WORDS BY LARINE STATHAM-BLAIR
Madonna was never afraid to express herself. She sang about what was in vogue, but when it came to style she danced to the beat of her own drum.
We use phrases like ‘in vogue’ and ‘on point’, or say someone’s got ‘the look’ or has ‘good taste’. But what do these things even mean?
Who defines what is ‘hot’ and what’s ‘not’? Certainly not the team at Crush Magazine. But we do appreciate people who have their own signature style, or have a passion for styling others.
Many of the people featured herein were surprised, flattered and even coy when we asked them to be a part of this Crush Style Edit. They don’t think of themselves as local style icons. They just like what they like, and that’s that. They see their adornments as a non-verbal form of self-expression.
Even if you’re someone who favours comfort and practicality over aesthetics, there will undoubtedly be someone you can relate to in this feature. Perhaps you shop frugally, rather than lavishly, or only see value in splurging on particular items?
If you opened Crush Magazine expecting to read all about the latest catwalk trends or so-called ‘fast fashion’, this isn’t the Issue for you. This is a celebration of what it means to be individual and take pride in how you look. And that is something that will never go out of style!
Michael Dart loves clothing that tells a story or advocates for change. Pictured here wearing his Dad’s vintage Cuban wedding suit and his late father-in-law’s belt, Michael loves to stand out in bright colours and floral fabrics that straddle the gender divide. “I certainly don’t like boring,” he said. “I’m a fan of James Harper accessories and like to round out my look with some RM Williams.” The Energy Queensland executive and married father-of-two rarely shops alone. “When I’m looking for vintage pieces, I like things that are meaningful or that I found on a holiday or while spending time with people I love,” he said. Michael is a strong supporter of events like Wear It Purple Day, which raises awareness of gender diversity.
There is nothing casual about Bevan Moller. You’ll very rarely see him in a t-shirt and shorts. As the owner of Catalyst Directions, he’s known for wearing well-cut suits, but recently started pushing boundaries and defining his own look. It was a fancy dress event that ignited something in him. “I’m not sure why I thought to try heels, but I got a lot of compliments at the party.” Bevan said. “Apparently I have the legs for heels, and they are a bit of fun, so I sometimes pair my corporate wear with heels. It’s elegant and simple, but a bit edgy, pushing the boundaries of mens’ fashion.”
As the first female CEO of Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers, Bree Watson is used to standing out. Growing up on a strawberry farm and unafraid of hard work, Bree had long blonde hair and a look best described as ‘wholesome country’. Since then, she’s grown in confidence and strength, and so too has her style. “I like things that are structured and tailored, with feminine touches like soft make-up, pearl earrings and high heels,” she said. “Body building is all about shape and symmetry. Taking up the sport somewhat forced me into men’s clothes because of my broad shoulders. But I feel like myself.”
If you ask Ebony Wheeler, fashion is art. The bright and bubbly 20-year-old claims she doesn’t have one set aesthetic or style, but she is known for her striking similarity to American singer-songwriter and fashion designer Gwen Stefani. “I dabble in everything, so I feel like a new person each day,” Ebony said. Known to her fans as ‘HotWheelz’, Ebony has 12,000 followers on TikTok, where she shares comedic and light-hearted style tutorials that cover everything from make-up and hair to shopping and decluttering.
Denise Kelly left school at 14 to become a hairdresser. She’s had just about every creative job you can think of, but couldn’t stick with any of them because all she wanted to do was design and make clothes. Today, the award-winning designer makes one-off Shakespearean, whimsical custom clothing for clients, but her personal aesthetic is more steam punk and bohemian. She doesn’t conform to ageist perceptions of style. “Fashion is 3D art. I’m a chameleon. Quirky, and a bit fantasy. I’ll pair skate shoes with a feminine dress,” Denise said.
cherry on top
Some would argue it’s accessories, make-up and hair that make an outfit, and give it that special finishing touch. Karen Christiansen and Kate Marland are the local accessory queens. As managing owner of The Optical Superstore, Karen is always immaculately dressed, but considers her own personal style to be quite latent. Her vibrant personality shines through her fabulously bold and unique eye wear (read more on page 38). Kate owns Warner’s Fine Jewellery. It’s rare to see her in an outfit that doesn’t dazzle. Known for her love of flowy feminine dresses, sequins and frills, Kate designs exquisite jewellery that could put the icing on any cake. Kiralee Cramer-Honor has been giving the women of Bundaberg gorgeous hair for more than 20 years. As a qualified make-up artist, who completed her hairdressing apprenticeship in Sydney, Kiralee is the proud owner of The Place Hairdressing. She loves helping clients achieve on-trend catwalk and red carpet looks for special events (read more about Australian Fashion Week on page 51), but her first priority is empowering women every day. “My advice is to embrace your own individual style. Don’t fight it. Work with your own natural assets, like curls,” she said.
