Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Little Addendum... And Some Big News

I know I'm meant to be semi-retired from The Library. And I am. However, I felt it would be courteous to say 'thank you' to all those wonderful commenters who have been kind enough to leave a note, either via email or the Comments Box. Thank you. Thank you. You are truly lovely people. I have tried to respond to everyone's gracious and thoughtful comments, and will certainly finish replying by tonight.

I'd also like to explain why the blog is having a hiatus. You see, a few of us are working on a little project. Actually, it's quite a big one. An international one.

It all started with XX magazine, that dubious bit of tabloid entertainment that we all love to loathe.

A few months ago, I was browsing through either Vogue or Elle Decoration in the newsagent's when a woman came in, picked up XX, flicked angrily through it and then paused, in shock, at page three. "Oh. My. God.," she said out loud, looking at a certain celebrity in hot pants. "She is JUST HUGE!" Then she tossed the magazine down (creases and all), and walked away. I peeked at the creased page. (Terrible, I know.) The 'huge' celebrity was a singer. Who is NOT huge. In fact, she is incredibly beautiful. I looked at The Critic flouncing out the store, and noticed she was wearing gym clothes. Her own butt was as far from Zahia Dehar's pert behind as the Pope is from Kim and Khloe Take Miami.

Talk about kettle and pot.

Welcome to the new world of 'Bottom-Dweller Media', as a witty friend of mine has dubbed it. A world where we are all being encouraged to read shallow tabloids and be nasty about others' derrieres. 

I don't know about you all but I can't take another snarky Twitter remark, or indeed another tabloid spread. Our family is a broadsheet family anyway, but I'll pick up a gossip page at the check-out, like everyone else. The problem is, we are dumbing down our society with all this 'lowest common denominator' media. Please God, don't let me suffer another Kardashian chapter. And what's with that new TV channel '7 Mate'? I had to sit through Gator Boys, Rat Bastards and Swamp People the other night. I swear, I needed serious therapy by the time we got to the Wormwood Scrubs doco...

Here's something else I've noticed. What's with all the page spreads promoting sofas and cushions*? We're all intelligent people, with first-class degrees, successful careers and smart minds. Why are we browsing cushion-filled product pages and buying them by the baker's dozen? I love cushions but we have 30. THIRTY. I think I've lost the dogs underneath them. Are we all breeding them?

{* For the benefit of our American friends, cushions in Australia are the decorating item that sit on sofas. Pillows are the longer things we sleep on. I realise it's different in the US.}

Why is it that media and magazines have softened over the years? I'm not sure if you remember the grand glamour of Vogue and Harper's in the 1990s, and even before then, with the vintage issues of the 1950s and 1960s? (Which many of us are now collecting from vintage dealers for huge prices.) Magazines back then were things of beauty. The covers. The content. The creative mastheads. They were also interesting. Even the dull stories were clever. Truman Capote. Cecil Beaton. Nancy Mitford and her sisters. 

Whatever happened to personalities like those?

The new anniversary issue of Australian Harper's Bazaar with the different celebrity-conceived covers is inspired publishing. But wouldn't it be great if the innovative spirit continued all the way through the industry? What has happened to us? Where is our sense of style, and adventure, and creativity? Where are the great stories? The wit and whimsy? Where are the insightful, delightful, aspirational, glamorous, relevant and – most importantly – celebratory stories, with a positive, Jonathan Adler-style philosophy on life, rather than a critical, derogatory one. What has happened to us all? Why are we settling for cushions?

Whatever would Diana Vreeland say?

And so, dear readers, we are working on a new project. A new online international magazine for women of The Glamorous Age. As we've now dubbed it. 

A friend has described it as "a sexier, wittier, more glamorous version of The Huffington Post", but I think it's more like Harper's or Vogue in the heydays of those titles. The days when magazines were magnificent. 

(NB These titles are still beautiful, don't get me wrong; but just look at these covers I've posted. Aren't they incredible?)

