Sunday, October 29, 2017

One Enchanted Evening Book Launch at the Carrington Hotel

Vogue Australia, The Darnell Collection and One Enchanted Evening

One a breezy, cool day in Sydney, over looking Coogee Beach, I arrived on location for 
Vogue Australia's photo shoot carrying six gowns. 

The theme of the shoot was 'Dressing Up'. 

Out of three beautiful young models, Anya Molochkova was chosen to wear the stunning Oscar de la Renta gown, which features in my new book, One Enchanted Evening, illustrated by Grant Cowan.
The dress is also the book's cover star.

Here is the story: " This dazzling Oscar de la Renta evening dress is a glorious salute to Spain with its lush matador red colour, the carnation print of the silk taffeta and the glorious effusion of frills and ruffles.

Red was the legendary designer's favourite colour. He wore a red carnation in his buttonhole every day when he lived in Madrid as a tribute to the red carnations thrown into the bullfighting ring before each show.

A chance commission in 1950 to design a dress for the daughter of the US Ambassador to Spain wound up on the cover of Life magazine, which led to an invitation to Madrid to apprentice for Cristobal Balenciaga. De la Renta's future as a fashion designer was secured. 

This spectacular dress is worthy of being worn by Carmen Amaya, the greatest flamenco dancer of all time. Different styles of flamenco dancing convey different emotions, but they all have duende - the genius to masterfully convey passion and emotion.

Without doubt, this dress conveys Oscar de la Renta's duende - and all his elegance and style."

Thank you Anya and thank you Vogue Australia for celebrating and featuring 
the art of dressing up and the beauty of couture.

One Enchanted Evening 
(Affirm Press) from all good bookstores from 1st November
Onya wears de la Renta from his 2012 collection.

Behind the scenes - in the mid century modern bathroom.
One can ask..."How many people can you fit in a bathroom?" 12 in this case!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Chanel Haute Couture & Aled Couture

Image may contain: people standing

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

Both from the 1960s: Aled Couture from Israel and Chanel Haute Couture from Paris. The 60s had so many fashion looks every woman could dress to suit her personality.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

JetSet Homes and Sydney Architectural firm Pappas Alexiou work with The Darnell Collection

The term Mid Century Modern has become a moniker for chic, urbane and streamlined design in architecture, furniture and fashion.

When Sydney architectural firm, Pappas Alexiou approached The Darnell Collection about collaborating with a fashion shoot to bring to life their new modular homes, Jetset Homes, in a visionary marketing campaign, I jumped at the opportunity.

Out of my climate controlled room at Grace Fine Art, I pulled a classic Christian Dior wool knit jumpsuit (perfect for Emma Peel), a glazed cotton 'New Look' day dress by L'Aiglon (very Mad Men) and a chic pair of modern patent leather Gianvitto Rossi wedge sandals. 

The process was fascinating. Our model posed in front of a green screen. Her image, in various poses and outfits, was then digitally superimposed into Jetset Homes' stunning California style backdrops. 

The end result is classy, sophisticated mid century modern imagery - reliving a 'Jetsons' moment and creating an aspirational 21st century lifestyle. 
Thank you for the fab experience!

Useful links:
Hair: Chris Wolf Hair (
Photography: Brigitte Grant Photography (
Model: Olivia de Govrik
Grace Fine Art (

Rocking an Emma Peel-style Dior 60s jumpsuit
Mad Men style late 50s dress by L'Aiglon
Reposing in a pair of silk chiffon palazzo pants

Very Moorish!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The PAST Inspires the PRESENT and Creates the FUTURE: Gerber Technology, Spoonflower and The Darnell Collection

This dress, made by Horrockses of London in the 1950s, is in the New Look style 
inspired by Christian Dior’s La Corolle collection, launched in February 1947. 
The dress' skirt is given extra fullness from an in-built, but detached muslin petticoat.  
John Horrocks set up a cotton goods company in Preston, England in the late 18th century (1791). 
By the 1950s, Horrockses was a household name producing off the peg summer dresses. Their fashion collection of pretty cotton dresses was created as an initiative to use and sell their own cotton.
Celebrities and even royalty, such as Princess Margaret, were noted fans and the brand was given a royal warrant in the 1960s.
Sadly, in the 70s and 80s, Horrockses dresses went out of fashion and the company subsequently closed. (N.B. The company has been resurrected and is selling a range of bed linen.)

When I was invited to travel to NYC to be filmed for an episode on Fox Business News' popular television series, Strange Inheritance, I wanted to bring relevance and sustainability to my collection and tell this story to their goal audience. 
What better than to look at my collection, and that of fashion history, from a perspective that showcases 
"The Past Inspires the Present and Creates the Future".

