3 posts tagged "Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia"
Style.com’s Katharine K. Zarrella reports from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.
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 Style.com. “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.
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.
Style.com’s Katharine K. Zarrella reports from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.
If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize during my short time in Sydney, it’s that a healthy chunk of Australian life is about having a good time, hitting the beach, and looking great while doing it—and I think that’s gorgeous. This is perhaps the only fashion week in my entire career in which the tanning credits have been included in the show notes. If that doesn’t speak to Sydney’s fun-in-the-sun mentality, I don’t know what does.
Also indicative of Sydney-siders’ enviable lifestyles? We Are Handsome’s Spring ’14 outing. Held at the oh-so-green Paddington Reservoir Gardens, the show boasted swimwear covered with splashy prints (a bikini top that looked like watermelon slices was particularly clever), feather headdresses, dancing models, and oversize baubles in the shapes of wild animals and refreshing fruits. The stars of the show, however—coming in just ahead of a few shirtless male models who strutted with surfboards under their arms—were two shockingly calm young ladies who strolled down the catwalk with live pythons coiled around their torsos. “We have a snake print, so it made sense,” said designer Katinka Somers of the exotic accessory. “We tried to get a tiger, but we couldn’t do it,” added her husband and codesigner Jeremy Somers, gesturing to a swimsuit emblazoned with the cat.
Later on, designer Toni Maticevski presented a more elegant—albeit no less lively—side of Sydney style in his impressive lineup of sculpted, kicky skirts, dresses, and jackets. Crafted almost entirely of a non-crease neoprene-like material, the gray, black, white, and acid orange collection had a thoroughly modern sensibility, yet still nodded back to the classics. One tangerine jacket, for instance, recalled Cristobal Balenciaga’s cocoon coat. Meanwhile, full frocks referenced fifties silhouettes, and mesh overlays brought a sporty modesty to skin-baring looks. Also notable was the designer’s theme: orchids. The glossy runway was covered in a shadowy floral print, as was a range of his high-volume wares. “I thought, What if we fed orchids glycerin and weird-looking chemicals, and then shot them into space?” explained the designer backstage. He later added, “It’s important not to shy away from creativity.” No doubt, Maticevski embraced it here. And it paid off.
Tuesday’s runways wrapped with Aussie favorite Christopher Esber’s nautical collection. Big gold buttons on jackets and skirts really drove home Esber’s “women on the water” vibe, as did playful little tags that were embroidered with models’ initials. Ribbed knits—an Esber signature—were among the best pieces in the show. A skirt of that variety was embellished with beading, and a nineties-esque cream spaghetti strap slipdress, paired with a white tube bra, embodied the laid-back sensuality that seems key to the Down Under aesthetic. “Australian fashion overall has a sense of ease and sexuality to it,” explained Esber postshow. He experimented with the latter for Spring with a series of über-short wool-silk-viscose blend bloomers, which were styled with matching conservative jackets. The overall effect of these pastel ensembles was fifties cadet-cum-pinup. As for his future plans, Esber, who has gained international acclaim after winning the Aussie leg of the 2013 International Woolmark Prize, offered that broadening his global presence is currently his main focus.
Day two ended—as all good days should—with a party. This season, Romance Was Born, the cerebral, vivacious range designed by Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales, skipped the runway in favor of a collaborative exhibition with artist Rebecca Baumann—a fitting move, considering the Sydney Biennale is on view next door to the MBFWA site. Dubbed Reflective Glory, the show, which debuted with a raucous dance party, focused on wearable objects of celebration. Shimmering, painstakingly embellished sequined frocks were intended to stir up nostalgia in the viewer, reminding them of unforgettable fetes or nights out on the town. No look epitomized that concept more than a vintage Madonna T-shirt that the designers covered in clear sequins and transformed into a dress via metallic streamers. The garment was made with the same shirt that Sales wore when he first met Plunkett at a house party years ago.
Displayed hanging from the ceiling, Romance Was Born’s wares looked to be dancing with Baumann’s installation of color and light—the space was a veritable kaleidoscope of energy and pizzazz. “We fly our own flag,” explained Plunkett during a preview. “We’ve always just done what we wanted and have tried not to overthink things. Our clothes are more about a feeling.” As for this particular collection, she offered, “We want the consumer to engage with it on an emotional level. It’s not just about wanting to look hot or sexy.”
As I mentioned before, Day Two’s shows magnified Sydney’s sense of fun. More important, however, they proved that there are some very serious talents here who work very hard—they just happen to have a ripping time while doing it.
Ollie Henderson—model, artist, musician, and activist—is a pretty damn impressive young lady. Via one hundred DIY T-shirts that she painted herself, the 23-year-old Australian native (though she’s currently based in New York) launched a new initiative, Start the Riot, at Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week Australia. “The basic premise is to encourage young people to become politically aware and involved,” Henderson told Style.com. “There’s a lot going on in Australia that I don’t agree with. I was tired of the government making decisions on my behalf, and I just felt like I had to do this.” The T-shirts, which models and designers have been sporting around MBFWA, are printed with phrases like “Welfare Over Wealth,” “Save the Reef,” “Reject Racism,” and “Welcome Refugees, Save Lives.” The latter is a cause about which Henderson is particularly passionate. “It’s a human right to seek asylum, and welcoming refugees can only make our country better. We have a lot of people coming over with the hope of establishing a life somewhere other than their war-torn countries, and they’re put in detention centers, which don’t really have pathways to help the refugees get settled anywhere,” she explained emphatically. “Imagine spending your entire life savings to get on a dangerous boat, or sending your 9-year-old child off by herself so she doesn’t get killed and has the opportunity for education, which everyone should have. These people aren’t just seeking a better life because they’re fed up with the one they’ve got—they’re seeking a life.”
Henderson has also launched a Start the Riot Facebook page in order to encourage discussion, as well as a zine, which was handed out at the Desert Designs show on Monday. The model, who told us she collects vintage goggles (during this interview, she sported a pair that her father had given her for Christmas with her protest tee) has yet-to-be-revealed plans to expand the project, and asks that supporters continue to keep their eyes open. As for why she decided to kick things off with a range of T-shirts, Henderson offered, “Fashion is a big part of our lives. We consciously choose what we wear every day, and it’s a great medium to express how you feel. It’s really empowering that you can spread a message to the world about your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs through your clothes.” Right on.