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Lifestyle, Shop

Beautiful coffee table books for your home

18th November, 2017

I love collecting coffee table books. I think they make a stylish addition to any home and is a great way to showcase your interests. Most of my coffee table books are about fashion and photography which is what I’m passionate about so I love having them dotted around my apartment as just seeing them around the house is really inspiring. When choosing coffee table books I make sure everything is a hardcover version of the book as it has a bit more longevity and just seems so much more luxe than a paperback. Whether you’re into food, style or blooms I’ve rounded up a few tomes worth showcasing in your home…

Shop my top coffee table book picks below:

Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate: Samantha Wills

30th October, 2016

Samantha Wills and I catch up at The Apollo Restaurant, Potts Point

As a 21-year-old, Samantha Wills founded her own, self-titled jewellery company. Her pieces have since been worn by the likes of Taylor Swift and Eva Mendes and appeared in the 2010 movie Sex and the City 2. Wills has been chosen to be a face of marketing campaigns for Optus, Yellowglen, Mount Franklin and Nespresso. This year, she was nominated at the Australian of the Year Awards. Wills, 33, chatted to me about the best advice she has been given, what she misses most about Australia, and how she turned her hobby into a business with $10 million turnover annually.

What is a day in the life of you?

When I’m in New York, it’s very creative focused [and I’m] in design mode. When I’m in Sydney, it’s very much team- and media-focused.

How did it all start for you?

I started the company when I was 21 – 12 years ago. Now we have offices in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Paris, Korea and Japan, and it started just as a hobby on my dining room table. I started selling down at Bondi Beach market and launched at Australian Fashion Week, very opportunistically, in 2004 with $17,000 of orders. As a 23-year-old, I threw everything I had, got myself into $80,000 of debt and refused to give up.

Did you always dream of becoming a jewellery designer?

I think when I was younger, I definitely always thought I’d have my own business in some capacity and it was always going to be creative. For me, jewellery wasn’t the be all and end all. It was more something that I could hand make myself without formal training, and so it kind of naturally evolved that way.

You’ve had many celebrities wear your designs. Who are some of your favourites that really stand out in your mind?

Definitely Taylor Swift is a huge favourite in American Vogue. Eva Mendes has to be a favourite. She made our signature Bohemian Bardot Ring [into] a global signature. Ever since she wore it [in 2008], it has been our bestselling item. And to have it appear on Sex and the City was pretty surreal as well.

How did the Sex and the City collaboration come about?

We were presenting to media in Los Angeles and … you hope that the right people come past. Patricia Field, the style assistant for the film, came past. They made some notes and then called some pieces in … You can assume those samples will be gone for a year or you won’t get them back because they go into the wardrobe department. About a year later, I had certainly forgotten about it, and we received a card with an illustration of the four girls on the front and it said, “One hand in the air for the big city, thanks for making us look so pretty. Love, Patricia” … I literally had to wait to go to the premiere of the film to see our products up on the big screen.

How did appearing in Sex and the City impact on your brand?

It kind of like evolves the story I think and adds credibility at an international level.

You are the face of Optus’ Small Business Campaign. How did that come about?

It was quite surreal. I think when you get a phone call like, “We’ve signed Mark Wahlberg on to do a campaign and would like you to sign on to the same campaign?”, I was kind of like, “Do you guys have the right number?”

Did you really think that?

Yes, it clicked to me that you really don’t know who is watching your journey and the team at Optus had done a lot of research on the last 12 years of my career and really felt that my story of an underdog from small town Port Macquarie to New York City would really resonate with small- to medium-sized business owners.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Working in fashion, people expect you to have attitude … [so] I think if you can be a nice person and treat everyone like they’re someone, it really goes a long way.

What would you tell your 19-year-old self? 

I think about myself when I was starting the business and the anxiety and the fear and the 20-hour work days … I would try and tell myself that if you look up every once in a while, everything is going to be OK, but I don’t think she will listen.

What would you say has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face? 

There are always challenges as your business grows or you become “procedure successful” – the challenges just differ. In the early days, being $80,000 in debt, as a 24-year-old is incredibly daunting. As the business grows, it’s people issues. You’re only as good as the people around you, so you’re continually managing people as well as the business.

What would your advice to someone starting out in the jewellery industry?

My overarching advice is you don’t want to be that person at the party, three years from now, being like, “Oh yeah, I was always going to do that”. Just start, even as insignificant as the action might seem, do something towards what you’re wanting to do.

