Left : John & Merivale Hemmes at the opening of the Mr Chow Restaurant
Sad news today that one of Sydney's legendary fashion figures John Hemmes has died at age 83. John and his wife Merivale once were the King & Queen of modern fashion in Australia.
Today their son Justin Hemmes rules over a nightclub empire with some of Australia's most fantastic night spots from the Establishment to the Beresford Hotel in Surry Hills.
Whispers has a life long history with the Hemmes. At the tender age of 18 we were hired to run a shop owned by their fierce (but friendly) business rival David Sheinberg whose father owned Sydney's Imperial Arcade and a string of fashion stores that were in competition with The House of Merivale, over seen by Merivale Hemmes and which presented Aussies with the very latest overseas fashion. John was always asking us to join his firm and although we declined, we have remained friendly with the family for decades,
John Hemmes was born in Surabaya, Java, Indonesia- his parents were Dutch and he was imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp as a teen before arriving in Australia with little money. Over the next 30 years he and wife Merivale built up a fashion empire. Today son Justin has continued this entrepreneurial spirit with an enviable restaurant and nightclub empire that employs around 5000 people in premises designed by his sister Bettina.