The tale of Annie, Freddie, Barney, Luna & Alfie Buchanan
It's hard not to notice and instantly like Annie Buchanan her choice of hair colour, achingly cool slightly androgynous style, her presence and incredible confidence all make her so interesting. The first time I met Buchanan her hair was a pretty shade of pale pink, the next time deep purple and the time after that a soft mauve. And then there was the time we ran into each other at the hairdresser - I couldn't have felt duller asking for the same old blonde highlights while she was rocking it with crazy colours. It's quite fabulous, and she pulls it off to perfection by complementing it with some seriously covetable clothes, collected over years of being co-owner of cult Sydney store Poepke. It also helps that she is warm, kind and generous with her time and can bake a mean cake.
Buchanan, a born and bred Queenslander, has lived in Dubai for the past six-and-a-half years with her husband Lachie and their four children Freddie, Barney, Luna and Alfie. She admits there is still a lot to learn about raising a family. "WOW, motherhood has taught me A LOT!!! And the more kiddly winkers we have the more it teaches me. Selflessness, patience, unconditional love, choose your battles, don't sweat the small stuff, laugh - A LOT, listen to your instincts, take time to sit down and listen to their stories, and finally it has taught me my purpose in life!".
Her home in Al Safa 2 is so unlike other expat homes, which often fall into the trap of feeling temporary. It is also a direct reflection of Buchanan. The walls are painted the brightest colour aqua and the rooms are quirky and creatively thrown together. What I admire most are the countless artworks, by both the children and from a life well travelled that are beautifully arranged around the house. They are all such treasured pieces. In this semi-permanent life of ours as expats, this villa is inviting and feels like home. There's even a big old gum tree in the garden - a nod to the familys Australian roots. She's currently considering which walls should be painted bright pink. "Yes I love to paint, especially when I'm pregnant. Lachie would come home and I would have painted a chair fluro pink. It was starting to get a little out of control," she says, laughing.
Buchanan became a mother eight years ago when she and Lachie were living in Sydney's Darlinghurst. Five years prior to Freddie's birth, she opened Poepke, in Paddington's William Street, with friend Nicola Lie and visited Paris twice a year to do the buying. She only recently parted ways from the store due to the distance between Dubai and Sydney. "I love my kids to the moon and back but I think it is very important for your soul to have other interests. For me this is fashion. I love the freedom it has given me to indulge in my passion. Since living in Dubai I have also been doing some styling and personal shopping. I get a real kick out of reinventing my clients existing wardrobe without spending any money. I love creating outfits that make women feel amazing."
Given her cool sense of style it comes as no surprise to see the four children dressed accordingly. During our shoot, Freddie the eldest decided to accessorise his outfit with a black top hat. Barney followed suit and wore a paper hat Luna had made at school. Buchanan says they wear everything from harem pants made by their paternal grandmother to turbans from her line AnOn. And when the family visits home, she is also partial to a shop up at the beautiful Mamapapa run by good friend Virgine Batterson.
So how do they entertain an energetic family of four in the city with the biggest and best of everything in the world? Naturally, they go back to basics. "One of our favourite places we take the children is the desert. They love being able to run free and explore the sand dunes. In this crazy world of ours it's the simple things that are often the best. It is also great fun to light a fire out there and toast marshmallows at the end of the day."
Annies little list of loves:
I LOVE my shower in the morning (preferably with no interruptions from little people).
My new Etre Cecile T-shirts.
My homemade chicken pie.
Planning our family summer adventure to Spain.
eL Seed - Arabic Calligraffiti.
Watching the world cup with Freddie.
Watching Alfie slot into the family dynamic with his hilarious little personality.
Ancient Greek sandals.
Night swims with the gang.