Monday

White Christmas

Christmas to me means hot days at the beach, the smell of sunscreen and sand sticking to my sunburnt skin
Piercing sun and afternoon rain showers, but there is always an electricity of excitement in the air.
When we were younger, we would pile into the car and head to Kingscliff. I miss the smell of dry pine trees and all us kids running wild through the park, playing with our new loot, than cooling off in the crashing Pacific waves.

The year before last, we found ourselves alone on Christmas day, me and my twin, in our St Kilda apartment. After opening our single present to each other, we spent the majority of the day cooking up a storm, with no hungry mouths to feed. Instead of letting the food spoil in the 40 degree heat, we had the ingenious idea to roll ourselves a little green happiness, eat and reminisce about previous Christmas's.
This year, a distant memory away, I watched the first snow flakes float down and settle on my sleeve. I didn't believe my eyes at first, but the feeling that started to flow through me was undeniable.
Pure Joy 
Not nearly the first snow I have experienced, but the effect began to restore a figment of Christmas spirit that had dissolved in my late teens and completely stamped out during my disappointingly dull visit to Hollywood last year. 
I may as well have been in a movie set, sitting by a warm fire with hot cocoa, carols playing softly, Christmas tree twinkling in the background - In reality I was on a crammed bus with a smile from ear to ear.

Another December rolls around, bringing with it all the triumphs and tragedies of the year past. All the stitches, and quick-un-picks, the sketches, the silks, the crooked hems, and perfect silhouettes ...
and all those gorgeous dresses I didn't make!
Each December I make myself a promise for the new year. That I will make that dress. The one I have dreamed up over all my years. Im not exactly sure what it looks like - I havent been able to quite get it down on my page. But its perfect. Its everything that is me...
Maybe my 25th year will bring it to me


--
Rada Priya 

Saturday

I moved to Italy for love...

day 47. 
Its cold.
Un-fashionably cold. Forget lace leggings, suede pumps, full skirts with cropped jackets, colourful scarves and matching berates, delicate gloves under cocktail rings, red lips and sleek eyeliner...
Its snow gear cold. Forget the female figure, and dont mention make-up. Its so wet and muggy that the Italian fashionistas have been forced into hiding, onto jet-planes somewhere warmer, or into triple quilted snuggy looking outfits that render them unrecognisable.
Maybe this trip to Germany on Sunday is just what I need. Its a regular freeze there, so I trust the locals are better equipped to fashionable handle the cold.
that, and to relocate my spiritual center.


Back in August my mum convinced me to meet her in Spain to do a training course in Breathwork/Rebirthing. It is something I have grown up with, but have always been afraid to explore. Plus what teenager is going to want to follow a spiritual path that involves lavender smelling Hippies coming up to you and asking in a slow monotone voice "How do you FEEEEEL?"
It seems that in general it takes a blow that knocks you completely down, before you start to ask questions about your existence and place in the world, and begin that inevitable search for God.
I guess the same can be said for myself. I was at the bottom for a long time, but chose to leave it to destiny - or my 25th birthday.
When me and my twin sister were born, our father had an Chinese astrology reading done for our life path. The astrologer predicted that we would come into our own upon our 25th year. Don't ask me why, but this is a truth I have chosen without any good reason to believe in.
When I was in Florence this June, I called my Mum, who had been living in America for the previous months. When she told me she was working again (She is past the age where society tells you to retire, and she has conquered illness and survived 9 children), and not just any work, but teaching breathwork and running seminars, which is something she has participated in for most of her adult life, whilst working as a full time nurse.
Im not quite sure what it did to me, but I sat in that tiny internet cafe phone booth and cried my little eyes out.
People have always pointed out what a special person my Mum is, and for the first time I saw it. She is no longer my Mumma, but my friend and someone whom I look up to.
Anne Marie

When the opportunity to go to Spain arised, it was as though the whole European trip was meant to happen so we could meet there.
Now 5 months later I have an opportunity to go to Germany to continue my training...

