question time: hannah-rose, capture the castle
Hannah-Rose's blog had me from its name - "I Capture The Castle" is one of my all-time favourite books. Happily, her blog has the same simultaneously carefree and curious charm - from little peans of how street style photos by Maya Villiger inspires her, to moodboards that reflect her laidback yet luxurious personal style, to her views on why the Olsen twins are winning the celebrity style game, to beautifully written reviews of fashion week collections that catch her eye. Read on for her take on Aussie style (eg, why Bassike rocks) why she started blogging, and the future of fashion journalism.
Where are you from, and what do you do?
I live in Paddington, Sydney and I'm in my final year of a media communications degree. I also intern at an Australian accessories label and at an Australian magazine. And I work on my blog! Haha.
Tell me about an early style memory, and what prompted your interest in style and fashion?
One of my earliest style memories was of my absolute adoration for a pale pink tutu purchased for my first ballet concert. I was so desperate for a real ballet outfit - leotard and tights and ballet flats and tulle tutu and all - and I just remember being on a cloud that whole night. I was the centre of attention and everyone wanted to take my photo and I just knew it was because of that beautiful tutu. It was magical. I actually wrote about it on my blog as part of an old series I used to do called "love, loss and what I wore" which was about the emotions of clothing.
The thing that prompted my interest in style and fashion was an image of Lily Cole walking the finale at Christian Lacroix Haute Couture S/S 2006. I saw it in a Vogue UK, and I remember staring at it for ages and ages. Lily Cole - remember her? - with that shock of titian hair, swathed in clouds of white tulle (I think I have a thing for tulle haha) and delicate jewel embellishment across the bodice. It was beautiful. I cut it out from Vogue UK and pasted it in pride of place on my wall, right by my bed so I could always look at it. I thought - why couldn't real life be this beautiful? Why couldn't real life have the same kind of sense of theatricality and drama and excitement that this dress seemed to have? It's the McQueen effect, or something of that variety. Fashion as, to use Sally Singer's turn of phrase as she described Grace Coddington in the September Issue "a wonderful world of play". Fashion as dress ups, and play-acting, and magic and fantasy. Even though my personal style is quite - who am I kidding, very! - utilitarian and casual and I would never wear something like that Christian Lacroix dress in real life, I have always loved the fantasy side of fashion for its inspiration and dream-like quality.
Describe to me a favourite/definitive outfit and when and where you wore it. Why is it significant to you?
A definitive and favourite outfit for me is a simple, wide-cut tee shirt in a neutral colour and a soft cotton, a fitted black jersey or jersey spandex mix in black, and oversized sweater in my favourite sweater colour - oatmeal - and a pair of simple, strappy sandals in tan or navy leather. I would pair it with matching anklets and my current suite of jewellery, which includes some delicate rings, a me & ro necklace and my Michael Kors rose gold watch. This kind of outfit represents the simple, casual, comfortable heart of my style. I don't like wearing anything restrictive or tight, anything that is too fussy, anything that is uncomfortable, anything that draws too much attention to myself. I prefer to stick to my uniform and my neutral colour palette. Neutral colour blocking, as it were! It's not exactly minimalism - I guess it is in a small way, but it's less polishes. I love Celine but I'm quite scruffy, my hair is always a mess, my clothes aren't perfect, everything's not sharp and perfect. It's more real, I guess. I prefer to call it "simple" style haha. My love of flat sandals stems from this style concept. I need to feel stable and in control - hence no heels. I can't really walk in them anyway, so why bother?
I wear this outfit pretty much everyday of the week in winter with a tweedy coat and a comforting cashmere scarf and every day that I can in summer. I just take the jumper off when it gets too hot - but the jumper is the best part, really. It's this really comfortable batwing sleeve, bracelet-length beauty with buttons down the back and two decorative pockets on the front from some no-name Australian high street store. A complete impulse buy that has formed the foundation of my wardrobe for the past year and a half. I can't imagine what I would do without that sweater! I'm pretty happy that I surrendered to impulse to buy it, considering that I had been trying to keep purchases at a minimum and stick to a french wardrobe shopping theory at the time. The best $50 I have ever spent. Ever.
Why did you start a blog? How have you found the experience?
