Tuesday, November 30, 2010

V. Lotus

V. Lotus is a clothes shop at 136 Castlereagh Street, run by former Miss Vietnam Hoang Khanh Ngoc (Nikki) – of all the people I've photographed, by far the most comfortable in front of a camera. The clothes are made in Vietnam and the store features 10 different Vietnamese designers, such as Ha Le, who specialises in knitwear and leather; Ha Thuc Nhat Minh, known for structural cuts and intricate detailing; and Ha Truong, who designs traditional Vietnamese garments with a European flavour. Dresses are produced in limited quantities, but you can also order made-to-measure in any style and colour.

Monday, November 29, 2010

State Theatre

The State Theatre is at 49 Market Street in the CBD. Built in 1929 and designed by the architect Henry White, the interior is a magnificent hotchpotch of Gothic, Italian and art deco design. For $22.50 you can take a tour lasting almost two hours – experience the delights of the butterfly room; stand on the stage looking out at three levels of seating (dress circle, mezzanine and stalls); gasp in horror at the revelations of cultural vandalism (in the 1960s, anything that didn't fit with the contemporary aesthetic was unceremoniously painted over or binned, including a 300-year-old fishtank which had sprung a leak); admire the Koh-I-Noor cut crystal chandelier, which weighs 4 tonnes and is apparently the second largest in the world; marvel at the 1918 U-boat submarine engine which used to power the generator, and the piles of rubble underneath the stage; and sigh at the stories of theft by theatre patrons (one miscreant attending the Sydney Film Festival, which has been held at the State Theatre since 1974, unscrewed and removed two heavy antique light fittings, leaving the live wires exposed). Much of the decor may be "faked", as our guide told us, referring to a prop technique to simulate marble which is used throughout the interior, but it's a grand and impressive building.