Event, Melbourne

“The Dressmaker” Costume Exhibition

A couple of days ago, during the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, I was fortunate enough to visit the brilliant costume design exhibition of the Jocelyn Moorhouse film The Dressmaker (2015). Based on the best selling novel by Rosalie Ham, this well-executed film, which stars Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth, transports audiences to 1950s rural Australia and tells the story of Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage (Winslet) who returns to her hometown after working in the fashion houses of London, Milan and Paris, and transforms the lives of the residents of Dungatar by making a name for herself as chief dressmaker.

This film takes viewers on Tilly’s journey of self-discovery, with flash-back sequences investigating her alleged murder of a boy her age during her childhood. The developing present-day love story between Tilly and Teddy McSwiney (Hemsworth) is just beautiful to watch. Winslet’s wonderful portrayal of Tilly makes her a highly believable character; an independent and strong woman, who wears luxurious, bold gowns and hats inspired by Parisian couture, yet also struggles to overcome the scars of her past behind closed doors. It should also be mentioned that the supporting cast, namely Judy Davis and Hugo Weaving, delivered outstanding performances.

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I loved the film a lot so going to see this exhibition was a real treat! Visitors are greeted with a train platform sign saying “Dungatar” out the front of the estate and a red carpet leading into the immaculate Rippon Lea House, which now belongs to the National Trust and was built in 1868. As guests explore the intimate and lavish 1930s Hollywood-style interiors of the mansion they can see images of actors wearing the costumes, as well as beautiful production displays, spinning mannequins, projections, video clips, hat displays and realistic photo backdrops. The highlight for most people, of course, is the privilege of coming face-to-face with the creations of costume designer Marion Boyce, and Margot Wilson who designed Kate Winslet’s wardrobe. Seeing these beautifully-crafted artisan pieces right before your very eyes is very gratifying, albeit keeping your hands from touching the gowns is easier said than done! The amount of time and effort it must have taken to create each dress on display, truly left me feeling very inspired. The production team’s eye for detail with the props and artistic touches in each room should also be commended. In most settings these masterpieces are not hidden behind any glass and non-flash photography is permitted.

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Exit the mansion and find yourself in a stunning 14 acre-garden with a lake and waterfall, rustic iron bridges, grass tennis court, Gatsby-style swimming pool (not in use), conservatory, lookout tower, largest covered fernery in the world and windmill. The nostalgic 1950s style of the film also extends to the cosy pop-up Dungatar Tea Room and the flourishing gift shop, which serves as the start and end point of the entire experience.

The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition runs until July 31st at Rippon Lea House and Gardens, Elsternwick, from 10am until 4pm daily.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

Visit www.dressmakerexhibition.com.au for more information.

Life, Melbourne

Dream Mansions in Brighton

There is a seaside suburb in Melbourne by the name of Brighton and it’s the place dreams are made of. Those lucky enough to call Brighton home have the beach on their doorstep and have pulled out all stops to make their homes feel welcoming and reflect their personalities. From the wide open tennis courts, to the exquisite gardens, unique architectural additions and just the right balance of colour and materiality, the residents of Brighton are truly living the life of luxury.

Here are my favourite homes snapped up on my walk in this ultra chic and exclusive suburb that has stolen my heart. A girl can only dream, right?

Latest News, Melbourne

Australian Open 2016

For as long as we’ve lived in Australia, we’ve never been to the Australian Open tennis except for Charity Matches or Kids’ Tennis Days. Luckily last Sunday we decided it was about time to experience the real atmosphere of a highly popular and entertaining tournament that brings visitors to Melbourne from all around the world. As a tennis fan and lover of the great game, getting a Ground Pass for the day made me really excited.

It was a rainy start to the day that made the practice courts outside wet and dangerous. Other fans and us waited for Novak Djokovic to begin practicing on one of the exterior courts, but after a while we saw Spanish tennis player, David Ferrer arrive for training. With his athletic looks and on-court charisma, it made the long one-hour wait by Court 17 really worth it. He graciously signed autographs for fans and posed for selfies afterwards.

It’s one thing to see the matches on TV and a completely different experience to actually be at the Australian Open. We’d catch celebrities everywhere we looked, even finding tennis champion turned commentator, Jim Courier, near the entrance to one of the major courts. My sister and I split up in order to see more and find our favourite players. I managed to come across my childhood idol, Martina Hingis posing with trophies, while my sister found her idol Mark Philippoussis.

