3 posts tagged "Romance Was Born"
Australia fashion week wrapped in Sydney today, and Style.com’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.
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.
Fashion’s scope is undeniably global. If you’ve been keeping up with Tommy Ton’s latest street-style dispatches, you already know that right now, the action is in Sydney, where it’s all about showcasing local talent. This season, when Aussie heavyweights Dion Lee and Josh Goot pulled out at the last minute (reportedly to focus on building their respective international presences), it gave up-and-comers a chance to seize the spotlight. The week kicked off with Romance Was Born’s action-packed collection, featuring graphic prints borrowed from Marvel comics. Yes, we’ve already seen cartoon couture stateside from Phillip Lim, but this lineup had plenty of its own ka-pow. Other memorable moments included the directional, draped looks in rich-colored silks from Ellery (pictured) and Jenny Kee’s over-the-top headpieces and one-of-a-kind gowns. Naturally, there was a commercial focus, too. Retailers are sure to scoop up the on-trend denim-on-denim looks seen at Ksubi and Zimmermann’s perfectly pretty, floral frocks. It seems things are looking up down under.
CLICK FOR A SLIDESHOW to check out our Sydney fashion week highlights.
At dusk in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens, huge white cockatoos are still screeching around as the bats begin to stir, and the sky is momentarily filled with two winged species as different as day and night. It’s an amazing sight, perhaps not as charming as the lorikeets, the small parrots that settle to eat out of a visitor’s hand on the terrace of Heidi (Sass & Bide) Middleton’s house in Palm Beach just north of the city, but a reminder nevertheless that nature never stops putting on a show in Sydney. How can fashion compete, especially when it seems to flourish best in urban environments like Milan or Paris, where the spectacle comes courtesy of human beings?
Last week, the Australian fashion industry attempted to mount a persuasive alternative to nature’s charms, but when the most convincing designers seemed to be those who embraced and celebrated their environment, it was clear that you just can’t beat sun, sea, and sand. (All three were in full effect as Australia’s collections for next spring/summer were shown while this spring/summer dragged itself out in extravagant Indian style.) Seventh Wonderland (pictured, above left) and Zimmermann specialize in swimwear and, like designers in similarly blessed Rio, they take the bikini farther than you could imagine. Nicky Zimmermann in particular struck a sophisticated balance between form and function: Her retro references evoked haute Hollywood, but her prints were a contemporary blend of Spirographs and silvery black and white florals (above, right). And the cover-ups that accompanied the swimsuits (i.e., extended the brand) were sleekly glamorous in a way that seemed entirely natural for Sydney flesh honed, toned, and tanned by endless summers.
It’s a body-conscious aesthetic that has been successfully exported by Sass & Bide’s Middleton and Sarah-Jane Clarke, Kit Willow-Podgornik (whose new scuba dress with Lycra ruffles will spring from swimming pool to cocktail party missing nary a beat), and Josh Goot. Such is their international profile that these designers choose to spend their promotional dollars abroad. A shame, because the hometown program could have done with their gloss and focus. Although Goot, coming off his strongest collection yet, did concede, “Instead of trying to capture what’s over there, we should capture what’s over here, because what we have here is unique.”
Granted, the Sydney flora and fauna have a very particular quality, but Australian fashion week proved a point that is anything but unique. The concept of the fashion week has become a prime component in the cultural identity of cities all over the world (not just cities—Transylvania just rolled one out), and they all seem to feature the same cast of characters: the Local Hero, the Showman, the Avant-Gardist, the Next Big Thing, the Arty Duo, the Budding Supermodel, and so on. Sydney’s supe-in-the-making was 19-year-old aboriginal Samantha Harris. Its Showman was Alex Perry (1,000-foot catwalk, dressy glitz, sleb front row). The Avant-Gardist was Ben Pollitt, whose nom de mode is the more appropriately Teutonic Friedrich Gray (though it’s Rick Owens who deserves the royalties). Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales were the Arty Duo, cross-pollinating with Local Hero with their label Romance Was Born (pictured, below left). Hence, a late-night slot (made later by a 90-minute delay), a worshipful audience, and a collection that joyously erred on the side of delirious excess. (Dinosaurs mating with the Medicis under the volcano? The scenario could have been torn from Galliano’s back pages.) Or perhaps the Local Heroes were the Ksubi boys, George Gorrow and Dan Single, whose denim label hit the comeback trail after some business setbacks with a spectacle that was all crowd-pleasing style and precious little substance.
Next Big Thing? Undoubtedly Dion Lee (below right), 24 years old and already showing the kind of promise that slots him in alongside young Turk peers like Marios Schwab and Proenza Schouler. His clothes were precise and polished, his prints were extraordinary (ultraviolet Rorschach blots looking like eerie florals). And Lee’s show was perfectly edited and paced, qualities that were sorely lacking elsewhere in the week. It was also staged in the Sydney Opera House, a building that is still so breathtaking after nearly 40 years that it’s a reminder of what human beings can achieve even when the natural world on their doorstep conspires to distract them at every turn. And there’s surely some inspiration there for young hopefuls like Dion Lee.