31 December 2009

looks like christmas morning

I'll write how I am. Sitting by the sea, a thousand voices having traipsed the boardwalk already this morning. Woke up with two drunks at home, ate cereal standing in the kitchen. Someone was asleep on the lounge and I couldn't turn on the light to read in our tiny place. I had to leave for a bit. I forgot my sunglasses. It's bright and cool by the sea. Tiny frequent waves are white maned horses in a Pushkin fairytale, their riders- or the wind, roar softly, familiar. Two men rub sunscreen into each other's balding heads, they look like genderless newborn twins.
I take my time with things. Forgotten how to write this.
I wrap a scarf around my head, wrap my arms around my middle. Watch the cargo ships from the pier.

23 December 2009

Tea and biscuits

We pretended to be grown up. Wake up at eleven, shake ash and cat fur off our clothes and put it on the French news on SBS. Or was it Telediario? Language was always a sticky point, we'd paste over many subtleties to communicate in the only language we both shared. Romain understood the riots in Algerian neighbourhoods, picket lines and art students holed up in school buildings. Once I told him how to make tea to soothe a sore throat and he put the lemon in after the milk. Did he think I was a yurt-dwelling, curdled milk drinker? He called me on the telephone, spluttering, "Milk and lemon? What? It doesn't go very well."  I forgot that in some countries, even ours, they drink tea with milk. I still over-pour milk into tea. "A dash! A dash!"

The house was pokey. We joked that our bedrooms at our family homes were bigger. Inside it, sometimes I'd grow frightened at how perfectly isolated we were, a brown old continent straddling the world's most formidable ocean. I'd imagine getting a rare disease and having to be airlifted to the nearest country like Vanuatu or New Zealand.  I'd eat toast and sniff organic unhomogenised milk in his less than pristine fridge and appraise half rotted groceries that he bought on his dad's Amex. Then it'd dawn on me that we lived in a civilized country that had ATMs and ERs with defibrillators and catheters. He'd clean out the fridge and try to start again. We could only buy food to last us the day ever and forget about the leftovers. He smoked Marlboros and maybe roll the first joint of the morning as he explained like a grown up, all these things on the TV. It'd be cold out so I'd take his woollen scarf and wrap it around my throat to walk to school. He'd walk me and we'd stop for coffee and then maybe I'd have a cigarette too. I'd watch an old lady with an Ashkenazi nose and tattered hippy clothes scrape cigarette ash after smoking and it made me shake, like she was digging through the remains of her relatives. I'd remember mama and that I wasn't supposed to be here.

15 December 2009

Balaclava noon

They sit on the bench, early afternoon, under a tree that somehow reminds them of home. The street is hot and smells of coffee grinds, slightly rotting garbage and brake fluid. A sea breeze wafts it all clean. One man is old, grey and slim with an aqualine nose. He sits cross-legged, face in profile, reminding me of a pedigree cat or a French aristocrat. The other man is new school, body mass slightly having outgrown his frame, a tee shirt that could have cost $300 or come as a care parcel via St Vinnies when he received permanent resident status. New man takes out a maroon jeweller's pouch, glances around and empties it into his hand like a crack dealer. An elegant gold band catches the hot sun.
"All original stones," he says in a language that I speak but in a tone of voice I do not understand.

14 December 2009

morning at the medical clinic

Like most ethnics, I will travel across the city to visit a doctor with a family connection. Mine is the super clinic. Not only is my mother the medical receptionist there, one of the doctors is an honourary aunt and super-diagnostician who saved my life. Apparently she was born in a Turkish prison as her parents were fleeing the Union during WW2. Her parents moved to Western Australia from Europe where her mother was promptly widowed after a mining accident. The miners' wives, mostly non-English speaking women, were piled into a ute and taken to the site to identify their dead husbands. She was widowed with five children in a foreign land. And W.A isn't cool like Melbourne or Sydney. You don't live there, you do time. (Note: The story goes something like that. Forgive me if I've got it wrong.)
Naturally, she always makes me feel like my problems are miniscule. "I also had haemoglobin of 7 and I was running up and down ten flights of stairs doing 100 hour weeks as a med student." Having a hb of 7 feels like you're on the verge of a heart attack or a coma and it is very dangerous. Every time I run into her she inevitably brings up my drama and her part in rescuing me.
"You came in wanting to be treated for pimples." (Actually, a staph infection that turned my whole ear into a blister).
"I have table cloths which are less white than you that day." (Turns out, I'm not naturally alabaster).
"I asked you if you had been a languid child and you said that everyone just assumed you were lazy, poor girl." (At least it got me staying indoors more and I got good at drawing and reading).

This medical clinic is located in a rather well-to-do inner city suburb frequented by many university students from the neighbouring Melbourne Uni campus. My mother likes to case potential husband material for her youngest daughter in between answering phone calls and explaining medicare rebates. I'll be reading a Vogue in the waiting room when she'll pipe up in Russian over some unsuspecting boy's shoulder, "Varia, see this boy here? He is uncommonly polite and well-mannered for his age. He is Czech. Maybe he will suit Nina." I want to say, "Mama if he is Czech he can probably understand 40% of this conversation." Instead I snort a laugh into the well-thumbed April 2008 Vogue or at least snot onto a photo of a picture-perfect polo family in Tattler. Then she'll flick her bobbed hair to the direction of her sullen co-worker sitting on a stool like a hysteric Victorian lady in a dusty portrait. Again in Russian, "That woman is enervating me. Look at her. It's like she ate lemons for breakfast."

13 December 2009

Sparrow Hills

Left to right - Tatiana, Anastasia, Olga, Marie. Centre: Alexei

Evenings: cicada calls across browning Christmas lawns. In pyjamas and freshly washed hair we'd crowd around the icons in the lounge room for evening prayers. Mama taught us to pray for the living and the departed. The names of the dead seemed to ring and rhyme (nearly everything does in Russian after a while).. Angelina, Nina, Zoya, Kapitalina, Galya, Galina, Evgeniya, Venyamin, Venedikt, Sofia, Elena, Otrok Sergiy (otrok meaning youth)...

What's in a name? Do you live up to the etymology of your name? Do the vowel sounds and the syllables shape your character in strength and weakness, femininity and masculinity? Is it the biggest gift you can give to your child?

