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Fashion, Lifestyle

A new fave one stop shopping destination in Sydney

23rd June, 2017

My schedule is so crazy these days what with juggling two kids under three and all my work commitments that I often don’t have much time to hit the shops. If I do, then I can’t spend hours traipsing around trying to track down what I’m looking for – these days a shopping trip is done with military precision. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to hear that Westfield Warringah Mall has recently opened its own premium shopping precinct because a) it’s close to where I live and b) it has all my favourite stores in close proximity which means I can browse and shop with ease. As I’ve always lived on Sydney’s North Shore I used to shop at Warringah Mall all the time as a kid so I do have great memories of going there and now that it’s had a major renovations it’s been nice to shop there again and explore all the new stores. Plus they do valet parking which means I can avoid all the hassle of trying to find a parking spot. Win-win!

The roll call of new stores at Westfield Warringah Mall is impressive and includes brands such as sass & bide, Alice McCall and Mimco but I was most excited about hitting the new Zimmermann store as I was after an outfit for an event. The new collection is amazing so I ended up trying on multiple looks. The boutique is such a gorgeous space so it was the kind of spot I can imagine getting lost in in future.

A shopping trip often requires a bit of a time out to recharge my batteries so I was pleased to find that there were some great places to grab a bite to eat. Eventually I decided on a cute little cafe called Flower Child where I ended up grabbing a coffee and a juice to build up my energy to tackle the rest of the mall. Shopping, dining and super easy? Ticks all the right boxes for me.

For more information (and most importantly for shopaholics – the amazing list of stores to check out) head to Westfield Warringah Mall.

Credits: Dresses, Zimmermann; Heels, Gucci; Bag, Gucci; Beige bag, Gucci; Sunglasses, Saint Laurent

Photography: Sophia Athas

This post was created in collaboration with Westfield Warringah Mall #westfieldambassador

Fashion

Australian Fashion Week 2017 Day One Wrap Up

14th May, 2017

The Show: Dion Lee

Where: Sydney Opera House

My day started… with Mother’s Day celebrations all morning then I started getting ready at 2pm for the show and shooting my content for the blog before the show kicked off at 4pm. Afterwards there was an industry dinner that followed in celebration of the launch of Fashion Week.

My outfit today…the first day is relaxed so it was about comfort and style. I went for a navy Dion Lee look which incorporated a knit top and pleated skirt.

The one look I fell in love with…a black and white laser cut skirt (that I popped on my Insta-stories).

Big trends I saw… Minimalist, sleek, understated with shades of red and blue.

Parties I attended… an intimate MBFWA/Dion Lee dinner at The Calyx at Mrs Macquaries Chair.

What I ate/drank…champagne (of course!) to celebrate the launch MBFWA followed by a beautiful dinner of salmon.

Photography and Video: Sophia Athas

Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Social

Interior design tips from Alex Zabotto-Bentley

1st March, 2017

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.

AZB Styling pieces at home

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.

Alex makes a point of welcoming the day by watching the sun rise daily

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.

AZB Custom Tiles which Alex drew freehand

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.

Keith Haring artwork which Alex adores

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.

Alex suggests doing “use incredible flowers” if you are styling an 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.

The Swarvorski ‘White Carpet’ event

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.

Alex’s work at Merivale’s Ivy Pool Club

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

A table setting designed by AZB for March into Merivale

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

Fashion, Social

Advice from Cindy Crawford

15th February, 2017

Raynald Aeschlimann & Cindy Crawford at the OMEGA event

Cindy Crawford is an American model and actress. Crawford is one of the original five “Supermodels”. The fifty-year-old beauty visited Australia for her work with OMEGA. I chatted  to her about the secret to her ageless beauty and she shares her advice for anyone wanting make it in the modelling industry. Cindy also reveals who has been the inspiring person she has worked with.

What brings you to Australia? 

I’m so excited to be back in Sydney with Omega to open a new Omega boutique.

What will you do during your time in Sydney? 

