couture and… babies!

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It is not every day I get to swan about in a beautiful couture gown.

No, even before I had my baby, it was hardly the norm for me. As much as I love clothes and a good dressing up occasion, designer gowns were rarely on the menu.

And, while I’ve been pretty lucky in my clothing choices since becoming a mum, and haven’t had to make too many compromises to accommodate the demands of tiny mouths and fingers (although I often have to tie my hair up, because OUCH! a small someone likes to pull it), wearing something really, properly exquisite has not been a pleasure I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy for quite a while!

So when my friend (and mother of a gorgeous bebe just a month older than Jack) Estelle asked if I wanted to take some photos wearing Jason Grech with her, did I take long to think about saying yes?

Reader, I did not.

On the warmest, sunniest day of what was a pretty glorious winter-does-spring week, Estelle and I made a visit to North Melbourne, and had the chance to play dress ups in local designer Jason Grech’s couture gowns.

Not surprisingly, it felt really quite good!

I was also pleased to have the chance to visit the studio where the gowns are made. Not only is it a beautiful building, a historic space with high ceilings behind a terrace of double story Victorians and crisscrossed by cobblestone alleyways – something that has filled me with pure joy to see ever since I moved to Melbourne and found it full of these fairy tale-like worlds – it was a delight for me to see the designer’s work coming to life. Melbourne still has some fashion designers and their ateliers here, and while I might (ahem!) not be able to afford to buy bespoke designer pieces for everyday life, I love to see our talented, skillful local creatives supported and celebrated.

Speaking of which, just a couple of days earlier, I’d had the pleasure of visiting another creative studio, and met several great Melbourne designers. One, Anastasia La Fey, produces distinctive contemporary pieces, and also has a long held love of vintage and working with vintage materials, such as the Victorian ostrich feathers in the headpiece below. And who am I to say no to having a play something imbued with the history of an era I’ve been fascinated by since I was a little girl?!

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First up were the sculptural burgundy gown for Estelle, and the sequinned and harnessed dress for me, complete with a row of tiny loops and buttons down the side, which I always associate with the 1930s and is one of my favourite details of that decade.

Then it was a quick stoll, with babies in prams, back to the studio, where we got our goth on!

As I said, it was a very sunny day, and also a very windy one (as is any day in Melbourne that ends in y), which really made the dramatic features of my dress come to life. Nothing like having your own personal wind machine for a wing + train outfit – at least when you’re facing the right direction!

It was an absolute pleasure to wear things made with such vision, detail, and skill, and from such beautiful fabrics, which draped and swooshed in a way that no high street frock ever could. And feeding my baby in sparkling couture is definitely a stand out memory!

Dressing up on that random weekday was a real joy.

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Estelle: headpiece by The Human Chameleon | Marianne: headpiece by anastasia la fay

all gowns by Jason Grech

special note: Jack’s adorable shorts by my friend and local Melbourne maker extraordinaire Cintia of My Poppet – thank you!

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dark green coat in the cold golden glow

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I really do love winter. While we officially still have a couple of weeks before Spring, it has been very warm here – in fact it’s been all warm sunshine this past week, and yesterday was a sunny 22C. This unusually fair weather has taken me by surprise, and of course meant that my wardrobe has had to adjust to warmer weather clothes too.

However, it still sometimes gets cold as the sun starts to set, and early evening walks with Jack in that cold golden glow have given me some last opportunities to wear favourite winter coats before Spring truly arrives.

This green 1940s coat is one of those favourites. It is very soft, very heavy, and falls beautifully, and I love the little mini-cape-like detail. As with the coat in my last post, it is very very warm to wear. That’s the amazing, old fashioned quality for you!

In fact the only potential downside with this coat, and the one that caused some hesitation before I bought it, is the colour. I love the dark green, blue-er than bottle green but still warm, but it isn’t a shade I’d wear with many other colours. I like it with black, especially as the trim is black, but perhaps some more adventurous pairings can be a challenge for me over the next few weeks.

And, as I write this, it is pouring with rain and really quite chilly again, so maybe I’ve got a few more chances to take my winter warmers for a spin after all!

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coat ~ vintage, from etsy (I can’t remember the seller and I’ve lost my old login details so I can’t look them up!)

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golden winter, a camel hair coat and vintage boots

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Here we are in the last official month of winter in Melbourne! I’ve always loved this time of year, almost as much as Autumn. I especially love it in Melbourne, as fireplaces are still popular, and that beautiful burning wood smell floating from chimneys on a cold wintry mornings always makes me happy. And I love a good winter coat, too.

I’m pleased to live somewhere that does get cold enough for rugging up, even if it’s not as cold as the London winters I grew up with. Melbourne does have that southerly wind fresh from the land of the penguins!

This winter has been quite mild, but I have still enjoyed wearing my latest coat find, this camel hair and wool coat by Jaeger. I’ve wanted a classic coat like this for many years, so you can imagine how pleased I was when, rifling through the coats at my local Salvos – I always check the coat rail, just in case, though don’t usually expect much – my hand felt a fabric of a much better quality than the others… and then, pulling it out to have a look, finding it was in my size!

It is super soft, and, of course, incredibly warm, even on days with those icy Melbourne gusts like this one.

We may not have had many days where I’ve needed it this winter, but I do love wearing it. It came with a matching tie belt, but I like it with a vintage leather belt, too, which has the added bonus of staying put. With my recently scored vintage leather boots (faux faur lined!) and my cashmere scarf, I’m ready for that Antarctic breeze that will welcome in Spring.

