Saturday, April 11, 2015

Simon Says

Nicholas Huxley, Simon Lock & Patty Huntington
When fashion entrepreneur Simon Lock launched the first Mercedes Benz Australian Fashion Week twenty years ago there were only 4 rival events around the world : New York, Paris, Milan and London. Now there are over 200 similar events and they are all backed by Mercedes due to Lock convincing the German auto firm that fashion was the ideal way to bridge a gap with a new generation who associated the cars with a fuddy duddy older generation.

Simon has now put pen to paper to produce In The front Row, his story in getting the hugely successful fashion event off the ground. Launching his book last night at the Design Residency in Darlinghurst Lock paid tribute to some of those who were there at the beginning and stuck with him : amongst several : designer Peter Morrisey who quipped "that was the last time I owned my only label", Akira Isogawa - a friend begged Simon to take on newbie Akira whose first show was so successful that the boss of uber smart London boutique Browns elbowed her way down the catwalk afterwards to snap up the entire collection, Carla Zampatti and the famous seating manager John Flower who wielded ultimate power with seating plans before his recent retirement and hence- the title of the book.
Left to Right : Bianca Spender, Carla Zampatti, David Bush Mary Shackman, Akira Isogawa, Kirstie Clements
 Attending the first few years of Sydney's fashion week were unforgettable experiences with the cream of European & American fashion writers, models and identities jetting into town. Things have quietened down over the last few years but they have just about everywhere as the industry changes with the digital age.
In The front Row will be a must read for anyone hoping for a fashion career.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Kings Cross loss = Double Bay's gain

 Kings Cross' controversial 'lock-out laws' are crucifying nightlife in the famous Sydney night spot suburb (although strip clubs are still thriving) but aiding nearby suburbs not covered by the laws. The gay 'golden mile' of Oxford Street is also finding the going difficult with empty premises popping up overnight. The once vibrant street that contained more gay and lesbian nightclubs during the 80s & 90s per square mile that any other city on the planet is slowly dying. Meanwhile the Cross had, as of yesterday, 45 empty premises available for rent.Benefiting is the harbour side suburb of Double Bay just 2 miles from the Cross which is now booming with packed pubs on the weekend and 2 notable nightclubs that are filled to the rafters from Thursday to Sunday. Local restaurants are often booked out and coffee shops-there are nearly 100 in the Bay alone- are well patronised. Pictured above :  Karim Gharbi & Michael Clarke
The Pelicano restaurant and bar is the venue of choice for the so-called smart set but Casablanca run by Karim Gharbi is giving it a run for it's money. As our exclusive pic shows, recently retired Aussie cricket captain Michael Clarke celebrated his 34th birthday at the venue on Thursday evening.
Pelicano Restaurant & Bar
Oxford Street (left) full of empty shops while Kings Cross' strip joints are surviving

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Madness continues..

Now the giant US Weekly gossip magazine has also 'killed off' Australian actress Nell Campbell by publishing this photo claiming it is comedienne Tracey Ullman and her late mother Doreen Skinner who tragically died in a house fire last week. The photo, by one the world's top paparazzo Ron Galella shows Little Nell ( as she was called for years in Australia) and Tracey at a social event. Galella would never make such a mistake and his pictures would be carefully captioned. It's most unusual for an American publication to make such a mistake. They pride themselves on their fact checking down to the finest detail.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Daily Mail Fail

It's all the rage with newspapers these days- firing sub-editors and while they do the bloopers keep piling up. The latest is this  tragic story about comedian Tracey Ullman whose mother sadly passed away in a house-fire. To illustrate the news the UK Daily Mail has used a photograph they label as Tracey and her mother Doreen Skinner,
Alas the photo is actually of Tracey and Australian actress Little Nell who starred in the film of the Rocky Horror Show. Nell and Tracey are about the same age as is evident in the picture.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Letter from Washington


Right is our exclusive picture of the US President Barack Obama greeting Aussie indigenous star Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu at the White House after he performed there for the Prez and guests last week.
Geoffrey is still waiting to be invited to perform at Admiralty House but there is time. 
See a video of  Geoffrey singing 'Wiyathul', taken from the album 'Gurrumul' here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

End of an Era as Bill Bows Out

A chapter in Sydney's social history ends today as Man About Town and social snapper Bill Ranken hangs up his camera to retire to his country property. Home for Bill now is a magnificent sheep and cattle property about 3 hours from Sydney and just outside Goulbourn.
Lockesly has been in the family for several generations and is regarded as one of the finest properties in NSW with it's Georgian house, beautiful gardens and acres of rolling hills. Bill, at 86 years of age still takes an active hand on weekends, planting trees and sorting sheep. He will also pen his memoirs.
It's great loss for Whispers not only as a valuable source but someone who we spoke to almost every night to 'debrief' each other on the day's activities.
With Bill's keen sense of a humour and his ability not to take anything seriously- most especially himself, we could chat & laugh for an hour each night exchanging delicious titbit's which could not possibly be used in print.
Whispers first met Bill Ranken many moons ago at the Mayfair Gallery in London when he arrived
as the escort of the late HH Princess Margaret.
Peering at one of British painters Gilbert & George's giant canvases that detailed -well best to look up their history of painting- we overheard Bill saying to Margaret :"don't look too closely dear or it may put you off the canapes and champagne".
The Sydney & Southern Highland's newspapers LatteLife have penned a farewell piece to Bill which gives more insight into the life of this fascinating chap:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spotted Today

Lunching at Wolfies at Circular Quay today, Thai visitor Yotin Chaijanla with Irish performer Sinead O'Connor who will perform at the Sydney Opera House on Thursday evening.

