. He was self-deprecating. Easygoing. Relaxed. And he was so sweet about his girlfriend. Everybody all together now - ngawww.

Corey Wallace and Nicole Pollard / Xiaohan Shen

What you’re wearing today, tell me about it.
Alright. I’m wearing a shirt by Scoop apparently.

What do you mean by ‘apparently’?
Well I just asked someone else, and they checked. Pants from H&M and boots from some shop in London, which I cannot recall at all. I want to say RiverStone, but I could be making it up. I’m not wearing any socks or undies so can’t tell you about them.

Okay. What about your necklace?
Oh! My girlfriend got this for me. I think she got it from Barcelona, I have no idea where from though. She’s good at hunting down treasures.

Was that for an occasion?
Um, yeah this one was, I think, Christmas? So really recent, this one. 

Do you wear it all the time?
No, I’ve got – necklaces are sort of what I’m into at the moment. I’ve been into them for the last six months and I’ve probably got, I don’t know, somewhere between half a dozen and ten now. I’m sure I’ll get over it soon, but for now I like it.
It’s a pretty expensive habit though - they’re not cheap, necklaces.

Yeah but they’ll always last, hey.
That’s the thing. You can go back to them and have a few, and wear them in a couple of weeks.

Are there any favourite designers for necklaces or places that you go to find them?
Um, I actually bought this one necklace in New York recently and it was beautiful, it was like a gold carved tube with a loop and it had another little part as well. I lost it and it made me upset. I’m not a materialistic person, but I really, really liked that necklace and I thought, ‘Oh man’. It was from a tattoo shop in Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

Will you able to go back?
Yeah I’ll be in March so I’ll have to go find something similar.

But yeah, as far as brands go, I’m actually retarded. I just wear clothes. I think, ‘Yep. That looks alright,’ until my girlfriend goes, ‘That’s horrible’, and I’m like ‘But I thought this was okay!’

What does your girlfriend do?
She’s a model.
Yeah she’s Australian…

Does she influence your style?
Um, a little bit. Like, I feel that my look in the fashion world is just conservative. I go to castings and wear boring clothes because that’s kind of what my job makes me do, but since being with her, she’s reminded me of the crazier stuff I used to wear when I was younger.

Like what?
I’ve got this pair of acid wash jeans I was gonna wear today, they’re skin-tight, Ksubi. Thy look like a rainbow Paddle Pop all the way up, they’re awesome. She was like, ‘You should wear them!’ but then I thought, it’s David Jones, they’re a bit conservative.
But yeah, no, she’s definitely reminded me that wearing clothes is fun. She’s really into it and I’m not so much, but yeah… expensive habit.
Corey Wallace / Chic Model Management

Laneway Festival

What a lovely, lovely day it was at Laneway Festival.

Enjoyed: the sunshine; enthusing with total randoms about food blogs (as you do - but oh gosh, Scanwich, your genius cannot be denied); and a chat with the lovely Cameron Mesirow of Glasser about her really awesome Acne jacket from the Swedish brand’s collaboration with London artist Daniel Silver. 

Photos by Xiaohan will up on soon. Excite pants!

Paris haute couture: front-row royalty

If haute couture is about class, artistry and elegance, then the stars who lined the front row in Paris and their fashion choices were a perfect reflection of this.

Leading ladies such as Cameron Diaz and Jessica Chastain opted for classic minimalism as they watched handiwork from the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani parade down the catwalk at Chanel and Armani respectively. 

Diaz paired a sleek off-white dress from Chanel’s Cruise Antibes collection with a clutch and coat, while Chastain wore a minimal black shift that was far from dull, thanks to fluoro orange accents and a luminous smile sparked by hearing her Oscar nomination.

Taking easy Parisian elegance to another level were Vanessa Paradis and Alice Dellal at Chanel. Paradis’ jacket from Chanel’s ready-to-wear spring/summer ’11 collection was worn over a silk maxi for a luxe bohemian look, while Dellal paired a delicate lace Chanel haute couture top with punk accessories and a vintage skirt.

Heralding a return to old-school Parisian glamour was Russian stylist and designer Ulyana Sergeenko at Giambattista Valli, who piled curls on top of her head for a sleek yet sensuous hairstyle. Paired with the ultra-classy, demure and ladylike floral dress she was wearing, it seemed to hark back to an era when fashion was the sumptuous, lavish domain of the Parisian bourgeoisie.

