Mags: Party Of Five Review Special

Glossy Review (with a silly-season lemon twist)

In lieu of an actual office Christmas party, I decided to host a glossy party, inviting five of our fashiony friends to eat, drink and be merry. Who was the best company? Who wore the best outfit? Who brought the best gift? Who drank the most? Who's invited back next year? Pop on a compilation of your favourite Christmas tracks and be my guest...


Party representative: Miranda Kerr. She looks tired, like she could drop off the perch at any moment. Life's hectic for this supermodel and she tells the magazine as much: "Arrgghh...the fairytale of 15-hour days, six days a week, two different countries a week and no life. I pretty much get there, work, sleep, go, work, sleep go...I'm tired." We’re tired just reading about it. Kerr is probably also going to make us feel guilty for over-indulging at lunch ("I eat mainly organic and stick to the 80:20 rule"), suggesting that we sip on green tea between helpings. Still, she's a true-blue Aussie girl, and you just want to pinch those dimpled cheeks till they’re pink.

Party clothes: Sparkly dresses, full-volume minis, Antonio Berardi frocks, Prada prints, a $2999 white Dolce & Gabbana dress, $950 glittery Miu Miu shoes, and a fur hood inspired by Where The Wild Things Are. Fur in summer. Tres practical!

Party look: red lips and a nonchalant hairdo like one of the French It Girls (Charlotte, Lou, Julia, Melanie...), perhaps?

Party conversations: Nikki Gemmell tells it like it is in 'My Story' – she finds herself downtrodden by a mortgage, her husband's retrenchment and pressure to bring in the bucks as a novelist, but is humbled by the kindness of close friends; Laura Brown tells us all about The Year of Shoulder Pads that was 2009; Tamara Davis recalls her Top 10 Fashion Moments; Interior designer Sibella Court explains why she wears only four hues (cream, white, caramel and black, I'm guessing); beauty director Eugenie Kelly talks about genomics, sirtuins, oxofulleram and disport, and my head hurts. Then, for added punishment, we get a serving of exo-bot Tracy Anderson.

Party tips: "To balance out dark circles, go with a yellow colour corrector," says Chanel celebrity makeup artist Kate Lee. "Brighten your eyes by rimming your inside bottom lid with a white or navy pencil," says fellow guru Joanna Schlip.

Party presents: A $9400 Cartier watch, $895 sequined Pierre Hardy shoes, bags by Pucci and Phillip Lim and a $615 Hermes notebook. Santa must have a big budget this year!

Party on a plate:
"Tasty hors d'oeuvres and glass after glass of Moet can add up to an extra five kilos by January," warns Dr. Stephen Gallo. Harper's lends a hand with its "tips to avoid packing on the pounds", including "Wear formfitting clothes to parties. You'll know instantly if you are gaining weight."

Party-girl rating: 4/5. Fashion obsessed much, Harper's makes for frivolous festive company and gives expensive gifts. Watch she doesn’t drop off after a vino or two on an empty stomach.

Party representative: Eva Mendes: the kind of girl who gets all the male attention in the room. Still, says Harvey Marcus, this beauty has hidden depths: "an intellect, with all its attendant anxieties and fancies, that hasn't always been apparent in her film work." She has been described as not entirely "girl-friendly", is a proponent of therapy and checked herself into rehab last year ("nothing happened"). She also loves her dog and cemeteries. Interesting company.

Party clothes: Marie Claire has the most enviable wardrobe of all. The flirty French ensembles in 'Bonsoir, Mademoiselle' will have you craving a pair of Jonathan Aston lace tights, a pretty bow for your hair and a pouffy skirt and jacket. But you will also want to dress up in a printed frock and wear your hair straight with a centre part as per 'Child's Play'. Then 'Flower Power' will pull you in with its luxe pairing of florals and neutral pieces, and 'Summer Breeze' will tempt you with tailored shorts and a little black Collette Dinnigan dress that's sure to sell out. But it doesn't end there – ‘101 ideas’ is replete with even more party dresses and the shopping pages are a treasure trove of editor-approved clothing (I'll take the $1750 Josh Goot dress!). Marie Claire will make you want a whole new wardrobe.

