Every European city worth its salt has a truly luxurious area in which to shop; a few streets (usually cobbled) that are magnets for those looking for the very best in life. Paris has the Champs-Élysées, of course, a tree-lined boulevard in the eighth arrondissement; London has bustling Bond Street and, for those in the know, the more discreet and exclusive Mount Street, tucked away in a village-like corner of Mayfair. And now, after an extensive expansion completed in late 2014, Vienna has the Goldenes Quartier, or Golden Quarter, in the heart of the city’s First District, which is a listed Unesco World Heritage Site.
Set between St Stephen’s Cathedral and the Stock Exchange, the refurbished area is in the most historic part of Vienna. It includes a century-old building located in Am Hof square as well as the Hochholzerhof building in the Tuchlauben area.
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The Golden Quarter takes in elegant Kohlmarkt, one of the oldest streets in Vienna, and a great deal more retail space adjacent to it: 8,500 square metres on adjacent Tuchlauben; and 3,000 square metres at nearby Am Hof. It is close to luxury accommodation, including the recently opened five-star Park Hyatt hotel, and to the renowned Julius Meinl market. And this combination has attracted some of the world’s most impressive fashion houses, which have established outlets in the historic buildings here.
‘The neighbourhood is not a shopping centre, but a high-quality urban quarter in the heart of Vienna,’ says Christoph Stadlhuber, managing director of Signa Holdings, which has developed several luxury apartments in the district.
An air of tradition
The entire area from Bognergasse and Seitzergasse to ancient Am Hof square has been pedestrianised, and the Golden Quarter has become a fashion haven for the well-heeled. As they browse the shops they soak up the historic ambience for which Vienna is famous.
Located to the east of Michaelertor, which dates back to the 1720s and is one of the most opulent wings of the Imperial Palace, the new shopping district is awash with elegant, baroque-style architecture. The grandeur and flamboyance make an ideal setting for some of the world’s most exclusive brands including Prada, Alexander McQueen, Armani and Chanel.
Kohlmarkt was once home to Vienna’s most famous musical exports, Haydn and Chopin, and it was where the royal court’s jewellers were located. Today it plays host to some of the world’s most exclusive jewellery houses, including Tiffany and Cartier.
Stroll along the main street of Bognergasse and you will see Italian imports Brunello Cucinelli and Prada, which are set next to the expansive flagship store of French powerhouse Saint Laurent. Or take a turn down Tuchlauben and you’ll pass the imposing flagship of Louis Vuitton, which has commandeered one of the most historic buildings in the city. Alongside it you’ll find Miu Miu and Valentino.
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Vivienne Westwood’s Golden Quarter outpost is the brand’s only store outside London to offer couture alongside a mix of accessories and ready-to-wear.
‘Vienna is such a wonderful city, with fantastic museums,’ says Brigitte Stepputtis, head of couture at Vivienne Westwood. ‘Events such as the Opera Ball and the Life Ball, and performances by Vienna State Ballet add to the richness of this historic city. So it is the perfect place to house our Vivienne Westwood Couture and Red Carpet collections. And Vivienne’s husband and design partner, Andreas Kronthaler, is Tyrolean so we have a personal connection with this Austrian city.’
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The spring/summer 2015 collections and other investment pieces from these high-octane fashion houses dominate the area, but the Golden Quarter also boasts an array of younger, more contemporary designers. It’s a mix that works well. Venture off the main streets to find some highly covetable pieces from brands such as Comme des Garçons, Tsumori Chisato, Yohji Yamamoto, Y-3, and Junya Watanabe.
It’s a far cry from the dirndl skirts and white blouses of the city’s past. Mixing the old and the new? It’s what Vienna does best.