One of the highlights of my trip to Melbourne for the launch of the Lexus LC 500 was the beautiful dinner we had at Doot Doot Doot restaurant at the Jackalope Hotel. The dress code was cocktail and I wanted to go for something a bit different, so instead of a dress I opted for a black long sleeved turtleneck and a floral maxi skirt. I thought it was just the right level of dressy for a formal dinner and was also incredibly comfortable so it ticked all the right boxes. My minimalist studded Alaia heels were the perfect shoes to complement the outfit and when paired with the black top it really allowed the bold print of the skirt to take centre stage.
Last week I went on a whirlwind trip to Melbourne for the launch of Lexus’ new LC 500 coupe. It was a quick 24 hour getaway which started with me jumping on an 8am flight and then making my way down to the new Jackalope Hotel in the heart of the Mornington Peninsula. I was looking forward to staying at Jackalope as it recently took out the award for New Hotel of the Year and Regional Hotel of the Year at the Gourmet Traveller Australian Hotel Guide Awards and had heard amazing things. It didn’t disappoint—it was a luxurious, modern oasis nestled within the picturesque surrounds of Willow Creek’s 11-hectare vineyard and I felt super lucky that I was going to be calling it home for the night.
I was dying to try out the new LC 500 which is Lexus’ all-new flagship coupe so was pleased that we were treated to a drive experience which involved cruising around the Mornington Peninsula with a changeover point at Flinders Golf Course and then a lovely lunch at Rare Hare, one of the on-site restaurants at Jackalope. Being able to drive around in such a sporty car was definitely an experience (very different to driving my girls around at home!) and I was impressed that the LC 500’s sleek design in no way compromised driving comfort. It had some definite zip to it so I had a great time behind the wheel.
Later that day we sat down to a beautiful dinner at Doot Doot Doot, a fine dining restaurant at Jackalope. The interiors are incredible and the meal we had was absolutely delicious. Afterwards there were post-dinner drinks at the on-site bar, Flaggerdoot and an optional wine tasting in the Barrel Room with Willow Creek Vineyard winemaker Geraldine McFaul which was a nice way to toast the trip.
The next morning it was bright and early start once more but it was made just that little bit easier with a relaxing breakfast at Doot Doot Doot. Post-breakfast it was time to race back to Melbourne to catch my flight home. Whilst it was short and sweet the trip definitely lived up to what I had imagined and I loved being able to come along for the ride.
I’ve always been about making sure that everything in my wardrobe works in multiple ways. Versatility is key after all to making sure that you get more bang for your fashion buck. This is why it’s been important to me to ensure that my footwear can work in myriad ways. Whilst I love a white sneaker I’ve also been wanting to break out of my trainer rut into something a little bit different which is why I’ve really jumped on the new Nike Air Max Zero. I’ve been on the hunt for sneaker that I can wear during a work out and a casual weekend look without ever missing a beat and now that I’ve finally found it I could kiss my Airs! The style was created by legendary streetwear designer Hiroshi Fujiwara and is a great mix of classic style and modern comfort and is in keeping with my aesthetic for neutral pieces whilst being on trend.
The one thing I really love about the blurring of the lines between activewear and loungewear is that I’ve essentially doubled the use of a lot of items in my wardrobe without having to really do much (or spend much) at all. In this instance these Air Max can now stand in place of my usual go-to white sneaker in that I can wear it with a top and skirt and a cosy cardi, team it with on trend pieces such as a black backpack and round sunglasses and it looks quite relaxed but still pulled together. It can also work equally as well with a dress or cropped jeans which extends its wear even more. And when I do want to wear these sneakers to work out I can dress up my look a bit by keeping my ensemble in a monochrome palette and adding accessories such as tortoiseshell sunglasses and a leather monogram backpack to elevate it from being just a regular gym outfit. The bonus is that regardless of which look I opt for style is definitely not compromised for comfort – and both are definitely a must for juggling a busy work/mum schedule like mine.
