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4 posts tagged "Lover"

Down Under Update: An In-Depth Look at Australia Fashion Week, Days Three and Four

-------’s Katharine K. Zarrella reports from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.

dion lee II

Dion Lee is one of Sydney’s hottest young fashion stars. And the designer, who has shown his mainline collection in New York for the past two seasons, kicked off Day Three of MBFWA with a strong Spring ’14 presentation of his secondary range, aptly named Dion Lee II. Held in a warehouse, the exposed beams of which were draped with an airy white fabric, Lee’s lineup had a thoughtful ease to it. Colors were cool and simple—various hues of blues, whites, and blacks, with splashes of red and electric orange—and silhouettes were relaxed but also technical. Several looks featured deconstructed jackets in denim or leather, which were then attached to skirts, dresses, and trousers and transformed into clever, laid-back bustles. Elsewhere, suit jackets and blouses were slit up the spine to expose models’ bare (and tan) backs, and shirts and blazers offered clever cutouts—usually at the elbow or hip. “There was this concept of twenty-four hours,” explained Lee backstage. “I was inspired by the shift in how people dress today—you mix together all the genres of your wardrobe, from sportswear to eveningwear, tailoring, and even a little bit of loungewear, and I think the blend of all those elements is the defining category of the brand.”

Having opened his first Sydney flagship in December and set to bow another in Melbourne come July, Lee has experienced not only homeland, but international success. But that’s not always the case for Australian talents. Given their country’s distance from, well, everything; the import taxes that implies; the decline of domestic manufacturing; and the fact that Aussie designers are on an opposite seasonal schedule from Paris, London, New York, and Milan, the youngsters Down Under often have a rough go of it. Furthermore, designers have had no support system, like the CFDA in New York or BFC in London, to help them find their way. Through the Australian Fashion Chamber, which was discussed at an open forum during Day Four of MBFWA, Vogue Australia editor in chief Edwina McCann hopes to change that. “I’d love to see an Australian superstar,” McCann told “But big-picture-wise, I think we need to redefine success. [Australians] have always looked at success as having a really healthy retail business in Australia, exporting and perhaps even showing on the Paris schedule, but I think nowadays, we need to understand that some of our best graduates would be best to go to bigger houses and work their way up,” she explained, noting that she’s had significant support from the CFDA, Anna Wintour, and Franca Sozzani.

Josh Goot

The Chamber is still in its early stages of development and needs to secure further funding (for sponsors and/or the government), as well as tailor its goals to the needs of Australian designers. For instance, one topic brought up by a few designers is the fact that Sydney doesn’t have a low-cost or free platform like New York’s Milk Studios or London’s Topshop show space. Another key concern among designers is how to navigate the opposing seasonal selling schedules of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Josh Goot, who showed me his terribly impressive Fall ’14 collection during a studio visit, thinks the Chamber is a good first step. “It will join a lot of dots, and it’s great to have a not-for-profit organization that’s invested in the future of Australian fashion,” he said, before walking me through his impressive lineup of black-and-white, glitch-inspired wares. Goot, who has twenty stockists in Oz, as well as twenty abroad and Australian flagships, told me the focus for Fall was on “digitally decayed beauty.” This translated into fragmented floral jacquard prints. Elsewhere, he focused on a new, more streamlined look for the label, offering easy but sophisticated silhouettes. Black foam-bonded tops and skirts with silver insets were simultaneously sculptural and easy. Other standouts included layered skirts and T-shirts, a series of smart wool outerwear, and a skirt with a thick black waistband. Goot, who showed the latter with a black turtleneck, mused, “I’d want to know the girl who’s wearing that.” Considering how well he seems to understand his client, I’d imagine he already does.

After my chat with Goot, I walked a few streets over to visit with Lover designers Susien Chong and Nic Briand. This pair has managed to cultivate a healthy international following, which includes celebs like Emma Watson and a handful of Victoria’s Secret Angels. While 50 percent of Lover’s sales are currently exports, the designers assert that for Australian-based brands, their hometown market will always be their most important—a concerning fact, perhaps, considering the rapid pace at which fast-fashion chains are arriving in Oz. “We have 22 million people here. You’re bringing all those stores here. On top of that you’re going to have a new generation that grows up shopping at those stores. It will be very interesting to see how designers sustain their businesses. But at some point,” Briand said, “I think there’s going to be a kickback.”


Nadia Napreychikov and Cami James, the designers behind cult label Di$count—which closed out MBFWA with an off-schedule show on Thursday night—don’t really need to worry about competing with fast-fashion chains. That is, unless Topshop starts producing hand-sequined leggings, coats, and ass-less dresses with text like “Sex” or “You Will Never Own Me” across the front. To the beats of heavy metal, Di$count’s models hopped on a spinning mirrored platform, and showed off coats and frocks embellished with menacing, large-lipped faces; tights beaded with Mickey Mouse heads, smiley faces, and lewd phrases; and a robe garnished with electric pink fur and a giant purple eyeball. These clothes were not for the faint of heart. (In fact, they’re probably geared toward Di$count’s current clients, like Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Britney Spears.) However, other pieces, including sparkling, tassel-drawstring basketball shorts and covetable studded leather jackets in a rainbow of hues, have mainstream appeal. As for where they get their techno-club aesthetic, the designers said, “Each piece is its own story. We just like to combine everything we love, and the inspirations come from what we’ve experienced in our lives.” Judging by their psychedelic Spring outing, Napreychikov and James, both in their late 20s, have led a life jam-packed with adventures.

