Oz Ascending: Five Australian Designers To Know Now
It’s a long way between Australia and New York—23 hours by air—and accordingly, Aussie designers have had less of a presence in the city than they might. But this week, the Australians in New York Fashion Foundation and the Woolmark Company have brought five star down-under designers to the city to give them a chance to shine. The Australian Five, as they are called, get their official American coming-out party tonight at the Crosby Street Hotel. Before they present their collections in New York this week, Style.com introduces the fab five: Kym Ellery, Magdalena Velevska, Fernando Frisoni, Christopher Esber, and Michael Lo Sordo.
Ellery, a Perth native, has long been a standout at Australian fashion week since she first presented her collection in 2007. After a stint at Russh magazine, she noticed a gap in the market and launched Ellery. “My goal: to create garments that women really want to wear,” she tells Style.com. “A seamless urban uniform for women with style.” Her uniforms mix comfort with aesthetics, focusing on architectural shapes with luxurious fabrics, and have been picked up by everyone from Courtney Love to Abbey Lee Kershaw. She’s also got a scented candle coming out this year and, in keeping with her zine roots, she’s working on the latest issue of her annual “book-zine,” the Ellery Gazette.
Unlike a few of her Australian Five compatriots, Veleska studied and worked in the fashion industry for over ten years before launching her own line. “This was something I wanted right from the start,” the Macedonian designer says. Her collections are “textile-driven,” she explains, with couturelike embroidery techniques and lace-worked knitwear. “These are juxtaposed with pieces that have a minimal and future-forward aesthetic.” As she continues to develop her label, she’s ready to start pushing the envelope, developing new textiles and exploring new knitting and felting techniques.
Fernando Frisoni launched his namesake menswear line three years ago, which he then followed with a womenswear collection one year later. The Brazilian-born stylist-turned-designer, however, didn’t waste any time getting his clothes out there. Editors at InStyle, GQ, and Marie Claire have quickly taken note of his “androgynous, sexy, and simple” aesthetic, using his pieces for editorials left and right. Like a seasoned designer, he’s already working on a high/low collaboration for a major Australian retailer. “I’m doing a massive collaboration with a chain of stores in Australia,” Frisoni, who already sells his line in the States on Shopbop.com, tells Style.com. “I love the challenge of working with a more down-to-earth and mass market.”
After completing his studies at the Fashion Design Studio at the Sydney Institute of Technology three years ago, Christopher Esber launched his namesake line almost immediately. “I always knew I didn’t want to work for anyone,” he says. “I really wanted to focus on slowly building a label with a specific asthetic.” That’s exactly what the young designer has done with his rigorous attention to tailoring. His pieces are straightforward—not to say minimalist. “I wouldn’t consider myself to be a minimal designer, even though I find myself always stripping back the ideas in order to really get to the core of the piece and what it’s actually intended for,” he explains.
Michael Lo Sordo
“Less is more” is a concept that resonates with Michael Lo Sordo, and it shows in his sleek silhouettes. “I’ve always had an attention to detail that wasn’t fussy in aesthetic, but complicated in design, structure, and form. My love for the construction and quality of clothing inspires me, but I guess you could call it design OCD—very clean and minimal,” Lo Sardo, who launched his line in 2008, tells Style.com. “I see the Michael Lo Sordo woman as a vehicle of innovation that introduces a new classic style of confidence.” For Fall ’12, he’s continued with sleek silhouettes, using a dark color palette of navy, brown, and black, and intermixed it with soft metallics.