MBFWA Wrap 2013

MBFWA Wrap 2013

After all the pinning, rushing around, interviewing, criticising, strutting, beautifying, coffee-drinking and glory – Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia is over for another year. With everything done and dusted, the industry has proved itself with a statement and has noticeably challenged itself to step up from last year.

We couldn’t exactly report everything about everything (as much as we would have liked to!) so to save your attention spans a workout, at Fawn we’ve cropped the week in a way that feasts your senses, but also tells the stories of each designer, even if you weren’t an attendee. Happy reading!DAY 1

This year marks the 10th since the bro/sis duo launched in ’03. And what better way to kick off fashion week, than with the highly-dynamic force to be reckoned with that is camilla & marc. Inspired by the Russian Matryoshka doll which Camilla Freeman-Topper says symbolises “the layers of the label’s past.” And so it did – crisp whites fuses with metallic gold and stark blacks in textures of lace, leather and fine jacquard, culminating in a collection that is signature to the couple. The standouts were without a doubt, finely-tailored jackets, drop-crotch trousers and elegantly embellished sheer shirts. A white leather shift dress stole the show, as did belted safari jackets, mullet and asymmetrical pencil skirts and silk blouses (worn effortlessly by Ruby Jean Wilson in this instance), while super-drop crotch pants remained somewhat unflattering.

The peplum seemed overdone this year, and out of the vernacular of c&m, yet it was an overriding theme of their anniversary. Nevertheless, they delivered a wonderfully memorable collection and proved once again just why they are at the forefront of the Australian fashion industry.

A shining designer to watch – Christopher Esber made a prodigious, minimalist statement with a decidedly crisp, tidy feel. At just 26 years of age, Esber favours clean lines and monochrome. He is a sort of wunderkind. Showcasing his fifth show on Monday, he shined at New York Fashion Week last September alongside the ever-vivacious Kym Ellery (see below) who unsurprisingly made rave reviews out of sheer genius.

This year, deceptively simple tailoring makes the most impressive statement, but with some thoughtful surprises thrown in for good measure. It’s no surprise he works closely with textile-weaving specialists when his love for all things technical manifests as experimental shapes, raw edges and dresses that are unexpectedly slit in the back. He effortlessly created futuristic fabric mash-ups and mixed bonded tweed and reversible knits and silk, with velvet Devore to thrilling effect. Tres beautifique.

On the completely different end of the fashion spectrum, Roopa Pemmaraju has a knack for creating a strikingly harmonious collaboration of fashion and art, and also encompasses her reach to feature renowned Australian women indigenous artists from the Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation. Tribal vibes are a backdrop for striking patterns with a quintessential Australian feel.

Standouts were a wide-legged jumpsuit, belted at the waist with a wide halter neck. A sleeveless A-line shirt dress, buttoned at the collar and, again, fastened at the waist. With the print applied only to the sheer silk overlay, the layer below a plain white, this piece had a great sense of movement as it trailed along the runway.

Pemmaraju naturally gravitates to ancient ways of life represented on today’s runway. The vibrant nature of our landscape is on show: green plant life, red sand, spring wildflowers, wild bush berries and fruits, deep blues and reds of rock formations and the effervescent desert sky. Metres of fabric – these clothes are not for wallflowers – are set up with reproductions of the artist’s work, providing them a new life beyond the canvas from which they’re drawn.DAY 2

As day two rolled around we saw the debut of Talulah Swim and their SS13/14 collection. The Brisbane-based designer has had a dazzling run, and Talulah is now being stocked by the likes of Neiman Marcus and Shopbop – a testament to Kelli Wharton’s dazzling creations. Swim was a delectable flurry of psychedelic prints, forming the basis of flattering two and one-piece suits designed for a multitude of body types. To that we say bravo.

SS13/14 delivered triply florals in the way of bodycon dresses and shirt/short combinations whilst vivid splashes of fuschia played off entirely white looks. In three words: cool, sexy, fun. A retro 60s take on sporty luxe – and prints, prints, prints!

