the vision.

So, hey. I've been told I'm apparently the slackest blogger in the world, and I think it's not far off the mark. The thing is I like blogging, and I like reading blogs, yet I have done neither of those things of late. It's just that the last few months have carried with them an overriding feeling of being utterly overwhelmed. In every aspect of life. I won't bore with details, I'm sure you have felt it too. It's neither a wholly negative nor positive emotion, but it doesn't lend itself much to clarity of thought, and it certainly isn't conducive to writing anything fit for the public domain.

But after finally undertaking the painstaking task of writing all the overwhelming things down (an exercise I highly recommend) and slowly ticking them off one at a time, the fog is starting to clear. For instance (a more shallow example), Zumba used to be my bitch - I owned Zumba. Dude, I could Merengue March to your grandma's place. But following months of dropping all exercise because I was convinced I didn't have time, I recently started again after realising that if I never exercise then the overall timeline of this busy life is likely to get even shorter, and then I really won't have time for anything. Short meaning = exercise is vital for longevity. Cue overwhelming feeling of being embarrassingly unfit and fears of dying of a heart attack before 30 while doing Zumba. Write it down, notice what a ridiculous notion this is when on paper. Accept that I am now Zumba's bitch. Keep at it, the tables will turn again, but for the time being I am content with my place in this relationship.

The second change happened just the other day, when I had my first photoshoot with my fab new model and friend Kristy. Now there's still tweaking to be done with the lighting and camera settings and I need to buy some fresh accessories, but overall there's something I love about these pics. The style is starting to match the image in my mind, there's a softness and romanticism that really appeals to me. I feel inspired, for the first time in a while. Something has clicked again with me and Damsel - I know what I want, I can see it, and I will make it happen.

(BTW can you believe Kristy has never done this before? One might called it amazeballs, if one was crude. These items, and a couple more, will be up for sale on Facebook this Sunday night.)




my favourite vintage salt & pepper shakers in the whole world...

Cute huh? But wait for it...



on flea markets and the 'Vintage Glaze'.

The flea market experience differs greatly to the op-shop experience, which incidentally (or not) you can read about in my post here. It's less distilled, in the clothing-for-sale ratio sense. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say I actually prefer markets. Wellllll, you know it's kind of a love/hate relationship because I worked at markets for years (not selling vintage btw) and market stallholder politics can be... er... interesting? Educational? Full of complete nutjobs? But as a customer, finding an awesome market, well hey there's just nothing quite like it.

The best markets are outdoors, preferably on some kind of sports oval to lend a scent of competitive anticipation to the air. Grass is necessary. They start early, the air is fresh and crisp, vicious antique dealers hungrily scan with their torches before daybreak, digging rudely through peoples boxes before they've even unpacked (dealers are never looking for clothes - ha, fools I tells ya!). There's generally a hot shirtless guy selling plants. There's some dodgy dude ready to physically fight anyone, including me, over the authenticity of his $70 Louis Vuitton. The canteen has hotdogs and those bizarre 90s soft drinks like Pasito and Creaming Soda and all the Golden Valley ones - does anyone actually buy those anywhere other than markets and community swimming pools?

Mum and I developed the perfect procedure for market hunting. There's the initial scan - fast-paced, pinpointing the most interesting stalls, mentally categorising the order in which to peruse them (sudden memory: Caboolture markets circa 1996, a lady selling all her pristine clothes for $1 each. Crazed women grabbing at clothes and 'accidentally' scratching each other in the process. Scored wide-leg tencel jeans, white cropped knit Country Road singlet with big wood buttons, crushed velvet green singlet. Might have socked a middle-aged woman in the jaw. Pretty much 90s heaven). Then after honing in on the must-visit locales there's the second round, slower and more in-depth to search for unexpected treasures that can spring from the most unlikely places. A gorgeous faux-fur belted coat for $4, black with a white collar, ruined years later by Woodford Folk Festival mud. Strapless 80s party dress with ladybugs print. Ladybugs! A scrolling leaves goldtone 70s necklace, gifted later to a friend who fell in love with it. 1950s cotton circle skirt with dancing African ladies all around it. And this was years before I had even dreamed of selling vintage. I don't even want to think about the pieces I dismissed back then, when $10 was a lot to pay for a vintage coat. Ah, hindsight. You evil wise bastard.

