Posts Tagged ‘curios’

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The Magic Lantern – a cache of curiousities on Brunswick St, Fitzroy

February 25, 2011

One of the most remarkable new establishments I’ve had the pleasure of setting both feet inside, the marvels of Melbourne’s Wunderkammer not withstanding, is The Magic Lantern.

Wall to wall oddities related to tricks and treats of an older age:  magic, optical illusions, cardboard theatres, puppets – imagine a time before TV, before DVDs, before gaming, where amusement was only to be found in the head, on paper and in actions… these are the imaginative tools used to build a sense of the surreal, the infinite, the stuff of dreams. A magic lantern was itself a pre-20th century optical trick, the first projector, perhaps it could be said, so that pretty much infers the interest and scope of this store.

The Magic Lantern is replete with such weapons against a rainy day and a drab room, so grab some candle-lamps, don a frilly frock and take your imagination away with fairies, gypsies, devils, conjurers and the wonders of the play….

Details:

155 Brunswick St

FitzroyMelbourneAustralia

Open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm

http://www.magiclanternstudio.com

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De Mille – 7 Crossley Street, Melbourne

March 10, 2008

Tucked away on what posh people like to call ‘Bourke Hill’, Crossley Street is a mini cornucopia of niche purveyors and artisans. One of the earliest settlers into this lane is De Mille antiques. Specialising in the heady early 20th century: edwardian, deco and nouveau seem to be the dominant milieu of this shop; De Mille is not by any means what one would consider cheap but the scope and uniqueness of the items contained renders a pricetag immaterial.

The 20s and 30s particularly are an iconic time for design, and De Mille’s collection dips into clothing, glassware, luggage, lamps and furnishings, statuery plus of course all manner of oddments and curios which fall under the ‘useless but exceedingly pretty and/or odd’ banner, including paperweights, decorative throws, wall hangings, cigar boxes, mannequins: you name it, they have it available, and possibly in a size/shape/style you’ve never seen before. Like many of our underground havens, De Mille is not equipped with a website or an email address, but their details are as follows: follow the cobble-brick road to the paradise of classic ephemera that is De Mille!!!

The best thing about De Mille: ask me on any given day, and my answer will be a different curio or miscellaneous piece I find there! Some days it’s a classic shoe, others it might be an amazing lampshade with a woman in repose carved into it, and yet another a piece of luggage which looks like it has accompanied Noel Coward to New York and back.

The worst thing about De Mille: it is pricey: an antique store run by an enthusiastic and savvy collector, there might be more look than buy for many, but just the chance to nose away at these extraordinary relics of a past age and style provides pleasure in itself, no?

Details:

Address –
7 Crossley St
Melbourne VIC 3000

Phone –
03 9663 9666

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Charley Weaver

January 26, 2008

 

Charley Weaver – what a contradictory palace of curios this is! One part Gimcracks and novelties, one part overpriced ‘original’ pieces, one part genuinely unique curios: it’s certainly a difficult place to pigeonhole.  Named presumably after the 5o’s American television character famous for his shambolic shirt, hat and braces look and predictable “take my wife” style humour (although I’m really not sure why it would be named after that), Charley Weaver’s emporium has been haunting Melbourne for over ten years, first in Barkly Street,  St Kilda and now in Chapel Street Windsor. 

The thematic mainstay of this shop is gothic/horror with a token nod to wicca: from cheap statuettes to vintage couture, corsets and the occasional bona fide antique piece. Charley Weaver’s walls and shelves are over-filled with the sublime and the ridiculous to the point where it can be difficult to tell the method from the madness.  However, that’s part of the fun, and the main reason to visit Charley Weaver (apart from the days you need to buy your gothic friend a present) is to explore their eccentricity laden nooks.  It can be like walking through a Tim Burton theme park put together by Ed Wood in some ways, as limply camp as the Luna Park ghost train but with a heavily theatrical ‘gothic’ sensibility.  Noone but Charley Weaver would try to exist just selling this schtick.  I say good on them for keeping goth just a little bit gaudy. 

The best thing about Charley Weaver:  the unpredictability  and the camp.  Occasionally there is a covetable piece in there, with special mention to corsetry and what they call ‘museum pieces’ and the chase is always a motivating force to poke one’s nose in a store.

  The downside:  unless you have a lot of gothic friends who secretly love a knick-knack, this shop only bears limited repetition: once every month or two seems to be plenty often enough to see the stock change and be ready for this particular brand of distraction.  However there really are sometimes interesting pieces on offer in jewellery or decor: eg they do have from time to time some impressively classic looking gargoyles to hang on your wall.  They do also stock some handy staple items like fishnets and hair colours. The following is what Charley Weaver state on their (extremely dodgy  1995 interwebs chic – check those gifs! ) website is their stock range:

GOTHIC CLOTHING & JEWELLERY,   ROEBUCK COFFIN & CORSET BAGS,   SWORDS, DAGGERS, & ATHAMES,   FISHNET TOPS & STOCKINGS,   DIRECTIONS HAIR COLOUR,   EMILY THE STRANGE,   VOLLERS CORSETS,   MUSEUM SPECIMENS,   WILDCAT BODY JEWELLERY,   STUDDED COLLARS, CUFFS, & BELTS,   LIVING DEAD & BLEEDING EDGE GOTH DOLLS

Details:
ADDRESS: 38a Chapel St. Windsor, Vic. 3181 (Melbourne, Australia)
PHONE: (03) 9529-GOTH (That’s 9529-4684 if you’d rather use numbers!)
FAX: 9534-5090
Email: charleyweaver@hotmail.com         

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Antons – dapper dreams for a drab world. Level 3, Melbourne Central

January 20, 2008

Antons  clothing is a Melbourne Must!

