29 December 2010

Thank you Gracie Otto (and Harpers Bazaar)

This appeared in the latest issue of Australian Harpers Bazaar (January/February 2011, page 92!)

My best dressed Christmas tree

Both beautifully made by Brigitte!

28 December 2010

Variety Lunch at Gambaros in Brisbane

This had to be one of the swankiest lunches with the most stylish people I have yet to be involved in. Gambaros Restaurant hosted the lunch and Love My Vintage organised a spectacular vintage fashion parade. (I bought a stunning couture Escada 70s sequin long gown straight off the model on the runway!) The event was such fun and with the generosity of the guest and raffle prize donors over $8000 was raised for sick children in hospital in Queensland.

12 November 2010



13 October 2010


Charlotte Smith's new book, Dreaming of Chanel, continues the amazing stories of the dresses of the Darnell Collection.

26 August 2010

MiSociety Came to the Launch of Dreaming of Dior at the Beresford Hotel in Sydney on 11 November.

MiSociety says "Dreaming of Dior, illustrated by Grant Cowan, is complusive and entertaining reading for anyone who has ever had a love affair with a treasured fashion item."  They took lovely pictures of the evening, The Darnell Collection, the models and, of course, us -- Grant and me.  Read the rest on their blog - click on this link - MiSociety!

18 August 2010


This was my conversation with Nadia Buick at the Queensland State Library prsentation of "Deepen the Conversation". I bought the glam dress at the Woollagamba Antiques Centre. It is from the 60s, a wonderful jacquard metallic fabric and fits like a glove. 

29 July 2010


2 SEPTEMBER, 2010 - 11:30 to 2:30
Gambaro's Restaurant & Function Center, Caston Street, Petrie Terrace
book reservation online - event@gambaros.com.au

28 July 2010


SLQ, MC/K ART & Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival
Deepen the Conversation: Fashion and Memoire with Charlotte Smith

Deepen the Conversation: Fashion and Memoire with Charlotte Smith

Auditorium 1, Level 2, State Library of Queensland, South Bank, Brisbane

7 Aug 2010

Come dressed in your best vintage outfit for a conversation with Charlotte Smith, author of Dreaming of Dior (Harper Collins) and custodian of the Darnell Collection, discussing the nature of clothing as personal memoir. Having inherited an extraordinary collection of more than 3000 vintage designer garments from her Quaker godmother, Charlotte has painstakingly recreated the story of each garment through the masses of accompanying faded letters, parchments and notes.
This talk with reveal the personal accounts behind some of the key garments in this extraordinary collection, while also presenting an opportunity to see some of these garments up close.
The talk will conclude with Charlotte Smith signing audience copies of her bestseller, Dreaming of Dior.
An event developed especially for State Library by mc/k art and the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival 2010, don’t miss this rare opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the most exquisite fashions and fascinating stories of the past 100 years. Facilitated by Nadia Buick.
Date/Time7 Aug 2010, 3.00pm
1 hour
(subject to change without notice)

Presented by
State Library of Queensland, mc/k Art and Mercedes Benz Fashion Fesival

There are 3 major fashion events in Australia: one in Sydney, one in Melbourne and one in Brisbane. Fabulous Australian designers are showcased at these three events. Many of the established designers are now stocked around the world, but our fashion shows are great for checking out the casually elegant clothes Australian is renowned for and for spoting the next Dior!
Mercedes Benz Fasion Week will be truly elegant and on the swanky Gold Coast anything may happen. This is my first year attending. The Valentino Retrospective opens the same weekend so glamour and gowns will be the order of the week. The week begins on August 6th.

27 July 2010



Our magical journey to Christian Dior's family home in Granville, France now a museum displaying to-die-for Dior garments.

The 3 hour rather flat and uninteresting train ride from Paris to Granville on the coast of Normandy did not prepare us for the twenty four hours of magic visiting the family home and gardens of Christian Dior - the sole purpose of our trip.

