Tuesday, January 31, 2017

EPITOME OF FLAIR - BILLIE BOSSANOVA




Who are you?

My name is Биљана Божићкович but I go by the moniker of Billie Bossanova – it’s so much easier for skips to pronounce.  I meet lots of elderly Billie’s around (I’m always chatting to the oldies) and we get a kick out of talking about our common interests and nickname.  I’m very proud of my real name and my heritage so the moniker isn’t about removing my self from that, more a convenience thing.  Plus I quite like having an alter ego.

My parents immigrated from Yugoslavia to Australia with my sister and I when we were little in 1970. While they worked I spent the days watching endless amounts of midday movies (Fred, Ginger, Gene, Elvis, Humphrey, Lauren, Katherine and Marilyn became my family), teaching myself how to sew on the old Singer that was left in the house we lived in and designing outfits for my paper dolls.  In the first few years in Australia my mother would buy clothes from the charity shops, which to her was quite shameful, but I loved them.  I clearly remember buying my first pair of 50’s stiletto’s when I was about 6 and willing myself to grow faster to be able to fit into them, which happened when I was about 12 and I wore those shoes for the next 30 years, painting them a variety of colours to match outfits I made.  

When I was 13 I went to my first high school dance in a 50’s prom dress with matching shoes and handbag.  That was in 1979 and everybody thought I was just REALLY into Grease, which had been released the year before.  Thankfully not long after that I met other like minded people and I didn’t feel like such an alien.  I started socializing with people who also felt like outsiders, punks, skins, rockabilly’s, new romantics, gays and that has been a constant in my life.  I’m drawn to the theatre of life and those that take it all the way.

My love of charity shops and vintage clothes has never ever waned, and I find it very very hard to pass one without having a ‘quick look’.  In fact, when I moved back to Brisbane a decade a go I bought my house mostly because it was walking distance to 2 antique centers and a dozen charity shops!  I swear it’s an illness, but I just can’t help but want to save everything old and beautiful.  I am getting better, mostly because I fear I’m about to be featured on some hoarders television show.



Describe your style?

This is hard because I have different looks to suit my many moods, but they are all still very much me.  I never dress for anyone but myself.   I go from very simple with minimal accessories to wearing hats with whole birds on them and my body weight in costume jewelry.  Whilst my base wardrobe is early 40’s-mid 50’s, I have favorite pieces from the 60’s - 80’s too.  I especially love 70’s does 30’s and 40’s – not the polyester stuff, but the printed cottons and silks of the Ossie Clark & Celia Birtwell collaborations.  In fact it’s my love of this era that makes me want to become a textile designer one day, when I grow up.

I spent my first 40 years wearing mostly 50’s vintage and 50’s style pieces.  This last decade I’ve retrograded and wear far more 40’s and 30’s.  This is mostly due to finally learning how to swing dance after watching others dancing most of my life!   Wearing the original clothing while dancing to swing music is the closest thing to reliving all my childhood fantasies watching those midday movies.



Who is your favourite style icon and why?

My icons tend to be the designers as much as the wearers – Edith Head, Gilbert Adrian, Walter Plunkett, Travis Banton, Christian Dior.  
I would wear pretty much anything worn by Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe on and off screen.
Modern day designers I adore are John Galliano (even though his personal views are NOT something I admire), the late great Alexander McQueen (and his muse Isabella Blow) and more recently Ulyana Sergeenko – her avant garde take on vintage is totally up my alley, if only I had the legs and budget!

In everyday life, the people I admire the most are not necessarily wearing what I would, but they are so true to themselves that they can do no wrong style wise.  That’s what I find most attractive, when people know who they are and they own it in every way.  They don’t dress for the compliments of others or just for the sake of what’s currently fashionable or what they think they should be wearing. 



Name your 5 essential fashion pieces.

I am the QUEEN of light packing when I travel – I rarely ever take more than a handbag and hand luggage.  

The 5 essential pieces for me would be

1.       Well tailored, high waisted trousers – either cigarette or wide legged.
2.       A flattering skirt – for me it’s either a 40’s A line or 50’s pencil skirt.
3.       Comfortable mid heel shoes – either babydoll or peep toe so I can style myself either 40’s or 50’s with one pair of shoes.  You have to be able to walk all day and dance all night in them.
4.       A lovely coat/jacket to complete a look.
5.       A bag of accessories that can turn your outfit from day to night – a beautiful belt, scarf that can be made into a turban or just wrapped around your neck, a brooch and any other bling that makes you feel special.



