Interview: Sally -Forth

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When she just 16 years old, I hired Sally-Forth Heaney Garzoli (great name huh?!) as my official wedding photographer. She was still at school and it was one of her first photography jobs. Despite friends sending me video montages and ‘lookbooks’ of some of Sydney’s (alleged) best wedding snappers, I had no hesitation in booking Sally.

She had one of the most unique, quirky and natural styles I had ever seen and I was beyond thrilled with what she produced. She just has this knack for capturing things as they are, in their natural state. I can’t think of how else to describe her but as genuine and real.

Even back then, I knew she was destined for big things. And I was right. Her portrait above simply titled ‘Girl,’ recently won the People’s Choice Award at the ‘College Express 5′ show in the ACT and she has just been accepted into the coveted graphic design school at RMIT.

At just 18, she is a true talent on the rise. With Alexa Chung, Jane Campion and Peter Weir among her style inspirations, I catch up with this very talented kid from Canberra.

Firstly, congratulations on winning the People’s Choice Award. Can you tell us about the portrait and what inspired it?

The photo is of one of my close friends Rosie Zatschler and was taken in Tilba on the NSW south coast. It’s part of a series looking at the relationship between the person and the landscape, and how people view this.

I was inspired by unit stills Photography (basically film stills) and in particular, stills by Nick Briggs and imagery created by directors such as Baz Luhrmann, Jane Campian, Peter Weir and Joe Wright. I was also inspired by the Australian landscape and classic landscape photography, as well as photographers such as Annie Leibovitz, Tim Walker, Trent Parke and Max Dupain.

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How long have you been interested in photography and what do you love most about it?

I’ve always taken photos but wasn’t really interested in it properly until year 8 when I saw a magazine article about a young photographer named Eleanor Hardwike. To be honest, I thought I had a terrible eye for photography and was frightened of the camera. Now I love framing a photo.

I like how you can construct and capture a moment- moments which appear candid but are actually really structured with elaborate, almost kitsch sets. I like to be in control, directing the person, designing the set, picking out the outfits and makeup and framing and taking the picture. This way I know that nothing can go wrong and if it does, there’s no one to blame but myself. I could never let someone else be in control of the sets or costuming. I am a bit of a control freak like that!

I also like to watch how people act when a camera is around them, how they pretend not to realise but subtly ‘suck in’ or straighten up, but then again it’s also sometimes pretty annoying. Everyone does it though so it’s kind of funny.

You will be studying at RMIT next year.What do you hope to get out of it and what are your plans post study?

I’m not entirely sure. I want to learn lots I guess and meet new people. I can’t wait but at the same time I’m also freaking out!

Hopefully I’ll be able to go overseas and travel again, taking photos along the way, but in the long run I do hope to become a successful photographer. One day I’d love to end up like Tim Walker and Annie Leibovitz, being hired and paid to do what I do, rather than what the client wants done. But I would also love to become a unit stills photographer. I love the idea that you can take candid photos in such a structured and controlled environment.

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What are your top tips for taking a good picture?

I’m not really sure- I guess it’s up to the person taking the photo. I think experimenting is always important. It’s important to play around with different settings, different angles and all that jazz, to get to know the camera and to learn more about your own style. Also post production is important, well it is to me. Not crazy editing, like swapping faces or adding in additional objects, but making the image darker or lighter and adding a subtle vignette and correcting blemishes. However this isn’t essential, it really depends on your own aesthetic. Oh and DON’T CROP. I hate cropping! It feels like cheating when I do it. However it doesn’t bother me so much when other people do it, so if you depend on it, go for gold.

Finally, how would you describe your personal style?

I wouldn’t have a clue. My mum calls it “eclectic feminine” but to be honest, I don’t know what she’s on about! I like vintage clothes and styles. I am a big fan of the 30’s and 40’s (but mainly for formal wear) and definitely the 50’s and 60’s, so I pretty much get around in skirts and dresses. But a good pair of jeans is a staple in my wardrobe.

