Saturday, January 01, 2011

Our loss

With the demise of Victorian Labor at the last state election and the ascendancy of Ted Baillieu’s coalition government, my mind has been turning to those halcyon days when Victoria was ‘On The Move’ under the Kennett Government.

Of course, the Kennett Government was more than just Jeff, it had an exquisite plume in its cap called Felicity, the Great Man’s spouse and Victoria’s First Lady.

Whilst recently reminiscing through old press clippings, tears of nostalgia welled in my eyes as I came upon the following searing cultural criticism from the Lady Herself:

“The worst thing about Australian women is the shit shoes they wear and the terrible handbags we get around with,” the Premier's wife told Mode.

“You would never find that in America. We have got to stop being cheap on the accessories. We think we can get away with it and we really shouldn't.” ...

“We've got to stop thinking of fashion as something frivolous which only people with loud voices and blonde hair play with, because it's not.”

  • The Age, 20 February 1997

Some Victorians knew what we had when we had it, for instance Ron Walker...

... head of Melbourne Major Events and mate of the Premier, says in the article that Mrs Kennett is one of Victoria's most valuable commodities in the quest to make Melbourne the fashion capital of Australia.

“She's so beautiful and so elegant; she's a great advantage for us ... She is a beautiful front door for us,” he says.

And at least some of the people knew it too, as evinced by the following supportive letter-to-the-editor:

Felicity Kennett has done us all a great service by pointing out the role of the shoe in contemporary society. As I understand it, the First Lady has implied that poor accessorising by Victorian women is undermining the social fabric. I couldn't agree more. If only nice girls from Kooyong to Canterbury would stop wearing those beastly workmen's boots! And as for moccasins, one should not be seen dead in Safeway without stilettos.

I believe the genesis of shoe dysfunction lies in the Australian habit of looking people in the eye when greeting them. One really ought to look down at the shoes. People of good breeding have always known that the shoes (not the eyes) are the window to the sole.

Kevin Rugg, Beaumaris

  • The Age, 1 March 1997

Hopefully Victoria’s new First Lady, Robyn Baillieu, can get our quest to make Melbourne the fashion capital of Australia seriously back on track.

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