Makers of Melbourne

Welcome to Makers Of Melbourne – the ‘go to’ guide for our technically integrated age.

Makers Of Melbourne has been created to consume and assimilate Melbourne culture. We're male focussed, but not male specific, sorting through the dross to weed out the creative stars, standout events and stylish folk that make this city unique. 

MOM aims to embrace all facets of what makes this city a creative hub. Our aim is to inform without condescending – to keep you abreast of what’s going on without regurgitating Press Releases & to seek out this city’s sub cultures to give our readers the inside scoop on what’s REALLY happening with the people who make Melbourne Melbourne.

Interview: Owner of The St. Hotel, Paul Nguyen

St Kilda’s Fitzroy Street has long been a place where reputations are made or lost. This iconic seaside strip has seen businesses come and go, trying to harness a notoriously fussy consumer market.

Located at number 54, on the corner of Canterbury Road, The Saint Hotel closed its doors in mid 2012. Since that time, owners Paul Nguyen and Simon Blacher (of Saigon Sally and Hanoi Hannah fame) have been busy renovating the former bar and nightclub. Their aim, to reopen as The St. Hotel, a relaxed and affordable restaurant come supper club offering signature cocktails and authentic Thai food, designed by Head Chef Sean Judd, whose own background includes residencies at Melbourne stalwarts Chin Chin and Longrain.

  Chef Sean Judd 


Chef Sean Judd 

In the early 1950’s the Saint Hotel was a communal St Kilda bank and it was only after Nguyen purchased the building in 1999 that it became the central hub of an already bustling entertainment district. The former DJ saw a gap in a rapidly broadening market for a venue that offered a large-scale club environment with a bar atmosphere. The result was legendary and once again the owner hopes to tap into a cultural zeitgeist. Something that he, along with business partner Blacher, have managed to do successfully for over a decade.

Nguyen: “I started Hanoi Hannah and Saigon Sally around 3 years ago, with the explosion in fun, chic food with a focus on healthy cuisine. I’ve seen the success in that and wanted to bring that back to St Kilda because, until now, Fitzroy Street has catered mainly toward backpackers and fast food. I thought that it would be good to bring quality back to the area but without the price tag, so it’s accessible to both local people as well as out-of-towners. People can come in to eat some food and then kick on late with a drink. There was a definite change in the market and I saw that as a strategy to reopen The St.”

  The St. Hotel under construction


The St. Hotel under construction


Nguyen classifies the reopening of the hotel as a rebirth, a chance for him to revisit and perfect his first-born venue. The word “excitement” is mentioned and a palpable energy is evident as he describes the newly remodelled space. “I’ve been working on this project for nearly 3 years now and in the last 6 months I’ve taken on more of a project management role. I’ve had a lot of input into the interior, design and the aesthetic of it. It’s nice to be able to create something that I know that people will love and enjoy. I know that it will be functional, in the sense that it will have great food and a great atmosphere, it’s going to be huge and offer something that not many venues in Melbourne have been able to offer before.”

It’s a surefire recipe for success and Paul promises that the new and improved St. Hotel, its recently redeveloped neighbour The George (along with several high quality restaurants opening up on the busy street) will help define the renaissance of St Kilda.

Nguyen: “I think Fitzroy Street was just tired, it just didn’t have an element of quality food. Not only do we want to be successful in what we do but we also want success for the businesses surrounding us. We realise that the more businesses that are doing well, the better Fitzroy Street will become. Ideally we’d like to be known as a local hangout, not just for St Kilda residents, but also for people who might be coming in from the surrounding suburbs. I’m hoping that the next few years will be fantastic.”





Artist Profile: Kate Rohde

If a picture equals one thousand words, then the first photograph that Makers of Melbourne snaps of sculptor Kate Rohde has this piece written. Looking down to admire the resin-stained floor of her Northcote studio, we spy feet encased in clog-like shoes so spattered with the detritus of her creative expression that they camouflage almost completely. It’s as if there is this person that has sprouted out of two seeds planted in the very concrete upon which we stand.

The urge to use this image to create the connection between the artist and her work – fantastical sculptures and vessels made with a psychedelic eye for colour and form – is irresistible, not least because of the obvious reversal: her zoomorphic sculptures balanced upon small paws serving as expression of her fascination with the natural world, while she herself stands upon feet given the appearance of art.

Kate: “I guess I kind of put all my energy in to making the work. It’s pretty consuming, in a way: I get a bit antsy if I don’t get something done, some way, in each day. At the end of the day, if I hadn’t ended up being an artist then I would still make work in some capacity.”

That she ended up an artist at all owes more to serendipity than concentrated intent. Raised in a “very un-arty, tradie family” in the Dandenongs, the young Kate segued a passion for arts and craft projects in to art school.

Kate: “I never had a strong direction. I was always open to opportunity and things that came up. So I just keep going, really: I still sometimes think about getting a real career, something that’s in the drop down menu that’s in the bank. I just imagined art school would be the hold music in my life until I did something else.”

Happily for lovers of her work, that “something else” never materialised. Instead, Kate has spent more than a decade perfecting an approach to expression that first manifested with her intense love for dramatically decorative arts inspired by her passion for Rococo sculpture – an era that still deeply informs her practice.

It has been, she admits, an obsession: that mix of animal imagery, the natural world and an unapologetic flamboyance lighting in her the fire of imagination that has given rise to Kate’s own unique signature.

What is intriguing in all of this is the apparent contradiction present between the basis of Kate’s art work and the element of control (self-expressed) that impacts upon her own nature. On the one hand there is Kate the sculptor daubing her vessels with ad hoc lumps of un-worked clay and dripping resin, on the other is Kate the facilitator expressing concern at the “clutter” of her highly organised studio space.

Not so much a conflict as a paradox, and one of which Kate is very much aware. It serves as the basis for the dramatic push and pull that engenders so much of the artistic tension that draws observers in to her creations.

Kate: “Deep down I always want to be more crazy and more out of control, but deep down there is a part of me that can’t. Stephen Bush, locally, is one of my favourite artists and, the way he paints… He lets these areas be completely random and other areas that are controlled and structured and I guess that’s what I do in my work: let some areas go unconscious – dumping clay and not doing too much to it, and then the other areas that you really work it up, getting that really fine detail and finish.”

Her unique approach has garnered plenty of fans, resulting in an inspired exhibition of flora with designer florist, Cecilia Fox, as well as ongoing projects with fashion designer, Alexi Freeman and fashion super duo Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett of Romance Was Born (Kate’s work is currently for view as part of the ‘Express Yourself: Romance Was Born’ exhibition at the NGV).

Along with her ongoing relationships with Pieces of Eight Gallery and Karen Woodbury Gallery, and her three-day-per-week art technician role at a Melbourne private school, these are all relationships that keep Kate's work rate at a constant high hum. It is a productivity she enjoys, though focus is maintained on keeping some free space should an unexpected proposal stoke her creative will.

