The Hardest Goodbye…

It’s hard to believe I took a break from Blogging more than a year ago to finish my book and now it seems timely to re-start the engine. While I do have some good news about my book, I’m going to save that for another day.

Instead, I want to pay tribute to my dear friend Rochelle, who we farewelled with a special service yesterday. The hardest goodbye of all…

To Rochelle’s family, to Russell – her partner of 19 years – and to all her friends, my sincerest sympathies. We all feel her loss so deeply.

Many subscribers to this Blog will remember Rochelle as the beautiful model who posed for any Fashion Posts we covered and I have so many happy memories of those times we spent together. I was also glad to have so many lovely photos of her that we could use for the service to remind everyone of her stunning smile that could light up any room in a flash.

Rochelle modelling evening wear

Rochelle modelling evening wear

Order of Service

Order of Service

 

Hundreds turned out yesterday for Rochelle’s farewell that was held at Brighton’s Baptist Church. So many people came that the church was overflowing with crowds spilling on to the street. She would have loved that.

Inside the Order of Service, Rochelle’s partner of 19 years, Russell, told of how much he loved Rochelle and how much he will miss her.

Russell's tribute and speakers

Russell’s tribute and speakers

The words below are from the tribute I read at the church. Along with several dear friends, we stood side by side to talk of our love for Rochy, shared stories, tears and many hugs.

And finally said Goodbye….

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Writing is something Rochelle and I both loved. Telling stories and finding the right words to express ourselves. Which also meant lots of swearing and being outrageous. We even started our own writing workshop. A couple of other writers joined us. Some came, some went but we were the two main-stayers.

Which is why I have to apologise to Rochelle that this tribute I’ve written isn’t really up to scratch. That’s because I haven’t spent enough time on it. I had the time on the weekend. I could have spent hours. But I kept putting it off. And I know why. Because to write a farewell tribute to your dearest friend means they really have gone and that finality is something I still find so terribly hard to accept. Rochelle IS irreplaceable.

Rochelle and me

Rochelle and me

SO many shared emails which I now treasure and have spent hours collating so I can still hear her voice. At writing classes, teachers bang on about how important it is to ‘find your own unique voice’ Rochy had that instantly. A writing style that was direct and heart-wrenching with her own unique cutting-edge, wicked sense of humour.

Rochy spent several years working on writing her own book. Titled AnonyMS – it was a play on words that also incorporated the letters MS, as a reference to that disease which she so hated.

I went to hospital with Rochelle for the first of her monthly transfusions and shared the journey when she was on the road to being diagnosed.

It was a very painful time for her and one she documents in her book. I hope one day I will be able to, with Russell’s blessing, help collate the chapters we have together and have her book published in some form or another.

It was not long after her diagnosis in 2009 that I told Rochy I’d be going to LA and Vegas for a trip marking a film launch – a project I’d been involved in for some time. After going through such a rough patch – learning she had MS – Rochelle spoke longingly of how she too would like to visit those places.

When I look back on our friendship and see how much Rochy bought to my life, I will be forever grateful I was able to do at least one thing in return. Thanks to film producer Bobby Galinsky, we were able to make arrangements to include Rochelle on this trip and by God, it was indeed the trip of a lifetime.

With friends Chris Veitor and Krista Vendy in LA

With friends Chris Veitor and Krista Vendy in LA

We were both convinced we were MUCH better looking in LA, so armed with that boosted confidence, we took the town by storm and wreaked havoc. We teamed up with our good friend Krista and called ourselves the Three Amigos. So many adventures and great memories. As soon as we came home, we promised each other we’d do it all again.

Lunch at The Ivy with Krista in LA

Lunch at The Ivy with Krista in LA

Rochelle even wrote a poem about it:

I know our trip was one from the vault

The parties and fun times

We had were a jolt

From reality of the every day shit

To living the high life with the filthy rich.

Not so different to where we are now

But our journey continues, to that I will vow

If I ever make it somewhere better than here

You’ll be at my side grinning ear to ear

Friends take each other from bottom to top

And I’m so glad we’ll be each others

I like that a lot xxx

There was so much we had in common that bound us together – as Rochelle described in an email, we were ‘besties’. Although another time, after seeing the musical, AVENUE Q, she described me as her BAD Ideas Bear, meaning I was the one who led her astray. Yeah, maybe, but I think she liked it.

Rochelle modelling for the Blog

Rochelle modelling for the Blog

Our common interests included a love of Rose gold jewellery and clothing, fully-oaked chardonnay, movies, Oscars, music, writing, books, karaoke, singing and champagne. It was Rochelle who named our favourite bubbly Moet and Hansen in my honour. I will forever call it that.

