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Formal wear


By July 3, 2013January 25th, 2018No Comments


Bathed in the glow of a mature winter sun, the Treacy Centre glistened for me like an iced confection, a sugared masterpiece. It was one of those sights far too perfect to be trapped in the grey spaces of one’s imagination; it looked, at my minute, as if its walls would melt into pools of the most expensive marzipan, dispersing puffs of sugary-almond perfume into the air. Approaching a gate that withheld the charming secrets of lush clipped gardens and manicured hedges, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I had seen this place before – perhaps in a movie, maybe in a sweet dream. Indeed, approaching its grand façade, I was reminded of the words from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby: “…we wondered through Marie-Antoinette music-rooms and Restoration Salons…We went upstairs through period bedrooms swathed in rose and lavender silk and vivid new flowers…”

I had been invited to Tea at Gatsby’s.

The Treacy Centre, Parkville.

Image supplied by Treacy Centre

Mr. Luhrmann’s recent extravaganza has ignited a spark within each of us – a desire to reach and recreate the ideals of true femininity, elegance and sophistication that characterised every aspect life, dress and social relations in the ‘Golden Days’ of the 20’s and 30’s. This idea was very much alive and singing through the walls of the Treacy Centre in a bridal shoot organised by Leiela Ladies Evening Wear and photographer Jessica Abby. Exemplifying the way in which Leiela’s ART du JOUR project supports and weaves together creative minds and individuals from the community, this bridal shoot was styled according to a ‘Gatsby’ theme, showcasing the works of creative local artisans and businesses that contributed to making the shoot’s aesthetic something of a still from the film. I’m talking luxury; I’m talking finesse, and immaculate attention to detail. I’m talking exquisite gowns, delicate macarons, iced cakes, bejewelled cupcake stands, flowers, fine china….and that’s just the beginning of it really.

Just breathtaking. A Simply Cakes iced masterpiece to complement the shoot’s mauve and cream colour palette, sitting atop a Galleria cake stand made by Belle Gualtier. I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Gatsby would have requested one of these exquisite stands for his personal collection, or ten!

Macarons, macarons….everywhere you looked, glorious sweet delights made by Simone Cockinis from My Macaron. These beauties were the perfect symbol of delicacy and refinement, made to enhance the whimsical, soft pastel colour theme of the shoot (and if you think they looked delightful,…well, no words can describe the taste!) 

Model Leah Johnsen wears the divine ivory strapless ‘Bethany’ bridal gown by Leiela and jewellery by Jeanette Marie and Ashlee Lauren. Set against the golden hues streaming through the stained glass window of the Treacy Centre, the gown cast a purely elegant silhouette enhanced by the twinkle of a silver sequined bodice and matching cape. Awe-inspiring elegance.


Every aspect of the shoot reminded me of this scene from the recent Gatsby film. There were flowers in abundance, there were pastel macarons stacked proudly on white tablecloths; there were lace and lilac tones. There was only one thing missing…the man himself! (Image source: Flickr, Creative Commons)


It was a charming afternoon. We were all so deeply immersed in Gatsby’s world that had been recreated right before our very eyes, that all tracks of time and reality were lost entirely. Photographer Jessica Abby was inspiring in her ability to draw inspiration from the film’s aesthetic, bringing every minute detail to life as she effortlessly styled the shoot with a vision for the portraiture of elegance and style. She worked as a true professional, absorbed in the whimsical scene she had created and capturing the tenderness of silk and petals in her images. I was not only part of a pastel tableaux of satin and sugary offerings that makes a woman feel as if the world is once again a safe place, but I was inspired by the many Sweet Madams I had the pleasure of acquainting myself with during the course of the affair. Without these ladies, the shoot simply would not have been possible.

The first Sweet Madam I met was Christie McIntosh of the charming Floriography. Christie supplied the flower bouquets and displays for the shoot, working with a dynamic yet playful palette of mauves, lilacs and deep purples in the intriguing arrangement of lisianthus, sweet pea, stock, anemones and silver suede.  We talked about tales of flowers, admiring their joyous language of aesthetic and metaphorical expression. “Stock is for a contented life,” she told me, adding that lisianthus says to someone “I admire your personality,” and sweet pea, “thankyou for a lovely time.” Intriguing. I really could have listened for hours. There is something in a flower that reflects the spirit of every individual. Admiring Christie’s bouquets, one of my favourite passages from The Great Gatsby blossomed in my mind: 

“With enchanting murmurs Daisy admired…the gardens, the sparkling odour of jonquils and the frothy odour of hawthorn and plum blossoms, and the pale gold odour of kiss-me-at-the-gate.”


I am deeply lost in thought, lost in the purple splendour of a bouquet by Floriography.  These flowers were a striking feature against the pollen and ivory tones of Leiela’s gowns. They gave us all a sense that glorious spring is on its way.