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Luckily by the afternoon many of the practice courts were being used and we could also catch Australian Bernard Tomic practicing, as well as second seed Andy Murray hitting shots with his coach Amélie Mauresmo. We were once again made to wait over an hour in the hopes of seeing the legend Roger Federer, but a last minute court change made us all run to a much larger practice court where the atmosphere was much less personal and made getting an autograph from the champion a lot more difficult!

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Other matches we got to see were men’s doubles between Cuevas/Granollers and Dodig/Melo on Hisense Arena and Australian Stosur/Peers playing against Rodionova/Reid in the mixed doubles on Showcourt 2 as the sun started to set across the Melbourne skyline.

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All in all, I highly recommend a visit to this tournament as it’s one-of-a-kind and really shows off the true Australian sporting culture we’ve all grown to know and love.

Congratulations to Angelique Kerber for beating Serena Williams last night in the Women’s finals and good luck to Djokovic and Murray in the Men’s finals tonight. I know that we’re in for a great night of tennis, even if this time I’ll be watching it on the television with a cool strawberry smoothie I always prepare for finals of the Australian Open.

Travel

Mornington in Victoria

Over Christmas my family and I rented a small but stylish unit in Mornington to spend some quality time together. The interior spaces were ultra comfortable and every detail was perfect, from the bottle of bubbles we used to fill a pristine white bath tub to the cucumber cleansing wipes to refresh with after a one-hour drive getting there. All the rooms were decorated in a modern decor, with top-notch appliances and gadgets to fully entertain us. The artwork on the walls added a lovely playful touch and like everything else in the apartment showed off the owner’s great taste in interior design and decoration.

Mornington is the sort of quiet town by the sea that you could really fall in love with. It has exquisite little gift shops, artisan gelato stores, salons for high-tea and shopping to your heart’s content all the way along Main Street, leading down to the water. The sunsets, beach huts and sandy beaches all give the impression of a typical Australian beach vibe. Overall, we had a great time dancing on the terrace, singing Christmas carols and soaking up the atmosphere of a beautiful apartment in a gorgeous town.

Christmas, Travel

Melbourne at Christmas Time

For many people it’s extremely unusual to think about celebrating Christmas in the summer but for us Aussies, it’s what we do best. The streets of Melbourne are currently decorated in the traditional colours of Christmas and unlike our US/European friends, we can roam the streets in our T-shirts, indulge in ice-cream and go for a swim at the beach. While I prefer the traditional Christmas of snowy streets and warm homes filled with the scent of mulled wine and cinnamon, and the option of buying gifts at hearty Christmas markets, in many ways we are truly blessed to have our end of year holidays during the summer and a great atmosphere of Christmas cheer on the streets.

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Event, Melbourne

White Night Melbourne

Last night Melbourne came to life like never before with live indie music, illuminated buildings, creative art installations and lots of entertainment (and crowds!) to keep visitors happy from 7am to 7pm. This event known as “White Night” is a lively summer festival of light. It was a very hot and humid evening but the event was uber-cool, hip and very captivating. The packed train ride home though was far from pleasant! Still, Melbourne proved once again why it’s the artistic capital of Australia.

(All photos taken with iPhone 4S)

White Night
At NGV
Projections
Illuminations
Coffee Gelato
Blue Fountain
Flinders St Station

Travel

Dandenong Ranges in Victoria

Some of my best childhood memories come from the scenic mountainous part of Victoria known as the Dandenong Ranges. We used to go for long walks in the forest with my family, climb up steps for breathtaking views and look for hidden natural discoveries at every turn. When I got too tired to walk my dad would carry me on his back until I was able to explore on my own feet again. Ironically, the name of the place where we would often have picnics together later became known to me as my favourite TV show – One Tree Hill.

Last week we ventured into the Dandenongs (35 km east of Melbourne) for a few hours to relax and unwind over the weekend. Everything from the quirky gift shops to the quaint courtyards, picture-perfect buildings and breathtaking greenery made this trip very special. Don’t expect to be seated at Miss Marple’s glorious Tea Rooms as soon as you enter though! This charming little establishment is always over-populated and bookings are essential. Next door you’ll find one of the best Tea Shops with a great range of teas, sweets and teapots.

We spent a mild summer’s afternoon exploring the National Rhododendron Gardens, had lunch while kookaburra’s looked down at us from overhanging branches and discovered stunning vistas, framed by floating white clouds. That day was absolutely perfect. If you’re after a place to have dinner, try the Cuckoo for a truly Bavarian experience. It’s not light on the hip-pocket but there is a great amount of choice when it comes to food!

