the bookcase of the future?

Is this what our bookshelves will look like?

It recently came into my head to start a book club.

A marvellous idea, I thought, to discuss a shared interest and imbibe several bottles of wine while arguing over whether Patrick Bateman was actually a serial killer or if Bella should have ended up with Jacob or Edward.

(Good God- American Psycho to Twilight. That’s a stark contrast. And for the record we will read neither of those books as they’re both horribly confronting in their respective violence/soppiness. Anyway.)

I asked a friend about the prospect and she agreed, enthusing about the possibilities of baked goods and Popular Penguins, and it all seemed to be coming together nicely.

Then it was time to invite others to join.

We pored over a list of mutual friends, always asking the same question: “Does s/he read?”

Too many times the answer was no.

This upsets me, this apathy towards books. Maybe it’s because it was forced upon us during school, but too many of my acquaintances will happily declare they “don’t read, apart from (Vogue/Grazia/the train timetable.” They say it like it’s something to be proud of. Others will be slightly more apologetic or defensive, swearing they don’t have the time.

This from people who I know have devoted countless hours of their lives to watching boxed DVD sets of their favourite TV series. How many books could you read in the time it takes to watch all seven series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

(Not to knock Buffy, of course. And interestingly enough, seasons 8 and beyond of the series have been released in graphic-novel form, so my illiterate friends will have to embrace the written word if they want to find out what happens to the Sunnydale kids. Ha! Anyway.)

Say what you will about the tripe that is Twilight, at least it’s encouraging people of all ages to devour 500+ pages of lame-ass-vampire-filled tripe. People who admittedly don’t make a habit of reading regularly.

I blame my mother for this expensive and nerdy habit, but I’ve always been a consumer of books – even the really crappy ones, if there were no others around – and with typical pious, self-righteousness I think a lot of people should read more than they do. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be books, just pick up a bloody newspaper. Or anything that will teach you a little bit more than what colour lipstick to match with your eyeshadow this season. Or what time the train is coming in.

Books themselves are changing, though, and I’m not sure if it’s for the best.

As it does to everything, technology has slowly changed our reading habits and introduced a new focus on digital books instead of the old-fashioned print kind.

As a self-confessed, book-reading evangelist I should be welcoming the arrival of technologies making it more accessible than ever to read. Books are now available online, on electronic readers like Amazon’s Kindle, and in the newest incarnation of iBooks on the Apple iPad.

I can’t help but feel wary of all this new technology though. In many ways electronic reading devices do make books more accessible – books are available cheaper or free in an electronic format. But the devices themselves are so goddamn expensive it feels like a step backward. Like going from paperback to hardback, only a billion times worse.

You could argue that after the initial pain, an iPad is worth it, and cheaper access to content makes it worth the cost. But would you really take your iPad to the beach? In the bath? Camping? Those are probably my favourite places to read a book. The other is when I fly, and all electronic devices have to be turned off during take off and landing. Your iPad isn’t much use to you then.

And if your device has internet access, are you really going to be able to read an entire book? Even when Facebook and Twitter and the billion other social media sites I barely understand but believe people use all start demanding your attention? What if the battery goes flat just when Harry is facing off against Voldemort? WHAT THEN?

(Interestingly enough, I faced a similarly stressful scenario when reading one of the Harry books after my sister and got halfway through the final chapter to find the remaining pages had fallen out. So maybe this problem isn’t limited to digital reading. Anyway, enough undermining my own argument.)

There is one obvious benefit to reading electronically instead of in print. It always frustrates me that you can be sitting in front of a computer whiling away an entire working day doing absolutely nothing, but you can’t pick up a book. No way. It’s like a giant, boldly coloured advertisement to your employer that I Am Doing No Work And You Should Immediately Give Me Something To Do And Possibly Yell At Me. I don’t know how reading Wuthering Heights is any less related to work than Facebook or Solitaire, but turning away from the computer during work time to flick through a paperback will never be well received by your employer.

(Unless you work in publishing and it’s your job. In which case I hate you, you lucky duck.)

So, technology: helping people slack off in the workplace since whenever the internet was invented.

(I should really have Googled that. Lazy.)

But however technology changes, I’ll always have a place on my actual, real-world, physical bookshelf for a bunch of dog-eared, beach-worn, bath-splashed books. I guess I should just be happy more people are reading, even if it’s only a half-assed attempt at novels by Jane Austen that are free because her copyright expired.

Besides, I’m not a complete philistine. I’ve just discovered an amazingly simple way to support my three-books-a-week habit – I joined my local library.

