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Melbourne by designer

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Melbourne loves to dress up. From the minute you arrive, it's obvious you have landed in a fashion-conscious city. Locals favour a distinctly European style, partly because of the cooler climate. They wear layers in black and darker colours — always chic.

Melbourne's history can claim a large part of the reason for it being a leading light in the Australian fashion stakes. In the 1950s and 60s, Jewish, Italian and Greek migrants arrived, and Flinders Lane became the hub of the rag trade. The surrounding area is still home to the cutting-edge of local designers and boutiques.

With the 2008 L'Oréal Fashion Week about to begin, the city is buzzing with anticipation. Designers and models, cameras, hairdressers, make-up artists and most importantly, clothing buyers from around the world all make up this event.

Successful labels including Saba, Jag, Scanlan and Theodore, Alannah Hill, Tony Maticevski and Bettina Liano will all be there.

Jeans queen Bettina Liano has eight boutiques around Australia, and international A-list celebrities are some of her best customers. Bettina entered the competitive fashion world at the age of 19 with a lot of faith but without even knowing how to sew. Her first creation was a simply-draped jersey dress which drew instant attraction.

Bettina gets inspiration from local Melburnians on the street. She loves creating classic pieces — biker jackets and blazers are currently popular, and she always loves to use interesting fabrics.

LIFEwithBIRD was launched in 2002 by Bridget McCall and Nicholas van Messner. (The name is a combination of Nicholas's life with Bridget and her nickname).

They turned ultra-modern ideas into leather bags and their designs have grown to include clothing for men and women and a jewellery line. They also keep a close eye on what's happening in the Melbourne fashion scene, rather than take a lead from overseas.

LIFEwithBIRD has gone from strength to strength, with their creations now selling in five countries.

Journal Canteen in Flinders Lane is a favourite meeting spot for creative people. It is close to universities and design studios and its square communal tables with illuminated bookshelves create a library-like atmosphere, but not as quiet!

The cafe serves breakfast, DIY rolls, salads, bruschetta and blackboard specials. After dark when things are more relaxed, antipasto and wine by the glass are available.


Melbourne, Australia's fashion capital


The 2008 L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival runs between March 2 and 9. For pricing and ticketing information visit the website.

Journal Canteen main meals range between $5.50 and $12.50. They are open from 7am to 9.30pm between Monday and Thursday, until 11pm on Friday and 8am-6pm on Saturdays. No bookings and cash only.

Virgin Blue has flights to Melbourne. One way fares from;

  • Adelaide, $89
  • Sydney, $109
  • Brisbane, $149
  • Darwin, $169
  • Perth, $229

There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one-way on the Net. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per-person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at February 28, 2008 and are subject to change.

For more information

L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival
Ph: (03) 9654 5599
Fax: (03) 9654 9679

Bettina Liano
198 Little Lonsdale Street
Melbourne 3000
Ph: (03) 9663 4804

Life With Bird

Journal Canteen
253 Flinders Lane
Melbourne 3000
Ph: (03) 9650 4399

Virgin Blue
Ph: 13 6789

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