The perils of firing your sub-editors : Top Lawyer Christopher Murphy is elevated to QC level in

Seen at The Silver Party

400 packed into John Symond's $60M Point Piper mansion -plenty of room- which was transformed into A Midsummer Night’s cocktail scene for the Silver Party's 9th annual bash to raise mega bucks for the Sydney's Children's Hospital.Amongst them - retired cricketer Stuart McGill and Julie Singleton, Skye Leckie, Karin Upton Baker, Nicky and Troy Tindill, Blainey North, Peter Overton, Lisa Wilkinson, Jesinta Campbell and a Wiggle or two, all shown in our snaps below.  Left is some of art-lover John's garden art.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Masked Man

When Whispers first encountered the amiable make-up supremo Napoleon Perdis many moons ago it was at the opening of his Parramatta salon on a Thursday afternoon. A small coterie of locals had gathered by the red carpet to watch the celebrations including 2 senior citizens who politely inquired of us whether the 2 tall elegant ladies ascending the salon stairs were "soapie stars". Alas we didn't have the heart to inform them that were actually drag queens, albeit fairly glamorous ones.

Napoleon has risen to giddy heights of stardom with salons all over the world including Beverley Hills (California!) where he is in huge demand especially by movie stars on the night of the Academy Awards but now he has turned his back on "high maintenance celebrities " according to this article.
Fortunately our home grown celebrities are still in favour as evidenced by society favourite, hair dresser Joh Bailey who wore what was acclaimed as the most superb mask of the evening created by Napoleon for the Silver Ball last week at John Symonds' Point Piper house.
A Tale of Two Cities:
Our favourite, sometimes loathed (it's really the very best & worst of the tabloids in the world) the UK Daily Mail and Mail Online has differing thoughts for each country where it appears. Thus the terrible aeroplane accident involving superstar Harrison Ford was reported somewhat differently in the UK and Australia. Perhaps they perceive us colonials are made of sterner stuff  when they described Ford's injuries as "moderate" in the UK but "serious" in Oz!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Missing the Party

He was hoping to be in Sydney for tomorrow's Mardi Gras but alas business has delayed his visit. British music entrepreneur Simon Napier-Bell says he is disappointed to be missing his first Mardi Gras particularly as he was named as the UK LGBT (gay) Personality of The Year in 2009. .
Napier-Bell has discovered and managed some of the biggest names in pop music from the Yardbirds, Marc Bolan & T-Rex, Dusty Springfield and Wham and George Michael.

#In 1985 Whispers was a guest at the very first pop/rock concert in China- Wham- a ground  breaking event that had taken Simon two years of schmoozing Politburo members to pull off. It was a surreal occasion as several thousand Chinese audience, mainly party bigwigs and their families politely clapped after every song including Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.
Napier-Bell has now written several best-selling books about the music business and his 2003 book Black Vinyl White Powder is regarded as the definitive book on the pop music business. But he has now gone back even further with his latest book Ta- Ra -Ra- Boom- De Ay-the dirty business of popular music which charts the history of music from the 18th century.
(left : Simon with Sinead O'Connor)
Napier-Bell will be in Sydney on the 19th of this month with Irish singer Sinead O'Connor who he manages, for her one and only Australian concert at the Sydney Opera House.
Below is the song Simon penned with Vicki Wikham for Dusty Springfield and which was a hit for Elvis Presley also :  You Don't Have To Say You Love Me.
 Says Simon wistfully :"if I only had $1 for every time around the world I see drag queens miming to that song"!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Winners are Grinners

Meet Sarah Salmon (pictured right) who last night picked up the Veuve Clicquot 2015 Business Woman  Award in the New Generation section (those under 40 years of age)

Sarah along with her mum Jan Slater from Swan Hill in Victoria have spent nine years building up their business, Simply Rose Petals. 
Together with a small staff they freeze dry the petals and ship them around the world to customers for all sorts of occasions. Rose petals are popular for weddings and being biodegradable they won't ruin or stain a bride's dress or leave any mess for an aging vicar to sweep up. They've even supplied petals for the opening of a US  department store.
 We think Sarah deserves her award- she wins a trip to France. And guests at the awards party in East Sydney got to toast Sarah with Veuve Clicquot Rosé (naturally) and vintage champagnes and that is  a very good thing.   Check out the Simply Rose Petals' website here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Julia is all Smiles