It’s just like the iBooks App Store, only with more old people!


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fashion: lmff runway 5

Leather AND a Balmain shoulder by White Suede. I fell in love with a shoulder-free, non-biker look leather jacket in this parade – alas, I can’t find pictures.

Wayne Cooper  with a modern classic silhouette

No thanks, Bettina Liano. For lovers of denim, Bettina’s your gal this season.

I’ve been crying out for colour and the start of Runway 5 left me slightly cold. White Suede stuck to white, cream and black (oh so much black). Fortunately, the other designers showed broke out with lovely printed silks and even a few brights.

Head over to Style and read my LMFF Runway 5 story to check out the full gallery.

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fashion: lmff fashion collection 3 renegades

Although it’s been an awesome week and lots of fun, I have to confess that towards the end of LMFF one collection started to look very much the same as the next. This probably wasn’t helped by the fact that pretty much every designer embraced the 80s with open (and of course, wide shouldered) arms.

The Renegades Fashion Collection was something of a breath of fresh air – much less interested in achieving sophistication than showing good, strong designs. This was particularly true for the men’s fashion labels, which seemed to be stuck in stilted, semi-formal styles for most of the parades.

Bold motifs by Vanguard

Wouldn’t your ankles get cold?

Stevie – why strut when you can dance?

Stevie seemed to be the crowd favourite of the night, with loud music and dancing models. Fortunately they did a proper parade after this opening – it was bloody hard to get a look at the clothes.

For more images, head over to Style and read my Fashion Renegades report.

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fashion: lmff sidewalk 3 by review

Ribbons and ruffles and beads – oh my

The people behind me thought this model was Miranda Kerr.

They were quite excited, so I thought it best not to disappoint them.

Mixing textures and patterns and actually using colour

Good god why do I blog? Because I’m just busting full of opinions and I’m on a caffeine-and-panic induce writing roll.

Today at Fed Square the free Sidewalk parade featured Review, which is probably one of my favourite chain stores. I love all their girly touches and classic style. They use a lot of silk and lace which is the easiest way to my heart, and as an added bonus I can actually go and buy the designs I see and love (unlike Lisa Ho. Sigh).

Actually, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said as much in the opening speech, saying something to the effect of “Enjoy the show and then go out into the city of Melbourne and buy them.” Good to see he’s staying on message.

This collection was exactly what I’d expected and exactly what I’d want to see – the same flattering cuts and lines and lovely touches Review is known for with trendy elements. I was sad to see they haven’t bucked the awful Balmain-blazer trend, but there was enough I liked to make me itch to visit the shop.

As always, my Style Melbourne write up is posted here.

Two more shows tonight and then an LMFF-free day tomorrow. Bliss.

UPDATE: Style Melbourne write up is now live. Check it out here.

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fashion: lmff live fashion shoot at melbourne central

What’s a fashion shoot without aerial acrobatics? And a DJ? And an MC?

(I didn’t take photos of those, as they are comparatively quite dull)

There were lots and lots of people crowded round, making me feel quite smug about my seat on the riser.

This isn’t a great shot, but if I had to guess who had designed this look I’d have picked Ugg and RM Williams.

Oh Lacoste, what were you thinking? This seems to be their take on bushranger chic.

Honestly, I think they stage some of these events to inconvenience as many people as possible.

Of course, it’s actually to draw a crowd and create something of a spectacle, but the two do go hand in hand.

This live fashion shoot took place in Shot Tower Square in Melbourne Central at about lunchtime. It’s a popular thoroughfare that was completely blocked off for the event. Inconvenient, yes, but also kind of cool and it’s definitely a way to draw a crowd.

As if they needed anymore help, this event had a live DJ and aerial acrobats spiralling around in the air so that people from the upper levels crowded around the bannisters to watch. (Which was the intended effect, you’d imagine.)

It was an interesting thing to watch the shoot unfold. Shot by Christian Blanchard and styled by Philip Boone, the organisers had gone for big names to create what was, in my opinion, a pretty safe shoot. The styling in particular was generally safe – black, of course, and the men just in suits and coats – or just plain weird in the case of the Lacoste shoot pictured (kinda) above. The blue dress at the start was gorgeous and got me all excited that things would continue in the same vein, but I would have liked to have seen things get a little more daring.

Still, it was fun to see the way these things work and the amount of people it takes to pull off something which seems relatively simple. Photographer, stylist, makeup, hair, set designers, wardrobe assistants, a host of people clustered around a computer doing something technical, and probably more who were less visible.

