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True romance

Written by Helene Pilhage


Posted on October 13 2015

Even before I moved to Australia some 20 years ago, I had seen the remarkable Peter Weir film ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ and it had made a huge impression on me, as it did on so many. The dreamy loveliness of it all combined with the oppressive but beautiful Australian bush setting and the unsolved mystery of the missing girls – well, it still sends shivers up my spine even now!

All these years after the film was released, it is still having a creative impact on fashion design and culture. I remember loving the beautiful broderie anglaise dresses, the lace up boots and the straw boater hats that the girls wore. But more powerful than the specific costumes, was the sheer atmosphere of the film’s look and style. Soft white cotton, loose plaited hair, cheeks rosy from the sun, eyes heavy from the heat, lace and ruffles and corsets all at pretty feminine odds with the harshness of the environment, skirts and sleeves hitched and rolled up to accommodate that fateful exploration of the rock, the slow, drowsy, languid feeling of feminine beauty and youth with a backdrop of impending calamity – no wonder everyone from Sofia Coppola to Alexander McQueen and Chloe Sevigny has drawn on Picnic at Hanging Rock for inspiration. Even a recent Australian Vogue edition featured a Picnic-inspired photo shoot to celebrate the 40th birthday of the film and its enduring legacy on fashion.

I was out walking through Ku-ring-gai Chase national park on the weekend wearing the Maya top and my sons thought it was pretty funny that I was wearing delicate lace on a stinking hot bushwalk but I think I’d subconsciously dressed for my own "Picnic at Barrenjoey" movie scene – but without the tragic disappearance! Anyway, the point is, anyone who knows Kaja will know what a fan I am of lace, broderie anglaise, and crochet detailing and our wonderful customers seem to be enjoying playing with these traditionally feminine elements in a really contemporary way as much as I do. The 40th anniversary resurgence of interest in the film is allowing us again to embrace all that delicate, ruffled, soft cotton, and it’s so easy to add a very “now” element to stop the whole look from falling into a kind of Victorian fancy dress or pastiche. Throw on a denim jacket over your lace top, pile your hair in a high top knot, pair your favourite ankle boots or gladiator sandals with a flowing skirt, sling a rough and ready satchel over your shoulder, rock your favourite sunglasses, and head out into the blue, unclouded weather! But just remember - stay on the path, and take your mobile and plenty of water! We don’t want to come calling for you “Miranda, Miranda......”


 Image credits: film stills from Peter Weir's 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'; Vogue Australia March 2015 - see the video here



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