“There is something special about cherry season to mark the beginning of Christmas,” says Belinda. “My cousin before embarking on an eight hour epic Christmas journey to her family’s sheep station in NSW takes a detour for an hour en route to get the best cherries known to mankind. Similarly the ham. The hung plum puddings. Mince pies. Brandy snaps. The prawns. The arguments over who makes the best cocktail sauce. Summer holidays is cherries, sunburn and weeks of getting the ham out of its calico ham bag, lashings of butter and thick slices on toast for breakfast.”
This year, says Belinda, let’s make Christmas 2020 unforgettable. “As much as this year will be forever marked in our memories. We want these to be treasured family heirloom pieces to be brought out year after year and handed down through generations,” she says. Indeed, despite the year we’ve had, Christmas is a time to get into the festive spirit, and these beautiful pieces will certainly help.
So ahead of Christmas, I got dressed up in the new collection and had a chat to Belinda about her journey over the last 10 years, what Christmas looks like in her family and finally, what’s instore for the year ahead.
BY GEORGIE ABAY | WORDS BY BINNY
Tell us about your new Christmas collection? Where did the idea for the two dresses and matching table linen come from?
I love table linen. I spend hours looking at vintage linens and novelty cocktail napkins. I dream of hosting enormous dinner parties purely so I can set the table (instead of passing out in Ollie’s bed at 7pm). During the first lockdown of the pandemic, I was thinking how this Christmas is the one we will never ever forget and how can I make something truly special that will be kept forever. As a keepsake and a reminder of this time.
What does Christmas mean to you?
As the farm breeds thoroughbreds, it’s the busiest time of the year and we have a huge influx of young international staff. So, it’s very much about giving them a family Christmas and making them all feel welcome and not too homesick. I have been randomly over the years seated next to a very rigid Ukrainian on one side and a drop-dead supermodel type Nordic one on the other. Not a lot of English spoken. We always have a (lethal) Christmas cocktail which makes conversation a little easier.
Can you share any Christmas rituals you have in place?
As we live between two houses, I’m such a tragic, I decorate both. One of my favourite things are these plastic giant candy canes I stick in the garden beds (they sound hideous, but I love them). I also collect felt Christmas decorations. The latest purchase is a sausage dog and a felt nativity scene which I am dying to set up. I’m hunting for the perfect advent calendar and then worry I’m a bad mother encouraging eating chocolates. I love hanging the stockings from the fireplace. I even bought us all matching pyjamas last year but with a high polyester content in the +40 South Aussie summer, they were not a success. I draw the line at reindeer antlers on the dogs. Just.
How do you spend Christmas day?
Mainly exhausted from Christmas Eve drinks and then last minute wrapping until midnight, putting out carrots for reindeer and biscuits for Father Christmas. As it’s my son’s birthday only two weeks before, as well as the farm and office work parties, I’m generally nearly in a coma and drink the Christmas cocktail quite heavily just to stay awake. We always have croissants and stockings in the morning with the immediate family and then go to my brother’s for more opening of presents and the big lunch with all the rest of the farm. Boxing Day is reading books and eating leftover ham on toast.
How do you like to dress up your Christmas table?
I love to use some sort of greenery (lots of strands of jasmine last and look great), green pinecones and fresh cherries. I always get the children to do handwritten table places. Crackers of course. I wish I was organised enough to get amazing Liberty or incredible American crackers but normally it’s just the local IGA.
Tell me about your love of gingham – why do you love gingham? And tell me about the inspiration for your gingham dress and tablecloth and napkins?
Gingham seems to be an enormous trend right now but it’s always a favourite of mine. Country upbringing! It’s just such a cheery and timeless fabric along with rickrack.
What about the cherry motif/embroidered dress and table linen?
These were inspired by one of my ridiculous cocktail napkin collections. I love embroidery of any kind and a crisp white self-striped shirt dress with a beautiful flared skirt, is as timeless and classic as Christmas.
What are your plans for 2021?
Getting some work-life balance back and trying to look after myself a little more. (Translated to less BBQ Shapes, Schitt’s Creek and more walking with podcasts, meal prep Sundays.) I’m also really enjoying planning and slowly putting into play our new ways of working with my awesome little team and just having a lot more fun with the brand. Less enormous collections and more such as this Christmas shoot which has been very much about things I really love.
Love Binny x