I was buying milk at my local shop this week and was stopped dead in my trackies by a most glorious cover of Dame Quentin Bryce on the September issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly.
Photographed by Corrie Bond on the beach in Lockhart River, Cape York Queensland, Dame Quentin looks as wonderful as ever in a yellow sleeveless shift dress by Australian label Jac + Jack, set off with red lipstick and pale leather lace up brogues.
I couldn’t help be struck by how optimistic and lovely the photo was. Dame Quentin has always embraced colour, with a wardrobe favouring deep pinks, blues, and of course, glorious yellows.
Yellow is not a colour you see people wearing very often, and that is unfortunate, because when you see it, it’s gorgeous especially on blondes (remember Debbie Harry in Blondie in a yellow knee length dress singing Picture This?). I appreciate it when other people wear cheerful, pretty colours, given that my natural tendency is not to opt for colour.
I have tried, but most of the time they end up being expensive failures, like the pricey red trench coat still hanging in my wardrobe that has been taunting me for a decade, unworn and unloved.
Apparently red is a sign of confidence and positivity, but I do not wake up in the morning wanting to wear red. I’ve always thought it looks try-hard; a regulation red jacket worn by an aspiring politician, or a smiling candidate’s wife.
I was visiting a friend in Melbourne who is creating a new collection of beautiful silk satin shirts and she showed me examples in bat’s blood red, gold, Tiffany blue and peacock green and all of a sudden I have a new longing for colour.
Having been in the fashion industry most of my life, I have wallowed in black, but I am trying to branch out. In an editorial meeting at work, I noticed that the entire team, all under the age of 40 were wearing black (and a smattering of white), while I was in navy, a tentative stab at wearing colour that couldn’t indicate my age more succinctly than if I was wearing Giorgio Beverly Hills perfume.
Among great colour calamity was the time I purchased, for no earthly reason, an orange leather jacket. It was at a Chanel sale in Paris, well not exactly Paris; more like two hours’ drive from Paris in a freezing warehouse where wealthy women fought to the death for the chance to buy a maximum of four drastically reduced Chanel items.
The orange jacket came with matching orange leather pants, an ensemble so hideous that it should have scared me off then and there, but I bought the jacket thinking I would wear it with jeans, and maybe a grey T-shirt. Well that never happened did it.
I bought purple ankle boots once that came home and then marched straight up to the charity shop. But, more successfully, I did purchase a lavender cocoon coat this winter, and every time I wear it, people mention that they love the colour.
We should look at the wearing of beautiful colour as a community service, and thank you Dame Quentin.