Monday, February 23, 2009

Lady Nina goes to the races

Yesterday I frocked up for a day at the races as co-judge for the junior Fashions on the Field at Thoroughbred Park, Canberra's racecourse. The day was "Preview Day" and is part of the lead up toward the Black Opal Stakes (March 8).

The competition was absolutely adorable, the children dressed up to the nines, all nervous but willing to give it a try. The top prize was awarded to a dapper little chap, Harrison, who absolutely stole the show and melted our hearts! Cuuuute. Congratulations to all of our little winners (I'll post pictures if I can get them from the organiser) you were all completely gorgeous!

Dress by Ninaribena
Belt by Cue
Vintage gloves
Hat by Deanna Mann
Chanel clutch borrowed (thankyou Deanna!)

Don't forget the main event is on Sunday March 8th. Classic Ladies racewear, Classic Mens racewear and Classic Couples racewear will be a huge event, with the main prize - a trip to Paris!
You can get VIP tickets to the Fashion Central marquee here, or just mingle.

Check out the AAMI Black Opal Stakes page for details on the day's events, and if you are entering the Fashions on the Field competitions, please make yourself familiar with the rules, and best of luck! I'll be back in the judges seat, see you there, I can't wait!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Canberra tour: Nina style!

Hi Nina,
We are from Sydney and are coming to Canberra to see the Degas exhibition and I was wondering if you could let me know anywhere else we must go to (on a Sunday) with 3 girls (ages 7 – 13). places to stay overnight – bookshops – places to eat – shops - other places we must visit/see – LOVE to hear your top picks, Thank you. I appreciate it! - Louise

Deborah Mailman by Evert Ploeg

1. For the first time audiences in Australia have the opportunity to see an exhibition devoted to one of the most significant and admired French artists of the nineteenth century, Edgar Degas. In it's world tour, The National Gallery of Australia in Canberra will be it's only Australian exhibition and it's surely not to be missed.

2. After the Gallery, you could check out the new National Portrait Gallery next door which is already established as a must visit. (Above right).

3. A wander from there through reconciliation place, enjoy the vistas and end up at Old Parliament House, enjoy the beautiful architecture, gardens and stop in at the Ginger Room for coffee and cake.

4. If you're heading into the city (civic), the new North Quarter of the Canberra Centre and nearby Garema Place are good for a browse and a choice of great places to eat, but one of Canberra's institutions is Gus' Cafe, and you can get a pretty great hot chocolate at Koko Black.

5. Some of my favourite shops are on Lonsdale st in Braddon, a must visit if you need some retail therapy. Check out the Hive Gallery, Little Owl, Unit Concepts, Bourgeois Pig and Pink Inc. Oooh yeah!

6. Could be nice to head over to Manuka (pron: Maah-nicka) for a wander around the block. Lots of great little shops and arcades, and a perfect bookstore, Paperchain. Loads of restaurants to choose from here too, my fave right now, Mecca Bah.


7. Ready to collapse yet? 2 gorgeous new hotels have landed in Canberra and both are beautifully designed, Hotel Realm in Barton, and Diamant Hotel in Acton. Both have restaurants and fab spas etc, although you may be swayed by the high tea put on by Du Jour restaurant (with a gorgeous courtayard) at the Diamant.

This Sunday afternoon though, I'll be at Canberra's Thoroughbred Park to judge the Preview day Junior Fashions on the Field. Maybe I'll see you there?

If you have any other suggestions for Louise and her family, please leave a comment below, and have a fabulous weekend!

Love Nina x

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kids in style: Little Living

Written By Amanda Whitely

Online baby and children’s boutiques have experienced a huge growth over the past few years, as women capitalise on the benefits of being able to work flexibly from home. One of the more recent additions to the genre is “Little Living”, a Canberra-based business which has everything kids need to grow up in style – from eating and sleeping, to playing and living.
Little Living’s owner, Paula Kos, says the key to her business’s success is offering a broad range of unique items for a market not well catered for - children aged up to 12 years. Her products include homewares, gifts, décor, clothing and accessories.
“Older children tend to be forgotten online and I really wanted to bring some new and different items for this age group,” she says.
“We have a great range of products for boys, plus a small baby range and some simple but gorgeous summer women’s wear too!”
With products sourced mainly from Sweden, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, America, New Zealand and Australia, Paula aims for unique items which are exquisite and beautiful. For her, the hard part is nominating her current favourites!

