VAMFF-ing around the City: Melbourne’s Very Best
As the most fashionable folk in Australia descend on the country’s (in)arguably most stylish city next week to celebrate the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, there will certainly be no lack of events to take in and enjoy. With presentations spanning across an impressive 19-day period, everything from artistic presentations to highly-sought after designer shows make up this fantastically fashion-forward festival. But even fabulous show-goers need a break in between dashing from presentation to instillation; below, where to go to fuel up, wind down, and even indulge in a little revelry — after all, Melbourne has a reputation to uphold.
EAT & DRINK:
Urban legends are the stuff unique, original and often romantic dreams are made of, and Fitzroy’s Naked for Satan is certainly no exception. A quick backstory: in the early 1930’s, a Russian caretaker, Leon Satanovitch, looked after the Moran and Cato Building on Brunswick Street in Melbourne’s funky Fitzroy. Locals, in typical Australian fashion, abbreviated Satanovitch simply to ‘Satan’, albeit with much affection. As the grandson of a Russian vodka maker, Satan took matters into his own hands when the Great Depression hit, and began distilling his own libation in a closed-off section of the building.
A fairly big undertaking, people were more than happy to help with the distillation process in return for a full bottle. The conditions were hot as hell, though, and people often worked in next to nothing. As the moonshining was a highly guarded secret, those who came to partake used the code phrase, “let’s get naked for satan”. Fast forward to today, and Naked for Satan boasts Melbourne’s best rooftop views in which to enjoy a cocktail — all which are still made from in-house distilled spirits in innovative and delicious flavours! — and an impressive spread of pintxos on their ground floor space. Upstairs is also home to a restaurant with a warm, genuine atmosphere and incredible bites.
If you’re craving a newer scene, step into Jungle Boy. Behind the cold room door of a sandwich shop, Boston Sub (which serves amazing sandwiches and poutine!) this tiki-bar serves up tasty, tropical cocktails in an entirely authentic setting. Lush greenery is set among ferocious jungle creatures hanging from the ceiling and decorating the walls, and has a vibe that’s as laid-back as it is boisterous. Just down the road is one of Melbourne’s drinking and dining institutions, Borscht, Vodka & Tears. A Polish vodka house with a generous list of both vodkas (there are over 100 varieties!) and Eastern European specialties alike, come for the vodka martinis and stay for the pirogies.
If it’s a truly special dining experience you’re craving, look no further than Dinner by Heston. Located in the soaring, glittering Crown Melbourne, this plush, sumptuous and yet quietly luxurious space is tucked high away from the noise and traffic of the casino floor. Overlooking the Yarra river, this truly once in a lifetime dinner is spectacular from start to finish. Seamlessly blending state of the art modernity with time honoured traditions, food, drink and atmosphere take the best of both worlds. For example: upon entering, you’re met with both a kinetic art installation and an interpretation of the first automated spit roasts mechanism, invented by the British clockmakers of Greenwich. To say the cocktails, wine and menu experience is mind-blowing is not an overstatement; the element of surprise only adds to the enjoyment, so you’ll just have to go and see, taste and savour in delight for youself.
DO & SEE:
When it’s time to unwind and give your body a little TLC after the shows, head to the Chuan Spa in The Langham Melbourne. A delicate balance of ancient Eastern practises and modern Western space, the spa’s sparkling rooftop pool is the perfect place to relax pre- and post-treatment. Inside the spa, the Feng Shui inspired contemporary Chinese design delivers the sensual harmony of an ancient Chinese garden. Prior to your treatment, a sensory assessment is determined in the form of a Five Elements questionnaire.
Centuries ago, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine identified 5 Wu Xing elements whose harmony was essential for the physical and emotional wellbeing of all human beings, and upon completion, the therapist will know which Wu Xing elements you need to harmonize. Uniquely, the massage starts face up, as the therapist begins with applying specific pressure points to the face following the meridian lines, which helps to balance out the system and help you fully relax. Afterwards, you’ll simply float out of the spa, feeling realigned, rebalanced, and completely relaxed.
For a little therapy in retail form, head down to the Harrold’s outlet. Score an unbelievable deal on your favourite designer brands, and peruse items from clothes to shoes to accessories. Found: a glamorous pair of last season’s Tom Ford strappy sandals, an always-classic Saint Laurent Paris blazer, and a lust-worthy Dries Van Noten floral frock. If you’re more in the mood to take it easy, take in a film at the fabulous Palace Cinema Como. Offering new releases and international titles alike, this ritzy yet cozy theatre is all burgundy velvet and thick, plush seating. What’s even better is their snack selection: their award-wining popcorn is always fresh, hot and made with olive oil; they serve an elegant selection of cheese and wine (in generous offerings to ensure your glass lasts till the credits roll) and selected seating means you feel like you’ve got the place all to yourself.
For a livelier evening out, catch a DJ set at The Croft Institute’s upstairs space. This science-themed bar is a quintessentially Melbourne impossible to find place behind many winding and heavily graffitied back alleyways. It’s worth the hunt, though: an enormous collection of curious ends and goods decorate the ground floor, while the upstairs gymnasium boasts a real turf bar. The cocktails are handcrafted, the shots are served in syringes, and there is plenty of fun to be had amidst all that Melbourne has to offer.