My loungewear look
My activewear look
Pick your own pair:
Photography: Sophia Athas
This post was created in collaboration with Nike
Having two daughters I wanted to ensure that both had spaces in the house that are their own and perfectly suited to them. Now that Sophia is a toddler I had to update her nursery into more of a “big girl” bedroom and create a place for her in our home that she can call her own. Here are some of my top tips…
Sophia’s bedroom has a neutral colour palette in whites and grey and has pops of pastel colour throughout. Having soft accents throughout her room really brightens up the space but still maintains the calming palette of whites and neutrals in her room. A serene room to retreat to is a must for a lively and active toddler.
Keep it practical
Now that Sophia’s a little older her room is largely about being a practical area for her to play in. She loves being able to grab a toy or book when she wants so it’s important that they’re easily accessible. We’ve tried to keep most of the big toys and furniture in her room such as her tee pee and table and chairs neutral in colour so even when they’re all out on display they still work well with the rest of the space.
From her rocking horse to the horse bunting that an artist friend of mine made for her room and pictures of the two of us from shoots we’ve done, there are lots of special details throughout Sophia’s room. However whilst it’s great to have lots of mementos in her room I’ve also made sure to only display her really special things to avoid the room looking too busy.
Incorporate plenty of storage
There’s a dedicated bookshelf in Sophia’s room so she can easily grab her books and also put them away and a roomy cupboard and set of drawers to ensure that there’s plenty of space to accomodate her clothes and toys. I find it’s better to have plenty of storage rather than not enough as it makes it a little easier to keep her room tidy.
Mix prints and patterns
I’ve incorporated various prints throughout Sophia’s room from her polka dot bedspread to the patterned cushions on her bed and in her teepee, it’s great way break up the mostly white space.
Photography: Sophia Athas
I recently collaborated with LG on the release of their 2017 TV and audio home cinema range and hosted the launch event at a beautiful residence in Sydney’s Balmoral Beach. At the event the extremely impressive LG Signature Wallpaper TV was unveiled and as a lover of understated, elegant and stylish interiors it definitely ticked all the boxes. Gone are the days of television sets taking up lots of valuable living space – the Wallpaper TV is 2.57mm (width of a $2 coin) and is super sleek so it complements any room rather than dominating it. Watching something on this particular TV is also like going to the movies in your living room. I love going to the cinema and since I don’t have much time to go these days what with work and family commitments it’s amazing to be able to turn on the TV and feel like I’ve actually paid to watch a film – all from the comfort of my own home.
Guests at the event were treated to a dinner that was inspired by the cinematic experience viewers can get from each of the products in the LG 2017 TV and AV range. The immersive experience allowed everyone to see, hear, feel and taste the magic of LG’s home cinema range with each course that was brought out. Each dish of the three-course meal was inspired by a visual that was flashed on the screen earlier in the evening or a product in the range. It was also pretty delicious too!
I love hosting events which are quite intimate and this one was great as I was able to bring my husband Luke along and invite friends such as fellow fashion bloggers Sara Donaldson and Brooke Testoni and their respective partners. I was also great to be able to catch up with some of my favourite media people including Vogue Living’s Neale Whittaker. It was such a great evening and one that I was so thrilled to host.
Sneak a peek at some behind the scenes snaps of the event below…
One of the great things about having a smartphone these days is that you’re able to capture good quality photos on the go. Having a young family means I am always snapping pics on my phone so I’ve learnt through trial and error the best ways to capture moments with Luke and the girls. I have an iPhone 7 and find that when I use it in Portrait mode it produces a really nice DSLR-esque result. It’s also foolproof as there’s a guide which tells me if I need more light in the shot and also gives me a live preview of the depth of the shot so I know the best distance in which to take a picture. Whilst my phone provides great step by step guidance here are some things I always do when it comes to taking each photo…
- Choose a colourful background. I find the more vibrant the background the better the image as it gives it a great sense of energy.
- Shoot where there’s lots of light. I’ll try to find a location that’s light filled as it produces a crisper, sharper image.
