Aje kicked off Mercedes Benz fashion week Australia with a runway overlooking the opera house -crisp cotton shirts, Bermuda shorts, signature balloon sleeves, topstitching and ruffles commanded the runway but I loved the tiered, flowing dresses and oversized suiting the best. As much as Aje drew on their signature silhouettes for this collection, this incarnation had a distinctly Australian flavour with native plants, animals and road signposts all making an appearance. ( Aje top and pants, Bulgari bag, Christian Louboutin heels, Ole Lynggaard ear cuff)
Leo and Lin introduced light cotton maxi dresses, high necks, asymmetric shoulders, mixed print scarf dresses and plenty of lace this year. There was frills and frivolity for the party girl ,as well as blouses and pants for the professional but my favourite were flowing gypsy dresses and skirts strewn with floral ( Leo and Lin dress, Valet hairclip, Bulgari bag)
Bec and Bridge returned with a collection that mixed inspirations- surfing, tropical print, 70s and 80s all made an appearance. All the favourite micro mini dresses were present, along with tiny shorts, but this year my faves were bermuda/ bike shorts, oversized satin suit jackets, bright turtlenecks akin to wetsuits and pleated skirts. I loved the colour palette mixing bright turquoise and orange with more muted tones of mustard and ochre. ( Bec and Bridge top, skirt, belt and shoes, Ole Lynggaard earrings, Bulgari bracelet)
If you’re in a need of a sexy dress or perhaps are going to a fabulous dinner party in a Palm Springs mid century mansion, don’t go past Alice McCall’s collection. There were 80s sequins, lurex, feather lined pyjamas, rhinestoned chainmail and pretty satin as well as the designer’s signature pretty cutout separates in pastel colours. Thanks for bringing the fun! ( Alice McCall dress, Roger Vivier sneakers, Valet earrings, Bulgari fanny pack and bracelet)
Anna Quan makes classic pieces for a grown woman and you will always be able to find a good shirt, pants or suit jacket from the designer, yet this year the collection had a distinctly vintage flavour with knitted dresses and asymmetric tops, long line shorts and pleated skirts ( Anna Quan dress, Giuseppe Zanotti shoes, Christie Nicolaides earrings )
Double Rainbuu may have started with hawaiian shirts but it has quickly grown into the go to label for all your holiday needs. The brand has a habit of churning out shorts and shirts that make you feel like sunshine yet look Hunter S Thompson cool. This year DB continued their travel inspiration by showing in the Chinese gardens, where guests meandered between presentation sections to zen music. New for the brand was the light knitwear and long line dresses all done in the new asian inspired print ( Double Rainbuu tops, Roger Vivier boots, Bally bag)
The week started with rain so torrential, it was hard to imagine how anyone would get any Insta-perfect streetstyle photos. While photographers and the fashion pack breathed a relieved sigh on Monday when sunlight hit the pavement, fashion week was delivering all the colour, irreverent prints, summer ready dresses and gorgeous tailoring on the runways indoors.
It has been two decades this year since I walked numerous shows at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia as a budding model and such an honour to follow so many Australian designers’ careers from their very beginnings, witnessing their evolution from experimentation to the creation of unique style codes. I still get a kick out of seeing my favourite designers create something amazing, and this year was no exception. Here are the things I’m looking forward to wearing most from this homegrown bunch of standout creatives.
Alice McCall always incorporates a lot of colour, playsuits and shorts so short that they make me wanna run to pilates but this year there was denim knee length dresses, sheer tops, printed pencil skirts and shorts reminiscent of bike pants to play with too. I was beckoned by gorgeous sheer cutout gowns and dance floor ready lame mini and maxi dresses in jewel colours.
Romance Was Born
Romance Was Born held their show in the underground belly of restaurant Hubert, transformed into 1930s Paris art deco bohemia for the occasion, complete with a Judy Garland impersonator and a beautiful three course dinner. As the models twirled between the tables, the beauty and originality Romance Was Born creates each year stood out in all it’s sequined, silky, layered, batwinged, printed, lamé, iridescent and intricately beautiful glory.