From the very beginning my blog has always been a creative outlet in the sense that I used it to practice writing. When I first set it up I wanted to write fashion features but I had nowhere to put them. Blogs were just gaining popularity and it seemed like the logical thing to do. I've always written a lot on Capture the Castle, mostly because I'm just wordy haha, but also because I have always been very conscious of my desire to use my blog as a writing tool. The title refers to this as well. Dodie Smith's novel Capture the Castle is about two sisters, Rose and Cassandra, and Cassandra wants to be a writer, so she notes everything down in her diary as a human experiment almost - kind of like this blog!
Who inspires you, and why?
Yasmin Sewell inspires me as an Australian who has succeeded on an international stage and stayed true to her laidback, casual style. She is very successful and has a reputation within the industry for being friendly and vibrant and full of life - which is just how I would love to be described! Sophie Dahl inspires me as a writer because her voice is the perfect mix of discursiveness and conversation, description and sparse, minimal prose. It's easy to read, which is important, but it's also lively, which is even more important. I love her cookbooks, and I love her novel, and can't wait for her to write another. Phoebe Philo inspires me because of her outlook on fashion and design. Her interview in the first ever issue of The Gentlewoman really struck a chord with me. She spoke candidly about her desire to quit the fashion world to have a baby and live with her family, her commitment to her own person and her integrity as she waited for LVMH to give her the right offer. I hope to be like that when it comes to my own career.
Describe your style 10 years ago, 5 years ago, and how to compares to now.
10 years ago I was wearing overalls and tennis shoes and had a bob haircut. I was a regular tomboy who played with yo-yos and mucked around with my brothers. 5 years ago I was scouring vintage stores for beaded cardigans to wear with my pleated midi skirts from the 1930s and ruby-red slippers. I was going through an Evelyn Waugh/Nancy Mitford phase. Now - as above. Style is about comfort and simplicity, with a long skirt or an oversized sweater, or tapered trousers and a loose breton top or collared shirt. Nothing fussy, nothing restrictive, nothing over the top. Except for the occasional extravagant bag or shoe haha!
You've expressed interest in become a fashion journalist, so what's your take on the future of print journalism, especially in fashion? Do you have a preference for a particular medium?
I have always loved - and always will love, I think - print journalism in magazines. I fell in love with fashion because of Harriet Quick and Sarah Harris at Vogue UK, and learnt everything that I know about designers and style and trends from Sally Singer at Vogue US, or Hadley Freeman, or Sarah Mower, or Suzy Menkes, or even Plum Sykes. I think that the problems that print journalism is facing right now are confined, relatively, to newspapers. I don't think there is a future for newspapers in a digital world - no matter how much I love them. Magazines, on the other hand, are a different beast. I think they'll be around forever. Because of the nature of long leads they don't suffer from the same issues of immediacy that newspapers deal with - and that the internet can do better. There will always be a market for a well put together magazine, with thoughtful articles offering the insight and opinion and perspective that MOST internet sites do not offer. Print journalists are going through a period of flux that is requiring them to become lingual across multi platforms - this is a good thing. I like that you can read commentary from Sarah Mower on the Vogue US website as well as the Vogue US magazine, often simultaneously. I like that they are all tweeting, and tumblr-ing and bloggin and instagram-ing. It's good for fashion to democratise, even a little bit. But at the same time there is an important place to be filled for considered fashion commentary from industry veterans and professionals. Their voice is important - as important as the blogger from Sydney, or Singapore, or Seattle who can share their personal opinion based on opinions of taste. A variety of voices is what is most important in the fashion world. So fashion print journalism holds an integral position at the heart of the interpretative fashion dialogue.
You often bring up Australian style on your blog. What do you think about the culture in Australia inspires your style?
Australian style is laidback and casual at its heart. We don't like to worry too much about clothes - not when there are beaches to get to, and barbeques to be had! My style is nowhere near the typical Australian style of denim cut-offs and white singlets but I like to think that it is influenced in no small part by the simplicity of sun and sand and surf.
Blogs tend to give rise to "mini-trends" where suddenly it seems like everyone wants the same item, or likes the same designer. Have this ever happened to you? Do you feel that this can dilute personal style?
Celine has definitely been part of a blogging mini-trend, but this was also reflected in the wider fashion industry. I am guilty of falling under the Phoebe Philo spell, no doubt. I think my current love of anklets, which came from Ashley Olsen at first, but which I have seen all over blogs recently, is going to be a mini-trend. I think the problem with over saturation in regards to certain items, designers or trends is not a dilution of personal style, but rather a... sort of an intense, over-stimulation of imagery and inspiration. The good thing about magazines is that each issue they have to talk about different trends and stories because they have to have variety to interest their readers and satisfy their advertisers. With a blog you can post about one item all day every day and there's nothing can do to stop you! My personal style is like this. When I fall in love with someone I wear it and wear it and wear it to death until I find a new favourite outfit, and I'm wary of not doing this on my blog, not too much anyway. I do post a lot about some of my favourite mini-trends - anklets, delicate jewellery, Isabel Marant, Celine - but I try to space it out haha! Maybe not so successfully.
