Cleo Collects’ stunning antiques are coming to a lush new Subiaco showroom
While her collection of antiques is timeless, it was only 18 months ago that Bronte Taton started her passion project, Cleo Collects.
In that short time, the antique dealer has amassed a loyal following, not just of Instagram followers (of which there are many), but of high end interior designers and antique collectors.
Later this month, she’ll be expanding her operations to include a stunningly curated Subiaco showroom. Located within one of Hay Street’s heritage shopfronts, the front of the showroom is a dreamy space flooded with sunlight, and houses a thoughtful selection of furniture, homewares and artworks that range from ’70s Italian chrome to 17th century French tapestries.
To the rear, a pleasingly creaky, winding staircase leads up to a second storey – one with some cosy nooks ready for curation (one room will be devoted to Gabriella Crespi-inspired bamboo pieces, another is clad in hot pink and features an entire wall of Murano glass sconces). Overlooking Hay Street, a spacious gallery-style room is awaiting a container of larger pieces from Paris.
“When I was looking for spaces, I really wanted something with good bones, something that tells a bit of a story. For people to walk in and be able to go from room to room and era to era,” Bronte tells us, leading us through the upper level.
“We’re representing a few artists as well, so it’s going to be a bit of a gallery space up here too, which will be cool. I’m in chats with Lums next door, we’re hoping to do some wine and design nights, maybe quarterly, maybe host some workshops with artists upstairs as well.”
“I guess a lot of my clientele is in the western suburbs, given the price point. But I’m also really attracted to the grunge of the city – I grew up in San Francisco and in Paris, and I love that city life. I want it to feel like a terrace, almost like a Sydney vibe, with a lot of foot traffic.”
“I think Lums is also a big drawcard, the fact that there are some cafes and some like-minded creatives and stuff around. I was like, ‘Cool, this is a good spot.'”
After so much success working almost exclusively online, we’re curious what prompted the move to a brick-and-mortar location.
“I was trying to style things in my house, and I don’t mind sharing photos of my house, but I’m quite a private person, so I also just wanted to really separate work and home life. So I think that was a real driving force for me. Also just being able to style pieces – obviously it helps to sell, but it also helps to tell the story too.”
“I’ve had good feedback since I’ve come into this space and have started taking more videos and photos in the space. And people are walking past! I’m starting to enter that Perth market, which was really hard to crack into – the online sales were 90% Sydney, but I think there are people here that are equally interested in antiques and vintage.”
Taton’s own love of antiques goes well beyond the establishment of Cleo Collects, with her formative years spent between Perth and Paris.
“My family is French, so they moved to Perth from Montmartre in the centre of Paris back in the ‘80s. I think when you’re from those Mediterranean places it’s always ingrained: art, food… And I never realised that until I met my husband and he was like, ‘Gosh, everything in your life is so French!’”
“I relocated with my parents to Paris to do my high schooling there, and then I studied fine arts. So that was just a really beautiful world to experience – everything was there! Like an excursion was going to the Louvre, things that you just totally took for granted at the time. But that’s really stuck with me, and my mom’s always had a really huge appreciation and I’ve always gone to galleries with her, so it’s been instilled for a long time – I just didn’t quite know in what capacity it would eventuate.”
“I moved to San Francisco in between Paris and Perth, when I came back I did study architecture for a year and that’s how I met my husband, he used to be a heritage architect. I always thought that I’d live in Paris again, I think when you have those two cultures your heart is always split.”
“I’ve just tried to be really true to myself… I’ve always loved vintage music and film, and I just wanted to build a really strong brand around that and not be afraid to use pops of colour. Just be really different from other brands, and I hope it’s come across in that ways, but I think I’ve really stayed true to myself.”
Fittingly, the designers veer very much to the European, with an Art Deco and midcentury focus. Think 1950s buffets, cabinets and more from Guillerme et Chambron, the aforementioned Crespi-inspired bamboo, Charles Dudouyt, and rope pieces from Audoux Minet. Glassware and lighting is also a focus, with brands like Barovier & Toso and Mazzega well represented alongside technicolour contemporary pieces from Danish designer Helle Mardahl.
So how do you make the leap from loving antiques, to becoming a full-blown antiques dealer?
“It was a learning curve for sure. I’m very lucky that I’ve got family still in France and they do a lot of on the ground sourcing for me, but it was about building an aesthetic that I liked. My auntie works for me, so she goes around all the antique places and finds things that aren’t necessarily listed online.”
“Probably for the first half of the collection I was very, very, very, very involved. I still am very involved, but in terms of being on the ground, I went to France to find those pieces.”
“Whereas now I’ve also got an agent who is in Milan – she finds a lot of antique and vintage lighting for me, and she knows what I like. So that’s been a really efficient process. But I still went to the antique fair in Venice last year, and it’s still good to be on the ground.”
“The sourcing I really enjoy – obviously it takes up a lot of time, but when I do find a piece that I’m like ‘Oh my god, this is so good…’ We found this big brutalist sideboard from Belgium that’s really hard to find and we found it for a customer, it’s like a treasure hunt, like ‘I found it!’.”
“It’s really nice that now that I’ve built up a bit of a brand, people are more trusting with the process too, particularly with art, I found that that’s an area that I really love – which I think kind of stays true to my education in Paris as well.”
“Starting online, I had to market myself in a different way to other antique dealers. Obviously there are a lot of Perth antique dealers that bring in really amazing things, but there’s not that many that are bringing in these specific designers. I just want to be able to style it in a nice way and kind of show how you could do it at home, and amongst newer pieces.”
“I’m passionate about it, too – I’ll talk your head off about this stuff! I want to like give a little bit more information on the provenance of each piece: whether that’s in the form of stories or, for instance, upstairs we’re putting a projector that’s going to have the designers talking about their pieces and their background.”
“So yes, it’s an investment – but you can also share that story when you’ve got the piece in your house. There’s something really nice about that.”
Cleo Collects is located at 435 Hay Street, Subiaco, and is currently open by appointment.