Master spotter of head-turning fashion and homewares, Hilary Gwillim is one of Melbourne’s true curators of cool – and her lifestyle emporium, Manon bis, continues to inspire.

A 15-year career in advertising took Gwillim all over the world. And in her downtime, she pursued her real passion – scouring hidden away bazaars and boutiques for eclectic homewares and eye-catching style. Finally, her large (and growing) private collection of textiles, glassware and antiques begged to be shared. “I still do occasionally order an extra one of something for myself,” the Manon bis owner admits with a smile.

WORDS Lucy Cleeve | PHOTOGRAPHY Tara Pearce

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Gwillim’s skilfully edited collection of treasures has won her Hawksburn store many loyal devotees. Since its opening 13 years ago, Gwillim has developed an innate understanding of what her customers will fall in love with. Ultimately, it’s her unique vision that her clientele adore, and she’s constantly on the hunt for “things that catch my eye and capture my imagination.”

Gwillim’s own home reflects her natural instinct for easy elegance. “I have no true design background, I like simple pieces that fit together well,” she explains. “A very relaxed environment is, subconsciously, what I’ve created – nothing minimal or designed – just a comfortable house.” But she’s away as often as she is at home. Travel continues to be Gwillim’s muse. She loves to immerse herself in a new place – sparking inspiration through a changed landscape of design, gardens and people. “It triggers the seed of a thought, a thought you’re not even conscious of a lot of the time,” she reveals.

In a fast fashion world, Gwillim’s slow, measured approach to style and collecting is exceptional. Her wanderlust shines through each piece – from handwoven, organic Turkish towels to glazed ceramics in bold graphics from Paris. Manon bis is a superb reflection of a true Melbourne style maven.

This feature is one of our revisited archive features in Issue 25 of Est Magazine. Read the full magazine here.

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