Sydney’s Newest Vintage Queen ‘Athena X Levendi’ Chats About Her Latest Venture AXL Bazaar!

Sydney’s Newest Vintage Queen ‘Athena X Levendi’ Chats About Her Latest Venture AXL Bazaar!

Athena X Levendi first lit up our television screens back in 2017 when she appeared as one of the cast members of  The Real Housewives Of Sydney. With her straight forward attitude and flamboyant fashion sense she quickly garnered a lot of media attention. Unfortunately, not all of it was flattering or complimentary. But it was definitely character building, which has seen Athena rise like a phoenix out of the ashes – a vintage one at that!

The mum of three has been keeping a low profile lately as she works on making her new venture a roaring success, Athena has opened up a vintage designer store in Sydney called AXL Bazaar and we recently caught up to hear all about this exciting new chapter in her life.

How did AXL Bazaar come about and how would you describe it?

The name AXL BAZAAR comes from Athena X Levendi Bazaar because it’s just like a little treasure trove where one can find the strangest most wonderful things! AXL Bazaar has been a life time of planning and comes from wanting to share my enthusiasm and love of vintage with like minded people. I would describe it as a very cool boutique where people can find vintage pieces that don’t look dated or time warped. Everything is curated and hand picked by me, I personally wash everything, mend and even alter pieces to bring them up to date. We also have a few current season pieces thrown in. Very cool but not mainstream. Basically I cherry pick the best vintage pieces out there. Everything has to be special and everything has to have a certain quality for it to find itself onto a hanger in AXL .

One of the reasons  AXL came about was because I ran out of things to buy for myself and also how much does one person need? I wanted to have a true reason to source and shop for beautiful pieces and share it with people who appreciate creative dressing.

My background has always been fashion but during my 30’s I was raising a family and creating art as the hours were more flexible and I knew having a Vintage curated boutique would need my absolute attention and I wasn’t ready.

Before The Real Housewives Of Sydney arrived in my life I was just about to open a vintage store but once again I had to wait.

I had to wait 2 years , one year after  filming Housewives because my mental state was fragile over all the public  scrutiny and I didn’t want people to  contaminate AXL Bazaar with all that toxic noise that didn’t represent me or what I am all about.

I was reluctant to open my store but I came to realise that nobody can stand in the way of me pursuing my passions and dreams.

WHERE IS IT LOCATED AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THAT AREA?

I wanted an off the grid location, a destination store. It’s exactly that, a small stand alone boutique at 35 Elizabeth Bay Rd. I took over the old Blood Orange premises, They did really well at this location for a decade and had a cult following so I hope AXL Bazaar will also grow a nice following.

WHAT WILL WE FIND IN YOUR STORE?

Vintage clothing sourced from all over the world every piece is special and a lot of thought goes into why we have chosen that particular item. I love the ethos of sustainable fashion and giving new life to well made quality clothing I am not about the branding or the label. I’ve seen many ugly Chanels (that’s why they gave it up in the first place!)

My store isn’t like other vintage stores that are filled with hundreds upon hundreds of smelly things that make no sense. In our store everything is considered, everything is special and every piece has been cleaned . We also take on recycled designer clothing but usually there needs to be more than just a fancy label. The design has to be special or it must be super rare. We stock a very cool handbag range called Kooreloo that’s made of re-purposed fabric carpets and every bag is individual and unique.

WHERE DO YOU SOURCE ALL YOUR TREASURES FROM?

That’s a very popular question and everybody wants to know where I source everything from. Stock is from all over the world as we try to find the crème de la crème.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS HAD A LOVE OF VINTAGE?
My aunt has the biggest American vintage store in Athens so I was influenced from a young age . When I met my husband Panos, I was an art student and he was a jeweller and he would take me to all these posh events. I needed to look good but I couldn’t afford labels and expensive clothes so I got into thrifting and vintage. That was 23 years ago and nobody did it back then so I would have a field day. I was literally the only one buying that stuff. I would even find Chanel in Vinnies !

