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3 July 2013


A new translation of Jean Genet's The Maids by Benedict Andrews and Andrew Upton sees Cate Blanchett, Isabelle Huppert and Elizabeth Debicki take the stage in this Sydney Theatre Company production. Blanchett and Huppert open dialogue in a beautiful set from Designer and friend Alice Babidge consisting of floral arrangements punctuating the stage with femininity and pastels separated with stark furniture and bordered with racks of designer clothing in a spectrum of colour and texture that is very quickly contrasted with profanity and vulgar sexuality…….. they had my attention. 

Above the stage was a huge screen displaying (LIVE) footage from both a hidden crew and placed cameras that panned across the set and gave us the occasional glimpse up Blanchett's nostrils and added a voyeuristic feel.

I had the opportunity to work with Alice Babidge on the jewellery for this and it will now go down in history as my most seamless easy collaboration with another designer. She is such an incredibly talented woman who I am incredibly happy to have met, I caught a moment to ask her 5 quick fire questions…

Physically: Melbourne, Australia although I live in Sydney. Mentally: New York. Wishing: Turks and Caicos.

'Straight to You' - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The utter romantic for the displaced or disillusioned.

The present. With a touch of the Woody Allen 1970's for good measure.

'The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie' by Luis Buñuel.

French. By the bottle. If I'm being at all particular, Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque or Ruinart.

2 July 2013


Prior to launching my brand I worked in what I can only describe as Sydney's home of true authentic design in the world of furniture, CULT. It became clear that the philosophy of CULT and the incredible brands represented in their Sydney showroom paralleled my own, remaining true to original design and craftsmanship. These designs for me are as much of an artwork as anything I would hang on my walls and only solidified my love of original design. 

Hans J. Wegner is widely considered to be one of the leading figures in 20th century furniture design - and a driving force in the “Danish Modern” movement that changed the way people looked at furniture in the 1950s and 1960s.

"A chair is to have no backside. It should be beautiful from all sides and angles." Hans J Wegner.

Serge Mouille Lampadaire 3 Bras : 1952

Throughout the 1950s Mouille designed large, angular, insect-like wall mounted and standing lamps with several arms and smaller, more curved wall-sconces. He worked to achieve a kinetic, sculptural aesthetic that evoked a sense of movement in space. 

Described as “a reaction to the Italian models, which were beginning to invade the market in 1950,” Serge Mouille 

Jacques Adnet Circulaire Mirror: 1950's

In 1950, Adnet formed a partnership with the French fashion house, Hermes, where he developed a collection of leather-covered furniture and interior accessories. Accordingly, he made a round leather mirror with brass hinges. Besides the remarkable leather and brass details, the mirror is also unique as the strap that holds the mirror is in direct proportion to the dimension of the mirror.

1 July 2013


Japanese-born, Paris-based electronic composer and visual artist Ryoji Ikeda presented his project test pattern [No 5] at Carriageworks (Home of Australian Fashion Week) last week. The piece converts various data, text, sounds, photos and movies into an incredible fit of of graphic illuminated binary code, which pulsates up and down a 28 x 8 metre floor space. Immersed in rapid black and white imagery synchronised with a stark and hypnotic series of beeps and glitches. It is an immersive sensory experience that skirts abstract geometrical forms and minimalist aesthetics. 

30 June 2013


Ilona Royce Smithkin, 93, is the cover star of our latest eye-wear collection. She’s also an artist and cabaret performer and we are just so smitten with her.We were lucky enough to catch up with Ilona when we were in New York recently. Here are four questions I asked her:

 Ilona Royce Smithkin

Karen:  Any  lessons you  can share?

Ilona: I feel never look at what you haven’t got, but look at what you have accomplished in life. Because the moment you have wishful thinking, you waste the same precious energy into a fairytale. When you think what you've done already you can be proud of yourself, and carry on. It took me a long time to find that out. But it’s a very important thing in life.

Karen: Regrets?

Ilona: I must say, I don’t think there’s anything to regret. And youth is not wasted on the young, that’s another thing I found out, because if you don’t make your booboos, if you don’t do the things which are all wrong, you never learn from it, what do you learn if you’re so perfect? But I don’t believe in absolute perfection, you know why, there’s always someone who’s better than you and someone who’s worse than you. We have to learn, I think the world has to learn, a little more contentment, and a little less need, gimme gimme gimme, I need, you know. Since I feel more contented, a whole bunch of my energy is saved for better things.

Karen: How do you sustain relationships?

Ilona: If there are good things, think of the good, we all have to compromise. There is no such thing as a perfect person. If you can concentrate on the nice things which he has, if there is enough of them, sometimes there is only one nice thing and seven bad things, but you have to think about these things. You cannot be too critical. The moment people become critical, they cut their own lifeline I feel.