- When I’m taking photos of the girls I mix it up and love capturing close up images where they’re looking to camera but I also really like candid shots of them playing and interacting with the world around them. I’ll also experiment with different angles. For example sometimes shooting from above and looking down to take the picture may make a better shot than shooting straight on.
- I tend to refrain from editing my photos too much but it’s sometimes necessary just to adjust lighting or colouring. There are plenty of apps to choose available but some of the more popular apps include Enlight and VSCO which allows you to enhance and tweak images on your phone. If you do edit your pics just remember that less is more.
What’s are some of your tips for taking great family photos?
I used to have the luxury of using a spare room in our house as a wardrobe however I’ve since had to cull things down a lot and keep it confined to a set of cupboards and drawers. This definitely called for some serious organisation on my part. Whilst it was quite a mammoth task to get everything into a smaller space it was certainly very cathartic to do an edit of everything I owned and to see the more organised finished product. When it comes to my wardrobe having a system is key as I find it helps to make it so much easier to get out the door in the morning. Here’s how I do it:
I make sure to separate everything into different categories – I put jumpers with jumpers, skirts with skirts and pants with pants so I know which section I need to look at when I’m after something. If everything is just in random piles I will never be able to find what I’m after.
Segregate into seasons
I put my out of season clothes in storage so it doesn’t take up valuable real estate in my wardrobe. When it’s summer I put away all my coats and winter clothes and vice versa. I find this also helps me to see what I have to wear during a particular season without being overwhelmed by everything else I own. Also, so my out of season clothes don’t take up valuable storage space in the house, I put them in vacuum sealed bags. This is also helps protect them whilst they’re out of action for a few months.
Introduce a go-to section
I hate having to rummage through the rest of my clothes when I’m pulling things out that I use on a regular basis so to get around this I make sure to put all the clothes I use a lot in one section. This includes my jeans, leather pants, black blazer, a white shirt and all my white t-shirts as I wear them the most. I have about seven different looks that are my go-to so I keep them in an area that is easily accessible so I don’t mess everything up.
I have the same system with my shoes. I put the ones I wear the most at the front of my cupboard and the ones I wear the least further back so I don’t have to pull everything out when I’m trying to get to them.
Invest in matching hangers
I threw away all my wire hangers and invested in black Ikea hangers to keep everything in my cupboard uniform. It keeps everything looking neater and it makes me feel like I’m browsing through a boutique whenever I’m looking at my wardrobe.
Keep accessories in the one spot
I keep things like my sunglasses, jewellery and hair accessories in the one easy to access drawer so they’re easy to view at a glance and I know exactly where they are. I find if I have them in different spots I’m more likely to forget where everything is thus adding more time to my getting ready time in the morning. When it comes to the accessories I use the most, I pop them in a small bag which I know I can easily grab if I am going away.
The great thing with having an organised wardrobe is it encourages me to stay organised as not only does it feel nice to look at a tidy space it also helps me to keep track of where everything is. I’ve also found that by having a system it doesn’t matter how much closet space I have, everything is guaranteed to have a home.
Tell me – what are some of your best wardrobe organisation tips?
Photography: Sophia Athas
As anyone who is expecting a baby can attest, decorating a nursery is one of the more fun aspects of being pregnant. Just the sheer possibility that awaits when styling a blank space for your impending progeny is definitely a highlight, especially when you’re about to become a mum for the first time. I adored putting together both Sophia and Grace’s nurseries. Whilst Sophia’s space has definitely changed now she’s a toddler (stay tuned for an upcoming post on Sophia’s room) I also didn’t just want to replicate it for Grace’s room as I wanted her to have something uniquely her own. I loved sourcing different pieces Grace’s room and incorporating little trinkets and gifts from friends to create a cosy and inviting nursery. Here are some of my tips for putting together a nursery you and your baby will love spending time in…
Start with a neutral palette
I started with a neutral palette of whites and greys as it’s an easy colour scheme to build on. I wanted soft shades rather than super bright colours as I wanted to create a really simple, yet cosy space for Grace and something quite soothing to be in (we would inevitably be spending a lot of time in there after all). The aim was to keep it light and airy so everything from her cot to chest of drawers is all white.
