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When Australia got Chanel

If I have to go into the city, no matter the time of day or traffic levels, I will always take Collins Street. I figure every street in the city is congested, so if I’m going to be stuck in traffic, I may as well enjoy the view.

When I’m crawling down Collins, I am always astounded by the stores that are open there now, and how far Australia has come in the past 30 years.

In 1995, I remember reading in (the now defunct) Mode magazine, about the opening of Australia’s first Chanel boutique. It’s still on the same site, the corner of Castlereagh and King Street. I was so jazzed that we finally had our very own Chanel, I took an all-night train from Melbourne in 1996 just to see it. Of course, I bought absolutely nothing, I was an 18-year-old photography student, but I knew this was a big deal and in a country that was sheepish with its own self-importance of the time, it felt like with Chanel arriving, we had finally arrived too.

At the risk of sounding like an old person, the breadth of what we have available in Australia’s retail scene, was once next to nothing not so long ago. Growing up in Melbourne, I can count on one hand the luxury department stores and shops we had, that were importing gorgeous, fine things. Further to that, I remember even the not-so-refined was hard to come. I remember in the 1980s, as a kid, standing in front of a small selection of Hello Kitty products in Myer and feeling like I had hit the jackpot. Now Hello Kitty is as common as slushies at 7-11.


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