Besides doing the ribbon cutting for the new store, I will be attending a black-tie dinner with friends of the brand.  In my free time, I will be spending time shopping and going to restaurants with my great friend, Gail Elliott, and also doing a harbor tour on a friend’s boat.  Can’t wait as I have never done that on previous trips to Sydney.

@cindycrawford: Thanks @CheyenneTozzi for the harbor cruise! Loved spending time with you, @Littlejoewoman_ and @simonuptonpics! Perfect way to see Sydney!

Why did you choose to work with OMEGA? 

Originally Omega approached me over 20 years ago to shoot some ads for them with photographer Herb Ritts.  Everything went well and they asked me to be a brand ambassador.  We are like an old married couple now and I think the reason the relationship is as relevant today as it was when we first started is that we share core values—quality, heritage, fashion and timelessness.

The private residence which was the setting for the OMEGA event in Sydney

Raynald Aeschlimann & Cindy Crawford on arrival at the OMEGA event to celebrate the opening of the new OMEGA boutique

What do you think set you apart from other models in the 90s? 

I loved being part of an incredible group of women—Christy, Linda, Naomi, Claudia, Tatiana, Stephanie and so many others.  I think what was interesting about our gang is that we all had our own identity but also looked good together as a group.  I think my image was more about all American girl next door with a little sexy thrown in.  Obviously that image has evolved to incorporate who I am today, entrepreneur, mother, wife, as well.

@cindycrawford: @Cosmopolitan is looking back on 50 years of cover stars! Proud to be one of them. This 1991 cover, pulled out of the archives just in time for Valentine’s Day. #TBT

What has been your biggest career highlight?

I’ve had so many career highlights, but probably getting my first cover of American Vogue was the thing that made me feel like I had arrived!

Who has been the most inspirational person you have worked with and why? 

Working with Herb Ritts most influenced me as a model.  He helped me to feel beautiful just as I was as well as encouraged me to have fun in front of the camera and take chances.

How has the modelling industry changed since you began your career? 

The biggest change I see in the modelling industry is social media.  I think it can be a great tool for models to have a direct relationship with their fans, but I also worry about over exposure and wonder if the “shelf-life” of a model will be shortened because of that.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry? 

Show up on time, be prepared and stay off your phone!

What is your secret to being an ageless beauty? 

I’m not sure I’m that, because whether I like it or not, time marches on.  Of course, I try to take care of myself, but I also try to focus on where I am today and how I can be the best at that.

Lifestyle

My fave places to hang out in summer

1st February, 2017

One of my fave haunts is The Boat House at Balmoral Beach

Summer is the perfect time to get out and about as the weather is so great and everyone is in the mood to socialise. I have a list of regular haunts in my local area in Sydney but also have some die hard faves that I will make a special trip to visit. Here’s where you’re likely to find me…

Balmoral Beach

This is the number one place you will find me in summer. It’s my favourite beach as it’s ideal for kids as there are no waves. I take the girls here all the time and we love spending a day out as a family.

The Boat House

I love going out for breakfast and this spot is located in Balmoral Beach and is right next to the water. The food and coffee is amazing. Be warned though: lunchtimes are ridiculously busy, especially if the weather is great. The menu is full of great options that I always find it hard to choose what to order.

Bathers’ Pavilion

We’ll sometimes go to Bathers’ for breakfast or to grab an early family dinner. It’s got great views and has a relaxed vibe that’s just perfect for summer.

Bistro Moncur

I am a fan of the original Bistro Moncur in Sydney’s Woollahra so was pleased when they opened up a second location in Mosman. The menu is French meets modern Australian so there’s everything from sirloin with buttery Café de Paris to pan friend barramundi fillet. Amazing.

Fratelli Paradiso

I love Italian food so can’t go past this restaurant in Potts Point. It’s cosy, the food is super hearty and is perfect when I just want to experience a touch of Italy.

Apollo

Also located in Potts Point, Apollo serves up modern Greek food that’s unbelievably delicious. The main dining room is light and airy is one of my fave spots for a long, relaxing lunch.

