An Afternoon with Lucinda


Let me introduce you to my dear friend, Lucinda. A graphic designer by day, a fashion devotee by night – I first met Lucinda when we were both contributing to On the Streets of Sydney, and since then have come to appreciate her also as a superb cook, an impressive baker, a leather designer, and a gifted writer. If you were to see Lucinda on the street you may recognise her by her all-black attire, notably recorded on her blog Thrift & Thread, but be sure to also look out for a creative leather accessory and a smile as sweet as pie. It felt selfish to keep Lucinda all to myself, so we caught up over lunch (Mexican, made by Lucinda of course!) to talk everything from cow hides to Kyoto.

“Graphic designer by day, fashion obsessive by night” – what is it that draws you to fashion?
As a graphic designer I think of fashion as another medium of design. To me it’s wearable creativity capable of expressing personality.
What made you want to start your blog Thrift and Thread?
I suppose I wanted to acknowledge that fashion was something that I was very interested in. Even though it was something I was conscious of since I was a teenager, I’d never really explored it. But when I started reading fashion blogs I felt compelled to start my own. I wanted it to be a place where I could explore imagery and my interest in fashion apart from graphics.
How did you come up with the name Thrift and Thread?
I know ‘thrift’ is typically associated with thrift shopping but if you’ve followed my blog for a while, it’s obvious that I don’t do any vintage shopping (I still occasionally get amusing comments from people saying “great second hand find!” when I’m actually wearing designer pieces). I was thinking of the notion of thrift as in economy. For me this is something that’s important because I do have quite a minimal style and part of minimalisim is showing restraint, knowing when to go after something and when to not. So that was the ‘thrift’ part. The ‘thread’ is obviously associated with fashion but I also liked the idea of threads of conversation. Combined together it feels like a phrase, like a saying… and it alliterates!
Thrift & Thread
You have quite a distinct personal style, which comes through your blog – a monochromatic, minimal aesthetic – has this always been your style, or how did it develop?
I feel like it has been something I’ve always had within me even before I was regularly wearing black from my teens onwards. I’m a child of the late eighties and nineties and although I wasn’t conscious of it, I’m sure the power-dressing of Alaïa and then the shift to minimalism in the nineties influenced me. When you wear black and deep colours it’s about playing with silhouette and shape, and being pale, the contrast against the skin. It wasn’t until I started my blog that I really started thinking a lot about the way I put clothes together – I wasn’t very styled before, over time I started to think a lot more about the quality of the pieces I was buying and also the way I was combining it together.
Bill Blass said that “when in doubt, wear red.” What is your go-to outfit?
If in doubt, wear black! Preferably a black dress… I bought a Dion Lee dress from the Eyes Lie collection last year (see picture to the right) and I’ve worn it front ways, I’ve worn it backwards and it seems to be a piece that people find interesting because of all the zips; it’s quite revealing but at the same time has quite a structured, demure look that it sneaks up and surprises people – it’s a complete outfit in a dress.
You’re not only an admirer of design, but you also do a lot of “thrifting and threading” yourself. How did you begin to make your own designs?
If I go really far back, I’ve always been someone who just enjoys making things. I have memories of cutting pieces off my clothes when I was quite young to try and make a collage or a card for my mum. I would always be looking around for scissors and glue – I always had ideas of things I wanted to make. My mother taught me to sew at a really young age; I was probably making clothes for my dolls from when I was about five. But then it wasn’t something I did for a long time, until one of my sisters taught herself to use a sewing machine, I didn’t get back into it until she did. That was shortly before I started blog, and I just began to experiment. I did simple stuff to start, weaving together ribbons and then attaching zips and turning them into bags and then I pushed that further when I started going “ok, I can sew this material, can I sew leather?” And when I realised I could sew leather, provided I did it slowly and with a leather needle, that’s when I started to really experiment with my own designs.
Do you have any tips for people trying to make their own leather designs?
You definitely need to use a leather needle, and you also need to get a feel of what your machine can handle. When you buy your leathers you need to feel them and get a sense if it’s something you’re going to be able to sew. And then you’ve got to think about the shapes and how you’re going to construct it. It really ends up being trial and error – most creative things I do, whether it’s design or cooking or sewing, I do by practice, by trial and error. I prefer to work that way.
Lucinda’s accessories, taken at MBFWA last year, including the gold leather clutch she designed and made. 
What’s your design process?
I start with an idea. It probably ends up being a mash of a lot of different things that I’ve seen. For example, the gold bag that I made last year (see above picture), I came across a photograph of a vein of gold inside quartz. I already had the gold leather and originally I was going to do something very different with it. And then I started thinking about the raw edge of leather, because when you buy a whole skin you end up with – and this is not going to sound very nice – you end up with the edge where the hide has been cut away from the animal. Often that gets discarded, but I actually quite like it especially with the gold which has been foil-blocked onto the leather and starts flaking off at the edges of the hide. So I had this idea of wanting to create something that looked organic, with angles and the raw edge like a vein of gold blending into quartz.
If given an unlimited budget, what are the first three things you would buy?
1. An industrial sewing machine. 2. Some couture wonder by Gareth Pugh. 3. A plane ticket to somewhere in Latin America.
What is the back story of this photo (left) from your blog?
I took this at Fushimi Inari-taisha, which is south of the main city of Kyoto. That was probably my favourite place I went to when I was in Japan [on holiday in November 2012]. It’s a hillside covered with torii gates. In Shinto torii gates are very important, they’re like a portal to a spiritual world. And this is a hillside that is just covered with torii – thousands, and thousands, and thousands of gates. At some points they’re so packed together it feels like you’re walking through a vermillion tunnel. And at other times they’re more spaced out – you’re walking around this beautiful forest following a path of torii and every so often you see little shrines where people are lighting incense and offering prayers. I enjoyed it because it gave me the chance to think and reflect, which was something that I really wanted to get out of my trip. I came back from Japan, and my headspace was totally different.

How did you learn to make such delicious Mexican food?
In Mexico! I lived and studied there for a year. Up until recently I’ve never really looked around for Mexican recipes. I learnt by watching my housemates – I lived with ten other Mexican girls – and I would watch them cook, then I would go out, buy ingredients and copy their dishes.
If you were re-incarnated as an animal, what would it be?
I always loved lions and as it turns out, my star sign is Leo.

What are you looking forward to this year?
I hope to either take or plan a decent holiday to anywhere (or everywhere) in Latin America.
Fill in the blanks
I love the sight of (whatever I see while travelling), but dislike (the sight of my bank account afterwards).
I love the feel of (sand), but dislike the feel of (direct sun).
I love the sound of (the anticipation of an orchestra tuning), but dislike the sound of (breathing).
I love the smell of (leather), but dislike the smell of (pleather).
I love the taste of (aniseed), but dislike the taste of (liquorice tea).