ebony & IVORY
Natalie and Tim Sweetapple are the Yin to each other’s Yang. Seeing the way they interact, you can’t help but think you’re watching an old black and white romance flick. If you aren’t familiar with the Sweetapples, you should be. They have more than 40,000 followers across their two Instagram pages, @thesweetapplelife and @littledaisydachshund. Natalie is a music teacher and interior designer. Tim is a marketing manager at Ripe Global. They recently welcomed baby Vienna to the family. They embrace monochromatic style in every aspect of their lives. “I have a completely minimalist style of white and neutrals. If it was up to Tim, the whole house would be black,” Natalie said.
Like mother, like daughter. Kaye and Jewel McCotter are two peas in a pod. They’ve both spent their working lives in the local fashion industry. From retail and merchandising to modelling and event planning – you name it, they’ve done it. They know how to put together an outfit. Kaye owned Hotline Boutique in the Bundaberg CBD for eight years and now works at Sanshells Boutique at Bargara. Jewel works at Surf Dive and Ski, and together they organise the fashion parade, entertainment and raffle prizes at the annual Catholic Schools Race Day. Their personal styles are best described as understated sophistication. They love mixing and matching different labels with old and new pieces. “Everyone’s body is different, so it’s about taking parts of a trend that suit you, not suiting a trend,” Kaye said. “Working in retail, we get to know people’s stories. We enjoy dressing customers to enhance what they have and who they are, so they can feel confident and comfortable.”
broach the subject
Trevor Green is the proud owner of 800 brooches and each one tells a story. The former professional dancer and performing artist now works at Moncrieff Entertainment Centre, where patrons love talking to him about his collection. Some even gift him pieces they no longer wear. “I wear a different one every evening,” he said. “When I turned 60, I didn’t want to broach the subject, so I asked everyone to pin a brooch on me. It was fabulous. Brooches are not part of some forgotten bygone era – whether they’re vintage or new, brooches are back in a big way.”
Purposeful is the word that best describes Simone Finch. The Friendly Society Private Hospital CEO lives a complete 1940s lifestyle. “I have an interest in WWII social history and nostalgia for a time when fashion was long lasting and durable,” she said. “It’s a rockabilly look that’s feminine and strong. It suits tall, curvy girls like me. I like to push boundaries.” Simone engages in what she calls “brooch diplomacy”, where she selects her outfit and brooch based on who she is seeing that day. “It’s my way of honouring the people around me.” Follow Simone’s #yearofbrooches on Instagram @modern.vintage.life
REPURPOSE & recycle
Ellie Tonkin sews her own statement dresses, dabbling in trends as they come and go. Right now she loves big sleeves, flowy skirts and bold colours. “I have Zimmerman tastes on a Zara budget, so I trawl Pinterest and online style blogs for inspiration and then lock myself in my sewing room. I have more disasters than successes but some of my favourite outfits are things I’ve crafted from a doona cover (pictured) or an eBay bargain that I’ve tailored to fit me exactly,” Ellie said. She likes pieces that start conversations. “I’ve built more friendships over a pair of Wattle Woman earrings at a tourism industry event than I ever could have imagined. I embody confidence, but on the days when I feel less than my best self I reach for pieces that say what I may be struggling to communicate.”
Bubbly and bright, with just a touch of eccentricity, Jess Marsellos loves colour and bold retro prints. She started thrift shopping as a dirt-poor university student. Now aged in her 30s, Jess is a proud advocate for giving new life to pre-loved items. “Charity op-shopping is all about sustainable fashion – using less, producing less, consuming less. Repairing and caring for the items you have.” Read Jess’s thrift shopping tips at
Tattoos that were once considered taboo, are now largely mainstream. Gone are the days when tattoos were a sign of criminality or masculinity. More young people are treating their bodies as a canvas, where permanent ink is an artform. Ja-Kobe Maree has almost 30 tattoos and plans to get more. She likes to express her creativity with unique ink. She describes her tattoo style as monochromatic realism, preferring portraits over trendy patterns or symbols. “From the age of four, I knew I wanted to get tattoos. They make me feel so confident. I have beautiful artwork on my body and I don’t mind showing it off,” Ja-Kobe said.