Karen: Your happiest memory?

Ilona: Right this minute, right this minute, I didn't have to think very much. You bring me joy. I want to tell you a funny story, I don’t know if you’ll find it funny but anyhow. Four men are together in a tavern. One is German, one is Spanish, one is American and one is French, and they say “you know everybody thinks about their language, my language is the best one, and the other says no my language is the best one, and the other says my language is the best one.” And the American says “You know what? Let’s take a word and see what it is and then we can all see which language is the best. Lets take ‘butterfly’, a neutral word, it’s nothing political”. So, the Frenchman says “In my language it is ‘papillon’ it’s lovely” and the Spanish man says “Well, that is very lovely but in mine it’s so romantic, poetic, its ‘mariposa’”. Well of course everybody says it’s very lovely, and they come to the German who says “What is wrong with ‘schmetterling’?”

 Karen Walker Forever Editorial

  Karen Walker Forever Editorial

 Ari Seth Cohen, the Karen Walker Forever photographer and creator of Advanced Style Blog took this shot of Ilona last week. She wears her favourite frames, the fluro yellow Northern Lights, everywhere, even to teach her art class.

At our show during NYFW. Ilona seeing her cover for the first time made our day! 

Last week we were working  in Tokyo.  Always inspiring. 

 Blue skies in Harajuku. I’m obsessed with these Orbit Frames – my go-to at the moment.

Nothing says Tokyo like ladies in white slacks carrying parasols.

Shop Karen Walker Here:

28 June 2013

Masterpiece London

Masterpiece London opened its door yesterday for a special preview. The art and design fair is in its fourth year and is going from strength to strength, becoming a firm fixture in the summer art season. It is a unique experience that allows visitors to admire art and design creations from a very eclectic selection of galleries from all over the world. 

The spectacular value of Masterpiece London offers the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of many works of art, that when sold to a private collector will not be available to the general public any longer. Eclectic is the appropriate word to define this fair, with the young Princesses Beatrice & Eugenie paying a visit yesterday as well as Uma Thurman and Anna Wintour. 

The Sperone Westwater Gallery from New York embodies the unique nature of Masterpiece London with a selection of art that spans from the baroque period, with a wonderful Lorenzo Lippi painting of Saint Catherine of Alexandria to a modern sculpture of Tom Sachs named Vanity. 

Masterpiece takes place from 27 June – 3 July 2013  in the heart of Chelsea, on the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London SW3. 

(Brazilian, 1961)

(Faenza 1792 – Rome 1832)

(American, 1966)

Blog contributor: Fabio Ciquera

27 June 2013

Tate Britain | Gary Hume

Here at Browns we're big fans of Gary Hume and his boldly abstract works of art, which is why we were eager to check out his latest exhibition at Tate Britain. Hailing from Goldsmiths College, Hume is celebrated for his use of colour, line and surface in his distinctive compositions, while also recognised as part of  the internationally renowned group of ‘Young British Artists’. More recently Hume has caught the eye of Browns favourite and Marni founder Consuelo Castiglioni, using his colour-blocked creations for a unique capsule collection of t-shirts. 

The exhibition runs in parallel to a survey of celebrated painter Patrick Caulfield (1936–2005), offering visitors the chance to see alongside each other two complementary British painters from different generations.

 Angela Merkel from the series Anxiety and the Horse 2011

  The Moon 2009

Tulips 2009

Tony Blackburn 1993

The Cradle 2011

21 June 2013

Blog Takeover | 1205 by Paula Gerbase Day 5

I have always been hugely aware of architecture and the built environment around me, and they are aspects of every day life which I am very conscious submerse into my work.

Brutalist architecture has a particular draw for me. My absolute favourite examples of London Brutalism which I interact with or pass by frequently are the Barbican Estate, designed by Chamberlain, Powell and Bon, the Southbank Centre, the Institute of Education, on Bedford Way (near Russell Square and the studio) and Centre Point. There is something very beautiful and uncompromising about framing and letting the raw materials speak for themselves, and it's something I strive to achieve with the collection with each season.

20 June 2013

Blog Takeover | 1205 by Paula Gerbase Day 4

Whenever I'm in Paris, if I can, I try to steal an hour or so and drop by the Musee Bourdelle, which is only a short walk from the apartment.

The museum comprises of the house, studio and garden where Antoine Bourdelle lived and worked and houses some of the most powerful works by the artist as well as beautiful sketches and photographs.

The light streaming through the sculpture studio has a very particular quality, but I generally gravitate to the back garden where you can be surrounded by Bourdelle's work in silence and experience his sculptures come to life through the elements.

I aspire to create one day a working space in London where "Everything tells of silence, meditation and labour …" as the Museum describes the distinct energy felt throughout the building.