03 December 2009


what dinner at home sounds like.
we have four guitarists in the family

I don't wear lipstick

Returned from a pilgrimage to suburbia. My parents live 25 kms away and I haven't been to their house in a month. The rain has been good for lawns out there, it's like walking into some kind of overgrown tropical Gondwana. I came by the morning train and walked into the house feeling slightly overgrown myself. Is it possible that I am growing taller in my mid twenties?
 *            *                     *                    *
жди меня и я вернусь
только очень жди
              *                     *                     *
I tumbled into my sister's car, she was going to the hospital for a night shift and I walked through the cool 9 pm still bright summer streets. Past Carlton gardens with its romantic Victorian street lamps dotting the elms. Through the theatre precinct, the chink chink of glasses at the Windsor Hotel and the Princess Theatre. Past Ermenegildo Zegna, louis V, Hermès, Gucci and Chanel. Home home home home. Skip the main streets by zig zagging through cobbled side lanes and staircases behind cathedrals my worn out black summer dress puffing up in a breeze, my brother's borrowed woollen jumper over it .Through crowds of school kids leaving vespers at Saint Paul's with happy smiling parents, huddling, bubbling, chatting excitedly. "'Scuse me. 'Scuse ME," I shout at their brace-happy faces, (dentally-conscious middle income parents). My teeth, vampirishly sharp and slightly crooked as I do yell, half serious. I have three minutes to catch my train and two streets to cross and a station to jog through. I don't wear lipstick. Except when I think I look too tired-eyed.

* *  * * * * * * * ****          *         ****                 ***        *morse code*** * * * *        ***
Speaking of pilgrimage and cathedrals. In the Holy Land, cobbled, curved Jerusalem streets with pastel green window shutters I fell asleep at the Holy Sepulchre during a midnight liturgy. I sat down on the worn, thousand year old slanted marble floor, slid into a sort of trance amid incense and chants and slept without dreams. My aunt found me and I had communion at Christ's tomb, blinking awake, shivering slightly against the cool marble sleep.

* * * ****          ****         ****         **** **********


Am not sure if it is a Russian malady, not sure what it is. Someone please help me. But I could not give a damn for things right now. I don't want anything.
пфу! всю эту дрянь

29 November 2009

funeral march

One of the most unfair* parts of being a PK (priest's kid) is having to tag along to funerals. You get a cold and school is out of the question, all your relatives are going to a funeral. Guess what. So are you. By the age of 12 you are able to judge a corpse on its presentation like some beauty pageant of death and you've sorted your casket and clothing choices for this big day. Cheap pine box, linen wrap, Jordan river whites baptismal cross, no make up. Although, I wore my auntie's paisley nightie when I went for a dip in the Jordon so a subsequent visit is inevitable. I do not call the bodies of the dearly departed corpses out of disrespect. You realise from an early age that the body is just a shell for the soul. Looking at your grandfather laying in state (grade 2?) reiterates the meaningless and fleeting nature of our existence. The body without life is no longer a person. Of course though, in our tradition the body is seen as sacred as it is intended for resurrection at the end of the world - so no cremation. I do not mean to sound immune to the effect of seeing so many deaths. There have of course been times when funerals broke my heart. I've seen old women try to throw themselves into the grave pit when their child had died before them. My favourite teacher died of a brain tumour when I was young and she called and called for me in hospital and so I saw her in the pallative wing with her head shaved and dying. I loved her so much. I loved helping her to remove the lids off whiteboard markers because she had only one functioning arm. I loved her stories of fainting in front of monks that she had crushes on. I loved how she teased me about going through puberty when I'd be moody in class (I was ten, puberty came much later). I loved that on the last day of Russian school she'd buy icecreams for the class and let us play hide and seek in Fitzroy Gardens. Memory Eternal Nadezhda Grigorevna.

I have many fond and strange memories of time spent at cemeteries. A few summers ago, waking up from New Years day everybody had a hankering to go fishing. Someone recalled the overbloated carp at Fawkner cemetery. So off we went with our rods and reels to cast our lines into a narrow, grave backwash creek among the drapey weeping willows. The carp were so enormous they snapped our lines, we did however catch one yabbie. Later we spent the afternoon exploring gaudy mausoleums and lamenting sad, abandoned graves.

When my brother was yet a wee fellow, my parents packed him up in the car for a long trip to send off an old friend or perhaps, the Russian relative of an Anglo. At the sea-side cemetery, Alexey absconded from the incense-laden burial ceremony drawn away by the maze of plastic flowers and grey headstones. My parents were to find him blissfully dancing atop a marble grave in his little boy mary-janes. I like to think of him as a gypsy in that moment, pouring his juice from a baby bottle onto the stone in remembrance.

And so today I think of death. Perhaps because Lent just started.

* I think really, the most unfair part was being overloaded with superstition (thanks to all the babas out there) and End of the World talk as we were growing up. Repeating this in the school yard was a bad idea. I once had to see the school nurse on behalf of my brother as she thought he was suffering religious delusions. NO YOU IDIOT. HE HAD A BAD DREAM LIKE MOST 5 YEAR OLDS HAVE.

25 November 2009


cigarette stop on the way to the backdrop,
a car, rolled on its side, danced in three-four-time
buzzed out, you're splayed and ready for riot
a coked-up divorcee eating key lime pie
she's never cheated, except on diets
someone's painted a landscape on your wall that lies
this burn, this burned out floor's a stage for you all
but she copped all the stonings because of her age
his kiss is gnashing teeth against innocence as she sleeps
it's like splinters for shoeless ballerinas,
and she pulls down her dress and leaves
riding a chair down night time china town 
and they all dream while
governments divide opiates between the poor and hungry
and they go
crumbling a piece of berlin in their pockets

23 November 2009

First Love

Phillip Island is close to Melbourne's soul. The size of Malta (apparently), it's mostly known for penguins, Australian fur seals, Japanese tourists and of course, surfing. While one part of the island has gentle lapping waves (perfect for bobbing around in a little inflatable boat), the other has the kind of windswept cliffs and barrelling cold surf that hardens our grommets.
Claire Gorman is a cinematographer and director from Phillip Island who heard whispers about three young surfers with loads of promise.  Gorman's film, First Love follows India Payne, Nikki van Dijk and Jess Laing, as they tour the Victorian surf comps before heading to tropical Hawaii to test their mettle.

I spoke to Clare Plueckhahn, still photographer and producer for First Love as the Hawaii part of the filming began.

