Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Monday, July 8, 2013

Things In The Attic: The Return of The Supernatural in Fashion and Film

There's a new genre in town. Well, it's been around for a while, but for the past decade or so it's been relegated to the attic, shoved in an old family trunk with all the other forgotten genres and pushed to a dark, dusty corner. Then – and I'm not sure when but it seems to be fairly recently – somebody ventured up to this attic of forgotten genres, stumbled across the old trunk, and, with a shudder of horror but perhaps also of excitement, pulled out this old one. 

Immediately, they knew they'd found something thrilling. Something that would break the boredom of the modern public and send a shiver up their slumped-over spines. Something that would make them remember how entertaining cinema and literature once was, before stories about wedding party crashers and Vegas buck's nights dominated the big screens.

Yes, you guessed it, this person had found the ghost genre. Or, to put it in formal literary terms, the 'fantasy' genre.

And now it's showing its ghostly white face everywhere.

Always up for a dramatic entrance, Valentino's designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli chose 'the dark side' as the chic but chilling inspiration for their recent Fall Couture show. 

The official themes was "a cabinet of curiosities.” The unofficial was was 'The Lady in the Attic'. Only more glamorous. 

Think Miss Haversham meets Fifth Avenue. 

With black, black and more black as the distinctly dark palette, the show featured pieces that could have come from the closet of a grand old dowager living in a creaking old castle in Scotland. As the New York Times said, it was a collection that was "seemingly haunted by castle ghosts and pipe smoke".  

New York Times article (July 4, 2013) here – LINK

Two weeks ago, Trend Hunter did an article called Ghostly Fashion Shoots. "Eerie fashion spreads are continuing to become more relevant and mainstream in the modern age," the site explained. One of the examples was the Dominic Jones AW12 collection starring Downton Abbey actress Jessica Brown Findlay (image at very top). Many of the shoots are also very Havershamesque.

Many media outlets in the US are currently talking about The Conjuring, a new US movie out in cinemas this month that's directed by Australian James Wan. It's being billed as the most terrifying movie this year, if not this decade. 

Based on the real case of the Perron family who moved into a haunted house in Rhode Island, and the Warrens, the couple who tried to help them, it's a story where the truth really is eerier than fiction. The most chilling publicity has come from the family members themselves, especially mother Carolyn Perron who was deeply affected by the experience: "You could see them. You could smell them. The house was full of people who lived there who were not us..." 

With shades of Amityville Horror (there are links with that story), it looks like being just as much of a success as that was. Opening in the US and Australia mid-July, 2013.

Trailers below.
LINK HERE or here – 
Another trailer –

Australian director Warwick Thornton, who won a prize at Cannes for his film Samson and Delilah, has been collecting real-life ghost stories for his next project, The Darkside. His only requirement from those who submitted them was that these experiences had to have really happened to those who told them. The kicker is that these stories come from indigenous people, who are normally terrified of talking about the dead. Because of this, each of the stories will be re-told by well-known actors, including Bryan Brown, Deborah Mailman and Sasha Horler, rather than the indigenous narrators. 

Media has been reporting strange events happening on the set, so the film, due for release in 2013, will no doubt be a fairly spooky one.

In England, a startling number of people have been gripped to their TV screens, not for Wimbledon (although that too was gripping) but for The Returned (in French: Les Revenants), a French supernatural drama series that's currently showing on Channel 4. 

It has both the public and the media enthralled. Twitter errupted into a flurry of feedback after just the first episode. 

Some critics have dubbed it a 'zombie drama' but it doesn't have zombies. Not at all. Zombies hop along on one leg, dragging their rotting flesh along the ground and trying, usually with success, to stick their left eyeball back in. They don't have a vocabulary, unless you call arrggghhh a word. The ghosts of The Returned have full language skills.

This seems to be one worth watching.
A season 2 has been commissioned and is to air in 2014.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The World Through Blue Hues

Blue may not be the colour of the month in former prime minister Julia Gillard's house, after the "men in blue ties" controversy helped to cut short her term in office, but elsewhere blue is being embraced by fashion designers, interior decorators, gardeners, and even a few stylish hoteliers. (Did you see that JK Place has just opened a new Rome outpost?)

Here's a long and very blue post about this classically beautiful and coolly glamorous colour, which just keeps on comin' back into fashion.

Chanel's wildly successful range of blue nail lacquers. 

(The Coco Blue shade is the perfect summer colour.)

Have you seen Chanel's 2014 Resort Collection yet? Karl has gone back to the classics. 

Some new silk fabric bought from Mood in New York. 

It's called 'Ocean Liner'. It's almost Titanic in its elegance, don't you think?

A blue border at Chateau Brecy in France.

Our messy kitchen, which seems to be becoming blue-er by the hour...


This is our breakfast table. We can no longer sit here for all the white geraniums in blue pots.

Still, a $300 navy Ikea sofa, a $100 rattan wingback armchair (bought on discount) and a $50 blue-and-white planter with a home-made ottoman mean a $450 sunroom. 

