Many of us have visited Sydney, Australia, at least once – and some of us have been so many times we feel like locals. But there’s always something new to discover if you know where to look.
When it comes to fashion and shopping, you might actually think there’s not much more to know about, especially as Singapore is surely the spiritual home of shoppers.
But for Singapore fashionistas who already have every mainstream major label, who have done the whole high street thing and already support up-and-coming designers, it might just be worth your while to track down something completely new.
However, discovering the exclusive, “insider” stores and designers in a country not your own can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in an international brand, high street, haystack.
That’s why specialist tour company Chic in the City is such a great idea. Stylist-led, the team can create personalised tours based entirely on your fashion tastes, time-frame and even budget.
On top of that, if you’ve been having a bit of a fashion crisis – looking to update your wardrobe or try a whole new look? – company founder Fleur Marks or one of her 10 stylists can help you out.
These women are the cream of Sydney’s fashionistas and have their well-manicured hands on the pulse of Australian fashion. They are certain to be able to assist you no matter what your style or interests.
If you’re looking for something totally unique, and absolutely not going to be seen on the streets of Singapore or at your next gala event, then you need to try the Chic in the City Fashion Walking tour around the chi-chi suburbs of Paddington and Woolhara.
Wear sensible shoes, but it’s not a hike, it’s more like a leisurely stroll, and you’ll get to visit some of Sydney fashionistas’ best kept secrets.
One of the stylists from Chic in the City will meet you first for a lovely cup of coffee where they’ll have a chat with you about your personal style, anything you’re particularly looking for – casual wear, shoes, a ballgown or a cocktail frock? – and they’ll also work out what your shape and size are so they can direct you to the best stores where you’re certain to find something that fits.
If you’re suffering from the aforementioned wardrobe crisis, the stylist will also help you out with suggestions on how to wear the latest trends, what new “on trend” colours will best suit you and give you a general idea of how many store you’ll be visiting.
Coffee over, it’s time to shop. Since I was not really there to shop, my Chic in the City stylist Catriona Carver, took me to some of the “must see” stores, although there were a bunch of awesome shops we could only take a quick peek at, I could definitely see that there were options for all sizes, shapes and tastes, although perhaps not budgets.
While the Australian dollar has come down somewhat from its crazy highs, the exchange rate for the Singapore dollar is still a bit steep; and also, since the bulk of Australian fashion is created in-country and in much smaller runs than any of the high street brands, you are automatically paying a higher price for what can be considered “premium” fashion.
However, prices are around the “mastiege” mark, not generally the higher end luxury ready-to-wear range of say Gucci or Chanel. The highest price I saw was a semi-bespoke wedding dress for around AU$2,000, that’s $2,560 in Singapore currency. So if you’re looking for something absolutely unique, you’re certain to get great value for your money.
MRS PRESS DRESSING ROOM
And that wedding gown by Mrs Press from Mrs Press Dressing Room, is just one of the gorgeous dresses available from this unique, owner-designer boutique. Designer Clare Press is a former Vogue magazine fashion writer who has also published a “style bible” The Dressing Table; her concept for Mrs Press is to create “a special dress, a dress that fits and flatters beautifully”.
The store has a range of ready-to-wear dresses but you can also have frocks specially created as part of the Mrs Press bridesmaids bespoke service; there are also accessories and a few other very select labels available. The overall “feminine but not frilly” feel of the dresses at Mrs Press makes it the perfect stop for Singapore fashionistas.
JASON MOSS JEWELLERY DESIGN
For more fabulous bespoke services, you can’t miss the made-to-measure fine jewellery from artisan jeweller Jason Moss. Known for creating a range of modern, contemporary pieces in silver and gold using semi-precious stones and precious stones like diamonds, the store is also the jeweller’s studio and you’ll be served personally by Jason.
Jason is particularly well-known for making one-of-a-kind wedding bands and engagement rings for both men and women, as well as for more spectacular, signature pieces. His very cool Stamped series is often used for weddings – you can have the initials and date, even the Latitude and Longitude of where the wedding was held all stamped onto your wedding bands.
More extravagant pieces include necklaces of Black Tahitian pearl and chrysopraise, or jet and quartz on oxidised silver; there are even some spectacular structural collars. His fans include international stars like director Jane Campion and he was recently commissioned to create a piece for Kylie Minogue.
Don’t worry about only being in Sydney for a short time; you can get all the design work done while you’re there and Jason will ship the finished product to you directly. Prices are flexible depending on what you have chosen, obviously diamonds are more expensive than semi-precious stones. A 9ct white gold ring set with an olive green Australian sapphire will put you back AU$1,450 (S$1,859) and a one-off 2.05 ct princess cut black diamond and 9ct white gold is AU$3,500 but a pair of simple sterling silver earrings finished in either black or white rhodium cost $150 a pair; so there’s a wide variety to suit all budgets.
Yet another bespoke-type service can be found at Mr Rose – there are lots of Misters and Mrs in Sydney at the moment. This time it’s all about creating the perfect shirt, something that women always seem to be searching for.
According to director Sophie Toohey, the label started out trying to create the perfect white shirt, one that would fit all women’s body types, and then developed into a wider variety of “perfect shirts” from shirtdresses to waistcoats and jackets and even tunics.
Mr Rose’s best-seller is the original “perfect shirt”, the Body Shirt, that comes in stretch silk and has been cut to flatter a woman’s shape. You can also get your hands on some fab accessories including soft ties and colourful detachable collars – which are totally on trend.
These are just three of the many fabulous boutiques you can discover wandering around the lanes and alleys of Sydney’s poshest suburbs. You should also make a trip down William Street where you’ll discover Just William handmade chocolates – for an extra energy boost – Elle McPherson’s sister-in-law’s cashmere store Banjo + Matilda and hairstylist to the stars, Rena Xydis if you’re looking for a little personal pampering.
So, if you’re a true Singapore shopaholic, grab a tour from Chic in the City and start shopping up a storm on your next trip to Sydney; you’ll definitely know you’re the only one wearing whatever you end up buying.
For more information about Mrs Press Dressing Room, go to www.mrspress.com; to contact the store for bespoke dresses, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +65 2 9331 7732. For more information about Jason Moss Jewellery Design, check out his Facebook page, or you can shop online at jasonmoss.myshopify.com. For more information about Mr Rose and to shop online, go to www.mrrose.com.au. For more information about Chic in the City tours and to book, go to www.chicinthecity.com.au, email email@example.com or call +61 416 644337. You can also check out the team’s cool blog at www.chicinthecitytours.blogspot.com, follow their Twitter account at @CHICintheCityAu or check them out on Facebook.
The writer visited Sydney, Australia, as part of the inaugural Scoot flight from Singapore, supported by Destination NSW. For more information about Scoot flights to Sydney and the Gold Coast, go to: www.flyscoot.com. For more information about Destination NSW, go to www.destinationnsw.com.au.