Category Archives: LFW Your Canberra

‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’

So sang Marilyn Monroe, and nothing has changed since then!

I absolutely adore diamonds—especially big ones—so there was no way I was about to miss the launch of Canberra’s first luxury and bespoke jewellery concierge, Plumery, and the opportunity to view some beautiful, and rare, pink Argyle diamonds was just too good to pass up.

Plumery was founded in 2015 by Canberran Danielle Klar, a gemmologist and a GP (more of that connection later), and has now opened its doors in Deakin with the official launch on 12 August at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra together with one of the Hyatt’s fabulous morning teas—another reason not to miss the event.

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Plumery themed Hyatt morning tea

Plumery provides bespoke custom designed pieces using superior gems, such as the Argyle diamond, and set in 18ct gold. And its concierge service assists people in discovering jewellery for engagements, birthdays, life milestones, or other special occasions, that is designed specifically for the buyer and their purpose, and meant to be worn on a regular basis—not just brought out occasionally to be looked at.

Creator and designer, Danielle Klar, is inspirational. Her story is incredible to say the least. Initially and armed forces medical doctor, she also studied business and management, and on leaving the military gradually moved into executive roles. But in 2014 Danielle suffered a significant health scare and was forced to slow down, take stock, and look at what truly made her happy. “I have always loved diamonds,” said Danielle. “The way they look, the way they sparkle, their versatility—I love everything about them really.” And so part of Danielle’s recovery was her first steps into the world of gemmology.

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‘the ring to rule them all’ – image Plumery

Another significant occurrence that brought Danielle into gems was the purchase of a ring, now known simply as the ring to rule them all. On holiday in France, Danielle wandered into an antique/vintage shop for a browse, and fell in love with a sparkling vintage Ceylon sapphire and diamond ring. “In my terrible French, and his broken English, we managed to strike a deal,” says Danielle, “and I walked out having spent the last of our Euros on this amazing ring … but then it occurred to me that it could be fake and I’d been had. So I had the most incredible buyers’ remorse until I got back to Australia to have it checked. It wasn’t fake.” And she now says; ‘that entire journey brought me to Plumery’.

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“My aim is to offer exquisite jewellery that can be worn every day,” says Danielle. “Plumery can source the perfect gems, and guide a client through the process from the design to finished beautiful hand-crafted pieces. Bespoke jewellery creation is an artisanal craft, and depending on the style of the design I will either make the piece myself or call upon a selection of highly skilled crafts people. It is the perfect combination of design, gold, diamonds and precious gems, together with the skillsets of jewellers, diamond setting, polishing and engraving, which results in custom-made exquisite jewellery.

“And a plumery is a collection of plumes; the beauty of adorning oneself in finery and defining itself as the keeper of many plumes, and everyone needs more than one plume in their plumage.”

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Plume ring

But let’s get back to the diamonds. These diamonds are … OMG diamonds! Two pieces that caught my eye was a gorgeous subtle pink Argyle with a double halo of diamonds and a diamond set shank; priced just over $5,000, and later, when some rarer Argyles appeared, I honed in on a tiny little heart shaped diamond, sitting cutely in its padded box, with a tag of $21,000. Wishing and hoping springs to mind …

As well as the Argyle pinks, there was also a collection of blush diamonds, white diamonds, and diamonds of almost any colour you can name, plus sapphires, rubies (did you know rubies are actually red sapphires?), and other superior quality gems including beautiful pearls from the South Pacific.20170812_104437_1502507849642

Plumery is located in the Equinox Business Park, Deakin, and is currently open by appointment only. To see some of Plumery’s launch pieces, and to find out about group educational gem nights, visit their website, Facebook page, or Instagram.


FASHFEST 2017—a sneak peek at what’s new!

In a blink of an eye, FASHFEST will roll out the red carpet and present new fashion, new music and new film for its 2017 show, with tickets on sale now. What’s hot for the runaway this year? Where do we begin …

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Gehrich – photo by Christopher Thomas

Let’s start with the ‘firsts’. New labels include luxury label Gehrich, from Melbourne, which favours quality and sustainability over quantity. Queensland’s Naudic, a bold, brave and playful label, will showcase colourful day, evening and loungewear for women of all ages. From Canberra, and making debut appearances at FASHFEST, are designers such as De Challie Haute Couture, presenting elegant gowns made from the finest materials and Bianca Pavlic The Label, presenting feminine garments embellished with embroidery and beading.

