Down by the Rocky Shore

Down by the Rocky Shore

Sometimes, I find, you need to get away from your usual environment.  Wellington is superb for this, because 10 minutes’ drive from almost anywhere in the city is an entirely different environment.  I used to love living in Kelburn because I couldn’t see the city at all – only trees, beautiful houses and a plethora of native birds – but I could walk down to a café in 15 minutes or so.  Walking up, however, was another story (practically an unwritten story.  I lived there for over a year and I walked up the hill maybe a dozen times).

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Fashion and personal style can be inspired by many things.  I love the shoreline in New Zealand, which instead of perfect sifted white sand, often adds some interest with rock pools and small caves at either end of the beach.  Many happy childhood hours were spent quietly horrifying myself by putting a finger into a sea anemone and feeling it close.  Small fish, the many frankly weird starfish we seem to have in New Zealand, teensy crabs and beautiful ephemeral seaweed.  All feature in these small constellations of natural beauty.

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The price, of course, is the rocks.  Often covered in barnacles or mussel shells, except when they were completely slick with algae, I loved clambering about as a fit and energetic child.  You’re aware that if you fall you could be in deep trouble – a stuck foot below the high tide line was a particularly chilling fear – but you feel strong and able as you climb over rocks larger than you on your mission to find a pool that’s deep and sheltered enough to house some interesting creatures (which I’m sure were probably sick of curious kids in terrible 80s fashion gently trying to touch them).  Sometimes the rocks themselves were particularly interesting, because they were layered, or glittery or chipped apart in great chunks.  

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Thinking about that shoreline was what inspired me to pair these things.  The shoreline in Wellington is always breezy, so this tulle tutu I bought in a second hand shop in Tokyo seemed perfect.  Plus, when I mis-stepped into a rock pool at the end of this shoot, the fabric was light enough to dry almost totally before I got back to the car (don’t worry, no starfish were harmed in the making of this blog post).  This shirt from Wilson Trollope is inspired by the desert, but always reminds me of rocks, the sea and the shells we have closer to home, so it seemed just right.  Shoes, of course, are optional (but recommended) – certainly, high heels would be a waste of time here.

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I think our shoreline is a lovely metaphor for life.  Life is, mostly, rocks.  It’s time spent navigating, making an effort and trying not to get your foot stuck.  That’s not without pleasure – it brings success, and the effort can be fun itself.  However, every now and then you have to park yourself for minute and look into a rock pool.  Find a still, deep, sheltered place and immerse yourself into that world for long enough to make all the rocks worth it.  Everyone’s rock pools are a little bit different.  It might be time with friends, or a great book, or a hike up a hill (or an Uber up a hill, you do you).  It might be turning off email for the weekend, or snuggling up to someone you love.  It’s important though, to remember to stop off at the rock pools.  It’s not all about conquering the rocks.