Isn’t she loverly?

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Phew! Finally my blog has awoken from hibernation. Much like in High School, I still don’t handle stress well. My acting skills have improved at keeping up a cool exterior, but internally 95% of the time I’m usually dying. Although, hopefully my degree is doing more for me than just expanding my social circle and loading me up with a massive HECS debt.

I don’t really like hate showing other people my design work (apart from my close friends in the course) as I’m still learning. I personally am highly aware that it will probably take me another few years to produce work that I am happy with. However, I’ve realised my interest in Fashion is something that won’t disappear. I always tend to incorporate this into my design work if I can.

Last semester the elective I undertook was Alternative Photographic Practices. Photography is always something I have been interested in and I much prefer being behind the camera (hard to believe, I know!). Whilst shooting on film and developing in the dark room was challenging I  think it has helped me develop my skills. For my final assignment I decided to create a Look Book to showcase my photographs. Throughout the semester I had been inspired by one of my favourite fashion photographers Jeanloup Sieff. The amalgamation of my own style and his resulted in my “Lover Lookbook”. I re-designed the logo, layout and took the photographs. I still have a lot to learn, but baby steps before I join the real workforce, right?

Have a look at it here x

He loves me! He loves me….NOT.

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My name is Alya. I enjoy long walks on the beach, watching the sunset and quality literature. KIDDING (for real on the quality literature though). Romance? Yuck. Is there anything worse? Okay, so I don’t fit into your stereotypical romantic but contrary to popular belief on account of my aloof outer, I’m more romantic than you’d imagine.

One year on, one year wiser. This time last year I sat down to write a blogpost on this exact topic. Valentine’s Day. February the fourteenth is probably worse than the stress of Christmas and New Year’s combined. The only times I celebrated Valentine’s Day were in High School. In Year Seven the girls in my class exchanged Caramello Koalas and Freddo Frogs with one another. At twelve I didn’t expect to be carrying a handful of roses from my suitors. Many Freddo Frogs later, coupled with making gagging faces at couples overdosing on PDAs meant that by Year 12, I was forced to take extreme measures. I wore a “forever alone face meme” around my neck whilst the rest of my year group painted love hearts on their cheeks and decorated their hair with red ribbons (pushing the uniform code of an all girls private school to the absolute limits). At the tender age of seventeen my cynicism had probably gone too far. Last year however, I vowed to be more open (emotionally, jeez) and dispel the Elsa Ice Queen vibe. Half of my being feels as if that was one of my largest downfalls to date. The other half realises that not shielding myself from the (straight) men of the population has at least given me emotional gold for my future acting career.

When I was younger, I was confused when at family functions relatives would approach myself and my mother, proclaiming knowingly that I would be a “heartbreaker” in the future. Scrunching my face at Mum, I would awkwardly smile at them, bid them goodbye (until I saw them three years later)and stash up on more cake. The concept was strange to me as a thirteen year old. How on earth could I possibly break a heart? I, who would become guilt ridden and sleep deprived if I so much as accidentally stepped on my cat’s tail! It turns out these well meaning prophecies were part of a cruel twist in a Greek tragedy. Ironically, I would always be the heartbroken. 

As much as I try to convince myself that I’m cool, casual and “totally got this” without any emotional investment whatsoever. It’s a complete lie. I can’t help but place a lot of value on the people in my life. Emotionally investing is just something that I do. It’s almost an automatic reflex now. Even in my friendships for instance – If I haven’t spoken to a close friend for a week or so I immediately freak out and question my moves to trace if I have done anything to upset them. So, you can only imagine how much worse I am when it comes to intimacy.

Last year I mentioned the character Celine from ‘Before Sunset’ in my Valentine’s Day blog.  2014 Alya, realising she wanted to be loved. 2015 Alya realising she’s an emotional mess and people can just really suck.

“I always feel like a freak, because I’m never able to move on like… this! You know. People just have an affair, or even entire relationships… they break up and they forget! They move on like they would have changed brand of cereals! I feel I was never able to forget anyone I’ve been with. Because each person has… their own, specific qualities. You can never replace anyone. What is lost is lost. Each relationship, when it ends, really damages me. I never fully recover. That’s why I’m very careful with getting involved, because… It hurts too much! Even getting laid! I actually don’t do that… I will miss on the other person the most mundane things.”

