I met Marty Powell through my PR firm when Georg Jensen came on board
to be the jewellery sponsor for my Oscars Party at Red Love Adelaide.
On first meeting Marty I knew we were going to be fabulous friends.
Today after interviewing him I just simply adore this man.
We went for a coffee and chat at Pranzo Restaurant on Exchange Place
in the city. He told me it was the one place you needed to be seen at
in Adelaide. Marty ordered a stiff short black, code name for a shot
of coffee with something much stronger added, a man close to my own
heart but alas work was on the agenda so a cup a tea for me.
So let me tell you more about Marty, the manager of the Adelaide Georg
British born, Adelaide raised and Barossa living is Marty Powell and
as a young fresh faced 15 year old boy, Marty’s first experience in
the retail world was working in the manchester department of Myer.
“Can you imagine, I didn’t know that fashion was involved with bed
linen”, he told me. “I mean really can you imagine any young man
having to get his head around bedding terms such as Selvedge versus
Seersucker. Not to mention that manchester in Australia has absolutely
nothing to do with the soccer team in England!”
From manchester, Marty moved to writing those “blurbs” on the back of
legal books for a writing firm, and then found Georg Jensen, or did
Georg Jensen find Marty?
Georg Jensen was part of what history calls the Arts and Craft Movement
from 1880 to 1914; A time when craftsmen, artists, designers and
architects wanted to raise their status of their work. Perhaps being
left a young widower with 2 two young sons to support helped Jensen on
his quest to produce some of the world’s most beautiful jewellery.
He realized that in the early 1900’s a new “class” emerged and saw
that silver and semi precious stones could be turned into beautiful
pieces of jewellery such as cuff links neck pieces and rings, but
still keeping engineering and design at its paramount. Today a great
deal of the designs in the Georg Jensen collection date back to the
original design from the 1930’s, 40’s, 60’s and 70’s.
“I was drawn to the flat structure of the business. There is the
general manager and then there is me as store manager, it’s that
simple” Marty said. It’s so refreshing to see such a well established
company keep its flat structure of business through all these years.
It really is a testament to the business and its product. No frills,
no fuss, just beautifully crafted pieces of art ready to be passed
from generation to generation. When people come into a store like
Georg Jensen they are really looking for a piece that will last a life
Marty told me that “people have a relationship with pieces and when a
customer buys a piece it stays with them for life” It makes perfect
sense that service and the culture of the George Jensen business is
their point of difference.
I asked Marty, as store manager of their flagship store in Adelaide,
what was their best selling line or point of difference above all the
other jewellers. Georg Jensen has a line called “Fusion” which is for
both males and females. “Couple’s buy Fusion because it’s about coming
together. It resonates to the men because they like the engineering
and females like the beauty. A common love for the piece but it is
also individual and when you see these pieces in store you can see why
couples adore them and want to make them part of their history”.
So apart from Marty running an amazing business in Adelaide and being
caretaker to some of the most expensive and exquisite pieces that I
have been able to wear (even just for a night), my final question is
about style and fashion of course.
“I know it may sound corny, but I have been described as, well,
dapper.” Marty said.
Sweetie, let me tell you this. This man is what “dapper” is all about,
neatly dressed, very stylish, lively and alert. I couldn’t think of a
better man to front the Georg Jensen label in Adelaide. After all it
is all about being seen in fashionable clothing and jewelry in a café
on the right side of town.
Most women can relate to having an obsession for something. Chocolate seems to be a big one we all love. Others have closets full of designer bags, clothes or shoes, or like me have a room full of them all. It never ceases to amaze me how women can turn an obsession into a business.
If you told your significant other that your credit card was totally maxed out was due to purchasing high end luxury shoes, and that you wanted to be the next Manolo Blahnik, most would take your card and chop it up and call you crazy. Not in this case.
In 2004 Mary-Kyri, a local Adelaide girl, had just finished studying Fashion and Design at Marlston TAFE. With 10 shoes designs in her back pocket, and the support of her family and partner, she booked a one way ticket to Italy to try and carve out a new business in luxury high-end shoes for Australia.
