Since their Fall collection was completed months ago (recall, they're on the Aussie fashion cycle), you can't really chalk up the giddily optimistic color in Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton's show to their recent cash infusion of almost $43 million from Australian department store chain Myer. Or can you? After all, they presciently named their previous collection Papa Sucre (translation: sugar daddy).
Backstage after the show, Clarke described their Fall girl as "an elegant and ladylike urban warrior." That Xena of Avenue A is a perennial muse, but this time around, the designers took a lighter hand with their crafty embellishment—here in the quiet form of plaited silk and basket-woven belts. Instead, they passed the baton to all of the rich and electric shades of coral, magenta, and fuschia in fluttery solid silks and some ikats and tie-dyes.
These Fall warriors get around the globe, and it shows. "It's about different cultures, different textures, and mediums all coming together," said Middleton. There were enamel feather necklaces and motifs borrowed from African mud cloth. Sometimes the piece of cloth would be draped and belted over a pair of striped "wrap pants"—in exactly the manner that Middleton's been styling herself for a while, At other times, the wrap was worked into a garment and just looked like a separate piece. ("It's pre-styled for you," she exclaimed.) Echoing the graphic black-and-white effect was a silk feather print, which had a terrific textural look with none of the weight.
At times, the designers were in too global a state of mind. When the last look, a ruffled ikat skirt, flounced by, you had visions of cocktails by the beach. Not that we ever say no to a mai tai, but aside from a lovely suede dress, there was little here to remind you that this was a Fall collection.