Hot List 2016
WISH TUNED ITS ANTENNA TO PICK UP THE BUZZ ON RETAIL, PLACES TO STAY, AUSTRALIA’S NEW FOOD CAPITAL (SORRY, MELBOURNE ...) AND WHAT NOT TO MISS IN THE ARTS. WE’VE EVEN PUT IN SOME SPORT.
All that glitters
We are declaring 2016 the year of the rock; many, many rocks, actually. It seems Australia is in the midst of a jewellery boom, with luxury retailers expanding their presence in most capital cities around the country. Tiffany & Co. has confirmed it will open three new stores: one on the Gold Coast, one at Sydney Airport and one in New Zealand (as with Russell Crowe, we are claiming that one as our own). Tiffany & Co. vice-president and managing director Glen Schlehuber says the Auckland store will take out the entire ground floor of Australis House on Customs Street. It is the first NZ store for the iconic American jewellery brand. French jeweller Cartier has also just opened a new flagship boutique on Castlereagh Street in Sydney, commissioning Parisian architect Bruno Moinard to design the 700sq m premises. It also allows the 168-year-old company to display its high jewellery creations in Australia for the first time as well as housing a “fine watchmaking salon”. Melbourne is getting the country’s first Graff Diamonds store, with the London jeweller opening a boutique at Crown Casino early in the year. Founded by Laurence Graff in 1960, the company already has stores in New York, Monte Carlo, Beijing, Abu Dhabi and Seoul. Graff Diamond clients have reportedly included Elizabeth Taylor, Oprah Winfrey and the Sultan of Brunei. Van Cleef & Arpels is also confirmed to be coming to our shores in 2016 but a date or a location has yet to be announced. The French jewellery, watch and fragrance house has designed crowns for royalty around the world.
Sydney serves it up
Sydney will finally take Melbourne’s crown as the foodie capital of Australia. And it is happening where you would have least expected it: in the heart of the once-neglected CBD. For a long time no one ventured into Sydney past Circular Quay as there was nowhere decent to go for a drink or a feed — hidden laneway venues were strictly Melbourne’s domain. That has changed. Food critics (including The Australian’s Necia Wilden and delicious magazine writer and Masterchef judge Matt Preston) say most of the action is centred on the raft of mid-price restaurants that are opening in Martin Place and on nearby Pitt and Bligh streets. Chefs such as Frank Camorra (MoVida), Guillaume Brahimi (Bistro Guillaume), Maurice Terzini (Icebergs), Mike McEnearney (Kitchen by Mike) and Justin Hemmes (Merivale) are just a few investing in the city. Add the new food precincts in Chippendale (with restaurants including Kensington Street Social, Silvereye and Automata in the Old Clare Hotel) and Barangaroo (including the world-famous Noma pop-up with chef René Redzepi now in town) and you have a bona fide restaurant renaissance.
This year the “customer experience” will be taken to the next level: virtual reality. According to the Future Laboratory in London, which specialises in trend forecasting, the latest, user-friendlier versions of the technology have broadened its appeal far beyond the traditional gameplaying teenagers. Fashion house Dior recently launched Dior Eyes, which offers a 360-degree “immersion” into the backstage of its fashion shows. Qantas is now providing virtual reality headsets in its first-class cabins on select flights and other retailers have been experimenting with online shopping in this enhanced world.
The food scene is not the only transformation happening in Australia’s biggest city; there is a rush of boutique and luxury hotels openings in Sydney — and it couldn’t come soon enough. The boom was kicked off by the Old Clare in the former Carlton & United brewery site in Chippendale by Loh Lik Peng’s Unlisted Collection (it is the group’s first hotel in Australia after establishments in London, Shanghai and Singapore). Now the derelict Sydney Water Board building has been turned into a luxury 172-room hotel befitting its 1930s Art Deco interiors by the China-based Greenland International Hotels Group (its first venture in this country). Then there is the Hotel Palisade in Millers Point with just nine suites, all fitted out by interior design darling Sibella Court.
Degas in retrospect
The most unmissable event on the 2016 Australian arts calendar will be the Edgar Degas retrospective exhibition at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria. Part of its Winter Masterpieces series, opening its doors on June 24, it is the biggest collection of the French painter’s work in more than 25 years. The exhibition will feature 200 works sourced from 14 cities around the world. Degas, an Impressionist who preferred to be identified as a realist, was most famous for his works depicting life in Paris in the 19th century: dance halls, cafes, the opera, ballet stages and even racetracks. The show is a joint venture with the Fine Art Museum in Houston (it will head there in October). “It’s the most complex exhibition that the NGV and Art Exhibitions Australia have ever embarked upon,” said NGV director Tony Ellwood at its launch.
Forget your credit card or even your smartphone: the only thing you will need for your next outfit purchase is … the outfit you already have on. MasterCard has commissioned US fashion designer Adam Selman (who designed the very sheer dress Rihanna wore to the 2014 Council of Fashion Designers of America awards) to create clothing that contains a microchip allowing it to double as a credit card. Selman has apparently produced prototypes of two dresses, gloves, sunglasses and a handbag, all embedded with the microchips. “Technology is vital to the fashion industry; from textiles, printing techniques, and innovations in garments, it keeps fashion changing and evolving,” the designer says. “What sets the program apart is that it features the technology, while still remaining invisible, yet interactive and totally functional with the wearer.” The only question is: are they machine-washable?
