Mel­bourne by book or by cook

From de­signer jour­nals and haute hab­er­dash­ery to a quirky moz­zarella lab

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - CHRIS­TINE MCCABE


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: book­binder­s­de­


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: cir­cav­in­tage­cloth­


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: metropolis­book­ 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: luc­


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-




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