The JOY of being a sole TRAVELLER

by Marleen Roch

I’ve just come back from sightseeing various well known and well-trodden tourist spots across Europe.

I enjoyed the whole experience and was able to observe and let the European culture soak me in, especially the coffee.

One glaring difference between modern Australia and ancient cities like Rome and Paris is, we just don’t have any old-world structures, statues or enduring public art. In Rome the local tour guide described any building less than 200 years old as ‘new’. The oldest building in my hometown of Perth is ‘Old Court House’, which was completed in 1836, making it just 183 years young.

I admired the old fine art in public places right throughout the trip, as well as Vatican City, I saw the inside of many old churches as well as art galleries, it was inspiring.

On my last day of travels, and before the dreaded long and uncomfortable plane trip home, I spent the day in the V&A Museum in London. I vividly remember visiting in the late eighties and being blown away by the clothes, shoes, fabrics and other beautiful items on display.

Victoria and Albert Museum aka V&A Museum has been operating as a museum since-1852. It’s a beautiful old (young in Rome) cavernous building, exactly what a museum is expected to look like.  

Lucky for me there were two major exhibitions on when I visited:

Christian Dior - Designer of Dreams and Mary Quant. 

I enjoyed both exhibitions, but for different reasons. I appreciate the high value/high drama of Dior but also love the playfulness and approachability of Quant.

Christian Dior is very high-end fashion, its luxury, distinguished and wore by royalty and celebrities. The attention to detail in every design is to be admired, every frock is a work of (wearable) art.

The exhibit showed the process a garment goes through from the simple initial design sketch, the choice of fabrics and textures and to the work of the Ateliers (artists) who are responsible for the delicate embellishments and details which come later in the design process.

Christian Dior died in 1957. Which meant his namesake was at the forefront of the label for only 10 years before the label was taken over by a succession of high-profile designers to this day.

Nowadays, Dior can dress your newborn (Baby Dior) and your man (men’s fashion) to women’s ready to wear and Haute Couture.


Mary Quant 

 “Fashion is not frivolous; it is part of being alive today” Mary Quant.

What I love about Mary Quant is her sense of fun with fashion, she said we dress to please ourselves. Mary Quant’s designs appealed to a much younger and different market. Her clothes were available to a wider range of women than Dior. While not cheap, her fashion was not out of reach like the Paris luxury labels. Her mini skirts and dresses with coloured tights could be worn anywhere (and still are). Mary Quant opened her first shop, called Bazaar in London in 1955. But it wasn’t until the mid 60’s the dresses started walking out the door and success followed.

At 89 years old, Mary Quant is no longer working, and her clothing label is not in production.

While some of the artifacts and monuments are past their original use (such as the Colosseum) we can still admire the design and many concepts used in the ancient world are still used today.

I encourage everyone to travel and see the world through the creative lens, whether it’s an art gallery, museum or a shop window.  

Like the ancient structures of Europe, design houses show good design is timeless.

Photo Credit: Christian Dior Designer of Dreams exhibition (©) ADRIEN DIRAND 

Photo Credit: Christian Dior Designer of Dreams exhibition (©) ADRIEN DIRAND 

Photo:©V&A Press Office

Mary Quant and models at the Quant Afoot footwear collection launch, 1967 © PA Prints 2008

Marleen Roch is a corporate manager specializing in quality control in the human services sector. She is the manifestation of a strong woman who can do anything, and is not afraid of doing it alone. As an exceptional leader, her success is not a surprise.

Watch out for more posts from Marleen in the future.

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