Nobody puts Shani in the corner!
When flowers and fashion and fabulous women collide…
Surrounded by flowers, Melbourne artist Shani Alexander models Shoe Envy’s new Cherryblossom ankle boot – now available
All around are giant blooms in every bright colour leaping from the white walls. An outdoor heater attracts an aging orange cat. He meows with scratchy delight and arches his back to accept pats from any stranger kind enough to offer.
Guarding the door is a vocal Florence Broadhurst. She is a giant white poodle named after the exhilarating Australian designer who was tragically murdered in her late 70s. And crowding the floor are a couple of dozen excited women and their plus-ones, waiting for the night to begin.
The reason for this gathering touches every corner of the room. Whether in the brilliant splashes of colour in the paintings, the vintage touches in the decor or the Marilyn Monroe cushion on the old garden chair, you can feel the personality of artist Shani Alexander everywhere as she prepares to launch the event.
And wherever she goes, her presence causes a swirl and hum of conversation. It follows her around the room like a singing bird flitting from branch to branch.
Women should indulge themselves too
“I want to give women permission to express their true self to have real ME time with a capital M and capital E,” Shani later explains of her painting courses – which somehow involve food and wine as well and sound like a lot of fun.
She gestures around at the gorgeous paintings, some of which were created by her students, whose work was on display tonight.
“The flowers are a metaphor for the stage of life I represent – which is this brilliant volume of women who are baby boomers.
“We don’t have to hide away as the past generations often did. My flowers are all fully blown heroes because I am not a rosebud any more. I am fully blown now but I haven’t lost my petals yet!
“We have permission to reinvent ourselves. To grow old gracefully and disgracefully…”
It’s impossible to tell how old Shani is. With her mixed Dutch heritage, she has luminous skin. And she has a timeless sense of style that sees her mix vintage elements like a headscarf with contemporary semi-structured tailoring and modern fabrics.
She says she loves the combination of classic and new. She fell in love with Tokyo Cherryblossom boots at first
sight – partly for the flowers and partly for the sheer boldness of them.
“These shoes are so unique and out there and at the same time are stylish and elegant and conservative in their shape,” she said.
“They are my signature shoes – my statement pieces really.”
Despite being the centre of attention all night, she is disarmingly self-conscious when put on the spot one-on-one.
“I am comfortable attracting attention,” she reassures me. “And not being an egotist but I feel comfortable to wear them and I know people will look at them because really, why stand in the corner? Women used to do that. Who wants to be beige?”
And with that she stretches her feet out to admire her new Cherryblossoms with undisguised delight. There is no risk at all of Shani being beige!
For more details about Shani’s art program, check out her website here. Full transparency, this isn’t a sponsored post. I found out about Shani’s art because my mum is going to her course later in the year and I just loved what she’s doing