Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia exploded throughout the week beginning May 15th, culminating to a colorful and vibrant ending by May 19th. Several designers showcased their gorgeous looks leaving many fashion experts feeling that the isolated local is finally beginning to take root and develop its own unique identity separate from its juggernaut competitors in New York, Milan and Paris. Designers such as Dion Lee, Akira, Michael Lo Sordo and yes, even the reclusive Arnsdorf coming out of hiding to make their marks.
For those of you who aren’t all too familiar with the fashion industry, Australian fashion week is a relative newcomer on the block in the world of industry fashion weeks and is currently sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, held to showcase the latest and greatest seasonal collections from Australian and Asia Pacific designers. It is currently held at Carriage works in Redfern, Sydney and has previously called home to locations such as the International Passenger Terminal at Sydney’s Circular Quay, Fox Film Studios, Moore Park and St. Kilda pier in Melbourne.
This high-profile event was originally the idea of PR exec Simon Lock who also managed a career as a ski magazine reporter. He initially kicked off the event in 1996 with heavyweights such as Akira Isogawa making their debut. Due to the newness and fledgling status of the production, it received relatively mixed reviews, leaving many wondering about the longevity of the production, but nonetheless it’s founder was able to sell the event in 2005 to the New York-based International Management Group for what was rumored to be a multi-million dollar deal.
A year later, Rosemount Estate wineries shortly purchased licensing rights from Mercedes-Benz with the event being renamed Rosemount Australian Fashion Week and eventually changed hands settling amidst the others as Mercedes=Benz five years after that.
Being the new kid on the block ain’t all that easy. Through recent years Australian designers and production have found the hard way that they’ve got their hands full with a lot of proving to do to the international heavyweights, rising above the sea of fashion critics in order to be able to live up to the name they so proudly exhibit.
Models don’t have it much easier. After being put through endless hours of casting lines, rejections, more go-sees, fittings and rehearsals, many are exhausted and just trying to get by with aspirations to follow in the footsteps of their beloved Karlie Kloss.
“It’s like a hurricane: one minute it’s calm and then it’s chaos,” remarked one model by the name of Kate Reynolds from Melbourne .
However, models such as Jordan Barrett can simultaneously through hard work and dedication make it look disgustingly easy and exciting and at $100,000 for a minute’s work – it’s hard to see the downsides.
While rejection is just the name of the game for these girls, many seem to forget the level of standards the production and designers are held to as well. The event has attracted boatloads of international criticism for its eccentricity – and apparently – not the good kind. Critics have claimed it as “out of sync” with the international markets and in 2012 several high-profile designers even pulled out of the event in favor of international events.
Critics also claim that it experiences too many fledgling designers and not enough big names – a trait that many are proud of. It has also been under fire for being too heavily influenced by European designers and the several cheap PR stunts used to gain attention and notoriety have tended to backfire on the production and their designers.
International celebrities are their bread and butter with supermodel Linda Evangelist making an appearance in the 1997 Alex Perry show and Eva Herzigova rocking a $500,000 peark bikini back in 2001 for Tigerlily. Other notable guests include Jade Jagger, Dita Von Teese, Macy Gray and fashion blogger Susie Bubble, who covered the 2010 event.
This year model Montana Cox had the honor of being the face of the campaign working with designer Dion Lee. The collaboration sponsored by Mercedes-Benz was heralded as a “major benchmark of youthful Australian engineering and design”.
So what were the standout trends for this year’s event? We’ve got the breakdown for you.
RUCHES & RUFFLES
At the dismay and protest of many (I, myself included), the 1980s are totally vintage at this point which leaves us reconfiguring, reimagining and reinterpreting the various staples of the era – some good – some not so good. Nonetheless, ruffles are totally back in vogue with oversized skits and silhouettes being offset by in-your-face ruffles “down sleeves and bodices”. For the everyday fashion consumer, this translates to “drop-hemmed dresses” with casual ruffing on sleeves and hems.
Ruched sleeves were just about everywhere as well with deconstruction being a big player for designers such as Bec & Bridge and Anna Quan.
BIG, BOLD & VIBRANT HUES
An even bigger presence at the luxe production? Big, bold, beautiful and vibrant colors. But none of them showed up and took center stage quite like their crimson counterpart.
“Red. So much Red! Everything from the clothes… to the set (Macgraw’s red carpet and Romance Was Born’s mirrored floors)” remarked one blogger.
Michael Lo Sordo seemed to be the standout amongst the sea of designers for really knocking it out of the park with this one. However, this should come at no surprise as he’s been a relative fixture for the past several years. Dion Lee did expectedly well with Georgia Alice’s resort collections wowing audience by picking it up a notch and moving away from the traditional tried and true of the minimal aesthetic to a fresh new take on florals and pastels. Akira also shook it up a bit, displaying a more refined air of confidence, creativity and agenda setting.
So we know it sounds absolutely bonkers right? Flats on a runway just seems like a completely counterintuitive concept given the entire premise of the runway and model is to give them most lean, statuesque and aesthetically pleasing visual presence. However, MBFWA featured the death of heels with several designers and models opting for classic and chic flat versions of their taller alternatives. Designers such as Ginger & Smart, Karla Spetic and Cadrys showed some major flat love as well as others such as VMajor and our beloved Akira. We’re sure there was a collective sigh of relief heard round the world from catwalk models everywhere.
MUTED SHEERS FIT FOR AN ETHEREAL GODDESS
Elegant muted tulles and sheer tops and dresses graced the runway with models serving as an ethereal vision in the contrasting bold silhouettes and salacious cuts. Steven Khalil wowed with his ready-to-wear collection, as did several other designers, draping their models in nymph like knots. Alice McCall killed it as usual with her effortlessly chic looks including a collection featuring ostrich feathers and beautiful metallic and golden undertones and embellishments. We were absolutely mesmerized.
By Danni Holland Ingram