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What I wore this week: polka dots

What I wore this week: polka dots

Look, if it helps, think of them as stripes that happen to be circular. Because frankly, I don’t know what your problem is. How many striped tops do you have in your wardrobe? Yes, including Bretons. Yup, also including cotton striped shirts. Thought so. Quite a few. So, why so sniffy about polka dots?

I do know why, really, of course I do. Spots are a bit… well, daft. Stripes go faster, spots are dotty. But that’s exactly why they’re fun. Nobody expects us, the grown-up fashionables, with our intelligently sourced, upscale, high-street Scandinavian, day-to-night pieces in muted tones, to wear spots. So, let’s do it.

Spots are happy-making, for a start, and that is the best reason of all. Every wardrobe needs an emotional range. You need the cool, crisp workwear – trousers with sharp creases, stiffened-shoulders – for work. You need the glossy, upbeat Saturday night stuff. But the friendly stuff is just as important. Cheery scarves and gloves, reassuringly plush coats. Spots are your friend, so there’s really nothing to be scared of.

Actually, that’s a lie. Polka dots can go wrong. There is a point where cheerful tips into syrupy, which you need to be mindful of by avoiding cutesy shapes. (I’d avoid a full skirt here, much as I love one.)

A spot with any kind of big shoulder is tricky, unless Danielle Steel Heroine out for Three Martini Lunch is the look you are going for. (With retrospect, I feel I may be channelling this just a teeny tiny bit in my photo here, although that wasn’t the plan. You see? Tricky.)

And Princess Diana may be a hipster style icon these days, but I still can’t hand on heart say that the full-fat 1980s take on the dot which she went in for is likely to work in 2017. A polka dot dress now needs mismatched earrings and a lace-up brogue, not ballet pumps and pearls. This, you see, is the point. What you need to make a polka dot look modern – a brogue rather than a ballet pump, graphic earrings rather than pearls – is the stuff you have already.

You have a polka-dot shaped gap in your wardrobe, so why fill it with another striped top? Square pegs into round holes don’t go, you know.

• Jess wears top, £25, Trousers, £35, by Principles by Ben de Lisi, from Embellished mules, £99,

Stylist: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Samantha Cooper at Carol Hayes Management using Mac and Bumble and bumble.
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Guo Pei: the Chinese designer who made Rihanna's omelette dress

Guo Pei: the Chinese designer who made Rihanna's omelette dress

Chinese designer Guo Pei had been creating couture for more than 30 years when Rihanna stepped on to the red carpet in an extraordinary yellow cape two years ago. Dubbed the omelette dress for its striking resemblance to brunch, it went viral and made the world notice Guo’s work.

The dress wasn’t designed for Rihanna. In fact, it had been sitting in Guo’s studio for three years when the singer’s team came across it after making inquiries into Chinese couture during the run up to the 2015 Met Gala, the theme of which was China: Through the Looking Glass.

Beijing-born Guo, who turned 50 recently, cut her teeth in fashion design following the Cultural Revolution. As Cathy Horyn explained in the New York Times, her career as a designer “began when there was no fashion in her country”. For the past 20 years, Guo has focused on high fashion, specialising in technical work that is grand in dimension and scale and as intricate as that of any Paris couture house. It’s no wonder that she has appeared at Paris couture week, last year becoming the first Chinese national to do so.The now-famous Yellow Empress cape weighs 25kg, has a 16ft train, features over 50,000 hour’s worth of hand embroidery and took two years to make. The sheer weight of the dress meant that, when it was first shown, at a 2012 show in China, the model made it only halfway down the catwalk before the lights had to be turned off and the show stopped so that she could remove the cape and return backstage.

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Fashion helps out with annual breast cancer lunch

Fashion helps out with annual breast cancer lunch

To raise funds and awareness of the the Garvan Institute, the Riley St Garage is holding an inspirational lunch to raise funds for Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

October, of course, is breast cancer awareness month, and is definitely a time for all of us to think about what effects it has on women and men around the world.

This one day event will feature a panel of speakers including the brilliant Dr Samantha Oakes who is the inspirational Head of the Cancer Cell Survival Group at Garvan.

Doctor Oakes won the Young Garvan award for ‘Edgiest Idea’ in 2016, after she discovered a way to trick cancer cells into thinking they are sick, so they can be targeted by the immune system, therefore revolutionising cancer treatments.