There was a second Sweet Madam too. Her name was Simone Cockinis from My Macaron.  Having taught herself the art of macaron making at a time when recipes weren’t widely available, Simone is now a master of her craft in every sense of the word. She has been making these French delicacies for over three years now. Lilac liquorice and pale cream vanilla macarons graced the tables in their elliptical splendour, the very embodiments of Daisy Buchanan’s fragile and irresistible spirit. We all eyed off these treats in the same wondrous and adoring way that Gatsby perceived Daisy. When it comes to Simone’s approach to baking though, Perfection (with a capital P) is the only word to describe it. “Every macaron is exactly the same texture. I alter the recipe of the macarons with every new flavour I make because I don’t like them to change in texture,” she told me. Simone made me appreciate the extent to which patience and persistence can allow us to achieve truly wonderful and creative endeavours in our lives.

 Feast your little eyes on the marvellous macarons made by Simone Cockinis of My Macaron. These delicacies, while perfect on their own, even matched the fragile femininity of the silk used in Leiela’s ‘Carolyn’ and ‘Renae’ gowns, highlighting the idea that true elegance can be achieved in the smallest of things.


Leah Johnsen wears the angelic ‘Yvette’ ivory backless gown by Leiela. Lucy Laurita’s ability to achieve a contrast between flowing drapery and fitted forms in her gowns is truly amazing – a skill that requires years of experience and dedication to one’s craft to achieve. You can see the stunning impact of the Floriography bouquet and jewellery by Jeanette Marie and Ashlee Lauren against the dress.


Just when I thought the afternoon could not be richer with stories of creativity and experience, I met another Sweet Madam by the name of Belle Gualtier of Galleria. Belle is the master/designer/welder/glazier, (whatever you would like to call her as she is really a true artist) of the cupcake stands used to add that touch of unmistakable 1920’s/30’s glamour to the shoot. Really, one can just sit for hours and stare at these masterpieces, and marvel at how such works of art come to fruition. “I have all the ideas in my mind to begin with,” Belle said. “Once I start making them, it is a creative, healing process for me.” Having survived a traumatic illness, Belle reflects that making the stands is an important part of her road to recovery. I detected not only the ingenuity of Belle’s approach to art and design in each if her creations, but the hand of the artist is very much evident in the final creations. This is often something one simply does not find in commercially made decorative pieces.

Belle Gualtier’s breathtaking cupcake stands feature diamante and crystal details and can be stacked for the most amazing table feature you’ve ever laid eyes on. Cakes supplied by Evi from Simply Cakes Melbourne.


There is one final Sweet Madam I wish to mention, and that is Leiela herself. Always the belle of the ball, Leiela was the perfect hostess at the soiree – bringing together individuals from all walks of life in a celebration of creativity and all things Feminine. Leiela revealed herself in four stunning bridal gowns throughout the afternoon, including the pollen shaded ‘Carolyn’ and ‘Renae’ gowns, and the two ivory masterpieces ‘Bethany’ and ‘Yvette’. These gowns, in their structure and silhouette, incorporated every detail that a bride could desire for her special day, finished with ornate embellishments, beading, backless features and shoulder details.

A sneak peak at the bodice beading and embellishment on Leiela’s ‘Carolyn’ gown in the most beautiful spring shade of pollen. These rich colours remind me of the decadent Art-Deco aesthetic of the 1920’s – when fluid forms and ornamentation dominated clothing and women’s dress. Be the timeless, vintage bride in Carolyn! 

How can a bride possibly go past this classic silhouette? A flouncy bodice with a drop-waist and fitted skirt that cascades down the body like a waterfall of crème- anglaise. Elegance at its best.

Alexia Petsinis With the lovely Lucy Laurita of Leiela Ladies Evening Wear. I would like to thank Lucy and the Leiela staff for inviting us all to such a charming event. Your hard work is inspiring and very much appreciated. Yes, femininity is still very much alive, and from what I observed, this spring will be the season of the Classic bride!


And so I finally had Tea at Gatsby’s – every girl’s dream….sigh! Stay tuned for many more exciting Leiela developments and as I continue to bring you news of all things ART du JOUR. 

Until next time,

Alexia x

P.S: Follow all my adventures through my site and Facebook page!



Gowns supplied by Leiela Ladies Evening Wear

Shoot Photographer: Jessica Abby Photography

‘Tea at Gatsby’s’ article and images: Alexia Petsinis

Model: Leah Johnsen

HMUA: Rebecca Bai

Cake Stands: Belle Gualtier

Macarons: My Macaron

Cakes: Simply Cakes Melbourne

Jewellery: Jeanette Marie and Ashlee Lauren

Flowers: Floriography

Location: Treacy Centre, Parkville


A big thankyou to the amazing team behind the shoot: Sara Lavigne, Amelia Williamson, Floriography (Christie McIntosh), My Macaron (Simone Cockinis), Galleria (Belle Gualtier), Evi from Simply Cakes Melbourne and the staff at the Treacy Centre, Parkville.