Party look: Primping Marie Claire style involves rainbow bright hues. Applied incorrectly you will look like a clown and scare small children. A great tactic if you don't like small children. Saving grace = 'Back to Base', which enlists all the best foundations and application tips. Perfumes are in abundance and a page of hair accessories for grown-up girls are a fancy proposition.

Party conversations: Marie Claire can always be counted on for a bunch of provocative, informative and challenging stories – a verbal buffet for the conversationally challenged. This month she's talking about: Tantric sex, YouTube celebrities, "intersex", Patrick Swayze, business success stories, swimming pool statistics, crap presents, London fashion, bullying, relationships, overeating and Powderfinger's new album. Christmas makes an appearance via the annual Christmas light displays, while festivals, books and films fill up the silent moments.

Party tips: "Keep to one or two colours when decorating your tree to streamline your Christmas palette"; "Only eat until you are comfortable and could eat more, never until you are full and bloated." Stephanie Conley is the ultimate hostess. Her secret? "Good food and keeping everyone's glasses topped up."

Party presents: Marie Claire caters for all the people in your life with its Gift Guide but your eyes will gravitate towards the things you'd like for yourself - just like real Christmas shopping! Necklaces, journals, wedges, makeup cases, notepads, purses, lingerie, sweets, books and sneaks... for him, her and the kiddies. Everyone is happy. It's the little things that count.

Party on a plate: Salmon tartare on crostini, turkey and leek pies, turkey with chestnut stuffing, Christmas pudding and a selection of sophisticated wines.

Party-girl rating: 3.5/5. Marie Claire definitely sits at the grown-ups table. Best behave accordingly.

Party representative: Abbie Cornish. Best not to put this party girl in the same room as InStyle (see below). "Strong but delicate" is how she describes her Bright Star character, and she's quite the same. She's a serious actress: "I just think life is too precious to mess around with things you're not interested in. I don't really see the point, and there are so many other things that I like to do that I don't really want to be on a set 10 months out of the year. I just don't. I prefer to have time to make music or paint or be with friends and's the time between that allows you to live and to learn and [also to] fuel the mind, the body, the spirit, which then goes on to affect the kind of work that you do." She hints to Vogue that she may do an album a la Scarlett Johansson. Is she Australia’s answer to intense, voluptuous Scarlett?

Party clothes: Vogue has helpfully organised your summer wardrobe by occasion: beachside brunch, poolside, market day, music festival, road trip, outdoor cinema, picnic in the park and boating. It's like sartorial tourism - lots of fun. Electric blue, floral prints, pink heels and Fantastia-inspired girlie things populate single trend pages. But things get really fun with 'Be Good, For Goodness Sake', which sees models Holly Thompson and Sarah Stephens playing with giant props, like two Christmas fairies lost in Wonderland. Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood, Harry Who, D&G, Viktor & Rolf, Giorgio Armani, Madame Hall and Marni have all sent frocks out to play. A page over, it's all boring block colours and shapeless shifts. 'The Frill Of It All' is opulent with rich textures and colours. But what I really, really want is the Josh Goot outfit on p76 – jacket, cardigan and mini in black and soft pink.

Party look: Elegant up-dos and a jewelled hairclip, gleaming skin, graphic eyeliner and false lashes are the recommendation. But perfume takes centre stage with Vogue's Ultimate Fragrance Guide occupying seven pages. Aerin Lauder makes the natural look oh-so appealing.

Party conversations: Jo Abbie confesses to a Twilight obsession; Brenda Harvey introduces her bag collection; Kit Willow-Podgornik recalls her earliest fashion memory; three party girls (Bianca Brandolini, Emily Pero, Alexis Elliott) reveal their beauty, health and style rituals; Vogue works its Little Black Book to get fashiony types to tell us about their holiday plans; Ryan Kwanten is an Aussie hottie; Bridezilla are the band du jour; Natalie Imbruglia makes sweet music with Chris Martin; and Sarina Lewis yearns for a life threaded with elegance (“We want that Sophie Dahl ideal: successful model-turned-author making an organic stew in a gorgeous cashmere sweater dress”). Did you know brain cancer mostly affects young professionals in the prime of their life? Eek! On a positive note, Felicity Loughrey writes on the Australians In New York Fashion Foundation (AINYFF) – a fantastic initiative and inspiring bunch of Aussies living the Manhattan dream.