Use soft colour accents
To brighten up the space I added touches of soft pastel pink whether it be in the form of a stuffed toy or blanket. It helped to give the room a little personality and also some feminine touches. If you’re having a boy you could always add soft blues or yellow if you want to keep it quite neutral. That said, if you want to use pink in a boy’s room or blue in a girl’s room then go for it!
Add personal keepsakes throughout
I love adding little trinkets throughout the girls’ rooms such as gifts from friends and family to really personalise their rooms. It makes it a really special space as it’s like having a presence from all the important people in their lives dotted around the room.
Mix and match
I love shopping at places like Pottery Barn and Jacadi for things such as furniture and accessories as they have such a great range to choose from plus the quality is great so I know it will be able to grow along with girls. There’s a Jacadi playmat that I used with Sophia that Grace is now using and it still looks great. You don’t have to spend a fortune on outfitting a nursery but buy the best quality furniture that your budget will allow. It’s also worth keeping an eye out in your favourite interiors stores for other things such as lamps and frames as you don’t need to shop at kid-specific brands for those decorative elements.
Don’t over clutter
I like to keep a really tight edit of everything in Grace’s nursery to avoid it looking too cluttered and busy. I make sure that everything on display are things that I think really add something to the space. When you’re expecting you’ll find you’re often gifted so many things but it’s important to remember that you don’t always have to put everything out on show. Keep the room quite streamlined. Even if you’ve got numerous stuffed toys on your hands, choose the three that you like and store everything else away for playtime.
Display pretty things
Whilst I’ve got prints hung up on the walls I’ve also got a beautiful tutu and star bunting hanging up in Grace’s room as decorative accents to brighten up the walls. I also keep her adorable shoes on show because they’re so cute. And instead of hiding away things like knitted blankets and wraps, I’ve chosen to dot them around the room. Whilst I mentioned above that it’s important to keep a tight edit of things in the room there are just some things that are simply too pretty to hide away! When in doubt just ask yourself if it adds to the room. You’ll know by the answer whether it’s something to display or not.
Sneak a peek at the rest of Grace’s nursery below…
Photography: Sophia Athas
As a former fashion designer, Alex Zabotto-Bentley is used to channelling his energy into many a stylish endeavour. He’s now channelling this artistic flair into interior design as the founder of AZBcreative. AZBcreative has masterminded some of Australia’s biggest media and social events, including the March into Merivale, CLEO Bachelor of Year and Harper’s Bazaar Luxury Awards. Among the company’s high-end clientele is Palazzo Versace, Waterford Crystal and The Sydney Theatre Company and singer Lady Gaga. Alex chats to me about how he made his mark in interior design and even lets me in on a few of his best styling secrets below.
What is a day in the life of you?
Apart from grappling with the eternal crisis of what to throw into my green juice, I am a very early riser. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been working late on a project or have just arrived on a redeye flight from Europe, I always wake up around 5am. Seize the day!
My philosophy is that to maximise your energy and productivity, you need to greet the sun every day. Get up before sunrise, head to your favourite vantage point – near the sea is always amazing – and watch it rise. And then (this is a bit spiritual), make your affirmations. It works, believe me. You start each day full of positive energy and resolve, ready to do your best work.
How did you get started in interior design?
To be honest, I spent so much of my childhood transfixed by houses – I used to mentally ‘rate’ them for architectural balance on the walk to school. And while everyone else at school was buying [surfing publication] Tracks mag, I was saving my pocket money for World of Interiors!
My big breakthrough came when the wonderful, late [hotelier] Ian Robertson gave me carte blanche to design a massive, 4,000 square metre bar on the top of Melbourne’s GPO.
Even while working as a fashion director for magazines and designing my own label Fashion Assassin, I was leading a “double life”, doing interior projects for friends on the side.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
With respect to interiors I have been able to really create magical spaces, which are like no other. It’s important to me to create a site-specific space, so we always try to custom make over 70 per cent of every interior. From designing our own range of tiles to creating our own pigment colours to working with local craftspeople to use their brilliant and sometimes under-appreciated skills.