“I was spontaneous, crazy, I don’t know if I would make such a rash decision again. I was 26 years old at the time and a risk taker.” Mary-Kyri explains.
But how do you enter a country where fashion and design is a religion and break into one of the most exclusive and oldest manufacturing businesses?
“I had to develop a trust with the shoe manufacturers. They treat their business more like a religion than a job. Businesses are passed down from great grandfathers to great grandchildren.” Mary says. “You can’t walk in to business, so I spent time developing trust and respect. I started working in a factory on machines; most people don’t know that there are over 100 components in a complete shoe.“
Mary-Kyri has an intimate understanding of the development of a shoe. She has to take into consideration that the shoe needs to allow a woman’s foot to hold her whole bodyweight whilst walking. It’s not surprising that her shoes are now sold in not only Australia but New Zealand, USA, Italy, Paris, China and Japan. Having Kylie Minogue, Kim Kardashian, The Veronicas, Kate Moss and Megan Gale as supporters of her brand shows she know a thing or two about what a gal wants in a shoe.
Now Europe has hit harder times and Mary-Kyri explains that the global financial crisis has made her change the way she does business. Having factories and tanners close down in Europe has lead the business to look further afield to continue to work with supply and demand for her unique product.
Now the business has manufacturers and factories in Brazil and China and a new label is about to be launched called Mary Mary, price pointed at $150.
Mary-Kyri voiced her concerns with the online world for retail, but realises that if you don’t allow your business to grow, adapt and change with the times, you may well end up dead. Now her business has a strong online presence, but retail stores are still her passion.
“There will always be people who want the retail shopping therapy, like me. I like supporting designers in boutiques. Retailers will be more about service in the future.” said Mary-Kyri.
Not one to slow down, Mary’s company has also just started the Mary-Kyri Design Studio. Whilst it is still a bit hush hush, I was told that this side of the business will be designing shoes, swimwear and handbags for existing boutiques. And businesses such as hotels will be using her knowledge to design corporate shoes for their staff too. To top it off, Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field selected the Mary-Kyri shoe label for the Shanghai press event “NO MAKE UP NO FASHION” presented by Maybelline this year.
So the question is, why shoes?
“From the very beginning, stilettos have always been my absolute passion. My designs are not about a woman’s age they are the essence of what characterises a woman.”
It seems that there is more, much more, to this story of a business and its future growth. Mary-Kyri leaves me curious and intrigued about the future. “Call me in three months, and see where things are at,” she says.
Mary-Kyri, three months and it’s a date.
‘Til next time, Cassandra.
I knew that when I opened Liebe Fashion Gallery I was bound to meet new people. What I didn’t expect was all the interesting characters and amazing friends found along the way. Today I want to tell you the story about Leanne.
I had only been open about a month and on a cool Tuesday morning this woman on a bicycle stopped out the front of my shop. She seemed nice enough, liked a few of my clothes but didn’t want to try any on as she was a bit sweaty. I popped a few garments she had her eye on out the back and took her name. I wasn’t really expecting Leanne to come back, this sort of thing, minus the bicycle, usually happens a few times a month and some must forget they have put things on hold. But to my surprise on Friday this well dressed woman came into my store to try on her clothes I had put aside.
Leanne liked the clothes and the store, I really liked Leanne too, she had 2 daughters and one was the same age as my Sophie. Within a few weeks Leanne and her younger daughter Ali would spend a good part of a day in the shop, the little girls playing and Leanne and I drinking coffee (sometimes we would open a bottle of wine) and have a girl chat. Leanne moved to Adelaide with her husband for his work from Victoria. She didn’t have any friends here, so I suppose Liebe and I became a place she could hang out and belong in a new town.
Then there were the clothes, we would (and still do) try everything on. Leanne being feminine yet classic and me, well anything goes. I have had so many fun days dressing up, laughing and making a great friend. Leanne has helped clean, sort, move, make and sell in the store and then as time has progressed, she has become a true best friend. Leanne has sold raffle tickets at our fashion parades, worked at markets, been my toilet stop gal, brought me food and water at fairs and also recently sat with me till late working at a fair.