Firefly; Oscar Blue; Ollie & Max

Greengate tableware

“I just love the children’s kaftans from Firefly – they are amazing…and I really love the red polkadot Greengate plates, bowls and cups from Denmark! The Playsam wooden cars from Sweden are simply divine too and something children will always have to hand down to their own children one day.”
“I’m really looking forward to stocking some beautiful, modern lamp shades for children’s rooms from the Little Light House – they are such great quality, gorgeous material and made by a mum in Queensland. Have you seen the Oscar Blue children’s jewellery, made by a mum in Adelaide, and the Ollie & Max designer children’s wear from Sydney? I could go on!”

"Le Champignon" upholstered mushroom stool

Wall decals, above, "Owl"

Flexibility is a must as an online business. Paula has set up stock in Canberra homes several times at their request, giving them and their friends the opportunity to see and touch the products they’re interested in purchasing. Many of these customers are now regulars online.
“I also have a large range of Little Living stock at the beautiful ‘In Essence’ beauty salon in Hughes where women can receive a relaxing massage or facial with Caroline Gathercole and do a ‘little’ shopping too! It’s set up beautifully and Caroline is always there to help’” says Paula.
“Of course being a Canberran, I am getting a great following of locals who browse online and contact me by email or phone to place an order which I usually deliver to them same or next day at no delivery cost.”

Fabulous bedlinen by Kideko

Paula says online shopping is quickly becoming the way of the future with more and more people comfortable with internet purchases in our time-poor society.
“I think you have to help people realise you are just like a regular shop– but better- being open 24 hours and not having to think of parking. The best part is that you can shop when the kids are in bed and have delivery to your doorstep the next day!”
Sit back, relax and check out Little Living - 'lifestyle of the modern child' online here. Its huge summer sale is on until the end of February!


Monday, February 9, 2009

A Stacked Deck: Burlesque spectacle

Canberra's Got Style report: by request...

The Magnificent Liberté Belle and Gale & Vallance have combined forces to serve up three fabulous saucy days of pure indulgence and dazzling burlesque spectacle in A Stacked Deck begining tomorrow night as part of
Fringe '09...

Liberte Belle and Imogen Kelly

Opening Night on Feb 12th showcases 'Everything you wanted to know about burlesque but were afraid to ask', featuring a delicious blend of live performance and panel presentations from Australia's Imogen Kelly and Lola the Vamp, as well as Russall Beattie (producer and burlesque aficionado), Fiona Patten (CEO, Eros Association) and Professor Jill Matthews (ANU). MC'd by The Birdmann, with musical entertainment from the sultry Cris Clucas and Lachlan Coventry, and refreshments from the fabulous Moveable Feasts. Starts at 7.00pm, Courtyard Studio Theatre, Canberra Theatre Centre. $18 at the door, first in best dressed!

The Town Bikes and Space Cowboy

In Civic Square A Stacked Deck burlesque extravaganza gets under way on Friday night Feb 13. In a sizzling blend of sex and humour, Liberté Belle and G&V draw on burlesque’s rich history of sex, satire and subversion, to deliver an exciting, original and utterly fabulous showpiece. Featuring an eye-popping line up of some of Australia's top talent, including: The Town Bikes (Above right), Space Cowboy (above left), Adam Mada, Liberté Belle, Dangerboy & Ivy, Electric Dollhouse, Madam ZuZu, The Birdmann, Lulu (ex Belladonnas de Lux), Celia Curtis, Annabel Lines, Lucy Suze Taylor, Vashti Hughes, Cris Clucas, Erin Black and the Pageturners, Heidi von Hottentot, Miss Billy Divine, The Stacked Deck Dancers, Mlle Mona Cromatique, roving performers, sexy cigarette girls and boys and more! Phew. Show starts 7.00pm sharp, Fringe Club, Civic Square Canberra, Free entry. Prizes for best dressed!

Miss Kitka, Min Mae and The Lindy Charm school for Girls

Finally, on Saturday Feb 14, don't miss a day of workshops, featuring 'French Knicker making' with Eline Martinsen, 'Vintage hair and make-up' with The Lindy Charm School for Girls , 'Finding your mojo through movement' with Min Mae, 'Beginner’s Burlesque' with Miss Kitka, 'Exploring the importance of idiosyncrasy in performance' with The Town Bikes, 'Make your own pasties – for the stage or the boudoir' with Lulu (ex Belladonnas de Lux), 'A Taste of the Conjuring Arts' with Adam Mada, and 'Developing a stage persona' with The Birdmann. From 10am - 5pm. Make your workshop bookings here. And check out the Stacked Deck page here.