Rochelle was my biggest supporter of anything I did. She was one of only a few friends who’ve read the book I’ve written. She also came to Women Of Letters in the audience to support me when I delivered a challenging speech last year. She even presented me with a hand-written letter on the day, where she described me as ‘the bravest girl in the room.’

Not so brave today…. But how wonderful to have a friend who gives such positive and unconditional love and support.

Other friends of mine who met Rochelle – who are here today – like Sam, Julie and my sister Jill – also loved getting to know Rochelle – each saying the same thing – because she’s such a genuine person and doesn’t judge people.

Rochelle was so talented on so many levels. Her writing and her sharp wit for starters. Beautiful too – inside and out. She was a regular model for my Blog and shone in all the photographs – some of which you will see in the photo tribute shortly. What a smile and so photogenic.

She was a superb singer – the only one in the room when we had a karaoke night that people would actually stop talking for and listen to her sing – she was brilliant.

I saw the movie PAN on Sunday with my daughter. Peter’s mother leaves baby Pan on the doorstep of the orphanage with a note telling Peter to never lose faith, that she will see him again ‘In this world or another’

Rochy WILL always be in my thoughts in this world and I know later, when it’s my time, we’ll see each other in that OTHER world – wherever it is – a land where they only serve charonnay; where Tim Curry is singing at a Vegas-style party amid cats and laughter.

In one of her recent emails to me Rochelle finished up with saying ‘Love you dear friend of mine, till the end of time.’ Ditto my darling.

 

ANYONE SUFFERING FROM DEPRESSION OR NEEDS HELP FOR A LOVED ONE SHOULD CALL LIFELINE ON 13 11 14

A new line of New London Jeans for winter

New London jeans

New London jeans

A little over a year ago, I wrote a Blog about a new brand of jeans I’d discovered – titled Cool jeans for REAL WOMEN – how New London Jeans found a gap in the market  http://wp.me/p29YsS-110

 

Brighton Lifestyle, 15C Church Street, Brighton

Brighton Lifestyle, 15C Church Street, Brighton

Now, given I’d already shared my enthusiasm for the brand with you, I really didn’t expect to visit the topic again. That is, until I popped down to Brighton Lifestyle in Church Street, Brighton, a few days ago and saw the latest range for winter from New London.

Yep, they’ve done it again. Well, I thought, I can justify ONE new pair, can’t I? Except then I started ‘trying on’ and found three I absolutely loved. Which led to a phone call to my lovely friend Rochelle who agreed to model for me so we could show you what’s available. I also had a chat with Claire Alexander (Sales and Design Director, Chris Alexander Agency) about her inspiration for this season.

But first, here are some highlights from the New London range modelled by Rochelle. The jeans are topped with pieces chosen from the range at the Brighton Lifestyle store. Details below…

Brown 'Hyde' velvet jeans

Brown ‘Hyde’ velvet jeans

New London Brown ‘Hyde’ velvet jeans – $149.90
Orange camisole by Cream – $149
Pretty in Pink cream sheepskin jacket – $169.00

Close up Hyde jeans

Close up Hyde jeans fabric

Black 'Hoffman' style jeans

Black ‘Hoffman’ style jeans

New London black ‘Hoffman’ style jeans – $149.90
David Barry puffer vest – $145
Lime green Ping Pong top – $95

Denim studded 'Notting Blue' jeans

Denim studded ‘Notting Blue’ jeans

New London denim studded ‘Notting Blue’ style – $149.90
Shirt by Cindy G – $169.90
Beads by Cindy G – $45

Detail from pockets of the 'Notting Blue'

Detail from pockets of the ‘Notting Blue’

Close up of the Brown New London 'Ramsey' casual cargo jeans

Close up of the Brown New London ‘Ramsey’ casual cargo jeans

Brown New London ‘Ramsey’ casual cargo jeans – $149.90

Grey cord New London jeans

Grey cord New London jeans

Grey cord New London jeans – $149.90
Ping Pong polka long cardigan – $129.00
Cream camisole in khaki – $55.00

 

The most popular denim in the new London range - the 'Stoke' style

The most popular denim in the new London range – the ‘Stoke’ style

The most popular denim in the New London range -‘Stoke’ style – $149.90
Black faux leather sheepskin jacket by Pretty In Pink – $169.00

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Speaking with the woman behind many of these wonderful styles, Sales and Design Director for the Chris Alexander Agency, Claire Alexander, she told me how keeping the range as a ’boutique’ brand gives them a point of difference in the market.

Sales and Design Director, Chris Alexander Agency - Claire Alexander

Sales and Design Director, Chris Alexander Agency – Claire Alexander

New London jeans aren’t sold at major department stores or online. But they’re jumping off the shelves at niche boutiques, being snapped up by women who want jeans that are funky and fit well – without feeling like they’re wearing their daughter’s jeans that are cut WAAaaayy too low…

This season’s range of styles is her favourite.