“Every day we are making inroads to understanding the causes of breast cancer and how to treat it,” Dr Oakes told Vogue.

“However what we have also learnt is that a breast cancer that forms in one patient is unique from the next. Every time we hear about a new ‘breakthrough' for breast cancer, it means we may have helped at least one person survive.

It’s another piece of the big puzzle that makes up this horrible disease. That’s why we need to keep raising awareness, keep raising money to continue to invest in research and provide new treatments for this complicated set of diseases.

The ‘management’ of various grades of cancer has been extraordinary but what the most exciting find?

“In recent times, cancer immunotherapy has been a game changer for the treatment of advanced disease, curing patients with melanoma that once had no hope,” adds Doctor Oakes.

“However at the moment, only a small number of patients benefit, and we do not understand why. For patients with advanced or high grade breast cancer, the same is true, but worse, even fewer respond.

“The trick now is to learn how to make more of these patients with high grade breast cancers respond and this is one of the main projects I am working on.”

I also asked Dr Oakes how rewarding working in an industry that does save lives make her feel.

“My job is highly rewarding because everyday I get into the Kinghorn Cancer Centre lifts and ride together with patients who are undergoing treatment for various types of cancer.

“I know that what I am doing will hopefully one day help save someone like them. Some breast cancer patients are already benefiting from the work I did over the last 10 years.

“The flip side is that I wish I could help them today. It makes me sad that I can not help all patients now, but this gives me the added motivation to work even harder to make sure that one day we can look at breast cancer (and others) as a chronic curable disease.

“I want my daughter and son will never have to suffer or lose loved ones to cancer like I have. Life is all about making a mark on the world for the better.”

Some if the most recent stats in Australia on the amount of women (yes, and men) who have/had/survived breast cancer are fascinating.

The estimated number of new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2017 is 17,730 with 144 males and 17,586 females; the approximate % of all new cancer cases diagnosed in 2017 is 13%; the Estimated number of deaths from breast cancer in 2017 is 3,114 with 28 males and 3,087 females and the Estimated % of all deaths from cancer in 2017 is 6.5%.

Most importantly, the chance of surviving at least 5 years (2009–2013) is 90%

and people People living with breast cancer at the end of 2012 (diagnosed in the 5 year period 2008 to 2012) was 65,976.

Early detection is obviously vital and Doctor Oakes suggests we all do the following.

“Know your breasts, look at them, feel them, do your breast self exams. Look for changes, lumps, changes in the skin texture, reddening, soreness, tenderness or any change that you think may be abnormal. If you detect anything go see your doctor as early detection is key to the best outcomes.”

Dr Oakes says the awareness of breast cancer is made even greater when big companies get on board - the likes of a fashion retailer like Cue is just one strong example.

“The support of big companies help the spread the importance of awareness and CONTINUED support for research,” adds Dr Oakes.

“Education is key and the bigger the networks the easier we can get the message out. Cue Clothing Company is a proud Australian brand producing quality clothing for beautiful women.

“I love Cue and their support for Breast Cancer Awareness and my research. Cue Clothing make women feel beautiful including me. I am proud to be supported by Cue Clothing Company.”

Dr Oakes says If you want to hear more about her important research, anyone can come to the Riley Street Garage Breast Cancer Awareness Event for Garvan.

Hosted by fashion blogger Tash Sefton, guests will munch into canapés and Laurent-Perrier champagne on arrival followed by a 3-course share menu accompanied by a selection of wine from JoJo’s Jetty and gifts from Estée Lauder companies.

The Petersen Family Foundation who are have a long affiliation with Garvan & Kinghorn Cancer Centre will be a major sponsor at the lunch. The foundation is dedicated to funding important medical research and are passionate supporters of Garvan.

A raffle will include prizes from Cue, KitchenAid, Laurent-Perrier, Laser Clinics Australia, Frank Provost, Happetite, artwork from Fiona McClean along with beauty hampers from Estée Lauder Companies with all proceeds going to Garvan - the Institute whose mission it is tomake significant contributions to medical research that will change the directions of science and medicine and have major impacts on human health.

To see Samantha Oaks and her team speak join us at Riley St Garage in Surry Hills at noon on Saturday 28th October, where Cue will proudly match all funds raised on the day.

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