Travel: Fashionable Sydney

Exploring the pre–fashion week scene in one of the world’s top style destinations

Balmy, beautiful Sydney—recently voted the eighth most stylish city in the world by the Global Language Monitor—becomes a designer hotbed this month at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia (April 6–10). In preparation, Caia Hagel wandered its sun-lined streets and scouted out Sydney’s best restaurants, shops and hot spots

Park Hyatt

The rooftop swimming pool at the Park Hyatt Sydney

Fashion worlders flock to either the Park Hyatt, with its rooftop pool and views of the iconic Sydney Opera House, or the QT, where the sumptuous spaQ offers luxe pampering with local ingredients, like pure clays sourced from Queensland and tea-tree oil harvested in New South Wales.

In inner-city Surry Hills, a quick cab ride from the downtown hotels, there’s a great café on every corner. The flat white (which has a higher proportion of coffee to milk than a latte) is a thing to behold. Try the best at Bourke Street Bakery. From there it’s a saunter to the grandly restored railway houses at Carriageworks, where the MBFW shows take place.

This year, a dreamy new art and fashion exhibition—a collaboration between multimedia artist Rebecca Baumann and the designers behind local label Romance Was Born—will coincide with MBFW, running at Carriageworks from April 8 to May 11.



After I’m sufficiently rested (and caffeinated), my first stop is rock-star popular Dinosaur Designs for a sneak peek at their newest collection of pop-art jewels and homewares. I stock up on hot-pink resin salad bowls and fall in love with a brass pendant in the shape of a vanilla pod.

Then I grab a cab to Grandiflora to wander among oversized lotus flowers, birds of paradise and black orchids, while immersing myself in the heady scents of jasmine and gardenia. Owner Saskia Havekes is known for the unforgettable headpieces and arrangements she often crafts for designers.

Another quick cab ride from Potts Point to Paddington brings me to The Intersection, where a bevy of local design talents have boutiques. I visit Jac&Jack for beautifully cut minimal basics; I love their lightweight white sweaters and the Cunningham shirt in faded denim. At Josh Goot, a pair of pleated black shorts is an absolute dream, and at Lover, I develop a serious case of lust for the divine lace and leather dresses.

Ariel Books

Ariel Booksellers

On my walk through Paddington, I stop in at Ariel Booksellers to purchase Minutes to Midnight, the new photo tome by Australian street-style shooter Trent Parke. I also pick up a copy of Sydney photog Gary Heery’s self-titled retrospective, which contains 40 years’ worth of beautiful rock, film and fashion portraits. Then, down the street, I take in the colour-splashed landscapes by legendary Australian painter John Olsen at his son Tim’s high-octane gallery.


Earth Foods

At the infamous Bondi Beach, where white sand drifts into an endless horizon of blue, gorgeous people in designer bikinis play volleyball and eat takeout rice paper wraps filled with mango, tofu and coriander from Earth Foods and organic lemonata gelato from Pompei’s.

Strolling along the promenade, I buy natural skin-care products from Aesop and Jurlique, both world famous for their minimal aesthetics and focus on Australian botanicals. My favourites: Aesop’s Camelia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream and Jurlique’s uplifting Harmony Blend Essential Oil.

Then, feeling the need to up my bikini game, I check out floral and animal-print suits at Zimmermann and Tigerlily.

I end my beach day on the coastal walk, a breathtaking clifftop path that winds along to the smaller Tamarama, Bronte and Clovelly beaches. Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Simon Baker and Miranda Kerr can sometimes be seen walking their dogs here, sipping skinny lattes from the just-opened Tamarama Kiosk.


North Bondi Fish

The split king prawns at North Bondi Fish

I hear the exotic fish dishes at laid-back North Bondi Fish are heavenly, so I sit at a breezy table and enjoy a delicious plate of tamarind snapper.

At Three Blue Ducks, I try wallaby for the first time: this locally sourced marsupial, a relation of the kangaroo, tastes succulent and slightly gamey.

The lengthy wine list and sumptuous little sardine and carpaccio hors d’oeuvres make 10 William a must-visit. Similarly, Just William is worth the trip for the black truffle chocolates alone.

At the end of the day, I make my way to the 1950s-inspired Soda Factory, where aspiring models and tech start-up types mingle over gourmet hot dogs and boozy ice cream floats. Then it’s off to the mosh pit at Good God Small Club with a few of my fellow fashionistas.