Dior's hydrangea pink house with white paintwork and a slate grey tiled roof sits on the clifftop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
The large 3 story house has been turned into a small and elegant museum which displays over 60 sumptuously beaded, tailored haute couture dresses, gowns and suits in every delicious colour imaginable, worn by the crème de la crème of international society including Princesses Grace, Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot, Maria Callas, and many more. A small shop in the foyer sells gifts, books and jewellery exclusive and very appropriate to the museum. A retrospective of Marc Bohan, artistic director of the House of Dior from 1961 -1989, was on. It was fascinating to observe the changes in lifestyle and elegance which occurred over the three decades M. Bohan was in charge.
And now for the garden .... it is a jewel of a museum in its own right with giant tableaux of photographs of Dior clients dressed in Dior – dramatic in black and white intertwined with glorious colourful flowerbeds, rose trellises and ocean vistas. Dior was inspired by scents of flowers blooming profusely in his garden. In a unique way of allowing the visitor the experience of smelling his many popular perfumes while looking at the flowers which inspired it, discreet stands with a 'lift and sniff' type format were placed throughout the garden. You were encouraged to lift the flap and a gentle waft of the perfume escaped enveloping you immediately in a cloud of Dior perfume. Even men's cologne wass displayed like this. A truly beautiful and memorable experience.

The town of Granville itself had a bit of an odd atmosphere. It doesn't quite make the chic seaside resort it might have been. It has a real serious purpose instead. One of the largest rehabilitation hospitals in France is here – with spectacular sea views and sea air to help the patients recover. The town is bustling with people – snazzy chemist shops selling Dior cosmetics, tourist shops with the typical array of souvenirs and a number of funky clothes shops. We stayed the night at the Mercure in an enormous room with a balcony.

This is a great overnight trip from Paris.

29 June 2010


"Charlotte's book, "Dreaming of Dior", illustrated by Grant Cowan, is compulsive and entertaining reading for anyone who has ever had a lovely affair with a treasured fashion item." 'Dreaming of Dior' by Charlotte Smith book launch at the Beresford Hotel, Sydney', MiSociety, November 11.

Charlotte's "three thousand piece vintage clothing collection...would rival Carrie Bradshaw's wardrobe and includes originals by Dior, Versace and Chanel."
Kerri-Anne Kennerly, 
Mornings With Kerri-Anne, Chanel 9, Sydney

Dreaming of Dior 
is "one of the most lovely books to cross my desk this year."Deborah Cameron, ABC Sydney Mornings
"Charlotte's story is quite amazing." The Darnell Collection is "an extraordinary gift."Carol Duncan, ABC Newcastle Afternoons

Dreaming of Dior is "This year's fashion must-have."
Marina Go on her blog The New 30
"In the tradition of Love, Loss and What I Wore, this lavishly illustrated book is not a catalogue but instead a delicious gift book full of the quirky and evocative stories from women who owned and who wore these dresses. From laugh-out-loud to poignant and moving, this is the book every woman, of any age, will want to buy for themselves or give as a gift."
Harper Collins, Publisher of Dreaming of Dior
"Fabulous collation of fashion!
SOME people have all the luck. Charlotte Smith, for example, had the luck to be the goddaughter of Doris Darnell, a lovely lady who for many, many years has collected fabulous pieces of fashion.
 She was, in fact, Charlotte Smith's "fashion" godmother, since Smith's luck, specifically, was to be the recipient of Ms Darnell's wonderful collection, which has now been turned into a lovely, wee book – Dreaming of Dior."Niki Bruce, Straights Times Blogs
"At the vintage show in Sydney, I met a lovely lady Charlotte Smith, who has been fortunate to have received her godmothers collection of dresses from 1790's to 1990's. Along with these dresses came the stories of women who wore them.Dreaming of Dior "is a delightful read and it truly is a gift that Charlotte is now able to share the collection with us." Miss Lizzy's Blog

Dreaming of Dior "is a book any woman who knows a dress can hold a lifetime of memories will treasure."
mironside, SheSaid.com/au

16 June 2010

From the Tulsa World, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Dreams do come true, when you dream of Dior 

Published: 6/15/2010  2:19 AM
Last Modified: 6/15/2010  6:54 AM

Not everyone's fortunate enough to have a godmother. Far, far fewer still have one of the fairy variety.

But Charlotte Smith, curator of the Fashion and Textile Gallery in Sydney, Australia, has a Cinderella-esque godmother who didn't just make her a dress but gave her more than 3,000 gorgeous vintage pieces — and the stories to many of them.

Smith shares those stories, as well as illustrations of some of the gowns, in her "Dreaming of Dior" ($25, Atria). Dedicated to Doris Darnell, who was Smith's American Quaker godmother, the book is a colorful trip through time. It's just a trip, well, period really, considering the collection spans from 1790 to 1995, claiming among it couturiers, such as Lucile, Madeline Vionnet, Chanel, Galanos, Jean Muir and, of course, Dior.