Party tips: “An impact lipstick or smoky eye alone will help you feel like you have changes for the evening,” says Emily Pero, who also advises, “Never buy an outfit on the day for that night. You’ll make a panicky choice and never wear it again – guaranteed!”. Note here: GWAS ALWAYS buys on the day of the event, and usually winds up wearing the outfit again, and again – believe in sartorial serendipity and it will come true for you, too!

Party presents: Vogue’s Christmas gift guide is like a nativity calendar bursting with surprises. The best thing? It’s studded with FREE GIFT IDEAS, like “give an overworked loved one a day – or a week – off from domestic duties” and Sophie Lee’s suggestion, “I once made a gift for my husband of a small Moleskine notebook with poems, stories, illustrations and little collages.” What a fabulous idea. Thank you, Vogue, for imbuing the materialism with some heart.

Party on a plate: Not a single canapĂ© in sight! Vogue doesn’t do food, darlings.

Party-girl rating: 4/5. Girlie, witty and sophisticated, Vogue never fails to impress me with its array of girl-crush-worthy interview subjects, while the warmth of personalised contributions in the form of anecdotes and quotes keeps it from being too lofty and unapproachable. Still, now I think I have brain cancer, and what’s a party without foooooood?

Party representative: Reese Witherspoon. She says, “I’m an open book. I’m not about intimidating women or making them feel like less than what they are.” I still find her intimidating. But perhaps her life experience has softened those hard edges? She runs and trades clothes with her girlfriends, likes to cook, has chickens and grows her own tomatoes, and says her ideal scenario is to do one movie a year and has stopped spending so much time thinking about the future. Right now, she’s learning to “live more in the moment, and have more fun.” Me too! I think we could be friends. Plus, she’s a shortie, so we could swap clothes!

Party clothes: Reese’s black Alexander Wang dress and killer heels do it for me, but there’s much more inspiration to whet the appetite: celebrities in mustard coloured frocks and little navy dresses; Diane, Erin and Audrey in Chanel; Teresa Palmer in an AMAZING J’Aton beaded French lace dress ($5,800 – a girl can dream); looks for brunch with the gals; a Yeojin Bae sequined-nylon mini skirt ($590); garden party frocks; Christmas lunch outfit suggestions (white dresses mostly – skip the beetroot); exotic pool party ensembles; sparkly heels; bustiers; Emma Booth sporting a White Suede one-piece and Sass and Bide jacket I Have To Have; pretty Natalie Bassingthwaighte in frou-frou frocks… so much to contemplate!

Party look: ‘The Disco Flip’, ‘The Flapper’ or ‘The Pin-Up’ for your hair; classic, trendsetter, seductress, bohemian or bombshell for your makeup.

Party conversations: Mostly just celebrities talking about themselves. Join in ‘A Couture Christmas’ with J’Aton Couture designers Anthony Pittorino and Jacob Luppino or ‘Island Time’ with Gail Elliott and Joe Coffey. Fake fashion friends!

Party tips: “For glamorous party locks like Eva Longoria Parker’s, Great Lengths Hair Extensions could be what you need.” Are we really still doing hair extensions? “The finest parties are ones filled with laughter,” says Poppy King. “A well-thought-out playlist is a conversation starter,” says Stephen Ormandy of Dinosaur Designs.

Party presents: 101 items hand-picked by InStyle’s experts! In a world plush with funds, I would request the $1,500 Prada silk bag and keyring ($430); $550 Ginger & Smart silk dress; $389 Miu Miu silk key ring coin purse; Harry Ellen resin and silver-plated rollerskates ($575); My Wonderful World of Fashion by Nina Chakrabarti; Bally leather computer bag ($2,580)… yes, there’s much to love.

