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December 15th, 2014

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Mercedes-Benz Street Style Pop-up in Sydney: ON NOW!

August 19th, 2012

With the Sydney fashion scene buzzing as spring-summer collections hit stores, Mercedes-Benz will bring the glamour of fashion to life in an activation that will see Westfield Shoppers join in the fun by staring in their own Mercedes-Benz photo shoot.

From Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 August, Mercedes-Benz will hit the streets in the heart of Sydney’s shopping district in search for the most inspiring street style. A pop-up photo studio located at the Pitt Street entrance of Westfield Sydney will offer shoppers the opportunity to star in their own photo shoot alongside a Mercedes-Benz SLK, following in the exquisite shoes of fashion icon Lara Stone. Make-up touch-ups will also be provided by cosmetic brand, Napoleon Perdis.

Shoppers who have their street style snapped with Mercedes-Benz will have an opportunity to win a fantastic fashion prize including a $1,000 retail voucher from boutique Australian designer Alice McCall, a $500 ghd styling pack featuring the new ghd air hairdryer and a Napoleon Perdis Personal Make-up Skills Workshop for six valued at $1,374.

The Mercedes-Benz Street Style activation is taking place at Westfield Sydney (Pitt Street entrance) from Tuesday 21 August to Saturday 25 August 2012, 11am to 3pm each day.

Check it out fashionistas!!

The Australian Style Queen Opens Up Her Fabulous Life

August 13th, 2011

 

 

It sounds like a dream; styling some of the world’s biggest stars including Kirstie Alley for Dancing with the Stars, Kristin Chenoweth (Glee, Wicked The Musical, Broadway) for the final Oprah season and having Blake Lively wear your designs, but for Aussie fashion icon Sophia Banks-Coloma, it’s is all in a days’ work. With ten years of fashion experience in New York, L.A and Australia, Sophia is a formidable force in the fashion industry, with many labelling her the Aussie Rachel Zoe.

With international success as a highly established creative director, designer and stylist, and a wealth of acknowledgement in the industry; recognised by Forbes as one of its Top Ten Undiscovered Designers on the rise in 2009, and Harpers Bazaar Style leader two years running, it seems the world is her oyster.

Sophia’s fascination with fashion began at just 10 years of age when she enrolled in fashion drawing classes. Even after leaving school and moving to New York to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Sophia always knew her passion lay in fashion.

Sophia became co-owner of award-winning Hollywood hotspot Satine Boutique, styling celebrity clientele including Nicole Ritchie, Scarlett Johansson, Michelle Williams and Rachel McAdams to name a few. Sophia and business partner Jeannie Lee would also frequently provide internationally renowned stylist Rachel Zoe with their key fashion tips and trends.

Sophia’s style is influenced by her global travels and, with Sophia’s strong Australian roots, the Satine showroom regularly showcased Aussie designers including Sass and Bide, Fleur Wood and Camilla and Marc.

Sophia’s mantra is simple: “Buy what flatters you, not just what is trendy. If you are uncomfortable in it, don’t buy it; otherwise that is exactly how you will end up looking – uncomfortable.”

In 2008 Sophia, keen to put her skills as a designer to full effect, launched contemporary label Whitley Kros. The label has since established itself as a celebrity favourite, worn by the likes of Katy Perry, Blake Lively, Taylor Swift and Kate Hudson, and featured on U.S reality TV show ‘The Hills’. Testament to Sophia’s eye for detail and the brand’s innovative designs, Sophia was a semi finalist in the Ecco Domani Fashion Award and her collection was selected as a Mercedes Benz highlighted fashion show – a huge accolade for a designer.

Sophia is currently involved in the costume design for a new film by Academy Award winning Director Barrie M.Osbourne (Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Matrix and the new Great Gatsby) starring Amber Heard (Drive Angry 3D, Rum Diaries), Kellan Lutz (Twilight) and Shiloh Fernandez (Red Riding Hood). The film ‘Syrup’ is due to launch in Australia in 2012.

As with every successful person, Sophia has her own influences:

“I hugely admire Haider Ackermann and Riccardo Tisci for their great designs, Hubert Givenchy for creating the best dresses ever seen this century, and Coco Chanel for being such a rebel! In terms of style icons, I love Cate Blanchett for her elegant beauty and Charlotte Gainsburg for her effortless style. It could be said that all of the above have acted as a collective muse for my various fashion projects!”

With luxury fashion houses including Dior, Chloe, Cartier, Roland Mouret and J Mendel already lined up to provide the wardrobe for her latest venture, it seems her admiration is reciprocated, with design houses clamouring over themselves to be a part of her projects.