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Bianca Pavlic The Label – photo by Tina Nikolvski

For the first time, the New Zealand High Commission is sponsoring seven labels, showcasing the incredibly diverse fashion coming out of New Zealand, including Nyne (presented by Department of the Exterior), Sabatini, Trelise Cooper, Curate, Coop and Cooper (presented by Momento Dezigns), Kowtow (presented by Assemblage Project, which will also host its own segment) and independent designer Melanie Child, who returns to FASHFEST for the third year.

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Trelise Cooper

Another first is the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation show, with high-end creations by 12 Indigenous designers who have worked with textile designs and textile art from 12 art centres (eight from the Northern Territory). Recently, the fashion industry, nationally and internationally, has embraced Indigenous textiles as a new and exciting trend. In a separate segment, Magpie Goose will showcase fabric designed and hand screen-printed in remote Aboriginal communities.

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Darwin Aboriginal Arts Fair Foundation – photo by Shane Eecen

Also new is Gabrielle Spencer Bridal, whose work is inspired by the texture, balance and colour of fibres found in nature, and several lingerie labels presented by Canberra’s Miss Winks.

Fashion zeroing in on niche markets include Thunder Thighs, a new label celebrating perfectly pear-sharped women of all sizes with edgy designs that fit and flatter. Stok Denim Kids and NOMI (know me) Kids are taking care of the young ones, and Summer Paradise Seekers, by young emerging designer Ashleigh Bujaroski, will present surf clothing celebrating Australia’s beautiful coastline and beaches. Those who love op shopping will be amazed by the segment being presented by Salvo’s Stores, curated by their eco stylist Faye De Lanty. This is serious eco chic.



All-time favourite Canberra independent designers are re-appearing, including Karen Lee with her simple, sophisticated lines and classic shapes. Zilpah tart’s new line of prints celebrating spring, once more celebrate scenes from the nation’s capital. CIT fashion students return with two shows this year. BT (Braddon Tailors) will showcase men’s and women’s wear. And from Cooma, Charly Thorn arrives for the second time to wow guests once more.

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Kowtow – Dreamscape Crew

FASHFEST is so much more than fashion. It’s about live music and new film. This year 15 live musicians and DJs will rock the house down at the National Convention Centre Canberra. Just like the fashion itself, the sounds of FASHFEST are truly memorable.

Tickets are on sale now, starting at $49. FASHFEST 2017 presents six shows over three nights—28 to 30 September. For full programs and to buy your tickets, head to


Kowtow – Auteur Coat Dreamscape

Going Nuts for Doughnuts!

The Doughnut Department by Wendy Johnson

My grandmothers loved them. My mum loved them. And I love them. Fritters have been part of my family’s treat line up for decades. A great fritter is hard to find in Canberra, but I’ve cracked the code. They’re now available at the Doughnut Department, which opened a couple of weeks ago in one of the city’s newest hotspots, No Name Lane.


Photo by Leighton Hutchinson

Doughnuts are popping up everywhere, at markets, in cafés and even in restaurants. But these are very special—artisan doughnuts through and through. Hand cut with care. Yeast-raised and made daily with top-notch ingredients (mostly locally sourced).

Chef Nathan Frost, who spends up to five hours a day making these delicious delights, says this style of doughnut is unique to the capital. “They’re larger than your average doughnut,” says Nathan. “The fillings and toppings are artisan and we really play with flavour combinations.”

I openly confess to road testing a fair few and only wish my grandmother and mum were still here to try one style of fritter—apple, white chocolate and lime leaf. Now that’s an addictive flavour combo. The Doughnut Department has been cranking out more doughnuts as demand quickly grows, breaking their own records as each day passes.

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Image from the Doughnut Department

Some versions are sweeter than others. Think old fashioned buttermilk. Chocolate, cacao nibs and black sea salt. Dulce de leche with toasted almonds. Cinnamon sugar. Vegan raspberry jam. Vanilla bean glaze. Cute doughnut holes in a six-pack are perfect if you want just a ‘wee sweet treat’.