Kittyhawk [restaurant in Sydney] is a good example of this approach. We created original fittings with a sense of place and history, that perfectly fit that space and tell a story. From the hand-dyed leather for the banquettes to the antique French oak doors, the 12-metre long, hand crafted American Oak bar to the custom-made brass-trimmed shelving and tesserae tile design which I drew freehand, there will never be anything else quite like it.
What is your favourite room in your own house?
Definitely my sitting room. It has a wonderful sense of space and light, with high 1920s ceilings and beautiful architectural details. The space is filled with hand selected furniture and decorative pieces that I have collected over time. Every piece tells a story and recalls a memory of a great trip or a weekend combing through flea markets or the thrill of discovering a new artist. It’s so much more than just a space. I love collecting art, so it’s like a private gallery with all the works I’ve collected, from original Keith Haring prints to beautiful, wild landscapes by Aaron Kinnane to modernist sculptures and abstract 1940s Italian art. But it’s not fixed; it’s an ever-evolving space, reflecting my travels and discoveries.
What made you move into events?
It’s all connected. Working on styling projects every day, I was invited to a lot of events and launches; you know how Sydney loves a party! But I felt that from the guest’s point of view, the event design industry was lacking inspiring, immersive experiences, a high taste level and beautiful, memorable moments. Too many events were basically a bar, some wait staff, a media wall and a DJ. Boring! They were forgettable and added nothing to the brands being promoted. So I decided to tackle this very closed, competitive industry head-on, developing a reputation for custom-designed elements and experiences specific to each client. People really connected with these branded environments. I think we ruffled a few feathers at first, but the clients loved it.
What is your number one styling tip for a special event?
If you do one thing, always use incredible flowers. In fact, always double the flower budget, and do something totally unique. I’m not talking about staid arrangements; go big and amaze people. Make an impact with colour and sheer mass. We have dipped phalaenopsis orchids in jet black paint, to emphasize their amazing sculptural properties, and people went crazy.
I also think it’s essential to make sure every single staff member looks impeccable and dressed to suit the brand, whether it’s crisp denim shirts for a whiskey tasting or impeccable black and white for a formal dinner. Make sure that the cocktails are totally desirable and unique and the catering is completely other-worldly…details, details make the event.
What are the biggest mistakes people tend to make when it comes to styling an event?
When creating events, people often think that is just about getting the celebrities and current “cool” people to attend…but a lot of celebrities only stay for a brief time before sweeping off to the next thing, leaving a void. Without those glittering people, the room feels cold. To create an exciting and engaging event, you have to mix and layer the guest list with interesting people, from unique fashionistas to vibrant, animated people with something to say. Mix young and old, established names and up-and-comers: chance encounters create energy. The magic is in the mix.
What have been your top three favourite projects so far?
Only three? Ok, one would be working with the wonderful [PR company] Max Media Lab to conjure a magical Swarovski dinner at the Sydney Opera House with Miranda Kerr. We created modern, shimmering spaces inside Bennelong, mixing white perspex, mirrors, metal and glass with acres of flowers and shimmering ornaments to embody Swarovski’s latest collection. From the entrance, flanked by giant beaten silver vases of cascading roses and orchids to the shimmering, crystal-strewn white carpet, to the show-stopping. monumental stainless steel, geometric sculpture by Gregor Kregar, we owned that space! Attention to detail is a signature of our work, so we cut custom tabletops from white Perspex and applied delicate mirrored gold designs, then topped the tables with cubist vases to hold lavish, eccentric floral arrangements. Miniature French busts, half dipped in gold, added to the decadence.
As far as interior projects, one of the most unusual was creating Seadeck for Scott Robertson [Seadeck’s managing partner] and his team. It’s an amazing floating venue on a gorgeous vintage ship: a 44 metre blank slate and a wonderful challenge. Inspired by the peak of luxury cruising, from the 1920s through 1940s we put a sophisticated twist on nautical design over three vast decks. Overall, it is a minimalist space in navy and white, with custom white lounges, Carrara marble table-tops, a bespoke brass-trimmed bar, curated nautical decorations and iconic four metre high palm trees.
