A vision in beaded lilac chiffon, Petrova Hammond was the pretty-in-pastel princess of the Lady Petrova palace on Thursday, as she celebrated her new collection and boutique renovations with sparkling wine and cupcakes aplenty.
Glitter anointed the floor, and pastel unicorns, kittens and butterflies danced along the walls as ladies bedecked in floral crowns and vibrant eye make-up embraced the girly aesthetic that is so unique to the store.
This Lady Petrova sense of whimsy even captivated international star Lana Del Rey, who dropped in to play dress ups in the boutique last week, buying out the collection of floral headpieces to wear on her Australian tour.
Lady Petrova’s SS12 collection “Runaway Valley” is right up Del Rey’s alley; peachy princess with a twist of attitude.
Wreathed in smiles and regally at home in her newly renovated boutique, Petrova explains the inspiration for “Runaway Valley” was drawn from 1960s girl groups, in particular The Shangri Las.
“I love their songs because they’re poppy and girly, but they’re also full of teenage angst,” she says.
The collection is bubblegum sweet, with an edge: pattern pieces are formed from alchemy symbols and a floral pentagram was used as part of the shoot.
“It has this darkness to it, even though it’s really sweet and girly… People probably won’t even realise, but I know it’s there.”
Silk, tulle, and chiffon are featured softly throughout the collection, alongside exquisite beading and the Lady Petrova “Runaway Valley” print; a confection of pastel geometry which offsets the soft draping of the fabrics perfectly.
“The Lady Petrova girl loves colour, whimsy, fairytales and make believe,” Petrova muses.
The boutique has always been a haven of feminine treats, offering a surfeit of sweet accessories and dripping with chic labels, including Petrova’s own eminently desirable designs.
The recent store makeover was brought to fruition using the dynamic creative flow of girl power alone; with all elements designed and crafted by talented women.
The hand-marbled floorboards are a rainbow of colour and the counter takes the shape of a darling white dollhouse, while lilac fringing and “Runaway Valley”-printed silk festoon the dressing rooms. Light bulbs are suspended from draped loops of plaited lilac, pale blue and pink “unicorn hair” and artwork from Melbourne illustrator Jessica Singh graces the walls in a riot of pastel-fuelled girlpower.
Petrova explains she discovered Singh’s artwork through Tumblr and fell in love with her beautiful illustrations. “She spent three days hanging out with me in the store and drawing on the walls… I paid her in Limecrime [make up], it was perfect!”
The perfect hostess, Petrova takes delight in sharing the experience of dressing up with her clients and playing with trinkets, make up and floral headpieces for hours.
She explains, “I spent so long and so much on renovating, because I wanted it to be a destination. People can come here and have an experience.”
This element is what makes the boutique so successful, amongst a troubled retail sector, Lady Petrova provides the personalised shopping experience, and makes it fun. `
“I love to go to a friend’s house and play dress ups!” Petrova exclaims.
While she says the winter collection is set to be a little more sophisticated, Petrova assures Couturing that her aesthetic will remain the same.
“It will still always have that magic, like when you’re little and you play dress ups and you feel really pretty…”
The “Runaway Valley” collection is set to fall gracefully into stores in September, but drop in to Shop 3, 237 Flinders Lane today, to enter the magical fairy realm of Melbourne’s sweetest; Lady Petrova.