The Dandenongs are a brilliant place for city-folk to relax, unwind and recharge their batteries. All tourists to Victoria should visit the charming towns of Sassafras, Olinda and Mt. Dandenong for top quality shopping, a charming village  vibe and fresh air combined with scenery that is hard to beat. In winter it also snows there!

Food

Okami Japanese Restaurant

I love all things Japanese! Whether it’s their simplicity in design and architecture, their products and cute packaging or their historic traditions. Japanese food is one of my favourite cuisines and their food usually looks just as good as it tastes! Japan is a destination on the top of my list of places to visit.

There is a wonderful restaurant in Melbourne’s exclusive suburb of Hampton and it’s a really nice place to dine at. They have a buffet menu where you can eat all you can for a set price and even though the portions are small, you can order as many times as you like until you’re satisfied! The décor in the establishment needs updating but they had good service and a lot of great dishes. Lovely place to catch up with friends or celebrate a special occasion.

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Event, Melbourne

Les Misérables

If you’re in Melbourne right now you would undoubtedly have seen a phenomenon sweeping the city streets. Everything from trams to lamp posts has been decorated with Émile Bayard’s sketch of Cosette and people from all over Australia have been coming to Melbourne to experience two events that celebrate the story of 19th-century Paris in Victor Hugo’s epic literary work – Les Misérables.

For many months now there has been a sensational production of Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed musical screening at Her Majesty’s Theatre. This world-famous musical began in June and I’ve seen the show twice now, once during an afternoon performance on a rainy winter’s day and once more just recently at an evening screening. What can I say, the production is incredible and no matter how many times I hear the beautiful music, experience the realistic set design/special effects, see the phenomenal actors on-stage in their amazing costumes performing show after show, I’m left wanting more. I leave with goosebumps on my skin, my spine-tingling from the electric atmosphere in the theatre and tears in my eyes that it’s all over once again.

Theatre Day & Night

Victor Hugo’s timeless novel is a masterpiece and in a corresponding event at the State Library of Victoria entitled Les Misérables From Page to Stage, Melburnians can see Hugo’s original handwritten manuscript on display in a world-first exhibition. Right before my eyes were the words that the great master wrote from 1845-62 and in a frame on the wall nearby were the very quills he wrote those transcendent words with. Just incredible!

Last Sunday, during the Festival de Victor Hugo, curator Tim Fisher took visitors on a special guided-tour of the exhibition providing insight into Hugo’s life and adding an interesting background about the efforts the organisers went to in order to get this French national treasure to leave Europe for the first time and travel Business Class to Australia! I absolutely loved the exhibit and highly recommend a visit to all the fans out there. Everything from Rodin’s sculpture work of the great Victor Hugo to candid photographs of his life, immaculate artworks by the writer himself, programmes from shows around the world, costumes from the 2012 award-winning film, timeless memorabilia, musical insights in the French language, and a lot more can be seen until November 9th at the State Library.

"From Page to Stage"

In a specially-built addition to the main room showing the story of Hugo’s life, everything about the music from Les Misérables and musical adaptations come to life. The costume and visual art areas depict the endless amount of time spent in these creative departments through insights and screenings showcasing the work that goes into making a musical. Meanwhile the 25th Anniversary Concert from London’s O2 is played on a large screen for everyone to enjoy. Visitors are even permitted to try on costumes for themselves and take to the stage alongside the professional singers on the screen! There’s a brilliant gift shop at the end where everything and anything to do with Les Mis can be found!

I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to experience all this French culture here in Melbourne. Organisers have done a spectacular job bringing the production and exhibition here, giving true fans something wonderful to believe in and an unforgettable experience to cherish for life.

My Collection

Australia, Melbourne, Travel

Melbourne’s Docklands

One of my favourite places in Melbourne is the beautiful area known as the Docklands. To be completed in 2020, this waterfront paradise is filled with many exciting shops (known as Harbour Town), interesting sculptural public art, fine dining restaurants, extremely modern architecture and beautiful views of the city.

A trip to the Docklands would be incomplete without seeing the recently constructed Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. This giant engineering masterpiece definitely has some resemblance to the London Eye, but it is smaller in size and with less carriages. Everything one desires can be found in the nearby Costco and if you prefer somewhere a little bit more peaceful you can take a walk down to the water and see statues of Kylie Minogue and Dame Edna among others, and see our take on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame featuring Australian entertainers. The mosaic of Aussie personalities is really amazing.

Tourists and visitors to Melbourne’s Docklands will not be disappointed. The best part is that you can catch the free City Circle Tram right into the heart of the Docklands and explore the area on foot from there!