It’s a well-maintained balance – chaos and structure poised in life as it is in her art. Requiring constant recalibration, Kate nonetheless appears as someone for whom predictability could breed a feeling of malcontent.

Kate: “It’s always a learning process and that’s what keeps me interested – that ongoing acquiring of skills and learning of new processes. Everything I make I want to live with and I would want to have around me, and then it’s a benefit if someone else would like to have that in their lives as well.”

Event: Exhibition opening of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier

This week, Jean Paul Gaultier’s childhood teddy arrived in Melbourne. The fashion designer’s first muse is one of the most touching and personal displays in the blockbusting exhibition ‘Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk’, which opened at the National Gallery of Victoria on Friday.

The show’s curator, Thierry-Maxime Loriot from Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts, hosted the media preview for the exhibition on Thursday morning and Makers of Melbourne were invited along to listen to Jean Paul talk about his career and inspirations, before getting a sneak peak at the multi faceted fashion retrospective. 

As an only child raised in suburban Paris, Gaultier asked his parents for a doll, but feeling as though Barbie was inappropriate for a boy in 1950s, his mother and father instead gave him the soft animal he called “Nana.” 

Now tucked away safely in a glass display case, the ursine toy has been noticeably poked, prodded and coloured in. Her most obvious improvements, a customized cone bra, formed from paper and most certainly the prototype for one of Jean Paul’s most iconic creations, Madonna’s 1990 Blonde Ambition tour cone bra and corset, which was lovingly designed as a playful wink to his grandmother’s lingerie collection.

Once labeled the ‘enfant terrible’ of French fashion, it’s this witty irreverence that has become the designer’s trademark. Madonna’s corset – which sold for $52,000 in 2012 – also features in this stunning exhibition, along with pieces designed for Naomi Campbell, Beyonce, Kate Moss and one of Gaultier’s more recent muses, Melbourne born transgender supermodel Andreja Pejic, who made a surprise appearance on stage at the media preview.

Finding beauty in human diversity, Gaultier has championed the use of models of all ages, body types, ethnicity and gender on his catwalk throughout his career. “I was always shy, I always noticed difference. I always wanted to show that there’s more than one type of beauty.”

Thierry-Maxime Loriot: “There is a very strong social message in the work of Jean Paul. It was important for me to stage this exhibition because he really brought non-models onto the catwalk. It was always important for him to show different types of beauty, to show people different body shapes, different colours, different genders.”

Visitors have a rare opportunity to admire both Gaultier’s prêt a porter and couture work spanning his 38 year career, including a selection from his most recent (and final) ready to wear collection, staged in Paris just last month.

Gaultier: “You know, I am 62 years old. So, I am a dinosaur. I started working in couture at the age of 18 with Pierre Cardin, I have seen that work and a world that doesn’t exist anymore - The couture way. I have been in this business for 38 years and things have changed, now there is so much marketing, and when I think about it, I don’t have the freedom that I always had, so I think it’s better to quit ready to wear and to concentrate on couture, where I still have that sense of freedom.”

The Melbourne leg of Gaultier’s exhibition has been expanded from its previous international incarnations to include pieces from a crop of home grown muses – Oscar gowns for Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett and tour costumes for Kylie Minogue sit alongside design sketches, iconic fashion images and Gaultier designed movie costumes from films including ‘The 5th Element’.

 Gaultier: “It [the exhibition] was a great opportunity for me to present my work, what I am doing. I must say that I love it, almost as much as I loved to create it. At the time that the team came to me and asked to make an exhibition, for me it was not good, it was like something for the dead people, like when I was little I would go to the museum and the clothes that I was seeing were from the time of Queen Victoria. But now I say, OK if this is my exhibition then I will happily be dead.”

Event: Coach Launch

If this week has been a local fashionsta’s dream, culminating in Thursday’s launch of the NGV’s Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition, then Wednesday night offered a taster of international fashion, whetting our appetites with the launch of creative director Stuart Vevers’ debut collection for Coach.

Coach, the leading New York design house for luxury accessories, hosted the launch of their ‘Fall 2014’ collection in their new flagship store, housed inside Melbourne’s Emporium. Inspired by “a girl on a journey that starts and finishes in New York City”, this new range is a playful mix of utility and luxury, resulting in a range that feels both authentic and modern.

Co-hosted by one of Australia's leading stylists, Romy Frydman of, Makers of Melbourne joined a glamorous selection of guests from the fashion, music, art and design industries at the Emporium store, indulging in Patrón tequila cocktails while getting an exclusive peek at the new Coach range.

Throughout the evening invitees were given the opportunity to explore the new Emporium flagship boutique, while enjoying a bespoke soundtrack created by Melbourne based DJ Dena Kaplan, while throughout the evening, Polaroid offered guests the opportunity to print & preserve their Instagram memories as a souvenir to take home from a fantastic party.

Interview: Talia Daroesman, Lovers Court

“Hoop dreams echoing off hot bitumen” is how designer Talia Daroesman sums up the aesthetic of her Lovers Court debut leisurewear collection.

Talia: “It [Lovers Court] came about just over a year ago. Since I was little I’d always wanted to have a clothing brand, that’s been my goal forever. It took me a while to know what I wanted it to be, how I wanted it to be, and it was almost a year and a half ago that I finally got the idea and name together. I always just wanted to have it as something I could be creative with, have fun with, and, at the end of the day enjoy it.”

Lovers Court has taken a contemporary attitude toward establishing itself as a brand, with the creation of non-seasonal collections and a strong emphasis on unisex prints and design. As Daroesman explained to Makers of Melbourne when we sat down over drinks “I don’t want to have the pressure of having to put together a winter range and then a summer range. I want to have fun with it and more flexibility.”

Flexibility describes this new label well. Lovers Court draws its inspiration from an undeniably urban influence, though with a modern approach that encompasses inspiration from equal parts hip-hop and traditional American street wear as much as it does the dizzying hyper-density of Asian megapolises.

After graduating from RMIT in textile design in 2008 there was time spent abroad, harvesting inspiration in Hong Kong, working part-time and developing a business plan, that inadvertently “killed” her creativity. “I think that’s why it took me so long to get started but now I’m glad that I didn’t do anything earlier.”

LoversCourtLaunchParty_Heather Lighton043.jpg

Talia: “There were a few instances of starting something but not really getting into it, starting something else but not feeling it, and knowing that it wasn’t the right time. Knowing that I needed more time to figure out what I wanted to do to get some inspiration back.”

For Daroseman, the decision to focus her energy on street wear was a no-brainer. It’s a culture that she connects with, and with her baby bangs and large hoop earrings, it’s immediately obvious that she lives and breathes the lifestyle. This month’s Lovers Court brand launch

For now Lovers Court consists of a unisex range of cotton and silk scarves, bucket hats, 5-panel caps and printed t-shirts. Featured throughout the collection are three recurring digital and screen print designs - a monochrome colour palette struck through with flashes of pink. The prints take cues from typography saturated street wear combined with the grid and pixel aesthetic of early computer-generated graphics. As Talia explains, these versatile pieces and patterns are designed to be built up to clash and vibrate against each other or alternatively to be worn as standalone statement pieces.