Of course, working on a boat is a challenge in itself. Everything needs to be fixed to the deck, protected from the elements and the furniture needs to double as clever storage. We were essentially designing an interior which would be exposed to wind, rain and sun 365 days a year, yet had to remain luxurious and unforgettable.
Finally, we’ve had a long working relationship with Justin Hemmes and the Merivale Group. Producing and creative directing their March into Merivale event in 2015 was amazing. We welcomed about 100,000 people over five weeks, with 19 events across their venues, from The Ivy to Coogee Pavilion and everywhere between! Every venue and every event required a different approach and spoke to a different audience. We worked with chefs and sponsors to create custom experiences and environments, conceptualised and engaged entertainment, designed and crafted specific installations, stalls and furniture to express each venue and turned the whole Ivy laneway into a new dimension. Who needs sleep, anyway? The hard work paid off, though: we won a national design award for event activation.
How closely do you work with the brands when designing their spaces?
We work incredible closely with our clients. As specialists in branded environments, we need to understand their message and values thoroughly, to create spaces communicate the brand to their customers. The clients we have are very diverse, and each requires a specific solution, whether it be an international beauty brand like Avon to a boutique winery like [the one created for wine brand] Cloudy Bay, to creating branded environments for Westfield to super sized festivals at Coogee Pavilion. We spend a lot of time at the briefing stage to understand the client’s real needs
What has been the best piece of advice you have ever received?
To create change. What I mean is, don’t just talk about it, do it. And do it differently. Never stop learning and innovating. Design isn’t a static business. Technology changes, society changes…you can’t afford to stand still or rest on your laurels.
What’s coming up in 2017?
We were honoured to be awarded several international Design Awards last year which really raised our profile, and we’re working on hotel projects, villa interiors and immersive experiences in Europe, Bali, Flores and Sydney…and we have some restaurant and bar projects that will change the way Sydney-siders approach dining and going out. I can’t say too much, but watch this space – there are some amazing things coming!
You can check out more of Alex’s work on Instagram at @azbcreative
As most people with kids will attest, decorating a home comes with its own new considerations once little ones enter the picture. Everything from sticky fingers being wiped down on the couch to trying to grab everything in sight means that you have to take these things into account with your colour scheme, your furniture and home decors. Of course, having older children gives you a little more freedom to decorate as you wish but when it comes to younger kids, this is what I’ve learned…
Go for colours that camouflage
Most of our home features slightly darker earthy tones such as brown or beige which I find hides dirt a little better. Also our carpet has greys and beiges in it and our outdoor furniture is navy so both hide dirt quite well.
Go for durable fabrics
I have friends who have white couches and small kids and I honestly don’t know how they do it. We have a couch made from a durable earthy toned fabric and the pillows are made from quite a similar material so this helps to avoid the couch looking worse for wear. When it comes to the furniture in our home everything is quite neutral and quite durable so I always consider those things when I’m buying anything for the house.
Invest in baskets
I never used to have baskets around the house but now I love them as they’re great for storing (or hiding!) things like toys and pillows in a hurry. This is a lifesaver when guests pop around unexpectedly and I need to quickly tidy the house.
Do a big edit of ornaments
I still like having decorative bits and pieces around the house but I’ve done a big edit so I only have the pieces I really love dotted around our home. This makes it easier to keep track of them as the girls are quite curious and love picking things up and playing with them.
Choose neutral kids’ furniture
We live in an apartment so the kids’ space is our space so I feel like the kids’ stuff has to blend in with our stuff. I find children’s furniture can be really bright which tends to be a little bit of an eyesore so we try to get furniture that is neutral so we’ll get white or blonde wood rather than bold colours such as reds, blues or greens. Sophia has a little canvas teepee but it’s made from a light canvas material and has wooden poles rather than fluoro which teepees commonly come in. Also the stool that she uses at the bench I got it in white as opposed to blue or red and their little table and chairs are white.