Do you have a special prized fashion piece in your wardrobe?

Despite losing over 20 years’ worth of collection about a decade ago, I have re-accumulated a lot of special things, each with its own reason for being in my wardrobe (if I get my hands on something with a back story it always becomes special).  
But my most precious item is a 20’s/very early 30’s bias cut gown that is too big for my midget frame, and sadly also too delicate to be worn.  It is the most amazing rich royal blue colour silk crepe and the detail in it makes me want to cry.  
I often take her from her acid free wrapping and box and just look at her imaging who wore it and where too – and how the hell she ended up in a little vintage store in Brisbane.




What is something surprising about you?

Most people are amused at my taste in music.  I think because of the way I look and my age they expect me to just listen to sweet swing songs and pretty little 50’s ditties.  
My preference is for post punk/industrial/goth.  I love a huge variety of other styles including Northern Soul and underground Australiana and British from the 70’s and 80’s.  
And of course I do love swing, soul and jazz (though not white man jazz), and I prefer my 50’s sounds to be dark and dirty rather than Doris Day with the exception of country classics like Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline.  
I think my love of fashion from 20’s-80’s is matched by my love of the music from those decades too.



Do you have a favourite sewing pattern? What is it?

I have a HUGE stash of 40’s and 50’s sewing and knitting patterns, fabric and yarn ready to be created into masterpieces – but I’ve not had the time or mental state to make much for myself the past decade.  
I’m hoping that that will change in the very near future and that I’ll be boring everyone with my posts of my creating adventures.  
Until then I live vicariously through other people’s creations – I’m really enjoying the resurgence of people making clothes for themselves.  I hate waste and throwaway culture so this sits well with both my ethical standpoint and my aesthetic.






Sunday, September 25, 2016

EPITOME OF FLAIR - KRISTA BEAR


Who are you?

I am Krista, sometimes known as ‘Kristalicious’

Describe your personal style


I’ve never really known how to describe my personal style, mostly because until fairly recently I haven’t really HAD any style to be honest.
As an overweight or ‘plus size’ woman, I spent a lot of my adolescence and young adulthood being really ashamed and embarrassed about my body, which led to hiding my body and subsequently, my personality, under baggy jeans and men’s t-shirts most of the time.

I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself, and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible.
It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I discovered the rockabilly/vintage/pinup scenes that I realised that there were in fact beautiful clothes for plus size women, that flattered different body types and gave me the confidence to push my boundaries a bit. I was so excited to find that there were so many beautiful clothes out there that didn’t resemble the bedazzled butterfly print potato sacks that I was used to seeing in the plus size sections of the department/chain stores that I frequented.


Recently though, a friend tagged me in an article about ‘Toddler Grandma Style’, which seems to sum me up pretty perfectly these days! Apparently Toddler Grandma style refers to the kind of clothes that pretty much only toddlers or grandmas can ‘get away with’ – crazy loud prints, cardigans, patterns, brooches, colourful dresses etc.
To me, it’s kind of the perfect combination of whimsy and comfort, and I refuse to accept the idea that although my toddler years are a distant memory and grandma-hood is in the very distant future, I shouldn’t be able to have some fun and wear all of the colours and cuts and prints that I want to, as a 20-something-year-old.




Who is someone you admire?


Pretty much anyone who can do winged eyeliner…

That is an art I am yet to master! I also admire the little girl that I saw at a birthday party once – all the other little girls were dressed as fairy princesses, but this girl was dressed in a giraffe costume and she ROCKED it.
I hope that if I ever have kids, they feel confident and comfortable enough in their own skin to be a giraffe in a world of fairy princesses if that’s what they want!
Actually, I think there’s something in that for everyone really, at any age.



Name 5 adjectives to describe you


ADVENTUROUS, SUNSHINY, KIND, OPEN & QUIRKY



What gets your creativity flowing?


Kitchen or loungeroom dance parties, seeing the sparkle in someone’s eyes when they talk about their passions, the feeling of pen on paper, and hearing people’s stories.