Jen: So tell us about the new winter range. How does it differ to last year’s?
Claire: This winter range is more comprehensive. There’s more to it than last winter. There’s more fabrication…

Jen: What does THAT mean?
Claire: Well rather than being purely a denim brand, we’ve evolved to use a range of fabrics. So due to customer demand, our tag line is ‘We fit you and your life.’ So rather than just denim for casual wear, we’ve also got moleskin brush cotton fabrics, the velvet, printed velvet, pleather with stretch, so slightly dressier styles as well.

(Brighton Lifestyle didn’t have this style, so we’re using a shot from the brochure to show you the ‘Pleather’ style.)

Pleather pants

Pleather pants

Jen: Why use ‘pleather’ (man-made leather) rather than the real deal?
Claire: It’s machine washable which makes them very popular! I’ve tested my own many times – they’re great!

Jen: And the price point has stayed the same as last year?
Claire: We’ve tried to own that type of price-point for our customer, so it’s within their expectations. This means a lot of our customers might also then buy two pairs, or try on belts and tops which we have just started producing as well. We don’t break the bank.

 Jen: What’s your favourite style for this season?
Claire: I have two that I absolutely live in all the time The Bowen style is great. We call it a 3-D style because it has an insert panel in the leg making it really comfortable. It’s also in a two-way stretch denim which is a nice mid-weight and the vivid blue is really popular. The other is the Lambeth I’m wearing today. (see Claire’s picture above) It also has an elastic waist so it’s really comfy!

New London 'Bowen' in royal blue denim

New London ‘Bowen’ in royal blue denim

So there you go. A fantastic new range of jeans for this winter. Check out the New London website at:  http://www.newlondon.com.au/about/

…to find the nearest stockist near you, or visit the Brighton Lifestyle store at 15C Church Street, Brighton.

New London brochure - Winter 2014

New London brochure – Winter 2014

Kitch Fashion – another reason to love REAL LIFE shopping

Kitch at 401 Hampton Street

Kitch at 401 Hampton Street

There’s a host of reasons why I prefer REAL LIFE shopping to on-line shopping, but let’s deal with that in another story. But the focus of today’s FRIDAY FASHION FEATURE, a wonderful boutique called KITCH, really does reinforce that preference. You’ll see why…

 

 

Inside Kitch

Inside Kitch

Let’s take a trip down south of Melbourne, where KITCH lives, right in the heart of the Hampton shopping centre. There’s so much to love about this store, but let’s start with its cheerful and inviting interior design. Bright prints and light fittings, with everything from handbags and scarves to fashion and jewellery, laid out within easy range for curious shoppers.

 

Kitch Director Melina Scriva

Kitch Director Melina Scriva

Kitch Director Melina Scriva has run KITCH for eight years. Although with FIVE children of her own, including triplets, I’m gob smacked as to how she does it…

Melina says her shop was inspired by her grandmother. She wanted to create a space that made customers feel comfortable the instant they walked in. ‘I want them to feel at home,’ she said. ‘To be relaxed, like you’re at your grandmother’s. To try things on and have fun!’

 

State of Mind top - $79, Chrissy L pendant - $85, Refuge Jeans - $109 and Santini boots - $189

State of Mind top – $79, Chrissy L pendant – $85, Refuge Jeans – $109 and Santini boots – $189

 

I was lucky enough to have my buddy, Rochelle Nolan, come along today and model for us, and yes, we had heaps of fun putting outfits together. That’s what’s so wonderful about REAL shopping – you can make a day of it with a girlfriend – which is so much more enjoyable than pushing buttons on a computer. We both loved the boots she tried on – great for daywear and the versatile colour goes with everything.

Santini boots - $189

Santini boots – $189

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melina offers a free styling service for her clients

Melina offers a free styling service for her clients

Melina also offers a special styling service to her clients. ‘We focus on styling and that’s why we’re still here. Our customers come in, knowing we can dress them and get them looking ready for the new season ahead.’

Melina is also keen to keep her stock well priced to suit all budgets. ‘I’m not into labels,’ she said. ‘Just good designs and fabrics, Things also that inspire memories and emotions, like some of our current stock where the knits remind me of fashion from the seventies.’

 

 

Sunny Girl dress - $89, Luscious leggings $39

Sunny Girl dress – $89, Luscious leggings $39

Contrast shoulder top - $59, Silence and Noise pants - $89, Kitch faux fur vest - $129, Chain belt - $35

Contrast shoulder top – $59, Silence and Noise pants – $89, Kitch faux fur vest – $129, Chain belt – $35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And while Melina stocks a range of dresses, her primary focus is dressing women for casual daywear. So there’s plenty of cosy knitwear to choose from, and Melina has a great knack for layering too. ‘Eighty per cent of our stock is casual, but we call it funky casual,’ Melina said.