Beyond the debut collection, Daroesman hopes to expand into cut & sew garments in early 2015, starting with a range of women’s down-tempo, sport luxe sweats, with plans to then expand into menswear, staying true to the brand’s unisex vision.

Talia expresses a strong desire to keep her production local, as long as the label can continue to afford the growing cost of manufacturing in Melbourne. (Her printed cut & sew pieces are to be produced in Abbotsford and the debut collection t-shirts have been screen printed in Fitzroy.)

Until she can afford to work on the label full-time she continues to design her collection around her job in a busy Melbourne café, her free time devoted to building a solid online presence. There’s brief mention of a potential Pozible campaign, after watching several other designers take the crowd-funding route and finding success. “I think it’s awesome. People get something in return so it’s not like they’re giving away to charity. Melbournians want to support their local fashion scene.”

Photos – Heather Lighton

Event: AIR Awards 2014

Now in its 9th year, the AIR Independent Music awards took place last night in North Melbourne's Meat Market building. Hosted by Dylan Lewis, the short & sweet event mixed performances by emerging Aussie talent & a host of relaxed award presentations, including the big one - this year's Global music grant, offering $50,000 towards a band establishing themselves internationally. 

Remi performs

Remi performs

This year's global music grant went to Remi, with the trio also taking out the award for Best Independent Hip Hop Album earlier in the night. See our full list of winners below.

Dylan Lewis

Dylan Lewis

DMA's perform

DMA's perform

Keynote speaker Adalita

Keynote speaker Adalita

Winner of best Independent Jazz Album Paul Grabowsky

Winner of best Independent Jazz Album Paul Grabowsky

Winners of Breakthrough Independent Artist Of The Year, Sheppard

Winners of Breakthrough Independent Artist Of The Year, Sheppard

Best Independent Album & Best Independent Hard Rock, Heavy or Punk Album winners Violent Soho

Best Independent Album & Best Independent Hard Rock, Heavy or Punk Album winners Violent Soho

Meg Mac on stage

Meg Mac on stage

Shihad's Tom Larkin & Dylan Lewis

Shihad's Tom Larkin & Dylan Lewis



Winners of the Best Independent Dance/Electronica or Club Single category Peking Duk

Winners of the Best Independent Dance/Electronica or Club Single category Peking Duk


$50,000 Global Music Grant

Best Independent Artist
Courtney Barnett

Best Independent Album
Violent Soho - Hungry Ghost

Breakthrough Independent Artist Of The Year

Best Independent Single/EP
Courtney Barnett - Avant Gardener

Best Independent Label 

Best Independent Hip Hop Album 
Remi - Raw x Infinity

Best Independent Blues And Roots Album 
Dan Sultan - Blackbird

Best Independent Hard Rock, Heavy or Punk Album
Violent Soho - Hungry Ghost

Best Independent Dance/Electronica or Club Single 
Peking Duk - High

Best Independent Dance/Electronica Album 
RÜFÜS - Atlas

Best Independent Classical Album 
Gurrumul / Sydney Symphony Orchestra - His Life & Music

Best Independent Country Album 
Halfway - Any Old Love

Best Independent Jazz Album 
Paul Grabowsky Sextet - The Bitter Suite

Interview: Andy Williamson

Makers of Melbourne sent along Jared Acquaro from our favourite men’s style blog A Poor Man’s Millions (a blog demonstrating you don't need to have millions to dress well) to interview Andy Williamson, one of the founders of Beer Bud, a craft beer service quickly changing the online game by illustrating that you don't need to be rich to drink quality boutique beer.

The creation of Beer Bud reads like a modern Australian folk story. Three merchant bankers go out to lunch, bond over their love of craft beer and decide to never go back to their corporate jobs. Instead, they launch a new company, pledging their mission to help Aussies drink top quality beer.

Williamson: “We basically got to the stage all at the same time where we wanted to go out and put our experiences and relationships into our own business. We started drinking awesome craft beers, wanted to buy them from the local bottle shops, then online and couldn’t find it anywhere. We saw an opportunity to offer a better consumer experience.”

It was around two years ago that the concept of Beer Bud came into fruition and as Williamson shares, the official launch of the website this past August was “a long time coming”. He, along with his partners Mark Woollcott and Alex Gale, began working full-time on the brand back in January and a soft launch (for family and friends) in April helped to tidy up any last minute issues with the website.

Williamson: “There were a number of breweries on board at that time but we were only offering entire cases of beer. We didn’t have full six-packs; we didn’t have mixed cases, that sort of stuff. Those things were basically the enhancements we were working on in the background and we were also getting our warehouse set up. Fast forward to the middle of August and that was the first time all of those features went live on our site, that’s when we started telling people about Beer Bud and we’ve already got Australia’s leading range of craft beer."

Beer Bud founders Alex Gale, Mark Woollcott & Andy Williamson

Beer Bud founders Alex Gale, Mark Woollcott & Andy Williamson

The most popular and biggest selling craft beers in Australia are generally limited edition releases, where small breweries will launch a handful of one-off, single batch ‘cult’ beers. The boys behind Beer Bud made it their aim to find as many of these small to medium sized businesses and help deliver their products to a wider market.

It’s immediately obvious that Williamson and his partners are passionate about their boutique suppliers, but it’s interesting to note that they also care about giving back to the community. With November nearly upon us, Beer Bud recently announced the development of a new craft beer called the Prickly Mo, with all proceeds going to the Melbourne-born now global men’s health charity Movember.  

Made in collaboration with Prickly Moses, a craft beer brewery tucked away in the Otway ranges, the development and release of Prickly Mo is the first time that crowd funding has been used in the beverage industry, becoming a test case for creating a sustainable model for giving back and supporting a good cause. The brand is currently trying to raise $5,000.00 to fund production of the drink, and if successful, it will no doubt open up the door for further collaborations between Beer Bud and other non-profits across the country. The Prickly Mo crowd-funding campaign is essentially an opportunity to pre-order the beer, which will then be delivered from the middle of November.

BeerBud Prickly Mo bnnr3.jpg

Williamson: “We’ve been working with Prickly Moses since we launched Beer Bud in April and have become increasingly close to the guys. We were all thinking through the Movember concept and Prickly Moses came to mind because of our close working relationship with them and then, obviously, the branding was so close to Movember. We decided to approach them and pitch the concept of ‘Beer Bud’s Prickly Mo’.”

Working hand in hand with Prickly Moses, the entrepreneurs have helped developed a limited edition red IPA, which is set to begin production this Friday 10th of October. The three business partners will be onsite to help brew the batch and are offering, through their website, the chance to donate and accompany them for a day trip into the Otway ranges.

