May 13-18 concluded the 23rd addition of Mercedes-Benz Australia Fashion Week (AFW). There was plenty of fashion to go around from new labels and favorites alike. Many labels that have grown from this event have now gone on to show on runways in Paris, London and New York. I came across an article from Forbes about how Australia Fashion Week can become an international success, even though they have had incredible success right at home. Fashion in Australia brings in tourism and profits considerably in addition to providing almost 80,000 jobs. However, globally, Australian designers struggle to compete with international competition. The fashion doesn’t translate worldwide, for example a collection with light colors and materials is popular throughout Australia, but only seasonal, and barely that, in a city like London. Their location on the maps makes it harder to be seen elsewhere, if not for the internet. Online sales are a large part of brands reaching a larger audience, some only work with an e-commerce site, as rent in Australia is one of the most expensive in the world, again as location means they are more likely to export to a majority of their customers.
Those who have found much success have left Australia to compete on a global scale at New York and Paris Fashion Week, but what I like about individual fashion weeks around the world, AFW in particular, is that you do get a sense of lifestyle and what fashion means to locals. There is also flexibility with fashion in smaller shows, compared to how large the big 4 are, since the target or main audience might just be limited to Australians, and what they deem as fashionable. Everyone can’t keep heading to NYFW or show in Paris, because eventually those established fashion weeks will be too full. Bigger brands will survive that with name recognition, but new labels are easily lost or forgotten in all the chaos. It would be more interesting to have labels from Paris, London and New York to bring attention to Australia by participating in their fashion week. Good designers would be attracted to being around other good designers, but instead of Australian houses leaving, other international houses can come to them. Having equally established fashion shows all around the world are good for fashion, not just in way of creative content, but also in keeping cultural integrity.
With that being said, here are some highs and lows from the fashion filled week.
In their fifth season, Ten Pieces intended for plenty of mixing and matching, taking pieces that layer simply and elevated attire quickly. I found the styling to be messy, but there were a lot of cool individual pieces. Inspirations came from industrial architecture and landscapes used in the prints found throughout the collection. Merino jerseys in muted, earthy colors were meant to be a balance for their signature black and white staples.
Bianca Spender’s intriguing modern clothes were sophisticated and fierce. Her collection contained very fluid silhouettes, meant to be moved in. Movement and form were noted as important sources of inspiration. The contemporary takes had references ranging from art to music to historical dress, all with a modern twist. From color to shape, this trendy feminine line had it all.
Yousef Akbar had one of the more bizarre collections, with frizzy looking embellishments and unusual veils that covered models faces completely.
I haven’t been left with much of an impression from Romance Was Born in the past, but this season was delightful. Where it could feel costumey and forced, this season had some kind of sensibility to it. Luke Sales, one of the designing duo said, “It’s really about an authenticity to a garment or an authenticity about a design.” Maybe it was just the glittering moon in the background, or the anticipation of summer days, but I could see the genuine spirit in this collection for the first time. There were bold patterns in big shades combined with slinky slip dresses. Splendid sets, luxe materials and styles combined with sparkly jewelry and headpieces made for a beautiful presentation with a truly romantic feel.
(Left to right clockwise, Alice McCall, Hansel & Gretel, Thurley)
Trends from AFW
*The bishop sleeve, also known as a balloon sleeve, it cropped up everywhere from Alice McCall, Bianca Spender, We Are Kindred and Albus Lumen. All had different takes but they all zeroed in on the summer feeling that comes from cutting clothes away from the body.
*Double up on denim for a classic seventies ensemble, like this stylish take from Hansel and Gretel
*Remember to transition summer dresses later in the season with a pair of boots or closed-toed heels. Keep in mind the dark colors of fall, and mix them with rich tones for a trendy Indian summer palette.
*Keep your one piece, its still your trendiest swimwear!
The Art Nouveau period inspired the latest offering from We Are Kindred. it was another line with great color and prints. They incorporated black for the first time in the collection, in a floral no less. Lizzie and Georgie, the designing team, said they were more dramatic with their play of shapes this season, asymmetry and varying necklines kept the focus on each exquisite piece. Elaborate embellishments and lots of accessories that gave this bohemian line all the extra edge it needed.
This is the second presentation of cocktail and evening wear from Leo + Lin. It had a very dreamy palette and a few hypnotic pieces. I loved the trendy purple hues and star patterns especially. Unfortunately, the runway took a turn as see through ensembles overtook the presentation.
There were some pretty creative runways that were amazing and well executed. See a few favorites below:
Street Style at it’s best!
Photos courtesy of Australia Vogue, CR Fashion Book, Daily Mail & Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Australia Fashion Has Come A Long Way, But Needs To Do More To Increase It’s Global Impact, Milly Stilivnovic, 21 May 2018, Forbes