At the Chapel Street Bazarre, a nic-nac treasure trove in Melbourne, I’ve run into a store assistant wearing an outfit that gives you a clue to the kind of person she is. “I work here to support my needle habit,” she says with a smile before explaining that the needle habit she’s referring to is the sewing that’s required to make her creative clothing.
Her name is Dee Goldburg, a feisty and fun lady for who you’d be forgiven for not seeing as her outfits act as an effective disguise among the colorful and often bizarre items that crowd the shelves and hangers at the Chapel Street Bazar. However, while her fashion might blend into the background here (and only here), her vibrant and lively personality cannot be disguised in the slightest.
At 60 years old Dee works part-time at the bazarre and says she’s always been a little quirky. After living in Sydney for 34 years she moved to Melbourne, a city she felt was a better fashion fit for her. “I love Sydney, but there’s something about this place. Melbourne’s got soul,” she says in a South African accent she’s never lost despite living most of her life in Australia.
She began wearing her own unique fashion creations in the year 2000 after she made a jacket out of her husband’s Olympic tie collection. Since then she’s worn something quirky and unique almost every day. “My husband loves it. But he’s a suit.” She says. “He’s conservative looking, but he’s not really. Honestly, he’s much nutser than me.”
Usually, her creations are themed. She shows me pictures on her Instagram of various outfits with themes ranging from Marilyn Monroe to a telephone box! Today’s creation is an eclectic mix of various items, including a dishcloth she bought at the Camberwell flea market. “Today there’s not so much a theme,” she says. “My friend is gay and he kind of made it for me, so it’s a bit of a camp theme.”
According to a co-worker Dee’s outfits are getting steadily more flamboyant as the years pass. She agrees but she clearly loves wearing the outfits, posing for pictures, and the growing following she’s getting online. “It’s easy,” she says, talking about the challenges of wearing such eye-catching clothes every day. “Though I must say when I get home I take off all my clothes and walk around naked, so I am either one or the other.”
Stand outside the Chapel Street Bazarre using Google street view.