At the moment I’m digging Alexa Chung’s style as well as Clemence Poesy, but I think that’s mainly due to the fact that they both draw inspiration from the sixties. I am constantly buying vintage dresses. Unfortunately I can’t wear the majority of them out because they’re gowns, or ripped or too ‘out there’ to wear down the street or to the shops.

I love Alannah Hill and often use her gear in photos. I also love Lady Petrova, a small boutique dress shop in Melbourne. When I travel, I love to shop at “retro star” in Melbourne and “vintage clothing” in Sydney.

Check out Sally’s website for more style inspiration.

Clean Cut… in a nutshell

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I am very excited to be a part of a (fairly) new group called Clean Cut Fashion. Basically, we are a collective (a mix of writers, designers and advocates) who care about sustainable style- without losing the style part!

We think it’s time that Australia started celebrating all the great designers, companies, models and others in the industry, who are bringing a more conscious focus to their work. We are busily working on some exciting projects at the moment and I can’t wait to share more about what we get up to, but in the meantime, I thought I’d formally introduce what we’re all about.

A few weeks ago, I wrote this guest post for 1 Million Women to do just that and explain (hopefully clearly!) what Clean Cut means to us.

You can find out more about us on our website and follow us on Facebook & Twitter. We even have a hashtag! #cleancut

ps. that pic is of me (left) with another of our co founders Carlie Ballard, the brains behind online ethical shop Indigo Bazaar and brand new self titled ethical label.

                                  
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Repost: Clean Cut Fashion

Last year, Lisa Heinze, Carlie Ballard, Kelly Elkin & I came together to form Clean Cut, a collective which is all about generating greater awareness and celebration of the future of Australian fashion.

I guess you could call the four of us sustainable fashion advocates. We were drawn together by a common goal of wanting to support and perhaps gently nudge the industry, in a greener, fairer and more ethical direction.

Equally, we wanted to support other fashion lovers like ourselves, to make purchasing decisions that were more in line with their values.

There’s a lot I could talk about when it comes to the idea of ‘less is more.’

Like most others, Clean Cut would like to see less greenwashing and more honesty in advertising, less garment worker exploitation and more transparency, less ignorance and more awareness of how the fashion industry is impacting on our environment.

But the one thing that stands out for me, that makes Clean Cut unique, is the way we approach encouraging a more sustainable industry. We believe that the best way we can make a difference, is to promote the good work being done, to celebrate achievements and set the sustainability standard by example.

In a nutshell, I suppose we want to see less negativity and more celebration of the huge number of Australian fashion labels who are moving in the right direction.

Sure, there are lots of things that still concern us about our industry, there are a whole raft of areas where we can do better and undoubtedly, we need to keep the pressure up and call out bad practice when we see it.

We just don’t want the conversation about the future of our industry to be dominated by the companies and individuals whose practices shouldn’t be part of it. We want to make more room for the movers and shakers who are breaking boundaries, agitating for change and putting Australian ‘clean cut’ fashion on the map.

And there has been lots to celebrate.

Last year, iconic homegrown label Sass & Bide released a second ethical accessory collection, Manning Cartell became ethically accredited through Ethical Clothing Australia and Undressed announced it was spreading its wings and heading south to Melbourne.

So this year, I am going to commit to spending less time giving oxygen to the labels that are doing the wrong thing and more time supporting and actively promoting the ones who are leading us into the future of fashion.

We look forward to bringing you more updates about Clean Cut throughout 2014.

Images: Lalesso & Kowtow

Melbourne’s Botanic Runway

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I can’t believe I almost missed this runway event that hit Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens a few weeks ago! A fusion of fun, fashion and conservation, the inaugural Royal Botanic Runway featured some of our most iconic designers (think Collette Dinnigan & Akira Isogawa)

The event was created by Event Gallery’s Geraldine Frater-Wyeth and philanthropist David Shelmerdine and had a strong focus on conservation, water management and climate issues. In fact, all proceeds raised through the event were donated to help drought proof the gardens, to stop the need to irrigate with valuable drinking water.

Akira Isogawa said “the Botanic Gardens is one of my favourite places to visit when I’m in Melbourne and to be involved in this event that celebrates Australian fashion and supports our precious environment at the same time, is a truly unique opportunity.” Here’s hoping it happens again!