Now day’s Leanne has a full time job and both our daughters are at school, so the day’s drinking coffee and trying on clothes don’t happen so often, but boy when they do, they are so precious to me.
So apart from stocking and styling beautiful clothes my store has meant that I have also met amazing women and a few Best Friends too.
It’s a Tuesday afternoon, hot and humid in Adelaide. I am trying to find Paul Vasileff’s studio on Pulteney street for my interview with him. I can’t seem to find number 200, only to my realization that his studio is 250. Running in my Italian leather high heels is not easy, but I make it, just in time. I am taken back with this young man, dashing in every sense and looking like he has just stepped out of the pages of a GQ magazine. Paul is friendly, and eager to show his work.
If you have read other articles before you will know that Paul’s love for fashion started from a very young age. He was inspired by his Nonna and Mother sewing and had a love for fabrics and drawing.
“I took professional sewing and drafting classes when I was 13 or 14” he says. This boy has come from a really good family and it is evident that they have nurtured this boy with his gift, and like a sponge has completely taken everything on board and has just shined.
From designing his first collection when he was 14 to help raise funds for his school or putting on a massive parade and collection whilst completing year 12, what this boy dreams really does come true. Paul said “I have always loved designing” Now women around the world can own a piece of this too with his collection and label Paolo Sebastian.
For me, Paul became the Prince of Adelaide with his inspired Marie Antoinette collection which was shown at the Thebarton town hall to a crowd of 800 plus. “This collection for me was the next step up”, says Paul, and yet again he nailed it perfectly whilst still maintaining to have that signature smile on his face and fun with his family and friends.
It is inspiring to hear that this Adelaide born and bred boy has at his fingertips access to top contacts in some of the worlds renowned couture houses of Europe. His talent surpasses his tender age and I am sure Europe is watching this one very closely. The recent A/W 2012 collection inspired by Tchaikovsky and the ballet Swan Lake has been described as ethereal and elegant. In his design you can see the mood and movement throughout the story from white innocent to the dark side and then the inevitable death of the swan, all played out in fabric. Paul says that he didn’t expect people to see the story of Swan Lake through the collection. “Everyone has talked about the shift in the collection and story and I am really pleased with how it has been received”
Ladies of Adelaide we are so blessed (for now) to have Paul and his Paolo Sebastian label here in our backyard. “I will always design couture and custom. I love designing a dress for a 16 year or 60 year woman, it’s just about changing the hem line, neckline, but I love working with all the different women and age groups”
It seems that this young boy’s talent is plentiful and won’t be running out in the near future. It was with great pleasure to interview him and be in his presence. Not once did he look at a watch or touch his phone. Paul has an interest and eagerness in telling his story, which for his age is really just beginning. I can’t wait to hear and watch the rest of his life story unfold as I am sure it will be rich and velvety with lots of layers like the tulle and folds of his dresses and ball gowns.
Finishing the interview I asked Paul what the trend is for AW 2012 for our home town of Adelaide. Ladies, a good quality cashmere wool blend trench is an absolute must as seen in his current collection. Choose a trench in Marble, Mushroom tones and Paul says “add some detail like with a belt or interesting scarf, a trench is clean and a polished look” Paul also suggests that whilst black is an easy colour to fall prey to in winter add an accent colour in dove grey, pastel pink or purple whether it be a belt , scarf or bag.
Whilst Prince Paul currently lives and works in his home town of Adelaide, Europe is calling. Adelaide may have to say ciao to Paul, but he will return as the King of Couture Fashion.
I have 2 beautiful kids, Maxwell is nearing 8 and Sophie 6, the picture image of me. After gaining an enormous amount of weight after each child, it took some time to get my weight back into check. I actually put on 20+ kilos with each child. Then as you mothers will understand the shape you are left with is not what you had prior to baby. I ended up having little sacks where perky breasts used to live and zebra marks on my derrière. Now don’t think I am upset about my body, I love my shape, I am healthy and have 2 stunning children that I am so proud of each and every day.
But getting back to the point intended. Ever since my children have gone to kindy / school I have noticed the peer pressures on women to “fit” into a particular mummy mould. And how does one choose which mummy group she belongs too?
