The Sounds We Hear in Silence

As I visit the Fashion and Textiles store at the NGV to record descriptions of our Chanel holdings for Adele Varcoe’s upcoming performance, Imagining Chanel, I listen to the sounds of silence. I listen to the rapid scratch of my lead pencil against paper as I record my inital impressions of the garments. I listen to the tinkle of my bracelets as they bump each other on my moving wrist. All the while the air-conditioner hums in the background. These are the sounds of silence in the fashion and textiles store.

Melbourne 12pm

A slick suited man kicks a green milk crate over to make himself a seat in the gritty laneway. Graffiti marks the wall behind him. Bins line the wall to the side. The contrast strikes me. Street art and slim suits. Sharp elegance against gritty settings. The gentleman and the boy all in one. His hair is sculptured, his eyes glow, his skin is moisturized, his cheek bones sharp and his suit is perfectly cut, as he sits on his crate and brings the $4.50 salad roll slowly to his lips.


Elizabeth Hawes on chic: There are, of course, a few really chic women who live in America. But being chic not only takes a great deal of money but an enormous about of time. It practically precludes everything else, even being on charity committees. Half of one’s time goes getting chic, the other half being seen that way.

Fashion is Spinach

Over years of reading texts on fashion I have seen repeated references to Elizabeth Hawes book, Fashion is Spinach, and always wondered what she meant. Elizabeth Hawes was an American clothing designer who began her career in the 1920s and published her book in 1938. Her book describes her frustrations with the dictates of fashion, as she advocates for style above all else, comfort and choice. The title is said to come from a cartoon in the The New Yorker from 1928 about the mistaken identity of broccoli for spinach. I still didn’t quite understand her odd, though memorable title. However it seems that aside from being a vegetable, spinach also carries the definition of ‘something unwanted, pretentious, or spurious’, which I guess is what Hawes thinks of it. The book is an interesting read which reflects her personal views and experiences of fashion.

Jacques-Henri Lartique

The exhibition at Instituto Moreira Salles in Rio de Janeiro features the work of photographer Jacques-henri Lartique. Captured are fashionable men and women of the 1910, 20s and 30s, as well as the predictable and unpredictable activities of new modern lifestyles. Aeroplanes, cars and people are shown in searing flight, or spontaneously and enjoyably crashed to the ground. Seawater provides the setting for popular water sports such as bathing, swimming and diving. It is also shown out of control, spraying and crashing over passersby in uncontrollable storms and tempests. The general feeling is one of exuberance, activity and action for the active pastimes, such as swimming, tennis and driving, that became part of life in the early 20th century. Highly recommended.


Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.

In Sam Wasson’s book Fifth Avenue, 5 A. M. Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman, he writes, ‘They’ll all deny it between their gulps of booze, but all writers love nothing more than the sound of their own voice.’ True?

the runway in the sky

When i thanked my sister for letting me know of Anna Piaggi’s death, as sad as it was, she wrote in response, ‘I thought you should know that one of your people had
passed to that great runway in the sky.’ It makes me feel better to imagine her there.

Diana Vreeland on getting her man

How funny is this? Diana Vreelend, ex editor of Harpers Bazaar and Vogue on meeting her husband…
she was so smitten, on their first meeting, that when he asked her to play golf, she jumped at the chance, although she barely knew how to play. She showed up at the first tee with a bandaged arm and announced that she could only walk around the course with him.

the weight of fashion

On Friday our director gave a floor talk on the 19th century collection. As an aside he said something like ‘because we don’t collect what’s in fashion, we collect what we deem to be outstanding.’ He was talking about fashions in collecting art and he did not use the word fashion in a positive context. This got me thinking, why did we choose the word fashion when we gave up the term costume?? There are fashions in just about everything, fashions in decorative arts, painting, text, not just clothing. Was that a mistake? When every other department takes their medium, ie photography, painting etc. and chooses what is best for the collection within that, why did we choose such a loaded term? In-ter-esting…