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camel hair coat ~ Salvos | vintage boots ~ Savers | vintage belt | cashmere scarf ~ Dunedin

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autumn in the mountains

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We might be in winter here, but please allow me a little time travel just now, back to an Autumn day in the mountains! Not just any day, but my first Mother’s Day as a mother.

And, as long time readers will know, Autumn has always been my favourite season!

I find Autumn especially magical in the Dandenong Ranges, a mountain range just south east of Melbourne. The Alfred Nicholas Gardens in Sherbrooke, within these amazing mountains, were built in the early 1930s, and while they are beautiful all year round, they burst into vibrant colour just before a velvet winter settles in. I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather spend my first Mother’s Day!

Perhaps in honour of all the rich red leaves, I wore the vintage nurses cape I bought from Sarah and Ludo. I’ve wanted one of these for years, and, just after my birthday in April, I just happened to be on instagram in time to see the listing go up. In the perfect size and with the red lining contrasting with the classic navy blue, it had to be mine!

It was just right for the cool, drizzly weather. While we walked around the grounds, little Jack slept right through it all – we’ll just have to take him again next Autumn!

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cape ~ vintage, Sarah and Ludo

stripy top and black pants ~ Uniqlo

biker boots ~ Zomp

 

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those nine months of a baby bump!

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Having done a bit of a comparison over the past 5 months with baby Jack, it’s now my turn, with my nine months of having a baby belly!

It was nice for me to put all these photos together at last, and really be able to see the difference as my bump grew. It also brings back some lovely memories – and the surprises I had along the way, too! When I found out I was expecting, of course I imagined how the next 9 months (I found out almost straight away) would look. And, of course, the reality was quite different!

It was Autumn when I first discovered I was expecting Jack. As per the familiar wisdom that babies, especially first babies, take a good while before they start to show, I didn’t think I would need to start wearing different clothes until we got through the cold months, and were well into the warmer weather of Spring. I thought I would then only need the very roomy clothes for the final months, when it would be summer.

Oh, how I smile at that now!

I started to show almost straight away. By two months, I looked very obviously pregnant. As most of my clothes were fitted at the waist, I had to rethink everything I wore very quickly, as I literally had nothing that would fit!

I also wanted to keep my new state secret for a little while, and enjoy this special secret with just those closest to me, and I also became even more camera shy. I’d always thought I would want to let my bump show straight away, and was surprised at how private a time it felt to me. I think this reflects in my pause in blogging too, even though I love reading other people’s experiences about it all.

I didn’t want to rush out and spend a lot of money on a new winter wardrobe that was just for a few months, and so those long, early weeks were spent in a couple (literally, there were only two!) of very large jumpers, which I thought were doing a great job of hiding my bump, but weren’t especially fun to wear. Any thoughts of looking stylish were now on hold!

Then a couple of weeks before my third trimester was up, I went to our local deli, and as soon as the lady behind the counter saw me, she loudly congratulated me – my secret was clearly out! Those jumpers were clearly not hiding anything anymore…

It was at last time to buy a few things, and I could share our happy news. I shared it with you online too, with the first photo of this post, when I was around four months, and spring had come early to Melbourne. I remember that even though all the blossoms were out, it was still so cold!

It turned out that the kinds of things I wanted, and had just assumed I would get, like cotton smock dresses and empire maxi dresses, were suddenly impossible to find. I also really wanted to stick to things I could wear for a long time, not just when I was pregnant.

Luckily for me, lots of summery things were on sale – it’s one of the great advantages of living in the Southern hemisphere – and I found a few suitable summer dresses on Asos, just buying non-maternity styles a couple of sizes bigger than usual. For once I really appreciated that “you might also like” function as it led to a couple of great finds!

The timing meant I needed four season’s worth of clothes. I went to London for 3 weeks when I was 5 months along, going from a Melbourne spring to a British Autumn, and then to Fiji in October, going from a warm Melbourne spring to a hot and tropical climate – my new wardrobe had a LOT of work to do!

I took another piece of advice I’d often heard about having a baby belly, and didn’t go mad buying loads of things. In the end I got just a few actual maternity pieces (a skirt, a pair of leggings, two plain tops and one dress) and a three light stretchy dresses to wear with a couple of long cardigans, and wore all the possible combinations (many times over!) for those cooler months.

It was the perfect capsule wardrobe, and the perfect introduction to finally really having one!

I got back to Melbourne to find spring was giving way to summer very early, and I was glad to have those summer dresses ready to go.

They say you can’t really imagine what pregnancy will be like until it happens to you, and for me that was definitely true. I remember thinking my bump was huge at 5 months, but when I see the pictures now I clearly had a very long way to go! It was at this point everything sped up, and the difference between that second and third trimester was huge. What I imagined a full term belly would look like actually came at around 6 months – I’d underestimated just how big this baby belly would be!

The summer dresses I bought definitely got a good workout, and I just about lived in them from September onwards, as you can see here.

My biggest memory of being pregnant is of being at the beach, where we went almost every day during the summer. Being in the water felt so amazing! I really appreciated living so close to the beautiful Victorian coast, and am already looking forward to getting back there this summer, with Jack on the outside this time.

I can definitely say I am happy to have followed the advice of not getting carried away with shopping for those 9 months, as already they seem so long ago, and like they were over so quickly, although of course those last weeks did NOT feel so short at all..! I am already looking forward to buying new things with far less restrictions for this coming summer. I also think I now have a much better idea of what I’d like to wear (and do!) should there be a second time!

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We took this photo just a couple of days before I gave birth, and I love seeing that bump in its final stages! I makes me almost miss having it. Almost!

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