My favourite piece was this... jacket. Sigh. This beautiful tailored softest chocolate suede blazer with rounded lapels. Solid brass snap buttons. Jewel toffee satin lining. Bought for $25 in 1997 from this gorgeous stylish little old lady who had owned it since the 1960s. It was so perfectly fitted, like it was made for me. She seemed kind of sad yet happy to sell it to me, and I loved it for years. Felt just a little bit Stevie Nicks whenever I wore it. Then my sister borrowed it and left it in a pub, and someone took it. And I hope whoever has it now gets what's coming to them. Ahh, there are many sad stories that begin with 'then my sister borrowed it'.

But my favourite market experience was probably technically not a market, it was more one of those gigantic collectables swap meets that happen every now and then, but it was on a sports oval and had a canteen with Pasito so I'm letting it pass. It was raining like nobodies business, and everyone had huddled to the stalls that were inside the pavilion. These poor stallholders out on the field were braving it with barely a soul in sight. I decided to give it a shot, sludged through the mud in thongs, and was rounding the final aisle when I saw this stall with vintage dresses hanging off it. Only a few though and a bit pricey and early 60s polyester gross. I asked the grumpy stallholder if she had any others, to which she replied, "nothin decent, there's some in the boot, they're not really vintage though but you can go through them if you want". (See that's where old-school vintage sellers and the new generation differ. They don't see 70s and 80s pieces as vintage, just old clothes. I'm currently experiencing that mental struggle with 90s "vintage". 90s clothing is 90% crap and I 90% hate all of it.) Aaaaanywho, within these boxes of 'not really vintage' was the most AMAZING collection of delicate pieces: lace maxis, gorgeous Bali cutwork dresses, embroidered gauze smock tops, beaded purses....

I believe I experienced my first episode of what I later termed the 'Vintage Glaze'. This is when a vintage enthusiast is confronted with such an sudden overwhelming assault of amazing affordable vintage that their eyes literally glaze over and they become incapable of communication beyond quiet whimpers and incomprehensible mutterings. Other symptoms include rapid heart-rate, sweating palms, and violent possessiveness over clothes inanimate objects. This was back when I first started selling vintage, circa 2005, when I had to scrounge op-shops for one or two half-decent 80s dresses, so you can understand it was a particularly severe episode.

$75 later I floated over the mud with my giant bag of goodies, eyes still glazed, feeling like I had saved a litter of puppies from being thrown in a garbage disposal or something. Well, I had saved beautiful clothes from a life of neglect and eventual mould, anyhow. So that is something.

I feel like markets like that don't exist any more. I know they probably do, somewhere, but weekends are now spent actually tending to the rest of my life outside of Damsel, so who has the time? I guess it's all relative. I can't even comprehend the amazing markets my mum went to in the 70s, when she owned a collectibles stall and sold 1920s flapper dresses and Victorian costume jewellery. 1950s clothing was barely considered vintage then. I'll tell you some of her stories another day. But I suppose it's time to accept the reality of the markets of the future, where gems like my 'not really vintage' collection will be a distant memory or like $300 a piece, and the 90s cast-offs I gave to Lifeline in '02 will become hot property for some enterprising young lass. Urgh. Maybe I should get back out and enjoy them while the 'Glaze' is still possible for me.


