Thinking about winter fashion trends

The clichés are true: Melbourne is a city built for winter. People like to wear black. A lot. Coffee addicts are a dime a dozen. People are more interested in staying indoors than exploring the great outdoors. Whether that is in the newest tapas bar, hottest restaurant, theatre show or gallery opening, Melbournians will layer up and go out to stay in. And then there are the notable fashion trends that emerge with changing seasons…

Let’s bring the hat back lads.

Men’s winter fashion trends in Melbourne

One ubiquitous fashion trend in Melbourne is the Mega Scarf. A gigantic, practically towel sheet sized item, preferably made in wool or a wool/silk mix that, when wrapped around the wearer’s neck, covers up half their face. It’s a little over the top. And I own one. Because, although they are really much larger than is necessary, at least they do something for the proportions of an outfit, as opposed to the rather sad slim scarfs worn by most suits in the CBD that look like a throw back from school uniform days. Also it’s like carrying around a portable blanket – never a bad thing on a freezing winter day.

Then there is the mass beard movement that has happened in Melbourne. Not new and not restricted to Melbourne by any means – look at fashion and design magazines from Europe and the US and everyone from style hipsters and baristas to Oscar golden boy Ben Affleck have been doing a take on the lumber jack beard for some time now. And hey, I’m not against it. I think a lot of men can do the beard thing and do it well. But surely it’d time to mix it up a bit. Time to focus on the moustache or side burns perhaps? Perhaps not.

Shoes without socks is one winter fashion trend I cannot get behind. I agree loafers and light, beaten up brogues look good sans socks in the summer but when you’re wearing an overcoat and the aforementioned blanket sized scarf, it’s obviously cold enough for socks. Put some on guys – you don’t look comfortable – or cool.

Hats are one winter fashion trend I want to take off. Sure you see the occasional gent with a trilby and more often a flat cap, but nowhere near enough. In a city with such inclement weather, hats are a not only a good idea from the style point of view but also a practical one. You don’t need to be wearing an old fashion matching three piece suit either, fedoras look good with contemporary clothes too, you just need put the look together with eye on fabric, cut and proportion.

That’s my thoughts on men’s style trends but I’d like to know what you think! All for the beard? To hat or not to hat? Hit me up and let me know in the comments below.

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05 2013

Architecture in Melbourne

Sacred Spaces – Architecture in Melbourne

Even though architecture and design are huge interests for me, as someone who’s lived in Melbourne for many years, I often forget how beautiful and dynamic our city is. The buildings themselves as well as the landscape created through the grid layout of the streets and juxtaposition of old and new architecture really is quite fantastic – something I’m reminded of when I have friends visiting from overseas!

When I came across this video I thought it gave a pretty good impression of the kind of city Melbourne is in terms of architecture and design. Of course there’s so much more to it than can be explored here, and the fact that it has the highest density of Victorian buildings of anywhere in Australia isn’t really shown, but lots of key points are covered.

So if you’re not from Melbourne but are interested in our little Antipodean city I hope you are interested!

Melbournians and visitors alike – let me know your thoughts about the architecture in Melbourne in the comments section below!

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04 2013

All about botanical art in Melbourne

It might seem like something only your Mum would like but look around and you will find some of the coolest interior design features botanical art on the walls. Not only this but botanical illustrations continue to inspire fashion designers, textile designers and visual artists, along with naturalists, scientists and environmentalists.

In Melbourne those with a weakness for botanical art are spoilt for places to learn how to master the art of botanical illustration themselves, admire the work of established artists or see beautiful and strange botanical specimens in the flesh.

botanical art classes

 Top 3 places for botanical art classes in Melbourne

  1. Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens offer a range of workshops and classes for complete beginners to more experienced botanical illustrators. Beginner workshops are run over 4 days and are recommended for those who’ve never done anything like this before starting the 8 week courses. There are also specialist classes such as ‘leaves in colour pencil and watercolour’ for those wanting to focus on a particular area of botanical illustration. More info at RBG
  2. The Botanical Art School of Melbourne is another popular choice for fans of botanical illustration. In addition to their regular classes for beginners and more seasoned artists, the School runs master classes with guest artist teachers from interstate and abroad. More info at BAM
  3. Botanical art and professional watercolour classes are also run by respected botanical artist Stefan Gevers. Stefan holds 8 week courses various locations around Melbourne such as such Altona, Newport and Laverton. Classes have no more than 10 students so you can get one-on-one assistance as you learn and develop throughout the course. For those who don’t want to commit to a longer course but want to give botanical art a brief burl first to see if it is for them, Stefan runs one day workshop that are perfect for the unsure beginner to get a taste of this special and specialised art form. More info at BAC

botanical illustration workshop

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03 2013

Guest post: home art decorations with a personal touch

In an increasingly globalised world, visual arts such as fashion and interior design are at risk of becoming worryingly homogenised. As visual trends blend and take over the mainstream, unique expressions of creativity are in danger of being stamped out. Luckily, the home is one space you can stake your claim and make your own featuring a selection of personal objects and decorations and an interior design that expresses who you are. If you’re happy with your existing interior decoration, well that’s fabulous, but if you’re moving home soon you have got a great opportunity to take a fresh look at your wall colour, art decorations and overall design. In this article I hope to give you some ideas that might spark your own creativity and desire to take a personal approach to decorating your space.