What an amazing woman and a fortunate opportunity to delve into the world of one of the worlds best stylists.

This is the incredible Sophia Banks-Coloma…

Sophia on Work

What projects are you currently working on or have in the near future?

I just finished the movie ‘Syrup’ in New York, designing all the wardrobe. It is an amazing project staring Amber Heard, Kellan Lutz, Shiloh Fernandez and Britanny Snow. It was a great project to work on – the director overheard me doing an interview for MTV and decided put me in the movie as the TV host interviewing one of the actors!

I am also working on dressing a number of celebrities for the red carpet and some image revamps for various new clients.

You are currently working on a movie starring Amber Heard, is this your first movie and what was your reaction when you found out?

Yes it was my first movie, and it was exciting and terrifying all at the same time. When I was pregnant I would watch the Devil Wears Prada and would think if I had the opportunity to work on a movie like that I would do it. A year later I was sitting with the director of ‘Syrup’ at the Chateau Marmont discussing the movie and he asked me to work on the costumes.

You’ve achieve incredible results for many of the brands you have worked for, landing them in major magazines around the world – how have you managed such success?

I never look around and say ‘gee I am so successful’, I am always striving for more and trying to do more things so I don’t really think about it. Right now I am thinking about two new film projects and a some fabulous new clients.

For 10 years you have been working with Hollywood’s A-List, who are the ones you really loved working with – or even loved to hate?

Kirstie Alley has been great, we started working together at the beginning of Dancing With The Stars show and it was great to see her weight transformation.

I loved Amber Heard on this latest movie, she is so beautiful, graceful and elegant – a real old Hollywood star, I am sure she will be getting an Oscar soon.

You travel a fair bit between the US and Australia, how do you manage?

I have travelling under control, especially with my daughter. We even ship our bags ahead…. We have a whole travel plan.

You are married to Marcus Coloma, who appears on hit shows like CSI and One Tree Hill, how long have you been married and how did you meet?

 

My brother’s friend, Nick Bosher (creator of beached whale) was staying with us in the USA and he went to an acting class and met my husband. They hit it off and decided to go for a run and he brought Marcus over – the rest was history.

Does Marcus ask for your fashion advice all the time?

All the time….. When he was filming Syrup in New York, he would call me and ask, ‘What am I wearing to this premier?’- I’d say the Black Jacket, Blue tee, and the Brown boots- I tell him what to wear all the time.

He says he can’t shop or get dressed without me.

How do you maintain a life balance between work and home?

I have to turn off my phone and on Sundays we have a family day. I’m also lucky to have a studio at my house, so I have Coco around me all day and she can come say hello whenever she wants.

My husband and I like it best if we are working together as then we get to spend lots of time together- otherwise we have date night.

My Mother/Father always told me…

My father and mother both always told me to there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do and that I could never really lose, by reaching for the stars. They showed me anything was possible, they live life, they take risks, they are adventurous and always changing …. That has given me the guts to do things most people would think are crazy and brought me here to this point now.

Sophia on Food

Which foods and drinks most excite your taste buds?

Chocolate and coffee. I live for these things. I can not get enough chocolate.

How often do you eat out and cook at home?

I am sad to say we don’t really cook at home, only occasionaly. We had someone cooking for us a little in Los Angeles, before we left so we could have family meals. But the last three months have been in New York…..I don’t know if anyone in that city actually owns a frying pan!

What is one of your best cooking tips?

Hmmmmm…… wear heels, so if your food tastes terrible you will look good.

Sophia on Fashion

Being a leading fashion stylist, working with names some people could only dream of working with, you need to look the part. What would you normally wear to feel comfortable, but also look fashionable showing your experience and authority?

I have to say that in New York I did have to learn to adjust my style, as wearing killer heels on set for 12 hours was not going to be easy. So for long days I wear wedges or platform sandles… YSL has a really comfortable pair of sandles.

I do always try and look good, I wear cropped trousers to be casual but always with some heels. I have to admit I suffer for fashion a little, I had to do a interview on the set for WWD and I had just bought a new Celine outfit- wool pants and shirt- but yes I still wore it in 100 degree heat.

I love hats, and will always wear one if my hair is not done- that’s my cheat.

 

Fashion must-have’s?

Cropped pant trousers look so chic with a shirt tucked in and a great heel. Plus burgundy nails.

Which celebrity wardrobe do you think is spot on?

 

Amber Heard, Dianne Kruger and Cate Blanchett.

What is your favourite piece of clothing or accessory?

Right now my burgundy Celine Bag, my Birkin bag, a new Celine outfit and a navy lace dress by The Row.

