A few days ago I bought myself a dress for Christmas. It was on sale. Because retail is for sissies. But it was ill timed. How could I buy a chiffon dress on a day when the floods were hitting so hard and so many Australians were losing their lives, homes and farms in Queensland? When my son gets something new we always give something away. I did the same thing the day I bought my Marie Antoinette dress and immediately arranged a charity fund donation artwork with my design partner Maree Oaten, at Little Branch. We are a really small company. There is no staff, there isn’t an awful lot of stock (yet) but we have somewhere to sleep tonight.  My sister in law’s mum escaped the floods in Toowoomba with twenty minutes to spare. There isn’t a moment in my day when I am not thinking about what is going on up there. If you feel moved to help you can donate directly at www.qld.gov.au/flood/donate/html or buy a flood charity print at www.little branch.com.au.


Anyone creative person loves to get a letter from a like minded soul. Just today I read a letter from a young writer who digs Savvy Chic.

Here’s an excerpt:
“I just wanted to write and say how much I loved Savvy Chic. It’s so strange, i really felt a kindred-spiritidness for so many things you wrote about, and i loved your writing style. I always try to let authors know now, when i love their work (and the illustrations were amazing!), because i know how much i appreciate feedback on my work.
I wonder if it’s in our genes, as Pisceans, to be such gypsies? I’ll be taking your nice teabags and rosewater hydrating spray tips on my long-haul (economy, sigh) flights now. I just loved your chapter on savvy chic travel.”

Louisa Deasey (www.louisadeasey.com) is a Pisces with eyes like crystals and here I am outing her lovely face and saying THANKS BABE! I can’t wait to read your book and share my thoughts on this blog.

Seven days to Christmas and the people who are not getting books or artworks are getting….um, the contents of my accessory drawer? Yes, tonight I am getting out all my vintage silk scarves, belts that don’t fit, Kidd opera gloves, tiny old handbags and even hats and having a good long goodbye session, sprucing them up as home spun gifts. Next year I am moving and with me I want to carry much, much less. Happily I know my friends well and I know exactly what they will fancy. Recently I saw an article in Harper’s Bazaar that described the fancy thrift store arcade that Barbra Streisand has built in the basement of her mansion. Well, I don’t have Bab’s stash but I am amazed at what I am willing to part with this year. Do you feel the same? So as to avoid post holiday regret here is my guideline about what to re-gift and why. This year be sure and up-cycle from every corner of your house. It’s not just ‘free’, it deliciously liberating!

What can you spare? Re-gift anything that…

You have not worn for twelve months
Absolutely doesn’t fit and never will
Is an accessory you really REALLY never wear (like a ruffled umbrella or a camisole or a big chunky bracelet that gathers dust on a shelf)
That is still in the box/bag with tags but pretty useless to you
That is deeply personal and well loved (favourite tea cups are great gifts when you have too many)
That needs a younger woman to carry it off (bright red dresses are like that)
That just needs new buttons or a bit of lace to smarten it up (like a lovely cardigan in the wrong shade)
That is a project you will never finish (needlework kit, dress pattern and so forth…)


There is nothing like seeing your book in a store that you love. For years and years I would daydream in the big West Broadway store of Anthropologie in New York’s Soho. I once lived in a cavernous loft on Canal st and slowly filled it up with the ceramics and textiles from their famous sale tables. Silently I swore to myself that one day I would write a book that would suit this temple of tat and ethnic splendour down to the ground. So imagine my delight when i arrived deeply jet lagged from Sydney ans staggered in to find Savvy Chic next to the new Anna Sui and Vera books. Yum! I know, I know I look like a woman who has just given birth: a mixture of disbelief, wonder and exhaustion on my face. So to the gift buyers at my beloved Anthro…thanks a million! You’ve no idea how much solace I have found from your romantic excesses all these years shamelessly scouring the sale’s table for a little bit of beauty.

Hapers Bazaar Australia, April 2010


The New York Daily News ran a two page spread on budget bargainista travel this week, excerpted from Savvy Chic. These days travelling with a five year old in tow I have a little heavier hand luggage and a little less liberty, so I tend to take short trips with intense (but brief) pleasures in mind. I choose outdoorsy setting like my friend (and artists) Luke Sciberras’ cottage in Hill End, NSW (an artist colony with absolutely¬†zero tourist damage and heavy bohemian cred) or I train it up to Hudson, New York to see my painter friend Wendy Frost and drink a single glass of Prosecco at the Red Dot before tramping up the main drag to look at antiques. My son Marcello loves the train journey and staying with friends saves money for a good bottle of Rioja as a hostess gift and some toy budget for the boy. The most portable and least expensive diversion for a kid on a train, plane or backseat of an automobile is a sticker book. Old fashioned and a bit sweeter than a portable DVD player. I tried to break my son into travel early. When he was one and a half I took him to Martha’s Vineyard and we slept in a ¬†caravan, hitch-hiked and snuck onto private beaches. When he was three we hit Hawaii and snuck into the pool at the beach front Moana Surfrider hotel. Once installed by the pool with fries and a mocktail no one asked any questions. This year I want to take him apple picking in New Zealand but on days with less money we jump a Sydney ferry or an Amtrak train, bound for anywhere where the view out the wind is full of shifts, contrasts and nature. In two weeks we will be back in New York City and the subway will feel incredibly exotic and Central Park Zoo will be like a scene in Madacascar come to life. If i have a juice box, a bag of popcorn and his beloved sticker books…then we’re ready!

Read the article here: NYDN 10-31