Looking back at the evolution of design is both fascinating and educational for the keen interior decorator. Back in the 1950s United States retro-futurism was a concept that infiltrated maintream popular culture, with cartoons such as “The Jetsons” and later in the 1960s, on films such as the cult classic “Barbarella”. Although this type of design falls firmly in the ‘retro’ camp of aesthetics, the bold lines and modernistic forms that signify objects made in this era remain hugely popular when it comes to contemporary art decoration for the home. The ‘futuristic’ sensibility brought to these mid-century design pieces are what makes them work in contemporary interior design. Clean, rounded lines, metal, chrome and plastic fabrications look right at home with modern fixtures and home design features.

In addition to looking at design through the ages, inspiration for art decoration can come from casting your eyes towards modern art itself. The undefined dabs and splashes on colour which come together to create a harmonious, readable picture offer a wonderful way to approach soft furnishing and the arrangement of textiles throughout the home. By looking at how light is used in contemporary art installations and sculpture, we can take home lighting to a whole new level, drawing attention towards decorative features and creating s nuanced atmosphere. Minimalism in art can serve as an invaluable lesson in how to craft a simple, stark and striking interior design space. Monumental sculptures made from iron, wood, bronze and reclaimed objects, beautifully illustrate how unconventional or ‘raw’ materials can be used to create statement tables, benches and shelving. Smaller scale sculptures are also a unique art decoration which will make your space special and unlike any other.

So if you’re done with the box packing, removal services organising and have the utilities working, it’s time to move onto the fun stuff! Interior design and home art decoration are what make your home somewhere you want to spend time and invite others into. To make each space a unique and creative one, take a crash course in art history and the evolution of design and wait for your guests to be impressed with the results!

Stylish Home Art DecorationsBio: Ella Andrews is writer and blogger with flair for home decoration and home maintenance themes. Ella is constantly searching for new sources of inspiration and loves to write articles on sophisticated home decor and interior design.

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02 2013

Guest post: Floral arrangements and flowers in art

Natural landscapes have been featured in visual arts since before medieval times. This tradition continues, and along with it flowers, trees and other botanical matter remain the subjects of much creative production.It’s no surprise that fine art has long focussed on trees and flowers when we consider that they are easily among the most beautiful things to be found on earth. Examples can be found in many paintings, textile arts, sculpture and the decorative arts. Happily, museums and galleries are not the only indoor spaces that can benefit from the beauty of flowers. In fact, there are a number of ways you can enjoy the aesthetic beauty of flowers from the comfort of your own home. Flowers in ArtDried flowers for example, are easy to make and last forever. Dried flowers are durable compared to fresh and can be arranged like bouquets in a vase. The only condition is not to make them too dry, otherwise they will break in small pieces and will not be good for use. You can also press flowers in the pages of a heavy boom and then hang them, framed behind glass on your wall. Drying flowers is the most accessible and affordable way to do floral art. The drying itself requires no previous experience and special equipment. Not only this but you can enjoy the flowers fresh first, before they become transformed through the drying process. No garden or florist nearby to collect these beauties for your home? It’s no problem when so many fabulous florists deliver these days.

Those who are particular interested in flower arranging might be interested to learn more about Ikebana – the Japanese style of composing flowers. Vastly different from the European approach to combining botanical colors and materials, ikebana also uses the leaves as an important component of the visual composition. Minimalism is a key feature of this practice Another important characteristic of this arrangement is the minimalistic approach, which draws the eye to the flower in a more focussed way. This relates to the the spiritual nature of this form of flower arranging. This traditional art is practised in silence and the ikebana artist translate the natural beauty of the object in such a way that the viewer is inspired to look for beauty in every form and shape of the flower.

International and local flower shows are a wonderful, social forum for flower fans and those interested in artistic floral arrangements. Found all over the world, including Melbourne, London, Toronto and Philadelphia, these events bring together artists and admirers from all over the world. One of the biggest events for flower arts is the annual Flower Interpret Art Event. It takes place in the University of Virginia Art Museum. As the number of floral art events grow every year, the role of floral artist and arranger is gaining more prominence around the world. From knowing about flowers from exotic location, creating unique and aesthetically pleasing floral arrangements, using new technologies to help cut flowers last longer – the art direction behind flower arrangement is a skill that takes years to perfect. The lesson? Start learning now flower fans!

Flowers in ArtBio: Daisy Hart is dedicated writer, blogger and aesthete who finds her greatest inspiration in home decorating projects. She likes to discover beauty everywhere around and this is what gives her huge motivation for her work. Her present article is focused on flowers and their presence in art.


