This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Rose Chong's Fabulous Rooftop (With Pool!) In Fitzroy!

The Good Room

If you’ve spent any time in and around Fitzroy, chances are you’ve noticed the kooky and vibrant window displays at legendary costumier Rose Chong’s  Gertrude Street store. With its leopard print facade and spangly pink signage, Rose Chong’s is one of Fitzroy’s oldest and most fabulous institutions. Over the past 40 years, the woman behind this colourful shopfront has become a local icon.

Today, Lisa Marie Corso chats Rose in her ‘good room’ – the fabulous rooftop pool where all the best dreaming gets done!

13th January, 2020

The iconic facade of Rose Chong’s costumier in Fitzroy. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

The fabulous woman herself – Rose Chong! Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Rose in the good room. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

A Fitzroy icon for the last 40 years, Rose Chong is every bit as wonderful as you would imagine! Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Rose Chong’s ‘good room’ – the rooftop pool. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Rose tending to her rooftop garden above Gertrude street. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Rose’s rooftop garden. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Lisa Marie Corso
Monday 13th January 2020

‘I lost my mother in the UK and she left me a bit of money, so I decided to put a pool on the roof because I knew it would make her very happy to see us sitting in the pool.’ – Rose Chong.

Costumier Rose Chong is exactly how I imagined. She loves the colour pink, and wears a pink shirt, pink glasses and has a light pink tint running through her hair. ‘It’s my favourite colour!’ she beams. I’ve always been taken by her corner shop on Gertrude Street with its impressive leopard print façade, and have over the years tried to train my brain to resist the urge to look in the shop window when I drive past and keep my focus on the road. But there’s something about Rose and the world she creates…  you simply cannot look away.

Originally from the UK, Rose’s mother was a sewer. ‘I’ve just always done it,’ tells Rose. She trained as an apprentice, went to art school in London and worked as a dressmaker before turning to costumery, and working for a theatre company in Cambridge. In 1973, she moved to Melbourne, Australia.

‘I was lured by a man!’ she explains. ‘And I’m still with him!’ She’s talking about Min Chong, the pair met when he was studying engineering at Oxford University, and they moved so he could complete his PhD at university in Melbourne. ‘He’s a world expert in Turbulence,’ she says proudly. I ask if I can sit next to him on a plane.

When Rose and Min had their first son (they’ve since had three more), Rose decided to start working for herself, and opened her iconic costume shop in 1979. She worked in the film industry for a number of years making costumes before the business evolved into the version of her shop we know today. This year marks her 40th year in business – to celebrate, she appeared on the news dressed in a pink gorilla costume.

The shop has always remained in the same landmark location, but Rose and Min did not move into the residence above the shop until 1996, which brings us to Rose’s good room – which is less of a room, and more of a pool. On. A. Rooftop. In Fitzroy!

‘I do all my thinking up here,’ she says. The decision to put a pool in the sky is an ode to Rose’s mother. ‘At the time we were renovating, I lost my mother in the UK and she left me a bit of money, so I decided to put a pool on the roof because I knew it would make her very happy to see us sitting in the pool.’

Rose designed the rooftop in an all-blue palette. The surface is lined with blue astro-turf and seamlessly connects to the plunge pool. ‘You can see the whole thing on Google Earth’ she says.

The pool has become a central hub of celebration and congregation in Rose’s world. ‘I mean it’s not suitable for high class swimming, it’s only suitable for sitting around, floating on the pineapple and a bit of drinking.’ Rose’s family use the pool all the time, and she regularly hosts ‘very productive’ staff meetings up there.

‘We once had a Christmas party where Min cooked satay prawns and everyone accidentally dropped the skins in the water, a few hours later we looked down and it was like we were swimming in a big satay soup!’ she laughs. The pool also served as the aquatic stage for a theatre production, where a boat floated in the pool while an opera singer performed. ‘Mermaids and mermen danced around it too, it was good fun.’