16 November 2009

One Second Fireworks


Fireworks are like watching cash go up in flames; they are expensive, dangerous, yet popular entertainment. Every New Years Eve, cities across the globe vie for pyrotechnic supremacy; essentially, it's a burning offering to their citizens, paid by taxpayer dollars. Giraud and Siboni, the young contemporary artists behind the spectacle probably got a massive kick out of staging this right on the doorstep of the Louvre. Whether you take it as a comment on shortening attention spans, our fleeting lives or premature ejaculation, they're ok with that.

The question perhaps is, what would it look like if you got a gazillion tonnes of fireworks and set them off simultaneously? Have you ever wanted to do something irrational? Like throw a cup of hot tea at someone just to see their reaction? Or bite a stranger standing too close to you on the train? They are crazy motherfuckers Frenchmen and they make some big art.

photo: Clare Plueckhahn

15 November 2009

Portrait of the artist as a young man... Jackson Rowe

Rowe, 23, is a VCA graduate, an award winning painter and grandson of the late Roger Kemp (a transcendental painter whose work is part of the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Australia). He is also the lead singer of blues/rock band, The Rackets. For the last couple of years he’s been working on a project which he has dubbed his ‘sci-fi’; a multimedia downloadable application that creates a fictional world of Melbourne as you are physically walking a city block.

13 November 2009


those girls will go and break your skull
they will drag you under water
those girls have hands for just one thing
they will laugh as they pull wet hair in clumps
and stuff it in each other's mouths
those girls in willow trees too long start choking
and clawing at their breasts for air

your skull will lay broken and you will
watch with one good eye
those girls

image credit: Ivan Bilibin

How To...

...make a really good zine

Makyla Curtis and Ya-Wen Ho on Potroast

10 November 2009


we bought a fan
it swept the unkempt ceiling
sending dust angels down on
our naked bodies
we woke in a net
of our half blinking dreams
some hot november morning

* * * *

my love, I don't want to collect fleeces
from gnarled trees on rocky islands
but I swam here myself. It's mine.

08 November 2009

Swi Gunting - Wanda Gillespie

WANDA GILLESPIE is a New Zealand born, Melbourne-based artist who has quietly emerged as one of our city's finest. Her work is on display at Seventh gallery until 21st November.

In their latest discovery, the Museum of Lost Worlds present, Swi Gunting, new artefacts used in ritual, from the lost island of Tana Swiwi.

summertime somewhere else

Suzdal', Moscow State
airing out

04 November 2009


On our second evening on Solovki a man knocked on our door. Sister Nektaria answered. He wished to speak to the “girl.” I was somewhat reluctant to go meet a stranger, but I ambled out into the cluttered corridor outside our apartment.
“Are you a nun too?” He looked like the type of guy that back home would outside a pharmacy on Carlisle Street before 9 am, eagerly sniffing at the closed doors to get his methadone supply.

03 November 2009

Survival Down Under

With summer fast approaching and a plethora of tourists about to descend upon us, I thought I would write some hints about preserving yourself in Australia. A list of Personal Safety items for your trip can be found here.

29 October 2009

c/o Roger Berry & Co. 14 York Street, Sydney

[letter undated. Found in garage of a Federation home in Sydney's west)

Dear [T?]ease,

Thanks for the letter. Next time you write, tell me how many mails you get each week and I'll try to write to you each mail. There's really not much news but perhaps I can find something to write about.
I don't know your father, but one of the fellows at the P.O. said that his name was Larkin, and he was short so I thought it was your father. Perhaps I was mistaken though...

26 October 2009

Zines, Readings and Blogs

I have a new addiction; zines. I write for a few, I buy a tonne and I pass on some more. The first time around at school my friend Ivana and I would hang out at Missing Link record store and pore over them for hours. Afterwards we'd go to Pepperonis and get 2 slices of pizza at one dollar each, then head across to coles for 90 cent drinks. We'd sit outside like old Greek men outside the zaharaplasteion reading our zines and papers over cans of coke. We promised to rebel when the drinks went up to one dollar. Would you believe, the drinks went up to $1.40 overnight? Outrage. So I was thinking of self-publishing, why not? Musicians do it all the time. For some reason writers feel they need to be validated by the publishing industry.
errm. And readings, good fun. Went along to Read You Bastards at the Empress Hotel in North Carlton. Really well-organised, great performances, some naive, some polished, some lesbian menstrual rant-style,(not really). There is some amazing writing talent coming out of Melbourne right now and it's giving me the warm and fuzzies being surrounded by it.

and lastly before I dash off to work. Blogs! Read more blogs. Read more everything.... you bloody bastards

25 October 2009


I think I am done with my poetry cycle, I've called it Borderlands for the crossroads of memories of a suburban childhood, lucid dreaming and travel.
I am sleepy and I'm drinking coffee and wondering perhaps maybe I bit off more than I could choose.

Writer’s block

Cold, cold, cold
I’ve kept the window open for you Chagall
Klezmer music from a distance wakes me
Skipping in strains above wind rustling leaves

The neighbours are feasting in tinsel covered tents
Aeroplanes overhead going somewhere else
Low rumbles and tired eyes, cuckoo calls
It’s too quiet inside. I have no one to talk to

The lilacs are really black as night falls
There is a party under an ancient arbour
Where radish salad is served in a blue plastic tub
We eat watermelon and know all the words to old songs

21 October 2009

New mission, Bad Art

2 weeks of school left for the year
(after doing Editing 1, I now know you should not begin a sentence with a number)
but I also know that Arundhati Roy said:

Rule One for a writer, as far as I’m concerned, is “There Are No Rules.” And Rule Two (since Rule One was made to be broken) is “There Are No Excuses for Bad Art.”

The strange use of English is often the domain of immigrant writers who use narrative to explore semi-imaginary selves and communities. Nabakov championed the writer in exile schtick, he claims to have never been fluent at English at the same time that critics and readers were lauding him for his literary daring and mannered prose. According to former literature students who had Nabokov as a professor at Cornell university, he spoke in a monstrously thick Russian accent. A Russian immigrant to the US, his earlier English texts all hint at a kind of double psyche and his love/hate relationship with English. For instance in his novel Pnin, he describes his emotional crisis with English through the eyes of a Russian immigrant suffering from linguistic dysfunction. In the novel he misspells words to mimic an accent and employs parentheses - switching between translating English and Russian phrases as though he cannot decide which should dominate. He called his most famous work, Lolita, his “love affair with the English language.” Here the teenage protagonist is a metaphor for the English language that the ageing European man molests.
Varia Karipoff on weird english with the help of Chien.

and speaking of bad art, my mission for summer is to start an art blog, a layman's view on the contemporary Melbourne art scene.

