The founder of homegrown rockabilly fashion label Wheels and Dollbaby, Melanie Greensmith, is offloading her work space in Sydney’s Surry Hills, where her business was based for more than 20 years.
The property is just down the road from the store formerly occupied by Wheels and Dollbaby on Crown Street, before the fashion designer closed the business in October, 2017. The 58-square-metre space helped big names such as burlesque icon Dita Von Teese, singer Katy Perry, Debbie Harry from rock band Blondie and model Jerry Hall keep a low profile while shopping.
“A lot of famous people came through those doors for fittings… they wouldn’t go into the store of course because they wanted to stay private,” Ms Greensmith said. “The magic happened there in that area — the shop and office have so much history.”
The designer, who moved back to her hometown in Western Australia after she quit the business, said although the property held special meaning for her, she has no need for the space anymore. “(The office) was there for me, it was near my retail store. Now I’m not in Sydney so much, there’s no point in me having it,” she said. “Everyone loved working there because it was so convenient, near all the cafes, the bars after work, all the fashion boutiques and the hip people.”
The property occupies 58 square metres. Ray White Commercial NSW selling agent Samuel Hadgelias, who is selling the property with Ray White Taylor Jones’ James Peach and Peter Taylor, said the space, which has “true rock-star credentials”, was where Wheels and Dollbaby’s famous creations were designed. “The workspace was the epicentre of Melanie’s creative inspiration,” Mr Hadgelias said, adding that retailers, fashion boutiques similar to Ms Greensmith’s and showroom managers would be the main market for the property.
“Melanie’s former creative and business space is in a highly coveted city fringe location known to be one of Sydney’s top high-end fashion districts. It’s an opportunity for an astute purchaser to either occupy or invest in a sought-after suburb,” Mr Peach said.
Celebrities including Dita Von Teese, Katy Perry and Debbie Harry have been fitted in the space. The designer, who established the brand in Perth’s King Street in 1987, bought the Sydney office in 1997 for $350,000, Domain Group records show.
The property was now likely to trade for sub-$1 million, said Mr Hadgelias, who noted that recent nearby strata properties had traded for more than $15,500 a square metre.
Ms Greensmith closed the Perth shop in late 2013 to focus on the Sydney operations.
For now, she wants to spend most of her time at home in a farm in Perth Hills with partner Mark McEntee, guitarist of Aussie rock band The Divinyls. She also wants to focus on something that has held her interest for a long time – property investment. “I’m seeing how I feel in a while and I’m also concentrating on more acquisitions in the property market in England.” she said. “I’ve always bought property. I started at 21 and just continued.”
The Surry Hills work space serviced the label’s expansion into London in the 1990s and, eventually, Hollywood, where Ms Greensmith’s clothes were bought for actress Sarah Michelle Gellar to wear on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the early 2000s. “We had 10 concession stores in Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Selfridges and Kate Moss was wearing our stuff,” Ms Greensmith said. “We were in 60 doors throughout London and I did all the designing and packing in that office.”
The property will go to auction on March 7.
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Author: Alison Cheung