Bondi Icebergs

When the weather is warm Bondi Icebergs is a definitely must. The view can’t be beat and the vibe perfectly encapsulates the special atmosphere during an Aussie summer.

What are some of your favourite summer haunts?

 

Lifestyle

The staples of Italian cooking according to 10 William St’s head chef

18th January, 2017

I love Italian food. In fact, I love it so much it was the type of cuisine I served at my wedding. This is why I decided to chat to Enrico Tomelleri, the head chef at 10 William St, a cosy wine bar and restaurant in Sydney’s Paddington that serves up some tasty Italian fare. Here we chat about his philosophy to cooking, what ingredients he always has on hand and the one mistake people make when it comes to Italian cooking…

What was your aim when you took over as head chef at 10 William St?
The main aim has been accepting the challenge and having the chance to deliver food that I like to our customers. After a few years at 10 William St I got to know what they want and what they like.

Why do you think 10 William St has been so well received?
10 William St has been so well received because it is a fun little bar that serves good wine and honest food. You can spend a night there every week without getting over it. This simple formula is the reason why we have the chance to work with a lot of regular customers.

What has inspired the menu at 10 William St?
The menu is constantly changing and we get inspired by what is in season and what our suppliers are recommending at the time. Having a solid base of Italian food is a good start.  I like to collaborate with the rest of the team trying to find a fun and interesting way to create a dish by twisting some of the classic recipes that we know. That helps to keep us motivated.

The cosy interiors of 10 William St

What’s the key to great Italian cooking?
It could sound obvious but the key is to follow the seasonality of the ingredients. It is also a good ethic to follow and the right way to respect and to deal with your food and with your customers.

What are some common mistakes people make when it comes to cooking Italian cuisine?
The spelling of “Bolognese” sauce!

What’s your philosophy when it comes to cooking?
I try to use [the least amount of] ingredients as possible trying to exalt the main one. Also, at the moment, I focus on the sustainability of them.

10 William St head chef Enrico Tomelleri

What’s your favourite Italian dish to cook?
I like to cook any kind of risotto.

What’s one Italian dish you love to eat?
I guess a good pizza is probably unbeatable

What’s one dining trend you think has been done to death?
Burger perhaps… but there is always room for a good one.

For those who love cooking Italian food, what are some ingredients you must always have on hand at home?
Garlic, anchovies and a bottle of good olive oil (maybe some fish sauce..)

 

Fashion, Shop, What I Wore

What I Wore: Goodnight Macaroon

7th April, 2016

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Heading into that trans-seasonal period where the weather is a little inconsistent can make getting dressed everyday a little tricky. It can sometimes be hard to predict if it’s going to be warm or a jacket kind of day and there’s nothing worse than ending up overheating or worse still, freezing the entire day. This is why I’m a big fan of long sleeved dresses during autumn. They’re great because they’ll keep you warm if the temperature suddenly drops throughout the day but they’re not so hot that you’ll end up sweltering if the weather gets warm. Plus I’m always a big believer in dresses if you want to get out the door faster. There’s no need to think about separates working together, simply pop on a dress, choose your shoes and you’re out the door.

Ease of dressing aside I’m now all about dresses given I have a burgeoning baby bump to accomodate so I’ve been on a bit of a shopping reconnaissance mission to update my wardrobe. I’ve been scouring high and low for some new labels to add to the mix and discovered Goodnight Macaroon. Their range is quite classic and they have a great range of quality staples (including a lovely selection of dresses) so it works perfectly with my wardrobe aesthetic. I snapped up the above dresses and love the fact they’re all really diverse in styles and can easily work for multiple occasions. I can wear them for a day in the office as easily as I could at an event or hanging out with my family. And what’s even better is that I’ll be able to wear them again after my pregnancy. Plus for someone who doesn’t get much time to shop, I love the fact that they have an online store so I can snap up multiple pieces without ever having to leave home.
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Credits: Goodnight Macaroon Collared dressMeandher brogues, Preen sunglasses

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Credits: Goodnight Macaroon Floral ruffled dress, Preen sunglasses and Meandher brogues

