Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Shopper

When I was young - well about 11 years old a wonderous shop opened in our local Westfield. It had a rainbow coloured logo and the words "Sportsgirl" in splashy black writing emblazoned across the door. Inside was what every 80's tween girl could have dreamed of, fake pearls, hot pink plastic jewellery, floral prints, tight jeans, ra ra skirts and more. From the minute I stepped through the door that first time until I was about 34 - it was my favourite place to shop.

This weekend we were foolish enough to think that a trip to Pitt St mall in torrential rain would be a good idea with two small children - by the time we arrived in Sydney's shopping mecca we all looked like drowned rats (except for Poppy who was hermetically sealed in her stroller under the rain cover) and Ivy had developed a pronounced limp having soaked her canvas sneakers right through which then proceeded to rub the crap out of her heels. But for once no-one was complaining (much) we had made it to the city and we were there to enjoy it.

First stop the new Westfield - it's my 3rd visit there and I have to say I'm disappointed. It's dark, disorientating and altogether average. If I have one message for the city of Sydney it is - you MUST TRY HARDER. If I am going to drag my arse all the way into town I want something more than what I can get at my local shopping mall. Please see downtown Melbourne for more inspiration.

So apart from our disappointing trawl around the usual crappy chainstores (oh and a peek into all 3 storeys of Zara which is just days away from opening and genuinely looks very, very good) it wasn't a very exciting trip until we took a stroll down Pitt St mall. Out of the blue Ivy lights up, points and says "there, I want to go in there." "There" turned out to be the newly refurbished flagship Sportsgirl store.

Although she's not even 4 yet - Ivy May has a very VERY strong sense of fashion and a huge interest in the aesthetic. While I was also keen on the odd bit of clothing myself as I got older I've never massively encouraged Ivy in this area yet she is famous amongst everyone we know as being completely mental about clothes, jewellery, makeup, hair product - you name it, the girliest kind of girl possible. She is also a very tactile person - even as a very small baby she could be found just stopping to lie down on an interesting surface, be it carpet to grass and zoning out running her fingers through it. And of course being not quite 4 - excess is her middle name.

When we step into Sportsgirl for a moment I think her head is going to explode. The store has been decorated in a very over the top way. Store dummies are standing / sitting everywhere with long wigs and dressed in maxi dresses, cloaks and tonnes of jewellery. There are wooden cutouts of deer hanging from the ceiling and giant coloured balls of wool swinging in between. Chairs, lamps and cushions have been covered in rainbow coloured nana blanket fabric and there are baskets everywhere filled with woolly scarves, silky fabrics, soft cotton throws, mountains of silver and gold costume jewellery, cloaks made of feathers and racks of stockings.

Ivy goes into a trance and moves from spot to spot - hands running over everything, jigging to the pulsating dance music track that plays over the stereo. She touches everything and is totally deaf to my entreaties to "be careful - don't touch everything too much." Once she's had enough of touching (and discovers no-one is going to tell her off) she gets a little bolder and starts trying things on.

Within a few seconds she looks like this:

She finds an audience of giggling shoppers and sales girls and installs herself in front of the full length mirror in her new outfit. She then proceeds to dance around with her hands in the air, smiling at herself until she decides an outfit change is in order and hares off to another corner of the store where she starts loading up every available limb with bangles and necklaces. By this stage I'm half laughing, half horrified (and maybe just a little bit half tempted to pretend she doesn't belong to me). But it's like I don't exist because Ivy has found her mecca, her nirvana. All up we are in there for half an hour and despite pleas and threats the only way to get her out is with the promise of a cupcake. As I lead her out I catch the eye of an older mother walking behind a sulky looking teenage girl. She smiles at me and I just know she is thinking "you'll be back - and in the future you will have to buy the clothes you sucker." I have been put on notice - maybe I will have to get a full time job sooner than later.


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