You can actually still donate to this important cause through Shout For Good and find out more about the Runway event on the Royal Botanic Runway website.

Love Sally Love

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It’s Valentine’s Day and even though I am not usually one for ‘hallmark holidays’, there is a bit of a love buzz in the air. I recently celebrated my second wedding anniversary, attended the nuptials of good friends from university and have just heard of the engagement of another cute couple.

When I was shopping for my engagement ring some years ago (yes we shopped for it together-very non traditional I know!) I was confronted by how little choice there was in mainstream jewellery stores. I never quite found anything that was uniquely my style. In fact, I think I stumped quite a few shop assistants by refusing to try on the Princess Cut and asking if it was OK to wear black diamonds on a wedding band. But these days I think people are after something more individual and unique. Getting caught up in the ‘wedding haze’ you can lose a sense of your personality in the style, which is why custom design has become such a popular and exciting choice.

Many years ago, I went to school with a girl called Sally who is a creative spirit and design genius. These days, she runs a great little bespoke jewellery design company called Sally Love Jewels, which is based here in Sydney and among a multitude of other things, offers custom engagement and wedding ring design.

On this international day of Valentine, I thought it was timely to share my interview with the lovely Sally Love.

Tell us a bit about how Sally Love Jewels came to be.

I started the business in London under my maiden name – Johnston- but as soon as I married Mr. Love I changed the name as Love has such a perfect ‘ring’ to it (pun intended). The first piece of jewellery I ever made was the ‘You are my Sunshine’ ring which was for my mum, as it’s her favourite song and I was missing her while I was living in London. It struck a chord with so many people which inspired me to keep designing and moving forward with my unique take on jewellery. I believe that jewellery is a talisman. It can be magical, give you comfort, strength and a lot of happiness. Jewellery has been around for thousands of years and I love that ancient treasured feeling. I think the older jewellery is the better!

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Custom engagement and wedding bands are so popular these days! Can you tell us a bit about the process of how custom design works & why you think people should consider it?

My work comes to me through word of mouth which I love because it shows that the quality of the workmanship and personal service are what’s important to my clients. I work with clients near and far from all over the world thanks to email and skype!

How it generally works is that they approach me with an idea, whether it be an engagement or wedding band, an anniversary or birthday present. The scenario is always slightly different whether it’s a guy wanting to surprise his lover or a loved up couple designing the perfect engagement ring or someone wanting to treat themselves to something beautiful and unique.

Once we’ve agreed on the final design, (which can take between an hour and a month!) I take the design to my jeweller where we discuss the finer points of the design and I source the perfect stones.

What do you find most rewarding about working with people one on one, to create something unique?

The biggest reward is seeing their faces and hearing their comments when they open the little black box and touch the jewellery for the first time. I LIVE for those moments.

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Can you tell us a bit about your other pieces (bracelets, earrings etc) and where you get your design inspiration?

Before I started doing bespoke I dreamt of doing a new range of jewellery every season, being more like a fashion label. I did the “Under the Sea” range which was inspired by my love and connection to the oceans surrounding Australia, I love and I’m so proud of that range of jewellery. I also love making simple little pieces of jewellery too but where my heart lies is with the custom jewellery. I love working with beautiful stones and incredibly talented jewellers. I love jewellery that isn’t disposable. There is the sustainable element to it, knowing that the jewellery isn’t ‘throwaway’. It’s thought out and probably going to be passed down through familes for generations to come. I’m inspired by that, by people. I love humanity in all it’s beautiful complexities.

What is your personal style & what are the 3 jewellery items you couldn’t live without?

I am and always have been all about being completely true to myself. I only ever buy what I love whether it’s fashion, furniture or jewellery so it’s hard to put my style into a box. Relaxed, happy, unique would probably fit my style and my personality to a T! Since I only buy things that I love it’s hard to say only 3 jewellery items that I can’t live without but if I had to I’d say my engagement and wedding bands and my grandmothers wedding ring which I wear between my two other rings.