Williamson: “We’re all really excited about. I think supporting this charity is something that’s important to all three of us and we wanted to try and support [Movember] in a sustainable manner. All profits from that [crowd-funding], as well as the sales from the beer will be donated to Movember.”

It’s a great cause and no doubt there’ll be a quite a few beer drinkers keen to get their hands on a Prickly Mo (or 6). To donate to the cause head over to Beerbud and don’t forget to register your Mo growing efforts at Movember to help support and raise awareness for men’s health.

 - Jared Acquaro

Street Style: Chris

Chris always looks like the best dressed man in the room (or in this case, the street). The perfect personification of everything Melbourne tailoring brand Oscar Hunt stands for - no nonsense classic dressing without the fussy frills. Chris was photographed in South Melbourne wearing Oscar Hunt trousers, shirt & double breasted jacket, finished off with a pair of tan derby brogues from Loake. 


Interview: Robert Muinos

Perhaps better known in Melbourne music circles as the guitarist in Melbourne’s 9 piece soul-rock group Saskwatch, Robert Muinos also performs with garage rock collective Dorsal Fins & now to top that off, the seemingly tireless Muinos has just released his first solo single, showcasing his own talents as a singer-songwriter.

Press Shot 1.jpg

Earlier this year and in the midst of a busy tour, Muinos persuaded a few of his Saskwatch bandmates to forgo a highly anticipated week long break to head back into the studio to help record his forthcoming debut EP.

Having done the hard yards touring both nationally and internationally, Robert felt that now was the opportune time to turn his gaze to greater introspection and his single, I Was Dreaming, captures the sound of a musician forged, not depleted by time on the road.            

It’s been an exhausting schedule and it comes as no great surprise when Muinos mentions that he has just spent a whole weekend in bed recovering, during our recent phone conversation. Having just returned from Big Sound, where both Saskwatch and Dorsal Fins performed, Muinos is understandably enjoying some downtime before turning his focus to a run of solo shows.

Robert: “I’ve tried to write music for both Saskwatch and Dorsal Fins before and it always comes out really shit (laughs). I love the music that I play with them [Saskwatch, Dorsal Fins], but whenever I’ve had those great moments where a song comes out of me it’s always been a folk thing. I never made a conscious decision to write music like this, it just happened and it got to the point where I just thought, if this is what’s going to happen every time I write a song it must be for a reason so I should just go with it and see what happens."

With a strong alt-country feel, you can almost hear the kilometers rolling by in the drums and bass line that accompany I Was Dreaming. Late nights and hangovers run deep in a yearning harmonica while the Rob’s vocal melody seems to search for something naively optimistic. It’s a change of direction for the performer, but not completely out of left field.

Robert: “For me this is my chance to be the boss, which is nice. The single and the EP were recorded with Ed, the drummer from Saskwatch, but as far as the live band goes its Jim Lawrie on drums. I wanted him because we’d just done a tour together and we get along really well. We used to go to each other’s gigs all the time and became really good friends. You want to make music with people that you love.”

The theme of love plays a prevalent role in the film clip for I Was Dreaming and Makers is happy to hear the young singer speak highly of his fellow musicians. There’s praise for drummer Lawrie, who also sidelines in Dorsal Fins, as well as mates in Eagle and The Worm and The Bamboos. Muinos assures us that the Melbourne music scene is for the main part a nurturing and supportive industry.

 Robert: “We’re all just putting music out there for people to hear and for the public to decide whether they like it. I think that there are lots of people out there that have a kind of, competitive vibe when it comes to playing music. I just find it fucking weird. What’s the point in being competitive about it? Just be supportive of the whole scene.”

While he may be proudly supporting his fellow bandmates, Makers can’t help but wonder how accommodating the mainstream music industry is when it comes to up and coming musicians like Rob. With record contracts now few and far between, more and more artists are independently releasing albums, paying for production and studio sessions out of their own pockets.

It’s a hard slog, but for Robert the rewards are paying off ten fold. “It feels good. I think some people like it [the single] and some people think it’s ok. It was pretty scary before but now that it’s released I’m just letting it do its own thing. I did my best to raise the kid and now it’s going to have to look after itself, I’m letting him be free.”

Robert Muinos launches his debut single I Was Dreaming on Thursday October 16th at The Old Bar in Fitzroy.

Interview: Kloke Designers, Amy and Adam Coombes

There’s a warmth to Amy and Adam Coombes that resonates through their designs. An initial phone conversation with Adam and a visit to meet Amy at the Kloke boutique culminates in a sunny Saturday morning meeting where the Makers team is warmly welcomed into the married couple’s Fitzroy design studio.

Launching their Kloke label in 2011, both Amy and Adam have a deep connection to the Melbourne fashion scene. Between the pair, the Coombes’ have worked with some of this city’s most lauded designers. An important pedigree when it came to establishing their own range of men’s and women’s clothing.

Kloke: “The initial intent of the brand was to produce considered products that are loved season after season. Over the years we have been able to combine our differing ideas and bring together what is now Kloke. The brand continues to evolve and being able to work together to create something that is a part of who we both are is a continuous motivation.”

We’re sitting around a wooden worktable in the centre of the Kloke studio. It’s a small space, shared with a local artist, whose stunning macramé wall hangings fight for attention next to bulging racks of Japanese fabric, sewing patterns and current season samples. With son Remi sitting happily nearby, soft music playing and dappled sunlight falling through a nearby window, the open plan room is comfortable with an air of creative energy.

Sipping takeaway coffee from a nearby deli, the Coombes' begin explaining the ethos behind their growing brand. There’s talk of fluidity, not only in shape and fit, but also a growing sense of ease in their design aesthetic. Over the past few seasons they have taken the steps to develop their range with experimentation in both pattern, fabrications and knitwear, which has been added to both winter and summer collections.  

Kloke: “Our intention is to create strong lines and classic silhouettes that have an effortless feel but considered approach. The longevity of a piece starts from the initial idea, the fabric choice and the shape of the garment, we ask ourselves how each piece will wear and make sure it fits with Kloke.

We have been really driven to create collections that work back with each season, in some ways it is like building on a wardrobe. The collections evolve but previous pieces still remain relevant and each collection does still see us standing true [to] who we are and what we believe and want the business to be.”

With business sustainability at the forefront of their minds, the design duo has been careful to build the brand at their own pace. Although they launched three years ago and have been stocked in numerous high-end stores around Melbourne, it wasn’t until late last year that the couple opened their own retail space on Fitzroy’s bustling Brunswick street. Although they casually mention plans to expand at some point in the future, at this stage the busy pair is more than comfortable managing one boutique and a successful online store.

It’s a business plan that works well around their frequent trips to Japan, where they source fabric and sell their designs. The Japanese market has been very receptive to the Kloke brand, not surprising when you consider the clean lines and effortless sophistication Amy and Adam produce season after season.