It has been talked about on TV, in magazines like Harpers Baazar and on sites like Mamma Mia. The pressure to “dress” up for school drop off and pick up seems to be on our minds and causing some mothers to go out and purchase outfits for the sake of the school ground. Ah the stresses of it all.
I have been chatting to mums from different schools in Adelaide about the pressures of this new phenomenon and what are their thoughts. What was interesting is that it doesn’t matter what school you go to there are a few key groups that exist. Here is the low down:
Wears Lorna Jane or Nike to school drop off. Proves that she has been up at the crack of dawn exercising and putting others to shame, or about to pop the little one in a crèche and work on those Biceps. Typical behavior is to stretch whilst talking and full of pep and zest.
You can pick this one out a mile away, typically wears dressy corporate clothing. Major difference is she is wearing High heeled shoes and is scanning emails on her iphone whilst changing child’s reader. She tries to escape said child without messing up her outfit. Worse when child has melt down and she needs to navigate the potential snotty snail trail that may be left on her Veronica Maine / Cue dress.
Coffee Club Mum
Winter attire- Jeans, Boots, Trench or soft knit, perhaps a hat too
Summer – Pretty soft feminine dress, jeweled sandals.
The Aim of this mum is to take smaller pusher bound children to an in walking distant café for morning Mothers Group. Usually chat about older siblings, house renovations and solve the problems of the world over a cup of skinny flat white.
I Don’t give a damn Mum
Usually wears thongs in summer and Ugg boots in winter. Literally throws her clothes on before school drop off and doesn’t give a damn what the other school mums think of her appearance. Usually is running late and still doing child’s hair in class room just as last bell is ringing.
Koula Foula Toula Mum
Oh my God. These mums wear Kappa tracksuits, or black leggings and have large oversized handbag, or an all over black outfit. Usually they hang out with their “cousins” they all work in the “family” business and Nonna has made some amazing treat for the school lunch box.
So what I have observed is that these “groups” can cause angst for Newbie mums. When you first drop your child to school and you see these mums already in these friendship groups chatting at the school gate it can be daunting. For me over the last 8 years of my kids at childcare and school, I have fitted into all of these groups – and then the other group of Vintage / Alternative, thought provoking and how did she get away with that? Group.
What I wanted to say is this
No mother needs added pressure to fit into any particular group or look. Life, running a family (whether working or running the house) is a huge responsibility and at times one of the most thankless jobs us ladies do. The pressure of getting kids to school with a healthy breakfast, clean and limited toothpaste on their uniform and a packed “healthy” lunchbox with food said child will eat. Not to mention remembering which kid has sports day, library, music lessons, and so on and so on the list goes is well, hell I’m just tired typing it.
So if being in your gym gear keeps or gets you motivated to exercise, I say “You go Get Em Tiger” you deserve your body session.
And if the morning session of getting kids organized leaves you so harassed that you don’t give a damn about the state of your hair. I applaud you sister. There is more to worry about than your school drop off attire.
Corporate or working mummies – dont ever feel regret or bad about your choice to go back to, or stay at work – Keeping a sense of the Adult you is so important and a great life lesson to teach your kids.
My coffee club gals. You ladies rock. Normally you guys also put in time at the PFA, school reading and canteen duties and being part of the outer school community, you really do shine in my books. What life’s problems dont get fixed over a perfectly brewed Latte?
This leads me to my second point
Sometimes as a woman we can be our own worst enemy – and part of this blog is written with my tongue in my cheek. As mums we all have amazing, joyful, hard, trying, stressful, painful, beautiful lives. We all have to “manage” the mere male, family and in laws or out laws, so working as a sisterhood makes sense to me.
Even the most manicured parent can have financial struggles, unruly children, and dare I say clothing anxiety. Take the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” seriously, and if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.
But ladies, my challenge nay my goal for you all is for one day each week (if you can) give yourself the time to do your hair, pop some lippy on and slide on a pair of heels or perhaps slip into a dress. Or just put some sexy underwear on, not for him, not for her, But for you. Stand in front of you mirror and say I am woman hear me roar, because we have to love ourselves.
NB Children do not have to be a pre requisite to understand or feel this, being a woman is just enough.