I can't tell you more about it yet (forgive me), but it will be full of things you love: books, fashion, gardens, people, a bit of travel, interiors, cities, shopping secrets, and just those old-fashioned glamorous things we all miss. It's going to have lots of humour. and whimsy too. I'm not working on a dry magazine. 

The good news is, we're rapidly gathering together the MOST amazing group of magazine people, many of them big overseas names. And the content is going to be like nothing you've ever read. Trust me. These stories are amazing. Insights into extraordinary historic homes in LA. Stylish new hotels in New York. One of the original Great Gatsby mansions on Long Island. Interviews with people we love and admire. Exotic destinations off the beaten track – the kinds of far-flung, glamourous destinations that make us remember why we love travel much. And of course gardens... Secret gardens. Grand gardens. The original Versailles-style garden of France. We hope you'll really love the gardens. They're so beautiful they'll make you weep.

So please do bear with me. And when we manage to get the first issue our – hopefully by summer – we hope you'll put down those cushions and come celebrate with us. As the Edwardians used to say: "It's going to be a grand summer..."

Love this last cover. No wonder these vintage issues now sell for a small fortune...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Living The Life You Want, Stevie Nicks Style...

Exactly forty years ago, twenty five-year-old Stevie Nicks sat down, picked up her guitar and started strumming some lyrics. She was holed up in the Rocky Mountains, during a particularly jagged part of her life. Her partner, singer Lindsey Buckingham, had left to go touring on the road with the Everly Brothers and she was lonely, sad and disenchanted. All she had was $40, a Toyota that had frozen the day she'd arrived in Aspen, and her dog. 

Then Buckingham returned to Aspen. But they fought and he left again, taking the dog and the semi-frozen Toyota with him. He told Nicks to use a buss pass to find her way out, seeing as her dad was president of Greyhound. So she said: "Fine, take the car and the dog." Not long after he'd left, Nicks heard on the radio that Greyhound had gone on strike all across the USA. She was alone.

I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down...

To add to her pain, her father was ill, and about to be operated on, and she had no way of getting home. Fearful of her father dying, and even more fearful of her musical career  going nowhere, Stevie Nicks did the only thing she knew how to do. She sang. 

She picked up that worn-out guitar, looked up at the mountains, and sung until her heart broke.

Oh mirror in the sky, what is love?

She sung about her life, her dreams; her struggles to reconcile the two. She sang about Aspen, and the weariness of existing. She sang about the inner turmoil of making the most important decision of her life: go home and pick up the pieces of her years and carry on in an ordinary career, or brave the elements and find the courage to follow her dreams.

Stevie Nicks sang for her life.

Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Then she called her parents to ask if they'd send her a plane ticket to get out of Colorado.

The song 'Landslide' went on to become Stevie Nick's defining moment in her now-incredible career, and one of the most successful songs of all time. It was her impasse: the point in the mountains of life where you face the wall. The point where you take a good hard look at the elements around you, and, with a deep breath, find the mental strength to tackle them. 

"I realized that everything could tumble," she later said. "When you're in Colorado and you're surrounded by these incredible mountains, you think 'avalanche'. And when you're in that kind of a snow-covered place, you don't just go out and yell, because the whole mountain could come down."

So Nicks sang instead.  

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you

Then she found her way off that mountain, and followed Buckingham to LA. Two months later Mick Fleetwood called them both and offered them the chance of a lifetime by joining the Fleetwood Mac band.

Everybody has a Landslide moment. Everybody has a day when life seems too much and the peaks build up and you think you're never gonna make it. These moments are the winters of our lives. As Stevie Nicks knows, they are the ones that make us who we are.

Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

So this is my offering to you all, dear readers, on today, my 44th birthday. If you're facing your own Landslide, whether today or at any time in your life, know this: you can weather it. Weather it, you will. 

Because what else are you going to do? Stay on top of that mountain?

