take me back to the start

Before I was born and when I was little, mum and dad dealt in antiques and collectibles. Mum advertised in the local papers for 'linen, lace, and old buttons', and often came home with all sorts of other treasures as well, such as - oh, I don't know - genuine 1920s and 30s evening dresses. In the late 1970s and early 80s their weekend market stall in Auckland would have a pre-dawn lineup, and when they opened the 'door' a flurry of collectors and upmarket dealers would whisk through snapping up the cherry items - Victorian china, flapper dresses, and antique costume jewelery all bagged, tagged and snagged before 6am. (On the subject of costume jewelery, make sure you check any piece you find. Mum once sold a necklace that she was later informed - rather untactfully I might add - was actually a diamond and sapphire piece. Yeah.) Our home was the gateway where beautiful things passed through daily, but rarely stayed. Though admittedly our (my sister and I) dress-up box was made up of Edwardian blouses and 1940s girls party dresses, one of which I wore when I was 5 and refused to remove for about 2 months, until the ivory jacquard satin had turned a particularly fetching shade of beige-brown. Complete with matted birds nest hair that I would not allow to be brushed, it was a sight to behold.

Glamorous as it all may sound we were not wealthy at all; in fact, we were pretty bloody poor most of the time. Mum and dad lived the experience of constantly letting go of the best, the most beautiful, and sometimes just whatever could be found, in order to pay the bills. Oh... can we go back in time please? There's a black silk jacket mum used to wear, a loose draping soft cut with cropped bell sleeves, every inch covered in a gold hand-embroidered vine pattern. I need this in my wardrobe now. Sigh. I hope someone is enjoying it.

But despite the struggle, it was a home with a lot of love going on. And I feel blessed to have been raised by such talented, artistic people who taught me to appreciate the unique, the quality, the quirky, the history, the imperfectly perfect. Oh! Remembering... they made tooled leather wallets, bags, and belts for a while. The best seller was a soft leather shoulder bag, with intricate carvings of flowers or birds, and long leather fringe that hung right down to the knees. It made such a statement when a girl bought one of these, strutting away in her flared blue jeans with the fringe swishing in time as she walked. Man, I still want to be one of those girls. Then later, when we lived on the island, it was handmade suede leather moccasin boots. They laced up the font, were beaded across the toes, had sheepskin lining, and were the comfiest house shoes in the world, especially during the... shall we say "crisp"... New Zealand winters. Every time I go back to NZ I secretly hope to find one of those bags or a pair of the moccasins peaking out from some dark corner of a thrift store. No luck so far, but I'm still vaguely hopeful. In the meantime I seek out what treasures I can, imagining what history they have, and enjoy the little moment when they pass through my hands.

The point? Hmmm... the point. Well. Sometimes when a business is a labour of love you can find that somewhere along the track you started focusing on the labour a little too often, and forget why you made this choice in the first place. So here's just taking a moment to stop, breathe, and believe. I guess occasionally we all need to remind ourselves where we have come from, what passions were sparked there, and that it's important to allow - or sometimes fight for - them to still live in the present.

Man I feel like Dr Phil and Jerry Springer's love child today.



Girls. Found a box of awesome vintage mags and after flicking through, I discovered a growing theme in my chosen scans. Girls with attitude. Girls I wanted to be when I grew up. Fearless, fun, growling, dancing, kissing, slouching girls. Wearing killer heels one day and boys clothes the next and too many accessories and plaits and messy hair. Too often I find myself changing an outfit if I think other people won't like it, or if it draws too much attention. Surely I'm old enough now to stop caring? Is 2010 the time to let it go and step it up? YES MA'AM.

First stop: shoes that actual grownups wear.

(1989 ad for Kate Durham; 1988 Vogue editorial pic on 'mudlark' fashion; 1988 Vogue editorial pic on Chanel; Stevie Nicks 1970s; 1970 Snazzi by La Gaye Parisienne dress; 1980s Cue ad)