Dizzy with Dior

I was going to name this post “Death by Dior” but that is probably too melodramatic. However, late last night, as I was doing a final check on Facebook before heading to bed, a post from Style.com stopped me in my tracks. I started feeling anxious. I found myself saying out loud, “Raf Simons is killing me.” Dior had just shown its Resort (Cruise) 2015 collection in New York – Brooklyn, in fact – and here were 66 new looks to lust after. Which, for me, is the ultimate tension between the agony and the ecstasy.

I’ve selected only five of many from the show that I consider to-die-for and that kept me awake at my computer into the wee small hours of this morning. You’ll need to click on the image strip to see them more close-up as the page format here doesn’t allow for a very wide picture.


Raf is killing me because he just keeps piling it on. Incredible, sumptuous, dazzling, flowing beauty. And because until recently I paid no attention to the calendar of fashion shows, the launching of new seasons six months ahead, or the thematic threads that weave from collection to collection – certainly not with as much studious intensity as I do with Dior since Raf came on board – I haven’t yet figured out how to handle the overwhelming feelings that come rushing at me as I see more and more pieces that I am sure I can’t live without. Even while I know I can, and have to, live without them. Because I am not a famous actress or pop singer or fashion magazine editor who gets invited to these shows in Paris and New York, is given Dior clothes to wear to them, and can equally afford to buy what I want from every collection. I make a good effort at pretending to the latter, but I am just a humble fashionista and fan, albeit with a deeper passion than many, and I am made both rapturous and fretful by the relentless releasing of more and more magnificence.

And this is just Ready-to-Wear. Thank goodness I have no aspirations to wear Haute Couture! Not that I wouldn’t love to, but until my life affords me the appropriate events and finances to wear custom-made luxury pieces, I have enough to do to accommodate my tastes for expensive garments and accessories off the racks and shelves of Dior boutiques, and various others.

Since February, the Spring/Summer 2014 collection has been in the boutiques. The collection had been shown in Paris last September, so it felt like a long wait, and once a new season’s collection does hit stores there are always pieces that come through that are variations of, and quite different to, what was modelled on the runway. As Sydney’s summer was lingering nicely and the beginning of our autumn remained sultry, it was ideal for picking through the racks to find pieces that would work immediately and still be fresh when spring arrived in the southern hemisphere in September.


But no sooner had the Dior boutiques worldwide been decorated with floral arrangements replicating last September’s runway show, and the first of the Spring/Summer collection started arriving in stores, then the Fall/Winter 2014 collection was shown in Paris, to great acclaim, and I was absolutely smitten with several of the looks. Especially as Raf Simon’s cleverly carries colours and themes through from season to season, and the sky blue that had captivated me towards the end of the 2013 Cruise collection overlapping with the first of the Spring pieces – specifically in metallic pumps and fine knitwear – turned up in sporty laces adorning sexy figure-hugging dresses and beyond-the-elbow suede gloves.

I watched a number of the Fall/Winter shows from other designers online in late February. (Valentino’s was dazzling, and I will write of that elsewhere.) Dior’s was the standout, and before I even had all the Spring/Summer pieces I planned on collecting in hand, I was already fixated on all the new looks I’d seen that wouldn’t be available until July, imagining trying them on in Sydney, or perhaps Hawaii, or Beverly Hills.

These are my favourite looks of many that grabbed me, including some dresses and coats with the most vibrant pinks and greens imaginable, that I cannot wait to see with my own eyes. My picks here are more sedate; that khaki dress with the blue laces is heart-stoppingly divine. Again, click on the image for a better view.

dior fallwinter2014

Oh, but just as I was absorbing what was ahead, along comes a hint of pre-Fall, and I realised I’d neglected to check out that runway collection from January. Yes, January, because even in the middle of an arctic northern hemisphere winter, the looks for the next early autumn were already being launched to the media and retail world. It’s that dizzying non-stop pace of fashion that I had previously been immune to. I’d been happy just to see the new arrivals in stores at the onset of each season. I hadn’t been studying them and desiring them six months earlier! It was when the Lady Dior caught my attention just last month and I saw the heavenly dark pink pleated skirt that Marion Cotillard was wearing in the ad campaign, that I realised there was a whole pre-Fall collection coming sooner. Later this month, in fact. Yes, I reminded myself, it was late May of last year, in London, that the first of pre-Fall 2013 came through and I had my heart stolen by the cyclamen pink dress I ended up buying from Dior in Beverly Hills. That’s all detailed on my Debbie Dior page, in case you’ve missed it so far.