And since the festival has sold out, it’s great to have a solid program of free events for anyone who missed out on the runways. These pictures will probably be plastered all over Melbourne Central promo boards for months to come, which could be quite thrilling for the 300 or so people who saw it all come together.

Check out my write up at Style which will be up… here. I don’t know why I insist on doubling my workload by both reporting and blogging, but I like to have a more casual means of opinionated discussion as well as the strictly business stuff.

Stay tuned for more LMFF updates soon!

UPDATE: Style Melbourne write-up now live. Please check it out.

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fashion: lmff l’oreal paris runway 3

Possibly the first bit of colour of the evening

I want to marry this dress. She won’t have me, though, as I’m much too poor.

All photos are Lisa Ho designs, taken by Chris Pappas from Style Melbourne.

To view a more comprehensive gallery, visit

Oh the excitement! Although I do love the smaller events, there’s a very specific kind of thrill about going to the main runways – once you figure out how the bloody hell to get there. (I hate Docklands.)

Runway 3 opened with a performance by Bertie Blackman which was an unexpected surprise and an energetic start to the show. If you haven’t been to any of the shows, you have to realise the hugeness of the venue. It’s a 50m runway, which makes you feel quite sorry for the models tottering coltishly down the catwalk with shoes that are probably two sizes too big or small.

I’m still quite astonished all the shows managed to sell out – the venue is enormous and full of people, and it’s crazy to imagine the shows drawing that kind of crowd twice a night (and that’s not including the shows at Malvern Town Hall, or the free Sidewalk parades).


For a full rundown on the designs and more pictures, check out Style Melbourne for my write up. It should be up soon…

Update: Read my Style Melbourne piece here

My favourites of the night were Thurley and Lisa Ho. Thurley had this lovely romantic theme going with very 20s style dresses – I love a drop waist, and anything designed for a boyish chest since it will actually fit me properly. There was lots of silk, a bit of Sass & Bide gladiator-look styling and of course bold, chunky jewellery. And the lace! Oh the lace. And ruffles. And every other girly embellishment I can think of. Swoon.

Lisa Ho was the other standout because the collection actually used colour. I love the ostrich feather skirts despite the probability of moulting everywhere. I need that ruffle shouldered dress in my life, but short of robbing the Lisa Ho boutique in Chadstone, I don’t think that will happen soon. Fleur Wood have a similar style for the comparatively reasonable price of $400-something. Life is hard.

My main whinge about the parades – and the festival generally – is that there is much so much black (and charcoal and grey are also in this category as they certainly don’t qualify as colours). I’ll do a proper post on the main trends that came out of the festival once this hectic-ness is over, but there are some that are so strong it’s given a samey feel to things.

Also, the Balmain jacket… Let it go, please. Every designer in the history of ever has copied this design. On the high street labels, it’s semi-justifiable since I don’t know too many girls who could afford the real thing. But for high calibre designers to be “influenced” (read: copying) by the design just seems rather lacklustre.

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fashion: LMFF fashion collection 1 by metalicus

Photos by Carlie Devine

Metalicus has long been known as a brand of basics, made mainly out of an unforgiving stocking-like fabric that requires women to wear several layers to keep their bulges in place. (Marketing genius). The A/W 2010 parade today showed a good attempt to move away from that image with the introduction of more interesting colours, patterns and styles.

It was an interesting collection but I have to say a few of the designs would make skinny women look chunky, both because of the fabric and one particular design featurign coloured cut out blobs at the hips, stomach and boobs – possibly the worst places to draw the eye. Discerning shoppers would have to layer the dresses for support, or, you know, never eat.

But I was impressed by the mini dresses – I’m a sucker for anything in monochrome or retro print and I loved the geometric designs and the mod cuts. There was a little ruffley skirt I think I’ll have to have a look at instore. It was hard to tell on the runway what each garment was made from, which made doing my Style Melbourne write-up a little difficult. I checked on their website and one garment I thought was wool was actually lace. Oops.

It was an impressive show but the brand is a bit too same-y to have its own feature parade – it was mainly the wide variety of colour that kept things interesting after the halfway mark. They also launched their new active wear range which I found boring, but I shouldn’t take my aversion to exercise out on the designs.

I’m looking forward to tonight’s runway parade – stay tuned for unprecedented-ly regular posts.

Thanks to Carlie Devine for the photos.

UPDATE: Check out my write up of the show for Style here. For Style Melbourne I write fashion as news. For Raven Barbie, it’s just my opinion.

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