21 March 2014

Back For Good, Blonde Venus Re-Opens

Words: Saskia Edwards
Images: Jonathan Rae

Blonde Venus: it’s a tenet in design in Brisbane.

There’s no other way to say it.

The store has moved for only the second time since its inception in 1990.

Now, the design pioneer calls Robertson Street home.

Thea Basiliou is the mother of Blonde Venus and the selects its finely picked stock.

Before entering the space is a large window box designed by Adrian Spence who also created Blonde Venus’ original 1996 fit-out.

It references Danish and Japanese aesthetics and features blonde wood, a motif carried throughout the store.

Upon entering, the store maintains a sense of fluid minimalism – matte exposed concrete floors, angular lines, a theme of trestle legs.

Local architect/furniture designer Paul Owen is responsible for much of the woodwork in the store.

“We looked at images of mostly stores in Japan and things that we were both feeling at the moment for new progressive looks in retail,” Thea told me.

Adrian Spence also designed the wooden cubic counter, made locally by Joel Morris.

The move was about a renaissance for Blonde Venus. Thea says Fortitude Valley isn’t the right location anymore.

“I think it’s just a new era for the store.

“I mean when I first opened in the valley it was a very different time back then.

“There was no modern retail in the valley then and it was a good time to do it.

“The Valley was very energetic place for going out as a left of centre place to go out and then grew into a really great retail area. And then I think for me that has really changed.”

According to Thea, the Valley isn’t the place it once used to be.

“The night life had changed so much and had really gone quite mainstream and was not very attractive or has not been very attractive.

“It really cast a different light on the daytime vibe. So people weren’t really feeling as enamoured about going there.

“Something clicked, it’s not cool. You can still go to the Zoo and there’s still things happening, but it’s just it’s the place you want to go to every Friday and Saturday night and that’s affected the daytime.”

And it’s hard to disagree. Anyone who’s had the misfortune of encountering a kebab-toting RG’s regular on a Friday night can attest to the fact the Valley has lost whatever sense of allure it once attained.  

Thea says the James Street precinct has become established as a design destination.

“I hadn’t really been interested in moving to this area until more recently, I guess last year.

“I felt that it had really changed as well, it had really settled in as a strong retail area.

“A bit more chilled out than it had been earlier on. And there’s lots more people opening in the area that are more like-minded.

“It sort of just works as a good destination. Easier parking, you can go to the cinema or get a coffee at Jamie’s.”

Blonde Venus has brought the likes of Mary Katrantzou, Gary Bigeni, Elke Kramer, Chloe Sevigny for Opening Ceremony and Josh Goot to Brisbane.

To name a few.

The new location features Dress Up, Pagent for both girls and guys, SOOT. by Edwina Sinclair, Carly Hunter, Karen Walker, POMS, Verner, the all-organic BASE Range from France and Life is Connected.

Go feast your eyes on the new store. As one passer-by said, “It’s an institution.”

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