From the editor - November 2010
Style is a fuzzy concept. Plug the word into an internet search and you get 507 million hits from celebrities, homewares stores, fashion designers, hairdressers and so on… all selling their own version of style.
But, although there is clearly no agreement on what style is, we know it when we see it. We all know a few people with real style – the sort who can collect random things, put them together and create a distinctive look. Ayla Hardwick-Smith, whose pink Oamaru crib appears on page 82, is a perfect example. In most homes an old, ripped map of New Zealand would look like rubbish. In her place, it is a piece of art.
Stylish people proliferate in NZ House & Garden and after nearly two years I’ve learned a bit about how they operate. Style, it seems to me, is a matter of editing – winnowing out the aesthetic distractions until you’re left with the essence of a look. (Three excellent examples of this distillation process appear in this issue’s downsizing feature, starting on page 75.)
I talked to Ayla about it. She edits twice when she is decorating a home; first, she buys only things that say to her “this is me”. Then from this collection of quirky purchases she edits again for colour; in the case of her Oamaru house, pretty pastels.
She uses the same process when choosing clothes for herself. She has three wardrobes full of “this is me” clothes, selected from second-hand shops. “When I am dressing,” she says, “odd things naturally fit each other and reflect my style even more than they did singly.” Accessories are chosen to complement the theme – a summer dress, for example, might demand bright hair clips.
Ayla’s style is, undeniably, all her own. But her drive to put together a visual story – for her personal appearance as well as for her home – is common to many homeowners who appear in NZ House & Garden. Stylish people tend to be stylish in all areas of their lives.
With that in mind, we’ve added an extra 16-page section called UpClose to the back of the magazine. UpClose goes beyond the home style celebrated in the rest of NZ House & Garden to look at the way New Zealanders put their personal looks together.
It is edited by our style editor Tracey Strange. Tracey’s lovely white home has featured in many NZ House & Garden photo shoots, including the cover of this issue. Right now, though, her thoughts are on creating a lovely white dress for her wedding next month. We’ll keep you posted on that one.
Story: Sally Duggan