Wednesday

so I had an interesting event that occurred Saturday. I live with 5 guys and there is at least 7 people in the house at all times, so I was surprised when I woke up sat morning and noone was around. I called a few mobiles and no answers so decided to go for my regular morning latte. Two coffees later and I realise to my building frustration that I dont have house keys. I have been wanting to get to the Salvatore Ferragamo museum for awhile, so take the opportunity to distract myself. 

Its closed until the 18th December.
Its an understatment to say that I was in a bad mood. I could have kicked a puppy.
I decided to go to my favorite place in Florence to chill out. It was 3 in the afternoon and Michelangelos square over looking the city would be warm enough from the days sunshine (its winter here, and freezing!)
As I was walking up the path some creep must have spotted me alone and decided to wait around the corner, pants to the ground, touching himself!for some reason I wasn't surprised, just really disgusted.I quickened my pace significantly and got to the square to find hundreds of asian tourists and not one of them spoke english. Now I had started to panic knowing that I had to take the same path to get back down to the city. I got through to one of the boys on the mobile, who came to my rescue on his moped.


It prompted me to think about all the bumps I have experienced during this round of my European adventure. 
I had my wallet stolen on the subway in Paris, My camera taken while I was uploading photos in an internet cafe in Rome. I was even physically assulted at a train station in Barbes Rocheaurt, Paris.
My life is like heart rate monitor, irregular ups and downs. For all the great things that I have created for myself, weird and unusual events tend to be not far behind. It forces me to be conciously aware of myself in the present moment, and in doing so has a releasing effect, as if time ceases to be of importance, money and success become irrelevant and understanding the relationship I have with myself is the most significant and meaningful relationship I will ever have.And that goes for you too...

Saturday

I moved to Italy for love...



... what the hell was I thinking! I mean, sure things with the boy are going better than ever, but how could I be so ignorant to think that a culture that is so based on the romantic notion of love, could harbour and support a workaholic like myself!! I bet the word doesnt even exist in Italian! I should have done my research more... or attempted to learn the language. I wrongly assumed that because I moved here for love that naturally the language of love would evolve, like a budding rose or a butterfly. But it continues to evade me - as if to tell me that my skeptical ideals of love are not welcome here, and therefore its secret language of 'amour' cannot be mine to express.
I can only say for those that I have come across - but the modern Italians appear to lack work ethic. Paired with the recent economic downturn, Florence businesses (with the friendly exception of pubs and bars) in winter are barely alive. Shop after shop are either closed or vacant, so one would assume that taking over a lease would be a piece of cake....
Its not like I dont have solid references, relevant visas or sound financials, Im not even creepy looking, but these agents and owners are giving me a hard time. What happened to a fair go, mate?
So its back to bed than. drawing paper, vogue, harpers bazaar, scissors, fabric, pens, pencil shavings, laptop and another sleepless night doing what I love

Tuesday

I moved to Italy for love...

... and missed this years Australian Rosemount Fashion Week. I couldnt be there, but here are my favorites from the line up:
Romance Was Born 'Renaissance Dinosaur' show
Romance Was Born
Camilla and Marc displayed some gorgeous designs but the head wear really stood out for me. Here a model wears a floating feathers headpiece created by milner, Johnathan Howard. The feathers are hand-dyed turkey feathers and a similar piece can be ordered by contacting Johnathan via www.hatmaker.com.au
Kirrily Johnston 'Apocolypto' collection
Kirrily Johnston 'Apocolypto' collection. I love the double wrap belt. Florence is renowned for their amazing belt work. I had a couple made specially for me that triple wrap around my waist
Dion Lee. This is a gorgeous photo with the Sydney Harbour bridge reflected in the glass

Alice McCall designed the belts she used for her collection.

This year was no exception to the caliber, quality and design that is showcased year after year at the annual Australian Fashion Week. My twin sister and I have been fortunate enough to work at this event in the past, helping designers with the pre runway prep and as a result were photographed for Harpers Bazaar magazine.
Im proud to be part of the industry that is Australian Fashion.

Sunday

I moved to Italy for love...