Rose never misses an opportunity to enjoy her ‘good room’, and says it will be the perfect place to study next year. ‘I’m going back to school to study fine art, because I never actually finished my degree,’ she says. ‘It’s going to be two days a week for two years but at the end I will get a certificate and will be so thrilled!’ I ask if the graduation certificate will go straight to the good room. ‘Of course, we’ll have to waterproof it first’.

This Week

Interiors

The Colourful, Creative Home Of Adelaide Designers, Daniel + Emma

The renovated home of Daniel To and Emma Aiston is perfectly playful, complete with a charming yellow kitchen, and plenty of personality!
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Thoughtful Native Garden Anchoring A ‘Floating’ Home In The Byron Hinterland

Explore the diverse and lush landscaping of Coolamon House, perched on ancient volcano crater with uninterrupted views to the ocean.
Christina Karras
  10 hours ago

Homes

A Refined Bronte Beach Apartment Rental

The Bronte apartment of Monica Colla and architect Ben Feher is equal parts refined home, design studio, and weekend surf shack!

Art

Announcing The Winners Of The 2022 Telstra NATSIAA!

We share the winners and finalists from Australia's most prestigious award for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, the 2022 Telst...

On The Market

A Textile Factory Turned Family Residence Hits The Market

This North Melbourne property has been transformed into a grand family pad over two decades, and it's finally for sale!
Christina Karras

Homes

An Artist’s Spanish Mission Home In Newcastle

The recently-renovated home of artist Annie Everingham and family feels like a piece of California… in Newcastle!
Lucy Feagins
  18 hours ago

News

Treat Yourself To A Better Sleep With DOMO's Epic Bed Promotion

Now’s your chance to upgrade to your dream bed – DOMO are offering 20% off all King and Queen beds in stock!
Sponsored

Food

Julia's Handmade Strozzapreti With Tiny Meatballs

Julia Busuttil Nishimura shares a recipe from her new cookbook 'Around The Table' – an instant family favourite!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Architecture

A New Timber Home Inspired By Music + Performance

Music Box by Multiplicity is a new Elwood, Melbourne home inspired by its musician owner, and the surrounding landscape.

Studio Visit

Inside Bianca Pintan's Vividly Colourful Ceramic Practice!

The Brazilian-born artist now works and lives in Byron Bay, pushing the boundaries with her bold and bright ceramics.
Christina Karras

News

Bid On Spectacular Contemporary Art From Australia's Best At The IMA's Benefit Auction!

Snap up works from award-winning artists thanks to the Institute of Modern Art Brisbane’s glamorous annual gala and online auction!
Christina Karras
  6 hours ago

Creative People

Meriam and Yupungathi Man Chris Bassi On Capturing The Nostalgia Of Home

In her latest column Koorie woman Jirra Lulla Harvey visits artist, Meriam and Yupungathi man, Chris Bassi.
Jirra Lulla Harvey

On The Market

The Most Glamorous 1970s Melbourne Beach House Is For Sale

The 1975 ‘Saade House' designed by modernist architects Holgar & Holgar is for sale in Black Rock.

Stays

A Nostalgic Mid-Century Beach Shack On Victoria's Coast

Escape to Miles Away, a dreamy 1950s accomodation in Ocean Grove, filled with retro details and coastal vibes!
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Contemporary Barn-Style Home On A Working West Gippsland Farm

Green Hills Farm owners Neil and Kristy Plumridge share their barn-inspired West Gippsland home designed by Slap Architects.

Similar Stories

Homes

Lisa Marie Corso's Perfect Off-The-Plan Pad

Our former Managing Editor welcomes us into her Essendon apartment, and dishes the details on purchasing her first home!

The Good Room

A Family Palazzo In Essendon

Today we're excited to launch a brand new column, authored by our brilliant erstwhile Managing Editor (2011-2016) – Lisa Marie Corso!
Lisa Marie Corso

The Good Room

Fitz-Royalty Tracey Lester's Technicoloured Dream Home!