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Credits: Goodnight Macaroon Knitted dress and Gianvito Rossi heels

Fall in love with something? All dresses can be found at Goodnight Macaroon

Photography: Mike Belkin 

 

Lifestyle

My fave places for high tea

13th May, 2015
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High Tea at the Hotel Centennial

One of my favourite things to do with the girls is to have high tea, it’s such a nice way to spend an afternoon. I’ve managed to check out a few great high tea locations around Sydney from doing my Date with Kate interviews and I’ve started to develop a list of go-to spots. So in case you’ve got a high tea date coming up soon, here are my top spots to spend an afternoon drinking tea (or champagne if you’re indulging!) and enjoying sweet treats.

Luxurious: The Langham Sydney

The newly refurbished Langham Hotel hosts afternoon tea in its Palm Court area. I recently went here to do a Date with Kate with Gemma Ward and found it to be a really beautiful spot. The sweets were all amazing, but I especially loved the scones with cream and jam and their mini macarons. Everything was really delicate and pretty.

Great setting: The Hotel Centennial

I’ve always loved The Centennial as a lunch or dinner spot because the food is so great. I really love the venue so I was pleased to hear that they now also offer high tea. The Scarlett Lounge (as you can see below they even have a Scarlett Johansson portrait on display) is a really great setting and the food is delicious. Be sure to book at least 24 hours before to save yourself a spot.

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The perfect backdrop for high tea at the Centennial

Best view: The Park Hyatt

I did a Date with Kate with Catherine Martin here and I just think you can’t go past the view. Not only is the food great but a beautiful sunny day spent overlooking Sydney Harbour is really unbeatable.

On-the-go: Westfield Sydney Tea Salon

This is located right in the midst of the bustling Westfield Sydney however its cute white picket fence makes it feel slightly more secluded and is a great way to enjoy high tea in the middle of a busy day spent shopping. I went here to do a Date with Kate with Sophia Grace and Rosie and Sally Obermeder and had a great time.

Rustic and relaxed: Burnt Orange

Located in a beautiful house, with surrounding bushland and a great view of Middle Harbour, Burnt Orange is great on a winter’s day. It’s got a lovely rustic atmosphere and I think it’s a the perfect spot to while away an afternoon.

For chocaholics: Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

I did a Date with Kate with Naomi Watts here and really loved the location. And if you’re a chocaholic you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. The Shangri-La now offer a high tea that includes three tiers of chocolate-y treats including everything from cakes, to macarons and brownies.

 

 

 

Fashion, Social

Hermès On The Beach

24th February, 2015

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The annual Hermès event is a bit of a showstopper. When one of the world’s most exclusive brands throws an event it’s definitely memorable. Previous events have taken place at Luna Park and Vaucluse Park in Sydney, but this year’s event was at Strickland House in Vaucluse. The venue was a gorgeous house that was on the waterfront and upon arrival you were escorted down to the event in your very own golf buggy. The event had a really relaxed vibe with everyone going barefoot. The house was amazing. There was a mirrored maze through the house and the walls were decorated with Hermès silk scarves (very chic wallpaper indeed!). Everyone was given a mask to wear which gave the entire event a masquerade party feel, but the standout masks were definitely the paper horse heads some people were wearing, they were so intricate and incredible up close. All in all, it was a lovely way to spend a balmy Sydney evening.

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Lifestyle

My favourite breakfast spot

12th January, 2015

boathouse

We’re pretty spoilt in Sydney as far as places to eat go but I can’t go past sitting down for breakfast at Balmoral Beach. One of my absolute fave spots is The Boat House and I get my coffee there every morning. It’s a really beautiful place to sit and have breakfast and just enjoy the great view. If it’s a bit cooler or it’s not the best weather I  will head to the Bathers’ Pavilion just down the road. It’s a picturesque spot, not to mention the fact I just love food. I can’t go past the fruit platter, avocado on toast and scrambled eggs. Bon appetit!

What are your favourite breakfast spots?

Photography: goodfood