Mostly everything at The Doughnut Department is made in-house, with love. A small but interesting breakfast/brunch/lunch menu is available, with a couple of dishes featuring, you guessed it, doughnuts. “It’s a bit of food trickery,” says Nathan, who dishes up chunks of tuna cured in citrus and lime, with seasonal pickled veggies, bread ends and crunchy doughnut slices. He’s also added doughnut crunch to the popular toasted breakfast granola.

Nathan is working with Barrista Kyra Hansen. The two were joined at the hip at Lonsdale Street Roasters where Nathan was ops manager for three years. Drinks are carefully sourced through hand-picked suppliers passionate about what their produce. Like Love Tea, which is organic, fair-trade, and made in Australia. Kyra says these teas are hand blended and focus on therapeutic benefit. The café serves Ceylon Breakfast, Licorice Love, Tumeric Tea, Rooibos and a French Earl Grey. Coffee is ethical too and sourced from Six8 Coffee Roasters.

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Photo by Leighton Hutchinson

The Doughnut Department is designed as a mixed-use space. The public part of the café is at the front and an office space is at the back where Clint and Andrea Hutchinson of FASHFEST, HAUS Models and HAUS of Artists fame now work (this dynamic duo are also partners in The Doughnut Department). Creatives are encouraged to hang out, enjoy a coffee (and a doughnut or two) and share ideas and collaborate. The vibe is inspirational. So too is the fitout by award-winning Capezio Copeland, a member of the Design Institute of Australia.

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Image from the Doughnut Department

The Doughnut Department is open 7.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday, No Name Lane, 40 Marcus Clarke Street. The shop front is on Alinga Street, and you need to get in early to get the best selection!

Rare Earth with Avi Amesbury

It’s not unusual for Avi Amesbury to whip over to the side of the road when she sees a hole dug in the ground and scoop up clay. Those working on construction sites are often baffled but that doesn’t bother Avi.

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Avi uses materials she forages to create stunning ceramics in her art studio; pieces that celebrate landscape. And that includes the pieces showing alongside Rare Earth: Australian Made 2017, on now at the Courtesy of the Artist Loft in Sydney’s Strand Arcade.The exhibition is about Australian materials, gems, makers and their contemporary work. “The body of work I created to showcase with the exhibition celebrates the raw earth,” says Avi. “The earth is quite dominant even though the porcelain is quite translucent.”

A professional abstract landscape potter, Avi has for years explored her emotional connection to place and people. “I grew up in Western Australia on the edge of the desert and what struck me was the horizon—flat lines, stars, expansive land,” she says. “When I moved to Sydney this was lost for me, and the urban environment took its place. Then came Canberra where the light struck me. I had never experienced that type of light; it’s so different from anywhere else. On the South Coast, where I now live full-time, it’s the bush, which I find healing. And the very tall trees; I have a strong connection to the trees.”

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Rare Earth – Capturing Land And Light Series 6. Photography by Art Atelier

In the works being exhibited alongside Rare Earth, Avi has used material gathered from Barton and Holt here in the ACT. She stops a lot when travelling along the highway between Canberra and the South Coast to uncover material. She gathers material from the creek running at the bottom of her coastal property and she forages when visiting an artist friend in Newcastle and on visits back home to Western Australia.

“I’ve done a lot of research into using these materials and testing to see what colours emerge,” says Avi. “At first I thought I’d only get browns and oranges but I’ve discovered a much larger range of colours, and in all different shades, including whites, reds, greys and blacks.” It’s not just Avi who forages raw earth for her work. Her friends do too, and so does her family. “My daughter lived in New Zealand for 10 years and gathered rock ash from a volcano, which she collected for me. I’ve used it in the Rare Earth pieces and it has produced interesting textures to the work.” The new body of work made for Rare Earth includes small porcelain bowls, still-life installations and larger vessels titled Capturing Land and Light.

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Rare Earth – Capturing Land and Light Series 4. Photography by Art Atelier

Avi became a full-time practicing artist after retiring in 2016 as the Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director of Craft ACT where she launched the Design Canberra Festival. She is an accredited professional member of Craft ACT.

Avi has big opportunities on the horizon. She has just been told, for example, that her work has been accepted for the 2017 Triennial of Silicate Arts exhibition, called Balance, being held at the Hírös Agóra Cultural Centre in Kecskemét, Hungary (80 kilometres south of Budapest). The exhibition (3 to 30 September), is being organised by the Foundation for Contemporary Ceramic Arts.

