Shopping in Melbourne

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By Jae-Ha Kim
Los Angeles Confidential
January / February 2006

MELBOURNE — Kylie Minogue has a home in Melbourne’s trendy South Yarra. So do a slew of other Australian celebrities. It’s not difficult to see why. The streets are lined with unique and immaculate homes. But while trendy and upscale, South Yarra is anything but snobby. Full of charming cafes and funky shops selling cutting edge fashion, South Yarra is one of Melbourne’s best-kept secrets.

Come to think of it, much of Melbourne is a secret when it comes to shopping. While Paris, Tokyo and Milan are renowned for their haute couture and fashion finds, Melbourne is rarely mentioned as a “must shop” destination, which is a shame.

It’s not just South Yarra that’s brimming with fashion finds, but also the beachside community of St. Kilda, which is Melbourne’s equivalent of Venice Beach.  A hip, young crowd of residents and tourists can be seen perusing the plentiful shops along Acland Street and Fitzroy Street.

Like L.A.’s Robertson Boulevard, Chapel Street is the street to hit if you’re limited on shopping time. Besides cute boutiques, like Ellinambe at 511 Chapel Street, this area is full of quaint cafes where you can recharge with a “long black” (an espresso thinned out with steaming hot water). Not far from there, designer shops dot Little Collins Street in the heart of the city. Don’t miss Melbourne-based designer Victoria Loftes’ eponymous shop. Full of smart, romantic pieces that evoke creations from decades gone by, you’ll lose yourself in the beautiful array of Italian jersey, French lace and Chinese silk.

On nearby Flinders Lane, boutiques such as Alice Euphemia (aliceeuphemia.com) stock items made primarily by Australian and New Zealand designers. It’s a great place to shop not only for yourself, but also for souvenirs.  And lest we forget the men in our lives, check out Egotism (egotism.com.au), which carries fashion forward clothes that are surprisingly wearable.

At the corner of Swanston and Lonsdale Streets sits the QV, a shopping center that features an array of retailers and designers, including Wayne Cooper, Cactus Jam and Dizingof as well as stores such as Ghetto, Loreak Mendian and Edge Clothing, which cater to the country’s huge surf culture.

People watching along Brunswick Street is almost as much fun as shopping. Almost. Be sure to take a look inside some of the designer boutiques. The lines are by young, relatively unknown designers who create great statement-making outfits for clubbing. Fans of vintage clothes will find a plethora of second hand shops on Brunswick as well.

There are more vintage shops and factory outlets on the hill between Punt Road and Church Street. Granted, you may have to walk through a maze of furniture to get there, but the marked-down prices are worth your while.

Clearly, Melbourne has more to offer than great shopping. But every so often, it’s not so bad to pretend that shopping is the be-all end-all.

DINING
Shrimp on the barbie? Sure you can get that. But try some of Melbourne’s other dining options first. Craving some authentic Vietnamese food? Head over to Little Saigon on Victoria Street where you can choose from dozens of restaurants. Need a pasta fix? You’ll find Italian bistros along Toorak and Commercial Roads. Want some of the best seafood that tastes catch-of-the-minute fresh? Then look no further than Number 8 (Riverside at Crown; number8atcrown.com.au). And if you’re looking for a fancier breakfast than what your hotel is serving up, give Pearl a try (631-633 Church St.; pearlrestaurant.com.au). Best known for their Asian fusion dinners, they also do a mean French toast.  As for fine dining, try Taxi. Located on the second level of the Transport Hotel in funky Federation Square (federationsquare.com.au), the eatery specializes in Australian cuisine. And for excellent food in a laidback atmosphere, try dining at the Stokehouse (30 Jacka Street; stokehouse.com.au) — a favorite spot for celebs such as Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova and Elle MacPherson.

HOTELS
Melbourne is home to some of the world’s best hotels. A favorite is the Lyall (thelyall.com), which is situated in the heart of trendy South Yarra. It’s within walking distance to some of the city’s best dining and shopping. Rooms come equipped with a small washer/dryer combo, which is always a plus for travelers. If you’re looking for a great view of Melbourne at night, you can’t beat a room at the Crown Towers (crowntowers.com.au). Boasting suites with ceiling-to-floor windows, the panoramic view truly makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. Note: If you want start your day off with something new, try ordering from the Crown’s Asian breakfast menu. The dumplings are to die for.  And if you need to be located in the heart of Melbourne’s business district, try the Adelphi Hotel (adelphi.com.au). Its “less is more” approach refers to its minimalist décor, not its service.

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