When high tea and high fashion joined forces against a stunning Sydney Harbour backdrop at the Park Hyatt Sydney Liz Schaffer had to investigate.
The towering jewel-coloured cakes and freshly brewed tea of the Park Hyatt’s Pret-a-Portea are effortlessly drawing Sydney’s fashionistas (and those with a soft spot for harbour views) into the elegant world of high tea.

Pret-a-Portea is a series of indulgent afternoon tea events featuring Australian designers and luxury labels – the ideal girl’s day out. For those seeking fashion guidance, each designer can be found darting around the event, pinning that last dress or tracking down lost cuffs while happily discussing their signature collection.

Established designer Hannah McNicol showcased her innovative collection on June 24 as the first designer of the 2009 line-up and will be followed by Fleur Wood on August 12, then Camilla Franks on September 16. When sipping green tea or champagne, as models weave around stylish tables and mesmerised patrons, you can’t help but lust after a belt, coat or dress. Hannah’s eight years of Italian training definitely show.

Lemmon meringue tartlets, chocolate profiteroles and perfectly draped backless dresses make this a fashion and culinary experience not to be missed.

Allegedly, Queen Victoria’s lifelong friend the Duchess of Bedford is responsible for the emergence of afternoon tea after suffering from “a sinking feeling” at the sociable hour of 4pm. The delectable spread presented by the Park Hyatt’s harbourkitchen&bar is slightly more enticing than the Duchess’s original offering of breadstuffs. I suspect fashion and catwalk antics have also evolved.

Harbourkitchen&bar’s Parisian pastry chef Fabien Berteau’s chic afternoon tea menu innovatively matches the event’s signature tea and is inspired by each month’s fashion. Fabien’s green tea eclairs are alarmingly addictive, despite their questionable bright green icing. The sugar-encrusted scones are the product of late night Wikipedia research and countless kitchen experiments with the very French chef initially unaware of the very English high tea staple. Needless to say, the brioche/scone creation is as distinct as the eclairs and Nicolas Feuillatte champagne that greets you upon arrival.

With the afternoon sun igniting the Harbour, it’s easy to believe that harbourkitchen&bar offers one of Sydney’s best views. While the floor-to-ceiling folding glass doors mean you can almost hear the water lapping beneath you, the combination of sprawling waterfront landmarks and fruit tarts is sure to spark your inner Sydney pride.

The Park Hyatt offers regular delicate, sophisticated and utterly delicious high teas for just $32 per person. Pret-a-Portea is $80 a head and bookings are essential. Lemon meringue tartlets, chocolate profiteroles and perfectly draped backless dresses make this a fashion and culinary experience not to be missed.

DETAILS // Pret-a-Portea: A Fashionista’s Afternoon Tea. To book, phone (02) 9256 1661 or email hkbar@hyatt.com.au

HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you experienced a similarly elegant, or just simply wonderful, example of High Tea? Sign in for free to the AT Website and post your comments below on your favourite gourmet afternoon tea outings.