Melbourne by book or by cook
From designer journals and haute haberdashery to a quirky mozzarella lab
BOOKBINDERS DESIGN, CITY
Tucked away on Howey Place, Melbourne’s only covered laneway, this tiny shop, shelves lined neatly with pastelhued notebooks, is an offshoot of a Swedish company specialising in handcrafted journals, stationery and archival-quality storage boxes.
The lolly-coloured cloth notebooks and diaries (in a couple of dozen shades) are lined up next to quaint prints, pens and gift packs of quirky greeting cards.
Memory boxes and albums are big sellers and Bookbinders’ owner Tony Comelli offers a ‘‘tailor-made’’ service, adapting and embossing books, ring binders, albums and boxes with your name, date, message or logo in a range of fonts and colours.
The whimsical drawings featured on cards, posters and diaries are courtesy of some of Sweden’s leading designers and each year the company consults colour and fashion forecasters to select its palette; this year it’s luscious sorbets.
There’s a larger store in Galleria on Bourke Street, but this little outlet has the benefit of being opposite Bison ceramics and its provenance is second to none. In the early 1900s Melbourne was a publishing powerhouse, with the trade mostly based at Howey Place, says Comelli. More: bookbindersdesign.com.au.
CIRCA VINTAGE, CITY
Recently moved from Fitzroy to Mitchell House (358 Lonsdale St), Circa is home to the reigning queen of vintage, Nicole Jenkins, pink hair coiled into a 1940s coiffure, nip-waisted skirt to match. After studying costume design and working in film and theatre, Nicole has amassed vast knowledge on the history of fashion (show her a swatch and she’ll pinpoint the era in a flash) and penned a bestselling book, Love Vintage. She buys only the best (all garments are cleaned and restored) and her shop specialises in vintage garb from the Victorian era onwards (recent acquisitions include 1920s and 30s frocks from the Lisa Ho collection).
Still settling into her new space, Jenkins is revelling in the soaring art deco ceilings and abundant natural light streaming into the dressmaking room where she offers a one-on-one, bespoke service focusing on high-end glamour and wedding dresses (daywear is listed online). Come here for gloves, bags, coats, full-skirted frocks, even smalls and lingerie (Dita Von Teese is a client).
And don’t be surprised to see customers in full garb — gals made up for a walk-on in a Mad Men episode, or dapper chaps sporting hats and nosegays. Open Thursday and Friday afternoons, Saturday mornings and by appointment. More: circavintageclothing.com.au.
METROPOLIS BOOKSHOP, CITY
This clever and very diverting bookshop, on level three of the art nouveau Curtin House (252 Swanston St), makes a nice change of pace from the building’s other, rather racier, clockwise from far left Christine Barro with her sister Jane-Anne Davoren at their accessories store, Christine; Eva and Maria Konecsny of Gewurzhaus; fine threads and, below, accessories at L’uccello tenants — the popular first-floor bar and restaurant Cookie and the dimly lit performance space The Toff in Town, with dining in curtained booths.
Metropolis, by contrast, occupies a large, light-filled, pleasurably quiet room where appreciative readers and bibliophiles mill about, perusing architectural journals and coffee-table tomes.
Specialising in the artsy end of the publishing spectrum — photography, architecture, fashion, textiles, graphic design, film, music and popular culture — Metropolis is, however, the antithesis of pretentious, providing a warm, relaxed space where you’ll feel comfy browsing for hours. Children have a dedicated area, stocked with an abundance of picture books. More: metropolisbookshop.com.au. L’UCCELLO, CITY Haberdashery on the second floor of a faded, 1920s city building? We could be talking Mrs Slocombe in Are You Being Served?. But designer Kim Hurley manages to put the wow back into buttons, bows and fancy goods at her charming emporium, housed in the unrenovated Nicholas Building (37 Swanston St), home to possibly Melbourne’s last lift attendant. (Like Curtin House it has evolved into a so-called vertical laneway, a hub for artists and creative retailers.)
Hurley’s L’uccello is an Edwardian set piece featuring wood-panelled walls, ornate plaster ceiling and large windows, where shelves are neatly layered with bolts of Liberty and Moda fabrics (and antique linen). Old haberdashery counters are crammed with vintage buttons, 19th-century silk ribbons, French sewing boxes, thimbles, old embroidery patterns, new and vintage threads and something called embroidery floss.
Look out for bespoke bunting, Sajou embroidery products from France as well as Hurley’s handmade linen drawer sachets. Other savvy vendors in the house include Buttonmania, Harold and Maude and the idiosyncratic Anno Domini Home, where stylist Andrew Delaney sells his curious cameo silhouettes and cushions. More: luccello.blogspot.com.
LA LATTERIA, CARLTON
Only in Melbourne could you find a mozzarella laboratory, and on Saturday mornings this specialist food shop is crowded with customers stocking up on fresh cheeses, cream-topped milk and delicious, honey-flavoured yoghurts. There’s a sweet smell of the sort only found in dairies, and fridges are crammed with bowls of decadent burrata (mozzarella filled with mozzarella cream), strings of golden-hued diavoletti (little devils), a smoked mozzarella containing a centre of green olive and chilli, and baby provolina (immersed in brine, hung and waxed) stuffed with porcini-flavoured butter.
Cow’s milk comes straight from a pasture-fed Friesian herd an hour from the city up the Hume Highway, and buffalo milk products are also available. Once you have your cheese, drop by La Parisienne Pates (290 Lygon St) for charcuterie. Muriel and Stephane Langlois make outstand-