Warming the cockles of frozen fashionista hearts

It’s a well-known fact that fashionistas love winter – more layers than a Sara Lee pastry mean more scope with exciting texture and colour combinations and luckily this month’s a) freezing and b) sees two gloriously fashionable books model-strutting to a bookshelf near you.

Forties fashion: from siren suits to the new look is one such and flicking through there are some terrific examples of that oh-so-retro-chic period. True, it was probably not that much fun to live through (at the height of rationing New Zealand women were allowed a measley two pairs of stockings per annum- gah!).  At the rate I go through mine I’d be bare legged by February. 

Fantastically illustrated there are pictures of Betty Grable-esque bikini pin-up posers, the military influence, V for Victory, buttons and aprons and Hawaiian prints.  For those interested in seeing something similar in the flesh (or should that be cloth?) The Airforce Museum has a free exhibition entitled Fashion at War: New Zealand style in World War 2.  For a taste of what’s on offer check out their gallery.

Like I give a frock : fashion forecasts and meaningless misguidance might have been designed specifically to appeal to moi.  Implied bad language, punning and pointed fashion-based bon mots.  Upon sighting this book on the shelf I was irresistably drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  The imaginary author “Michi” is sardonic, scathing and oh-so-sane (when did it become okay to wear a tracksuit to the supermarket?  Answer – it didn’t). Very sharp and very funny with whimsical, painted illustrations that are a delight to behold.  For those who can’t stand the tyranny of the reserve list some relief can be got from the website (which has fast become my new favourite thing) but do try and get your hands on the book which, with its pink fabric cover and little ribbon bookmark is a lovely thing in and of itself.

Montana Poetry Day – Friday 24 July

poetryMontana Poetry Day is a celebration of all things poetic – scribble, read, recite  …  It’s also the day on which the winner of the poetry category of this year’s Montana New Zealand Book Awards will be announced.

Local events listed on the Montana Poetry Day site:

A Poetic Pause and Wall of Words
12.30 – 1.30 pm, Friday 24th July 2009
Canterbury University Bookshop, University Drive, Ilam, Christchurch

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My Culture Heroes #2 – Nick Cave

I am not built for Goth-dom, but Nick Cave is my man. Australia’s coolest export has just published his second novel The Death of Bunny Munro (which even has a tres cool web site – sign up and you can win a bunny suit!). He also recently rocked at Glastonbury, and in keeping with his contrary cool offered a shout out to Farrah Fawcett instead of MJ.

Why Nick? Like my previous pick Stephen Fry he has layers and layers to his genius – having written novels, a play, movie script ( the brutal Aussie Western The Proposition) and soundtracks, and a poetic sensibility so potent his lyrics have been published in book form.

Cave is intrigued and fascinated by the muse, and the creative process, giving a series of talks on The Secret Life of the Love Song. He has been through the junkie tormented artist stage, and now treats the creative process more like  going to the  office (a recent exhibition in Melbourne explored this ‘work’ element).

He’s a storyteller with a distinctive vein of Southern Gothic – deep, dark, bloody, biblical – but peppered with a dry wit and laconic romance that is endlessly appealing. He’s been making music for more than 30 years, but his creativity is undimmed – his latest musical venture Grinderman is ballsily bluesily good.

He’s collaborated with Kylie Minogue,  he’s been a cheerleader for Leonard Cohen, he’s rocked an awesome Zapata style moustache. Nick rules.