Lisa Marie Corso visits the 'Good Room' of one of Melbourne's most dazzling hospitality entrepreneurs.
Lisa Marie Corso

This Week

Studio Visit

Inside Bianca Pintan's Vividly Colourful Ceramic Practice!

The Brazilian-born artist now works and lives in Byron Bay, pushing the boundaries with her bold and bright ceramics.
Christina Karras

News

Bid On Spectacular Contemporary Art From Australia's Best At The IMA's Benefit Auction!

Snap up works from award-winning artists thanks to the Institute of Modern Art Brisbane’s glamorous annual gala and online auction!
Christina Karras
  6 hours ago

News

Treat Yourself To A Better Sleep With DOMO's Epic Bed Promotion

Now’s your chance to upgrade to your dream bed – DOMO are offering 20% off all King and Queen beds in stock!
Sponsored

On The Market

A Textile Factory Turned Family Residence Hits The Market

This North Melbourne property has been transformed into a grand family pad over two decades, and it's finally for sale!
Christina Karras

Gardens

A Thoughtful Native Garden Anchoring A ‘Floating’ Home In The Byron Hinterland

Explore the diverse and lush landscaping of Coolamon House, perched on ancient volcano crater with uninterrupted views to the ocean.
Christina Karras
  10 hours ago

Homes

A Refined Bronte Beach Apartment Rental

The Bronte apartment of Monica Colla and architect Ben Feher is equal parts refined home, design studio, and weekend surf shack!

Art

Announcing The Winners Of The 2022 Telstra NATSIAA!

We share the winners and finalists from Australia's most prestigious award for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, the 2022 Telst...

Architecture

A Contemporary Barn-Style Home On A Working West Gippsland Farm

Green Hills Farm owners Neil and Kristy Plumridge share their barn-inspired West Gippsland home designed by Slap Architects.

Architecture

A New Timber Home Inspired By Music + Performance

Music Box by Multiplicity is a new Elwood, Melbourne home inspired by its musician owner, and the surrounding landscape.

Interiors

The Colourful, Creative Home Of Adelaide Designers, Daniel + Emma

The renovated home of Daniel To and Emma Aiston is perfectly playful, complete with a charming yellow kitchen, and plenty of personality!
Christina Karras

Food

Julia's Handmade Strozzapreti With Tiny Meatballs

Julia Busuttil Nishimura shares a recipe from her new cookbook 'Around The Table' – an instant family favourite!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Homes

An Artist’s Spanish Mission Home In Newcastle

The recently-renovated home of artist Annie Everingham and family feels like a piece of California… in Newcastle!
Lucy Feagins
  18 hours ago

Stays

A Nostalgic Mid-Century Beach Shack On Victoria's Coast

Escape to Miles Away, a dreamy 1950s accomodation in Ocean Grove, filled with retro details and coastal vibes!
Christina Karras

Creative People

Meriam and Yupungathi Man Chris Bassi On Capturing The Nostalgia Of Home

In her latest column Koorie woman Jirra Lulla Harvey visits artist, Meriam and Yupungathi man, Chris Bassi.
Jirra Lulla Harvey

On The Market

The Most Glamorous 1970s Melbourne Beach House Is For Sale

The 1975 ‘Saade House' designed by modernist architects Holgar & Holgar is for sale in Black Rock.

Similar Stories

Homes

Lisa Marie Corso's Perfect Off-The-Plan Pad

Our former Managing Editor welcomes us into her Essendon apartment, and dishes the details on purchasing her first home!

The Good Room

A Family Palazzo In Essendon

Welcome to the Essendon home of Mick and Pauline Toscano.
Lisa Marie Corso

The Good Room

Fitz-Royalty Tracey Lester's Technicoloured Dream Home!

Lisa Marie Corso visits the 'Good Room' of one of Melbourne's most dazzling hospitality entrepreneurs.
Lisa Marie Corso

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net