Kitch jumper $99 and Kitch scarf $39

Kitch jumper $99 and Kitch scarf $39

Navy Blue Bear knit - $89, Ajoy Chinos - $109

Navy Blue Bear knit – $89, Ajoy Chinos – $109

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kitch Snowflake cardigan - $109 and Tony Bianco boots - $189

Kitch Snowflake cardigan – $109 and Tony Bianco boots – $189

 

And I have to ask. How does she do it with FIVE kids? ‘I don’t know,’ she said, laughing. ‘It’s a juggling act, but I do this because I love what I do. I think you just do what you have to do. I started in fashion when I was fifteen, working at Benetton and Sportsgirl and then I had children. But I’ve always loved fashion.’

If you’d like to visit Kitch or phone the store to enquire about any of the pieces featured today, KITCH is located at:

401 Hampton Street, Hampton
Ph: 9521 9008

 

 

 

Manning Cartell steals the limelight with new store at Chaddy

 

Chadstone must be Melbourne’s most popular high-end shopping centre. I don’t have the statistics to prove it – only the personal experience of facing car-parks full to overflowing every time I venture there,  plus queues snaking out of Prada and Chanel every time I walk past. It beats city shopping because at least those crowded car-parks are FREE and during Melbourne’s long, cold winter, it’s much more cosy shopping indoors. And yes, the range of stores, catering to all wallets – from rob-a-Swiss-bank-to-buy-anything to shoe-string budgets – is vast and varied.

New store on the block

New store on the block

But if your budget doesn’t stretch to European haute couture (and mine certainly doesn’t) then Chaddy also stocks a great selection of local designers, with stock carrying far more reasonable price-tags. One of my favourite Aussie labels comes from three Sydney-based sisters who started up Manning Cartell. Over the years, their stock has mostly been sold through independent boutiques, but gradually, with growing success, they’re opening their own stores. I always loved buying their stock (sorry, loved even more Channel TEN buying it!)  as a newsreader, because their jackets were so consistently well-cut and stylish. And it was tricky finding chic jackets that fit the ‘newsreader mode’ without being ‘mother-of-the-bride’…

Manning Cartell

Manning Cartell

So I was thrilled to find they’ve only JUST (two weeks ago) opened a new store at Chadstone. My girlfriend Rochelle and I were shopping there on Saturday which meant I happened to have a willing model on hand, (after a little arm-twisting) to showcase some of their best stock. And oh boy, do they have some good stuff!

I like the fact they do suits with skirts OR shorts, so you can dress this look up or down – for work or play. Their fabrics are divine – suits in textured metallic weaves or soft-spun gold thread, with light-as-a-feather silk tops to float underneath. It’s the contrasts between tailored, sharply structured pieces (suit jackets, leather singlets)  with floaty, ethereal elements that gives the label its unique edge.

Little Mermaid gold jacket $549; shorts $299 with Lemon Sugar and Mango top $349

Little Mermaid gold jacket $549; shorts $299 with Lemon Sugar and Mango top $349

Wicker Man jacket $649, skirt $399 with Sportsman on stilts black leather singlet $399

Wicker Man jacket $649, skirt $399 with Sportsman on stilts black leather singlet $399

 

Sailors Valentine dress $599 and Sugar and Mango top $349 with Ebony Mask Shorts $449

Sailors Valentine dress $599 and Sugar and Mango top $349 with Ebony Mask Shorts $449

 

Manning Cartell also showcase a range of accessories, such as metallic belts in pewter, rose gold or gun metal for $299 each that would update any outfit. Another coveted piece was the most beautiful structured lace skirt I’ve spied this season and is SOOOO on my birthday wish-list. Not to mention a classic sequinned tunic that has a funky 60s feel and would be a great trans-seasonal after-five number.

Metalllic belts $299

Metalllic belts $299

 

Intertwined Black Lace Skirt $499

Intertwined Black Lace Skirt $499

Jewel box tunic, pewter, $699

Jewel box tunic, pewter, $699

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But my favourite on the day would have to be this sexy peach dress which gets away with having almost ‘too-much-in-your-face-cleavage’ because of the fabric being demure lace…

Seashell Lace Dress, peach; $599

Seashell Lace Dress, peach; $599

 

If I had the figure for it, I’d grab it, but given the post-giving-up-smoking additional kilos aren’t budging, I’ll have to leave that one for Rochelle who looks amazing in this. In fact, with the right hat, I think it would be perfect for Oaks Day, don’t you?