What is something surprising about you?


I can’t think of anything that is surprising really – I’m a pretty open book!

Although, sometimes people are surprised to find out that I’m actually an introvert by nature.
The nature of the work that I do means I have to try really hard to be an extrovert in order to communicate and connect with people and be up in front of groups talking and facilitating, so lots of people only ever see that side of me.
But as much as I love people, sometimes being around them actually takes a huge amount of effort and energy from me, so I need time to be my introverted self, away from the demands of the world, where I can recharge my batteries.
Most of the time, my idea of a blissful weekend involves staying in my little cottage in my pajamas, pottering around and enjoying my own company.



Do have a favourite clothing piece?


At this point in time, I think it would have to be my watermelon skirt… because, well, it’s a watermelon!
And also, it has pockets, and any skirt with pockets is an instant winner in my eyes!































My blog is currently under construction, but in the meantime you can find my day-to-day adventures, thoughts, and rants over at my Facebook page, ‘Being Kristalicious’






Monday, August 22, 2016

EPITOME OF FLAIR - BEX HULANDS


Who are you?


I'm Bex from Subversive Femme - vintage enthusiast, collector of patterns, maker of things.

Fashion from the 1930s-1950s really speak to me, and I blog about sewing/knitting clothing from this era.
I don't hide from being a plus size woman, and happily size up vintage patterns to fit me. I think everyone should have access to vintage style no matter their body shape.
Every year in July I host Curvy Month on my blog. I find and share free vintage knitting patterns for larger figures during that month, proving that women have always come in different shapes and sizes.
Describe your fashion style


Eclectic 40s and 50s.

I like wacky novelty prints and bright colours, hand embroidery and ricrac trim.
I love vintage knitwear, swing pants, vintage jeans and patio dresses - fun and easy to wear.

I don't believe that dressing in vintage should be hard work, so I'm always looking for comfortable and unusual clothing.
I'm not a vintage purist, but 70% of my wardrobe is true vintage and the rest is vintage-style or reproductions.


Who is your favourite style icon & why?


I would have to pick two - Lucille Ball and Carmen Miranda.

Both of them looked a million dollars - they were glamorous and had playful sense of humour which really comes through in their fashion choices.
They were strong personalities too


Name your 5 essential fashion pieces


A Pendleton 49er jacket - perfect for Sydney autumns and springs



Minnetonka Thunderbird moccasins - great for walking long distances when you're antiquing



One good rayon or silk scarf - for those bad hair days. Do a Rosie for casual, or a Turban for fancy. A scarf can take you anywhere



Red lipstick - I love Kat Von D 'Tijuana'. Velvet matte, and cruelty free



A novelty brooch - nothing better than catching a glimpse of your crazy jewellery in a mirror as you walk past



Do you have a special prized fashion piece in your wardrobe?


I have a stunning floor length Crimson velvet dress will amazing sleeves from the 1940s. The shoulders have heavy gold embroidery on them - I've never worn it out as its so over the top, but here's hoping I get invited to cocktails with the Queen soon!

What is something surprising about you?


I'm the Treasurer for Sydney Dykes on Bikes - this will be my 6th year on the Committee.

People think Dykes on Bikes are only about Mardi Gras, but we put on events for our members throughout the year.
We also work really hard to raise money for our charities - to date we've given away over $30,000 to needy causes.


Do you have a favourite sewing pattern? What is it?


I have so many favourites! Probably the one I most want to make up is Simplicity 3414 from 1940.

It was one of the first vintage patterns I ever bought, and has some gorgeous options like an open sun back.
Maybe this is the year I make it up...





Sunday, August 14, 2016

EPITOME OF FLAIR - ANNE WHALLEY


Who are you?
Anne Whalley
I am a Personal Stylist & International Motivational Speaker.
I am passionate about fabric and an avid sewer.
Helping people Dress to Express themselves and  feel confident in their skin is something I live to do.
My formal fashion training began in my twenties.
In the International sewing community I am known as "The Pattern Whisperer." 


2.  Describe your fashion style
Dramatic Creative and Comfortable!
All three ingredients result in an outfit I love wearing.

Who is your favourite style icon & why?
David Bowie! He was never afraid to dress the way he felt inside.

