At the helm of creative bespoke leather-goods house A-ESQUE is Melbourne based designer Amanda Briskin-Rettig - one of the country’s most successful fashion stories as the former founder of accessories giant Mimco. Today, A-ESQUE is in its sixth year; a label which champions traditional artisan skills, high-quality materials and a functional aesthetic. For X-Files, Amanda has carefully curated some of the best places for you to enjoy in Melbourne.
Left: Amanda Briskin Rettig, Right: Craft Victoria / Image via Tatjana Plitt
What do you love about Melbourne?
My family, friends, home, the clean air, water and walks. Melbourne for me is home, homely and casual. I think the energy of the city is positive and real, there is a feeling of permanence with the people you meet. It’s not super-fast and can lack buzz and energy but I think it makes up for this with a realness that is grounding and unique.
Your edit of best hotels?
United Places Botanic Gardens - 157 Domain Rd South Yarra.
Grand Hyatt - Collins Street.
For a 5-star city experience, Airbnb is always worthwhile as Melbourne is a city full of beautiful homes and apartments. Pick a suburb and get a real Melbourne ‘living’ experience.
What are your favourite precincts and hubs to spend time in?
The Dandenong Ranges - for walks, 1000 steps and a breakfast after. Mornington Peninsula - great in summer.
Cremorne - an area that has emerged from an industrial zone to one that boasts an incredible array of small creative businesses and people, to the many creative agencies and food spots popping up all the time.
High Street Armadale - Kings Arcade, take a walk from Orrong Road towards Glenferrie Road.
Also, Collingwood and Melbourne City.
Left: Kisume, Right: Heide Museum of Modern Art / Image via @heidemoma
What are your top dining locations?
Di Stasio Citta - 35 Spring Street, Melbourne.
France-Soir - 11 Toorak Rd, South Yarra.
Kenzan Japanese Restaurant - Collins Place, 45 Collins St, Melbourne.
Kisume - 175 Flinders Lane Melbourne.
Di Stasio / Image via Dimmi
... and the best cultural and art experiences to enjoy?
National Gallery of Victoria - 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne.
ACMI ( The Australian Centre for the Moving Image) - Federation Square.
Heide Museum of Modern Art - 7 Templestowe Rd, Bulleen.
Sophie Gannon Gallery - 2 Albert St, Richmond.
Geoffrey Hatty Applied Arts - 1 Chapel St, Cremorne.
Left: Geoffrey Hatty, Right: United Place / Image via Ccnde Nest Traveler
What is unique to Melbourne?
The water, our air, the climate, our laneways, under the radar hot spots, homes , the design community, an independent creative spirit, artisanal energy, and at times the fashion and style. Destinations; Melbourne City, specifically Collins Street, High Street Armadale, Prahran Market.
What are some of your highlights?
Have a long Sunday brunch at The Beatt.
Enjoy cocktails at Eau De Vie.
For a unique shopping experience, visit: Craft Victoria.
A pampering session at Willow Urban Retreat Armadale.
Various beauty bars including Shibui – see Sean for colour and Pete at Shibui Alumn for ‘out of salon’ cuts.
Are there any neighbouring getaways or escapes you enjoy?
Port Phillip Estate - 263 Red Hill Rd, Red Hill South VIC 3937.
Point Addis – stunning Beach.
Twelve Apostles - Great Ocean Road.
Pt Leo Estate Sculpture Park in Mornington Peninsula.
Point Addis / Image via Humbletrail
For families, what attractions or activities do you suggest?
For a 360-degree view of Melbourne - Eureka Tower Skydeck.
One hour out of Melbourne is Puffing Billy – Australia's premier preserved steam railway in the Dandenong Ranges.
For special playgrounds with lots of space and creative equipment unique to Melbourne visit Melbourne Playgrounds.
Riding tracks around the Yarra.
ACMI – the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, at Federation Square.
Pellegrini’s Bourke Street for pasta in the kitchens.
1000 Steps Dandenong Ranges – followed by breakfast.
Sneakerboy - for teenagers.
See the penguins – Penguin Parade Phillip Island.