5 April 2011
my city: wellington by alexandra owen
Story by Anna Kidman
With worldly ambitions ahead, we ask fashion’s darling to recall her favourite places at home.
Impressing critics worldwide with her New York Fashion Week debut last year, fashion designer Alexandra Owen is at the forefront of an evolving New Zealand design scene. With a sophisticated, classic tailored approach to her garments, she represents a forgotten elegance. Her clothes are designed ‘for working women who want to appear feminine without compromising their dignity.’ Impressed by her considered approach to design, we thought her the perfect candidate to give us a personal tour of her hometown – Wellington.
Peter McLeavey Gallery, there are few who have had the influence on New Zealand culture as the visionary Peter McLeavey has, birthing artists such as Bill Hammond and McCahon back in the late 60’s when New Zealand was in a relative cultural dark age. Run for over 40 years by Peter and his rock of a wife Hillary by his side, the gallery has become known as much for Peter himself; his kindness, caring for artists, his sartorial style, and fervent belief in the magic of art. In true Wellington form, Peter is frightfully humble, would never overstate the importance of what he does, nor would he talk about himself first without being asked.
Daughter Olivia McLeavey has come on board to take the Gallery in to the future as Peter takes his leave. (147 Cuba Street, Wellington)
Avid is full of beautiful and obscure things. One half applied art, one half jewellery it is hard not to become captivated by every last piece. The buying is impeccable and the variety of product is perfectly balanced. Artists such as Johanna Campbell, Dorthe Kristensen and Steph Lusted can be found. Everything within these walls is very New Zealand in a truly contemporary sense (no Kiwiana in sight) and with more beautiful craft than one could ever hope for. Dorothy and Anna are joyous hosts and will make your visit heavenly. (48 Victoria Street, Wellington)
Deluxe Cafe & Maranui Cafe, Matt Wilson and Katie Richardson are the owners of these two institutional cafes. The best coffee in the country hands down (Havana beans) and backed up by the ultimate feel good food. The cafes’ epitomise Wellington’s unpretentious excellence, and the city’s taste for outstanding produce without fanfare. The mix of Wellingtonians found at any one of these cafes is truly eclectic from politicians to musicians. Maranui burned down in a fire back in 2009, and left such a void in Lyall Bay that donations came pouring in only for it to be rebuilt again in 2010 to the delight of locals. (Deluxe – 10 Kent Terrace, Wellington & Maranui Cafe – The Parade, Lyall Bay Beach, Wellington)
Capitol (next to Deluxe Cafe), the best casual bistro food in town. Sitting at the tail end of Courtney place, the ambiance is always lively and bustling, and always packed full. They do not take bookings and turn over several times throughout the evening which makes for a great energy. You can’t go wrong with things on the menu from crispy fried whitebait (in season) with lemon aioli to a perfect fillet of beef, It’s bistro at its best. The Maitre’d Rob is also very witty (we have had a running joke going with him for about 2 years now). (10 Kent Terrace, Wellington)
Museum Hotel, hotelier Chris Parkin is one of Wellington’s biggest ambassadors, patron of the arts and an all- round enthusiast. Under his guidance, the hotel has moved (on wheels) down the road, had a new wing of luxury apartments added to it, flooded it with local art and now boasts one of the finest and most authentic French Cuisine experiences with restaurant Hippopotamus. Perfect for an evening cocktail at the new bar, the hotel hums with happy staff who love what they do. General Manager Kathy Tipler would have to be one of the best hosts I have ever come across, adding to the generosity and joy that exudes from this little gem. (Wakefield Street, Wellington)