Inner-city Retrospective

Elsie's House final

When asked by a dear friend if I would “please mind my house, just for the few weeks while i’m away,” it sparked my immediate “yes” and no quicker would you see my bags packed, keys handed over and candles burning. Usually residing in the North, becoming accustomed to inner-city living resulted in 5 minute buses to any impulse destination, more of a weeknight night-life than ever thought possible, and a two bedroom Victorian-era terrace resembling the likes of my old dollhouse- it was perfect. While yes, it gave me a new appreciation for the simple things in life- space, food and cleanliness- it also made me adopt the Paddington care-factor. I’m referring to the experimental spirit of each individual’s style, colour-blocked striped coats, and the (at time, disgusting) amounts of designer bags. 

With the idea that I would be shipping my own wardrobe over, I took it upon myself to venture into the endless supply of cashmere, Chanel and enough Acne boots to cater for their Spring runway parade that the house had on offer. The resulting images are of a girl whose dream wardrobe was finally at her disposal, and the chance to temporarily claim the Zadig fur was hers. While it was hard not to get carried away in this fantasy land of fashion and nik-naks, it brings you back down to earth when you realise the dishwasher won’t unpack itself, or the terrace’s inability to handle too much power. I did however, constantly find myself ironing in my star boots, or facing the dreaded uni work whilst dressed to the nines in every hue the Joseph blazer had on offer. Things reached an all-time crescendo when it came to eating out every meal, whether it was Jackie’s Cafe for her famous feta scrambled eggs, or the Drunken Chicken sandwich at Ruben Hills down the road, but nothing beat the Sunday morning feast at Kepos Street Kitchen- where pastries were in endless supply and the demand wasn’t far behind. It was when the bank account was hitting all time lows and I found myself mid-lecture with Helmut suit pants and no bralette beneath my lace cami, that I knew I was in trouble. 

United by our love for design, all things fashion and an appreciation for anything originally beautiful, the unprecedented work-ethic seeping from every item in the house cemented that cliche advice of working hard, simply means- you get to play even harder. These are words epitomised in the humble owner, who graces the house each day and night, clad with the freshest look off the runway, and an even fresher tan from her recent Mykonos ‘work trip’- there is no doubt the luxury, the decadence and endless wardrobe supply are well kept and well deserved. The portrait of a PR patriarch: confident, creative and humble, while constantly taking each opportunity one giant leap at a time, my house-sitting experience was a week-long burst of inspiration more than anything, and I thank you, Elsie, for having me. 

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Magali Pascal skirt and Isabo Tee Top, Isabel Marant coat 

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Acne Studios jeans, men’s t-shirt, leather MC jacket and Jensen Boots 

 

 

 

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Taking the bad out of Bali

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 When one thinks ‘Bali’ it’s hard to detach the stigma Aussies have created for themselves- motorbike accidents, tragic tattoos and one too many Bintangs on a night out…also known as the Kooks of Kuta. I’m glad to say I’m back in one piece and ready to return in a heart beat. My Bali experience was thanks to strategic planning, good company and a few old friends to help along the way. It wasn’t until I was back and hit with Sydney’s chill, and looking back in hindsight that I realised just how good it was.

The moment I booked my ticket I began researching the things we wanted to see, places we wanted to stay and which temple offered the best monkeys (definitely Ubud!). Beginning in Ubud, it was like being thrown into a crystal ball of healthy humans, raw food and people in search of that ‘Bali zen’. While admittedly I wasn’t there to ‘find myself’ and embark on a quest of Eat-Pray-Love, I think it’s hard not to appreciate all it had to offer. Staying at the Uma by Como resort, it had everything yogi, fruit to feed a nation, and enough rain to sink a ship.

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 Slowly easing into the Bali madness, Uluwatu was the next step. Famous for it’s vertical cliffs, and the surf break every man and their dog dreams about- the atmosphere up at the tip of the island never fails to impress. Climbing down the shanti-town like stairs, I couldn’t help but pick out the new developments, flagship surf stores and the constant reminder that ‘Yes- we have free wifi’- a contrast to the Ulu’s Dad talked of thirty years ago. Regardless of this change, once you hit the grotto at the bottom, it’s time to find a spot on the tiny bit of sand and set up camp until the afternoon forces the tide to change. I always find it grounding, stepping into somewhere so centred around the surfing culture, where the biggest worry is who caught the best wave, and the biggest regret is why his mate didn’t go it, as they huddle around a grainy computer screen to look over the photos from that day.