...the pesto pasta at Luca's restaurant in Rome, I confess, was love. It was served piping hot with the Parmesan and olive oil oozing, a taste that made me weep. All the loneliness I had felt in the few hours before disappeared. This was the reawakening of a love affair I had started with Italian food over 4 years ago here in Rome. 

Food and I have always shared a mutual love. Born into the Hindu Hare Krsna Religion just about guaranteed that at the very least we would be well fed with a variety westernised Indian prasadam (a word meaning "spiritual food" - " By the tongue you can chant Hare Krsna, and by the tongue you can taste Krsna prasadam, spiritual food") . It also meant that we were vegetarian, a lifestyle choice I have since, and always will maintain.

How good is payday? That little nudge of joy I feel in the back of my stomach when that wonderful fortnight rolls around started when I was a child. Payday meant food! The food that as a child was better than a birthday; chocolate milk, chips, rice bubbles, ice cream, frozen chips - basically the foods that were shelved at eye level in the supermarket ended up on our kitchen table every second Thursday. I think that Thursday Payday may have been my Mums least favorite day. She despised shopping centers and supermarkets, almost as much as she disliked teenagers. After her long night shift, she would walk into the supermarket with a trolley and walk down each aisle pushing products off the shelf into the basket. After being unloaded from the car and dumped on the kitchen table, "first in best dressed"  took its meaning. At best the goodies lasted until Sunday. Not because there wasnt enough, but my brothers had developed tendancies like bears in the winter hibernation season. They could stock up easily until 2 more Thursday rolled around. I guess I can thank them for my slim physique.
My Mums idea of cooking, gotta love her, was filling a pot with cold water and pasta shells and boiling until a block of pasta formed, ready to be sliced and served with split peas or the like. And so our step father became the cook. He wasn't any better, but he didn't actually have a job, so it was the least he could do. What a fortunate country Australia is where you can make a career receiving dole checks! 
Thank god for Katy, my eldest sister. She ensured we kept a fine pallet for good food and passed on her knowledge of Indian cooking.
As a result my cooking is really the only thing I am truly "cocky" about. Ive not yet met someone that hasn't enjoyed my culinary skills...

CHECK OUT today's candid shots of these young Florence trend setters (I snuck a pic of me in there):  australiandesignmadeinitaly.blogspot.com


I moved to Italy for 
Its impossible for me not to love a city where spending that extra time in the morning to create your daily look is so appreciated. Despite driving your boyfriend mad, he, being European, will not let the effort go unnoticed - nor will the other hundred Europeans you pass as you cross the through the city.
I have found the cliche to be true; if you ever feel rejected, broken hearted, lonely, or simply having a bad hair day, walk down any street in Florence or Rome. Your sure to find a cure in the open and down right blatant attention you will undoubtedly attract from the macho male race that reside in these places.
Tip: If it the attention becomes overwhelming, pick out a nice looking man. The one thing the European's don't tolerate is a woman being harassed. Its sounds like a catch 22, but if you are in the company of a gentleman, the wolf whistling will promptly cease.
Figuring out how to get rid of the gentleman is a different story. But the question is, do you really want to? You are all dressed up and feeling out of sorts; Having a drink and slice of pizza is a win win?! Your in Europe!

Thursday

I moved to Italy for love...

The Europeans have this distinct unique way of expressing themselves through fashion. My love of fashion grew out of my sisters garage in Uki, New South Wales, but flourished in international magazines like Vogue and Harpers Bazaar.
I learned to sew in that garage. My sister already had a business creating unique tie dyed clothing for children. My twin sister and I had an obsession with Barbie and had lost our impressive collection when our house burnt down, aged 10. The community came together and we ended up with more Barbie's than we knew what to do with! Kat had the ingenious idea of combining her tie dying with our massive (and losing popularity with puberty) Barbie collection, and thus "Feral Sheryl" was born! 
At the time it was all a bit of fun. Designs were glued onto the dolls, along with glitter face paint and hair techno colours, until we were trusted enough to use The Singer - a gorgeous old school sewing machine which we only broke it a few dozen times.