This is the future of dressmaking and The Darnell Collection wants to be a part of it!

So, I chose this feminine, summery party dress to bring to life my mission and worked with two cutting edge, 21st century, American companies 
Spoonflower and Gerber Technology

Spoonflower is one of the worlds largest digital printers and designers of custom made fabrics among many other digital services and products. (
Spoonflower used the wrapping paper design that was created for my new book, One Enchanted Evening (Affirm Press) and printed it onto cotton sateen and silk voile fabric. 

Gerber Technology, with whom I have worked with in the past bringing to life their Yunique PLM, AccuMark and CAD Software programs, provides integrated hardware and software solutions to the fashion industry around the world. (

Mary McFadden, Executive Director CAD Product Management at Gerber Technology, created a simulation of the dress on an avatar. A digital pattern was then made that Spoonflower used to make the 're-interpreted' Fifties dress.

With Gerber's digital pattern, Spoonflower was able to layout the pattern pieces onto the fabric and begin cutting out the pieces and then sewing them together.
And here is the finished result!
Modelled beside the original Horrockses of London dress.

Such an inspiring meeting of two centuries, three companies, the past and the present  

 to create a cutting-edge, technology driven 21st century dress.

This is the future of dressmaking and The Darnell Collection wants to be a part of it!

Fox Business News' Strange Inheritance films The Darnell Collection

During a sunny, end-of-summer week, I had the great privilege of spending a time in NYC as a guest of Tower Productions, producers of Fox Business News' hit TV series, Strange Inheritance.

Jamie Colby, host of the programme, now in its fourth season, asked challenging questions about the collection, its past, its future and interviewed several experts about their view of The Darnell Collection, its significance and value.

I learned so much about my collection and left New York wide-eyed with the knowledge that what I inherited from my American Quaker godmother, Doris Darnell, was far more than a fashion collection, but a recording of social history through fashion.

I also found out The Darnell Collection is now recognised as one of ten significant private fashion collections in the world.

Doris would be so proud that what she began in the late 1930s had grown (like Topsy - Doris' favourite quote) into something of global significance!

The Darnell Collection episode will air on Fox Business News' Strange Inheritance in March or April 2018. I will post the exact date one to two weeks out, once it is confirmed.

With the host of Strange Inheritance, Jamie Colby, America's leading textile expert, Karen August, and me talking fashion on camera at Parsons New School - surrounded by Darnell Collection garments
Mini exhibition set up inside one of the glamorous auditoriums at Parsons School of Design
At Parsons School of Design
The Darnell Collection's very own Abbey Road moment!
Wearing my Ninette of Melbourne caftan and filmed walking along a street in NYC. It was incredible how many people stopped to compliment me on my outfit. 

Ninette of Melbourne in downtown NYC

Ninette of Melbourne caftan hits 6th Ave and 12th in NYC recently. 

Over filming my episode of Strange Inheritance (Fox Business News), I took a variety of garments with me including this psychedelic patterned, polyester caftan designed by Sadie Brustmann, founder of Ninette of Melbourne. Located in Richmond, a suburb in Melbourne, the fashion label was one of the hippest in the 60s and early 70s.

Fashion Parade at the Roaring Twenties festival at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

Fashion Parade at the Roaring Twenties festival at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

The Fifth annual Roaring Twenties/Charleston Challenge event took place high in the mountains of NSW on (another) foggy day. We didn't beat the world record for the number of dancers, dressed in vintage, dancing the Charleston, but we certainly had a fabulous time trying.

Following the Challenge, 250 people adjourned to the Hydro Majestic marquee to spend the afternoon wining and dining on a locally produced five course meal. 

The Darnell Collection was featured in a mini catwalk parade of rare and stunning 1920s garments and accessories, co-hosted by the fabulous Damien Beaumont, presenter at ABC Classic FM radio.

What a great day. I'm still recovering! 
Congratulations to everyone who organised and brought this festival to fruition. Bring on 2018!
A misty moment dancing the Charleston
With my great friend and Patron of the Festival, Claudia Chan Shaw
Winners of the Best Dressed competitions
At the Long Lunch 20s fashion parade. Olivia wears an original 20s 'step-in' chemise (or 'onesie' as we call it today!)

Olivia wears a 20s silk 'teddy'
Eleni wears a silk tricot knit sweater, palazzo pants and hand printed silk chiffon blouse

Eleni's second outfit is a beautiful silk and glass bead embellished dress with an Egyptian motif

Kate wears a stunning silk 20s wedding dress

Anetta wears a delicate lace and silk crepe evening dress and a silk with silk moire shawl 

Posing on the terrace at the historic Hydro Majestic Hotel, Mellow Bath, Blue Mountains
Parade's over. Time to relax!