Bazaar Babe ~ Pam Oberman

I first had the pleasure of meeting Pam when I worked for the fashion section of a newspaper, and used to compile a list of the best dressed locals each year. I was blown away by Pam's ability to style an outfit. Colours, textures, layers, accessories - there is no limit to this lady's imagination. Much like her style, Pam's personality is equal parts gorgeous, quirky and oh so interesting. It's our pleasure to feature this modern day queen, who also happens to be a marriage celebrant and artist, on our blog.


Give us a run down about who you are, and what you’re about?
I am a vintage person born in Longreach QLD in 1950 – I went over to Papua New Guinea in 1956 where I went to primary school. I then boarded at a catholic boarding school in Brisbane until I was expelled for having hidden in my locker some Roy Lichtenstein illustrated love comics (I was very taken with the graphics of the men and women, the fashion and interiors). I also had a tiny bottle of green liquor known as Crème de Menth (as I loved the colour green) and a packet of Virginia Slims as my father wanted me to be a professional golfer, and they were sponsors of female golf back in the day. Not to mention the love letters from my then boyfriend who was at Churchie in Brisbane. We met at Stompland in Coolangatta around 1964 – but his mother found the letters and was horrified that her son was corresponding with a catholic! I had a private postbox so the nuns couldn’t interfere with my private life so once his mother advised Mother Superior of our love for each other that was it - party over. I was stripped of my uniform and advised that as I and all the other boarders from PNG were considered “barbarians from the jungle" they were happy to be rid of one. I took that as a great compliment - if there were career advisors at the school (a Bridgdine convent) they might have suggested I pursue a career in the fashion or interior design field (I later became an interior decorator in the '70s). I attended the local high school in Port Moresby the following Monday and had a great time, enjoying school for the first time ever.

You’ve lead quite a colourful and bright life. Has it always been that way? Why is colour so important to you?

My father was responsible for the design production and distribution of the very colourful postage stamps in PNG. I often accompanied him on field trips in PNG where he was taking film photographs of different tribes, villages, shells, birds of paradise, folk lore stories, musical instruments etc.  So I blame him for my fascination of colour, it is the best medicine apart from music, love, good health, family and friends.

You are a celebrant here on the Gold Coast, what's your main motto on love?

I have been a civil marriage celebrant for 11 years, I like to marry kids of my friends and friends of my kids – love is the most powerful emotion that I can think of and to be around a couple sharing their love on the most beautiful day of their lives with their families and friends is a very proud moment indeed to be involved in. I have started collecting some tasteful men’s handkerchiefs to share with the emotional groom when he first sights his/her beautiful bride - which is a beautiful sight to behold indeed.

In 1972 you moved to Sydney and got an apprenticeship in interior design, does decorating and designing still make your heart throb?

I have always enjoyed interiors – after completing an apprenticeship in interior decoration back in the early 1970s I opened my own salon in Kirribilli. I still keep a daily eye on global trends and smile when I see that it’s all going in the direction of what was “trending” when I first started out, why oh why did I recover our custom made lounge which was covered then in velvet fabric with a geometric pattern in bronze beige chocolate and black - sob sob.

Having married an artist, and being an interior designer was the house hold always bright and bold?

Our homes were always evolving as my late husband Rodney was handprinting fabric and wallpapers in the 1970s, so it was not unusual to change the wallpaper and curtains on a regular basis. He could also print the same pattern on mirrors, talk about spoilt.

We know your dad was born in Coolangatta,  tell us abut your history with this gorgeous southern Gold Coast spot?

I am very proud of my long link with Coolangatta via my heritage, my Grandmother arrived here from Clifton (Toowoomba) in 1919 and met and married her husband, an Irish man who was a barman at the Grande Hotel in Coolangatta, she learnt to cook at The Kirra belle Hotel, then had two sons, one at home (my father) sadly the doctor had had a few too many beers at the local so accidently broke his leg as he pulled him out)!!!! His brother was born in the Coolangatta Hospital (opposite the airport)..  The family home still stands at 62 Staplyton St Coolangatta,  my Gran lived till 93, wow what a legend she was, cook, sew, humble, strict, respected loved etc.  She lost her husband at age 57, then her youngest son age 50, then one of her grandsons age 31, then her daughter in law (my mum) age 47, then her eldest son age 60, lordy knows how she coped but she did.   Peter Winter from the local paper was always after her for stories of her life and she would say “mind your ruddy business”  classic. She would walk to the beach most days with her friend Mrs Ivy Kirkwood (Kirky) for a swim and collect some fresh tiger mullet from neighbour/fisherman Keith Gibson on the way home.

Tell us about your personal style? How do you put an outfit together, and where do you get all your amazing accessories from?

I guess one has to be a little vain to be obsessed with personal style – so I plead guilty. Colour is the starting point, sometimes colour is not appropriate so I turn to my other favourite combination – monochrome – black and white.  I think I am probably unusual with not having pierced ears, so local op shops usually know what I am looking for when I walk in.  Even when I am out of town, op shop stops are compulsory for earrings, there is so much fashion history in op shops, it blows my mind.  As I am a senior citizen I do loads of research for shoes and clothes that I could not normally afford - so sale time and just keeping an eye out 24/7 works for me. Plus I have a daughter that flatters me with her fashion rejects, luckily we have similar sizes. We are very close and doesn’t matter where we meet up we are usually wearing the same thing.

What inspires you?

Inspiration is visual, being observant whether it’s via magazines, or online or instagram, people that like the same stuff as you do. I like to think I am original, I don’t know where I got that from but recently a cousin of mine who is a farmer said as I grow older I am turning into my Gran. That is the ultimate compliment.

What do you do in your spare time?

My son and daughter said to me the other day, “I bet you never thought you would be this busy at age 68 – with 3 crazy adorable little grandsons – I can’t believe how lucky I am, after losing my beautiful husband of many years – I see little reminders of him in all 3 of them.