Our new friends from the North

Yes, we have been invaded from the North and Melbournians seem to be welcoming them with open arms. Fashion brands from Denmark, Norway and Sweden are making their presence felt all over Melbourne. While many well travelled locals bemoan the lack of Swedish chain H&M’s presence on our shores, they could do worse than check out this dare I say, smorgasbord of Scandinavian fashion brands. Apart from Gant with a menswear store in South Yarra and a women’s store nearby in Hawksburn, the other mono branded Scandinavian store, Acne has set up stylish digs for both sexes on the ground floor of Melbourne’s GPO.

But this is by no means the least of this softly softly invasion. Swensk, located at the base of the City of Melbourne’s v green Council House 2 in Little Collins St is the source for J. Lindeberg, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, Filippa K and other more seriously priced goods from that part of the world.

And just this week, Windsor store Dansk moved up the fashion food chain, relocating their vintage Bang and Olufson speakers to the space most recently occupied by ’80s relic, designer Jenny Bannister. In this airy and rejuvenated space you will find broad collections of men’s and women’s clothing from the likes of Tiger of Sweden and Minimum (one of the brands they also represent) with more space dedicated to shoes and men’s jeans in every colour of the rainbow.

But if there were to be an epicentre for all things Nordic, fans only need to locate the set of stairs behind Caffe e Torta at the Little Collins Street entrance to the Royal Arcade. Above this, and the Marais store, in the space formerly home to Melbourne brand Schwipe with the neon sign beckoning visitors ‘don’t come’ (oh the irony), is the first Melbourne branch of Somewhere. Originating from Sydney, visitors are instead greeted with the sign ‘only the best make it this far’. Once you land, you are met with an exceptional space, airy yet not empty, with plenty to explore. Amongst the clever display units you will find expansive collections from the likes of Velour, Cheap Monday, Resterods, Dr Denim Jeansmaker, Gram, Bjorn Borg, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair, Tiger of Sweden, Minimum… and then some. This is impressive on all levels, with friendly staff (hej Gusty!) and a store design which achieves a perfect balance of playfulness and practicality. How very wonderfully, Nordic

[Above – Dansk, 121 Chapel St, Windsor]
[Below (all images) – Somewhere, Lvl 2, Royal Arcade, 314 Little Collins St, Melbourne]

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Going Dotti over Fornasetti

It would appear that I may not be the only person who is just a little crazy for anything touched by the crafty hand of the design impresario Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988). You might not be familiar with the name but his bold graphics should be instantly recognisable. Perhaps his most famous range is the almost endless and clever permutations of his muse, soprano Lina Cavalieri. Already and somewhat bizarrely, she is the face of the forthcoming Alliance française 2010 French film festival and Fornasetti ‘inspired’ graphics feature in the window displays and online presence for the Australian fashion womens chain store Dotti, part of the Just Group.

Dotti recently announced it had opened its 100th store in Australia, no mean feat, and certainly their playful refreshing of the brand hasn’t hurt. While I love seeing the work of Fornasetti, I somehow doubt (please correct me if I am wrong) that they would have cleared this with his estate, now managed by Fornasetti’s son, Barnaba. This I fear, marks yet another low point in Australian mass market clothing chains respect for intellectual property. Another Just Group subsidiary, Peter Alexander, was recently selling a line of men’s and women’s sleepwear whose graphics looked remarkably similar to those found on Marc Jacobs recent Stephen Sprouse tribute collection for Louis Vuitton. Perhaps now that both Louis Vuitton and Peter Alexander share landlords in the Chadstone and Bondi Junction shopping centres they and other Australian retailers prone to making copies of all manner of international labels might have to be a little more selective where they get that elusive ‘inspiration’ from.

And where to get your fix of the real Fornasetti?! In Sydney, there is practically a whole store, Macleay on Manning filled with fantastic Fornasetti silk scarves, crockery and even cushions. In Melbourne, auction houses often carry Fornasetti’s furniture and you can keep yourself stocked up with those plates carrying Lina’s enigmatic visage with visits to the various branches of the homewear store, exhibit. That should keep you sweet until your next trip to Milan.

Richmond goes retro

Retail revolutionary Mary Portas maybe the reigning queen of charity shops in the UK with the recent opening of her first Living and Giving for Save the Children in Edinburgh but the Australian Red Cross has also put it’s fashionable foot forward with the opening of one9one in Richmond, Melbourne.

Nestled amongst some suprisingly decent neighbours on Bridge Road including sass & bide and Italian jean giant Diesel, one9one is a glorious mix of quality vintage and some contemporary items. While it is our most upmarket of opportunity shops in this city, it is also one of our best styled retail destinations, anywhere with clever and inventive uses of many non clothing items received as donations by the Red Cross. A Christian Dior Monsieur shirt box was part of one display but for now this is one store sadly, just for the ladies. one9one can be found at 191 Bridge Road, Richmond.

Link to one9one here: http://bit.ly/76LEgw
Link to the wonderful Mary Portas here: http://bit.ly/7tke6o

If the shoe fits..

Melbourne seems to be going though something of a shoe boom. The institution that is Miss Louise (located within the Westin Hotel) is finding more and more kindred spirits. Sure they have all THOSE names: Yves Saint Laurent, Balmain, Balenciaga and Marc Jacobs) but their new neighbours have more than enough designer clout.

Opening over the road is the new branch of Dolce Firme. Located at the entrance to the former grand department store Georges, Dolce Firme reconnects this site to it’s earlier incarnation as the home of Charles Jourdan shoes in Melbourne. Already with stores at the Como centre in South Yarra and a smaller store in Little Collins Street, Dolci Firme specialists in teetering heels and do carry a select range of men’s shoes as well, including the delightful début range.

Not to be outdone, or confused with the abovementioned Miss Louise, Louisa at 161 Collins Street contines their expansionist policy with the addition of a standalone men’s outlet on the site vacated by upmarket women’s couturier Keon. This is nestled amongst the various women’s shops in the arcade and their other men’s boutique on Exhbition Street continues to trade. They regularly carry Gucci, Dior, Cesare Paciotti and other hand made Italian shoes and trainers throughout their growing empire. The remaining traders in the arcade, Made in Milan, a newsagency and hairdressers must be getting a little jumpy!