“There is also plenty of whimsy to be found when the time and place call for it.” – Clare Ma­clean

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - The Style -

Back in their day, Yard­ley added, this ap­par­ently be­nighted bunch flut­tered around the world in quest of “ex­pen­sive if evanes­cent plea­sure” — as if that were some­how a prob­lem. What the critic ne­glected to men­tion was how very good these con­temptible types looked while seek­ing their evanes­cent plea­sures. That, per­haps, was their greater sin.

It’s easy now to for­get that in the days be­fore easy transat­lantic travel, peo­ple on ei­ther side of the ocean tended to at­tire them­selves with re­gional, na­tional and of­ten chau­vin­is­tic speci­ficity. The French, ac­cord­ing to a code no less rigid for be­ing un­writ­ten, con­sid­ered an ar­mour of chic the ul­ti­mate goal of self-pre­sen­ta­tion. Ditto the Ital­ians, who added to the for­mula for fare una bella figura, per­ma­nent var­nish of tan.

Amer­i­cans, as we all know, his­tor­i­cally dressed, by and large, as if plan­ning to mow the lawn. Or they did un­til rou­tine air travel re­duced the phys­i­cal and stylis­tic gulf be­tween Old and New Worlds, ex­pos­ing Europe to Amer­i­can habits of ca­sual, ath­letic dress­ing, and Amer­ica to Euro­pean style clichés such as cash­mere sweaters knot­ted over the shoul­ders and sling­back heels.

Amer­i­cans were quick to re-jig their own taste with mark­ers of style as con­sti­tuted by for­eign cul­tures. Per­haps, though, by “Amer­i­cans” in this in­stance one re­ally means New York­ers. And per­haps in­stead of “New York­ers” one could easily say “Lee Radzi­will.” Was Radzi­will the first Amer­i­can woman to wear sleek trouser suits of shan­tung silk, cash­mere cardi­gans over evening dresses, suede jeans with driv­ing shoes, sun-streaked hair tied up in a pat­terned head scarf? She was not. Yet, few mem­bers of her jet-set­ting clique made a bet­ter show of fus­ing Euro­pean style cues with Yan­kee prac­ti­cal­ity to con­jure a look — sleekly ef­fi­cient, un­pre­ten­tious, al­most off hand in its el­e­gance — that reads as dis­tinctly Amer­i­can. And fewer still have proved any­where near as durable a mag­net for both the cam­era lens and the sharply ap­prais­ing gaze of de­sign­ers. — Guy Tre­bay


a Aus­tralians are an out­ward-look­ing bunch. It’s a dis­po­si­tion women have worn on their sleeves (and shoul­ders) for cen­turies, from Chi­nese silk shawls and sur­coats to the early adop­tion of Chris­tian Dior’s New Look in 1947. To­day, Akubras, Driza­Bones, thongs, long socks worn with sa­fari suits (eek), not to men­tion a proud egal­i­tar­ian rac­ing history in which the Myer Fash­ions of the Field win­ner is just as likely to come from the public lawn as the mem­bers’ stand, are all uniquely Aus­tralian.

“I re­mem­ber 30 years ago I came for the first time and peo­ple were dressed very ca­su­ally. And I said, ‘The peo­ple are so beau­ti­ful, maybe they don’t need to have lux­ury.’ But I was wrong,” Dior chief ex­ec­u­tive Sid­ney Toledano told The Aus­tralian Fi­nan­cial Re­view when the brand fi­nally opened a free­stand­ing store in Syd­ney, in 2013. There’s cer­tainly some­thing to the the­ory that our breath­tak­ing scenery and idyl­lic weather means Aussies don’t feel the need to be too dec­o­ra­tive sar­to­ri­ally. But, as Toledano dis­cov­ered, a closer look at Aus­tralian fash­ion re­veals a pen­chant for new-sea­son Givenchy or Cé­line bags, Marni san­dals and Gian­vito Rossi heels.

There is also plenty of whimsy to be found when the time and place call for it. Jenny Kee, Linda Jack­son, textile queen Florence Broad­hurst and Ro­mance Was Born’s Anna Plun­kett are all ev­i­dence of that. Aus­tralians aren’t afraid of a state­ment come Spring Rac­ing soon ei­ther. Yet, even the most stylish Aus­tralian woman at­tend­ing “the race that stops a na­tion” knows her out­fit and shoe choices must be com­fort­able enough to with­stand the ride home on the packed Flem­ing­ton Race­course train. It’s that or risk be­com­ing one of the many race­go­ers who pub­licly sur­ren­der their heels for a pair of Hava­ianas. — Clare Ma­clean

Mi­randa Kerr work­ing the

denim- on­denim trend

Ro­mance Was Born’s Anna Plun­kett in a quintessen­tially quirky out­fit

Lee Radzi­will and Jackie Onas­sis in 1970

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