Covid lockdowns put a lot of big plans on hold. One of them was 80 Collins, originally scheduled to open in mid-2020. The new luxury fashion and dining precinct is located in a slick, architectural space at the Paris End of Collins Street and includes Alejandro Saravia’s new three-storey Farmer’s Daughters and the forthcoming Society, by Chris Lucas, Martin Benn and Vicki Wild.
Another key tenant, luxury eyewear and jewellery designer Sener Besim, opened his first boutique there just a few weeks before the city went into its second lockdown. But he didn’t let the shutdown stall his momentum, switching the store’s in-person, appointment-only format to one-on-one video consultations. This service has stuck around, even though walk-in customers are now being welcomed.
“We have made sure we have can engage and service our customers online to the level they have become accustomed to when visiting the boutique,” says the Melbourne-based designer. “Our virtual appointments have become very important to our VIP customers.”
And when Besim says VIP, he means VIP. Tilda Swinton, Nicole Kidman, Yoko Ono and Cate Blanchett were all spotted wearing pieces from his debut eyewear collection, which launched the label in 2017. He moved into jewellery a year later, drawing on his Turkish-Albanian roots and crafting pieces inspired by the complex, yet seemingly weightless, geometry of Ottoman architecture.
Designed with Don McQualter, the new boutique is muted and minimalist. The only bold statement among its glass, stone, cement and enamel surfaces is a chandelier-like sculptural piece from Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), a 45-year-old Dutch firm, which acts as a display for eyewear. Along the walls, illuminated glass cabinets hold pieces of delicate, subtle jewellery – made almost exclusively from 18-karat gold and vermeil, occasionally punctuated with tiny details in onyx, turquoise, diamond and black diamond.
These pieces are meant to transcend trends and be treasured for years to come. This has been a core aspect of the label’s story from the beginning, reflected in its classic designs.
“We feel we’re post-fashion,” Besim says. “Designing things for the sake of it every month – we’re not in that world … Our brand sits outside the seasonality of fashion. We’re creating high quality, timeless pieces that enhance [your wardrobe].”
Josh Goot and Christine Centenera’s much-hyped Wardrobe.NYC, another label that’s proudly post-trend, is available to shop in a dedicated section of Sener Besim. This is a worldwide exclusive; the only physical stockist on the planet.
“We see the clothing as a base, and the jewellery as the pieces you work with to express yourself,” Besim says. “We both share this similar aesthetic, this idea of utilitarian luxury. They were clearly ‘less is more’ – they were ahead of the game, they were already there – and that’s where we’re at.”
Outside the store, in the same sleek laneway, you’ll find the Saint Laurent flagship and a new Mulberry store. These big names helped lure Besim to 80 Collins.
“The adjacencies of the stores are really important to the story of the brand and where it sits,” says Besim, who spent nearly two decades working at Scanlan Theodore. “So I thought, really for me, it was always about branding as well. The store says so much about the brand.”
80 Collins Street, Melbourne
Mon to Fri 11am–5pm