Sophia on her Home

Who or what influences you most in home décor?

I design my house like my wardrobe which is good and bad. I love wallpaper so have lots of it . I also try and go a little more classic as I will have the urge to decorate my house yellow or burgundy for the color of the season and then want to change it about six months later.

Do you have one feature in your home you love most?

The front entrance has yellow wallapaper with birds on it and the dining room has black wallpaper, which I think it really mysterious.

Do you think rules in fashion also apply to the home?

Yes but on a different scale. There are fashion rules, such as certain things make you look larger. In houses certain things will make a room look smaller and clutered and others will make it feel larger and spacious.

Sophia on Lifestyle

Where did you grow up?

Australia.

Where is your favourite place to relax in Australia and the US?

Anywhere in Australia- I love it. But mostly Sydney with my family and Palmbeach.

In the USA – Big Sur in northern California, Florida on the beaches and Palm desert at a spa.

What car(s) do you drive, best thing about the car and why you bought it?

Lexus Hybrid- I love big cars and I really wanted a Range Rover as that is my favorite car, but I bought the Lexus for the environment.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Handbags

Where would your ultimate holiday destination be?

The Maldives. I’m actually going to be going soon and I am so excited it is to a new resort – I just have to find the time to go.

 

The one thing I can’t leave home without is…

My iphone, lip gloss and a great handbag.

If you could be a fly on the wall of any celebrity home, who’s wall would you like to sit on?

The royal family.

Three pet hates?

1. Airport Security

2. Dropped Phone Calls

3. Changer over time for the taxi in New York when it is raining – fashion disaster.

Like A Shotgun Off The Lights – The Audi Q5

September 28th, 2010

I was handed over the key to my black Audi Q5, with the disclaiming words… “Becareful, it’s fast.”

I thought to myself… “Thankyou. A) I know how to drive a fast car and B) I’ve driven cars like the Jaguar XKR and Mercedes C63, so don’t tell me how to drive!”

As I left the car park, I drove slowly out to the street, till I got to the lights. They turned green and the roads were clear. I floored it expecting nothing too exciting. Then BANG! after a 1 second delay (the car goes into neutral when you are stopped and apply the brake), the car shot like a gun, hitting 60 before I could even look down. My head was literally thrown back into the black leather headrest.

Ok… I should rewind back to the beginning. When I first saw the Audi Q5, I thought it was boring, drab and about as exciting to look at as the new Nissan Dualis. But then I saw one on the road which I hadn’t seen before. Black metallic paint, dark tinted windows, polished chrome trimmings, chrome side steps and enormous 22″ wheels. I did the double take. Then a squint of my eyes to see what it was – it was the Q5 to my suprise.

Off to Audi I went, with the expectation of being disappointed because the S5 Cabriolet disappointed me so much. But I test drove the Q5 and boy I was hooked.

So let’s fast forward back to where I was. This car has balls! Massive ones at that. For a 2.0 litre SUV, it has get up and go! The gearbox works away at ease, with the 7 speed steptronic transmission making gear changing, whether you’re in automatic or manual a silky ride. There are paddles behind the steering wheel if you choose not to change the gears at the centre console.

Exterior

Bold, agile and charismatic. If this car were a person, it would be Daniel Craig as James Bond. Smooth and fast. Functional and easy. Fun but also sensible. Beautiful lines. A toned body. And a big wide…. grille.

But it just depends on the model you get and how you customise it. Most of the Q5′s I’ve seen on the road look terrible. They have small wheels, terrible colour combinations and are the basic model, which looks like some sort of basic model Honda.

To make this car stand out – it needs to have a little more cash thrown at it and customised to make it look rough and sexy.

Interior

Opening the door, the height is perfect for me to glide in and out of, but with the feeling of sitting a little bit over everyone else. The leather seats are comfortable for short and long periods of driving whether it be traffic or freeway. My arms always have a place to rest with the adjustable sliding middle armrest, which is the lid to the centre console.

Infront of the centre console is a little feature I quite admire – the cooling and heating cup holders. Unlike you’re regular cooling or heating cup holders which just have a vent from the airconditioning, these ones actually have a heating element, and a refrigeration system in them, which gets super hot, and really cold!

The gears are easy to change if you are keeping it in automatic, but if you change it to steptronic and change the gears manually, it can get confusing as you naturally expect pushing the gear towards the dashboard would go up a gear, infact it goes down.