From Uluwatu it was down to Canguu, where we stayed with an old friend in a traditional Balinese village, rid of anything commercial, and boasting the calmness of a local lifestyle where chickens, dogs and kids dawdle on the side of the road while farmers in the rice paddies actually smile and chatter, morning, noon and night. We saw a side of Bali that is easily forgotten, one that I hope won’t slide under the mat completely in the years to come. Stopping at Old Man’s for a drink, or checking the surf at Echo Beach- literally all roads lead onto the oceans doorstep as surfers, barters and backpackers want to get a glimpse of the famous surf break Canguu.

The change from Canguu to Seminyak was welcomed with open arms, as I admit my guilty pleasure (shopping) was ready to be fed. Like all Vogues and Luxe Guides utter, Seminyak is literally bursting at the seams with fashion boutiques, the token Mexican bar and everything is tweaked just that little bit to appeal specifically to us Australian (hipsters). From Ohlsen to the Koncep store outside the notorious Potato Head, I could have collected trinkets for days, rummaging through antique blankets, crocheted bikinis and Magali Pascal’s museum of lace!

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My last day was spent visiting my Balinese friend’s house, humbling sitting in the centre of Tanah Lot village (famous for the snake temple protruding out from the rocks) where I was welcomed with Balinese smiles and treated like royalty. Sitting in the quadrangle of their house, under a temple which had taken them more than a lifetime to build, Katut told me of each room, the wood carvings and the meaning behind each as I sipped on Balinese coffee and marvelled at their generosity.

It is these moments that epitomise the authentic Balinese lifestyle and what the island truly has to offers, too often masked by the media, unfortunate events and, for some, our own ridiculous culture. If you’re thinking of heading over anytime soon, please, leave the arrogance at home, put a shirt on and embrace the island as if you’re just discovering it for the first time.

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Tavarua

 In this world of constant chaos and civilisation, bringing with it the beeps, flashes and noise pollution, the tiny heart-shaped island Tavarua, epitomises island life in all it’s simplicity. Part of the archipelago of Fiji’s hundreds of islands, the natural beauty of Tavarua’s 120,000 squared metres of sand, palms and coral reef has thankfully, been perfectly preserved. With less than thirty wooden, thatched-roof bures, an open-air eating hall, and a cobbled path created from washed up shells and coral- it’s far from the cries of anyone’s reality. Famous for it’s surf break Cloudbreak, (and her little sister ‘Restaurants’) which form perfect waves over the surrounding coral reef, the shores constantly home professional surfers and their families alike. As the island wakes at 6am, surf checks are in place, and if the wind prevails those keen for some waves don’t appear until after lunch. Jumping into the famous ‘tavarua’ boats, dropping off adults as keen as kids one mile offshore to where the waves peel around the notorious Cloudbreak reef. While admittedly not good enough to jump into the line-up myself, the sheer energy of the waves is felt from the small wooden boat, as I parked myself next to Tom Servais the legendary surfing photographer-trying to get the perfect shot of the kings themselves- Slater and Parko. A bomb set comes through, while dangerously washing up all who are too eager, there is something radically beautiful about the wall of glass forming, crystallising what lies beneath- coral, sea turtles, the occasional reef shark and yes- Nemo fish. 

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It’s the crunch of the whitewash, the smell of the wax and the evaporated salt film left on my skin that encapsulates that unique feeling, one a camera can’t do justice. With the hopes no island make-over has been in the works- and the result, a number 10 bure exactly how we left it the year before- this rawness is what attracts the familiar faces. Some comes and go weekly, while others call this sand bank home for three months at a time, only just coping with the fairy floss sunsets blanketing the sky each night. It’s a time to replace diamonds with the crystal like water, and one’s city-girl attitude with a crocheted bikini and Penguin classic. The simplicity of a Tavarua holiday makes you appreciate the natural beauty of a place- discouraging other locations to be centred around the quest to find the best hotel room or the finest dining, because these luxuries of civilisation do not encourage a good time. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A chance to spend time with the family, read dust-accumulated books and meet people half filled with stories and half empty waiting to hear yours.

My family has been lucky enough to visit this dot in the ocean for over twenty years, where white bodies are turned to bronze by the week’s end, and the goodbye is not forever but only until next time.

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