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The Oz Principle

A hot summer night for the Australian Fashion Foundation's annual party

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Dree Hemingway and Francisco Costa   
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Certainly, there are perks to being Australian. But for a young person who aspires to an international career in fashion, they might seem to disappear in the vast oceans that separate home from where the action is. Founded by influential New York-based Aussies Malcolm Carfrae and Julie Anne Quay, the Australian Fashion Foundation brings the country's promising talents closer to that action—and the organization created some of its own last night, with an outdoor party at Gilligan's at the Soho Grand.

For much of the expat crowd, the scorching heat was not an issue. "This is nothing for Australia," Carfrae pointed out. It was a noticeably casual affair, with the likes of Dree Hemingway and Calvin Klein's Italo Zucchelli making the rounds in T-shirts. There was Australian white wine—very much on ice.

The foundation specializes in finding internships for homegrown talent, and had a couple of new placements to celebrate: one at Thom Browne, the other over in London, at Alexander McQueen. The flight and a $20,000 stipend are included, thanks in part to financial support from Woolmark. (The big-spending Australian wool board has been announcing finalists recently for its international prize, and last week named Joseph Altuzarra winner for the U.S.)

One designer who's come up (way up) from Down Under lately is Dion Lee, who will be showing in London again in September. He came to New York in typical Aussie-traveler fashion, getting some business in Singapore and Europe done along the way. Lee holds nothing against his native land, he said, but he understands the urge to fly. "We're such a small market. It reaches that point where you want external stimulation, you want to be pushed—new frontiers."

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