I am delighted to bring you a new post in my Interview series and introduce you to Jill of the wonderful blog Grownup Glamour. Jill lives in exotic Tasmania - the island South of Australia, and the coldest Australian state (doesn't this description make you think twice regarding what you know about geography?). I find her style bold, unexpected and truly one-of-a-kind, and her attitude towards life as exceptional as her sense of fashion. In my own search for the understanding of the roots of creativity, I asked Jill a few questions about style and about life. What makes this unique woman who she is?
Your outfits often remind me of the arts of sculpture and architecture. Black and white, your favorite color palette, only reinforces this impression. What place do architecture and sculpture have in your life? Have you ever studied them? Do you have favorite artists and architects?
I guess I have always been interested in architecture and sculpture and the way shape, colour and form are involved in our everyday. I have never studied these art forms on a formal basis, but I take great pleasure in observing them at every opportunity. I do not have any particular favourite artists or architects as my interest ranges from historical to ultra-modern in both art and architecture. I am continually discovering new areas of interest.
Black is not an uncommon clothing color in the modern world - if you look at a big city crowd, many outfits will feature a great deal of black and gray, to the point when it might seem commonplace. Your outfits are often either all black, or black and white, but they are anything but boring or predictable - on the contrary, they stand alone due to your artistic eye and imagination. How did your love affair with the color black begin? Was it always your favorite color or it is a relatively new development?
I can't really say exactly when my love affair with black started, we have been best friends for many years, I think it just crept up on me over time. I do enjoy wearing black or black and white, so I can't see me stopping in the near future.
I assume that it's safe to say that you wear black most days, but you also create magnificent ensembles with strong bright colors - a lot of red, some orange, purple and yellow come to mind. How do you know when you want to stay with a black and white palette versus adding another color to it?
Yes, most days you can find me in black with a pop of colour, or in black and white. If I wear colour, it is usually a strong colour, as pastels and I just don't seem to work. In Winter, I tend to favour red to brighten some days. So both weather and how I feel on that particular day tend to dictate my choice.
When it comes to classifying, I find it impossible to place you into any single particular style. I sense a strong connection with art, heritage, seasons and city. But there is also an element that I couldn't put my finger on for the longest time. Then at some point you shared the blog dedicated to Japanese mature style (60 and up), and I think it gave me a glimmer of understanding. Do you think you are influenced by Asian contemporary art and Asian (mainly Japanese, perhaps) urban fashion as a form of art? I don't think it is well known here in America. How well is it represented in Australia?
In more recent times, I have definitely been influenced by urban Japanese fashion. I find I am drawn to the shapes and flow of the garments and the ease of comfort to wear them. Although we have a few designers influenced by this style, it is by no means widely represented in the mainstream.
Do you have favorite designers? Who are they, and what attracts you to their designs the most?
I admire the Japanese designers Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamanato for their sheer creativity in both their design and choice of fabrics. I also follow the work of several Australian designers: I admire Collette Dinnigan, Carla Zampatti, Akira Isogawa, Lisa Ho. I have just discovered two new designers on my recent Melbourne trip: Bronwyn Nicolson, whose label is Sadotna, and Masayo Yasuki from Dogstar.
How do you usually begin creating an outfit for the day - what influences your decision to wear this or that particular piece?
Most of my outfits are created with the weather in mind and what I am doing on this particular day.
Your accessories are always very distinctive. What characteristics do accessories need to have in order to catch your attention and make their way into your collection?
I tend to favour strong accessories. I have collected both beads and bangles for many years, and I tend to wear these on a daily basis. I also have just started collecting gloves, so I have added these to the mix.
I admire the way you give your outfits a finishing touch by adding a hat, either contemporary or vintage. Or is the hat maybe the beginning point of your creating an outfit?
Both really, sometimes the hat finishes the outfit, but also sometimes the outfit is put together around a particular hat.
Your hair style is reminiscent of an earlier epoch, 1920s I'd say. Do you feel it plays a major role in your personal style? When did you choose this particular shape?
My hairstyle has become a big part in my personal style. Over the years I have had many different styles, ranging from a pixie cut (a big mistake) to long, straight hair. A bob in many different guises has always worked for me, and it is a style I always return to. This particular style I have now had for about four years, coinciding with finding a new hairdresser.
Do you divide your wardrobe into basics and statement pieces? For a long time I was mostly buying so-called statement pieces, then I thought that I needed to focus on basics. But after a while, I realized that my hands almost never want to reach for those "basic" pieces, and I mix up all sorts of pieces with their own characters into one outfit. I think you do it to an even larger extent - there might be a basic tee in your outfit, but that's pretty much it. You combine all sorts of pieces with their own characters and strong presence into an outfit, and it works beautifully.
No, I don't divide into basic and statement pieces, I am like you and just mix it all together. I don't really think about it any more, so maybe it has become instinctive.
You don't seem to be interested in conventional fashion. Your outfits come across as “beyond time” to me - some of them say 1980s, others take me back to the early XX century, while there are also quite a few that seem uber modern, influenced by the contemporary urban culture. Do you have a favorite fashion period?
