You may not have noticed yet, but Armadale suddenly got an injection of cool. Once it was the haunt of Toorak tractors, blushing brides-to-be and ladies-who-do-not-much-but-lunch (admittedly it still is). But now, a smattering of wine bars, loosened-up cafes and the cream of savvy-yet-sophisticated designer labels have moved on into the neighbourhood and they are quietly shaking things up. Little wonder that residential developers have taken note and desirable apartments are burgeoning in the suburb (I’d move in in a snap). One such place is Toorak Park who sent me out to scout my favourite stylish places and spaces in Armadale for this local guide. There is so much more than just bridal boutiques and stuffy antique stores to be discovered here.
Mr Spry – Principal hair stylists Nick Howard and Richard McNaughton have surely the most charming beauty salon in Armadale. There’s a secret garden to relax in out the back and even your appetite is catered to here as you can order a little Italian from Zia Rina’s Cucina right next door. 859 High Street, Armadale
Missy Lui – This designer nail spa focuses on non-toxic treatments using polishes from likes of Kester Black, Zoya and Sheswai. The natural idealogy is reflected in the plantlife-accented and minimal, Scandinavian-influenced space by interior designer Anne-Sophie Poirier a.k.a. Sasufi. Shop 1, 1161 High Street, Armadale
Antoinette Champagne – This hair and make-up salon by Susie Wilson (who also commands a school of etiquette in nearby South Yarra) makes an uber-glamorous statement within its cavernous black and white space which also houses the Red Carpet Face Spa. It’s chic as hell and will make you feel thusly. 1209 High Street Armadale
Also try: Aesop for wonderful beauty treats to take home
Eat & Drink
Forest Green – If the doughnuts – fried golden and billowing with real vanilla – aren’t enough to tempt you, the design at this cafe-cum-restaurant just might. Forest Green is inspired by nature from its succulent planters to pine tree motifs to the botanical references on its smashed ceramic-print wallpaper. 1264 High Street, Armadale
Lona – The lure of the glowing pink neon sign at this pintxos bar has reeled me in ever since it opened. What should reel you in are above Lona’s above average sliders and espresso martinis. I always prefer a perch at the bar (all the better to see what my bartender is shaking up) and admire the pop culture paintings adorning the walls. 963 High Street, Armadale
The Tasting Table – This is a wine shop done right. Carefully selected boutique vinos are available to taste and owner Jack Mullard is available to educate newbies and the adventurous. It’s so good you’ll want to lounge around with a glass of your new favourite drop and a cheeseboard, which is something they welcome here. 1219 High Street, Armadale
Also try: Coin Laundry, Le Petit Prince, Thomas Dux for upscale groceries, Gardiner and Field, Phillipa’s for their famous bread, il migliore (fancy chocolate nirvana!) & the cluster of eateries on the quaint corner of Rose St & Beatty Ave
Art & Culture
Sam Johnson – Got some sad and lovely bare walls? Sam Johnson and his vintage posters can fix that. Mostly large scale and vibrantly hued, his collection includes iconic brands, pin-ups and cinematic history. And yes, they have Bally posters. 1136 High Street Armadale
Douglas Stewart Fine Books – Vintage children’s games, $15,000 1st editions of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and 1970’s magazines illustrated by the one and only Andy Warhol. Douglas has them all in his shop, a treasure trove for bibliophiles. If a much-desired book is not here, he can likely source it for you like some kind of librarian-esque Indiana Jones. 720 High Street, Armadale
Mossgreen – Always a haven for art, Mossgreen’s move to Armadale made them a go-to for lovers of afternoon tea too. Sip and sup from Wedgewood fine bone China and then take in works by the like of famed photographer Rennie Ellis or painter Kate Bergin for whom I have a soft spot. Mitch Gobel’s upcoming ‘Voices’ show looks promising. After all no one should peruse (or indeed bid on) art on an empty stomach. 926-930 High Street, Armadale
Ryder – The label is something your most stylish Glastonbury Festival-going bestie would wear. So it’s apt that Ryder’s Armadale store looks like her dream apartment (once she graduates from share-housing). Get really cute ankle boots, retro denim and your already lived-in feel Winter wardrobe right here. 1073 High Street, Armadale
Luxe Deluxe – Moving into what was once a lingerie store, a visit to the boutique of Melbourne label Luxe Deluxe will leave you well and truly clothed. Their Winter aesthetic favours the modern ‘”effortless” dresser, with leather pieces, slightly slouchy silhouettes and a minimalist palette of black, white, grey and blue. 1052 High Street, Armadale
Ginger & Smart – As one of Australia’s leading labels, Ginger & Smart’s boutique sits comfortably among high fashion friends in Armadale. The designer sister duo are known for their way with colour (they custom make their own palatte each season) and exclusive prints. Their footwear is to die for also. 1041 High Street, Armadale
Franque – Sarah Hooke has amassed a beautiful collection of European furniture alongside desirable objects such as French candles and Italian soaps in her luxuriously-fragranced boutique. Australian artworks by the likes of painter Julian Twigg and sculptor Anna Varendorff add a local touch to this treasure trove. 811 High Street, Armadale
For fashion also try: Top Drawer Lingerie, Skin and Threads for the best basics, Alpha60, Aje, Acne, Scanlan Theodore (oh how I love thee), Camilla and Marc, Viktoria + Woods, Thurley, Willow, Eco D, Josh Goot, Lee Matthews, Bul & Mister Zimi for something different
For homewares & accessories also try: House of Orange, Habbot (metallic brogues forever), Bud Flowers, White Rabbit Home Living, Durance, onepointsevenfour for hot sunnies, Dolci Firme, Bared & Rose St. Trading Co.
The elegant apartments of Toorak Park are now on sale to be completed in 2018. Architects Denton Corker Marshall, interior designers Carr Design Group and landscape designers Tract are creating residences inspired by the charm of Armadale’s leafy streetscape. In that frame of mind, one third of Toorak Park will be dedicated to open space including a blue-stone plaza – housing a convenience store and cafe – two village greens and public gardens that will be known as ‘Central Common’, plus access to Toorak Railway Station via a tree-lined central boulevard. Take a closer look here if that sounds like home to you.