Fashion entrepreneur ILANA MOSES sees beauty in the cutting edge and the classic. Her Modernist Melbourne embraces both.
Ilana Moses, cofounder of Melbourne fashion mecca Grace, is no stranger to the detaildriven world of architecture and interior design. As those who follow her Instagram feed will know, for every photographic grab of a fabulous garment found during Paris Fashion Week, there is a forensic capture of an inlaid floor or a customised fixture. Typically it’s a ‘#lookdown’ comparing the drama of her dress to the detail of a boutique or back-street passage, as illustrated in a ‘#fridayfinds’ of Paris’s Galerie Vivienne — the muted, mosaic-tiled floor of which turns up the volume on the saturated Sicilian florals encircling her Dolce & Gabbana skirt. This play of old patina and new pattern speaks of the retailer’s visual smarts; an all-quotients intelligence that today tells in her blues-fest of MSGM pleats, gold Gucci mules and good conversation. Melbourne-born Moses came to fashion from the legal left of field while working as an intellectual property attorney for US media empire Viacom in New York. This threeday-a-week commitment left time to indulge her creativity, which manifested in custom T-shirts that caught the eye of a fashion buyer. “It’s a very New York story,” says Moses. She soon found herself in Lucky magazine and was then jettisoned into full-time fashion production — and back-pedalling when her husband Lenny got the business call back to Melbourne. “We’d had a good three-year stint in New York and were ready to return home, but it’s hard to run a New York business from a base in Australia.”
The key to staying in fashion without the over-stretch of steering a foreign company was to establish a retail venture in Melbourne; one that Moses co-founded and crafted into Grace, the boutique that brokered a new world for cult international brands without the badgering sell. Of the decade-plus-old destination store, she says, “We envisaged an unpretentious, welcoming environment that ranged in price points but always promised something special, even if it was just a tube of Italian Marvis toothpaste for small change.” ››
‹‹ Drilling down to the aesthetics of now and what she notices on her international buying trips, Moses divides the cycles of design. There are those of pulsating newness — “everywhere, cutting-edge and alive” — and those of under-the-surface discretion — “design going deeper than shallow surface into soulful patina. “This house is a reflection of the latter,” she says of the Modernist masterpiece in Melbourne’s North Caulfield designed by Austrian émigré architect Dr Ernest Fooks, into which she and her family, including twins Lexi and William, have moved after two years of alterations and additions by Inarc Architects. “Things that are old have an inherent beauty. That’s where my attention is at the moment.”
Tabling a 1969 issue of Australian House & Garden magazine found by Lenny on eBay, Moses shows the house in mint condition, as captured by celebrated expat German photographer Wolfgang Sievers. The text accompanying its visual evidence of the “architect’s influence obvious in every room” expands on the design holism of Fooks in a split-level, flat-roof house commissioned by the architect’s preferred builder, Mr Leopold Getreu. It appears little removed from today’s actuality, save for
“Just because I work in fashion, it doesn’t mean that I am blinkered to other streams of design” ILANA MOSES
the new rear wing and a mannerist turn in materials and vintage props (many purchased by Moses from the Paul Bert Serpette markets in Paris). Circling back to her Instagram’s aestheticism, Moses says, “Just because I work in fashion, it doesn’t mean that I am blinkered to other streams of design. I wanted to integrate some of the interior idiosyncrasy that I see in my travels into this design.” The fireplace surround, a curved-corner construct that glows with the viridescence of malachite, makes her point about an apocalyptic zeitgeist that currently models form and fashion with a maximalist mindset. “We did inherit an architectural gem and remained true to its spirit while making it right for our family now,” she says, reminding that fashion forever refits the classics. “Without memory there is no culture.”
In the dining room, Jens Risom diningtable; Fritz Hansen Series 7 dining chairs from Cult; custom cabinet made by Jakob Rudowski; Angelo Lelli ceiling light from 1st Dibs; Arte Heliodor Cube wallpaper.