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Rare Earth – Untitled. Photography by Art Atelier

The Rare Earth: Australian Made 2017 exhibition is on until Saturday 29 July at the Artist Loft in the Strand Arcade (Level 4, enter by way of Pitt Street Mall). If you happen to be in Sydney, make sure you pop by. In the meantime, you can follow Avi on Facebook, or visit her website.

These Boots were made for Walking …

… and photography.


When you think of a photographer, you think of a camera, correct?  Well Scott Leggo says his most important piece of gear, for more than 10 long years, has been a pair of Raichle (now Mammut) hiking boots he originally bought from Mountain Designs in Braddon.

As a professional landscape photographer, Scott’s boots have taken him across Australia and around the world. They’ve protected him in minus 40-degree weather in northern China, plus 40-degree temperatures in the Top End, and everything in-between. They’ve saved him from a snake biting him and other nasties found in jungles and the Australian bush. They’ve helped him scramble over rocks, climb up ice, secured him as he’s stood in creeks under waterfalls, and done whatever Scott has to do to get ‘that shot’.


Spring delight – Lake Burley Griffin by Scott Leggo

“The boots have become an extension of me,” says Scott, who owns a business by his own name and photographs through all seasons from the wee hours of the morning until the stars are twinkling at night. “Being a landscape photographer can sometimes be physically demanding—indeed gruelling—and it often requires a lot of patience, but that all fades away once you capture the image. Then it’s all worthwhile.”

Scott will talk about his landscape photography career at the upcoming Design Institute of Australia ACT’s 5×5 Speaker Series, being held on 26 July at the Gorman Arts Centre. The event format is simple—five design professionals speak for five minutes on a design topic of their choice, followed by an interactive question-and-answer session. Each event comes through with its promise to be inspirational and thought-provoking. This is Scott’s first appearance and one never knows; he might just bring his boots.


Morning fog – Lake Burley Griffin by Scott Leggo

A passionate outdoorsman with a spirit of adventure, Scott travels extensively and always looks to immerse himself in the environment he photographs. He has received more than 100 Australian and international awards, including the coveted title of Master of Photography by the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) in 2012. He has also won both the landscape photographer of the year and professional photographer of the year titles in the ACT. Scott’s clients include Australian corporates and large government departments wanting a touch of Australia on their walls. His work has also popped up in marketing and advertising campaigns, on websites and in a wide range of publications. “I most love it when the photos are sold as artworks,” he says, “when they take pride of place in a home or workplace, making a statement and bringing the outdoors in.”


Colours of Canberra by Scott Leggo

While travelling thrills Scott, he’s equally passionate about taking photos of Canberra, his home, whether it’s sunrises in autumn, early morning fog, reflections of trees in the lake, pink skies or our many iconic cultural institutions. Today Scott’s business is run as a family affair with his wife Phillipa. They’ve joined their diverse business backgrounds to bring unique Australian landscape wall art to homes and workplaces the country over.

Scott has just returned from a trip to the Blue Mountains and is now planning to head to the snow, camping back-country to capture unique photos away from well-beaten trails. After that he’s off to Queensland for a bit of warmth.thumbnail_Scott-Leggo-SCOTT-snow

And what about the Mammut Boots? With a tear in his eye, Scott says it’s time for them to retire. He’s looking for a new pair but couldn’t part with the old ones without snapping a photo of them for posterity.

The DIA’s 5×5 Speaker Series is being held 26 July at 6pm, Gorman Arts Centre, Main Hall, 55 Ainslie Avenue.

Other speakers include:

Colin Haining—Inklab, a creative agency bring brands and people together

Legojacker, a photographer who loves playing with plastic and his iPhone7plus

Goodspeed Bicycle Company run by Myles Chandler

Elliot Bastianon, a Canberra-based furniture designer with a diverse material palette.

Wine, Women, and Song!

Plus men and truffles too …

Here’s a plug for some really great gigs coming up this weekend, and into next week, featuring a few of our friends—who just happen to be amazing musos and singers! Get to see them if you can.