Similarly to Celine I do feel like a “freak” because the majority of people can act completely detached. That just puzzles me. I always throw myself 100 per cent into something expecting to be loved but never receive it. I’m vulnerable, emotional and identify entirely with Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” video. Honestly – I’m probably a challenge and handful to love.

Call me dramatic if you wish but, I’m just never going to be able to swipe right to get over someone.

Dress: Tigerlily

Photography by Sophie 

Summertime Simplicity

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Summertime turns me into the ultimate sloth. Even though I scroll through #fitspo on Instagram vowing that I will get rock hard abs and eat Kale everyday, somehow my summer break never ends up how I plan. Instead of going to the beach, I sit downstairs with the Air Con on full blast pretending I’m in a Pantene commercial. Mock me all you want, but it beats the hardship of standing up during the hour long bus trip to Coogee and enduring the discomfort of strangers armpits in my face. I also have the added luxury of food and drink by my side (a foreign concept once you reach Gordon’s Bay).

Not only does my attempted beach babe aesthetic suffer, but my bohemian one too. I don’t think there’s anything worse than the combination of sun rays and sweat exacerbated under a tight metal bracelet. Nor the irritability a choker brings on after a few sweltering hours. Needless to say in the relentless heat, the most simple tasks and fashionably fulfilling escapades become a chore.

Sometimes I just want to let my legs soak up the rays instead of them being smothered by a black maxi skirt. Staying true to my 90s vibe I have gone for a safe yet fresh option. Shorts and a singlet. Nothing more simple. If you think its too plain, think again. Because speaking of commercials, I’ve taken inspiration from one of the most iconic. Take a look here

Shorts: Vintage Levis, Top: Mum’s (ACTUALLY FROM THE 90S), Shoes: Funkis

Photography by Sophie

Meet Jenny…

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Meet Jenny..

My fondest memory of Jenny stretches back to 2010. I was a mere fifteen year old then, choosing my subjects for my senior years. Deliberating as to whether I continue Maths or not, an outspoken girl waltzed up to me and interrupted abruptly “I dropped maths, and I’m Asian. So you definitely can”.

After her bold and influential statement I did exactly that, and a new friendship blossomed.

Years later Jenny and I ended up sharing the difficulties of the retail life. Coincidentally working two doors down from each other she would interrupt me whilst I was serving a customer with the latest news about a Commes des Garçons wallet or how she managed to make her lunch that day. Her quirky personality was evolving, simultaneously with her style. I’ve always admired how she dressed as it was so different and experimental.I thought I would get behind the lens again and actually try and hone my photography skills (stick with me as I am used to photographing only architecture and urban landscapes!).

What/Who influences your style most?

Hm, I find inspiration from my parents – my dad is a hipster and my mum is obsessed with Italian ateliers. I also follow the models Hanne Gaby Odiele, Kiko Mizuhara and the fashion blog Streetfsn.

Top 5 essential items in your wardrobe?

My Prada handbag, Romance Was Born bomber jacket, Sneakers (all of them I can’t choose), Prada sunglasses and my Adidas t-shirts.

What type of music are you listening to at the moment?

At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Hip Hop and RnB playlists on Spotify, in particular old school stuff. I listen to a lot of Aaliyah and Wu Tang.

Where do you shop around Sydney?

In Sydney I just shop in the city. I have a lot of friends who work at stores there, so I’m always passing by to say Hi and I end up buying stuff. Last three shops I bought stuff from were Adidas, Topshop and Uniqlo.

What are you studying/plan do with your life?

I am currently studying journalism at UNSW, and I’m really enjoying it as far as enjoying Uni goes. I’m not going to be a journalist though. I think that the skill set that I’ve learnt is incredibly valuable, regardless of the industry and career path I take. I don’t have an overarching title that I’m chasing in my career, but smaller goals. I imagine that I’ll dabble in public relations and different aspects of the arts industry. I’ll also probably take over my mother’s interior decorating firm, as she prepares to retire in the long run.

That sounds like a well thought out plan. Can you elaborate on these smaller goals you would like to achieve?

Well, when I was little I wanted to be a teacher and I feel like I’ve lived that through tutoring HSC students the past two-three years. I feel like now I can let that to rest. Another goal would be to live overseas for a year or something. And I want to work for a publisher in some aspect as well.