Visit Sally’s website at http://www.sallylove.com

Emu Designs: Swim Into Style

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For anyone who attended last year’s Deadly Awards at the Sydney Opera House, Natalie Cunningham should be a familiar name. The creative director of Queensland based swimwear label Emu Designs, took out the Deadly Dressed competition with one of the most colourful and exciting designs the competition had ever seen. Natalie printed her own fabric for the piece using a bright painting from Aboriginal artist De Greer Yindimincarlie and created a strapless gown with an empire line, featuring a short train (for those who know their fashion lingo!)

The vibrancy and flair of Natalie’s designs are the perfect representation of her bubbly personality and determination to make it in the world of style.

She is one of the very talented designers selected to exhibit at Australia’s first ever Indigenous Fashion Week in April this year and is currently seeking sponsorship and donations to help get her there. Sponsorships close this Friday, so help spread the word!

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When I asked her what she loves most about fashion, she said it was the way it’s able to tell a story without words and how it can be a reflection of someone’s personality and where they come from.

Her designs are exactly that. In creating her collections, she draws on her Aboriginal and Greek heritage through the use of bright colours, geometric shapes and embellishments. Her range includes bikinis, full piece swimsuits, resort wear pieces and also board shorts for the boys.

Let’s hope we get to see Natalie’s colourful creations, bring some summery style to this year’s Autumn runway.

Find out more about how you can support Natalie participate in Australian Indigenous Fashion Week here and keep up to date on all her news on Facebook.

Images: courtesy of Emu Designs

Sample Sustainability in Style

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Up until a few years ago, I used to subscribe to a thing called BellaBox. Every month (for a small fee) I would get sent a box of beauty samples- things like mini mascaras and tiny pots of high shine lip gloss. It was a great way of being introduced to brands and helped me make better decisions about what I really wanted to invest in (as well as making me feel very sophisticated, imagining that this was the sort of thing beauty editors would routinely enjoy!)

Just before Christmas, I was sent a similar kind of sample box called Native Box. It’s much more reflective of what kind of consumer I am now and is filled to the brim with eco friendly, sustainable and homegrown goodies. My box included gingerbread cookies, hand cream, shower soap, nutritious green powder, among other things. (there’s a snap of it below) Naturally, I gravitated straight to the beauty products and am now addicted to Australian Bush Flower Essences hand cream, but the idea of introducing samples of food and other household items is genius.

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Think about it. For most of us, unless you have a science phD, it’s not always easy to decipher the ingredients on the back of bottles and decide what’s good or bad. And with Woolies and Coles being probably the most accessible shopping destinations, even in the city, it’s often difficult to come across the wide range of more ‘conscious’ brands out there. But Native Box curates the selection for you and even gives you discount offers to some of their partner brands.

I would wholeheartedly recommend Native Box to anyone who is interested in supporting better brands and who likes to ‘try before they buy.’ You can sign up on a monthly basis but you get a pretty sizeable discount if you commit to 3 or 12 months.

You can find out more about Native Box on their website.

A Native Box was provided for review but all views expressed are my own.

The Future Fashion Stars…of Canberra!

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I thought I would sneak in just one more style post before the end of the year!

As many of you know, I lived in Canberra for five years and despite having a reputation for being riddled with roundabouts and politicians, there is actually quite a thriving creative scene there. It’s just not overt like it is in Sydney. There are quiet afternoon gigs in hidden galleries, backyard BBQ’s become jam sessions and fashionistas flock to local art centres. It’s not ‘in your face’ but make no mistake, Canberra’s style scene is on the rise.

Last year they held their own Fashion Festival for the first time (watch out Melbourne!) and have more recently introduced a seasonal market called Hustle & Scout.

In many ways, Hustle & Scout is just like your typical market, but is dedicated to offering ‘one of a kind’ pieces that might be upcycled, recycled, vintage, eco friendly or just part of an emerging fashion label from the region.

They held a market last weekend and have already announced one for April, so in the spirit of supporting my former hometown, here is a snapshot of three of the best rising labels from the capital.

