10 Favourite Things: Best foot forward

Family photos, Foxywood shoes and a treasured china swan thrill Paula Perillo.

Paula Perillo from retail store Ophelia in Parnell, shares some of her favourite things. Photo / Babiche Martens

The fusion between business expertise and a passion for creativity is credited as the momentum behind Paula Perillo opening Ophelia, a new store in Parnell that stocks vintage and modern homeware.

Named after her daughter Ophelia, the store is filled to the brim with many delightful pieces of vintage French furniture and homeware, all sourced in France by a friend of Perillo's.

Though born and raised in New Zealand, Perillo credits her passion and expertise to her Italian family who are the names behind Andrea Biani, of which her father has been the head for more than 50 years. Branching out from the successful family shoe business has come as a natural progression for Perillo, who felt it was time to step out on her own.

Combine all these factors with a background in interior design and photography and you have a store that reflects her perfect eye for detail. Tucked away in the Parnell strip, Ophelia brings a little more of "la culture Francaise" to the area along with the likes of Antoine's French Restaurant and the La Cigale markets.

Perillo tells us about her love for photography, teacups and most of all her family.

• Ophelia, 327 Parnell Rd, Parnell. Ph (09) 377 2570


1. Family photos

I love this old black-and-white photo of my mum and dad. They are only in their 20s. They are now in their late 70s and my Dad still embraces my mum like this. Definitely an Italian thing. Passion, lots of love and being forever young.

2. Locket and porcelain angel piece

The locket my mum bought me in America; she always finds pretty things on her travels. I keep it in a tiny china bowl on my bedside table. In the bowl I also keep a little porcelain piece with an angel on one side. My lovely Aunty Lucia, from the Italian side of my family, gave it to me when I was young; it originally belonged to my great-grandmother in Italy.

3. Ophelia photo and swan with flowers

I love this photo of my daughter Ophelia when she was 15. I always catch her with this faraway look in her eyes. She has a brilliant mind and she thinks very deeply about life and people. When she was 7 she went to a school fair with her friend, and spent all her pocket money on this china swan to give me. I will always treasure it, and my life with her. I have named my shop Ophelia after her.

4. Ballet photo of Lili

I took this photo of my niece Lili when I was studying photography. It was the first photo that I ever took that made me realise the endless creativeness of photography, and I fell in love with my camera.

5. Ornaments and cards

I have sourced a collection of these vintage ornaments made of the most delicate china lace. I photograph the ornament and then I mount it on card and sell it to vintage shops such as Romantique. I just love anything with very fine detail and a delicate beauty. I am also making a collection to sell in my shop.

6. Tea cups

Tea cups are a part of my love for china pieces that have a delicate beauty. To me there is nothing more exquisite than a fine bone china teacup. My eyes are always drawn to them. I remember as a very young child, my Mum often took my sister, brother and me for lunch at Smith & Caughey's. I wanted to stop and stare at the teacups in the china department for as long as I could.

7. French sconces

I have these beautiful antique sconces for sale in Ophelia. They remind me of something Marie Antoinette would have in her bedroom. Very pretty and ornate; I stop to admire them all the time, so divine.

8. Farm photo

I love this photo of my partner, Simon. His family have a farm up north and this photo was the first time he took me there. It truly is a magical and stunning place, and he is so proud of its pristine beauty.

9. New York

There are so many beautiful places in the world. But after spending a month in New York, I decided that it is the ultimate city. Nothing compares. I was amazed at its huge capacity to keep you gazing in total wonder at what man is capable of building.

10. Foxywood shoes

These are by far the best shoes ever invented. Andrea Biani discovered the shoe designer Jeffrey Campbell at a shoe fair in Las Vegas. He makes amazing shoes that are not only fab to look at but they are just so very comfy to wear. My pair of Foxywoods live on my feet most days - they give me five much-needed inches, but you can wear them like slippers!

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