Natasha Welsh, designer and owner of cool fashion label Natasha splits her time between houses in Bondi Beach and Bali. Influenced by all things coastal and cool, here she shares her secret addresses, must-visit shops and some hidden treasure on the island she calls home for six months of the year.
Try not to hate her…
When did you fall in love with Bali and think “I could maybe live here”?
My love affair with Bali began in the late 80s when I arrived here as a teenager on holidays. The smells, the people, the culture, the beauty, the craziness and the grace, it’s cast a spell on me and hasn’t let me go.
What is it about Bali that inspires you?
I love the freedom here – the Hindu culture here is very open and free, anything goes really. I feel more experimental with what I wear and create here – I wear more colour, expose more skin, mix things together more and the bohemian gypset style that my label is associated with is perfect for Bali; The climate is always balmy…there’s never-ending possibility.
Best Of Bali.
What are five things everyone must do in Bali?
1) Visit a Balinese temple on a ceremony day. Absorb in the beauty and grace of the culture.
2) Travel to the north of Bali and go diving or snorkelling off an old fishing boat – it’s spectacular.
3) Eat in a local warung for lunch. They are everywhere. Really get into the local food, there are so many western eateries here now some people never try the real local food.
4) Hire a car and drive through the outskirts of Tabanan and Ubud where the rice fields are spectacular.
5) Visit one of the many spas here and have a Mandi Lulur: a body scrub and massage with local flowers and spices blended together. Pure heaven!
What are three things people wouldn’t know about Bali?
1) The expat community in Indonesia is approx. 100,000 people at the moment, and approx 25,000 are in Bali. There are lots of westerners living and working in Bali.
2) On Nyepi day, a holy ceremony day held in Bali every year, the entire airport and all homes and business life as we know it ceases for 24 hours. No lights, no sounds, no activity anywhere. No one can exit their houses. It’s a time of cleansing and reflection and absolutely everybody participates, that’s a very firm sign of the power of the culture here.
3) In the 1500s a colony came to Bali from a failed empire – the Majapahit Empire in Java, and there was an exodus of intellectuals, artists, priests and musicians to Bali at that time, which explains the creative pulse that remains here today.
When is the best time to go?
When it’s not raining – over November through February, unless you love the rain like me, then our Aussie winter is the best time. Leave the cold and enjoy the perfect July’s here.
What is your most treasured piece of clothing?
A stunning Fendi dress my son’s father bought me after I had my son as a present. It’s shell-coloured silk with a fantastic padded neck feature. Super chic!
Confession time: what’s in your closet that you’ve never worn?
I bought a Balenciaga dress on sale in Kuala Lumpur. I think I thought I had to have it because it was on sale: a very sporadic decision and I’ve never worn it.
What are the three pieces you find yourself constantly wearing?
In Bali I live in cotton printed maxis from Natasha Summer Collections: they are easy, cool, chic and perfect for here.
Local haunt… I love to hang out at Mama San bar and restaurant. Its great Asian fusion cuisine and interior is fantastic and they do the best cocktails upstairs. A great place, especially after dark.
Area of Bali… At the moment I love Munduk in Central Bali. It’s a coffee and spice growing region. Very beautiful, not built-up and cool fresh air!
Place to eat… on the posh end I think Metis (pictured above) in Seminyak is a fantastic option. It’s a total dining experience; with a French inspired menu. I’m loving Betel Nut Cafe in Canguu at the moment: fresh local food cheap and very cheerful.
Hotel… for a true hotel experience I think the Aman Resorts in Bali are divine –there are a few, all impeccable. I prefer to stay at Linda Garlands Estate in Ubud. Also Panchoran Estate; it’s more like a homestead. Very Balinese authentic, and the most comfy beds.
Spa… the Como Shambhala Estate in Ubud has a stunning ayervedic spa. Well worth the visit… and stay for lunch after.
Place to shop… I would have to say for clothes my boutique on Japan Kunti in Seminyak. For interiors, trinkets, coffee, cocktails, books etc, Word of Mouth down the other end of Jalan Kunti is a great place to hang out.
Place to go for inspiration… There are lots of great galleries opening up with some talented artists. Deus in Canguu gets some great ones as well as the beautiful Biasa art space in Seminyak. Buku bookstore in Pettintenget is another nice place to get inspired. They have a great selection of both modern and antique books and they do a great high tea as well.
Local cuisine… I eat in Batavia Warung, I love it for lunch time. Very authentic Indo food. It’s in Seminyak off Sunset road.
Thing to do… My favourite thing is getting a local lady to come and give me a massage in my bed before I go to sleep at night. I’m always asleep and never even hear her leave! All for about $18, now that’s luxury.
Tea or Coffee? Definitely tea: Earl grey with milk and honey. Addicted!
Favourite flower? I love all flowers. In the garden I love bougainvilleas just because the colour is so vibrant. In a vase I love peonies or gardenias.
Heels or flats? I’m definitely a heel girl. I even have high heeled sneakers!
Style crush? Love a Missoni swimsuit.
Signature scent? Kiehl’s roll on Amber Oil. Love it!
Favourite city? I adore Paris, who doesn’t?
Favourite cocktail? Margaritas, without a doubt.
Beauty product? YSL Black Black mascara.
Every woman should own? Her own bank account. Many women around the world still don’t have any independence at all.
Reading… Keith Richards’ Life (autobiography)
Listening… East of Eden album by Taken by Trees.
I need… some sexy underwear. Bonds undies just don’t cut it anymore.
I want… my son to have a beautiful life.