Marvelous saucy fun... enjoy!
Love Nina x

Poppy Letterpress: Pressed for success

Written By Amanda Whitley

In late 2007, my then-colleague, Louise Redman, told me she was setting up a letterpress business. My blank look prompted her to say “oh, don’t get me started – I can talk about letterpress all day.” Fast forward a year or so and that passion has translated into a flourishing business for Louise and her husband, Adrian.
Louise says she was hooked from the moment she saw her first letterpress printed greeting card. “There’s just something fantastic about being able to feel the design and not just see it. Oh, and I just love paper. A little too much.”

Letterpress is a form of relief printing where a raised image or letter is inked, and then pressed to paper to create a print. Modern letterpress is unique in how it leaves a deboss, or impression, in the paper that you can see and feel.
Originally, prints were created using lead type, which was composed to form sentences, and then placed in the press to be inked and printed. These days a design can be created on the computer, and photopolymer plates produced to print from.
“It’s an amazing way of combining modern technology and antique machinery,” says Louise.
“Our designs are printed on 100% cotton paper, which is soft and pillowy – you can’t help but touch it, it’s just so luxurious and has a handmade feel to it. The colours are vibrant, the printing is crisp and clean, and the paper is almost like fabric. Each sheet is hand-fed into the press, so it’s a time-consuming but addictive art. It’s hard to believe that such old greasy machines can produce something so beautiful!”

Finding the equipment has been the biggest challenge for Louise and Adrian. Most letterpress machines were produced about 100 years ago in the USA, and not many were imported to Australia at that time. Offset printing gradually phased out the need to print day-to-day items by letterpress, and many of the old machines were sent to scrap. The few that are still around are worth their weight in gold (that’s almost a tonne of gold!), so they’re hard to find.

“I’m lucky to have two large standing floor platens, one is 90 years old, the other is around 80,” says Louise.
“Along with the presses, I’ve had to find resources and suppliers of plates, paper and ink. Oh, and we’ve had to buy a new house and studio to accommodate the growing collection!”
The first project for the (rather disgustingly talented) husband and wife team was the creation of their own wedding stationery. And despite Louise once claiming she’d never work on wedding invitations she now finds them the most fun and rewarding jobs – just as well, since brides and grooms are lining up for Poppy’s personalised approach.

“We work one-on-one with our clients to understand the look and feel of their wedding, and the particular style that they’re after. Our designs tie in concepts from the wedding venue, bridesmaid’s dresses and flowers, table decorations…even jewellery! The invitation is the first impression that the guests get of the big day, so it needs to set the tone.”

Louise says that times have changed with wedding invites – the once strict etiquette surrounding format, wording and the like is far more relaxed…and that really allows clients to express themselves.
“These days you can do anything really – your wedding is a celebration of the two of you as a couple, and the stationery should reflect that. It’s a chance to get really creative, so don’t be afraid to have a little (or a lot) of fun with it!”
With their first child on the way, it’s quite possible that Louise and Adrian will add a baby collection in the future – Louise admits she’s already thinking about her baby announcement cards. Until then, clients are only limited by their imagination as to what Poppy can produce. Keep them in mind next time you want something beautiful and unique!
To find out more, check out or follow the studio happenings on the Poppy blog.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Yolk folk: by CRUMB!

Meet the adorable Yolk Folk by CRUMB, a little product designed and made in creator Chloe's home studio (with her 4 year old daughter stirring buckets of clayslip). Eggcups made from slip cast porcelain, each with it's own unique egg cosy, handmade made from collected screen printed linen tea towels, these folk are set to make you smile at breakfast
CRUMB seeks to create quality, limited edition curios and collectables - earthbound clouds, troubled egg cups, little beast brooches, pocket paintings, whimsical machines, thimble-trees, and the like. All works are made by hand from a diverse range of materials, including porcelain, glass, zinc plate, fabric and collected elements.

You won't find these at other markets........ buy a pair this weekend!
At Handmade UPmarket, 10-6 Saturday Feb 7th at Albert Hall

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Something for the table: Tango & James

Here's something completely gorgeous and unique for adding zest and colour to your next dinner party. I have 4 sets of handmade dinner linen (and more gorgeous lamps) available only at the Handmade UPmarket this Saturday...
"Hawaii Five-0" with "Flock Dot" table lamps

"Good Ship Lollypop" and "Summer Loving"

"Who's a Pretty Gypsy?" and "Peacock Parlour" lamps

And the adorable "Bread and Butterflies"

Each set, in hand selected washable cotton print fabrics, has 6 placemats, lapkins and a beautiful table runner. Too cute... champagne and cupcakes anyone?

Love Nina x