PHOTOGRAPHY : DANNY WOOTTON
PHOTOGRAPH: CAROLE WHITING
Victoria Varrasso’s search for a slower, more meaningful life and a desire to live closely to nature, saw her move from inner Melbourne to rural Eganstown with her husband Laurence in December 2013. Victoria opened her concept-store “Manteau Noir” in March 2014 in Australia’s popular Spa Capital, Daylesford. She launched her eponymous Melbourne made linen womenswear brand at the time of opening and has recently added “Victoria Varrasso”, her Italian handmade women’s shoe collection.
Manteau Noir champions small artisan makers, heritage brands, repurposed antique and vintage finds from across the world, and is constantly refining and perfecting its carefully curated offering.
Victoria has a strong belief in ethical production methods, natural materials and a lifelong commitment to finding beauty in all things. Her background as a successful fashion designer and retailer, a passion for photography, art, reading and travel and her instinct for sourcing, designing, collaborating and collecting unique and desirable items is manifest.
A natural extension of Manteau Noir’s raison d'etre is to gather products that soothe the body, mind and soul, making Aesop a perfect fit for collaboration in this retail environment. A dedicated area for these products was the brief.
Paramount to delivering the right outcome for key stakeholders - a dedicated space addressing the key elements of Aesop’s design philosophy while retaining the warmth, texture and personality of the existing store.
Paring back the space in the store by restricting materials and palette and including a few select elements which signal the Manteau Noir values of wabi-sabi and repurposing of ‘found objects’ forms the basis of the design response.
Product is highlighted within the space, with subtle cues from antique elements and patina. There is a generous amount of space devoted to product however negative space is important and has been considered as part of the overall intent.
The space is a soothing inky blue custom colour with storage, display and existing structural features including ceiling, all cloaked in the same deep hue. This removes ‘visual noise’ and retains a respect for the heritage of the building itself. New custom bench shelving houses product and is created from aged steel.
A wet area at the rear of the space is where customers can be introduced to samples and immersed in the Aesop collection. This is comprised of a restored antique basin sourced in France, with handmade tiles creating an informality which references Manteau Noir’s preference for texture and the perfect ‘imperfect’.