I had a short break in Melbourne last week, to attend part of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival and catch up with friends. This was my fourth visit to this wonderful city, which I seem to love more and more each time I go. It reminds me of New York, Europe and Bristol all in one, and is just the best for fashion & food and of course it's amazing architecture & easy transport.
Fashion kicked off with a High Tea and Fashion Show, featuring local designers, at Malvern Town Hall.......
There was no one under 40 at my table, they were all lovely and not at all designery, and we were all best friends by the end of the fizz, cakes and cucumber sandwiches. Plus we had great seats right next to the cat walk. All for $90. Can't imagine being able to do this in NYC, Paris or London! And everyone at my table was so normal.
I wore a $15 vintage dress and it got so much love amongst the fashionistas, I felt quietly smug!
And look at this short video (thank you Kelly) of one of the fashion shows....spot the model who is well over 50 and who received huge applause every time she strutted her stuff down the cat walk.... we loved her!
High tea done, next it was time to walk it all off and Melbourne is just awesome for walking it all off...... and Shopping. Head for Malvern for independent designers, Chapel Street for bars, restaurants and vintage, and Fitzroy & Brunswick for the most hipster of the hipster for everything.
My shopping highlight has to be when my local friend, Angela, took me to Scally & Trombone in Ftizroy, to a shop selling Esther Williams bathers, designed by her grandson. I was in vintage heaven. For those too young to remember, Esther Williams was a movie star legend and invented synchronised swimming. Here's Claire showing us the swimsuits and two pieces.
And yes, we each bought one. Talk about keeping you up and in, in all the right places! These swim suits, and two pieces, are just made for women of a certain age, or a certain shape, and it would have been rude not to buy one!
Angela and I needed a good sit down and a drink after trying on all those swim suits & thankfully there are loads of bars and cafes with great little gardens & outside areas in Melbourne.... and the choice of wines is just fabulous. You can even get an orange vino!
The next day..... it was off to meet a "new" friend. I have been following Sharryn, The Stylish Woman, on Instagram since I started blogging, and we were thrilled to meet up: first in her favourite shop, Havana Blue Boutique, in Richmond, where I bought some half price linen baggie pants, and then a fabulous Ladies who Lunch, lunch at The Larder next door.
(I have learned NEVER to shop after a glass of Prosecco. Much safer to go shopping first!)
Not bad for a pair of "old birds" are we?! Loving Sharryn's style from top to toe and I am so thrilled to have made a new friend for life, in Melbourne.
But enough of fashion......it's time for more Food.......
Melbourne is world-famous for its coffee, food & eateries. And it didn't disappoint. The quality of the food, whether brunch or a main meal, was second to none, the European influence, the ubiquitous hipster cafes & restaurants, and the friendly folk everywhere are hard to beat and thank goodness I was walking miles and miles each day because I certainly wasn't fasting there!
And while we're on the subject of food, I was staying at The Cullen, a boutique hotel that is right opposite Prahran Market, Melbourne's Number 1 market famous for its wide choice of organic foods, sustainable sea food & free range meats. Locals flock there to shop and tourists flock there to take photos and eat. It's a must do if you're visiting the city.
As you have probably gathered by now, I have been to a couple of boutique, arty hotels on this trip. But I have to say that I enjoyed The Cullen so much, that I just want to move in there, permanently! I slept better there than I have since leaving England four months ago, the hotel's in the perfect location for getting to anywhere in Melbourne by tram or train, contemporary artist Adam Cullen's work is wonderful & on view everywhere you look and, most important of all, the staff are amazing.
The most comfortable bed in Australia! More Adam Cullen art. And a rather useful kitchenette.
IF you've got time, and who has with all that shopping and eating to do, there's also a gym at the top of The Cullen, a fabulous view from the roof terrace, bikes to hire from reception, and a great restaurant on the ground floor, the Gramarcy, that provides room service and where I had this delicious brekkie before heading back to Byron.
Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to the staff at The Cullen. To Liv and Co in the marketing department for upgrading me & looking after me. I was made to feel so at home, and so welcome from the minute I walked through the door. Every guest is treated like that.
But special thanks from me also go to: Adam, and Saran and Stephanie below, who were like friends by the end of my visit and so helpful with local knowledge on everything I needed from where to go for a really superlative facial (Missie Coco) to where the best vintage stores are.
And how many hotels post you back your forgotten lap top charger like this........
As you can see, I had a truly special time in Melbourne. I found the people in this city so open, friendly and unique it really was like home from home. And the Fashion, Food and new Friends I made, in such a short time, will make this my cultural "must visit" fix every time I come to Australia, hopefully for much longer next time.
If you've never been and fancy a city break, I promise you won't be disappointed and the hotels are way more reasonable than in Sydney or Byron Bay!
Till my next adventure, take care and see you soon,
And don't forget to hashtag #vintageladyvintagestyle in any social media photos you're rocking an outfit in!