14 October 2009

the beginning of an ode

You are just like that
Too pretty to keep pressed between pages.
A mouth that is an artful slash
A fruit too good, leave it on the dish
By the window with lace curtains...

about to go to the opening of Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur exhibition at the NGV. He's a sculptor who works with wood, plaster and bronze. Need a glass of champanskaya to celebrate a new jop. Dzhob. Job.

Salad Days, RIcky Swallow 2005

The day my husband caught on fire. Or, les choses qui tombent

My husband, Duff, (a derivative of Davidoff) has a very high body temperature. My skin is mostly cool therefore I dubbed him 'inferno of heat.' My cousin found this very amusing last Saturday as we sat having high tea in my front yard (well it was just salmon bagels and hahn super dry). Cue silly snickering about inferno de la amore and blah blah all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Forward 5 hours and this comment is apropos all over again. I was a bit nervous going to a gallery director's house for a party honouring two Parisian artists, Giraud and Siboni. Duff had assisted in creating ceramic sculptures for their installation(part of this year's Melbourne International Art Festival). I put on a new dress and debated wearing heels - I chose ivory brogues, you know, I was feeling pretty ok at this point. We got to the address, a small laneway right near a schmick brasserie and punched in the door code, seconds later we were in a great open plan apartment decorated very thoughtfully with modern art and fashionable artifacts. Balinese Buddhas, small pieces of deco furniture and an illustration of a young girl losing her heart through her poon (not for the kiddies). After passing a bottle of Polish vodka to the hostess we ambled past the ginormous dining room table lit by a semisvechnik which I believe is a menorah in a language other than russki. The table was full of incredible food: blue cheese with a sprig of dried grapes, succulent oysters garnished with fat wedges of lemon and sea salt and all manner of antipasta. Duff scored himself a martini in a tall glass and we went over to the open window to greet our new French mates. Fabien was sitting on the window ledge smoking a cigarette so Duff thought he would imitate him and jumped up on the ledge also. I went off to investigate non-flammable spirit options (can't do gin - there is a reason the english tried to ban it). I returned untriumphant to a commotion. My husband is standing there looking confused as he is engulfed in flames (ok, maybe a largish portion of his jacket is on FIRE but it's a big fire). Before I have time to react in a hysterical manner, Andrei tears the jacket off (it's a thick padded affair) my eyes follow the trajectory of his throw - there is a shagpile carpet nearby on the hardwood. Somehow the boys managed to stomp out the flames like little baby rhinos and not set the carpet alight.

Ok so this a Romanian gypsy man with his shirt on fire and not my husband but you get the picture.

A crowd gathers to inspect the damage and there is a bit of a cheer. All this in the first five minutes of us being in a room with people we don't know. Hello. This is Duff, my inferno of heat. I am Varia.
Maybe we wouldn't have lived it down but then the martinis started flowing, Dengue Fever was on the stereo and a girl from Allianz Francaise started doing interpretive dance on the shagpile by crawling, sliding, writhing and energetic stockinged kicks (oblivious to the fact everyone could see her undies).

Les Choses Qui Tombent
Fabien Giraud and Raphael Siboni
Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces
200 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne
on til the 14th November

12 October 2009

American Gothic?

I'm reading Bram Stoker's Dracula, as a classic in the vampire genre it sits with Murnaus's 1922 film, Nosferatu. I have to say, I prefer my vampires to remain as grotesques; pointed ears, pasty faces, ugly toothed, wicked, debauched, debonair, elderly and eastern European. One (small) exception is the original and very funny, Buffy - The Vampire Slayer film with that '90s uber hottie -- whatsisface 90210. I want to say Luke Wilson but that was the basketball hottie at primary school. As much as I enjoyed the stupid gags and karate manoeuvres of the Buffy movie (which we used to replicate in my lounge room by judo rolling over couches and floors with our stakes - Derwent pencils in our case) - it was the inroad countless shit teen vampire enterprises needed.
It seems I can't blow my nose these days without hitting a Stephenie Meyer book or a Who Weekly with that smug, faux-scowling Edward character.
So I concede the possibility that Bronte's Heathcliff was a vampire and eternal love has always been a theme in vampire story-telling...so the romantic swooning has as much place as the spine tingling. At least Heathcliff had fire in his loins and a dark effin soul - what's with these toy boy scrawny juveniles pouting and posing in Twilight?

Leave it to the experts kids...
Like Klaus Kinsky who did the Werner Herzog version of Nosferatu. He is, himself, worthy of as much white nightie sleep-wandering along rugged English cliffs as the Graf (Count). When I was but young, maybe 13 or 14 I purchased a Marie Claire magazine at the hospital. I'm not sure if they still do it but they used to run a bio on the last few pages. That's when I learnt about this Klaus. And my oh my was a small part of my innocence stolen by his story. It had everything; nymphomania, German cinema, war orphans...he even got it on with his sister when he was a kid. And shut your ears if you want to keep your innocence but I've never been able to shrug this image -- he said something about her punani being like a moist living clam beckoning to him *shudders*
If you are after a vampire or a bad ass son of a bratch, put down your copy of New Moon and take a walk after midnight.

28 September 2009


Dining room at Akhmatova's residence in St Petersburg
my grandma in Siberia has a similar colour scheme in her dining room.

27 September 2009

Monumental proposal

Monument 03 in the series Monument for a future generation by Andrei Davidoff

" Wandering the streets of any major town or city it is inevitable but to come across a myriad of monuments. Pieces of public art which once celebrated a distant victory, the passing of an ill fated explorer, the opening of a now demolished building, are now simply aesthetic objects, sculptures which have lost their conceptual worth to the community in which they exist. The question must then be posed; what if these works never had a meaning, moment or individual, behind them? What if through the simple act of being positioned in a prominent cultural location, conceptual value is placed upon them, with the help of plaques, dates and inscriptions. How would the relationship of the ever swirling community to these works change, if at all? "

23 September 2009

Rainy September

Old yellow telephone on the windowsill,
bottle of surplus gallery wine, an after thought
late september, rains come, go by the city's sea
the city sleeps and breathes with ease
we dream of sweet things in white sheets again
love you slow again, holiday rain day glow
dance leaves, guide the drops to rivulets flow
down love, got to go, there's this lace leotard I saw...

20 September 2009

denmark> france> germany

So the proverbial fork in the road. I've tried to make it work here, I love it because it's my home by the sea and I will always come back. I've talked to other people about it, a little too sensitive people like me (we always choose who we talk to so that we get the opinion that we want) - belonging is one thing and then there's all these thoughts, is there more?