Kloke: “The conceptual influence comes from our lives and the things we do each day, from all the things around us. This does change seasonally and also depends on life, where we’ve been, what we’ve been listening to, watching looking at and the things we find. From a garment  perspective, we’re generally into designers who’ve altered the way we look at cut  or have changed our perception of design. From the method of how Cristobel Balenciaga cut a sleeve to the way Rei Kawakubo alters the design process. We hope that by looking wide the outcome is something new.”

Although there are rumblings of further international interest, the couple is quick to point out the limitations of Aussie labels selling into larger overseas markets. The difference in season may cause issue, as well as a lack of understanding as to how a smaller brand may fit into a larger fashion spectrum.

With so much to look forward to, Makers can’t help but ask for a sneak peak into the forthcoming summer collection. There’s excitement and a mention of “so much goodness” as we are taken through the new season garments.

Kloke: “We have expanded on our knitwear collection and have some great colours in the range. We have also expanded the dress offering in our women’s range using a Japanese viscose that has a beautiful drape.

The snake in the grass print has been used across men’s and women’s, in denim and cotton shirting. A firm fabric favorite and standout in the collection is the double mesh nylon used in the women’s range. We have also introduced some new trouser shapes for men.”

The future looks bright and Makers can’t help but think that this brand has been built to go the distance. Kloke is a Melbourne label that we predict will be going strong for many years to come.

Kloke: “ Sustaining the business long term is really important to us, and this comes from many aspects, not just the design of the garment. We plan on Kloke being around for a long time and to help ensure this we have been developing and growing at our own pace."

Artist Profile: Lucia Mocnay

photos by:

photos by:

Although it may sound strange, the turn of events that lead artist Lucia Mocnay to create her first piece of anthropomorphic taxidermy wasn’t that unusual.

Having completed her Bachelor of Fine Art at Monash University in 2001, the Slovakian born, Melbourne raised Mocnay began working with mixed media and found objects before taking her first step into this slightly macabre world by collecting and framing insects.

Lucia: “I’d been working with natural objects for ages and one day I found a grasshopper and thought it’d be cool to try and mount it. My uncle had preserved insects all around his house and I figured that I could teach myself how to do it.”

As a child young Lucia would scour the ground looking for interesting rocks and bones, which she would then take home and turn into art. One hobby lead to another and when Lucia’s boyfriend Justin, a trained tattooist, began looking into buying a piece of taxidermy to use as illustrative inspiration she jumped at the opportunity to add a fox to their burgeoning collection of curios. The couple bought a piece that in retrospect she states was badly made and the young creative made the instant decision to teach herself the art of taxidermy.

 Lucia: “I went from not liking the sensation of touching meat to working with the skins of animals. I remember the first time I unveiled a fox skin it was very strange. Once you start thinking about the creative process, and start to imagine the piece that you’re creating, you forget about what’s in your hands.”

With her mind filled with inspiration, Mocnay began to feel the magic of creating
a piece of art from what had once been a living creature. It’s an experience she describes to Makers as being “magical and inspiring” and it seems that for Lucia there’s no turning back. Her current work is based on children’s fairy tales and universal creation myths, historical eras and beloved characters. She creates one off pieces from ethically sourced furs, put together with conscious and curious involvement. 

Lucia: “I don’t want my animals to look like Frankenstein’s monster. I try to keep a healthy respect for the animal and its spirit. My partner, being an illustrator and tattooist had gotten me to dress up over the years and pose for drawings that he then used for sleeves and backdrops. I’d dress up and pretend to be say, a gypsy, zombie or bride so he could take photographs. I ended up with a wardrobe full of costumes and after we bought that original fox I started dressing it up. I had so many ideas for different characters and that was about the same time that I thought I’d teach myself how to taxidermy.”

It’s interesting how all of the elements of Lucia’s life have come together. For the artist it seems the decision was more organic than a conscious choice. Things evolved and she continues to be inspired by both her animals and the art her partner creates.

Over the past few years the popularity of taxidermy has surged in Melbourne. Lucia credits the rise to several factors including the steady increase in the number of consumers wanting to fill their homes with unusual antiques & a newfound appreciation from the general public for old artisan skills. The taboo of working with dead animals is also slowly lifting as artists such as Lucia have made the conscious choice to work with ethically sourced animals.  

Lucia currently works on a commission basis as she explores the option of gallery representation. With her first exhibition in the planning stage, she is keen to “clear her studio” of the pieces she has been working on over the past few years. In the meantime she continues to build up her skill set, working alongside her partner and two children in their home studio.

The Event: The Eternal Headonist Launch Party

Last Tuesday night Makers of Melbourne were invited along to the launch party for The Eternal Headonist at The Anna Pappas Gallery in Prahran.

When British born, Melbourne-based Annabel Allen, herself a trained milliner, noted the interest in specialist headwear on the internet, she decided to launch her own online millinery store, The Eternal Headonist.

Custom parfaits created by Helados Jauja Argentinian ice-cream in Carlton

Custom parfaits created by Helados Jauja Argentinian ice-cream in Carlton

The online store stocks a slew of handpicked milliners whose use of materials and technique are helping to bring a new perspective to the industry.  On display at the launch were pieces by Natalie Bikicki, whose progressive work with leather and PVC has placed her on the ‘ones to watch’ list, through to more established milliners including Melbourne’s own Richard Nylon and  a range of vintage items from esteemed designers and milliners such as Philip Treacy, Stephen Jones and Yves Saint Laurent.

Annabel: “We can shop a well curated selection of fashion, lingerie, footwear and cosmetics online, but curated ranges of quality and fashion-forward millinery are not at all represented in this space, so we wanted to change that.”

Milliner Richard Nylon launches The Eternal Headonist at The Anna Pappas Gallery in Prahran

Milliner Richard Nylon launches The Eternal Headonist at The Anna Pappas Gallery in Prahran

Whilst at this stage only an online destination, The Headonist can’t resist an excuse to hold a party and pop-up events leading into the Spring Racing Carnival are imminent.

The first pop-up location is: 37/220 Commercial Rd, Prahran. Opening next Saturday 27th Sept - Fri 7th Nov.

Q & A: Eliza Hull

It’s been a little over a year since Makers last caught up with Musician Eliza Hull, not surprising when you consider how busy she’s been over the past twelve months.

In 2013 the talented singer/songwriter released her sophomore EP The Ghosts You Never Catch and spent time touring in both Europe and the USA, not to mention performances with Owl Eyes and SAFIA.

This Saturday the 20th of September will see Eliza launching her brand new single at The Toff In Town. Produced by Hayden Calnin, Caught is the first track lifted off the forthcoming The Bones Of Us (due for release in early 2015).

 On the eve of her launch night at The Toff, Makers took 5 minutes with Eliza Hull to catch up on what’s been happening since we last spoke in 2013.