I hope you guys enjoyed this small insight into one of the persons who inspire me in my life. If you do, then I will interrogate my friends more and work harder on my photography and photoshop skills!

Creative Block

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“Sometimes I feel so stupid and dull and uncreative that I am amazed when people tell me differently”.* Upon burying myself in Sylvia Plath’s journals during my teenage years, I discovered a disturbing parallel between the two of us. When I felt inept at almost everything I tried I looked to her as some kind of confidante, albeit a slightly one sided conversation. This helped me to realise that all creative people have struggles. I identified with her torment on many levels (as most adolescent girls do) except for the one minor difference: she was a creative genius, and well, I was nowhere near…

Frustrated at school that I couldn’t solve a simple algebraic equation, nor rote learn information from a Science textbook, I took solace in the fact that I always had my creativity to fall back on. “I’m in the top English class!” I emphatically justified to my Year 10 Math’s teacher after he pulled me aside after class. Discovering I had gone from an average student to an actual failure, I wanted to rip my textbook to shreds so I could no longer see numbers. My inadequacy was compounded by the fact that the rest of my English class was already preparing for their accelerated HSC Math’s exam (at the tender age of sixteen) so I skirted around the fact with my peers, that I was in the second lowest class. Whilst overall academic success and recognition at Speech Day was inevitably out of reach for me because I trailed so far behind in the logical component of my studies, I tried to convince myself that my analysis of Shakespeare and Hardy had an extra edge to it because of my genuine engagement.

Being on both ends of the academic spectrum made my confidence plummet to new depths. Once you get into a bad state of mind about yourself, the work you will produce won’t be great. I guess I liked to call myself a ‘mediocre creative’. Mainly due to the fact I was never a favourite, never number one and well, rarely acknowledged compared to others that were hailed. I never did badly in my creative subjects – my marks were good… but never the best.

Along with exercising, listening to music, photography and reading a favourite hobby of mine is comparing myself to others. It’s pretty deadly but I do it a lot. Even still at Uni. What I’ve realised is everyone’s skill set is different. Guess what? It is completely counterproductive. It’s like comparing myself to Maggie Smith or Bresson. I could never capture the role of McGonagall nor will I photograph Gandhi’s last moments. Each artist captures something which it is impossible to reproduce. So comparison is futile.

Another counterproductive trait of mine is my perfectionism. You would think it would be a positive trait when producing creative work. Ironically it has completely the opposite effect. The way my mind thinks goes something along the lines of this: “I don’t have the knowledge nor skill set to actually start this now, so once I do more research and practice I can actually start”. Now, don’t get me wrong research is essential but it is easy to get carried away. Sometimes it really is just best to take the plunge and start something. I have found that my perfectionism leads to major procrastination and that has ultimately let me down in the refinement of my work. It is incompatible with deadlines.

I confess, there are times that I wish my mind was capable of studying Science, Business or Law namely due to the future prospect of a secure job and a salary. But I have to say, sometimes there is nothing more rewarding than creating your own unique piece of work of which you are proud. It’s the sheer unpredictability of the creative world that harnesses some sort of excitement for me.  And hey, I may be a ‘mediocre creative’ but that’s what I am truly engaged in and what I devote my energy to. So I’m going to work damn hard and maybe just someday I’ll produce something that I can truly be proud of and that Sylvia Plathesque disbelief in myself may weaken just a tiny bit….

*Quote from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

*Image from the film Frances Ha (2012), speech bubble by me

Channeling Chung

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Undoubtedly along with the majority of the adolescent fashion conscious population, Alexa Chung has been a major influence on my style.

Maybe it was because I tried to live vicariously through her when she dated Alex Turner? Or that I am adamant that she is my musical soul mate (The Cure, Talking Heads and The Smiths)!? The most plausible reason for my admiration is that she can match op shop bargains with expensive designer accessories. Its a talent that I also proudly possess. After reading “IT” I was finally able to pinpoint that Chung’s style is grungy and effortless with the right amount of designer chic. Something I aspire to achieve one day when I have an income and a big girl job. Chung adopts the “floordrobe” technique in the morning rush – something I have grown accustomed to amidst the daily rush to get to Uni and work.