I really am not interested in conventional fashion - I find so much of it unflattering and so much the same. I don't have a particular fashion period as I find each decade has its own charm, but that said I love the jackets and coats and of course the hats from the 1940s and 1950s.
What do you remember the most about your outfits as a child? Did you like to play with your Mum's wardrobe? Did you want to look like anyone in particular?
I have fond memories of wearing pretty dresses as a little girl, growing up in the 50s. Like most little girls, I enjoyed playing dress-ups with some of my mother's clothes. I must admit, I can't particularly recall wanting to look like anyone else.
What were your favorite things to do as a young person? Did you ever take any creative classes?
I grew up living in the country, and there were no classes nearby. I loved to sing and dance, although my talent was limited.
In what ways is your life similar to what you imagined for yourself as a young person, and in what ways is it very different?
I always knew I wanted to travel and see the world. I also imagined myself living in a big city, but for several reasons this didn't happen. I also knew I wanted to be a mother.
What inspired you to start a blog? What does blogging bring to your life?
I had followed several blogs for quite some time before I started my blog as a challenge for myself as I turned 60. The joy of blogging for me is connecting with like-minded souls across the globe and forming friendships and experiencing a little of their lives.
I know you've done quite a bit of world traveling. What places have you been to? Do you feel they have influenced your personality, your sense of direction in life?
My first overseas trip was to Europe, starting in the UK, and travelling around in a VW camper-van. Travelling back to Australia overland via Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India was an eye opening experience. My next trip was to South America, Mexico, the US and Canada. I have also visited Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand. For me, my travels opened my eyes to the world around me and introduced me to so many different cultures. I hope it made me a more tolerant and open-minded person. I think travels make you realize how lucky you are and not to take anything for granted.
Other than style and blogging, gardening seems a big creative outlet for you. You live in a beautiful Victorian house with an amazing lush flower garden. Are you the one who started it?
Gardening is a creative outlet for me - I think of it as painting with flowers. I have been largely responsible for landscaping and planting our garden. I love old-fashioned roses and have amassed a large collection. Not only do I enjoy their form and perfume, I also love each one's history. My garden also helps feed my collecting habit, as I have collections of many plant varieties.
What other things do you enjoy?
I enjoy the theatre (although it is limited here) and going to the cinema, not usually to see popular movies - avant-garde is more me. I also enjoy visiting galleries and museums. I go to a Zumba class with a friend twice a week, as much for the social interaction as the exercise. I also enjoy catching up with my girlfriends for coffee and conversation.
On a few occasions, you mention soul searching and readiness for life changes. What does it mean to you? What are your personal soul searching tools, so to speak - what helps to heal your soul?
Soul searching for me usually means coming to a place of acceptance of the now and embracing that next step in life. I am quite happy to share my soul searching "tools". I need to spend time alone with my thoughts. I find long walks in peaceful surroundings a great help, and also spending time in my garden, simply pottering, is useful. The other thing I like to do is simply drive, often to nowhere in particular, just take time to think. I also find loosing myself in a book, often nothing too deep and meaningful, works for me.
How does dressing up and playing with your style effect your life journey - do you feel it is helpful in other areas of your life too?
I believe very strongly that dressing up and developing your own style play a major part in our well-being. I think that for many of us it becomes more important as we age. It helps to boost our self-esteem.
I read in your blog that a few years ago, you lost your darling daughter to illness. Even the mention of it is so very heartbreaking. And yet, what I strongly sense from you, is this incredible peace with yourself and with life, the genuine acceptance of what life may bring you. I see no fear of change, and quite the opposite – you seem to welcome changes, whatever they might be. How do you make peace with life after your great loss? What helps you?
My only daughter, India, passed away in 2001, she had an inoperable brain tumour. I made a decision at that time that it was important for me to stay home for my sons (aged 11 and 13 at the time), and this enabled me to slowly work through my grief. In time you come to a point of acceptance about things that are out of your control. Your memories are so precious and remain in your heart forever.
I admire your open-mindedness and fearlessness about the future. You say openly in your blog that you have no fear of aging, and we both know that so many women struggle with this issue. Were you always fearless, or is this the result of invisible inner work?
I have never really understood the point in constantly worrying about the future and that, if you are lucky, includes ageing. I take the view that to age is a privilege to be embraced not feared as many do. Of course, I have my moments, but if you are fortunate to have good health, that is all that matters.
What gifts does mature age have to offer us?
One of my favourite sayings is "With age comes wisdom", and I strongly believe this to be true. The other thing I have found is a greater sense of self. I dress to please myself and really don't care what others think. I also hope I am a kinder and more compassionate being.
How do you see yourself in upcoming years? What do you think your life will be like? Will your style change?
Not really sure. I hope it involves more travel and, possibly, living elsewhere - maybe that large city. I also have hopes of one day becoming a grandmother. I can't really see my style changing too much, but you never know - maybe I will become more colourful in my dress.
Do visit Jill's blog Grownup Glamour for more style and life inspirations.
You can find more interviews by clicking on the tab Interviews or HERE.