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Sydney's Hip Inner-City Scene

Alaskan king crab salad from Sake, a new restaurant in the harborside Rocks district.

Photo: Petrina Tinslay

Part outsize beach resort, part culture capital, Sydney exemplifies the art of relaxed cosmopolitanism. It’s urbane but not pretentious; cutting-edge but not stressed-out. Now a handful of players is channeling that Aussie energy into new restaurants, hotels, and boutiques in some oft-overlooked (and distinctly chic) neighborhoods. Here, the local take.


The city’s fashionable heart is the corner of Oxford Street and Glenmore Road, in Paddington, where some of the most exciting Australian designers are conveniently clustered. Kirrily Johnston exemplifies the laid-back Down Under aesthetic with her earthy-urban, feminine clothes (think billowy red skirts with high cinched waists), as does Josh Goot, whose block-printed tube and tunic dresses come in colors as bright as the Sydney sun. Inside Kit Willow’s chic, bi-level boutique, Willow, you’ll find flirty draped frocks in organza and tulle. Just up the block in the ornate, shop-filled Strand Arcade is Corner Shop, a Sydney stalwart known for its tightly edited international collections (Marc Jacobs, Isabel Marant, and Benah). Men shouldn’t miss the downtown boutique of Brent Wilson, with its updated classics, including easygoing suits, shirts, and sweaters. For housewares, head to Surry Hills. Planet Commonwealth carries Ross Longmuir’s streamlined beds, tables, and sofas, all made from Australian hardwoods (don’t worry, they’ll help with shipping). The lure at Koskela is Aboriginal craftwork, such as the one-off lampshades traditionally woven with bush string.


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