Sydney in fash­ion

From 1940s swing dresses and su­per-chic sta­tionery to de­sir­able made-to-or­der de­signs

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - MICHELLE ROWE


This dual-level ware­house on busy South Dowling Street, one of Aus­tralia’s old­est (and largest) an­tiques cen­tres, is an Aladdin’s cave of sec­ond-hand wares. Af­ter a quick scout of the first-floor fur­ni­ture and art, I al­ways make a bee­line for the ap­peal­ingly clut­tered lower level, which houses ev­ery­thing from vin­tage cloth­ing to house­hold bric-a-brac, in­clud­ing pre-loved French cut­lery, glass­ware, porce­lain and old-style dial-up tele­phones (‘‘How do you use one of those?’’ asks my 17-year-old niece dur­ing our Satur­day af­ter­noon shop­ping ex­pe­di­tion). One lucky day we spy an arm­chair, in a fab­ric only granny could love, at one of the down­stairs stalls. In­quiries re­veal it is one of a pair, which we snap up for a song. They’re now cov­ered in a lively lime fab­ric and have a new lease of life.

There are more than 50 an­tiques and art deal­ers un­der the one roof, so only the world’s most in­ept shop­per should leave empty-handed. Next on my must-buy list is one of the fab­u­lous vin­tage ad­ver­tis­ing posters. More: sydant­


This repos­i­tory of eclec­tic fur­ni­ture, ac­ces­sories and gifts, largely by Aus­tralian de­sign­ers, is not so much a shop­ping op­por­tu­nity as a day out. Beau­ti­fully re­alised dis­plays, from bed­room set­tings to ar­range­ments of wooden toys and gar­den ac­cou­trements, fill a 100-yearold for­mer Rosella can­ning fac­tory in Sydney’s south­east (own­ers Rus­sel Koskela and Sasha Titchkosky re­lo­cated here in Fe­bru­ary af­ter out­grow­ing their Surry Hills store).

Hand­wo­ven light fit­tings by in­dige­nous Yol­ngu women from the North­ern Ter­ri­tory’s El­cho Is­land sit along­side vin­tage rugs re­worked into mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tions and one-off pieces of jew­ellery and ce­ram­ics. There are brightly coloured pil­low­cases from Syd­ney­based de­signer Cas­tle, Leif desert lime, vanilla and orange shower gel and Qui­es­cence can­dles in pretty jars.

Stop for break­fast at the much-praised Kitchen by Mike, sep­a­rated from the store by a waist-high chick­en­wire gate. This re­fec­tory-style eatery, which serves

break­fast, lunch and af­ter­noon tea, con­tin­ues the in­dus­trial-chic vibe with an open-plan kitchen and din­ing space where cut­lery is stored in old tomato tins and nduja but­ter and cod­dled eggs on sour­dough toast, or fruit and nut bread with hon­ey­comb and ri­cotta, are served on tin plates.

Stylist and au­thor Me­gan Mor­ton runs the ad­ja­cent de­sign school (classes in­clude pre­par­ing a prop­erty for sale, and print­ing tea tow­els), stu­dio and prop hire cen­tre. Koskela also runs cre­ative work­shops, from bas­ket weav­ing to card mak­ing. More:; megan­mor­


The bed­side lamps were an im­pulse buy from a sec­ond­hand store but in the cold light of day they look drab and unin­spir­ing. A dash to Chee Soon & Fitzger­ald, which of­fers an old-fash­ioned, made-to-or­der de­sign ser­vice, soon sorts things out. Co-owner Casey Khik talks me through the range of de­signer fab­rics (Marimekko is the main line) and a week later the bor­ing cream-coloured bell shades have been re­placed with mod­ern cylin­ders in a bright cherry print. Khik and co-owner Bryan Fitzger­ald pride them­selves on iden­ti­fy­ing trends and have an eye for the finest tex­tiles, from bolts of vi­brant Swedish fab­ric to vin­tage Ja­panese and African prints, as well as a gor­geous range of dec­o­ra­tive pieces for the home.