Hey Eliza, it’s been a while since we caught up with you and it sounds like a lot has been happening! What have been the biggest changes and challenges over the past year?

I put out my sophomore EP The Ghosts You Never Catch late last year, toured a little with that and also had a couple of American TV syncs for my song ‘Echoes’ which was a dream come true. Mostly this year I have been working on my debut album The Bones Of Us.  Every spare moment was spent at my producer’s (Hayden Calnin) home studio, it is finally finished which is exciting.

Last year I also travelled overseas where I performed in Europe and The U.S. and that was extremely surreal.  It’s funny because I almost forgot what the last year has included; it’s been a good year!

Please tell us about the writing and recording process behind your debut album, The Bones Of Us.

A lot of the songs I wrote on my own just with my keyboard. The inspiration was sparked really quickly. I began writing as soon as I finished the EP. Some of them I co-write with other artists including Ainslie Wills, Texture Like Sun and UK songwriter Tim Gordine.

The title comes from the exposure I feel the album projects; it’s the bones of us, the showing of everything. From stories of love, relationships, and about learning to accept myself, one song in particular is titled ‘Army’ and talks about how sometimes we can be our own worst critic, we can be a war against ourselves and sometimes in order to let someone else in we must first let ourselves in.

I worked with local producer Hayden Calnin on all of the songs. That was an easy process; we work really well together and bounce off each other.

You just mentioned that you’ve spent time playing in both Europe and the USA, How did foreign audiences react to your music and were there any standout gigs from your time abroad? 

I loved performing overseas. Two shows that stand out were actually unexpected gigs, the first one was at The London History Museum, and I won a competition to perform there for their opening night. It was a real shock, very surreal to be at the top of the stairs in this amazing historical London building singing to five hundred people! Another, I performed in Central Park in New York; this was an improvised gig as I found a piano and decided to do a set. I had a huge crowd and lots of tourists taking photos thinking it was a real live performance!

You’ll be launching your new single Caught, at The Toff this coming Saturday night. What can we expect from the show?

New songs, as well as special guests live on stage with me. It is going to be a very special show and I have supports from two of my favourite Melbourne artists Texture Like Sun and Lanks.

Finally, what does Eliza Hull get up to when she’s not writing, recording or performing, how do you spend your free time?

I work in a juvenile detention centre teaching music, and work with homeless youth in St Kilda teaching music and English. I’m currently studying and… I’m also pregnant! I am having a baby due in February 2015, so at the moment I ‘m pretty occupied.

I also love writing poetry and catching up with friends at cafes. I could spend everyday at my local Melbourne café writing and drinking coffee.  


Eliza Hull launches the single, ‘Caught’ at The Toff In Town this Saturday 20th September, supported by Texture Like Sun and Lanks.Tickets are available through: The Toff In Town .

Street Style: Jamie

It was hardly a surprise to learn that the stylish Jamie worked at the boutique of Japanese design company Kenzo. Well layered against the cool of a typical Melbourne Spring evening, Jamie interspersed his head to toe Kenzo garb with a pleated button-down from Erdem. 

Interview: Boy & Bear guitarist Killian Gavin

There were high expectations before the release of Sydney-based alternative folk-rock band Boy & Bear’s second album, Harlequin Dream. That’s no surprise considering the group’s 2011 debut, Moonfire, garnered five ARIA awards and achieved a platinum status on the Australian album charts. The band, riding high on that success, hit the road for 18 months of solid touring both home and abroad, playing extensively throughout America and Europe.

Boy & Bear on stage at the Palais Theatre last Friday

Boy & Bear on stage at the Palais Theatre last Friday

Although they’ve built up a healthy amount of frequent flyer points, the band has never been one to neglect their loyal Australian fans. Boy & Bear have ensured they return to their motherland for not one, but two national tours in 2014, with a massive 30-date regional tour taking place earlier this year, and a national tour currently underway. It’s been a hard slog for the boys, but it’s a journey that lead guitarist Killian Gavin describes as a good and incredibly rewarding ride.

In the lead up to their two shows at The Palais Theatre last week, Makers spent a late afternoon in the company of guitarist Killian who, along with singer David Hosking, Timothy Hart (drums and vocals), Jonathan Hart (vocals, banjo, mandolin and keyboards) and bassist David Symes, formed the group in 2009.

Boy & Bear lead guitarist Killian Gavin

Boy & Bear lead guitarist Killian Gavin

Killian: “I’m sure that a lot of people find themselves in a similar situation when they’re busy like this and time flies, but I’ve found this year in particular to have gone remarkably quick. We started touring last year just after the record came out then we had a little bit of time off in January, then we left in the beginning of Feb and we haven’t stopped since. Now here we are in… what month is it?”

 There’s good-natured laughter: while most travellers would be in the midst of a heavy jet lag, the performer is in fine spirits, obviously happy to be back on home turf.

 Of course there’s no getting around his memory lapse is the ultimate rock cliché; a young band hits the road and loses track of time, dates and names of cities. For Boy & Bear, the recent American tour also included travel in a deluxe tour bus – the vehicle serving as the backdrop to a series of shots posted on social media.

For the group, the vehicle itself proved something of a significant milestone: it was the band’s “first bus”, indication in concrete form that Boy & Bear has reached a certain level of success.

Killian: “We haven’t been doing this for a long time, but long enough to gain an understanding of how things work. We’ve always wanted to be in a band that builds slowly with touring and I think that’s how you build up a credible fan base. Fans that like every song on the album, not just the one song that they’ve heard on the radio.”

Tune in to most Aussie radio stations and it’s near impossible to not hear either Southern Sun or Three Headed Woman, the first two singles lifted off Harlequin Dream. The album was recorded in Sydney, which allowed the band to stay close to friends and family. As a result, it reflects a far different personality to the debut album recorded in Nashville.

Killian: “Fortunately we were off to a great start with the first record but this record has been better in many ways. It has helped build a stronger audience for us overseas and that’s why we’ve been busy touring nonstop, to make the most of it while there’s so much momentum.”

And the momentum doesn’t seem set to stop anytime soon. Not only are there more dates booked in Canada and America (the band’s fame boosted by a recent appearance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien) there’s also a slew of Australian dates to fill up their September and October schedules, including a sold-out show at The Opera House.

Killian: “Sydney shows are probably always a bit more nerve-wracking because your family and friends are in the crowd. Just to make it a little bit more intimidating you’re also playing at the Opera House. To be completely honest I’m super excited to be playing it, it’s going to be a fun night.”

The future is sure to hold plenty more fun for Boy & Bear but near the top of the guitarist’s priority list is some more time off.

Killian: “We’ll finish up in December and after that I’m going to take about four weeks off and do nothing. I’m really going to make the most of it.”

He laughs, but we can’t help but think the summer break won’t last long.