Rachel Thorne image courtesy CAPO by Canberra Photographer

Saturday 15 July the gorgeous Rachel Thorne, from In2Deep band, will be singing with Smooth Ops at the Hellenic Club along with talented Nicole Taylor and Justin Hoffman. Get on your dancing shoes to great covers by Smooth Ops ranging from contemporary, dance, soul and Motown, classical 40s jazz, and even medleys from Queen, Toto, and Metallica! Gig starts around 9.30pm.



If you can’t get over to the Hellenic Club, pop into Mercure Canberra Olims Bar and Bistro on Saturday instead, and taste test a truffle, with matching wines, and kick back with some cool jazz from Tilt Trio. This is a free event courtesy Tarago Truffles.  Come to think of it, as this gig starts at 4.30pm you can still pop over to the Hellenic Club later on, and catch two great bands in one night!




And if that’s not enough … on Thursday 20 July you can catch local Canberra composer, pianist, and accomplished accompanist, Mike Dooley—who just happens to be the other half of In2Deep—performing with, and accompanying, stunning Irish soprano Carmel Conway in concert at the Canberra Southern Cross Club Woden at 8pm. Carmel will also be launching her latest EP, Erin and Beyond. Tickets are on sale now from Ticketek.

Mike Dooley

Image courtesy Mike Dooley Music

Tempting Winter Warmers in Yass

Love the café culture, but getting a bit over going to the same places again and again? All it takes is a short drive to Yass Valley ‘country’ where you can warm your body and your soul with some delicious home-made soups, breads, pies and cakes, and great coffee!

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Kaffiene 2582 Eggs Benedict

“Yass Valley is home to around 15 cafes, and they all offer something a little different,” says Sean Haylan, Economic Development & Tourism Manager at Yass Valley Council. “From modern takes on coffee shops, to cafés set in picturesque and historical locations, our region’s cafés make the perfect place to fuel up when travelling to, or through, Yass Valley.”

The region’s main cafés lie in the towns of Bookham, Bowning, Gundaroo, Murrumbateman, Sutton, Wee Jasper, and Yass. Yass is a great place to stop en-route to Sydney or Melbourne—or even make it your destination—with a wide range of cafés near Federal, Barton, and Hume highways, offering delish home-made goodies. We often take a quick trip to Yass just because we can!

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Tootsie Fine Art and Design Studio – Chilli hot chocolate

When you’re in Yass drop into Kaffeine 2582 for classic Eggs Benedict served with with ham, salmon or spinach topped with a house-made hollandaise sauce, or try a taste of Europe at Galutzi with a home-made spiced mince, spinach and feta burek. And, if you like a little art with your cake and coffee, pop into Tootsie Fine Art and Design Studio gallery in their beautiful 1937 art deco building—where the didgeridoos used to be—and sample their awesome chilli hot chocolate, which will definitely warm both body and soul. One of our favourite Yass cafés is The Roses Café—right on the main street and offering a great home-made selection of gluten free tarts, pies, pastries, and cakes.

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Home-made soup with chunky bread from Rollonin

Moving on to Bowning; step back in time and unwind at the Rollonin Café. In this pioneer slab hut you can partake of home-made soups or quiche fresh from the oven, and their Devonshire Tea is wowing visitors. If you fancy a bit of literary culture, stop into Mayfield Mews where you can indulge in one of their gourmet pies including duck and shitake mushroom, pale ale beef, chicken with leeks and smoky bacon, or Mongolian lamb, and bone up on Aussie legends Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson at the same time.  

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Chicken, leek, and bacon pie

In Murrumbateman you can relax and warm up with freshly made pizzas using regional produce and artisan cheese at Win’s Creek Meadery, where you can also enjoy a mug of hot mulled mead to wash it down. Yass Valley also offers some terrific wineries and great scenery.

Roses GF leek and camambert tart with salad

Roses gluten-free leek and camembert tart with salad

For more information on cafés of Yass Valley, along with accommodation options, visit

Yass Valley Cafés: Bookham – Barney’s of Bookham; Bowning – Rollonin Café, and Mayfield Mews; Yass – Thyme to Taste, The Roses Café, Galutzi Café, Trader & Co, Café Dolcetto, Tootsie Fine Art and Design Studio, and Kaffeine 2582; Murrumbateman – The Village Café Murrumbateman, and Win’s Creek Meadery; Gundaroo – Cork Street Café; Sutton – The Baker at Sutton, and Wee Jasper – The Duck ‘n’ Fishes Café.