Have you ever visited the lofty 3rd floor of Melbourne Central?  If so, have you walked past – or even dropped into – the 40s timetrip that is Antons?   Even the outside of the shop tells you that this shop doesn’t belong in a chainstore mall – its coppery deco-reminiscent window frames hold what is usually some kind of themed window display using their retro-styled mannequins and some unusual props and curios: Antons’ owner is a collector of ephemera from monster and alien figurines to stuffed animals and other brilliant oddities.  It’s like nectar to the eyes after row after row of bleak generic stores to see their idiosyncratic display winking brightly at you.

While Antons is ostensibly a clothing shop it s true that one’s first visit is more like a step into a film set: think Casablanca or Cairo in the early 20th century.  There are racks of clothing within a 40s to burlesque style – magnificent opulently lined coats and suits for men, coquettish bustiers, corsets and skirts for women plus some ubersharp womens’ suiting.   The staff are dressed according to the Anton World and are helpful and often quite gregarious: they seem happy – keen even – to absorb you into their era and aesthetic as though you were casting to be an extra in their filmic world.  So, be prepared to surrender yourself to their vast Powers of Styling.

The interior of Antons is like the exterior – adding to the sense of changed-reality you feel when inside.  More and more curios in hidden corners attract your eye: many from old films or popular culture you had forgotten, some others like trophies of an imperial raider.  While you’re casting an admiring eye at a well cut suit or an unusual fabric, you can easily be distracted by a figurine or trinket and after a while you wonder which world you’ve walked into and why you should ever have to leave.  Antons fabrics and cuts are classic and stylish and quite unusual in the 21st century, more Bogart than Beckham, more Bergman than Britney.  They are considerately devoted to the full dressing experience – just like being styled for a film you can leave Antons transformed top to toe – including jewellery or cufflinks.  Antons really is unique and their clothing just as much so: everything is small run and the shop also does some bespoke  tailoring – just in case you can’t quite find the garment you’re looking for or the colour on the shelf doesn’t suit.

Antons is not website friendly,  so you’ll need to visit to see their dapper era repro suits, burlesque corsets and tops and every other dazzling distraction in store.
The best thing about Antons:  being honest, I’d have to say their eccentricity attracts me even more than the fine clothing: it’s a must passing by Antons once or twice a month to see the new window display and gaze in awe at the collectables, gaze admiringly at the staff bedecked in that day’s finery and – if time permits – to enter for a browse at the beauty of their well cut garb.

The downside: Antons is priced fairly – but fairly isn’t cheaply.  It’s likely to burn a hole in your card if you go crazy so Antons is great for feature pieces or that special occasion wear. Unless of course, you are reckless or incredibly well-stocked cashwise: in which case there is no end of opportunity to invest in beautiful clothing which will last you years.

Details: ***NOTE NEW ADDRESS***


Antons Melbourne
Shop GD10 Menzies Lane
211 Latrobe Street

Phone: 03 9663 8610
Opening Hours: normal Melbourne Central hours

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Wunderkammer – Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

January 3, 2008


Aaaahhh Glorious Wunderkammer.  Jewel in the crown for collecters of the strange and priceless.  The ultimate Cabinet of Curios, this tucked away gem is a must visit for anyone with even a slight interest in oddities.  It’s not a very practical shop (although you could use some of their bones and fossils as paperweights) but it is a very beautiful one, and caters for collecters of the unusual in many different fields. 
 
On display there are: bones and fossils, scientific marvels, antique medical equipment, astronomy tools – particularly antique and antique reproduction, stuffed animals, mounted butterflies and insects and odd tomes.    You’ll definitely see items here you’ll never find anywhere else, and frankly the visionary behind Wunderkammer truly classifies as Mad Genius for constantly sourcing it all for what must be a most intriguing list of clients.  If Bernard’s Magic Shop can give you a temporary sense of playing at magician, carny folk or magic, Wunderkammer can really show you artefacts from these subcultural vaults. 
 
The Wunderkammer website:  has more info about the shop although it is, sadly, rarely updated. 
 
The best thing about Wunderkammer:  the astrolabes, antique scientific glassware, scientific wonders.
 
The downside:  it’s not overpriced for what it is, but there will be many more things you want than you can afford, guaranteed.
 
Details:

439 Lonsdale StreetMelbourne, Vic, 3000Ph: 03 9642 4694Fax: 03 9642 4695Opening Hours:Tue-Fri 10AM-6PM

Sat 10AM-4PM 
Email: info@wunderkammer.com.au
 
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