The Event: MSFW Runway 1

The first parade of this year's Melbourne Spring Fashion Week was a sartorial nod to the romantic. Ready to wear collections from Jason Grech, Aurelio Costarella, Micheal Lo Sordo, Carla Zampatti, Gwendolynne, Nicholangela & Anaessia were themed around elegant silhouettes & detailed finishes, topped off with a touch of Richard Nylon millinery magic. Dom Bagnato menswear also featured - perfect for the upcoming race & wedding season. 

Jason Grech

Aurelio Costarella

Michael Lo Sordo

Carla Zampatti

Dom Bagnato




Artist Profile: Lucy Hardie

An artist is quickly identifiable by the way that they present themselves to the world and how they interact with their surroundings.

This is definitely the case with fine artist Lucy Hardie who Makers had the pleasure of meeting recently over coffee at the Black Cat café; where the bohemian interior was a perfect match for the artist’s delicate aesthetic.

Immaculate Heart 2014 - Ink and metal leaf on cotton paper by Lucy Hardie

Immaculate Heart 2014 - Ink and metal leaf on cotton paper by Lucy Hardie

Based in Melbourne, Hardie tells us that she’s only recently returned to the city after time spent in nearby Ocean Grove. Although not such a long distance to travel, Ocean Grove and Brunswick Street couldn’t be further apart in terms of creative output and she confides that she’s happy to have settled into a more artistic neighbourhood.

Lucy: “When I was little I was inspired by the black and white line drawings that accompanied my favourite fairy tales.” 

We’ve ordered drinks and Lucy has begun to explain her art: incredibly detailed compositions of light and dark texture created with layers of fine lines and dots, carefully drawn onto cotton-based paper. The resulting work is romantic and dreamy, with a strong emphasis on the female figure. 

Lucy: “I was really inspired by the illustrative style of Vali Myers, who created the most finely detailed drawings. I taught myself to draw by looking at her work.”

Myer’s influence on Hardie’s work is striking, with both women working with pen, ink and gold leaf.

Salomé 2013 - Ink on cotton paper by Lucy Hardie

Salomé 2013 - Ink on cotton paper by Lucy Hardie

Although she has spent most of her life drawing, Lucy only started to seriously consider art as a career once she was in her early twenties

 Lucy: “I always thought of myself as artistic but never thought of myself as creative, but I think that’s only because I never saw art as a realistic option to pursue while I was growing up. I think that’s because people say, ‘Artists don’t make money, what are you going to do with your life?’ I always thought, ‘why the hell am I good at drawing, why can’t I be good at maths’. I didn’t really see the point of it, it was always more of a hobby.”

It was around the age of 22 that the artist decided to make the push. It was her sister that called her out, questioning as to why someone with such a beautiful body of work hadn’t thought about exhibiting.

Knocked back by a few galleries, the self-taught artist found her work accepted in to an artist-run space, staged the exhibition and was astounded to sell out on opening night. It was all the reinforcement she needed that this could in fact be a viable career pathway – that hers was not a talent that ought be taken for granted.

In 2010 at the age of 26, Lucy returned to school to complete a Bachelor of illustration. Although there had been previous attempts to enroll in other courses, she states frankly that she “never really followed through”. The decision to return to University came about after a brief period spent in Austria under the tutelage of US artist, Philip Rubinov Jacobson.

Mary 2012 - Ink on cotton paper by Lucy Hardie

Mary 2012 - Ink on cotton paper by Lucy Hardie

Lucy: “We connected online because I’d asked him if he could recommend any courses to me, since I’m really interested in artistic technique, and that’s not really focussed on at Fine Art school, where it’s more about concept and philosophy. He suggested his course and I said, ‘done’. I was there for four weeks; it was an intense course and we were painting everyday. It was amazing to be surrounded only by artists, only talking about art. Before that I had always loved art, but it was only after I arrived in Austria that I realised that this is what I’ve been looking for my whole life.”

With study well and truly behind her and the recent move back to Melbourne, Makers is intrigued to know what possible influence this may have on her future creative output.

Lucy: “I’m starting to bring in more structure with [pictures of] buildings and things like that. But I think my work will always have a feminine feel to it. On my trips to Melbourne I would go past these factories that just seemed like they were in a different world, areas with no roads around them that only the train goes past. You can see these tiny little buildings with ladders going up them and smoke coming out of turrets - I felt so inspired and took many photographs, they’re like world unto themselves."

It seems the fairy tale influence hasn’t left her completely.

You are Here 2014 - Ink on cotton paper by Lucy Hardie 

You are Here 2014 - Ink on cotton paper by Lucy Hardie 

Interview: Patrick Pearse, Documentary Director

The concept of a feature length fashion documentary is certainly nothing new. Needless to say it takes both a subject and a director to raise one out of copycat territory and in to a space of creative clear air. In this case it is the involvement of director, Patrick Pearse, and young Australian designer, Kym Ellery, which sets the insightful Ellery in Paris a sophisticated side step apart. 

Premiering this Saturday, August 30, as part of the annual ACMI presents Fashion on Film season, Ellery in Paris chronicles the journey of the Sydney-based designer as she makes her fashion debut on the Paris runway: the home grown talent with the unique eye who launched her brand in 2007 establishing her entrée on to the international fashion stage.

Yet much of the film’s appeal is due to Patrick’s handling. The fellow Australian sets the cameras firmly on Kym in the lead up to the eponymous label’s first Parisian show; the Spring Summer 2014 collection.

One could suggest it is his perspective and ease in film that has lent the documentary its backbone: Patrick, who says that he enjoys a shallow depth of field and abstract composition, has created a surprisingly relaxed look at what could have possibly been the most stressful period in the Perth-born designers life. Not that he will claim any of it. 

Patrick: “I think that all comes down to Kym. I barely knew her before I made the film and it blew me away how relaxed she was in such a stressed environment, all while the pinnacle of her career was happening right there and then. It was very tranquil.” 

Patrick, who got his start in short form documentaries and television commercials and has made Paris his base for the past 12 months, met Kym Ellery through her boyfriend, pro surfer Luke Stedman. The two formed an instant bond and, when Ellery was invited by the Fédération Français de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode, to show as part of the official off-schedule for newcomers in Paris, the film maker jumped at the opportunity to accompany her.

Pearse: “I originally met Kym to discuss the possibility of her contributing some costumes for a fictional piece that I’m working on. That was in Sydney last year and she happened to mention that she was about to go to Paris. We just connected and got along really well. In conversation the idea for a documentary arose, I had no idea that it was going to be a feature length at that stage and I gathered a small crew together. The next time I saw her was when she came out of the arrival terminal at Charles De Gaulle airport and we started filming. It was very organic.”

With filming taking place over a week-long period in Paris, followed by time spent in New York, Sydney and Perth, the production took “three or four weeks in total” to be completed.

Patrick: “It was really quick, but then it took me three months to edit.” 