My top three countries to move to:

- I've decided to follow Jen and Paul, a young Hitler Jungend-esque couple from Austria who have moved to Copenhagen
Lots of photos of bicycles (i like- I don't drive and detest motor vehicles)
"But being here in Copenhagen now for about 2 months, it is so worth it! What is a small space compared to what you gain from living in the middle of the city, but also having enough green space and water to relax, go swimming, have a glass of wine at the canals…"

In short: I'm warming to Denmark. Efficient, climate-focused, good dressers.

Bonus points- The princess of Denmark is none other than Tasmanian-born, Mary Elizabeth Donaldson.

France - I am editing a manuscript about a fellow classmate's year in Paris, he claims there is still a lot of (passive) racism and forget trying to crack the French job market. I've read Almost French (Sarah Turnbull an Aussie freelance writer) and it sort of scared me.
In short: a baguette carrying nation with a similar psychological make up to (older) cultured Russians.
Bonus points - Aunty Lou Lou lives there


one word, Berlin...

The Rudi Marie Cafe in Reuterkiez, an emerging boho area near the Kreuzberg section of Berlin. (courtesy, New York Times) Every week, another layer of awesomeness is spread thickly over this city - like the icing on a good slice of mille-feuille.

19 September 2009

bu-bye winter

POST 2009
16 September to 10 October

Worth checking out this exhibition til the 10th Oct, it's a kind of collaborative exhibition. Well, a bunch of emerging artists were sent an Australia Post package to fill/create/and nut over. My cousin Serge and his fiancee have come up with a magical floating parcel from Wandaland (it levitates by magnetic power).

Relocating a whole store, torrential spring rain, ran out into the street this evening with a giant man-size umbrella which naturally flipped inside-out. I danced a little bit with this bummed out umbrella to make my boss laugh. Work has been such a massive shit fight, just need to laugh at something. But bu-bye winter no more woolly hats I hope. Thinking of moving to Europe in a year, I love Melbourne but it's boring like the US, eat eat shop stay numb get fat get medicated die in your paid-off mortgage. enjoy your slavery to the Reserve Bank feed the Rothschild fortune watch the environment die... no habitat is permanent (watching The Baader Meinhof Complex)

16 September 2009

Little duck

Stalin said the death of one man is a tragedy
And there we were, in socks on my parents' porch
Some had guitars in their hands and others still cigarettes
You with three crosses around your neck, almost a seventh child

And the other part of Stalin’s truth was about numbers-
the impossibility of mourning many.
After you were hung, then down in the ground
I rode a bus out of Krakow along flat summer fields,
Saw a thousand shoes, a jumbled stock count
Of frail leather, tangled laces
All trapped in glass

All those feet.
Some that had limped after a fall
Others had confident strides
Maybe there was a velvet stiletto tango
Of a Last Sunday

I can’t love them all,
Those shoes are dry like parchment
How did the corners of all those mouths curl?
Your smile was like a little duck’s

13 September 2009

Collective unconscious

Week to week, our indelible teacher, Ania Walwicz http://www.textbase.net/walwicz.html gets us to write stream of consciousness poetry in class after covering poets as far ranging as Cohen, Heaney and Buson.
Recently, we were looking at myths and were required to close our eyes and let an image come to us. I saw a river with ice breaking up, extremely loud and incredibly close, yeah. I have not seen this at all during the course of my life, being dinky-di Aussie raised, apart from in movies. In particular, there is a memorable montage in the hilariously surreal fairy tale Varvara Krasa of images of changing seasons (with requisite Slavic fetishisation of nature poetry like 'ti nesi menya reka'... you carry me river....)

i wrote this in class,


Great ice floes,
The ice flows with a jostle
All speed downstream
The river is a raging horse
His white mane whips
The ice tumbles and smacks
In the darkness
Deafening, sharp
Dull, clear and
Turbine murkiness
The river is a brute horse
That storms by the centre
His magic hooves crack ice
Sending winter out.
My pale horse river
Amid pine needles and rock
He dashes away snow
With the wind of his stallion soul.

...using as many names and euphemisms for drugs as I could - but also writing about rebirth and spring blah blah. Oh and the magic hooves are a reference to a Russian fairy tale called Konek Gorbunok (little hump-backed pony). Ania is writing a book based on this Russian tale, it was translated into Polish- Konik Garbusek - it was the first book she read back in Poland and another one of my favourite childhood movies.

Later in the class I came across an entry in a book of mythology about Buri, the name caught my eye because it means "storms" in Russian. Buri is a Norse god who was licked out of the ice by a primeval cow over the course of three days. It resonated a bit with the poem I had written earlier, except here, there is a cow rather than a horse bringing in the end of winter. In the conspiracy-heavy Zeitgeist program, they point to such ancient myths as proof of the unoriginality of Christian ideas (or collective unconscious, really, if I could tap into it in 5 seconds with no prior knowledge of Buri... it's not mythological 'borrowing').

I wrote this for Buri

The god is carved
For a million frozen stars
It’s cold
Waiting in the northern light
with the grey sea thrashing
Under the ice, time is endless
waiting for the thaw
His eyes are unblinking as he lies
Waiting for her step to click
She licks him
Her breath is like milk

and I used to think Norse mythology was the refuge of LOTR fangirls and Cornell Latin-speaking undergrad virgins... seems I've tapped into the collective unconcious of the Norse.

Balaclava shuffle

Noticed today, since I've always walked with a barely perceptible limp (slight scoliosis) how funny it is when I have also pulled a muscle in my leg. Sometimes it's a strain from salsa lessons or something of its ridiculous ilk. Usually from other, less organised forms of dancing that take place at various shindigs. Walking down the street all I can do is concentrate on my every step. The pain barrier is easily overcome, the next target is to overcome the new limp that creates itself on some kind of chaos theory. The muscles rebel against the control centre of the brain and throw out a foot; sharp angle to the hip, askew from the knee, a silly hobble. To combat the rebellion, I try to walk slower and urge muscles to comply to a smoother, more gracious gait. I force the toe in instead of out, overcompensating with a pigeon-toe effect. I look around casually, checking to see if anybody of note has witnessed my seasick elephant swagger. Elderly gents overtake me at crossings, quickly I check if the barista in the window has spied this. He nods hello. This neighbourhood is a bloody village. The springtime wind ruffles my hair into a bird nest of tangles, I'm wearing Andrei's coffee-stained jumper. I switch shopping bag to the 'good side' to level out the wonkiness and shuffle home slowly.

