Q&A with Nicole of Circa Vintage
You have a charming store in Melbourne, one that we love to visit! Do you have a favourite story that you like to share about your shop?
Some of my favourite stories are about successful people: you never know who is in town, and who will walk through your door. One of my favourites was Amanda Palmer who just walked in one day and embraced me with the biggest hug! We sat behind the counter, sipping afternoon tea and chatting as people came in. She tried on some things – stripping off in the middle of the shop, naturally – and charmed everyone with her down to earth personality, as well as signing autographs and bestowing more hugs. She took away some goodies in a Circa Vintage shopping bag, later cutting up my logo for the signs in her famous Kickstarter video. That’s the best bit about what I do: contributing in a small way to other people’s creative projects.
Melbourne is a complex and fascinating creature. Glamorous, eccentric, and self-assured, she rewards those who take the time to get to know her best. So where should you start?
I always like to take visitors somewhere intrinsically Melbourne: Mario’s in Fitzroy, or Pellegrini’s in Bourke St where you can sip coffee, and plan the day’s activities. If it’s later at night, the European is a favourite for dinner or the Gin Palace for drinks. All of these places are lovely, culturally rich environments with excellent service, food and drinks.
Off the beaten tourist track exists a bevy of little-known gems, the jewels in Melbourne’s “Most Liveable City ” crown.
What’s a gem that you’ve uncovered recently?
I love the Captains of Industry, tucked away behind Elizabeth St – the best spot is to sit at the window, watching the world go by. If you love lingerie, treat yourself to the “Dames of Distinction”, a darling little shop tucked away in Mitchell House and filled with styles from a more glamorous era.
Psychedelic 60s kaftans, woollen suits, art deco vases, hand-stitched millinery, and vintage bicycles. What’s been your vintage find to date?
I’ve been collecting for a long time, so have many stories but one of my favourites is the hand made plum suede and leather high heeled Oxfords, found in a North London op shop for 3 pounds and a perfect fit, or the beaded silk ’20s dress from Camberwell markets – perhaps my best bargain ever at a princely one dollar. As soon as I pulled it out of the box everyone wanted it, but it had sat there unloved for hours before I happened along. That’s why you should always forage as deeply as you can, as you never know whether that special piece is hiding.
One word to describe bohemian Melbourne?