So this morning, after dreaming most of the night about the Resort 15 collection, I took a look back on Style.com for the pre-Fall runway show I’d missed. It’s a smaller collection but every bit as enticing as the season that comes straight after it. And perfect timing as the Australian winter starts to arrive.


The runway collection did not even include the pink skirts and sweaters that Marion Cotillard wears in the Lady Dior campaign, but nor did my pink dress from last pre-Fall feature on that runway show in 2013. I love the pieces that surprise me when they start arriving in-store, or pop up on the Dior website and expand my sense of what is on its way. Such as these shoes. Which would work with just about everything I have or want to have!


Sydney will be starting to preview the pre-Fall collection towards the end of this month and I really can’t wait. But… I am already wondering which of the Resort pieces I will be able to have, if any, and when I might get to see them close up. Last year I was in Los Angeles for their Resort trunk show in July, but the collection was not available until November. By which time Spring/Summer 2015 will have already shown and become embedded in my psyche. And so it goes.

So I’m left with the quandary of how to still my mind and my heart in the face of such overwhelming sensory overload, a mixture of joy and panic that I suppose only a true fashionista learns how to live with. This is not world-changing stuff. It’s not, as they always say, a cure for cancer, or an end to war, or even a profound philosophical mantra such as what so many post on Facebook every day. It’s just fashion, but it moves me. I posted the images from Dior’s Resort 2015 show on my Facebook page before I finally shut down the computer last night. It matters to me, it’s part of who I am, so I shared it. I won’t die from Dior, in spite of my histrionic response to the latest collection showing. Without a wealthy benefactor, seven-figure salary or invitation to the next Met Gala, I have to find a way to work my desires and my lifestyle together in a sensible and practical way. (Yeah, right.) But that rush of emotion deserves to be honoured. It’s why I’m here writing this blog. It’s about finding meaning in life, when the world can often seem pretty meaningless. So thank you, Raf Simons. You won’t kill me. You’ll just continue to thrill me.

Lady Love

This is a bag to love and cherish for eternity. This is the upcoming Lady Dior in white deerskin printed with a pink alstroemeria flower, and it could be the most wanted bag in the world over the next couple of months. This is a piece of fashion as art, the kind that gives me heart palpitations, takes my breath away, makes me melt inside the way Monet’s waterlilies paintings do, or the sight of an Oahu beach on a balmy cerulean day, or standing in a garden surrounded by intoxicatingly aromatic roses, or seeing a dress in fuchsia pink with a cut as perfect as its colour.


This is not about need. Nobody “needs” a great and valuable work of art, a multi-million dollar mansion, a Lexus 4WD or an expensive dinner at one of the finest restaurants in town. But it’s not just about desire either. For some it might be about status, but I’ve never been hung up on my status in the world. I’m just a woman who knows what makes me feel amazing inside. This is about feeling so full of rapturous delight that the heart literally soars. And the best thing is, it looks and feels great on the outside, too.

I have a few Dior handbags. On this blog’s recently added Debbie Dior page I have given a characteristically detailed rundown of how my passion for all things Dior grew quite intensely over just the past couple of years – actually even a little less than two years – beginning with some birthday fun in France in August 2012. On the page I explain how this passion, dare I admit obsession, began when I was working on the PR for a Pedro Almodóvar film that featured a Lady Dior bag in a pivotal scene, and I then began lusting for one. The one I wanted was the most elegant and iconic version, in black calfskin, with classic cannage stitching, red silk lining and gold hardware.