12 September 2009

black and white soliloquy

The morning was tentative, a non-committal milky grey like second-rate tea. I soft boiled an egg and spread it on toast staring out at the distant roof tops. My flatmate was up hours earlier and there was an extra echo to everything in her absence. The cups clattered loudly and my footsteps rang out on the downstairs ceiling. Why the neighbours never complained about our lounge room dancing, gentleman callers, arguments and all-nighters was a mystery. Aside from our impiety to the snooty suburban religion of silence; we never took the bins to the nature strip. There were a few Nevers we tried to live by. The cook never cleans. Never rat on each other. We would often run into the grounds of stately mansions at night, breathless and whooping on the inside.
I tried to leave the apartment soundlessly.

It was getting to the end of winter, passersby were still clad in marsupial palettes; brush tail possum brown, common wombat (common woman) umber. The city opened inwards to let me into its fold...

10 September 2009

The day I fell in love with the sea

On a boat on the White Sea
climbed onto the deck to see
what I could sea sea sea
the see was like fishing in the Bay
as a kid, petrol and salt, queasy, happy
sun gloaming, going down, down, now
Arctic sun so pure, cold, love me, God Love
ME, sea.

2. Promenading, sunning,
legendary loves
on the sea shore in good shoes,
on a Sunday the sea is warm with life
azure, golubinka moya
from the carousels and rails there are small
cries and gulls fly

the sea would not drown me

the sea is at my window as a blue line

to remind me where I am

09 September 2009


I have three sisters:
We liked to invent languages, for instance we would write english words in cyrillic. it's impossible to get the depth of the million vowels of English in Russian transliteration - (fAHk u dYik-HaireD). Nabokov is a better expert on this. Also we played a game called "the writing game" where we'd each get a piece of paper and write:

1. a boy's name (cover and pass on)
2. a girl's name (cover and pass on + continue to do so after each turn writing)
3. where they met
4. what he said
5. what she said
6. what he did
7. what she did
8. what happened in the end

the aim of the game was not to write the most snivelling romantic story. no siree. the aim of the game was to make fun of people and their personal quirks. As daughters of a preacher man we had a rich pool of cranky babushkas, bejewelled spinsters, unwashed musicians, genius/and or overly adored children and "stage moms" to choose from. It would be all the more hilarious because our writings would be mashed into obscene constructions through passing it along.

07 September 2009

PREY (2009)

Released 7th May 2009
Out on DVD 30th June.
(Directed by George T. Miller, written by Miller and John V. Soto, Topcat Films)

Posters for Prey plague train stations in the inner south east like a bad hangover. Prey is a schlock candy horror film featuring an unintelligible Aboriginal curse, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, CGI black snakes and a lesbian kiss. It hopes so bad to be a cult film. It ran for one week in three Australian cinemas taking an abysmal $342 in its opening weekend. Some movies fail in their intended form and then experience a revival as cult; a lesson is the 1930s anti marijuana propaganda film that became a runaway comedy hit four decades later. Reefer Madness, this is not.

Candy horror sells because it is bad; hammy dialogue, joyously dismembered jocks and more corn syrup than Coca Cola Amatil USA (Fact: Coke in the US does not contain sugar cane but corn syrup, something about subsidising corn farmers). These flicks feature the kind of imagery the government should use in anti drug advertising; we’re talking ice and crank- let alone the humble cannabis sativa. So why do people gorge on this stuff like a fat Spanish kid on chorizo sausage? It’s pure escapism; whether well produced or not, it is supposed to be obscene yet entertaining. Very occasionally candy horror is successful as a cautionary tale like Teeth (2007), directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein, which features a young a girl cursed with ‘vagina dentata.’ Men beware of the female that creates eunuchs.

Prey starts as a 4WD road movie; six characters are pulled together in a useless and jarring montage of their daily lives to ‘go out west for a surf.’ Cue disjointed back story about a road accident twenty years earlier and a revenge seeking Driza-Bone wearing orphan out for blood. The characters are as predictable as they are cardboard –cardboard ready to be scrapped in the recycle bin of senseless homicide. Included in the doomed posse is a gay guy, a hippy and the token Asian but we couldn’t care if any of them die. People cheered when Paris Hilton’s character was expunged in House of Wax. Here, you will yawn as they bloodlessly perish with little imagination or movie magic. The story telling is as incoherent as it is narcoleptic. Visually shoddy and bland; this film is the Kraft Singles of horror and pulls no punches. This film could have been funded by the Mormons- there is no gore, sex or swearing. This leaves the viewer feeling empty and cheated of thrills, however cheap.

Here, the Australian bush comes off static, devoid of the tension and mystery that made Wolf Creek work. Unfortunately, the bush is not the most underdeveloped character in this movie. Natalie Bassingthwaighte, in her feature film debut, blunders as Kate. Kate isn’t in need of a visit to a combined gyno/dentist like the heroine of Teeth. An obstetrician is more fitting, as is later not all too clearly implied, her boyfriend’s sperm has been imbued with a malevolent snake’s. Bassingthwaighte’s performance, punctuated by half-arsed shrieks and laziness, just cacks. It fails to meet the lowest expectations, even for those familiar with her Xanax-numb television skills.
Producer, Iowan expat Bobby Gelinksy confessed that 40% of the film’s four million dollar budget was spent on securing Jesse Johnson in a lead role. Jesse’s claim to fame is being Don ‘Miami Vice’ Johnson’s son. In one scene he approaches Indigenous art with dim-witted derisiveness and you get the feeling he’s not acting. Irreverence is one thing but the scenes involving references to Indigenous culture are uncomfortable viewing. The Driza-Bone killer uses rock art and an incantation to summon the said CGI black snakes; “Spider eats the fly, bird eats the spider...” Who’s writing this stuff? White supremacist Mother Hubbard?

Prey misses the mark by an excruciating distance in a genre that revels in being low brow. The opening credits feature previews of cult horror flicks; the Freddy Kruegar films, Fire Starter, The Exorcist and the freaky Jeff Goldblum movie, The Fly. All this serves is to make you wish you were watching one of the classics.