Name your 5 essential fashion pieces
Brown two way stretch Singlet dress - this basic piece is a platform for the majority of my my outer pieces
My yellow cape - first cape I made and now I have an addiction to capes
My cocoon dress - a recent make that I want to wear everyday day...so I made another one
My crochet digital print dress. Everything about this dress makes me feel fabulous
My hand-knitted neck accessory made by my designer friend Alfia Galimova.
I love the colour and the design and the various ways it can be worn



Do you have a special prized fashion piece in your wardrobe?
My latest make is usually my special prized fashion piece!
I get crushes on the way my newest creation feels and looks.
I have to stop myself from wearing something too much.


What is something surprising about you?
I love listening to people and taking them on a journey that helps them move forward.
Seeing people break free from situations and take control of their lives is what gets me up in the morning!
The surprising part is that I show them  how wearing the right clothes is the key to their breakthrough!



Monday, August 8, 2016

EPITOME OF FLAIR - SUE CADZOW


Who are you?
Sue Cadzow - 50s Vintage Dame

I’m a graphic designer and illustrator who particularly loves working in vintage style.
My illustrations have been featured on Atomic Swag tee shirts (Aloha, Ranch Party and Square Dancers and the little girls’ tee shirt) and I have created designs for many people in the vintage and retro world both in Australia and overseas.
For instance, I did the artwork for the Vintage Fashion Guild logo, Doughbox Diner in Sydney, Doll Deluxe clothing, and CD covers and posters for various rockabilly bands.
I love vintage design and I get really excited overtime someone comes to me with a new project!
People often come to me and they only have a vague notion in their head of what they want, or they may have seen an old advertisement that has inspired the seed of an idea.
My job is to visualise what is in their head and make it into artwork.
Its actually really satisfying when people say “This looks even better than I had imagined!”







Describe your fashion style
I have never really thought about it, but I guess I would simply say “1950s”.
I grew up in the country and used to watch 1950s movie on TV (Dial M for Murder was on high rotation on the country TV channels) and I raided my mum’s sewing patterns (she had been a teenager in the 1950s) and started sewing my own vintage outfits.
I also loved listening to her original record of “Rock Around the Clock”, so the love of the music started at the same time. I thought I was the only one who liked that stuff though, so I was extremely please when I moved to the city and found a whole bunch of other people loved the same things!
Whether the look be casual-look high-waisted side-zip jeans and a tee shirt and penny loafers, or full-on glamour with gold lamé and leopard print nearly everything in my wardrobe is either vintage, 1950s repro or items that I have sewn myself from vintage patterns.
I guess my dream is to emulate the style of Auntie Mame and dress totally for my own pleasure!


Who is your favourite style icon & why?

Marilyn Monroe has always been my favourite.

As a young girl growing up i the country watching her movies on TV, she seemed the epitome of style and Hollywood glamour to me. I used to sit and watch her movies with a sketch pad on my knees and quickly draw ideas for outfits to sew based on what she was wearing.
I used to whip up a new outfit every time I went out! When I was younger I used to have platinum blonde hair and my nickname was “Marilyn”. My hair has changed but I still love her outfits!



Name your 5 essential fashion pieces

Side-zip jeans (I hate things that don’t come up to my waist)
Capri pants (For when I want to look a bit dressy but still comfortable these cover all occasions!)
My vintage spectacles (mainly because I am blind as a bat and cannot see a thing without them!)
Flat shoes (After years of wearing ill-fitting vintage shoes my feet are a complete mess and I need to wear orthotic inserts)
Pencil skirt (Goes with everything and can equally look dressy or casual)




Do you have a special prized fashion piece in your wardrobe?
My dress and matching bolero in the photo below.
The dress was purchased on my first ever trip to Viva las Vegas and the bolero was purchased separately 3 years later on a subsequent trip to the Rockabilly Rave at Las Vegas! When I saw the bolero hanging on the rack I actually swore out loud because it was the same fabric as my dress.
It was like time had stood still ad I was in slow motion running towards the bolero and willing everyone else to leave it alone and not pick it up before I reached it.
As I triumphantly grabbed it off the rack (possibly shoving other people aside who were reaching for it at the same time) I could not believe my eyes that it was a perfect match!
I probably would have paid a million dollars there and then to have that piece and complete the set!!!