The photos above are of the medium version, but I wanted it in the large size as it is such a structured, stiff bag that to get your hand inside and feel around for things would, I believe, require space. And a statement bag might as well make a big statement. At the time I started lusting for this Lady Dior bag I was not in a position, financially or lifestyle-wise, to buy it. And when I was about to embark on my big travels that, unbeknownst to me, would give me the fashionista lifestyle that such a bag would suit, I felt that a large Lady Dior bag being packed and unpacked in a suitcase over a long period of time might be prone to getting misshapen. So I put it off, feeling that when the time was right, I would have this bag.

A good-sized black bag is an absolute essential in any wardrobe. The one I’d been using since 2007 was by the Australian brand Oroton. It was heavy and hard-wearing, with brass hardware and a slouchy, casual look. I liked it for a couple of years and then really didn’t like it at all any more. I wanted something more sophisticated, a bag that worked with jeans and casual attire, but also looked good for a business meeting or out for dinner. I didn’t take the Oroton with me on my 2012-2013 travels, having decided not to pack heavy handbags, but very soon I was collecting new bags of various shapes, sizes and weights – including my first Dior bag, the Milly La Forêt, in the colour Foulard (pale mauve-pink), a lightweight cushiony, less expensive style than the Lady Dior, and not black. Read all about that at Debbie Dior

Then in London – at the Harrods store in Heathrow Terminal 5 of all places – I laid eyes on a Valentino bag that gave me that rush. I’d entered into the world of Valentino while in France, shortly after my plunge into Dior, and the Italian brand’s bows, rosettes and ruffles unfailingly appealed to my innate sense of romance and whimsy. So I bought my black Valentino large bow zip bag tax-free en route to Madrid, and enjoyed it frequently through that northern hemisphere autumn and winter. With its sturdy large handles and long detachable shoulder strap, it is a delightfully versatile piece and it holds a huge amount of stuff. Now that autumn is here in Sydney, it’s emerged from its dust bag and has been getting some good daily use.


I do feel it’s a cool weather bag, even though the leather is soft and the bow so evocatively draping. Something about the heaviness of the zip and the solidness of the bottom of the bag just says “cool seasons” to me, and it was after all from Valentino’s Autumn/Winter 2012 collection. Then in the Spring of 2013 Dior released their Diorling bag, and the large black version seduced me. A perfect all-season piece and more versatile, I felt, than a Lady Dior, it won me over – and it had the gold charms, too. I first saw it on its launch in May in London, but bought it in Waikiki in July. And it’s become my most often used handbag of my entire collection.

diorling1And so it seemed Lady Dior was ever on the back burner, even though my desire to own one had not abated. Lady Dior is the signature piece of Dior’s leather goods collections. On Dior’s website, the “Discover Lady Dior” page explains the origin of the bag in 1994 and its devoted use by Princess Diana in the two years before she died, and for whom it was named Lady Dior.

Every season a range of new versions is released, some classic and mono-coloured, others multi-coloured, embellished with badges, beads, sequins, tweed or something more. I kept thinking that when the right Lady Dior came along I would not be able to resist it, and in the mean time I would wait and watch.

ladydiormontageFrench actress Marion Cotillard is the brand ambassador for Lady Dior and the campaigns that feature her are always beguiling.  Then in the past couple of weeks these photos appeared as part of the pre-Fall campaign. I knew I had found my Lady Love.


ladydiorwhitepinkmarionc2This Lady Dior only comes in the medium size but with that exquisite print, said to offer a modern interpretation of Monsieur Dior’s garden, I think that size is just big enough. I have so many looks that this bag will go perfectly with and despite its white background, I could definitely see it working as a winter bag as well as for summer. And so now I am waiting to find out if I am going to be one of the lucky Dior lovers who gets to have one of her own to love. If it happens, I’ll be euphorically palpitating right here.

Vogueing on

With a mixture of incredulity and dismay, I realised last night that I have been back in Australia for six months. And this fabulous blog originally intended to be based around the fashionable travels I was on for 15 months up until six months ago has been neglected. There are many reasons for that, but I do have so much to say and share, so this weekend in Sydney, as we greet the autumn on our doorstep, I am thinking of what is going on in London right now – the Vogue Festival. They are holding it a month earlier this year than they did last year, but my weather app tells me London is having true spring weather this weekend, so the gorgeous young things that will be all dressed up in their floaty dresses and highest heels might find it more comfortable than it was at the event last year.