08 June 2009

Claude Maus AW09

Anthony Licuria APL Photography

Great Expectations

What can we expect from boutique Australian fashion this winter?
Claude Maus has a deft touch when it comes to androgyny. What is good for the boys in jumpers, coats and jeans translates across to the girls’ line. The winter collection takes cues from The Classics and we’re talking Charles Dickens here. There are tees that are layered and long sleeved with a kind of draping effect at the back; almost like coat tails. Another link with Victorian England is the austerity of the colours. There is a splendid tunic in a deep purple plaid that my sister-in-law called “an orphan’s tunic.” In a good way. The male version is more of the same fabric in a shirt length. There is much to do about natural fibre whether animal or vegetable; a stand out is what looks like a deconstructed vest made of kangaroo- it’s actually calf. The vest comes with a cropped soft leather tan jacket that slides on underneath. It’s a good take on the fuzzy faux fur coat that’s featured recently on New Yorkers and Parisians alike on The Sartorialist. There are dresses of panelled raw silk, which merely allude to being a dress shape and invite layering during the colder months. Another favourite was a vintage look leather skirt that would look sharp with tights and a turtleneck. Claude Maus’s collection has an ‘easy to wear’ air about it; there are loungey tracky pants which look like instant design student staples- as do the cotton jumpers with leather hoods. The coats are quite traditional, carrying a flourish or two from the classic Burberry trench in charcoal and black. Putting one on, you become aware of just how luxurious cashmere and wool is before noticing very modern tailoring that turns classics on their head.

For www.stylemelbourne.com

01 June 2009


When my mother was eight years old, with a black pinafore and giant white bow in her hair like every other Soviet girl, a stocky, porcine-featured teacher informed the class;

“The Vygovsky children are excellent pupils. It is a pity that their father is a priest.”

My mother, who is barely five foot tall as an adult, stood up to address the teacher.

“My father is a good man!”

After this, her older brothers would scurry off when they spotted her in the school grounds- too mortified to be associated with her. Several times my mother’s family had to leave a city after the local papers published articles denouncing them. To glean something more of my mother’s life I pored over black and white photographs after school, learning the names of uncles and ancestors I'd never met. Mama was born in China like thousands of other Russians escaping the brutality of the Soviet regime. Two years after her birth, Stalin died and her family was amongst thousands of émigrés that tentatively returned to their county. First settling in a large city in the Ural Mountains, they embarked on a tour of Central Asia, shunted around by the government who were afraid of the influence a priest could yield over a parish. The names of the cities my mother lived in read like poetry; Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan. Frunze, Kyrgyzstan. Abakan, Khakassia. Novosibirsk. Leningrad. Alma-Ata means Father of the Apples; my mother fondly recalls the unbelievably aromatic fruits of the region, the mountains and the bubbling melody of speech in bazaars.

15 April 2009



In my city
I'm further away from myself
and my words
which dried up in the clouds
over the Nullabor.

I was twenty when I wasted
my procession in the desert.
Three months of cypress trees and solitude
waiting for that lick of rain
to send me home.

Watching the war waged in the streets
bus bombs and shoot outs among neighbours
made front page news in Paris,
the Times and in Haaretz.

I carry the sand from Jericho with me
a small scratch, hidden from lovers
and the mother who bore me
new and whole into this city.

Solovki (excerpt)

On that northern island

watermelons grew in winter

before the fathers were thrown down stairs

discarded fruit, but

hollow-ribbed and hungry

and the victors gouged the eyes of my saints

with bayonets.

09 April 2009

out of the closet

What is there to do on Easter holidays in the city? Why, prepare for winter by handwashing shite loads of warm clothes + old faithfuls and rearranging the wardrobe for the new season, of course. Down to the junk store I ran for some wooden coat hangers. Out to the leather man I ran to see if he could redye a jacket (yes, anything is possible if you have a king's ransome.) Guess the jacket is staying British racing green.

During the course of this (throwing out old punky clothes) I had a mini pre-midlife crisis; how do we dress our age in our mid twenties? I'm not old enough for the monotone, layers and orthopedic kumfs. Or the crazy cat lady who takes inspiration from the colour palette of exotic bird life. I am old enough, however, to know what clothes are bought in China, roughed up, detagged and shipped to Australia to sell at purveyors of 'vintage' clothing. I don't like 'street'. Viscose doesn't thrill me. I don't work corporate.... What to do?
Inspired by style matriarch Maggie Alderson's rules of thumb, I took a turn down Chapel Street scoured multitude stores, bumped into Teresa Liano and came up with a few alternatives.

T.L Wood http://tlwoodaustralia.com/ structured, classic, quality. A Melbourne classic. I tried on every little black dress here helped by the designer (she was super- I invited her to come visit us at Duff's cafe). I figure the price of my dream dress is around 3 cheapish dresses that you'd wear for one season. Invest in one good one to take you through the years.?!

http://www.manningcartell.com.au/ is beautifully realised clothing by the Manning sisters. Hello Black Widow Lace dress. I was very impressed with their show at LMFF.

http://www.arnsdorf.com.au/ ah Arnsdof. Designer Jade Sarita Anrnott got a few items into this month's Vogue modelled by the sublime Abby Lee Kershaw. There's lots of lovely 'boy' shirts, blousey dresses slim jeans. I especially am fond of stone/bone this year.

Duff is currently looking through our kenwood mixer instruction manual, amazed at its ability to julienne carrots. Ah tomorrow (Good Friday= city in lockdown) is going to be a joy!

02 April 2009

you and me, by the sea

Aireys Inlet, West coast Victoria. Under the guise of art director, tagged along with my bestie, Clare Plueckhahn for a vintage themed bikini shoot. The weather was just lush mid autumn sunshine. These are my shitty shots from my digital, Clare's work can be found at CI studios (see "Recommended by Surgeon General") and also her website www.clareplueckhahn.com

01 April 2009

Private Lawns

A hotel for royalty, secret gardens and some of the most exclusive and obscure locations- Varia Karipoff embarks on an invitation only tour of Melbourne.

Located in genteel Collins Street is Melbourne's oldest and most prestigious gentleman's club. Members of the Melbourne Club have had an unprecedented influence on our nation's history - naturally, this club is impenetrable to mortal men. Founded by well-to-do squatters in 1839, the neo-Renaissance building has been a flagship for old money, tradition and sophistication since its inception. Boasting a walled garden where Moreton Bay Figs and grand Oaks peer into side streets, it is an Eden in a big city.

Melbourne Club
36-50 Collins Street, Melbourne


An obscure location gives this eatery a label of 'exclusive Melbourne' even as the city's secrets are sold on tourist maps; the Waiters Restaurant has been a prized venue since the 1960s. Tucked away behind bustling Bourke Street, down an alleyway and up a dubious staircase, patrons will be rewarded for their effort with surprisingly fine fare. Serving Italian cuisine to well-heeled theatre goers along with the initiated, the restaurant winks knowingly over its facade of run down simplicity and veneer tables.