Photos: Courtesy of Dion Lee; Courtesy of Josh Goot; Justin Ridler 

Karen Elson’s Got a New Lover


Karen Elson for Lover“She was at the top of our list, but it was an ‘in your dreams’ kind of thing,” recalled Nic Briand, one half of the design duo, along with partner Susien Chong, behind Australian label Lover. He’s talking about Karen Elson, the star of the decade-old brand’s first-ever campaign, which, debuting exclusively here, features the fiery-haired English beauty in Lover’s romantic coated-lace and silk Fall ’13 collection. “Karen has always been one of our all-time fantasy muses. She’s up there with people like Charlotte Rampling and Jane Birkin,” said Briand. “We met her briefly, at a friend’s wedding, and in and of itself that encounter would have been enough. When she said she was a fan of the clothes and that she wanted to do the campaign, we were blown away.”

The images, lensed by Lina Scheynius and styled by Leith Clark, show Elson lounging in soft, natural light. It’s an organic compilation that feels just stripped-down and confidently fragile enough for Chong and Briand’s delicate designs. Baby blue, slightly ruffling minidresses with sheer lace detailing have an almost Victorian feeling, while high-neck lace cocktail dresses were inspired by musicians such as Courtney Love and Patti Smith. “There’s this vulnerability about them, but their stage presence is so in-your-face. We love that duality to come through in the clothes,” said Briand. Continue Reading “Karen Elson’s Got a New Lover” »

Australia Fashion Week Comes to a Close


Australia fashion week wrapped in Sydney today, and’s special projects editor, Maya Singer, has been reporting back on the most exciting shows. To view our complete Australia fashion week coverage, click here.

Day 5:
Fashion week in Sydney concluded this afternoon with a show by Zambesi (left), one of the major brands from New Zealand. Even if you hadn’t known that Zambesi was based in Auckland, the clothes on the runway made it altogether clear that a non-Australian sensibility was at work. To put it plainly, Zambesi designers Elisabeth Findlay and Dayne Johnston have an affection for the eccentric and borderline frumpy that the local Sydney designers do not share at all. The men’s looks, designed by Johnston, were relatively straightforward—vaguely thuggish tailoring, plus the odd flourish like a pair of tailored wool shortalls. The womenswear, from Findlay, had a bit more range, with crispy and rather clinical white looks ebbing into more challenging pieces, such as long narrow dresses covered with fringe tassels. For both sexes, the sharpest looks were the ones in a tartan organza; very on-trend, that.

Zambesi aren’t the only carpetbaggers on the Australian fashion scene. Jewelry designer Estelle Dévé hails from the South of France, originally, but her brand is based in Melbourne, and in the five years since she launched, it has emerged as something of a cult phenomenon. Dévé’s signature pieces are plated rings with a rough-hewn look; this season, she’s elevated her aesthetic quite a bit, drawing on her French heritage for a bit of soigné, and sourcing influence from the surrealists. Standout pieces in the new collection include statement necklaces with egg-shaped crystal pendants half-covered in a dissolving layer of silver.

Dévé adapted several pieces from the new collection for a capsule range of bracelets and necklaces made in collaboration with Camilla and Marc (left). Those pieces were on the Camilla and Marc catwalk at the very start of Australian Fashion Week; so too was the jewelry work of Ryan Storer, whose dangerous-looking ear pieces adorned all the models at the show. Storey’s brand is ultra-new”—his very small debut collection is shipping to stores now, with a selection of the ear pieces due to arrive at Browns in London at any moment.

Photo: Matt Jelonek/ Getty Images (Zambesi); Courtesy of Estelle Dévé and Camilla and Marc

Continue Reading “Australia Fashion Week Comes to a Close” »

Sweating The Details Of The Sweats Trend


I am a girl who loves a good hoodie. I have been known to make brunch in the pair of baggy Champion sweats I have worn—and adored—since college. I prefer comfort to discomfort and ease to difficulty, and I am non-categorical about high fashion and low. Theoretically, I am the target market for the fashion makeover of fleece that is currently afoot. And yet: Something in the mind revolts. It’s not that Alexander Wang’s sweat shorts are currently retailing for the ambitious price of $225, or that Osklen’s pleated sweat dresses and loose, floor-skimming sweat skirts for Fall ’09 strike me as a whit too conceptual for a cotton Gwyneth doesn’t even want to let into her new Tribeca gym. No, my problem with the sweats trend is more general. I want to preserve the distinction between clothes you wear to look stylish, and the stuff you put on when you just don’t care. I would hate for sweats to go the way of denim and draped tees and become a fetishized, merchandised must-have; the kind of thing that demands a rigorous attention to detail. I suspect that when sweats become a fashion item, it won’t make my lifestyle more casual, but less. Lover’s circular cape in gray marl has me convinced that fleece can look streetwise and suave, but I’m not yet convinced that it should. What do you say? To sweat or not to sweat?




Photo: Courtesy of Lover