She claims that the a large part of her fashion inspiration was derived from film. Her personal favourites being Wednesday Addams and Natalie Portman in Leon (I wholeheartedly agree due to the incredible 90’s vibe – choker, ribbed crop top, combat boots and all – the ideal 90’s ensemble in my opinion).

The special thing about film and TV is that characters and their signature outfits become iconic. Even if you haven’t seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s (shame!) Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress has become part of the vernacular. Statement looks that define a character are often referred to for example, the space age looks tracing back to Jane Fonda in Barbarella or, the cast of Beverley Hills 90210 influencing almost every teenager in the 90s. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say “Oh that looks so Calvin Klein Summer 1996”(I mean I’ve been known to make such observations, but not everyone can be as up to date with the fashion lingo like me 😉 ). Due to its accessibility, it is easy to base your style on a particular film and TV show…it is also heaps of fun!

I have always had a high appreciation for film and theatre. Not only do I absorb the plot line and fall in love with the characters and actors but of I am also intensely drawn to the staging and costume choices. The world of acting has intrigued me for sometime. Playing the Tin Man in my Year 12 musical set me up with unrealistic goals about my singing and acting ability. My delusional period after school where I was absolutely set on becoming an actress, was soon shattered after attending a few auditions and having my heart torn out after failed initial auditions and even worse…getting callbacks where I was so close! Regardless of my of talent (or lack thereof) I decided my skin wasn’t thick enough to face the cruel acting world and that it may seriously damage the small amount of self esteem I actually still retained.

Whilst my dreams of becoming the next Cate Blanchett are shattered, l will always hold a place for the performing arts in my heart. Even more so for Miss Chung –  her grounded laid back personality and impeccable taste in film has influenced her signature style and persona.

Top: thrifted from Salvos, Shorts: Glebe markets, Clutch: Commes Des Garcons, Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo

Photos by Anita 

Grey Matters

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You’re my bestie, or I cannot stand you.

If the water in my glass isn’t filled to the brim, I’m foreseeing life-threatening dehydration.

Didn’t get a High Distinction? I’m practically failing my course.

Okay, some people may interpret me as slightly dramatic. But that is honestly just how I think. I tend to view my life situations at the extreme ends of the spectrum. This often leads to disappointment within myself and an illogical theory that the world is out to get me. I become slightly nihilistic, primarily because I deem success to sit within a very limited bracket.

I had a bad habit of viewing the world in black and white. I used to leave no room for that in between stuff – what is colloquially termed as a grey area. Sometimes it’s important to examine it as not everything has a black and white answer – especially in the world of creative pursuits.

I’m going to slap myself for actually saying this, but to quote my high school Art teacher (not my biggest fan) “It’s the journey, not the mark”. My seventeen year old self screaming, crying… practically howling in the Art faculties bathroom after receiving 44/50 for my Visual Art major work (then getting told off for disrupting all of the art and design classes) didn’t agree with the sentiment at the time. I viewed my Art major work as a complete and utter failure and wished I had dropped the subject instead of dropping Legal Studies after receiving that mark (that thought in itself says a lot about my disappointment).

In my tertiary education I’ve actually learnt that there is more to life than getting a high distinction – mainly because sometimes, it is just out of the realm of possibilities. My Uni marks are OKAY, they’re nothing special but sometimes….above average. Surprisingly I’m not having breakdowns over it or going into lengthy periods of self loathing like I was in high school when I received an 89 instead of 95 on an assessment task.  Accepting these fairly mediocre marks and not throwing a tantrum over them has surprisingly allowed me to accelerate, rather than frustrate my creative development.

I’m still at that stage where I cringe at the majority of my design work and refuse to show my work to people who aren’t in my course. Despite all that, I’ve learnt skills in order to become a better designer both conceptually and practically. So I can’t view my education in Design as completely black and white – failure or success. Because it’s neither…yet.

Not only are there grey matters in education but with life in general. Sometimes there are no black and white answers to why a friendship grows a part, why a relationship ends, why three busses disappear suddenly off Trip View, or why a pigeon excretes on your freshly washed hair. No logic. It just is.

Although black and white has its place, I am now embracing the grey in both my cerebral and my physical world.

Dress: Bassike, Shoes: Birkenstock, Jacket: Marcs, Bag: AS colour

Photos by Anita