SZN

A label created by the super talented Suzan Dlouhy, SZN is all about exploring the most straightforward ways to make a garment and challenges our culture of mass production. Suzan says she has always been a collector and that sustainability is at the heart of the label, although she does occasionally deviate to incorporate diverse material inspiration.

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Perpetually Five

The stunning shot at the top of the page is one of this label’s creations. A menswear line from Mitchell Thompson, Perpetually Five is all about moving away from the standard suits and into something more vibrant and new. Inspired by a child’s imagination, it builds a bridge between being fun, smart and sophisticated.

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SOVATA

Jade Sargent is the brains behind this ‘occasion wear’ line which specialises in race wear and millinery. Its point of difference, is that it is committed to bringing zero waste pattern making to Australia. SOVATA came about its name, as ‘Ovata’ is the botanical term for the Jade plant. Innovative in more ways than one!

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O’Shirt Series: Project Futures

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Can you believe it? The crew over at O’Shirt are up to their 17th campaign already and this one is extra special. Not only because it supports Project Futures, who raise funds and awareness for programs dedicated to combating sex trafficking in South East Asia, but because 50% of the profits from the sale of the tees goes straight to the cause (instead of the usual $7 from each sale)

As O’Shirt say, whether it’s two girls or two million girls, human trafficking and sexual exploitation is a serious issue. It is a crime against humanity and it’s thanks to organisations like Project Futures, that genuine, ongoing support is provided to victims of such injustice.

Basically, what they do is raise money for the rescue, recovery, education and reintegration of victims, as well as provide broader advocacy on the issue.

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This passionate organisation came to life in 2009, inspired by the biography of former Cambodian sex slave, Somaly Mam and in only a few short years, has become a major national player, on this international issue.

Melbourne based textile designer and illustrator Heather Piez, is the brains behind the design, which represents the creation of a global village though collaboration, connections and of course, ongoing awareness.

Snap up one of these stylish tees (the last official campaign for 2013!) and wear it and share it with O’Shirt on Instagram or Facebook. Or, just give them a shout out with the hashtag #oshirt!

A year of second hand : NZ Style

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New Zealand made history this year by hosting its first Eco Fashion Week (are you listening Australia?) and it is also home to my favourite sustainable label, Kowtow.

But now, a relative unknown Kiwi teenager, Holly Chase, is making waves in the world of sustainable style. She has decided to wear only second hand clothing for a whole year or 365 days to be exact!

She was inspired by the ’365 Challenge’ which was undertaken by Christina Deans, founder of Redress, a sustainable fashion NGO in Hong Kong and even though she isn’t that far into the challenge, she has already gained plenty of attention.

She has appeared on the front of the New Zealand Herald (the biggest NZ paper) and is in talks to appear on a TV show.

When I asked Holly what she hopes other people will get out of it, she said she wanted to draw attention to the huge amount of damage that the textiles industry does to the environment.

“I no longer believe in buying new clothes from high street stores because of the negative impacts on our planet, through water pollution, air pollution, the shipping process and the waste it creates,” she said.

“As well as that, there are a huge amount of clothes that are so poorly made, they are thrown in the bin after a couple of months and end up contributing to landfill problems. I want to encourage people to shop second hand because there are so many quality garments out there and when you buy second hand, it doesn’t cause any of those issues. I also want to prove that second hand clothes can be fashionable too, in order to encourage more people to shop this way.”

The biggest obstacle she has faced so far, is that with her wardrobe nearly halved, she has to be creative with every item so as not to get stuck in a style rut.

She doesn’t seem to be having any issues with that at the moment and you can keep an eye on her super sweet outfits on instagram at @ayearofsecondhand

Photos: Ruth Corin

Sunday Sustainable Style: Nico Underwear

Brisbane based ethical underwear label Nico, recently won a SOURCE Award for Sustainable Style (taking out the best lingerie/swimwear category) but they are also celebrating their 2nd birthday over the weekend! Just because I love their dreamy designs (and commitment to ethical style) here are some inspiration shots of their ‘In Your Dreams’ Collection. Shop the looks here!

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