I found this same issue being on the infotainment system built into the dashboard with the large LCD screen. When you are selecting anything from radio, to iPod, the air conditioning or the telephone, the knob works the opposite way. This could have something to do with the changing of driving side perhaps for Australian roads. You’d expect to turn things down by turning the knob to the left, infact, it also works the opposite way. The steering wheel controls are very simple and clear to use, although anything on the steering wheel is to be viewed on the small screen between the speedo and tacho. So I sometimes forget which screen to look at.

Using the iPod/iPhone docking station in the glove compartment is a little stressful – you simply plug it in, that’s the easy part.You then control your music from the main LCD screen on the dash. As much as I loved this feature, that’s the hard part. The standard sound system is phenomenal! But if you opt for the Bang & Olufsen premium system, you are in for a special treat. This is one monster sound system. When you hear your favourite songs, it’s like hearing them brand new all over again. Amazing.

The airconditioning is easy to use, once you get used to it. Instead of just pressing one button to change fan speed or temperature, you need to select what you’d like to change, then change with the knob. So there’s 2 steps to doing a simple task – making you take your eyes off the road.

Rear seating is a little cramped, but is sufficient for a vehicle of it’s size. There is a fold down armrest with pop out cup holders which actually work!

Safety

Braking in this car is excellent. It’s stops as quickly as it took to take off. Airbags everywhere, warning lights and chimes to tell you to put your seatbelt on, service the car, and do all the bits and pieces most other cars tell you to do.

Front and rear parking sensors (optional), great internal and external lighting and a strong push button electronic parking brake, this car has the features most of it’s dearer contenders carry.

On and off road

On road it’s smooth and carries itself well. In a straight line.

But in an emergency where you may need to do tricky maneuvering with the steering wheel – goodluck. It lacks response and the “you point it and it will go” feeling. Over steer and unbalanced traction when accelerating heavily makes it feel a little unstable.

Off road, it’s simply not high enough to clear rough terrain. The simple gravel driveways, corrugated dirt roads and paddocks will be tackled easily, but anything more, and it will struggle.

Likes: It’s very pleasing to look at, if you have spent extra to customise it. The heated/cooled cupholders. The sound system. The looks you get once you’ve spent that extra money to make it look amazing – you get that look from people who are puzzled, it looks amazing, but what is it?

It’s very fuel economical. It’s only a 2.0 litre and the tank goes on and on. The sound of the engine when revved.

Great visibility from all angles. Comfortable steering wheel.

Dislikes: To do simple things like change the radio, temperature, fan, choose music – it takes several steps and takes your eyes off the road too much. The over-steer/under-steer and strange under/over traction.

Would I buy it? Of course! I love it. Make sure you get it with the panoramic glass roof, huge wheels and a gorgeous colour combination, and you will have a couple of years looking at it and still appreciating it’s sexiness.

Price: My one was Audi Q5 2.0L TFSI Quattro which was $71,500 after addition of wheels and a few extras.

Final say: I’m an Audi convert. I’m also an SUV convert. Being a convertible guy, I’ve easily slipped into the SUV club and I like it. You get just as many envious looks as you would in a convertible.

My Teenage Dream Car – Range Rover Sport TDV8

June 17th, 2010

When the Range Rover Sport first came out about 5 or more years ago, I was set on the fact that it was my dream 4WD. It’s now 2010 and is it still my dream 4WD? You’ll just have to read on to find out.

The big black Range Rover Sport TDV8 Luxury sits in the glossy showroom, with it’s suspension lowered so I can easily climb in at a normal height. I opened the door, it’s tall and narrow, I expected there to be more door considering the car sits big and chunky. But the door is quite compact and reminds me somewhat of the Mercedes Benz B-Class. Closing the door, it shut nicely and solidly. Once it’s shut, I’m completely surrounded by a dark interior of buttons, knobs, screens and leather.

Sitting in the drivers seat, I felt in control of everything – the dash, the seating, the passenger seating, the view and the vision by turning my head and through the mirrors. I felt like I had complete control of everything happening around me both inside and outside the cabin.

The dash. Heavily angled from windscreen down toward the centre console, it seems almost aircraft like, but with complete symmetry. Unfortunately, the main LCD screen which controls navigation, music, video and vehicle configurations is like it’s made for the rear-middle passenger to use. It faces on an angle up towards the sunroof, and positioned facing the middle of the two front seats. I found it had to access easily, and found that I had to stretch my arm to reach for it. I also found that the anti-glare screen was hard to see because of the way it was positioned, reflecting light straight off it. I also don’t like the way it is buried between the two air-conditioning vents on either side of it.

