Fashion Q&A with Jenny Kee

Fashion Q&A with Jenny Kee

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What’s your favourite fashion era?
The 1960s. It was the beginning of retro – people like Ossie Clark reimagining vintage ’30s dresses
in beautiful bias cuts. And also the beginning of vintage – granny’s clothes coming down from the attic. So many fantastic people came out of the ’60s. Zandra Rhodes was an amazing designer.

Jenny at the Chelsea Antiques Market, London, in 1964.

Jenny at the Chelsea Antiques Market, London, in 1964.Credit:; The Sunday Times/News Licensing, London/Jenny Kee archive MAAS

What are three essential items in your wardrobe?
My own “Uni-Oz” woollen knit. A waratah beanie my mum made me in 1988 – I live in the mountains, we’re not talking about sunny Bondi here! And my “Black Opal” silk scarf. It’s my signature, I always wear it, whether as a scarf or not.

Do you recall a favourite outfit you wore as a child?
Mum used to dress us up like little dolls. As a very young girl it was a slate-blue, fine wool dress with a handmade lace collar and cuffs. It wasn’t colourful but it was beautiful.

Can you remember your first fashion moment?
It was in 1963. I went up to Surfers Paradise and saw Paula Stafford’s shop full of the most brilliantly coloured swimwear and bikinis. I’d just started at East Sydney Tech doing dress design and I was told I couldn’t design the colourful clothes I liked to wear – donkey brown and pale blue were the colours of the day – and yet here was this burst of colour.

And your worst fashion mistake?
I don’t think I make many mistakes because I make things work.

Who’s your favourite designer?
I love Piccioli’s work – his use of colour and his flamboyance. His clothes have heart.

Do you have a favourite fragrance?
L’Occitane Verveine – I love that lemon fragrance. I also wear lemon myrtle essential oil.

Is there something you would never wear?
A miniskirt.

What would you buy if money were no object?
The most exquisite piece of harlequin opal I could find.

What shoes do you wear the most?
I’d love to be wearing my Manolos but now I wear Nike sneakers with everything, they’re always coming out with fabulous new styles and limited editions.

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Is there a current trend you like? I don’t follow fashion trends; I don’t know how to! But I don’t buy too much of anything, and that’s a trend now.

Who’s your favourite fashion icon?
Anna Cleveland, [1960s and ’70s US model] Pat Cleveland’s daughter. She’s divine, she’s like a Modigliani – she has such grace and style in her face.

What’s your favourite casual Sunday look?
The very oldest trackies and flannel shirt. I’ll be up in the mountains walking in the bush.

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale October 4.

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