Is there a better place to be during September than Melbourne? When winter relaxes its grip on the city, the first buds of spring colour our streets and gardens. When fireplaces are doused, our barbecues are lit. When the footy season reaches its highly anticipated climax, Melburnians of all ages eagerly plan their day at the Royal Melbourne Show.
September is also the start of the Spring Racing Carnival – the one time of year (for some of us) when fascinators become fascinating. When we spend hours gathering inspirational images on Pinterest boards, and entire weekends trying on combinations of dresses, shoes and accessories.
With that in mind, here are five great home-grown outlets to visit this weekend – if you’re in the shopping frame of mind.
Designer Clea Garrick started Limedrop when she moved to Melbourne in 2006. The label has since featured in fashion weeks and showcases all over the world, and gained celebrity fans including Lana Del Ray and Kimbra. Limedrop offers contemporary womenswear with a twist: you’ll find bold silhouettes, electrical digital prints and colourful accessories (the ‘funglasses’ are a hit). Limedrop’s flagship store is in the Nicholas Building on the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Lane.
Established in 2008 by designer Kristy Barber, Kuwaii sees itself as an alternative to mass-made fashion. The label creates its pieces in Melbourne using sustainable, long-lasting materials. Kuwaii promotes ethical design techniques and keeps a keen eye on its supply chain, building personal relationships with the makers of their clothes. You’ll find beautiful summer prints (check out Kuwaii’s stunning Clover Dress), eye-catching jewellery (including individually dip-dyed silk tassel earrings by Melbourne-based design studio, Cakebread), and Kuwaii’s iconic platforms. Kuwaii’s Vegan Cicada platform sandals are particularly noteworthy for their Italian-made vegan leather – one for the fashion conscious with a conscience. Kuwaii’s city store is at 37 Swanston Street.
The Dion Lee store in Emporium Melbourne (Level 2) is an aesthetic statement. The brainchild of designer, Dion Lee, and architectural partner Kelvin Ho, the store is a surreal mix of angled mirrors, chrome and concrete. Thirty-year-old Lee has won plaudits in Australia and abroad for his structured silhouettes and sculptural forms. The label has featured repeatedly at the London and New York fashion weeks, and in industry titles including Vogue (US, UK, China and Australia), Harper’s Bazaar and Elle. Lee’s collection includes the stunning ‘feathered perf dress’ and the aptly named ‘levitation dress’.
Design a Space
Design a Space was the first retail outlet of its kind when it was established in 2006. Born of a frustration with the lack of variety in retail stores, Design a Space is a design gallery, showcasing unique, limited edition pieces created by independent Australian designers. Designers change monthly, so what you see on the shelves during one visit may not be there the next time. And there’s every chance that you’ll walk away with an original one-off piece. Design a Space is at 20 Manchester Lane.
American born Eileen Carney opened the first American Rag store in 1991 in the then newly opened Melbourne Central. The brand is now synonymous with vintage fashion in Melbourne. The American Rag team travels to the United States regularly to choose and buy the unique pieces you see in store. You can easily wile away an afternoon trying on Twiggy-style shift dresses from the 60s, satin gowns from the 50s and party dresses from the 40s. American Rag is in Southgate (upper level) and the QV shopping centre (level 3).