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02 2013

Guest post: Color schemes for sophisticated home design

Setting up a new home can be a daunting prospect. After dealing with real estate agents, moving companies and sorting out all the boring practicalities such as utility accounts, the next step is making your new flat or house feel like a home. On the up-side, a new space means a marvellous opportunity to have fresh interior design. Rather than doing the same old thing, why not step it up a notch and go for a seriously sophisticated interior design idea?!

Sophisticated home interior design combines a modern, elegant approach to the decorative elements and and furniture used throughout the space. Important elements to consider include the materials used, the lines which break up the space and color accents employed to create a sense of visual continuity. In fact the overall color scheme is perhaps the most important factor in creating a sophisticated home design. Selecting the most suitable colors may sound like an easy task but it often takes a professional touch to navigate the myriad colour combinations available and bring together complementary tones to create the kind of atmosphere desired.

Each room provides the opportunity to create a special atmosphere. So after you’re done with the dull house moving tasks, why not have some fun and transform each space into an environment which is aesthetically pleasing as well as practical. Starting with the kitchen, consider bright colours which reflect the fun of cooking and eating in what is considered most to be the heart of the home. Color Schemes For Sophisticated Home Design 2Yellow, blue and red are fantastically cherry colours you can use as accents on cupboards and skirting boards that will inject the room with a lively look. Decorate with original handmade objects such as a calender, prints, tea-towels and wall art to elevate room and make it a truly unique space .

Depending on your taste, the living room can be a refined, elegant space, or a rich and homey interior, or stark minimalist space. Neutral tones and natural materials make for a quietly refined interior design. Plenty of soft furnishings in rich colours, an array of objects d’art and books create a warm, homey atmosphere. If minimalism is your thing, take inspiration from the Japanese and strip away the unnecessary elements of the interior, using black lines to draw the eye around the space..

Bedrooms are perhaps the most important space to feel relaxed in the home. Choose a color scheme and interior decorating style which truly reflects you and is appropriate for sleeping in. Blue and green have known calming effects and make wonderful bedroom wall colours. Of course if you want to do something exotic, look around the world for style tips. For example Morocco interior design is a riot of colour, embroidery and silver accents and can work well when employed in a bedroom setting.

Bio: Ella Andrews is blogger, mother and housewife, who has great flair for home decoration and home remodeling projects. She is continuously searching for sources of inspiration and motivation. Presently she contributes articles mainly on practical aspects of moving home and setting up a new house in style.

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01 2013

The Top 5 best book shops in Melbourne

Local treasures: paperback purveyors

In an age where Kindle is king, the appeal of flicking through a beautiful book remains undiminished. Happily, along with brilliant coffee, great food and a dynamic arts scene, Melbourne is home to a terrific array of book shops that enjoy an ever loyal local fan base. I am one of them. While I’m not someone who enjoys shopping as a pastime, I can lose hours meandering through book shops in Melbourne, perusing new architecture book sand gorgeous coffee table tomes on interior design. In reality there would be at least 10 book shops in Melbourne that I could happily rant about but here are my Top 5.

Readings in Carlton. Image by Snipergirl, Flickr.

 The Top 5 best book shops in Melbourne

  1. Readings – let’s start with the biggest of the independents and an institution beloved by Melbourne folk far and wide.  Although the store in Carlton is the most famous, there are six Reading retailers in and around the city and they stock not only a wonderful and varied selection of books but also boast terrific, knowledgeable staff to help you when you’re in a book bind. Apologies for the pun…couldn’t resist! Check out the Carlton branch when you’re waiting for your movie to start at Nova next time.
  2. Artisan Books – this beautiful bookshop in Fitzroy proves small is beautiful. Specialising in art, craft, design and culture, it’s where to head for books, periodicals, coffee table tomes, exhibition catalogues and craft how-to manuals. High quality books and friendly service keep this neighbourhood gem in favour with artsy types, along with the evolving roster of exhibitions and beloved beanie display in winter!
  3. The Paperback Bookshop – this place is a favourite late night haunt of mine when I’m wandering the streets of the CBD, which, since I live there, is quite often. But it’s not just the night owl hours that make this one of my favourite book shops in Melbourne, it also has a wicked selection of fiction and non-fiction and their happy to order in books that, unlikely as it is, they don’t have at hand. Once you’ve picked up a title that tickles your fancy, head next door so you can pour over from a coffee at Pellegrini’s.
  4. Metropolis Bookshop – situated the lovely Curtain House in the city centre, this is a Melbourne bookshop that has it all. Roomy enough that you never feel crowded and a welcoming atmosphere that makes you feel you really can browse for hours, it has cute design details such as an aqua register counter with Japanese style illustration painted on it. A top choice for fashion students, it has an impressive textile and design books selection with titles you won’t have heard of before.
  5. NGV Australia Shop – this Melbourne bookshop might seem like a strange one to name next to these smaller independents but it’s a testament to how great it is that this flashy space at Fed Square gets a mention. Not only does it have a seriously impressive selection of magazines, periodicals and books to choose from that art and design mavens like me will drool over, it’s location gives architecture aficionados something to coo over too!

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12 2012