Is New York home now?

It feels like home at the moment. I’ve got a great network over here and home is where you build your network. I say New York is my city, Sydney is my town.

What do you miss most about Australia?

Definitely the beaches. I think I was so spoilt growing up in Port Macquarie with these beautiful coastlines and then, in my 20s, in Sydney. When I come back to Australia now I know I look like a tourist because I’m taking a thousand photos of the ocean. I’m in it everyday. It just gives you a whole new level of appreciation for how beautiful our country is.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a lot of external projects outside of the brand, which is really exciting for a personal career perspective… [It has been] stimulating and inspiring to kind of step outside the business, but still have it as the backbone and, I guess, the foundation of everything that I touch.


WE WENT TO The Apollo Restaurant, Potts Point

WE ATE Walnuts filo pastry coffee cream dessert

WE DRANK Champagne and mineral water

SAMANTHA WORE Misha Collection jumpsuit


Talking ‘Talents and Food’ with Christopher Esber

5th June, 2015


Vogue Italia and Sanpellegrino have teamed up to launch ‘Talents and Food’, a competition which teams the best emerging chefs and designers from 20 different regions around the world to each create a garment inspired by a particular dish. Australia’s team for the competition comprised of designer Christopher Esber and the sous chef of Attica restaurant, Peter Gunn. The pair will fly to Milan to present their creation this month, with the final winner being chosen by the team from Vogue Italia. Christopher’s creation from the competition (pictured above) will be available as part of his Spring/Summer 15 collection which is available in July.

I had the chance to catch up with Christopher to discuss what it’s like designing a garment inspired by food (you may have caught some of our chat on last night’s episode of Fashion Bloggers)…

How did this all come about for you?

I’m quite close with the team at Vogue Italia and they told me about this prize that was coming up where designers from various countries are working alongside emerging chefs. The whole idea seemed a bit strange at first but I can see how the two work together. Peter Gunn from Attica in Melbourne won and the winning dish is a piece of steak with celery with sautéed mustard. So I went down the route of colour and texture with fabrics. All our fabrics are made in Italy so I started speaking with the weavers and trying to create a texture similar to what you see in the steak. I want this outfit to be wearable because of course I design for women and it needs to be comfortable but at the same time you’re filling this brief as well. If you’re looking at that piece of steak it’s a long cut and that’s kind of the silhouette of the outfit.

How do you find your inspiration for something like this?

I’ve done enough collections now that I find inspiration in what I’ve done in the past. So just looking at what the brand codes are, so long lines, things that are streamlined, really clean and minimal. So taking that palette [based on the dish] and working in elements from the brand. Looking at what your strengths are is always a good starting point for anything.

What sort of fabrics did you use in this garment?

We worked with a raffia that we’ve backed with a heavy silk and we wanted something that was really luxurious and really soft on the body but had that texture and body that you can see in the piece of meat. So I was trying to emulate that in a wearable way that doesn’t look too art project. And the textures in the celery, it’s prominent.

I don’t think your work could ever look art project!

But it so easily could, when you’re given something like this. I’m really happy with the final result. We’re actually selling it, so it’s going into the collection.

Was that intentional?

Well if you’re making something you need to maximise it. It’s the kind of outfit that I could see a lot of Australian women and international customers wearing.

So how did you feel about the 10-day design time frame?

I like time constraints. I find that when you have too much time for something you just overdesign or you overthink things and you end up going back to your original idea so it was very gut instinct with this and just go with what you know.

Can you talk me through the design process?

I’m very much about textures and fabrications so I work a lot with Italian mills on developing fabrics that are exclusive to the brand. So when the opportunity came up I was looking at the textures in the dish and how we can emulate that in the fabrications. So I came up with doing this raffia that’s been woven to create the rippling that you can see and we just did a mustard wash. If you look at the fabric up close it’s not a solid colour it’s quite tonal and there’s bits of brighter yellows and touches of brown. For me this brief in particular was heavily about fabrications.


Christopher Esber with his dress design


Christopher Esber with Peter Gunn at the Vogue Italia/Sanpellegrino presentation dinner


Can you believe this was inspired by a steak dish?


The lovely details at the presentation dinner


A creative collaboration between Vogue Italia and Sanpellegrino


What do you think of Christopher’s design? Share your thoughts below