Paper Giants: Magazine Wars

Paper Giants: my early work style years

Nikki ParkinsonFashion 32 Comments

Did you watch Paper Giants: Magazine Wars?

It was a gem of a two-part series that finished up last night and picked up 10 years after Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo (You can catch up on ABC iview if you want. It’s Australian dram at its best).

Paper Giants: Magazine Wars

I enjoyed the first Paper Giants but LOVED the second, mostly because the timeline ran parallel to the start of my career as a journalist.

I didn’t make it into magazines as had been my dream (tweeted Marina Go last night about her interviewing me for Dolly and she said she hoped she was nice … she was … I just remember being under-qualified for one job and over-qualified for the other) but I devoured mags, as did most of the female population of Australia at that time.

As an outsider looking in I didn’t see the “war” between New Idea and Woman’s Day, except the circulation wins that may have been reported in newspapers but I do remember the obsession with all things Princess Di and how that played out in the mags of that era. It was impossible not to be swept up in Di fever.

The day I found out she died, I remember it like it were yesterday. My daughter was nine months old and I thought then that she would never understand the phenomenon that was Di. I have archive boxes that I’ve kept for all my kids and I must have had a sense there and then that I needed to tuck something away for her because last night I found this in the box in pristine condition.

Woman's Day Princess Di Special Tribute

Nene King would have been proud. Maybe.

See, Nene and I almost did meet. After leaving magazines she “retired” to Noosa but “wanted to give something back” so through the local business women’s network and my employer I was matched up to be mentored by Nene.

Only it never happened … there was one phone call with an idea that we’d meet up. And then a second phone call where I got to experience one of her infamous shouty shouts. I was struggling to find time outside my job to meet up with her. My childcare at the time only covered my work hours, so kid-free time just did not exist. Phrases like “missed opportunity” were peppered with much more colourful language than this girl was used to being on the receiving end of. Decided at that point that I didn’t need that type of mentoring.

This is the certificate I was given to pass on to Nene at the end of the “mentoring” but was too scared to. I’m sure she’s hanging out for it ;).

Nene King mentor

Anyhoo, apart from that trip down memory lane, watching Paper Giants had me not-so-fondly remembering my workwear style of the time.

I started my first journalism job at the end of 1987. There was much hairspray, many trips to Country Road, too many instances of Harry High Pants and scrunchy wearing and an obsession with big clip-on earrings. I would say that my “style” was more conservative Dulcie Boling with the occasional Nene King flash of boldness thrown in for good measure.

I went searching in the vault that is my box of photos from that era. Many are in black in white because they were taken to appear in the papers where I worked.

Thought you might enjoy a giggle. I certainly haven’t stopped laughing, even though the scrunchies are long gone.

Work style 1987-1990

Now, over to you. Did you work in an office during this era? What was in your work wardrobe? Want to share a photo with me? If so, email me: [email protected] and I’ll get a gallery started. Or you can upload them here in the comments.

And … can you remember where and when you heard the news that Di had died?

PS. Want to add a little fashion inspiration from this era to your workwear now? Business Chic has some ideas.

Photo credit: ABC TV

Comments 32

    1. Oh that’s too funny. It was 1991 … one job was sub-editor; the other was production editor. I had to do up a heading and a kicker for a fashion spread involving pink and a little puppy. My heading of Pink Power was the one they’d already chosen … didn’t help me though 😉

  1. Love the photos Nikki. I really enjoyed paper giants and thought the actress who played nene king (Rhonda) was brilliant! I met nene when I did work experience at the Australian women’s weekly in 1997 and for a 15 year old from the country she was terrifying!

    I can also remember the day Diana died like it was yesterday. And watching the real footage about her death at the end of paper giants made me surprisingly emotional. I think it’s the loss of an incredible life, far too young and thinking of all that her precious sons lost that fateful day. Sometimes I still can’t believe she’s been gone so long.

    Paper giants was a great trip down memory lane.

  2. Great photos and thank you for the mention, Nikki!

    Can I feature on BusiChic? I’d love to send you some more interview questions to get to know more about your workwear!

    I was at boarding school when fellow students came running into the hall where my group was in the middle of dance practice. The girls stopped our music (sacrilege!) and flicked to the radio where the presenter announced that Princess Di has been in a car accident in Paris. Our anger quickly turned to shock and sadness. Afterall we had grown up in an era where our mothers’ and grandmothers’ often discussed her personal details emblazoned across national magazines. If we had access to the magazines, I’m sure I’d have kept that issue too. Instead we were played a video of her funeral a few days after it had taken place.

