Marriage and cohabitation are not for me, but I have to admit I am an incurable romantic. I love roses, silk lingerie and perfume, moon-gazing, music on old record-players, drinking Champagne from old-fashioned glasses and reading poetry aloud. I love dressing-up and having parties and making my apartment as pretty as can be. And I really, really love the Mrs Press Dressing Room in neighbouring Paddington.
Sorry readers, this is a girly post, but I figured with Valentine's Day coming up (on Monday), Mrs Press would be an ideal place to purchase pretty pleasures for the lover-girl or girls in your life. And I do like to talk about fancy frocks. And silk. Oh, how I love silk.
Former Vogue writer Clare Press opened her first clothing store in a shopfront at 136 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst, in late 2009. I was an early visitor to her store, drawn in at first by a striking, hand-printed dress in the window and then lost for a long time perusing the clothes and accessories within. It was like a gorgeous dress-up box with all the things I love. I spent quite a bit of money that first time and thought it was best to avoid the place for a while if I wanted to continue paying the rent. But then all of a sudden in June last year, Mrs Press was gone! Apparently the Darlinghurst building, Kurrajong, is suffering from concrete cancer, which is why it is now covered in scaffolding:
It's unlucky for the building, but luckily for us, Mrs Press moved up the road, to a shop in Paddington.
And what a gorgeous job she has done decorating the new shop. There is a marvellous black cast iron spiral staircase at the back and other black highlights throughout the mostly creamy, luxurious room. I recently saw the film, Coco and Igor, about the romance between the French fashion designer and the Russian composer. There were many great sets of Chanel's country home, which was decorated in black and white, and the Mrs Press Dressing Room is quite similar. It looks so good, like a box of Chanel perfume and I now want to paint the trimmings in my apartment a glossy black.
The shop is housed in an 1880s terrace on the northern side of Oxford Street, on the slope that leads up to Woollahra. The building must have originally been home to a confectioner as in December 1889, J.B. Taylor and Co held an auction on site to sell off the ''stock in trade of a confectioner''. In the 1920s the building was home to Webster and Foley Real Estate and then the next newspaper reference I can find for the building is a blunt job advertisement from January 1953: ''Delicatessen. Wanted: Experienced woman with references''. Before Mrs Press moved in, the site was home to Mimco fashion accessories.
Anyway, back to the clothes and potential Valentine's Day treasures. Mrs Press stocks a little range of soaps, hand creams, body washes and scented candles in beautiful art nouveau packaging. Most women I know would be very happy with any of these pleasant smelling delights.
The only problem is deciding between the cream (marigold) and the pink (tea rose).
If you want to spend a little more money, Mrs Press's dresses are divine. There are some on sale at the moment for just $60, while others go up to $200 and $400. The dresses are mostly made from silk or a woven wool and are cut with history in mind. There are a few floor-grazing frocks at the moment, which have gorgeous 1940s inspired bodices, so your gal can look like a vintage movie star. I also love the sexy silk kimono style jacket (only $80), which is great for a gift as it doesn't really need to be tried on to get the size right. Mrs Press will help you anyway. I would recommend buying the kimono top and a matching pair of dusty silk gold knickers (only $30) with sweet-bows on each side. (Model Jerry Hall is a big fan of knickers and keeps hers in colour-coded drawers. Hall has always been a proponent of big knickers and I have to agree: there is nothing more ugly that tight underwear. So take Hall's advice and buy up a size.)
But please don't purchase your valentine this delicate, sequined bolero (below right), which is so glamorous and looks like fun to wear - because I am saving up to buy it!
Mrs Press, or one of the lovely shop women will wrap your treasures in tissue paper, ready for presenting to your sweet lover. If you cook her dinner too, she'll love you even more.
Happy Valentine's Day readers. And if you don't have a lover, don't worry, Valentine's Day is just for fools.
Mrs Press Dressing Room
436 Oxford Street
Paddington NSW 2021
02 9331 7332