But as Smith shares, the book isn't just a collection of dresses; it's a collection of women's lives. Along with the gowns, Darnell also gave Smith the catalog of notes detailing stories about many of the dresses and the women who wore them.

Stories include one about a peach slipper satin ball gown that Darnell fell in love with as a college student in 1936; an Emanuel Ungaro sunflower dress Smith wore to dinner at Spago in Hollywood one wild night in 1992; and a pale blue bustle dress worn by a Miss Jenny Hartigan in 1885.

One of our favorite stories was about a dress made of pink silk faille, organdy and tulle embroidered with pearl and crystal beads, diamantes and sequins — and a 12-foot train, as if

everything we just told you wasn't enough — worn to the 1962 Veiled Prophet Ball in St. Louis.

Speaking of rich details, the black dress on the book's cover is textured like velvet. No doubt, there's a story behind that, too.

Ask your favorite bookstore about "Dreaming of Dior," available nationwide.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com

10 June 2010

From Debra McGuire at the Las Vegas Review-Journal - June 07, 2010

'Dreaming of Dior' celebrates the art of dressing
We members of the cult of the closet, we know who we are.

We remember what we were wearing ''when’’ — when we went to our first prom, on our first date, the night we met “the one,’’ when we got engaged — even possibly what we wore to divorce court.

Clothing serves as signposts, as armor, as a uniform — literally or otherwise. We have outfits we wear to cheer ourselves up or when we want to be comfortable on a busy day at work. We have ''fat clothes’’ that hide a few extra pounds, dresses that make us look skinny, blouses that show off our eyes, a pair of jeans that we love like an old friend.

And, if we’re fortunate, we have at least a few items in our closet that make us drool. It might be a designer handbag we lusted after for a long time and finally splurged on. It might be a gorgeous wedding dress, wrapped and protected in tissue paper and garment bag. A knockout pair of shoes. A little something-something that cost a fortune and makes us feel like a million.

Now, imagine that a fairy godmother bestows upon you a massive collection of irreplaceable vintage, collectible clothing. Gowns with a story. Dresses with a past — of dances, weddings, costume balls, wild motorcycle rides through the south of France, stagecoaches,  ’60s London parties ’til dawn, dates with tycoons and princes — the gossamer fabric of dreams.

We members of the cult of the closet, let us try not to turn green from ill-disguised envy as we now contemplate Charlotte Smith, the owner of such a collection and author of "Dreaming of Dior." The book includes lovely art by Grant Cowan. He has drawn for Harper’s Bazaar and Glamour, and teaches illustration in Australia.

Smith, curator of The Fashion and Textile Gallery in Sydney, Australia, played dress-up in some rather fabulous closets as a child, the third floor of godmother Doris Darnell’s Philadelphia townhouse. Darnell loved vintage clothing with a passion. She collected it, wore it, lectured on it and, most importantly, documented its stories — because fabulous garments each have a story, a history. Darnell was a Quaker, a faith of the plain, simple and unassuming, but her love for gorgeous clothes could not be doused by the tenets of a gentle faith.

So Darnell collected, and as friends and acquaintances heard of her passion, they contributed favorite pieces, along with their stories — of the woman who was fined for refusing to wear a corset, the bride whose groom spent the wedding night in jail for possession of bootleg whiskey.

Eventually, Darnell decided to pass on her priceless collection of more than 3,000 pieces to the person she knew loved them as much as she did, her goddaughter, Charlotte Smith. So every day for three months, boxes arrived at Smith’s home in Australia, bringing ball gowns, flapper dresses, a couture pink wool mini, Victorian day dresses, French lingerie, silk, chiffon, velvet — fashion spanning 205 years, from 1790 to 1995, from Lucile, Dior, Madeline Vionnet, Galanos, Chanel — the costume of the fairest of dreams.

"Dreaming of Dior" is a fairy tale picture book for grown-ups who love fabulous clothes. Smith tells the stories of dozens of the outfits in her collection, with gorgeous accompanying illustrations by Cowan. But the stories about the clothes are really about the spirited, interesting, determined women who wore them. Some of them defied convention. Some endured tragedy. Some had glorious, adventurous lives, while others lived quietly, anonymously — but their dresses survive, treasured, cared for and admired, to speak for the women who loved and wore them.