I had the incredible honour of hosting the launch of the latest fashion and dining precinct in Sydney, 25 Martin Place. The Harry Seidler-designed building formerly known as the MLC Centre has undergone a $170 million transformation and the results are pretty incredible. I wanted to honour one of the big stores taking up residence in the precinct while on hosting duties, so I embraced a Valentino look for today. Valentino will be opening a flagship store in the building so it only seemed fitting to wear a look by the brand to today’s event.
While I don’t think you can ever really go wrong with Valentino, there’s also plenty that’s so right with this particular take on the shirt dress. The silhouette is given a feminine touch with the delicate lace and the pleated skirt feature, while the oversized logo belt adds a touch of drama. I paired this with a minimalist neutral heel to complement the crisp white hue of the dress and old school waves to finish off the look.
Credits: Dress and belt, Valentino; Shoes, Stuart Weitzman
I was thrilled to attend the recent launch of the Fendi store in Sydney and judging from the laughs below, I had a ball. And why wouldn’t I? I’ve been a long time fan of Fendi, and have always loved its classic aesthetic, layered with modern touches. This combination makes each piece whether it be a bag or an item of clothing just feel special. I’ve been lucky enough to wear a few Fendi pieces throughout my career, and it’s always guaranteed to make me feel polished and put together.
For the launch I tried two very different looks. One was a demure LWD. It’s a great example of how a classic minimalist silhouette can still feel interesting even without embellishment or flamboyant finishing touches. This dress is the kind of silhouette that I could see living in my closet for years to come, as it’s just so chic and so versatile too. When wearing something that’s such a blank slate, I think you can’t go wrong with vibrant accessories. While I kept my outfit quite clean, I went for a yellow bag to add a little sunshine to this look. It’s just the right amount of colour to lift it, and give it some energy. While a patterned shoe is just the kind of statement piece that gives this look a striking element.
The other look couldn’t have been more different. In this instance it was all about being a lady in red. I’ve always found wearing a scarlet shade gives me a little confidence boost–it’s such a bold colour that I think you really have to own it. The dress’ design is the perfect combination of feminine styling meets modern with the button detail and the flared sleeves, I love how the structure was offset by the playfulness and touch of flamboyance the statement sleeves bring. I went with the patterned shoe for this look too as I thought it offered a great contrast feature, but whenever I’m wearing red, I always tend to gravitate towards black accessories as it’s just such a great combination.
If you’re in Sydney, definitely check out the new Fendi store. It’s a designer playground and one I’m happy to visit time and time again.
This post was produced in collaboration with Fendi
Living in Sydney, I’m really spoilt for choice with the incredible dining scene on offer. Whatever the cuisine you’re craving, you’re almost guaranteed to find it and there’s never a shortage of a great new spot to check out. I’m particularly lucky in that I’m able to check out so many great restaurants for work, whether it’s for an interview or the setting of a product launch or event. It’s hard to narrow it down to just a few spots, but here are a few places that I’ve visited more than once and will definitely come back to again.
We’re always up early with the girls so heading out for breakfast is a favourite activity, particularly on the weekend. We love staying local, but there is one spot that we’ll definitely travel to.
I’ve been going to Bathers’ Pavilion for as long as I can remember but it has recently undergone a refurb making it even more of a favourite local haunt. You can’t beat the setting and the food is top notch.
This is walking distance from where I live so it’s a fave spot for coffee and breakfast. It gets incredibly busy throughout the day so we always like heading down there early for a relaxing start to our day.
I love Bills so much that we even made a point of going to there for breakfast when we were in Hawaii. Closer to home there are a few locations to choose from around Sydney, but whatever you do, be sure to try the ricotta hotcakes. It’s heaven!
Is there a better relaxing activity than a long lunch with your favourite people? These are some of my go-tos whether it’s a meal with my family or friends.
Icebergs is an icon and a Sydney dining institution. The view of that outdoor pool is what Instagram dreams are made of and enjoying a long lunch with the faint scent of salty sea air is just heavenly.
It’s a bit further out of Sydney, but Bert’s in Sydney’s Northern Beaches is one of the best places to have lunch in town. The dining room is elegant and sleek and the food is modern, adventurous and has so many interesting and unique flavour combinations that you’ll be planning your next visit before you even finish your meal.
I love getting dressed up and going out to a lovely dinner and when it comes to evening meals there are some truly beautiful spots in Sydney to enjoy. These are some of my favourites.
Descending into the dimly lit restaurant, you’ll feel like you’ve been instantly transported to Paris. The atmosphere, the food, the setting, it all perfectly works together to create the idea place to while away an evening with friends.
It has been around for years but I think you can’t beat Mr Wong if you want insanely delicious Chinese food. The only thing is trying to decide what to have on the menu— I always find it so hard to make up my mind because I want to try everything!
Tucked away in Sydney’s Paddington this bistro is small and cosy and a great spot for settling in for an evening with a glass of wine and a lovely meal. If you like Italian food, you’ll make add this spot to your list.
This spot has just opened so there’s a lot of buzz around it and for good reason, the Mediterranean inspired menu featuring one mouthwatering seafood dish after another, plus the ultra pretty coastal setting make for the kind of restaurant experience that you know you’ll have to do again and again.
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…
This is the number one place you will find me in summer as it’s so close to where I live. 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 there 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.
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.
I am a fan of the original Bistro Moncur in Sydney’s Woollahra so I 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 sauce to pan friend barramundi fillet. Amazing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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..)
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.