Whether it’s an obsession with shoes or pieces from a favourite designer, see how these SA women like to fill their wardrobes.
Closet confessions: Adelaide’s most enviable wardrobes
A great escape
Mary Diamantis’s wardrobe deserves every gasp it elicits when visitors step through the sleek, black steel-framed glass door and across the threshold into the opulent space.
Originally a formal sitting room, Mary wanted a luxurious space that felt like a sanctuary, tucked away behind a lavish bathroom.
“We work hard and we come home and just want a space that’s a haven, and this definitely is that,” Mary says.
A pre-COVID trip to Warsaw, Poland provided some inspiration. “We stayed at the newly-refurbished Raffles Hotel and we met the architect of that project.”
The eye is immediately drawn to the fluted European oak oval island, stained a rich, deep walnut. The bench cleverly conceals an abundance of hidden drawers that open and close with a small tap on the stunning corrugated oak surface. Dekton surfaces have been used on the island, as well as the backlit showcase feature that displays a collection of handbags.
The room has been designed with rich browns and brushed brass tones, subtle enough to remain in the neutral sphere and provide a calming palette.
When it came time to refurbish the area, it was lucky Mary knew a good builder – husband Chris, managing director and founder of Genworth Group.
“I was probably the hardest customer he’s ever had,” Mary laughs. “We just love the dramatic lines. One of the hardest things was probably the island, because the original design had it squared off and that looked too much like a kitchen.”
Mary says she’s all for glamour, but it needs to be practical and the room is just that, with ample storage, both in the island and the cupboards lining the walls.
It’s a philosophy she lives by; combining elegance and ease masterfully.
Mary’s wardrobes are lined with carefully-considered purchases that she can pair with beautiful heels just as easily as a good sneaker, which are secreted away in a bottom drawer of the island.
While she acknowledges she’s lucky enough to have a wardrobe curated from around the world, she has a soft spot for Australian designer Zimmermann.
Her first Zimmermann dress was an unprompted gift from Chris – a powder blue number bought five years ago.
“They’re beautiful and I love every single piece; they make me feel happy. Their quality is just sublime. The fabrics are beautiful and the styles seem to suit me.”
It’s not just Mary who gets to enjoy the dresses, her six-year-old granddaughter Evangelia will inherit them one day, with Mary even making a purchase with her in mind; a pink-toned gown with butterflies embroidered along the sleeves.
While the Zimmermanns are relatively new purchases, Mary isn’t afraid to wheel out her tried-and-true favourites. One of the oldest pieces in her wardrobe is a pure silk Dolce & Gabbana gown found in Amsterdam – with 70 per cent knocked off the price.
“I truly believe it’s not the amount of money you spend. It’s knowing what suits you, whether it’s the lower end of the price bracket or the higher end, you need to feel 100 per cent comfortable within your skin.”
Michelle Mennillo has split wardrobe personalities. There are drawers and drawers of P.E Nation workout clothes sitting alongside pretty pieces from Scanlan Theodore and Zimmermann.
As CEO of paediatric occupational therapy clinic, the OTFC Group, Michelle can turn up to the office in workout gear, a well-cut suit, or anything in between. And she’s not usually making that decision until she steps into the shower in the morning.
“I think, ‘I feel like this and want to feel like that, so what can I wear to get me there?’” Michelle says.
“I think I use what I wear as a way of getting me to a different place.”
Her go-to for looking polished is always a Scanlan dress because it’s immediately a complete outfit.
Michelle has become friendly with the girls in the Burnside Village store, with them often texting her with the latest options, and even bringing pieces to her so she can try them on.
“I don’t have a lot of time to sit here and put things together so I buy things I know I like and can just grab it and go.
“That’s why I like handbags and shoes because I think they can change an outfit.”
Michelle purchases with longevity in mind and still has a pair of Versace shoes she bought with her very first paycheque from her former career in modelling.
Her favourite pieces are her classic monogrammed Louis Vuitton bags, of which she’s amassed a nice little collection.
“They’re just so classic – I love the tones of them.”
Gym clothes are the fastest-growing area of Michelle’s wardrobe and she’s always on the hunt for the next P.E Nation piece or Nikes.
“I go to the gym with my husband and daughter six days a week, so I do go through workout clothes,” she says.
Best foot forward
It was Sex and the City that started it all for Lyrie Louca.
When the fashion-focused movie came out in 2008, Lyrie and her husband Bill went to see it together and Lyrie instantly fell in love with a pair of Manolo Blahnik blue satin jewel buckle pumps that feature in a pivotal scene.
A couple of months later, Lyrie, who runs Louca Automotive with Bill, was spending a couple of weeks’ leave at home and decided to work her way through the entire Sex and the City series.
Bill would walk out the door in the morning over those two weeks, leaving the tune of the show’s opening credits behind, and it would be the song he heard as he came home each night.
“As a gift, he purchased a pair of the Manolo Blahniks for me from Barneys New York and it took off from there,” Lyrie says.
Her collection has now grown to be housed in a purpose-built walk-in wardrobe with beautiful storage for her heels.
Lyrie says she wanted to separate her shoes and designer clothing from her everyday clothes – and they certainly deserve that special elevation.
The heels are lined up in rows of rainbow hues and tactile textures. Lyrie loves a pop of colour and her shoe collection reflects that perfectly. There’s everything from bright shades and pretty pastels, to fun patterns and delicate embroidery, carrying labels such as Christian Louboutin, Valentino and Miu Miu.
Lyrie finds a lot of her purchases online, but has built up a great relationship with the women’s designer department at David Jones, with personal shopper Ryan knowing exactly what she likes and dislikes.
“He knows when I’m coming in and he puts me in a little room and brings everything in. It’s such a nice experience,” she says.
The wardrobe also displays some gorgeous dresses, and Lyrie says she becomes a little more daring as she matures.
“As I get older and more comfortable in my own skin, I tend to be a little more adventurous and go for things I might not have thought about wearing when I was younger.”
She has a pair of shoes for every occasion, and says her heels pair perfectly with anything – dressed up with a gown, or dressed down with jeans and a blouse.
Lyrie’s favourite pair are crystal-embellished nude mesh Christian Louboutins, which she has in several different styles.
According to Lyrie, there’s a special balance between fashion and function in a well-designed shoe.
“There’s definitely a science behind the shoe and these are mostly very comfortable, although there’s the occasional pair that are car to barstool, back to car shoes.”
As for the blue satin Manolo Blahniks, those are never worn outside, but occasionally inside on the carpet, just for a quick little try-on.
And how many pairs does she have? “I would say not nearly enough. My husband would probably be shocked. But then, he started it, so it’s entirely his fault.”
Lyrie says she tries to be a little more sensible with her purchases these days given going out has become a little less frequent. “But they are assets; they’re saleable – that’s what I say to Bill.
“We work extremely hard and you can’t take it all with you. We might as well enjoy it now because, when we’re six feet under, we won’t be able to,” Lyrie says.
“Even though I am going to be buried in Christian Louboutins.”
This article first appeared in the September 2021 issue of SALIFE magazine.
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