In 2013 the Vogue Festival was held on April 27-28, which should have been very spring-like, but in fact the weather was just freezing. I wanted to turn up to the two-day fashion and beauty fest looking Delevingneishly divine, but I was in layers of wool and leather and denim and all I could do was look around me at wonderment as those gorgeous young things defied the elements to look totally Vogueish. Note lovely girl in watermelon pink dress – I swear it was about eight degrees Celsius outside.

Vogue Check-in

One of the numerous fun activities available to ticket holders in the vast foyer area of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre was having your own Vogue cover styled and photographed. Every time I look at my photo I wish I had done a “Carrie Bradshaw on a cold day in Paris” kind of look — remember when she was An American in Paris wondering forlornly around the cobblestoned streets in a strapless bustier-style full-skirted dress with a nice ornate coat thrown over it, open to reveal her beautiful decolletage? No pashmina, no fur, no anything that might have kept her warm. It was all about looking beautiful. For me on a freezing London day in late April, when I dearly wanted to be wearing bright colours and showing my decolletage, I was in a grey cashmere sweater and jeans. A lovely Brunello Cucinelli grey cashmere sweater, but nonetheless, once I was made up and adorned with accessories (including mini Chanel hoop bag) Vogue-style, I looked a bit like a silly woman in a winter sweater in the spring.

Debbie on the cover of Vogue

Dior had a terrific studio set up for eye makeup, and although I didn’t think much of the way the makeup artist did my eyes, she did introduce me to one of my favourite eyeliners, Diorshow Art Pen, which, eleven months on, I have begun to master quite nicely. I had already been using Dior Beauty products for more than six months, since Joey Clouter, Dior’s best makeup artist in London, then in Selfridges, now in Harrods, converted me the previous September. That’s how I became Debbie Dior and a whole other story for a future post on this blog. (This is the problem with having taken so long to start writing here; I have way too much to say!)

Vogue Dior Eyes

Another fun activity was the hair braiding, which I submitted to happily. I went for the more simple braid look and again wished I was dressed for spring instead of rugged up in my winter attire, which overwhelms a hair look as wistful as braiding.


Vogue Deb Braid 2

I had bought tickets to seven of the talks over the weekend. The standout on the Saturday was the delightful and amazingly thin Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter, wearing a Victoria Beckham dress and elegantly presenting us with her Instagram personal photo album of her life story up until founding the online fashion store that revolutionised online fashion shopping. In fact, so much did she have to share with us about her life, she completely ran out of time and recommended we all go and view her story on Instagram.


“Behind The Scenes of A Vogue Cover Shoot” was a discussion between Vogue UK editor Alexandra Shulman and various collaborators, including the rather bewitching supermodel Cara Delevingne, who sat looking serene and at times sort of interested. Definitely one of those faces you want to photograph, so I gave it a try.


One person I and everyone else in the auditorium would have liked to photograph was Victoria Beckham, who kicked off proceedings on the Sunday with a one-to-one discussion with Alexandra Shulman. Unfortunately it was the only session where the audience was instructed they could not take photos. Nor could they ask questions, because Ms Beckham had ensured she would only be asked questions she had pre-approved, and the conversation ran like a prepared script. Everything she said had a rehearsed feel to it. That aside, it was a very captivating hour, as Posh Spice is absolutely riveting to watch. Mainly because every time she turns to the side, she disappears. She is really that thin. I have never seen anyone quite so thin. When she described climbing mountains with her children, I just couldn’t imagine she wouldn’t snap in half at the slightest breeze. But listening to her talk about her successful Victoria Beckham label, about the way she works with her team and how hands-on she is in every aspect of the business — which I do believe she is — was fascinating. I don’t own any Victoria Beckham and am not sure I will ever find a piece in her collections that would work for me as her designs are very structured and although she insisted she designs for women of all sizes, I think they are made for size 4 and smaller. But one day I could be surprised.

