LMFF Day Two
Day two of our stay in Melbourne began with an amazing buffet breakfast at our hotel, the Sofitel. With sweeping panoramic views of the city, the hotel restaurant has to be one of the best in Melbourne.
After eating far too much (again), we were fuelled for our eagerly anticipated shopping tour. We were lucky enough to be treated to a custom tour, courtesy of Fiona Sweetman of Hidden Secret Tours. Hidden Secret Tours have been conducting small group walking tours in Melbourne since 2004, and their tours are a must-do. Far from your usual ‘tourist’ experience, the focus is on experience the city as the locals do, and discovering some of the best in Australian fashion and design talent.
For the visitor, Melbourne’s lanes can become somewhat of a maze, so for the serious shopper it’s the perfect way to ensure you get the most out of your Melbourne shopping experience. The tours prefer to avoid the big name brand stores and franchises, preferring to introduce visitors to small boutiques and young, talented designers – so your chance of picking out a one-off frock or enviable pair of shoes is high.
After meeting Fiona in Federation Square, we embarked on our tour. We made our way through Melbourne’s lanes and alley ways – coming across hidden jems such as Christine’s- a shop owned by Christine Barrow, who was first to promote accessories as a high end product, and stocks such high-end labels as Sonia Rykel, Dior and much more. Another highlight was the Cathedral Arcade in the central city– with fabulous vintage stores such as Harry Wragg and Alice Euphemia, and an upstairs treasure trove of vintage you could literally spend hours in. If you’re a vintage lover, this should be your first stop.
Another highlight (and personal favourite of mine) was Lady Petrova’s store. Lady Petrova was a contestant on the first season of the Australian Project Runway, and although she did not win, has built up a following – her clothes are whimsical, colourful and feminine, and I picked up a gorgeous cocktail dress from her store.
Two of my other favourites were Somewhere – a boutique opened by two Scandinavians stocking unique Australian and international fashion, and Marais, which stocks exclusive French and Japanese fashion- from Givenchy to Comme des Garcons, it’s the luxury fashionista’s dream.
Children's Melissa by Vivienne Westwood shoes at Somewhere - love!
Givenchy, Balenciaga and Balmain at Marais
After the tour concluded, we made a quick pit stop to get yet another perfect coffee (I am yet to ever get a bad coffee in my visits to Melbourne) and spent the afternoon shopping to our heart's content.
In the afternoon we attended the first of LMFF’s forum – called Retail Detail, where local and international retail experts spoke on the importance of Australian retailers changing their approach in the face of international brands (such as Zara and Gap) coming to their shores. A definite (and rather surprising) highlight was the speech by David Bush, the General Manager of Womenswear at David Jones – who gave an extremely humorous and enlightening point of view on the state of retail in Australia.
After the forum, it was time for dinner at Cookie – a fabulous Vietnamese fusion restaurant in the city, where the bills were presented on old children’s story books. The restaurant was typical of Melbourne – full of unique character, fantastic food, a comprehensive wine and cocktail list and above all, great atmosphere.
To finish off the night, we attended Vogue’s L’Oreal Paris Runway show, which presented the LMFF Designer Award 2011 finalists: Arnsdorf, Bassike, Dress Up, Ellery, From Britten, Laurence Pasquier, Lui Hon, and overall winner, Song for the Mute. It was a truly impressive display of up and coming Australian fashion design talent, and a great event for the public, providing all the glamour of a runway show.
Runway looks from Song for the Mute (Photos: Lucas Dawson)
Another fantastic day discovering the best in Melbourne fashion, food and entertainment - not a bad job I must admit.
*For more information on the Hidden Secret Tours, head to www.hiddensecretstours.com
* For more information on Melbourne or Victoria please visit www.visitmelbourne.com/nz