I literally was always turning up at parties with the coolest outfits. I wouldn’t tell people because back then there was a stigma attached to thrift shopping. They thought only poor people wore “second hand clothes.”

SPEAKING OF ATHENS, THE CITY HAS UNDERGONE QUITE A TRANSFORMATION IN THE LAST FEW YEARS. HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR NAMESAKE CITY? WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT IT?

I love Athens, it’s one of my favourite cities in the world! It’s such a layered city and in a strange way it’s ahead of most modern capital cities in my opinion. If one can overlook the dysfunctional things like the parking situation or the constant garbage strikes then one will quickly start to notice how sophisticated the city really is,

Athena in her namesake city of Athens

Athens possesses a certain charm and beauty which is a gift from it’s antiquity. It’s surrounded by hundreds of landmarks and temples that other big cities wish they had. From our apartment in Kolonaki I can just look out and see the Acropolis in all its beauty built in 410 BC. I walk on marble lined streets that are thousands of years old- the same ones Plato and Aristotle once walked on. There’s an energy there that you can’t deny.

Athens is a place where nobody is ever rushing. It’s a city where everyone has accepted their destiny. Everyone is quite philosophical about life- it’s in their DNA. The Greeks know they’re only here for a short time so they live in the now!

I love how people make an effort to look good and aren’t afraid to dress up – whether it’s to go for dinner or just shopping. There is a certain respect for the finer things in life and every moment is savoured.
Athenians are truly sophisticated and understand the value of life. I really fit in when I’m there. The people get me. They appreciate eccentricity and flamboyance!
Athens is a complicated city and like anything old it needs love and understanding. It’s a city that has survived hundreds of wars and adversities and is constantly improving and evolving. There’s a certain buzz in Athens. It’s the smell, the atmosphere and the people. Unless you’ve seen it for yourself nobody can truly explain it to you. I love Athens and can’t wait to retire there!

FAVOURITE QUOTE TO LIVE BY?

There is no such thing as a free lunch.

TELL ME SOME WOMEN THAT INSPIRE YOU?
Authentic women who are not afraid to be themselves. Women like

Iris Ipfel, Diane Keaton, Giovanna Engelbert and Heidi Middleton.

WHO WOULD YOU LOVE TO DRESS?

All those women in their activewear. Those women in those inappropriate cut off denim shorts and all those women who just wear black ! I would love to dress them in beautiful clothes and show them how clothes are transformative and yes they make us feel and see the world in a better way.

BEING A MUM OF THREE WHAT ARE SOME TIPS YOU’D GIVE OTHER MUMS STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS?

As a mum I had to wait till my eldest graduated high school. I don’t think anyone can prepare you for such a big change and commitment. I guess you have to be organised and patient.

WERE THERE ANY HURDLES YOU HAD TO OVERCOME WHEN STARTING YOUR STORE?

Not really because I have a very supportive family. I am a force of nature and I don’t stop till I get the job done so nothing really stops me. I just keep going. I’ve always had a strong work ethic and being a mum of three gives me my endurance.

FAVOURITE ERA FOR FASHION? 

My favourite era would have to be the 7O’s anything disco lame sequins  !!! But I love the late 5O’s also and right now I am obsessed with the 80’s.

HOW OFTEN ARE YOU TEMPTED TO KEEP STOCK FOR YOURSELF?
All the time but I have such a huge personal collection I really don’t need more. I keep reminding myself this.
WHERE DO YOU SEE AXL BAZAAR IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS? 

No limits, right. If I am lucky and people want to support this little business then I guess the business will grow.

Thank you so much for your time Athena! We wish you all the success in the world for AXL Bazaar and hope to see many more opening around the world…especially in Athens!
(You can follow AXL Bazaar on Instagram

or check out the store if you’re in Sydney at 35 Elizabeth Bay Rd, Elizabeth Bay).

Love, Chrystal

x

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