  3. LOVE IT! I also rocked a scrunchie out back with a plastic comb holding up the high hair at the front! I recall many pantsuits and a ruffle blouse or three – totally thought I was a sleek professional.
    And yes, absolutely remember where I was when I heard Di died – my parents were staying right by Kensington Palace and first thing I did was call them!

  4. I got married the day of Princess Di’s accident and remember watching it on the tv when we got back to our room after the reception. The next day when sitting in the airport, dropping family off for flights back home they announced her death and we watched her funeral on our honeymoon in Vanuatu. Will never forget seeing her beautiful little boys following the horse drawn hearse and wondering how they would ever cope growing up in the royal family without their mum. I’m sure she would be very proud of them. My fashion memory from tha time is bodysuits – an absolute bugger after a few drinks!!!

  5. Planning to watch Paper Giants on iView as heard it was excellent. As for the fashion I like the rest of the world was a real eighties girl with frills, checks and shoulder pads. I would have been same age as Diana and I remember seeing her photos in the paper when she was first being followed by the press and taking her photo to my hairdresser and asking for the same haircut. I grew up in England so we were constantly bombarded with her image and I loved her. The day she died I was feeding my 6 mth old son in front of the TV and crying as the story unfolded. Will never forget it. My husband had gone to see Carlton v Essendon at Princes Park and he said they announced she had died over the PA system and the entire crowd went silent. He said he had never experienced that at a sporting event before and was very moving. As for her funeral it was incredible to see the outpouring of public emotion. The image of those two young boys walking behind thier Mum will stay with me forever and the very impressive eulogy from her brother. Sadly he has not lived up to the rhetoric but boy was that an impressive speech.

  6. Loved Paper Giants and the corporate fashion 🙂 I don’t remember the day Di had passed but I will always remember her funeral I was 9 and was at my great grandmothers, I will never forget that day and it feels like it was only yesterday

  7. I was on the phone to a very good friend (who is no longer living) as the news started to filter through, firstly I had the “Did you hear what happened to Di” as firstly it was that she was in a car accident. We stayed on the phone, each with our teles on as it unfolded, we were so shocked we had to talk our way through it. Then we had to watch the funeral together, sobbing away with those baby boys walking behind the coffin all that way.

  8. I remember reading the Sunday paper that had a horoscope on celebrity and their relationships. this week’s turned out to be dodi and Di and the prediction was that the relationship would not last. The next thing we hear on the news was that Di was in a car accident with Dodi. We all froze.

  9. Loved Magazine Wars. Definitely my era – scrunchies & country road all the way! I’ve kept a box too, newspapers and magazines from Diana’s era. I’m off to find it now…

  10. I was sitting on our family room couch feeding my daughter (about the same age as yours!) with my toddler son playing at my feet, the Sunday afternoon that the news about Di’s crash began to filter through as news updates. Couldn’t believe it when they reported that she had actually DIED.

  11. Yes I did watch the Paper giants series and loved it ,it was a cool walk down memory lane all that hot fashion from the 80s and 90s I didn’t work in an office I worked in fashion,and it was fun.I do remember the day princess Di died it was a soccer and we couldn’t believe it ,I,still sort of can’t believe it ,I might be able to find a pic for you I will have a look during the week.I love your gorgeous pics,they are very fashionable 🙂

  12. Love those scrunchies! I was in Kusadasi, Turkey, a few months into our Big OE when I heard the news that Princess Di had died. It was unbelievable until we tracked down a TV and watched the local British reaction to it. I bought a copy of Time magazine which I still have. Soon we heard conspiracy theories left right and centre, plus news of Mother Theresa’s death, and a bogus story that Mick Jagger had died! It wasn’t til we reached London that we realised how the city had come to a standstill and frankly were relieved to have not been there to witness a public outpouring of grief on such a grand scale. Seems like yesterday! p.s. Trust me – you would NOT want to see my backpacker’s wardrobe Nikki! xx

  13. Thanks for the walk down memory lane (or should I say Cherry Lane!!) Where was I when Di died……..I was living in Paddington and had been out clubbling all night to come home to find my gay flat mate in a blithering, blubbering mess. I could barely get a sentence out of him……when I finally worked out what had happened, we sat on the lounge all day, totally glued to the event.

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