 It is without a doubt, one of Sydney's most elegant mansions in Wolseley Road Point Piper with the most commanding views of the harbour. Ville del Mare was the home of employment agency entrepreneur Julia Ross and had been on the market for some years as Ms Ross relocated her headquarters to London where she originally came from.
Last year the palace finally sold for a whopping $39M to 55-year-old Hong Kong property developer Hui Ka Yan who is listed as China's  15th wealthiest person.
Alas there are problems with the sale and Treasurer Joe Hockey has decided that the sale of the house breached Foreign Investment Review Board rules on foreign ownership. Hockey has given the new owner 90 days to sell or risk having it confiscated  by Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions.
But what news of the former tenant Julia Ross?. We can report that Julia is safely ensconced in grand premises in London's Belgravia and is loving life back in England. With (at least) that $39M.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Vale John Hemmes

Left John & Merivale Hemmes at the opening of the Mr Chow Restaurant
Sad news today that one of Sydney's legendary fashion figures John Hemmes has died at age 83. John and his wife Merivale once were the King & Queen of modern fashion in Australia.
Today their  son Justin Hemmes rules over a nightclub empire with some of Australia's most fantastic night spots from the Establishment to the Beresford Hotel in Surry Hills.
Whispers has a life long history with the Hemmes. At the tender age of 18 we were hired to run a shop owned by their fierce (but friendly) business rival David Sheinberg whose father owned Sydney's Imperial Arcade and a string of fashion stores that were in competition with The House of Merivale, over seen by Merivale Hemmes and which presented Aussies with the very latest overseas fashion. John was always asking us to join his firm and although we declined, we have remained friendly with the family for decades,

John Hemmes was born in Surabaya, Java, Indonesia- his parents were Dutch and he was imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp as a teen before arriving in Australia with little money. Over the next 30 years he and wife Merivale built up a fashion empire. Today son Justin has continued this entrepreneurial spirit with an enviable restaurant and nightclub empire that employs around 5000 people in premises designed by his sister Bettina.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Jesinta Unmasked

Jesinta Campbell attended last night's Silver Party at the splendid Point Piper house of Aussie Home Loan's boss John Symond. Whispers had exclusive access to the grand party (more tomorrow).

Jesinta opted not to wear a mask at the themed masked party and masked little else as well as our snaps show

A couple of very nice snaps of Academy Award winners Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne on winning #Oscars for #bestactress and #bestactor. From New York's Patrick McMullan.
Photos by David Crotty for Patrick McMullan (c)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Subway Sights

If only our own public transport was as handy as New York's famous subway system that is often the only way to travel in that city. Recent sightings have included actors Tom Hanks and Helen Mirren but we have discovered a video of one time Sydney resident Keanu Reeves being very gentlemanly as he offers a lady a seat. Did she realise who he was?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Society Murder

The 2014 murder of Melbourne's top interior designer Stuart Rattle (above) reached it's conclusion yesterday as his killer and partner Michael O'Neill was jailed for 18 years for strangling the decorator. O'Neill was known as “The Talented Mr Ripley” by Rattle's friends due to his propensity to tell lies. Journalist Jan McGuinness wrote a revealing feature on the life of the pair in The Saturday Paper and it's a fascinating read. Go here to read it.

Happy one day...

Just last week the ex-Mrs Packer Jodhi Meares was happily ensconced in the arms of fiance, former INXS singer Jon Stevens at David Jones Autumn Spring fashion show as our exclusive picture shows.
Today police have requested an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) after Stevens was arrested during a fracas with Jodhi in their Point Piper home. Stevens will appear in Waverely Court on Thusday and according to friends is staying with a pal in Potts Point.
## Not a word has appeared in Australian newspapers : the Chinese government is about to clamp down on Chinese citizens traveling abroad on gambling junkets to Australia, Las Vegas Macau and elsewhere. They make up the bulk of cash that flows into these casinos. James Packer has invested $billions in all 3 locations.
Below is the first Royal Selfie from Buckingham Palace. Taken during a birthday party and tweeted for the world to see.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

That Time of the Year Again

We mean it's time for those Autumn Winter fashion shows at David Jones. We love these shindigs and not just because of the copious amounts of French champagne (OK it helps) and great nibbles but..the fashion!. It's all about fashion!
VIP guests (that's us)  entered the event space via a subway tunnel, which opened out onto an urban jungle complete with a live graffiti artist, a paved runway reminiscent of Melbourne city laneways, vivid LED street-style lighting, and a live band of drummers. DJs urged us to dance to our own beat. (we always do but we'll dance to anyone's beat if the champers flows).
Designers on show included Akira, Bianca Spender, Camilla and Marc, Calibre, Carla Zampatti,  Ginger & Smart,Josh Goot, Nicola Finetti and the wonderfully named  The Upside and Vanishing Elephant. Plus tennis ace Mark Philippoussis debuted his collection of sportswear Phl!.
Mark Philippoussis & Silvana Lovin * Richard Roxburgh & Silvia Colloca * Kerri-Anne Kennerley * Luke Sales & Anna Plunkett
Megan Gale    * Jon Stevens & Jodhi Meares       *       Jessica Gomes    *       Tom Williams & Rachel Gilbert