If you’re look­ing for a de­signer gift, you should find it in this small but per­fectly adorned store, from el­e­gant mugs and plates and chil­dren’s mo­biles to graphic tea tow­els and pretty photo frames. More: cheesoon­fitzger­


If this is not the loveli­est sta­tionery shop in the coun­try, I’ll eat my notepad. Owner Mar­garet Rock­liff searches the world for un­usual pieces, from 1930s French ar­chi­tec­tural draw­ings and comics to botan­i­cal prints and vin­tage bunting. She presents her finds in this full-to-burst­ing, split-level space a cou­ple of hun­dred me­tres from Chee Soon & Fitzger­ald. Pens and inks, waxes and seals, jour­nals, note­books and quirky cards are all here if you look hard enough. Rock­liff, a graphic de­signer, is a great sup­porter of lo­cal tal­ent, em­ploy­ing up-and-com­ing artists as sales staff and stock­ing their cre­ations along­side her in­ter­na­tional dis­cov­er­ies (the pop­u­lar range of scratchy cards at the front of the store was cre­ated by pre­vi­ous em­ploy­ees). Paper2 also makes its own pretty pieces, from gar­lands and greet­ing cards to party in­vi­ta­tions and gift bags. Those feel­ing cre­ative can choose from the wide range of artist-qual­ity coloured pa­pers and en­velopes in pi­geon­holes at the back of the shop. More:


As any well-up­hol­stered woman of a cer­tain age knows, Aus­tralian de­signer Leona Ed­mis­ton is the busi­ness when it comes to hid­ing a mul­ti­tude of sins. This small store in in­ner-west Balmain is one of only five Leona Ed­mis­ton Vin­tage Bou­tiques in the coun­try and is a chic and girly show­case for un­sold pre­vi­ous-sea­son de­signs of­fered at dras­ti­cally re­duced prices.

Pick up one of Ed­mis­ton’s sig­na­ture jersey, silk or cot­ton frocks for as lit­tle as $50 (they’re usu­ally up­wards of $170), or check out the dis­counted PINS tights and ac­ces­sories art­fully dis­played on a ta­ble at the cen­tre of the store. There’s also a con­sign­ment pro­gram through which Ed­mis­ton fans can re­sell their pre-loved pur­chases for gift vouch­ers.

While in Balmain, cross busy Dar­ling Street, continue down to­wards the har­bour and stop in at Sofia Lon­dero, which has an eclec­tic mix of womenswear from Euro­pean, Amer­i­can and Aus­tralian de­sign­ers; boldly printed skirts and jack­ets from Spain’s Desigual sit along­side cute floaty tops from Swe­den’s Odd Molly, and there’s a jazzy range of belts, scarves and shoes. More: leon­aed­mis­; sofi­alon­


I take it as a form of en­cour­age­ment that one of my favourite retro bands, the B52s, re­leased a song a cou­ple of years ago con­tain­ing the lyrics: ‘‘Faster pussy­cat, thrill thrill/I’m at the mall on a diet pill.’’ Faster Pussy­cat in in­ner-west New­town is cer­tainly no mall, and diet pills are not re­quired given its for­giv­ing range of 1940s and 50s fash­ions — A-line shapes, pretty pussy bows and swing skirts. This quirky retro store, which cel­e­brates its 16th birthday this year in a sub­urb known for its plethora of sec­ond-hand and vin­tage col­lec­tions, is my go-to shop for out­fits that won’t be seen on ev­ery­body. Owner Tim Chilling­worth, who grew up with a love of 50s fash­ion, cars, bikes and movies, presents an eclec­tic mix, from mag­a­zines on 40s hair­styles and tat­tooed ladies to retro post­cards and vinyl hand­bags. But his cloth­ing choices (sexy num­bers from Stop Star­ing, Pinup Girl, Bet­tie Page and more) on racks at the rear are the hot ticket.The less in­hib­ited could team a pair of 40s-style frilly knick­ers and fish­net tights with scream­ingly loud pink leop­ard­skin heels. There are also men’s choices ( lounge shirts, T-shirts, jeans with a rock ’n’ roll edge) and an out-there kids’ range — think skull-and-cross­bones skinny-fit cords or cute hood­ies. More: faster­pussy­ca­ton­

NEXT WEEK in our Se­cret Shop­per se­ries: Mel­bourne




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