The superb street art along Melbourne’s Hosier Lane, running north-south between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane, is apparently so renowned that it features in The Melbourne Design Guide, and in Lose Yourself in Melbourne, and it has become a popular backdrop for fashion shoots, and for wedding photography. The gal was taken away from the world of luxury hotels by Caroline King, a Melburnian who runs RACV, the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, a busy operation that catered for 1,100 this Christmas lunch and a further 400 for Christmas dinner.
Caroline King took her good friend Antony Zaki, whom she had known from her London days – at one time she was GM of Home House private club – on his first-ever tour of this lovely Victoria city. I was lucky enough to be along for the ride. As we walked up Hosier Lane we passed a couple of its famous cocktail lounges, Misty and MoVida. Talking of fame, who is the most famous Melbourne person, I wonder? Nellie Melba gave her name to two culinary items – note I do not say delicacies. First the toast, which Escoffier is said to have created for her when she was sick.
Somehow it caught on. Take lightly buttered bread, put under a grill and then slice laterally. Place the wafer thin halves under a grill, untoasted side up so they curl. Simple. Escoffier also created peach melba for her when he was head culinary honcho at The Savoy, in 1892 or 1893. This is peaches and raspberry sauce with vanilla ice cream. Wow, even the Caesars only have a variety of salads named after them, not a toast AND a dessert. Dame Nellie, by the way, was born in Melbourne in 1861 by the name of Helen Porter Mitchell.
I had not realized that she moved to Europe only after her marriage failed, and during World War I she raised large sums for war charities. Until shortly before she died, aged 70, she was performing in one and then another farewell concerts, rather like doing a Frank Sinatra. Her death was a major national event in Australia.
Every now and again it is necessary to remember that Christmas is supposedly high summer here in Australia. Kids certainly seem to think so. There is an outdoor fair in City Square, and the paddling pools are just what the kids want. Today is Sunday and everyone is out and about.
I needed to pop into David Jones, one of Melbourne’s premier department stores, and was walking along Bourke Street. There was a line at least 300 yards long, with marshals making sure everything kept in order. What was this all about? Myers windows, I was told. Apparently every year Myers department store windows become one of the Christmas sights. But there were so many other sights this day. In front of Federation Square – a pretty ghastly modern art construction that includes the Ian Potter Centre, named for a relation to Prince Charles’ wife Camilla (Duchess of Cornwall, formerly Camilla Parker Bowles).
There were masses of elegant African women in their native costume releasing white doves, in some kind of ceremony. That was a good sight. I cannot claim that these two ladies, by contrast, represented the best of Melbourne fashion. Now, time for some more luxury hotels…