The Waiters Restaurant
1st Floor, 20 Meyers Place, Melbourne


During the Melbourne Cup Carnival, extreme luxury is to be found at the Birdcage- the half dozen or so marquees that make up the A-list area. Sponsored by international brands, no expense is spared in pleasing the VIPs. Last year, Emirates impressed with an Austrian theme which included a gold statue of Johann Strauss, a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra pianist and a 70kg, $20,000 Swarovski crystal chandelier. Not to be outdone, Saab went with a Swedish theme complete with a sauna.

Garden State
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch's property, Cruden Farm, began life in the 1920s as a cottage garden in the outer suburb of Langwarrin. It would go on to become one of the most photographed and quintessentially Australian gardens. The garden features the famed avenue of Lemon Scented Gums and a highly regarded collection of sculptures. The influential matriarch and mother of media baron, Rupert Murdoch, is said to have lovingly planted all of the trees herself- with majestic results. Occasionally opened as part of Australia's Open Garden Scheme and exclusive fundraising events.
Cruden Farm
Corner Cranbourne-Frankston & Cranhaven Roads, Langwarrin


If you're the kind that counts golden fleece instead of sheep, then look no further. The Georgian Manor Villa at Crown Towers is lauded as one of Australia's finest city hotel suites and is invitation only. Comprising of 260 square metres of onyx, marble and golden luxury complete with handmade Italian furnishings, the suite name drops Bill Clinton, Princess Anne and Luciano Pavarotti among guests. The stunning panoramic views of Melbourne's skyline will have you reaching for your Ventolin (as will the price tag).

Crown Towers
8 Whiteman Street, Melbourne


White Hat go beyond the tourist traps into private residences, major mansions and off limits areas of public buildings with their Private Hidden Gems Tour. To take part, written references, police checks and natty outfits are called for- as is your best behaviour. Those lucky enough to be invited are rewarded with a silver service dinner and a rare glimpse into the heart of the city's upmost elite and hidden world. In the interest of cultural sustainability and security, tour locations are not released to the public.

19 March 2009

Runway 4 Instyle

Runway 4, the halfway mark of LMFF, a day at the end of a long Melbourne summer with dazzling orange skies glinting over the sultry sway of the sea. The line up of designers read like a who’s who of Department Store Royalty- each designer being backed by either Myer or David Jones. We crammed as one into Central Pier to witness eight designers and two supposed rival fashion houses.

Nevenka kicked off proceedings with a little glam goth sans Victorian-era heaviness. This was young, fresh goth; sheer yet well-structured. Where last year Rosemary Masic recalled the birthplace of her grandmother with clothing worthy of a Hungarian fairy tale, this year she stayed firmly in the west. Goth gave way to printed mauves and purples ruffled into blouses and dresses, ending in fuchsia wide leg pants, think Farrah Fawcett at a roller derby tournament.

Taking it to another decade, Manning Cartell roared onto the floor with a sequined flapper style dress. The era of the hedonistic, pre-depression world was referred to again with masculine lines in trousers; whether slim cigarette pants, wide leg or the drapey genie kind. One wish? Clear my Visa card debt. The Manning sisters know how to rock it- fingerless leather driving gloves, ‘80s micro dresses, neon bright tights and black leather highlights. I need that credit card for a little black dress I spied from the trio.

Next was Lisa Ho who injected some more mileage into PETA meetings . Winter 09 was welcomed with a navy military-style trench and a long fur vest (real darlink) covering up a cutesy cotton print dress. The balance was just right; an ostrich feathered bolero worthy of a Great Gatsby heroine was matched with pared down pants. Ruffles in tiers were a staple on the night and not more so than in Lisa Ho’s collection. Her palette for these was red hot, peacock blue and gun grey and the silk/chiffon combos steered on the sheer side.

The ruffles followed on in Thurley, where fuchsia party dresses took charge of the runway with giant black helium balloons that reminded me of that government greenhouse gas ad. The darling of LMFF 2006, designer Helen O’Connor showed off her dress fixes for winter. Yellow overlayed with delicate black lace, a long white maxi dress with an crochet collar, little bead dresses, black and white print dresses- the 09 campaign is worth closer scrutiny for all the beautifully minute detail.

Now at the halfway point of the show, the lights were dimmed followed by the sound of approximately twenty models trotting down the runway. It was a clever move to elicit some kind of expectation from the audience. A teaser was played on the television screens- images of peacock feathers and a lithe woman. The light was turned on to reveal all the models on the runway at once- bright as Aladdin’s treasure. I need more that one wish this winter genie! Peacock motifs in print, coloured tights, gold prints with warm coloured cardies- it was a school of les poupees russes (Russian dolls) with coloured woollen hand warmers up to the elbow. Obus tempered down what could have been riotous with an indie nod to mixing it up- get with it.
More theatre was to follow; Arabella Ramsey took some silk geometric print dresses and plaid with a ton of back story. Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire (‘hey little girl, is your daddy home’) played as a Little Red Riding Hood type trench traipsed down the runway followed by a Lolita in a plaid dress with requisite sunglasses. Next we had rebellious teen types in cut denim shorts, a lazy jumper worn around a waist and influences as American as pie - plaid shirts (flannies mate), jeans and tassled boots. Don't forget the old patriot/rebel Bruce. Yes we can America.

Not to be outdone in the entertainment stakes, Kate Sylvester swung the tune to tutu-licious. A model gracefully demonstrated her ballet moves in a short white tutu with thick seamed white tights. There was a little '50s romance nostalgia going on with a juke box ballad cranking it over luxurious white smoking jackets, chunky knit highschool sweetheard cardigans and lots of thick tights like an old time ballet school warm up class. The dresses were delicate and dramatic just like a prima ballerina.

The hot night had one more label up its sleeve, another sister team- Ginger and Smart. Sister Genevieve, one time senior designer at Lisa Ho, took the fashion stakes to unabashed city girl. The models hit the nail on the head, striding down purposefully in loose hanging coats, ponchos and genie pants all topped off with little air hostess hats by Nerida Winter and HUGE black bags. I have one of these and I call it my "bag of death." The Smart shone in this collection, ivory silks rubbing shoulders with grey wools, highlights of tartan, cropped jackets -all super smart and wearable.