I soon had replaced all my dolls with Dolly, my school books with Girlfriend, and my nursery rhymes with the Spice Girl anthems.
For our 15th birthday I asked my Mum for a subscription to Dolly magazine. I got instead an ex race pony, whom I called 'White Cloud'. I cried for most of the year, and threw tantrums whenever I had to take riding lessons. It was torture having to trade my mini skirts for jodhpur pants, Gel sandals for riding boots, and thats without mentioning my manicure! 
Mum questioned her mothering skills, not believing that her decision to raise us in a wholesome Hare Krsna, vegetarian, television-free, wooden house an hour from civilization, would lead to the "shallowest materialistic obsession and career aspiration as Fashion Design".
How could I prove to her, and to myself, that fashion was not just a phase of puberty. Isn't it natural to always want what we don't have? I had dreams of suburban paradise - a brick house with picket fence, pool, friendly neighbours, milk and cookies after school and lets face it, seen as we had to ride the school bus, why not make it a yellow one!
I wanted curly hair and new clothes. I had kinky hair and stained Saint Vinnies outcasts.

My determination to be always right, meant I had to delve deeper and develop my approach to fashion. There had to be more sophisticated meaning to dressing up. 
It wasn't hard. 
My background being involved Hindu religion taught me that taking care of you appearance was more than just to look good and impress. Everyday Indian women wake up and dress in their finest jewelry and Saris. You can find them doing their housework, head to toe in silk and gold. Dressing this way ensured they would be treated equally despite what caste system they belonged in. The Kenyan Africans are similar, as are the traditional Japanese Geisha's.

For me, it meant an escape from my environment. I could be whomever I wanted, simply by the way I dressed.
We are told not to judge a book by its cover, but how else would we improve book sales? It is human nature to judge. Its part of our survival. Its a beautiful thing when we can look beyond an appearance...

Julian was dressed in a black t-shirt and jeans when we first met. He was confident, articulate and clearly "cool". 
Hello Italy ;)

Monday

I moved to Italy for Love...

I moved to Italy for Love
... love of Fashion, Food and Italian Men. Or in my case A man, and an Albanian man at that.

I discovered Italy 3 years ago at the end of my marriage. An intensely religious Jewish background, my husbands family sent us here as a last ditch effort to keep our marriage intact.
Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love describes Rome's word as "sex", and although I will later change my mind - this couldnt be further from the word I could describe Rome on that last trip I would ever take with the man whom I vowed 'forever'.
"Despair" seeped in my blood like a plague and threatened to interrupt my holiday plans. But like any stubborn Aries, I put my head up high, and pulled my socks up higher and sauntered through the Vatican, Berghese and Valentino Galleries, husband luke warm on my heels.

We separated 3 months later.

Looking back (at the photos) I have no regrets. In fact it was the best move Ive made. You see I had married a professional surfer and my fashion sense had consequently been severely damaged. It didnt take me long to burn my Billabong wardrobe and squeeze into a pair of my sisters jeans. Its a great thing being a twin and being able to share. I guess I was lucky to have her closet to snoop through. Nothing to brag about though. She had been living in London for 2 years and so thought Sweat shirts and hoop earrings with Victoria Beckham jeans was suitable attire.

A quick escape from my marriage meant a mere couple of suitcases full of clothes, 2 states and a new city. 
It was quite a cultural shock moving to Melbourne from the Gold Coast. I had just established myself as a Fashion Designer making wedding dresses and starting from scratch proved to be alot more difficult than it should have. I began teaching Fashion Illustration part time at Thread Den (www.threadden.com.au) and managed Menswear stores full time in the city. For 2 years it felt like I was banging my head against a wall wearing earplugs. My creativity was being completely sucked out of me by the retail job and my design and sewing projects were becoming few and far in between. It didnt help that my friends and family were insisting that I was wasting my life and mishandling my talent, so I decided I needed a change of scene.

I set my google maps to Paris. 

Where is a better setting to be re-born as a Fashion Designer than the birthplace of Fashion itself?

June marked D day, so armed with a work visa, travel pack (containing my cutest summer dresses, lipstick and contrasting nail polish) and a couple of girlfriends, we headed for Paris...

                     ... on route Italy ;)

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