when not wearing vintage... it's crushing on AllSaints time

We were in L.A last December, where it's supposed to rain about 12 days a year. We were there for 14 days, and it rained for 12 of them. So many plans got cancelled - no Disneyland, no cruising Mulholland Drive, no hot dogs on Santa Monica pier (well actually we did go there at night, raining of course and completely deserted, took creepy photos of the empty carnival rides and freaked ourselves out talking about Pennywise from Stephen King's IT). However, this meant there was a lot more time for shopping, which is a thumbs up. 3rd St Promenade at Santa Monica was a fave for a couple of days, and there I found a store I had never heard of that just epitomised my ideal wardrobe. AllSaints is a cult British brand that has started infiltrating the U.S and Europe, and is so dark romantic edgy gothic modern yet slightly steampunk cool it almost hurts. The decor was so moody and elegant, and the staff so ridiculously good-looking that I felt I should have asked permission to be in there at all, let alone touch anything. And after finding the black leather jacket of my dreams, and then discovering its price tag - $795! - it was time so slowly back away from the racks and exit before anyone got hurt.

But when we got back home to Australia - google baby! Found their UK website, discovered the joy of their nicely timed 60% off storewide clearance, went a bit nutbars, and started collecting. This kind of style, dark and simple yet with nice details and beautiful soft fabrics, is what I choose to wear when I'm not in the mood for vintage.

AllSaints 'Willow' cape top, Sportsgirl black cord shorts

AllSaints 'Laurentia' cardigan, sold out.

AllSaints 'Walker' leather biker jacket, sold out.

AllSaints 'Afghan' cashmere jumper, sold out.

AllSaints 'Lost Game' vest, sold out.


snake charmer.

Possibly the most stupendously cool vintage belt I have ever found. As Wayne and Garth would say, shhhhh-wiiiing.
Damsel Vintage articulated metal and leather snake belt, H&M black lace dress ($20 in L.A!), vintage headscarf.


new autumn, new beginning.

Has anyone else recently felt like telling 2011 to just #&;%$ off and come back when it's in a better mood? In many parts of the world it's probably a volatile year like any other but here in our little safe pocket of earth it's easy to feel complacent, and so far 2011 has been like a swift kick in the teeth and quick jolt to the senses. I feel guilty - and grateful, but mostly guilty - to not be in beautiful Christchurch, where we spent a gorgeous afternoon walking through its botanical gardens this time last year. I feel guilty not being in northern Qld staring down Yasi and its destruction. I feel guilty not living 15min down the road in West End or Auchenflower or Rosalie, fighting with insurance companies over the definition of 'flood'.

But guilt is vacuous and useless. It's time to accept and be grateful, and help those who are in need. Remember what is important in life, and hold tight the people that you love. The beginning of autumn feels like what news years day should have felt like (when the never-ending rain instead made it eerie and foreboding). A new page. Relief from the oppressive heat. Clear thoughts. Boots!

Perhaps coincidently, perhaps not, at the beginning of this month a hairdresser managed to turn my platinum blonde hair a very 65 yr old salt and pepper grey. Nice. It's amazing how such a superficial thing as hair can suddenly feel so personal and terribly important. After many childish angry tears at the loss of my "best feature" (funny cause it's not even mine, it's just dye) I realised I had to choose between attempting to re-blonde it (endless hours and damage) or let it go and try something new. And I have to say, I know it's just hair but... as it was coloured darker I felt this huge weight being lifted from my shoulders, like I didn't even realise I had been carrying something around for years, hanging on to a person I no longer really was. Has that ever happened to you?!

So with renewed enthusiasm after a much-needed break (and nicely timed bout of flu) I can't wait to begin listing Damsel's autumn collection, starting next week on Monday. Beautiful colours and fabrics, pieces to layer, boots, leathers, chunky knitwear, stunning dresses - I have been getting seriously picky about what to bring you, and therefore now officially love every piece. I have been wearing the dress photographed non-stop since I decided I couldn't quite part with it, but I promise there will be more just as lovely!

Oh yeah, and welcome to my personal style blog. New beginnings, starting now xox

Vintage boys leather jacket from eBay, Damsel Vintage gauze cotton floral dress, Beboroque 'Gretel' printed tights, Damsel Vintage leather knee boots, vintage Navajo turquoise silver rings and vintage Bali ring gifted from mum.