Christopher Esber is a designer I have loved from the very beginning for his ability to turn separates into interesting pieces through the use of clever detailing and amazing fabrics and this season was no exception. Modern tailoring had buttons made with liquid, knitwear was beaded, skirts were slit to show a layer of lace—these are work to play investments that won’t age.
Camilla and Marc
Camilla and Marc celebrated 15 years in the industry with a spectacular show setting that looked like it was transported from the Outback. Long fringing, off the shoulder dresses, brocade, XXL bags, sleek leggings, tweed bike shorts, skirts over narrow pants, shoulder padded T-shirts and oversized tailoring were standouts of the show that delivered something for everyone.
Lee Mathews has been around for years but the last few seasons the brand has really shone with it’s beautifully printed silk dresses, summer separates and clever prints made in beautiful fabrics. If you could encapsulate summer, it was this collection–I was envisaging floating on the Riviera shores in a trail of light as air silks.
Thomas Puttick's collection had well cut tailoring and interesting shirting but also suit jacket minis, silky T-shirts, lace inlay dresses and perfectly cut pants. The collection offers something to satisfy the avant-garde modernist and the working girl alike, existing on the modern and very sellable precipice of luxury, comfort and cool 90s minimalism with an edge.
Photography: Simon Lekias
Hair and Make up: Katie Angus using Giorgio Armani and Oribe
Model: Lilla from IMG
Styling and words: Tanja Gacic
This post appeared originally on vogue.com.au here!
Among the fashion flurry of designers buyers, photographers, models , la mode folk and a liberal sprinkling of fabulousity, the jam packed 4 day Mercedes Benz Fashion Week schedule delivered surprises, creativity , newbies and awesomeness. (it wasn't all unicorns and rainbows but more on this later). During the course of the week, I kept getting asked the same questions by reporters, so I will share my answers to these with you here as they seem so pertinent, albeit probably answered here with a lot more measured fluidity!
Q: What do you think is unique, and what do you love about Australian Fashion ?
A: I believe Australia's unique geographical position as a country whose towns are urban environments situated near water lends us a laid back perspective in which our wardrobe needs to be multitasking and comfortable and yet, as any metropolis, also stylish and fashionable. I love the way Australians seem to be able to combine colour, beach lifestyle and high fashion into something that seems so effortless.
Q: What do you think about MBFWA and Australian designers in general?
A: I think , truly, that Australian fashion is better than it has ever been. I moved to Sydney and worked at the first ever Sydney Fashion Week as a wide eyed young model. Since then, I have witnessed Australian fashion become something that is distinctive, world class and exciting. Our designers are a versatile, talented and unique bunch and personally, I believe that the way forward for Australian fashion is for our designers to create transeasonal collections which will be an easier sell to opposing seasons overseas (some are doing this already).
As far as the future of MBFWA, we need to create a way to lure all our talent back from showing overseas so that our designer superstars can add gravitas and star power and make this an exclusive and exciting yearly event. The way things stand and unlike it is elsewhere, it is just a really expensive exercise for our designers and it need not be. Perhaps , if the media and sponsors could get involved in the right way, we can create an atmosphere of excitement such as exists overseas about fashion week, which will in turn create an opportunity for designers to show at low or no cost, and this may be able to stem the fashion brain drain and create an arena for fashion spectacles that Australia can be proud of. As it stands, and since it's move to Carriageworks, MBFWA has succeeded in making the week's activities more localised, organised and congruent which is a damn good way to start.
Q: How do you feel about the "skinny" debate?
A: I think coming from a background of a model, I can see this debate from both sides of a coin. Firstly, media does sensationalise this aspect of Fashion Week, ignoring everything else, because let's be real, what is a newspaper without big, polarising headlines , public outrage and cries for change? In reality, only a couple of girls I saw at Fashion Week were actually at a weight that made them look unwell, when most of the models, while extremely thin, were simply young girls who hadn't developed hips or breasts and probably ate plenty. I do however agree that in the last 10 years , the models have got thinner and I do not necessarily believe that this is the right way to go.