See more images from Paris haute couture at

Ulyana Sergeenko at Giambattista Valli Haute Couture S/S 2012/13 /

Interview: Ollie Henderson likes tartan skirts and Romance

Ollie Henderson, with her platinum blonde hair, gravelly voice and almost blasé approach to life, is just one of those people who are - there’s no other word for it - cool. When I met her she just seemed like she took everything in her stride, and I would have perhaps been jealous of such self-assuredness, except that it was kind of infectious. 

/ Xiaohan Shen

Can you tell me about what you’re wearing?
Well my pants are from Romance [was Born], the top is from Ellery and these bracelets are from Lebanon.
They’re so cool, I really want them.
Thanks, yeah they’re cool.
Do you have any stories about them?
Okay Lebanon, what were you doing in Lebanon?
Well I went a holiday with one of my best friends Rachel Rutt. It was after Dubai Fashion Week and we thought, which was a pretty strenuous week I guess and we decided that we needed a holiday. Originally we were going to go to India but you needed to get a visa and so… it was literally a matter of just picking a point on the map of somewhere in the area so we decided Lebanon and coincidentally one of my best friends from London was there visiting his family at the same time. So we had a a fantastic trip, we got to stay with his family in the countryside, they were very accommodating. The people there are just so lovely. So I’m planning a little bit of an extended holiday there.
Extended, like how long are we talking about?
I’m thinking three months. I really want to go and experience the city.
Just Beirut.
And this banana earring, where’s that from?
Another mate of mine … brought it back from the Big Banana and gave it to me for my birthday.
So how would you describe your style?
… Me.
What are your favourite things to wear?
Um… favourite things to wear… I have this tartan skirt that I really like wearing. It looks a bit like a schoolgirl skirt, I always like to pretend that I’m in Cruel Intentions when I’m wearing it. Although I rewatched that movie and they don’t actually wear tartan skirts. But whenever I see tartan skirts I think of it.
It reminds me of Clueless.
Yeah, another 90s classic.
So I guess do you just throw on whatever you feel like in the morning, or do you have other models or designers that you really love? Or blogs?
Not really. Self-inspired, I guess.
I guess it’s just how I feel. Romance Was Born is definitely my favourite designer, I love their stuff.
Have you walked for them?
And what’s that like?
It’s always great, because it’s always such a production. It’s a show I really enjoy being involved in because I really appreciate their creative talent. I think it’s definitely my favourite show to walk in at Australian Fashion Week.
What about overseas?
I really love the McQueen shows. They always do a good one. I really like them. I don’t know. I know this is really bad as a model, but I don’t actually know designers very well.
That’s okay. We won’t put that one in.
Well you know…
It’s most about style for you as opposed to designers, hey.
Yeah, totally. I think that you don’t need a lot of money to have good style and you don’t really need to know the designers, I don’t think it’s the most important thing. A white shirt can be from Karen Walker or it can be from Target. If it’s styled in the right way it’ll still look good.

See more of her portfolio at Chic
Ollie Henderson / via Chic


So, Australian models are amazing. They’re friendly. They’re fun. They have personalities. And they’re gorgeous? Yeah, talk about hitting the potluck. 
Anyway, my friend Xiaohan and I had the chance to chat to some of them at the David Jones model casting. Meet some of them. This is the super-friendly and sweet Melise.

Melise, 18

What I’m wearing 

I’m wearing Ksubi jeans, red jeans, and just a Supre bodysuit to show off my body and things for the casting, and the necklace is Tiffany’s and just [another necklace] that gives me a little bit of inspiration. It says ‘dream’ and ‘believe’. 

For my 13th I got the Tiffany’s [necklace] from my grandfather and my auntie, and I got this [necklace] for my 18th because one of my friends said, ‘It’s totally you, keep believing and keep dreaming’. It’s really sweet.  

Style ethos 

I think it’s kind of ‘rock chick chic’ in a way. I love my leather jackets and I love my black lacy bra underneath and my jeans, my black jeans… I love black.

Favourite shopping haunt 

I [shop] everywhere. Lately it’s been Witchery, I’ve been finding lots of really cool tops in Witchery. 

I buy key pieces from the designers, like I found a really cute dress from Sass & Bide, but I just go wherever, really. Wherever I can find something cool and nice and new.

Melise / via Chic Management