Though he laughs as he says it and our phone conversation is lighthearted, it’s hard to not appreciate the gravitas behind the film and Kym’s position as one of only three Australian designers (joining the ranks of Collette Dinnigan and Paris-based Martin Grant) to show in the City of Light.  

Patrick: “You could feel the emotion coming through the camera when we were watching the rushes back at night. Within the first few hours of shooting we knew that we were making something really special. There was a great sense of achievement. I knew very little about the fashion industry at the time but even I realized how big of a thing this really was. The moment that sung out to me was probably when the last few models had walked out onto the runway and you could see Kym’s emotions, it was very inspiring to capture. She had tears in her eyes and I think a few of us did as well, it was like reality had just hit us and we began to realise what had just happened.”

There’s a moment during Ellery in Paris when the designer refers to Paris Fashion Week as the “Olympic games of fashion”. And while the director states that it was “amazing to see a young Australian achieve that on a world stage”, Patrick has also scored his own major accomplishment – creating Australia’s first fashion documentary.

Patrick: “I had no idea [that was the case] to be honest. Not being from the fashion industry, I couldn’t believe it at all when I was told that.” 

Although he may be downplaying his own success, it’s great to hear Patrick praise Ellery’s dedication to her craft. During our chat it becomes even more apparent to just how strong of a bond has been formed between the director and his subject.

Patrick: “She [Kym] was so patient with it all. Kym really held it together and so did her team. I think that the cameras may have provided a distraction and a barrier so that the situation didn’t get the better of her, but that’s exactly how it was. What you see is exactly what it was. Even though we had absolutely no production schedule (Kym arrived into Paris a week late) and it was literally 20-hour days filming with no schedule or idea of what would happen next.”

He speaks highly of the team effort – of camera crew taping the showroom so that boyfriend Luke could paint it, of mixing paint and carrying buckets. It was tremendous effort made for a designer whose supporters cannot help but respect.

Patrick: “Kym has a really great team who she’s worked with since she started and they continue to work together on everything. From photographers to stylists through to the interns that she had, everyone would do anything for her, and we got totally swept up in the experience. Not just in making the film, but it was inspiring to be part of something so big."

The Event: An Evening with Mason & Grace

There are two driving hospitality theories in Melbourne, opposing camps in to which most venues can be categorised. First up are the single-door-stalwarts: think Ronnie Di Stasio and, a newcomer to that theory following the sale of St Ali North, Salvatore Malatesta.

Second? The multi-door-believers. Those that channel the energetic feed of two, three or even four venue stables. The Lucas Group (Chin Chin, Baby Pizza, Kong BBQ) and The European Group (The European et al) may be at the forefront of this pack, but the Publican Group is pulling up as some stiff competition.

Relative newcomers to the Melbourne scene, the group launched Mr Mason in 2012, backing it up late last year with State of Grace and its hidden cellar bar, Fall from Grace.

For any Executive Chef, that’s a decent load to carry, as the Publican Group’s Telina Menzies, explained to Makers last night at a progressive dinner held between the three city centre venues.

Telina: “You just have to make sure that you trust the people that are running your kitchens. If you’ve got the right staff it’s the easiest job in the world, if you don’t, it’s the worst.”

The group appears to be on the right track: after mains of barramundi in saffron bisque and pork belly at Mr Mason, the 27 year old head chef Thiago Miranda was shyly presented to the table to field questions on his near faultless French-inspired menu. 

After mains at Mr Mason , a short evening stroll down Collins Street led to State of Grace for a dessert of pumpkin & hazelnut financier topped with cinnamon sherbet, where the highly considered mismatched décor features a giant giraffe mounted to the wall beside gilt-framed mirrors and op-shop tchotchkes above ornate Louis the XIV-style furnishings. The final touch? A ‘secret’ hidden bar – Fall from Grace – accessed via a bookshelf a la Maxwell Smart

State of Grace

State of Grace

If Telina has any concerns, it is more for the long-term health of the industry as she laments the willingness of current trainees to put in the three-years required in order to gain full qualifications. For now, however, the Publican Group’s Melbourne-based venues look to be in great shape. 

Fall from Grace cellar bar

Fall from Grace cellar bar

Interview: Wona Bae

If Melbourne has become fertile ground for the creative set, then it makes sense that Wona Bae has found almost instant growth for the seed of an idea that took root – almost unbeknownst to her – during a childhood in Korea that saw flowers become an intrinsic part of the person she was to become.

Wona: “My father had decided on three names for his children before he got married, and he went on to have three kids: my sister is the third and she is ‘best fruit’, my brother is the second and he means ‘best growth’ and I’m the first kid and Wona means ‘the best seedling’.”

Indeed it takes a special sort of person to mastermind the transformation of space that the highly qualified florist has achieved alongside her husband, permaculture expert and business partner, Charlie Lawler: in a back street behind a distinctly un-glamorous section of Johnstone Street, Wona’s nursery-cum-studio, Loose Leaf, sprouts as a breath of green among a sea of garage workshops.

The girl that grew up hating flowers after spending her youthful spare time “making chrysanthemums” eventually found her own kind of heaven right there in Collingwood, this version a white-walled, warehouse space alive with ferns, cacti, twisting hoya vines and arcing indoor palms.

Like any great love affair, it was one that developed over time: having grown up around flowers with her florist farm-owning father in Korea, Wona is very much a woman shaped by her lifelong exposure to all things flora.

But there is more to the elfin florist than a green thumb, and more to the store than its position as ground zero for healthy plant life. With the one-time fashion student qualified in Japanese Ikebana, its Korean equivalent, Kokozi, as well as picking up a Masters in German floristry, Wona has an artist’s spirit and the talent to match: her unique insights into culture and country are as compelling as her graceful sculptures – fluid twists of wood and sticks that work to form nest-like geometries that are intricate in appearance and incredible in scale.

Wona: “Floristry is different in every country, it is related to culture. Australian’s just do, they are very relaxed and their country is so big and likes the natural style of floristry. In Korea everything grows more slowly, Asian people are very cautious, they want to learn everything properly before they experiment and the floristry – it is very delicate.”

That mix of East and West finds itself in her sculptural works. The most striking example? Her three-metre tall spherical sculpture of sticks that graces the gardens of Victoria’s stunning Heide Museum of Modern Art, its hypnotic circular form embracing the idea of restraint while throwing open its form to the breadth of the surrounding space through its scale.

Unfortunately for Makers, as compelling as Wona’s story is, it’s not long before we wind it up: the business woman is a little under the weather, having taught her in-house floristry classes two nights running before backing it up with 4am trips to the market. The schedule is hectic, but one gets the feeling she wouldn’t be anywhere else.

Wona: “This is my passion. I love flowers and I love making sculptures and I love teaching. The retail part of it is not a natural fit, but it is what I have to do to bring people to me and let them know what I do.”

Loose Leaf

31 Sackville Street, Collingwood