Fashion & Beauty

A fashionable country upbringing

Jonathan Ward at the RM Williams 2011 Winter presentation. Photo supplied by RM Williams.By Dominic Geiger

As a young boy in the 1960s Jonathan Ward would sit down at the kitchen table on his family property in Tottenham and sketch.

Unlike his peers however, whose primary concern might have been colouring between the lines, Jonathan would sit and draw elaborate clothing designs for the celebrities he found photographed in his mother’s copies of Women’s Weekly.

Even then, before he was old enough to jump on the bus and travel the twelve miles to Tottenham Central School, Jonathan knew this was what he wanted to do when he grew up.

Now recognized as one of Australia’s leading couture and fashion designers and also currently working as the Executive Designer for the iconic Australian brand R. M. Williams, the boy from Tottenham has never forgotten where he came from.

Speaking to The Argus from his Sydney office last Friday, Jonathan said that his exposure to natural fibres such as wool and cotton on the family farm had given him an incredible advantage in the fashion industry.

“I really learnt that there is no better quality cloth than that made of natural fibres, especially wool,” he said.

“Coming from the country has given me a very practical view on how to design; it’s given me a great understanding of how people from the country wear their work clothes compared to how they wear their dress clothes.

“When I began designing I had a passion to be creative however I have always believed that clothing should be designed to suit your personality and lifestyle or for a special occasion”.

As the son of a sheep and cattle producer, Jonathan naturally faced some pressure during his early years to take over the family business.

Despite this, Jonathan said once people became aware of his talents, he found the local community supported his desire to follow his dreams.

“Someone once said to me that everyone is born with a gift, some people realize it while others spend their entire life unaware of it,” he said.

“In the beginning there were expectations to work on the property which I did for a couple of years.

“I loved working on the land, it gave me an appreciation of the elements and the simplicity and beauty of the bush.”

Since cutting his teeth designing for celebrities in his mother’s magazines, Jonathan has gone on to design clothing for the likes of Nicole Kidman, Elle McPherson and Kylie Minogue.

“In the beginning it was pretty daunting designing for celebrities,” he said.

“Despite this initial feeling, I was excited by the challenge of creating a piece to suit the occasion, complement the figure and encapsulate their individual style.

“And of course friendships come out of the professional relationships and that leads on to other people being referred to you.”

Dress by Jonathan Ward for Magic Millions. Photo supplied by RM Williams.Despite the list of celebrities Jonathan has professionally designed for including some of the biggest names in popular culture, Jonathan said the luminary who has given him the most satisfaction working with is one he has been designing for all his life.

“As a young kid I was very influenced by Barbie Dolls; my sister had them and it was her dolls that inspired me to create and design clothing,” he said.

“That inspiration, strangely enough, lead Barbie to follow me on throughout my career and in 1999 I was one of only six Australian Designers asked to design for Barbie’s 40th Birthday Celebrations with a Jonathan Ward Doll.

“I often joke that Barbie is the best client I ever had because she is the only one who has never talked back.”

After over 20 years in the Fashion Industry Jonathan Ward has become one of the leaders in contemporary Australian Fashion Design.

While embracing new styles and techniques throughout the years, he has maintained a quintessential bush influence in his work, especially with R.M. Williams.

“That Australian country sense of classic style fits into premium brands around the world,” he said.

“I am a strong believer in quality, longevity and simplicity and it’s those ideals that have helped me get to where I am today.”

Fashion trends for winter

By Rowena Wald

I believe that “fashion” is in the way you wear an item of clothing, be it a 30 year old winter coat that belonged to your mother in the 70’s, or a pearl necklace that belonged to your great grand-mother.
Having said that, there are a few things that I look for every season when buying for The White Picket Store these top three things being versatility, point of difference and off course quality made garments from Australian designers who are at the forefront of the Australian fashion industry.
This Winter 11 was no exception.  For this season you will see that lace, leather, silk and wool have featured heavily in all collections.  There has been a minimalist approach to the style of the garment using beautiful base colours like airforce blue, khaki, oatmeal, taupe, nude, cream, grey and off course no collection would be complete without black.  If you can or want to wear brights then go for some bold print and wear it with a pair of long beautiful leather boots or shoes and a woollen coat.
The philosophy for the season is to match and layer different fabrics.  A beautiful leather jacket with a silk or lace tunic top/dress and leggings for a day to night look.   For a casual daytime look, go for a good pair of jeans in any colour of denim.  I believe dark denim is always more flattering, team it up with a gorgeous long sleeve cotton tee or a Bellissima and some sumptuous wool.   If colour is what you like then go mad with a bright scarf (the must accessory still) and lots of lovely jewellery.   The winter coat is very much on the must buy for this winter.  The trench is still very ‘en vogue’ but so is the military style coat and the leather jacket has definitely made a comeback this season.
I love a dress and this winter there are lots of dresses and tunics which can be teamed up with leggings or tights.  Find a shape that flatters your body and enjoy the easiness of it all.  If you are not sure then try on a few different shapes – don’t ever discount a dress for the way it looks on the hanger it’s really not the best way to judge.
The main thing with fashion is to invest in some good pieces for each season.  For me this year it’s a lovely long-line cardigan, a good winter coat, a couple of lovely dresses and tops, black pants, leggings and my basic layering pieces.  Build your wardrobe around your favourites for the season you’ll be surprised how many times you can re-invent a good piece.

Tally Ho! And they’re off!

Fashion tips by Rowena Wald

Ok so lets be honest…. for all of us girls out there the Picnic Races are all about what we are going to wear and this is where I come in!
Our races are no different to any other race meet around so here are some tips and simple guidelines to help you on your way:
Dresses are all the rage for Race Day but be careful….. there is nothing worse than stepping out in a new or old frock that’s a little too tight or a little too short.  If you’re feeling that your best suck-me-in undies (and ladies these are a must for most wearing dresses) are working a little too hard, then try another dress.  Remember when choosing your dress the races are a daytime event – too much bling, make-up and flesh are generally a no no.  If your dress has a little bling on it then slow down on the jewellery and accessories. If you want to show a little flesh then go for the one-shoulder look that’s been very strong this season. If your faking it (tan, that is) then make sure that you’ve allowed a couple of days for that bronzed effect to look its best.
If your dress has a strong colour or a bold (as in ‘see me coming a mile off’) pattern then try to create an outfit which says I know what I’m doing by adding a less flamboyant head piece – there’s nothing worse than seeing a rainbow of colours head to toe! It can also be very distracting for the horses!!! Pick a head piece that compliments the outfit by selecting one colour and then accessorise accordingly.   Nude, cream, taupe and silver are my favourite colours to create this effect.
Jewellery can be a fun way to brighten up a simple outfit and again use the opposite of above – if your outfit is fairly plain then go for the Party Piece headwear.  There are lots of beautiful fascinators on the market these days, get your hairdresser to fix it in place for you by adding some extra hair pins.
When choosing your shoes remember you’ll be standing for most of the day – if they hurt going on then the chances are they’ll be off before the first race and there’s nothing worse than seeing ladies in bare feet.  Kitten heels are a great option as are wedges – if you want to be high then have a good try!
Makeup should be worn to compliment – nothing worse than smokey eyes on a hot summers day where after a few champagnes and Condo temperatures turns them into Panda Eyes.  Speaking of which if you are having a glass or two then mix it up with water.  The general rule of thumb to keep you upright is one glass of alcohol to one glass of water.
Have Fun Ladies!

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