$$$ Price guide: getting pricey
Located in iconic Art Deco building, Mitchell House the Dames of Distinction are making a name for themselves as the go to girls for vintage styling. The Dames of Distinction are Margeaux, Jacinta and Hester. This delightful space houses a beauty parlour where you can be pampered by Margeaux who specialises in vintage hairstyling, hair setting and make-up or have your nails decorated with some of Hester’s beautiful nail art. If that wasn’t enough, Dames of Distinction stocks a collection of vintage and reproduction lingerie with resident lingerie expert Jacinta on hand to offer advice and fittings by appointment.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Dames of Distinction and the very lovely Jacinta was kind enough to answer a few questions for the vintage Melbourne readers.
How did the Dames of Distinction form?
Originally it was Margeaux and I, we met through swing dancing and both had similar ideas about creating a space that held multiple business and had a vintage feel, a place where people could just come and hang out. So Margeaux and I started up Dames of Distinction. We met Hester’s mum at an exhibition opening and at the time we were looking for a nail artist, she mentioned her daughter was a nail artist. In fact most of Hester’s family was there sporting Hester’s nail creations. So that’s how we managed to get Hester on board.
How long have you been open?
We’ve been open for about 7 months now, we opened in September last year.
Is there a specific era that the parlour embraces or is it a mixture?
The lingerie selection ranges from the 1930s to early 1960. We’ve started moving into the 60s style with our Dottie’s delights gown, the flauncy dressing gowns which have more of a sixties vibe. Margeaux’s salon has more of a fifties beauty salon vibe. We celebrate a range of eras. Personally I’m quite obsessed with Art Deco which is why there’s a lot of Art Deco furniture in my section, and then as you move through to Margeaux’s area you’ll find the decor tends more towards the 1950s.
Do you hosts special events and workshops for those who want to learn how to create vintage style? Or can you be hired for an event?
We hold lots of events here. Once a month we usually host a party, whether it be a discount day, the launch of a new brand or something like that. We do also do specialised workshops for hair and make-up. The parlour can be hired out for hens days which includes a high tea. There’s lots of different options that you can add on as well, like having your nails painted and lingerie parties. Events are all held in small groups, usually a maximum of 6 people per workshop. We haven’t really hosted events away for our space here in Mitchell house, we’re all set up here and it’s a really nice space.
What types of people generally come to Dames of Distinction?
Our clientele is mostly female, however we do get some men buying lingerie for their girlfriends. We get quite a large age range, from late teens to women in their fifties, most customers at probably in their 30s I’d guess. It’s a real range of people, many who are into modern dressing but are after a touch of vintage style, and then there’s other who are really into vintage. So we cater to everyone, people from all walks of life are welcome here. We really love to just sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat and eat cake. Hester often brings cupcakes to the parlour.
Are vouchers available?
Yes absolutely, we can provide vouchers for people wanting to buy a gift for someone but aren’t quite sure what to get them.
Do you have any favourite styling tips and tricks that you might be willing to share?
I always say just wear whatever you like. Don’t feel like you’re restricted to a specific period. I tend to mix styling from different eras and I think it’s best to wear what you feel looks good and makes you feel confident and not to worry about what other people think. Even just mixing vintage items in with modern pieces is a great way to get into vintage fashion/styling, just a few beautiful vintage touches, a nice nod to the past. That’s probably about it!
Who are your favourite style icons?
I really loved starlets of the 30s and 40s, people like Ginger Rogers and Elizabeth Taylor’s, lots of movies stars and as well as everyday people. There are also modern people who we love like Ditta Von Teese and a lot of vintage bloggers. I’m sure Margeaux has some different style icons given that her styling is inspired by 40 and 50s beauty.
What does the future hold for Dames of Distinction? Any plans to expand?
We are hoping to expand in the near future. We’d like to have a small cafe serving tea and cake, like a little patisserie style place. We have someone in mind we just don’t have the space at the moment. We’d also like to have a seamstress, who could work off vintage patterns and create reproductions.
How long does it take to be styled like a Dame?
Usually about an hour for hairstyling. For workshops, they’re usually 3 hours long.
Mitchell house is a beautiful Art Deco building , I noticed that circa is now here as well, do you find that a lot of the tenants are similar to Dames of Distinction in that they hark back to a bygone era?
At the moment it’s just us and Circa. As you can imagine there’s a lot of crossover customers so it been quite beneficial for both of us to be in this building – she (Nicole Jenkins) has gained customers from us and we’ve gained customers form her. I think they’d like to get in some more retail tenants so I’m putting the word out to more vintage style retail businesses.
When are you open?
Open Tuesday -Saturday and by appointment (which can be organise via email or over the phone). We generally close at about 4 pm but can stay open for appointments.
358 Lonsdale Street,
Ph: 03 9640 0555
For further information and pricing see the Dames of Distinction Website