Manteau Noir is an eclectic and unique retail store located in Daylesford Central Victoria, Australia. After opening its doors in March 2014 Manteau Noir quickly garnered attention and became a renowned destination store.
A charming old-world interior is home to owner and designer Victoria Varrasso's slow fashion womenswear brand 'Manteau Noir'. Internationally and locally sourced clothing, accessories, perfume, apothecary, art, homewares and pantry supplies sit alongside vintage and antique objects sourced from France.
Victoria is a passionate designer, collector and aesthete, along with her dedicated team, are on hand to share their expert knowledge, styling advice and warm attentive service.
This thoughtful and perfectly edited treasure trove champions small artisan makers, heritage brands, ethical production methods and above all, beauty.
"Sleeping in beautiful linen sheets or drinking tea from an exquisite handmade cup are such pleasurable daily ritualistic experiences. You will find a wonderfully cut linen dress in my store or the softest cashmere scarf or a delicious hand-blended cordial made from local produce or an amazing scented candle created in France since 1643. Everything is sensory, everything has a purpose, everything is deliberate", says Victoria.
This was the motivation behind creating 'Manteau Noir' the brand and destination store and Victoria has not looked back.
About Victoria Varrasso
With over 25 years of varied fashion industry experience behind her, Victoria follows the 'slow fashion movement' principles. Her first eponymous womenswear brand (Victoria Loftes 1996 to 2005) was co-owned with her brother and business partner Jonathan. The brand was stocked by boutiques across Australia, Liberty of London and their flagship store (designed by Six Degrees) was located in Melbourne's Little Collins Street precinct in its heyday. Victoria and her brand were featured in countless Australian and international fashion magazines and newspapers. Victoria participated regularly at Mercedes Australian Fashion Week (now Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week), the Melbourne Fashion Festival and she was the recipient of a "Young Australian Designer" award.
Fast forward to late 2013 and Victoria begins to imagine "Manteau Noir", an ageless slow fashion womenswear brand featuring tactile linens and timeless styling.
"The initial concept for the Manteau Noir womenswear brand was to create timeless, trans-seasonal wardrobe staples with a feeling of authenticity both in cut, quality of make and choice of cloth that bring a sense of pleasure to the wearer", says Victoria.
Victoria continues, "My collection of French antique linen nightshirts, underwear and workwear, Victorian daywear, Edwardian men's tailoring and 1920s, 30s, 40s dresses are a constant source of inspiration. I have always looked to the past when designing however living in the country has been a major influence, it has added a more relaxed and utilitarian quality to my designs.
Beautiful textiles are my obsession and I spend a lot of time selecting and planning each collection. Translating my ideas into garments is an immensely enjoyable problem solving exercise. I imagine that at first glance I want to see the woman before I see her clothes, the garments must not overpower or overstate. This is my general concept and I am fortunate that many women also enjoy this point of view. My philosophy is simple, buy what suits you, buy less, buy better, know where your clothes come from, do not support sweat-shop labour or contribute to landfill. Wear beautiful natural fibres, wear clothes that bring you pleasure and comfort, above all be yourself."
The womenswear brand and store name 'Manteau Noir' (black coat) was suggested by Victoria's husband Loz who is multilingual. From this name and the couple's pending move to the country from Melbourne, the now instantly recognisable logo illustration was created by talented still-life artist and close friend Anita Mertzlin.
Victoria explains further ...
"The road that the black cloaked girl is running along with her animal companions leads to our house in Eganstown. Metaphorically speaking the girl is me, barefoot and free, living life the way she wants to, running home. I love travelling and my passion for the worn, aged and treasured always leads me back to the vibrant French brocante markets. I feel at home sourcing stock there, I love the sense of history and the endless interesting array of characters. What will I find, who am I buying it for, who will I meet, how will I get the damn thing home?"
"Loz and I wanted to have a quieter, slower more meaningful life together and live closer to nature. I have always wanted to own horses and was an avid rider as a child so this is a dream come true for me. Once inspired I am a workaholic so we built my design studio and office space within our home. It overlooks our horses grazing in the pasture below which is a beautiful sight. We love our small life here together and the new friends we have made along the way.
I never thought I would start a brand again or open a retail store but here I am, fortunate this second time around, wiser, less starry eyed and with Loz's loving support. I have a wonderful small team of like minded people around me, I feel as though I am on the right path", says Victoria.
She is currently creating a second womenswear label 'Victoria Varrasso'.
"This will be an extension of the existing Manteau Noir brand, a 'big sister'. We will launch for Winter 2018 online and in our Daylesford store with plans to branch in to wholesale. I am so happy to be working with dedicated second generation clothing manufacturers in Melbourne. I'm also designing a small collection of beautiful handcrafted shoes made in a family workshop in Italy. I like to keep busy and enjoy working with talented people", says Victoria.