While the measurements have stayed in a similar vicinity, the girls have got taller. For a 6'2" girl, maintaining a 34" hip is much harder than for a 5'9" girl - and here is where the problem lays. While designers keep insisting that girls fit a certain measurement standard (no more than a 34" hip for overseas catwalks ) there will be eating disorders aplenty. A tall girl simply cannot maintain these standards and be healthy at the same time. Why not look at each model as an individual and tailor clothes to her? After all , a gorgeous 6'2" girl with 39" hips will still look very thin, but this adjustment will give her an opportunity to stay healthy and protect her future fertility. After all,for me, there is nothing worse than trying to focus on clothes and instead feeling sad/scared for a skeletal girl on the catwalk. I want my models to be aspirational, in a way that I'd think : If only I exercised more, I too could have that banging bod ! I think we all want to see models and think : Beautiful, amazing, sexy, cool… not : oh-oh, ouch ,OMG, is she ok? For the most part, however, girls in Australia do not have this problem.
Now that's out of the way let's focus on what is really important- the fashion!
Carla Zampatti opened MBFWA, fittingly for an icon of Australian fashion who will be celebrating her 50th year in the business next year. Her designs were tailored, timeless and sexy. I especially loved the monochrome looks and sharp separates and Michelle Jank's cooler than thou styling
Ellery held a show at the sparkling Icebergs restaurant and bar in which details, craftsmanship and fabrics stood out. My favourites were the intricate bustiers,slim, slightly fluted pants , pleated details and clean blazers
Alex Perry added Angel dust via Alessandra Ambrosio but it was nothing compared to his encrusted, romantically asymmetric lace party dresses with snakeskin printed leather inserts. I really love the direction Alex has taken in the last 3 seasons and I have enjoyed shooting the clothes over that time. I am especially loving his oversized shimmering snakeskin printed t-shirts with squared off shoulders, which are totally my idea of a luxe basic.
I enjoyed Christopher Esber's show this year. His neat, boxy double breasted jackets, nautical inspired hues and shapes, the gold buttons and the asymmetric skirt all the girls I sat with at the show wanted signalled that he hit the proverbial staple nail on the head.
I love Emma Mulholland like I love the Opening Ceremony in L.A. It's young and whacky but also cool and fun.These are the pieces to mix with more tailored streamlined clothes for an instant injection of fresh. Pair her transparent sweatshirts with long leather pencil skirts or boyfriend jeans and pastel mules, or wear a printed miniskirt with an oversized cashmere sweater and stiletto sandals. Hi-Lo cool ya'll!
At Alice McCall it was all about shiny satin, scalloped necklines, sheer fabrics , pretty dresses ,cool bombers and prints, prints , prints! I loved Mark Vassallo's styling colour and the sheen not to mention the gorgeous way the confetti fell on the catwalk at finale.
I loved the Bianca Spender show for it's mix of vintage and modern, kooky and classic, beautiful prints, sassy sequins and sexy leather dresses. Bianca asked me to walk in the show, so I had a great look at these clothes and the quality is amazing. Can't wait to use my voucher!
Dion Lee line II presented a new version of street with easy separates, cool leather pieces, androgynous shapes and flattering wrap dresses that every It girl will scramble for. I especially loved the backless tops...sexey!
Although the print clash didn't quite work for me,this newcomer still got points for it's cool shapes and marching to it's own beat. I love Macgraw's vintage/modern aesthetic ; wide pants, cute collared dresses and billowing fabrics..One to watch in the future.
My absolute favorite show of this year's MBFWA was definitely Toni Maticevki. Beautiful fabrics, elegant but cool , oh so beautiful embellishments and to die for evening wear. Want. Need!
I did an editorial spread on Dyspnea a few months ago because I love originality and imagination and these girls have it aplenty. In this show I loved their intricate sheers studded with pastel fur balls and gorgeous embellished tops. Not so much the Bollywood story, but hey - each to their own!
The biggest surprise this year was definitely Discount Universe, a new label heavy on punk, 'tood, spikes and embellishments. Katy Perry is a die hard fan, commissioning a whole tour's worth of clothes. But before you think : I ain't Katy Perry! , consider this: so beautifully finished and glossy, these clothes have the superpower of lifting anything drab to another level. My money is on the incredible studded python leather jackets. Swoon!