One thing I've become greatly interested in is where my clothes come from, and how they are made. How does this factor into your personal shopping habits? What are some things you look out for in your favourite brands, designers etc?
I try to look for high quality and comfortable materials - organic cotton is my favourite, followed by linen and jersey. Fabrications with a bit of give! For coats I want wool or cashmere and it has to be lined. I try, also, to purchase clothes that are made in Australia. My favourite Australian labels like Bassike, Benah and Carly Hunter all use beautiful materials are locally produced.
What do your style would be like without the internet?
To be honest, I'm not sure. I really don't know. I've had my blog for almost 4 years now and it has informed my style incredibly. Before that I was looking at blogs like Liebermarlene Vintage because I was going through a 1930s phase and she wears the most beautiful depression-era tea frocks and slacks. Today it is completely defined by what I see online, and what I "like" on Tumblr and what I post about on my blog. I can't separate the internet from my style.
Which are some of your favourite blogs?
I love Badlands, which is an illustration, design and fashion blog run by my friends Talisa and Rohan. Vanessa Jackman is another friend, and her street style is the best out there. Her beautiful grainy film images are so evocative of another, most wistful time. Discotheque Confusion was the first blog I ever started reading, and Stevie has stayed true to her love of Jane Birkin and Chloe Sevigny and Wes Anderson films since she first started it in 2006. Rachel's blog Sweet Bird of Youth showcases her beautiful photography and her romantic view of fashion. She's so talented and her fashion photography always makes my jaw drop! And how could I forget three other favourites, Dead Fleurette, whose shopping philosophy is so inspiring and who really convinced me that I need a pair of Isabel Marant dicker boots, So Much To Tell You, which is full of inspiration and pictures of pretty girls and insightful interviews with the best fashion personalities in Australia and New Zealand, and Miss Little Lime, who has probably the most beautiful and perfectly formed blog out there, who seamlessly mixes fashion and philosophy and cinema and literature in an intelligent and endearing way. What I love the most about your blog, Lin, is how thoughtful your posts are. You are so eloquent and I love reading your musings on personal style, on quality, on materials, on masculine style and the disparity between mens' clothes/style and womens' clothes/style (something that's really interesting me at the moment), on travel, on inspiration. Your blog is such a good read, which is my favourite thing!
Name 5 things in your closet you will never give or throw away.
1. My burgundy Celine canvas and leather medium envelope shoulder bag
2. My Maille black jersey midi skirt.
3. My various sandals - APC, K.Jacques, Benah
4. My Isabel Marant wool coats
5. My beautiful, beautiful, beautiful oatmeal sweater from a no-name high street store that I adore
Tell me five things you love about the city you live in.
1. I love the blue skies, and the clean air and the proximity to the beach. I would definitely miss the temperate weather if I moved somewhere else.
2. Sydney does fresh food really well. There are always farmers markets happening somewhere, and because my mum is a real foodie my house is always overflowing with ripe, juicy fruit and crisp vegetables. The fish markets are very inspiring simply because of the vibrancy and life within them. Everything is fresh out of the water!
3. bloodorange. Simply the best store in the whole world, it stocks international labels like Acne, Alexander Wang and APC, alongside an intelligent local edit that includes my favourites Bassike and Gary Bigeni, as well as Dress Up, Secret Squirrel and Lover. It's a perfect store. I want to live there, amidst the APC candles, and the me & ro jewellery.
4. I love walking around, which Sydney really encourages. There's lots of good walking routes through leafy streets that take you past the requisite picturesque cafes and window-shopping meccas and attractive houses. One of my favourite things to do is walk around the area that I live in, to pick up groceries or fresh flowers, to meet my mum at her work, to go to the park, to see a movie at my local cinema, to study at the library. I've cultivated favourite back street walks that I simply love. Thank god I wear sandals all the time!
5. Beare Park in Elizabeth Bay, which is this private hamlet tucked behind Kings Cross, right on the water and with the best view of ridiculously, ludicrously expensive houses and the harbour. It's so quiet there, and whenever I'm there it seems like it's all mine.
PS: I love this post about her favourite street in Paris.