As you can see, we're not design snobs in this house. Any ol' (blue) bargain will do.

Harbour Island in the Bahamas, on a very blue day.

The blue bathing box on Harbour Island.

Cap d'Antibes in May. 

This was a perfect cove, on a perfect afternoon.

St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the Cote d'Azur. 

One of the prettiest villages in the world. Tall call, I know.

More from Cap d'Antibes.

Kew Palace in Kew Gardens. 

Did you see that an Australian has just taken over the head role here? Wonder what the English think about that? Probably muttering dark thoughts into their Hunter wellies.

A friend's house, with antique light sockets on exquisite blue wallpaper.

This London bookshop is lovely. It's owned by Graham Greene's nephew.

Did you see Australian Story on Sunday night? It focused on 26-year-old Hannah Kent's new novel Burial Rites? She's written a haunting tale about the last woman beheaded in Iceland. 

The unpublished manuscript sold for a reported $350,000 in Australia, and a reported seven figures in the US. 

The Australian Story doco was very moving. Especially for this author. Who's never had a seven-figure advance in her life.

But the book looks like an extraordinary story. I'm so thrilled for her. Hope she goes and treats herself after two years of hard work and pauper-dom.

It was also interesting to see how Australian Story do things. I've been in talks with them this week about doing something on the Picnic at Hanging Rock story. It's strange to see how electronic media works, and how it's so different to print media and long-form journalism – and then again to writing a book (which is another beast altogether).

But back to blue. And the Belles Rives Hotel on the Cote d'Azur.

The new Provence book, in which this features, is almost finished. Yay. Never thought I'd say this but I don't think I can write another word about lavender. Ever again.

The copy and images have now gone to the designer. 

Pub date is this Christmas 2013.

The ' Do Not Disturb' sign from The Roger Hotel in New York.( A hotel's that a tribute to blue.)

You may not be able to see because of my appalling photography but this is a little bow-tie, which is actually un-tied, so as to signal to the maid to "come and clean the room". 

Or take off some clothes. 

It's your interpretation, really.


Which is very nice.

The view from my Riviera hotel room. 

Highgrove's branding is some of the most elegant in the world.

The garden's not bad, either.

The view from my Harbour Island hotel room.

The John Dory bar in New York.

Such a bustling place. Full of blue-shirted bankers and hip Flatiron creatives tossing down oysters and knocking back vodka shots. Had a great time here. Until I saw the prices.

The Landing on Harbour Island. (More on this in a post to come.)

Two of the loveliest ladies on the Garden Tour, Kerry and Trina. 

You can't see this as we were all laughing and my hand was shaking wildly as a result, but their dress sense is impressive. Their humour is superb too. AND they're beautiful. 

Kerry runs the Mudgee Readers' Festival, which is on August 10 and 11. If you love books, go along. Sarah Turnbull  (Almost French) is speaking this year.

Another cute blue beach house on Harbour Island.

New book. Looks good.

Another newie. Out October. 

Already on the Christmas Wish List.

We are seriously considering booking tickets to fly to Scandinavia to see this man, Peter Gabriel (although I'll probably be in Europe for work anyway, so it's not far to go). He's doing a world tour to celebrate the re-release of his iconic album So. I have to go up to Scandinavia anyway to see family, so it's perfect timing.

If you want to know why we want to go, just take a look at this (blue) video clip; of Solsbury Hill.   Link here

As one viewer said, it's just about the most joyous performance you'll ever see. And how HOT does he look?! I've started running again to get my fitness back and have put this version of Solsbury Hill on my iPod. I tell you, nothing gets you up a hill faster than Peter Gabriel singing "my heart was going BOOM BOOM BOOM!"

He's getting older but he still looks as good as he did when he was in Genesis. Oh yes. We may just have to go to Denmark in September, I think. Plus Fleetwood Mac and John Mayer are playing at the same venue. In the SAME week. How fortuitous is that?

Just had to sneak another pic of Pete in there...

The view from my room on Harbour Island. 

Seems almost anti-climactic after seeing Pete grind his hips, doesn't it...?

Dinner with the girls (and one boy) in Paris. This was the view from our restaurant table. 

Very hard to find a restaurant with a view of the Eiffel Tower but we did. 

(PS It's called Chez Francis, and it's fabulous, despite the dubious reviews on TA. Don't believe everything you hear. Gossip is sometimes unfounded, you know.)

An old Hermes scarf of mine, with a vintage bag I bought for $100. Love a bargain.

The pool house at the Dunmore club on Harbour Island. The chairs here were the prettiest turquoise blue. The pool was a design delight, too.

Just like these planters, at Chateau Brecy.

More blue at Chateau Brecy.

A potting shed with a blue door, also at Chateau Brecy.

Yet another blue corner at Brecy. 

(Do go if you are ever in France with a hire car at your disposal. It's just beautiful.)

Harbour Island. Again. 

Loved these shutters.

Someone said this was Mick Jagger's house, but I doubt it. 

Still, it's a good story.

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