I live in the inner suburbs and across the river is Fitzroy, only a twenty minute drive. And yet I never seem to be able to find the time to do it.
Like the north shore and the southern side of the harbour in Sydney, sometimes we in the east have a little psychological barrier about crossing the river.
You see, in Gertrude Street Fitzroy, there is a magical shop called Vixen, where you can buy these lampshades. Well not literally these, as these are the ones hanging in my hallway, but something just like it or maybe even better.
Yes I know, I know (impatient tone) you can make your own lampshades, but these are custom made, covered in Georgia Chapman's beautiful silk hand prints and lined with a contrasting print. And for many months now I have been dreaming of having a shade like this, in blue tones for my bedside table.
The lampshades are actually a late addition. VIxen now does various home wares including wonderful rugs.
But originally, Vixen became famous for its silk clothes and in particular, its sarongs. Vixen's philosophy is not to slavishly follow trends, but to create designs which are classic and long lasting. All their sarongs are made of sections of different silks, like an off beat patchwork, but they don't look crafty or homemade. They look glamourous and sparkling. I can think of many ladies from the 1920s who would have been right at home in a Vixen sarong, probably the best example is the naughty Lady Idina Sackville (known as the Bolter when she came to life in a number of Nancy Mitford novels) who scandalised England and Kenya with her multi marriages and flexible sensuous approach to life:
Here she is on the cover of Tatler in 1923, newly engaged to Josslyn Hay.
(The Bolter, by her great grandaughter Frances Osbourne is a book which must be read).
Over many painstaking years I have collected Vixen sarongs. When I first started buying these Vixen was located in the city, in a turn of the century Art Nouveau office building with a hand cranked lift running down the centre of the stairwell.
The fabrics were screen printed in a huge warehouse room which probably originally housed printing presses.
And very occasionally in Melbourne we have the weather for sarongs. But just owning them, even if I don't wear them much, improves my life.
(Image 3 Designer Rugs Image 4 from Vixen)