There is a romance to the laneways and people of Melbourne. On a grey summer’s day, people buzz through streets, hurriedly getting from one place to another. There is an energy that is unique to the city, trams hum, delightful smells waft from kitchens and individuality is fostered and encouraged.
Off Bourke Street in the centre of town, down a tiny lane, sits the Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street. Tucked away, but remarkable nonetheless, the hotel resides in the 1930s heritage-listed Equity Chambers. The building has been completely transformed, conveying the essence of Melbourne through every detail. Opposite the hotel sits an enormous 60-metre mural by local artist Kitt Bennett reflected in the glass mirrors of the hotel’s façade.
Taking inspiration from the golden age of travel, the hotel’s fixtures and fittings are all art deco in style. The original wooden panels throughout the building have been lovingly restored by local craftsmen. This attention to detail and passion for craft is important to the Hilton team and part of the reason the hotel supports the National Gallery of Victoria’s current exhibition, Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse (until 16 April, 2023) . The exhibition offers insight into fashion doyen McQueen’s far-reaching sources of inspiration, his creative processes and capacity for storytelling, showcasing more than 120 garments and accessories.
Katie Somerville, Senior Curator of Fashion and Textiles at the NGV, had just started working at the gallery in 1996 when the gallery acquired its first Alexander McQueen piece. In the years since, the gallery has acquired 60 works, mainly through the gift of collector Krystyna Campbell-Pretty. In partnership with Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Somerville has curated an encyclopaedic collection of McQueen’s work to showcase the designer’s craft.
The reflection of a conflicted McQueen is presented throughout the exhibition. The often controversial designer drew on myriad sources for inspiration; in his own words he “wanted to learn everything”.
Having left school at 16 to become an apprentice on Mayfair’s Savile Row, he grew into a storyteller and artist, reflecting on history and connecting his art practice and technical skills to physically respond to the world around him. Somerville’s curation of McQueen’s critically acclaimed collections is displayed alongside more than 80 artworks – spanning painting, sculpture, textiles, prints, photography and decorative arts – to illuminate the interdisciplinary impulse that defined McQueen’s career.
As a partner of the exhibition, the Hilton Melbourne LQS has launched a ‘Stylish Stay Package’, including accommodation and tickets to the McQueen exhibition, as well as breakfast at Luci, the hotel’s beautiful restaurant located in the building’s former grand banking hall. Australian Bartender of The Year, Nick Tesar has also created four unique cocktails inspired by the exhibition’s ideas of mind, mythos and muse, at the hotel’s The Douglas Club (above) for guests to enjoy during the exhibition season.
48 Hours in Melbourne
Luci Head Chef Jason Lear, previously of Grossi Florentino and Pilu at Freshwater in Sydney, showcases the best of Australian produce with a European influence.
“I love the people and the privilege to serve food in the great dining room,” he says.
With a passion for people, food and sport, Lear’s ideal 48 hours in Melbourne would involve Breakfast at Egglab in Brunswick, a bike ride through the parks and streets of the northern suburbs, and a game of football at the MCG. For dinner, he likes to start with drinks at Gimlet at Cavendish House before dining at Maha (above) and a stay at Hilton Melbourne LQS.
Perfectly located to explore the CBD, Lear recommends setting out from the hotel to visit the NGV, Queen Victoria Market and the Royal Botanic Gardens.