Tucked away in Carlton’s Grattan Street is the little known (unless you’re in the know), Eastern Market, a unique, avant-garde clothing store like no other in Melbourne. Although it is little known locally, because the owners never advertise or promote themselves publicly, it is a store of international repute.
Also known as Capela, from the Portuguese for “the old chapel”, Eastern Market is a stunning conversion of an original 19th century chapel.
Indeed it’s a fitting venue for a clothing boutique where cutting-edge, innovative fashion is the religion. Replete with stained glass windows, a dramatic light-filled apse, gleaming floorboards and an original staircase that soars to the lofty ceiling, the store absolutely gleams. A destination in and of itself, there is little wonder it has a cult-like following.
The interior is decorated with antique chests and cabinets, a huge vitrine that houses jewellery, lots of glass, arty pieces and displays. The change rooms are round cubicles made from copper and actually spin so you can enter and exit. Surrounding the old, thick walls are heavy steel clothes racks on which almost entirely black clothes hang. Every now and again, you see a pop of color or some white.
The owner of the store is Lucinia Pinto, who opened her first fashion store, Ipanema, on Bourke Street in the 70’s. Ipanema blossomed into the successful Cose Ipanema chain. As a result, Lucinia is a well- known and much-admired icon in the industry, both locally and overseas.
Born in Portugal and raised in Brazil, Lucinia left the business in 2002, and in 2006 she opened the first Eastern Market “Capela” store with partner Stephen McGlashan (who comes from a fashion retail and film background). They now also have a second store, Eastern Market “Fabrica” in McGraths Lane, off Little Collins St, in the city.
Eastern Market stocks clothing by international designers and artisans, and accessories from Europe, Japan and the UK that are almost impossible to get anywhere else in Australia. Hanging amongst the minimalist steel wracks are some of the world’s most creative and innovative designers; Paul Harnden, Guidi, If Six Was Nine, MA+ by Maurizio Amadei, Carol Christian Poell, Rick Owens, Elena Dawson and Marsell to name a few.
In addition to clothes, the store showcases unique accessories including stunning jewellery pieces by local taxidermist and designer Julia Deville. Textures abound with fur, leather, wool, cotton, studs and bone which all come together in a gallery of coats, pants, skirts, dresses and vests. There is a range of casual daywear through to stunning and unique pieces for evening.
If you are a lover of layering, this is the store for you.