Party on a plate: Top points for presentation: InStyle does entertaining guests like no other. This month the glossy has enlisted the services of chef Christine Mansfield to give Aussie personalities a cooking class (way to work in the celebrity angle!). On the menu: vanilla cream and balsamic strawberries and roast suckling lamb leg with sticky rice and green mango salad.

Party-girl rating: 3/5. Loads of personality, pretty celebrities and people having fun. Superficial festivities.

Party representative: Charlize Theron. She’s the kind of woman that could give you the cold shoulder (ha ha). She wouldn’t suffer fools lightly. She’d be tricky to buy a gift for. She comes across a hard sort of person – but I guess you get that way when your childhood wasn’t an idyllic walk in the park. However, there are elements of the every-woman about her that could make for a good conversation. Like, she says “I work out just like everyone else”. She’s a lover and a fighter.

Party clothes: ’50 Accessories for Under $250’ will make you consider festive bling and oodles of shoodles populate ‘Luxe to Less’. Elyse Taylor models creamy, dreamy, drapey dresses; Pania Rose sparkles in mini dresses; Sarah Stephens strikes a pose in black dresses… then we get more Elyse in summer swimmers, which we could probably do without seeing as we approach the fattest month of the year. A full-page picture of leggy Alexa Chung in a button-up men’s shirt and tiny denim shorts is memorable.

Party look: Madison advocates the deep side-part, grey smoky eyes, Chanel highlighter, metallic eyeshadow, lash-enhancing treatments and the natural look (which can be achieved with a commitment to facials, eyebrow shaping, bronzer application, drinking two litres of water a day…). And no party outfit is complete without the perfect perfume. Of course. Are we sensing a smelly theme across the glossy spectrum?

Party conversations: Puppy dog adoption; Australia’s “pride and prejudice”; domestic violence; having good sex; David Penberthy on a decade of politics; Tim Footman on pop culture; Alexandra Carlton on “premium denim, designers for the masses and the Bradshaw effect”; Jessica Montague on the sports scene; Elizabeth Wilson on ‘The Waiting Game’ (hold your horses, good things come to those who wait – like JK Rowling, Martin Scorsese, Coco Chanel and Tina Fey… and Pandora jewellery’s Karin Adcock); Richard Gere, the ladies man; ‘The Twilight Zone’; Alexa Chung’s innate coolness; ballet, running or Wii workouts; Cindy Crawford’s supermodel awesomeness.

Party tips: “By giving your tummy, liver and body chemistry a little TLC, you can help minimise hangover symptoms” – water, Vitamin B and crackers before bed should to the trick. “Fat delays the stomach emptying. So if you’re going to have pate and cheese for starters, choose a low-fat dinner and avoid big serves,” suggests gastroenterologist Jane Andrews.

Party presents: A puppy! Turn to the ‘Shopping’ section for five pages of gifting ideas for the kids, him, her, mum and dad. Doing Secret Santa this year? Dominique Bertolucci suggests a book, a voucher or a bottle of wine (p288).

Party on a plate: Prawn and avocado stack; fried zucchini flowers; negroni cocktail; roasted chicken sandwiches; spinach, goats cheese and pesto salad; pistachio cannoli… all lovingly layed out for us, on silver platters, in the home of Alex Zabotto-Bentley.

Party-girl rating: 3/5. I'd be paranoid about spilling red wine on her perfectly plush cream carpet but Madison would make a fine dining friend.

Party issue verdict: Marie Claire is the best dressed; Vogue works her Little Black Book best; InStyle invites us to appreciate Aussie celebs; Harper's is light on conversation (blame it on fatigue) but produced a pretty cover; and Madison is doing her best to strike the perfect seasonal balance.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel


Anonymous said...

Dear lovely Erica,
i do believe this is my favourite GWAS post ever!
it was a lovely way to end my long day at work, with a sneaky read.

i may just be holding this christmas party on the weekend.

ta, kass.

Anonymous said...

Very good summary. I've read all these magazines & agree with everything you said. Very lovely & pretty post too.

A Piece of Passion said...

Just found your blog and I really like it :)

A Stylestory

jeggings said...

Love these dresses… I really appreciate your work...