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Fashion, Soul

The Prize – a semester in Milan!

The weeks before flying to Milan to study Fashion for a semester abroad, people kept asking me if I was excited. I would twist my face into a smile and nod, however the truth was that I was terrified. For someone as passionate as I am to have the opportunity to study abroad in one of the worlds Fashion capitals sounds like a dream come true, however having to face that fact that I would be doing it completely on my own was enough to make me feel like I had rocks in my stomach.

When I arrived in Italy, I was slightly delirious (nearly 48 hours of travel will do that to a girl). My taxi driver sped through the countryside, weaving in an out of cars between text messages he wrote frantically with one hand. I arrived at my new university – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (Naba) with my suitcases in tow. When I was informed that my other three house mates wouldn’t be arriving for at least five more days, I felt a lump creep into my throat. How was I going to survive here on my own for that long, in a place where I barely spoke the language? The first night in the empty apartment was the hardest. I curled up, fully clothed, on top of my bed, too tired to even get under the covers. I used a small hand towel as a blanket (pathetic I know). It was 4pm.

The next day I was awake before the sun. Having anxiety is nothing new to me, however on this morning I experienced it on a whole new level. My heart was racing, I felt sick, I was sweating. I was suddenly hyper aware of time. The thought that I was going to be away from my family and fiancé for the next 140 days made the room spin. I realized that in order to survive, I needed to connect with people. I had to make friends, and since I was so early and the other people I would be studying with hadn’t arrived yet, I turned to the next best thing – Facebook. I discovered a Facebook group called ‘Girls in Milan’, and once I was accepted I typed a plea for help: “Aussie girl, freaking out, homesick after two days, needs pals”. I was overwhelmed with responses, but one stood out. An English girl named Michelle empathized with how I was feeling, and was happy to meet up with me in the afternoon to show me around the city.

We met outside my uni (safety first) and instantly I knew we’d be friends. She had a relaxed, warm energy that made me feel calm again for the first time in days. We started to walk and chat, and as we turned the corner I quickly discovered that my apartment is right next to two of Milan’s most famous and beautiful canals, a fantastic vintage store and endless cafes and restaurants. We strolled along the cobbled stone streets, stopping for coffee gelato and enjoying the blistering Italian sunshine. The street fashion didn’t disappoint, as I admired tanned women in designer pleated skirts teamed with trendy sneakers and oversized handbags rush past me. There was something about their natural beauty that made me feel good about embracing less makeup.

Processed with VSCO with c8 presetI soon learned that Michelle had fallen in love with Italy at a young age, and had been living her dream to live and teach in Milan for the last four years. Her passion for the country was so genuine that part of me started to open up to it a little more as well. As we neared the city center, she stopped me. “I remember the first moment I saw it” she said smiling. “Saw what?” I asked, but before I could finish, I felt myself gasp. A church stretching high into the sky made from sparkling pink marble was glowing in the afternoon sun, and it took my breath away. The Duomo was more stunning and grand than I could have imagined, and there was something in seeing it that filled me with excitement and optimism. I was here, I’d made it. And although I was scared, I knew I’d be ok, because on the other side of the things you are most afraid of are always the biggest and best adventures.

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Fashion, Photoshoot, Soul

I am not my hair.

img_7621I first decided to get a fringe when I was about 13 years old. I had struggled through my pre-teen years with unruly thick curls, a feature I never saw as anything but an inconvenience (washing and combing was a nightmare). Entering high school at an all girls college saw me instantly compare myself to others around me in a way I never really had before. The grass was so much greener, blonder and straighter. I was brunette, Hermione-Granger-esk and totally uncool.

My youthful decision to get blunt bangs came after a consultation with my local hairdresser, as I begged for a way to disguise my reasonably giant forehead (for which I had been teased about ruthlessly). “Well… a fringe would cover that up!” She said. And I said yep. Let’s do it.

The first year of bangs I have entitled ‘The Battle with the Blow Dryer’, which involved many tear-filled mornings of attempting to get my fringe “like it was when the hairdresser did it!”. This often resulted in a fluffy, half straight fringe teamed with a head of hippy curls (not my finest look). This look was never really mastered until my final years of high school, where I cut my hair into a 20’s bob and straightened the hell out of it. I became defined by this look. People would buy me those little Japanese plastic dolls with the same hair every birthday. My hair became a huge part of my identity, symbolising my leap from lame frizzy teenager to cool, hipster fashion girl.

This look became my secret weapon. I landed roles in commercials, small modelling gigs, always cast as the “hipster girl”. I was often compared to Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (huge compliment!) or the ‘fifty shades of grey girl’ (I’ll take that too). These comments boosted my self esteem in a way I soon came to rely on. I feared being seen with my hair back to an unhealthy degree. I would actively avoid running in to people on the days I was brave enough to go out in public with it pinned back.

This year I turned 25, and something shifted. This ‘look’ I had cultivated over the last 12 years started to feel more and more like a lie. My fringe was something I had hidden behind, and now I felt like it was time to open myself (and my face) up to the world and stop being afraid.

This week has been my first official week of natural hair. I had to throw out my dodgy shampoo/conditioner in exchange for some quality + moisturising products, this will help repair the damage of half a lifetime of heat styling. I don’t have the ringlets I did when I was young, however I still have plenty of thick natural waves. I did cheat a little and have a fantastic colour makeover by a local lady named Chelle’s Cheveux, who lightened my tresses in order to highlight my natural curls.

I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t had a few morning freak outs, especially after going on a coffee break at work and having my usual  barista ask me “is today your day off?” I’ve also had a few people re-introduce themselves to me (awkward) as they literally didn’t recognise me without my fringe.

When I start feeling my ego taking over and that dark voice telling me I won’t be cool/attractive/hipster/popular without my fringe, I stop and check myself. If I can get over this hurdle and a little closer to self love, switching my focus from body image to the things that really matter… I will have so much more energy, focus and passion to invest in my wonderful life.

P.s The beautiful bird dress ($5) and palm tree white shirt ($3) where both purchased this morning from the Wardrobe Warriors Market at Mt Gravatt, which I highly recommend if you’re wanting some outfit updates and don’t want to spend more than the coins floating around in the bottom of your handbag.

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Fashion, Soul

Consumer Consumed: Photoshoot with Rachael Baskerville

Pretty thrilled to have teamed up with the insanely talented photographer – Rachael Baskerville – in this great little art project.

We pulled off a guerrilla photoshoot at a local department store, trying to capture the essence of our brat-like inner consumer next to our more “rational” side. These photos turned out amazingly and I’m so excited to have been part of this – See the rest of the amazing series HERE




Fashion, Soul

Why I sold 80% of everything I owned…

As our apartment slowly filled with strangers, we were met with the same question over and over again – “So are you guys moving or something?” Jamie and I were slightly caught off guard, as we hadn’t realised that what we were doing actually seemed quiet unusual to so many people. We weren’t moving, we weren’t going travelling, we weren’t desperate for cash. Continue Reading