From the moment I walk into the house on Bondi I am mesmerized. There’s a tranquil, soothing atmosphere that makes everything feel light as feathers, including my sudden change in mood. The front door is wide open, welcoming a cool breeze that travels all the way to the lush backyard. Her 3-year old son Chiiko follows me around for a while, happily posing for my camera, until he settles in front of the TV with live-in nanny Charlotte. Her husband Robbie is sketching in his notebook – he’s the menswear designer at Insight. She tells me about the wedding last October in Puerto Angel, Mexico. “It was very simple and low-key with just Frankie (her other son, who’s eight) and Chiiko with us. We wore traditional Mexican ceremony outfits; super casual. The day of the wedding we went to the local market together and bought up all the flowers from all the street vendors. It was crazy how many we packed into the car!” Apples and her new family plan to take off one month every year and choose a different destination. “We love to travel – it’s in our blood! We would rather spend our hard earned money on taking the whole family away every year than to buy a house and be locked into a mortgage. I guess it’s just how we roll and I feel my kids are so enriched and inspired just from traveling alone. Ibiza in October is next on our list!”
Christine Ryan would still be on the beach, chasing her daily swim and surf, working at Puf n Stuff Vintage, if it wasn’t for Ksubi‘s George Garrow. He pulled her out of the water and the dusty confines of the store and into his office, teaching her the ropes and how to be a denim designer. “I actually have no design experience,” she whispers. “George and I have been friends for a while. He used to come over to raid my closet and steal my vintage denim for wash and design references. Then one day he asked me to come in and help out. Shortly after he started taking me to the denim factories and I gradually learned how it all comes to life.” Christine, better known as Apples (a nickname her first boyfriend gave her) has been at Ksubi for the past four years now and puts a firm stamp on the brand’s identity. She’s partly responsible for the sporty, surf-inspired collection we saw materialize on the runway this Sydney Fashion Week.
But she never gave up on vintage. On the contrary. Her closet is bulging. As we go through her two racks I am amazed at the unique and outside-of-the-box quality of her collection. From shredded lace prom dresses, to nurse’s scrubs in funny prints, to Japanese fighter jackets and customized kimonos, piece after piece is inspiring in an unexpected way. She has an eye for style I’ve seldom seen. “We travel constantly for inspiration,” she says when I ask where and how she finds everything, “We just came back from Miami. We went deep into the ghetto and cleaned up all the charity shops in the area!” Her latest obsession is varsity and she bought a ton of it, “enough to share amongst the whole family! And I found the best ones in the kids sections. There’s a tip: I always find gold in the kids sections and they fit better too!”
I love photographing Apples. She’s a beautiful, even-minded girl with long, natural hair and a smile that’s both coy and shy at the same time. She reminds me of Sade a little, though she owes her dark, soft skin to a Filipino mother and Australian father. Her toned legs are enviable to say the least – she’s still swimming and surfing mornings before going to work. She exudes the kind of confidence that allows her to be free-spirited and individual. She doesn’t believe in religion – she sees a woman named Gabe who does esoteric healing for the whole family – and remembers the days when she went to school barefoot in Fiji. She lists girls like Taylor Tomasi and Chrisine Centenera as style icons but would never dare to copy their style, just “sprinkle” it a little. And when I ask her what era she adheres to most, she gives a fortuitous answer: “It’s Now. I feel like today with fashion and lifestyle there is a fusing of all the best parts of every era. And I love that we have this, don’t you?”