We all have an inner strength we don't realise we possess. We can all achieve the lives we want. Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes it takes many long years of hard work, exhaustion, and sometimes even tears, too. Sometimes it requires being true to who you are; faithful to who you want to be, and rising above others' constant criticisms, with dignity and grace.

But time makes you bolder
Even children get older and I'm getting older too...

So get out there. Grab those dreams and lives. Grab them with two hands and shake the them with all you can.

I wish you all the very best of luck. 

But really, you're not going to need it. 

Because you'll do just fine.

Formed in 1967, Fleetwood Mac have released 17 studio albums and sold more than 40m copies of their 1977 smash, 'Rumours', making it one of the bestselling records of all time. 

Fleetwood Mac's World Tour kicks off on April 4, 2013 and will travel to Europe, the US and Australia. This year also marks the 35th anniversary of the release of the 'Rumours' album. 
{Images from Fleetwood Mac publicity archives}

Karise Eden, winner of last year's The Voice giving her rendition – Karise | Landslide. This makes me cry, every single time. How many foster homes did she live in as a child? And here she is, on national television.

Steveie Nick's version of events –

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Glamorous Age...

Have you noticed there are very few magnificent magazines anymore, particularly for women of 'The Glamorous Age'? (As my friend calls it.)

The Glamorous Age is the age between 35 and 70. It's the second part of our lives. The great, glamorous, dignified, wise, do-what-we-like-cos-we've-earned-it deuxième part of our lives. We get thirty-five years of this. And by god we're going to enjoy every minute. 

The Glamorous Age, you see, when we women start feeling confident. When we start dressing the way we want – and usually the way that suits us, whether we're wearing a sexy frock, a business-like suit, or simply dog-walking attire. 

It's when we start dating proper men. And I mean gentlemen, rather than those scruffy, slovenly, perpetually poor, drunken-ass ratbags we hung around with in our twenties, simply because they owned a Ducati, or knew how to kiss, or came from some obscure aristocratic English family. 

The Glamorous Age is the age when we finally make headway in our careers having worked our asses off for ten or fifteen long years. It's when we start to afford designer labels, and travel, and nice houses. With gardens we can potter around in, wearing Hunter wellies and planting hydrangeas. 

It's when we stop accepting nonsense and bulls**t from other people (terrible word but really, no other phrase for it), and when we start considering that we might just make it in life. And not just make it either, but really tie a bow around the whole thing and make a bloody great celebration of it. 

The Glamorous Age is when we realise we have an entire wardrobe of beautiful shoes – I mean spectacularly beautiful shoes, having learned where to buy them cheaply in the world – but we're just as happy to wear lovely casual ones, usually with lovely casual tops and pants to match. (A very French look.)

But The Glamorous Age is also when we've acquired pieces like a proper winter coat (Max Mara, if we can afford it), a proper 'opera coat', a proper Parisian trenchcoat, a beautifully designed handbag, proper luggage, proper lipsticks (Chanel, or YSL), proper fragrances, elegant leather gloves (some of us even have driving gloves: not me; but I want some), and sometimes even a spectacular collection of glorious chapeaux. 

The Glamorous Age is when we splash out on expensive bedlinen because it reminds us of the time we stayed in that five-star hotel in New York. And because clean, starched, ironed, high-thread-count white linen is SO much nicer to sleep on.

And The Glamorous Age is when we know how to garden, cook, keep house, wear slips under dresses that need them, write thank-you cards (or emails), place our cutlery on an empty plate the right way, be courteous to our neighbours and strangers, and generally live a life that is kind, gracious, and full of compassion and humour in equal measure.

According to the ABS, there are more of us in The Glamorous Age than any other demographic. We are the masses. The median. The generation with the biggest population. 

So why are there so few magazines catering to us?

Whatever happened to all those fabulous ones we used to have?

For vintage magazine covers (a sliver of sentimentality) try:

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