There was an interesting session on “The Secrets of Creating a British Brand” with a lineup of key UK design identities — Anya Hindmarch, Christopher Kane, Tamara Mellon (co-founder of Jimmy Choo and about to launch her own clothing and shoe brand), and Jonathan Akeroyd, CEO of Alexander McQueen. I had bought my first McQueen dress at Selfridges the previous September; I already had a couple of Anya Hindmarch pieces (one, a mirror-metallic bag that sadly peeled badly, and then with the vouchers I was given to compensate for that, a very nice every day black wallet); and had never been a fan of Jimmy Choo shoes, but I was open to discovering the world of Christopher Kane. After the Festival I went on an exploration of Kane’s spring/summer and pre-fall collections and came to the realisation that his designs do not work for me at all. But I like some of his prints.


Mario Testino, one of the most prolific and in-demand fashion photographers over the past few decades and most famous for his portraits of Princess Diana, spoke about his career in a session hosted by Vogue UK fashion director Lucinda Chambers. It’s a shame she didn’t make it more interesting; she was not a great interviewer and to stay interested I had to keep gazing at the lovely slides above Mario, admiring his images if not the conversation.


The “Too Fat, Too Thin… Will I Ever Be Content?” session that followed was a typical conversation about body image with no earth-shattering revelations. Yes, Patsy Kensit had to deal with weight issues through her career. Yes, if you are in the public eye, you are expected to be thin. Natalie Massenet and Victoria Beckham had already quashed any potential argument that curvy is cool. This session was a filler, and I think I even felt like I wanted to doze off.

But then along came Alber Elbaz, the irrepressible, ebullient, very funny Artistic Director of the house of Lanvin. He is Israeli, Jewish, self-deprecating and egotistical all at once, and a wonderful raconteur. The most unlikely looking designer — short and rotund — he has the most refined sensibility when it comes to draping sumptuous fabrics on women. He adores women. I could have listened to him talk for hours. I left with a new-found fascination for Lanvin, and decided before my travels were over, I would need at least one piece in my collection.


Which is a very interesting development in my fashion odyssey, my “finding my fashionista” if you like. Previously I would see clothes I like, have a very instinctive response to colour, print (eternally a sucker for florals), fabric, weight, drape, and perhaps where the piece fitted into a particular collection. Other than perhaps Stella McCartney, who had brought a heritage with her name in spite of establishing her brand in her own right, I had rarely taken into consideration the name or personality behind a design label. But this had started to change with my love of Dior and Valentino, with more reading and research and fascination with the history of a design house. With Alber Elbaz, I became much more invested in the genius behind a brand. Elbaz designs gorgeous clothes, his ad campaigns are usually brilliant, and his boutiques and concessions inside department stores are opulent and enticing. But Elbaz himself is the best advertisement for Lanvin. Of all the designers in the world today, he is the one I would most like to meet.

And so off I went into the cold London evening, having had my fill of Vogueish fashion and feeling well edified, not to mention braided. Looking at the program for this year’s Vogue Festival, taking place this weekend, I am totally wishing I could transport myself there for two days. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler are speaking. Phoebe Philo of Céline is featured. (I haven’t liked any of her designs at Céline but I do find her loyal following fascinating). Lord, oh Lord, Manolo Blahnik is going to be speaking. (Be still my beating heart.) Naomi Campbell will be there. And to top it all off, the one and only Valentino Garavani is going to be talking about his life and career. If this is the lineup Vogue have put together for only their third festival, I think I had better plan ahead for 2015 and find a way to be in London.

And dress more appropriately for my next cover shot.


Taking off

Last Wednesday I took off from LAX after fifteen months of amazing travels and on Friday morning I landed at SYD where I am now taking stock and planning for a productive year ahead. I’ve just added an About Me page that gives a brief summary of why I’m here. As my jetlag wears off and I reacclimatise to being in this part of the world, I’ll trawl through the memories and images of my recent travels, as well as adventures long past and of course what’s going on day by day. All with a stylish focus, of course. Here I go!