Step back in time
Our love affair with the 1960s and 70s will continue into 2016, with the pre-fall collections of the major labels still unable to forget those decades. Karl Lagerfeld sent out models with short boxy dresses, beehive hair and serious eyeliner at his show in Rome late last year and Burberry featured shoe-covering flares. There also remains an obsession with the 1990s-style slip dress, lace and the colour white (Levis is planning on releasing its entire 501 catalogue in clean white denim in 2016). For men, it is all about the souvenir bomber jacket. The printed satin one that Louis Vuitton sent down the runway in its spring 2016 collection is already a cult item.
Rise of the She-ro
It is the female superhero’s time to shine. According to The New York Times this cultural phenomenon is a result of the rise of powerful women across politics (Hilary Clinton) and entertainment ( Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Scandal) as well as women from across all those fields calling out the gender pay gap (Jennifer Lawrence). Even the 2016 Pirelli Calendar ditched its 50-year history of photographing nearlynaked models to instead feature successful women (comedian Amy Schumer, tennis star Serena Williams, 77-year-old philanthropist Agnes Gund, Yoko Ono) shot by none other than Annie Leibowitz. “We are in a midst of a perfect storm of cultural icons and politics and Hollywood,” says Jennifer Zimmerman, the global chief strategy officer for the McGarryBowen advertising agency. She told the NYT that they were calling it the “rise of the she-ro” and it was been driven by strong female role figures across the world. “It is impossible to ignore the empowerment of women. Besides, who uses a calendar any more? It has to stand for something else.” The Economist has also cottoned on to the rise of the female, with the magazine declaring 2016 the year where “women will be at the heart of many of the big decisions”.
Shoppers on the move
Forget just going to your local store: luxury retail is now all about the “global hyper-mobile customer” who travels around the world and shops while they are at it. This is a game-changer for the industry and for Australia. First, it means they have had a whole swath of customers that have “fallen through the cracks” on loyalty and VIP lists because they never regularly shop at one location. Second, it means companies should no longer think in countries but clusters of cities that have become hubs of luxury shopping (Boston Consulting has even released a “Metroluxe” index to rank cities). “The luxury consumer is on the move, spending as they go,” the Future Laboratory’s Chris Sanderson tells WISH. “They are likely to move from Sydney to Jakarta to Hong Kong to Tokyo rather than just staying in Sydney and maybe travelling to Melbourne or Brisbane. Until now, these customers have fallen under the radar.” This also means that Sydney and, to a lesser extent, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth have become the focus of brands in the Asia-Pacific region, especially with the decline in luxury sales in China. One look at any city in Australia and the influx of new luxury store openings would suggest this indeed is the case.
Down with hipsterisms
We are officially over hipsters and the artisan/heritage/ handcrafted/bespoke products they push. That is the verdict from Sanderson and his team, who say there is a growing “anti-authentic” sentiment among consumers. He says words that have been traditionally used by luxury houses to (accurately) describe what they do have been hijacked first by hipsters and then by every other retailer on the planet. As a result, they have lost their value. Supermarket shelves are now stocked with “artisan” products (Haagen Dazs just released their “Artisan Collection” ice-cream) and even McDonald’s is getting on board with its menu descriptions. “Tales of authenticity and heritage are leaving a bad taste in consumers’ mouths as brands mercilessly misappropriate these values and divest them of meaning,” he says. So what’s next? It is all about truthfulness, transparency and looking to the future instead of reminiscing about the past. “It will be interesting to see what the big luxury houses do next to counter this,” Sanderson says.
Back to bricks and mortar
A retail trend bucking all others is the move by some businesses to go from online to brick-and-mortar locations containing real people and real products. This is happening in the specialised grooming space with MEN’S BIZ opening its first Sydney store in the Strand Arcade, having successfully jumped from cyberspace to Melbourne’s Royal Arcade last year. Started by Nathan Jancauskas as a small online retailer for shaving products in 2006, it quickly expanded to skincare and haircare and then into retail stores, which also offer traditional barber services. “There is a lot to be said for good old-fashioned face-to-face service and a lot of our customers still prefer to shop this way,” Jancauskas tells WISH. “Men are becoming much more discerning in their grooming choices and taking care of yourself is now definitely part of the Australian male’s way of life.” Another online grooming retailer, The Ritualist, has also opened up a store, in inner-Sydney Paddington, 18 months after launching online, saying it was important to offer a “playground” for its consumers to experience its specialised unisex hair and beauty products. Creative director Michael Johnson (a longtime hairdresser) started the business when he realised there was a “serious gap” between what customers wanted at hair salons and what they got. “[It is] a space where you don’t feel like an intruder if you aren’t booked in for a salon appointment; an open space where all products are available to sample and road-test,” Johnson says.
We go to Rio
All eyes will be on Rio de Janeiro this year as it hosts the Olympic Games from August 5-21. It is the first time the South American continent has hosted the summer Olympics and only the second time it has been held in Latin America (the last one was in Mexico City in 1968). More than 10,500 athletes will take part at 33 venues in 26 sports. And if the pentathlon or the rhythmic gymnastics are not your thing, you can be sure that the Brazilian capital will put on one hell of an opening night party.