What is something surprising about you?
I love Agatha Christie books and TV shows (actually that’s probably not all that surprising to my family!!) and I collect vintage paperbacks of her books.



Do you have a favourite sewing pattern? What is it?
This pattern has been loved to death! I bought it from an op-shop in the mid-1980s and have made it as a top, a dress, and it was the first pattern I ever sewed that had no markings and odd-shaped pieces that I just had to work out how they joined together!



http://redpeppergraphics.com.au/ shows my graphic design work
http://redpeppergraphics.com.au/retro/ is where you can purchase and download my vintage-style clipart




Sunday, July 31, 2016

EPITOME OF FLAIR - BREE HAYWORTH



Who are you?

I'm Bree, a mum of 2 beautiful girls (10 & 6), a housewife and vintage hair and make up artist on the Gold Coast.
Describe your fashion style:
I float between the mid 30s and mid 60s with a strong preference for the war time era of the late 30s to early 40s. I dress in a vintage style everyday and with 2 kids that means practical garments.
But when I visit a client to do hair and makeup I like to glam it up a bit, it's the perfect excuse to get a little more dolled up than usual.
Who is your fashion style icon and why?
I'll be honest I don't really have one.
Don't get me wrong I love to drool over old movies and dream about plundering the wardrobe department, but my is based on practicality more so than glamour so I tend to look to the everyday women of the 40s and 50s for fashion inspiration.
I made a few Swirl inspired dresses this past summer which proved to be very comfortable to wear while performing my housewife duties.
I used Simplicity 1692 for the bodice and changed the neckline, added a simple gathered skirt and pockets. You've gotta have pockets!!!!
Name your 5 essential fashion pieces:

I make almost all of my own clothes excluding a few cardigans and knit tops I've mostly found in op shops, undergarments and a couple t-shirts from Atomic Swag and Miss Lady Bug.
But these are my "can't live without" items:
1. A good pair of jeans is a must! I used Gertie's Butterick B5895 for these ones.

2. A gathered skirt....with pockets. Can be teamed with a tailored blouse, peasant top and more.

3. Cardigans. I LOVE cardigans!!! I have over 50 yet seem to wear the same half dozen or so.
4. Scarves. I pick them up from op shops for an absolute steal and they're perfect for covering pincurls while they set, or for those days when I don't have time (or engery) to style my hair.
Plus who doesn't love a 40s style turban!!

5. A "Bree Top"...or 20.
These are essentially a peasant top that I make from a knit fabric rather than cotton and are more fitted than the traditional peasant top to reduce bulk around my rather large bust. I made my first one a couple summers ago and found it to be so comfortable and versatile that I've now made 20.
Yep, 20!
They were named the "Bree Top" by a couple cheeky ladies in my sewing group on Facebook as a bit of a joke since I'd made so many (only 16 at that stage) but the name stuck and now I find it hilarious that there's women all around the world talking about Bree tops and looking for the pattern.


What is something surprising about you?
It's not all that surprising but I'm mostly a self taught sewer.
My mum and Nan taught me how to use a sewing machine as a young girl and I did attempt to make a few (terrible) items of clothing through my 20s, but I didn't really fall in love with sewing until I was 31 and I've been addicted since. I had a couple lessons with Marianne from Rockababy Couture who taught me to use an overlocker but I've really just learnt by making mistakes and pushing my skills with each new pattern I attempt. I've had a lot of guidance from Jayne Coyne (the Godmother of sewing) through our wonderful sewing group on Facebook, Those Darn Sew and Sews, and I find all her pearls of wisdom inspiring.
Do you have a favourite pattern? What is it?
I have many. If I find a pattern I love I tend to make it again and again (case and point the Bree Top).
But one I always turn to for 40s trousers or an A-line skirt is Simplicity 40s Retro 3688. I'm yet to make the blouse or jacket but I've made the trousers many many times and I just add pockets or widen the leg to mix it up. The skirt is super easy too and a few times I've joined the middle and side pattern pieces together to make a simple 2 gore skirt rather than a 6. And of course added pockets because, well, POCKETS!

Instagram @deadgorgeousmuah