High Fashion High Tea
This article was first published by Onya Magazine on 24th March 2014
Once the realm of the old fashioned and stuffy, high tea has become fashionable again. Well, at least when it’s the ‘High Fashion High Tea’ hosted by Fashionista’s Australia at the Park Hyatt in Melbourne.
One of the first events on the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival calendar, before the official opening night, it was a gathering of Melbourne’s fashion insiders and lovers alike. Arriving early, I had a good opportunity to spy on everyone as they made their way into the gorgeous Park Hyatt foyer. Ladies of all ages gathered in their elegant finery, all eager for the delicious treats and fashion that the afternoon promised.
The Park Hyatt certainly offered a stylish and sumptuous venue that was befitting for the occasion – beautifully laid tables were in clear view as we arrived, making our way down the ‘shopping avenue’, lined with the biba and Master Makeup pampering stations and stalls from designers Michaela Menichelli, Camilla, Megan Park and Leonard St. I was like a magpie, drawn from one shiny thing to another – the gorgeous hide clutches from Michaela Menichelli, the colourful silks at Camilla and the jewellery and accessories from Megan Park and Leonard Street all calling for my attention.
As I sat down admiring our place settings, lying next to the obligatory tea cup and saucer (and champagne glass) was a less expected surprise – a copy of the latest hot pink edition of the Fashionista’s Guide to Melbourne and a gorgeous box of goodies from Bellabox. So far, so good. Joining me on the table were the gorgeous Melbourne fashion heavyweights – The Weekly Review Fashion Editor Jana Rocca and bloggers Cecylia of Cecylia.com, Phoebe Montague of Lady Melbourne and Sarah Willcocks of Style Melbourne. And there was me thinking it couldn’t get any better.
After a brief but warm welcome, the Chandon flowed easily (or Fiji water for those not drinking) and the room filled with conversation when afternoon tea was revealed – and not a stale cress sandwich in sight. Three silver tiers offered a feast for the eyes, never mind for the taste buds, with golden scones, ruby red jam, dainty cupcakes, berry pink jellies and marshmallows galore. The exclusive menu, designed by Park Hyatt chef Dane Clouston, used only locally sourced ingredients and was to die for. Warm scones served with homemade jam and thick clotted cream, mini Victorian sponges with a jam and cream surprise hidden inside, gorgeous red velvet cupcakes with edible illustrations from Emma Leonard, passion fruit jellies, gourmet finger sandwiches filled with crab, ham hock and smoked salmon and chocolate and caramel tarts looked almost too good to eat but were soon disappearing from their stands.
The atmosphere was informal, intimate and friendly as we were encouraged to visit the biba and master makeup stations throughout the afternoon for expert advice, pampering and goodie bags. The shopping avenue also offered a rare opportunity to chat with the designers personally, as well as snag a first look at some of their latest collections.
Afternoon tea wasn’t the only nod to the past; instead of a traditional catwalk, we were treated to a ‘salon style’ showing. Attendees remained comfortable in their seats as the models walked around the tables, ensuring everyone got the best view of the beautiful clothes they were wearing. Each designer presented two looks to commentary by Emily Power as the models strutted from one end of the room to another.
Highlights were the pea green sixties style coat, reminiscent of the London style label Leonard St. gets its name from, the vibrant and exotic prints of Camilla paired with slick backed hair and the gorgeous signature neutral embossed Michaela Menichelli bags, made of hides from Jakarta and hand cut in Bali.
Emily described the whole idea of the afternoon as a way to give “the everyday woman the VIP experience” and as I left the hotel with beautifully curled hair and goodie bags in hand I certainly felt like I’d been given the ultimate star treatment – just a shame I had to leave and return to reality!