Once you get past that issue of visibility, and you actually use the navigation via the touch screen and knobs below the screen, it’s quite good to use. Simple, clean and quick. There is no delay like many other cars I’ve driven. But again, I’ve had to stretch over to use the buttons on the far left of the cluster.

Air-conditioning is easy to use and it’s not incorporated into the main screen thankfully, which means I can do what I need to do immediately. It’s also dual-climate which is great.

All the usual functions like the compartments, gears and electronic brake are all easy to use and in easy reach.

Between the two seats, below the electronic brake sits the function for the vehicle handling, suspension and terrain settings. Here you can adjust the height of the car, you can choose how you want the car to perform both on and off road and you can choose how you want it to perform and tackle specific terrains. I found it fairly easy to use, but if I owned it, I would probably read the book to understand it and take full advantage of it.

The instrument cluster is also good and informative, with another screen showing the car’s dynamics and all the other little bits of information. The car has computers constantly monitoring it, and this info is all produced on this screen.

The seats. Comfortable, supportive and easily adjusted to suit my seating position. Unfortunately, I feel like the car punishes tall people, not by making it uncomfortable, but by making it hard to use the dashboard because of the angle it’s on. The further back you need to sit, the harder it is to use. But the seats are superb otherwise – in the front. It’s a different story sitting in the back. The seats in the back are for two normal sized adults and one 5 year old. The mechanical bits and pieces, like the hinges and rails are all visible, which makes it feel a little sub-standard.

The doors. As mentioned above, they are tall and narrow, not necessarily a design flaw, but possibly a little tough for much larger people. That aside, and I don’t envisage it to be a common problem, the only annoying thing I found about the doors was the location of the electric window buttons. They sit as far away from easy reach as possible. Again, having to reach as far forward as possible, towards the side wing mirrors. Also in the unlikely event that you leave your window open and water comes in, those buttons will be the first thing to get damaged. In a bid to do things differently, I don’t see a reason to change it and it’s not made it any easy for the driver, or any other passengers as all the buttons front and back are in the same positions.

All the doors are otherwise luxuriously covered in leather with wood grain inserts.

The body. It’s one big illusion, it sits wide and sits long, but it’s not really wide or long. It’s sporty, it’s rugged, it’s agile, it’s sexy, it’s hefty and it means business. Big 20” wheels and wide tyres add to the illusion of it being a massive vehicle. But be careful which colour you choose inside and out, it can change the look of the car dramatically.

The drive. Vicious. Ferocious. Aggressive. Easy.

The Turbocharged Diesel is excellent. Being a 3.6 litre V8 (being replaced by a 4 litre later this year), with 200kW, this thing flies. It’s not the quickest car to accelerate, but look how much weight it’s carrying! But in terms of power, geez this thing goes. It sounds great too. It’s got that vicious beastly sound, which is prepared to flatten any contenders. Towing a boat or horses wouldn’t be too much of a struggle for it either, but I think considerable weight, up-hill in a diesel will possibly struggle a bit.

The interior ride is smooth, quiet and enjoyable. The interior is bright and light because of the high seating position and lots of glass, the air suspension makes bumps smooth and soft and the visibility is great. Parking is easy, with the aid of front and rear sensors and camera.

The thing that astonished me the most, was the way it drives and how it feels when you drive it. It’s like driving a mid-sized car – this is where the whole ‘illusion’ of it being a big car comes into it. The best way to describe it would be like driving a Mercedes C-Class, it’s just a mid-sized 4 door sedan. Nothing complex about it. Driving the Range Rover Sport was much the same. Effortless and manageable.

I now understand why all the Eastern Suburbs yummy mummy’s drive one to drop the kids off at school.

Likes: Big car looks, mid-sized car feel. Powerful diesel engine. Seating comfort for front occupants. Extensive interior and exterior options for colour and wheels. Sexy and agile looks. Looks great, and will look great for a long time to come. Easy to drive, a practical car with all the attributes of a performance vehicle.

Dislikes: I’m sure I made these clear above. But it’s got to be the access to simple things like navigation, electric window buttons and knobs on the dash. The fairly unattractive rear seats that look like something out of a Tarago. The small boot, the boot space in most other 4WD’s of its kind are much longer and deeper.

Would I buy it? I know those issues above annoyed the hell out of me, but yes I would still buy it. I have loved the car for a long time, so would have to fulfil my strong desire to own it.

Price: The Range Rover Sport TDV8 – $149,990

Final say:
I really enjoyed this car, it’s got presence on the road and I love the feeling and sound of power under the big hood. I would definitely buy one, but I would have to spend a fortune customising it to look original as there are so many of them on the roads and they all look so generic. It’s like buying a Mini Cooper (hardtop).