It was an intriguingly oriental-inspired SS13/14 collection on Tuesday. Minimalism met a meticulous eye for detail in Kym Ellery‘s latest runway offering, with gorgeous floral prints bringing to life flared pants and structured dresses. Splashes of white lace and fur emphasised exaggerated shapes, forecasting dramatic lines and oversized outerwear as key spring/summer trends.

Statement shoulders and floor-length Eastern-style gowns with metallic floral patterns were standouts on the runway as were neutral shades of spearmint, beige, white and black.

On a similar note, Ginger & Smart opened their fashion week runway with oodles of midriffs and pencil skirts to please. Memorable favourites consisted of cut-out bras, graphic grids of criss-crossed squares teamed with overblown peonies, bonded organzas in off-whites and pops of print to give it that all needed sophisticated and confident punch.Geometrics reigned, as G&S stayed true to their visual aesthetic, vivacious patterns and graphical block colours were a key trend. Among the other beauties delivered were high-waisted cropped cigarette pants and wonderfully exposed midriffs.

Cobalt blue, pale salmon, emerald greens and black and white combinations formed the essential colour spectrum, while sleek three-piece suits captured the eye of front-row fashionistas.DAY 3Alice McCall‘s Cruise 13/14 collection this year took inspiration equally from both the earth and the sea. Listed amongst her influences in creating this ethereal take on the architecture of nature is German botanist illustrator Ernst Haekel, French artist Rene Jules Lalique‘s Art Nouveau jewels and, of course, fittingly for a cruise collection, ‘l’ocean’.

Structurally this collection was particularly exciting; pleated silks floated wide and airy on tiny models, emphasising the weightlessness of an oscillating manta ray suspended in water, while gravity-defying ruffle detailing curved delicately around bodies mimicking the architecture of a coral bed. The palette was a quiet statement of pale pinks, periwinkle blue and soft watercolour-inspired prints.

The only boldness came with a strong navy and white story which took cues from the stark architectural contrast between twisted, sun-bleached coral and the quietly convalescing deep blue ocean.Serpent & the Swan presented a beautifully mesmerising installation of their latest collection: soft, luxe leathers featured both as separate pieces and as heavy embellishments for soft sheer and lace pieces. Sisters Hayley and Lauri Smith unveiled their much anticipated Spring/Summer 13/14 collection inspired by a shared childhood love of the animal kingdom and a somewhat dark and morbid fascination with the anatomy of creatures and their mystical incarnations. Following this theme, the collection dubbed “Insecta Botanica” explores the idea of growth and the inherent relationship between plant and human life cycles.

Leather harnesses over soft dresses, relaxed t-shirts and shirts with sheer wide trousers and leather bra/brief ensembles aimed to imitate the juxtaposition of hard and soft aspects found in nature, alongside embroidered organza, loose mesh knits, raw linen and fluid silk dresses. Insecta Botanica is a collection of uniquely beautiful and androgynous garments that stay true to the brooding image of the label, adorned with the handcrafted gold and brass trimmings which have become a hallmark for Serpent & the Swan.

Although, a surprise entrant of this year’s fashion week was five year old Vanishing Elephant, whose wares were never really designed for a runway. They are one of Australia’s fastest-growing labels, with a wholesale presence which is strong throughout the country, and bells-and-whistles free, well-made, affordable clothing. The show’s setting was a spectacularly old railway museum at the Australian Technology Park. The label represents a rather one-off hybrid of buttoned-up classicism and indie spirit. More than the average twee florals and motifs of this season, V.E. prints excelled in moving beyond these. An oversized polka dot rendered a denim-on-denim womenswear look excitingly new, while a horizontally-striped linen suit that appeared as though dip-dyed created a strong presence about the designer’s creative progression.

This label probably doesn’t need to show for another five years: their customer isn’t one who cares much for all that flashy hype, and the label’s progression is more sustained than others, which is partly what makes it so popular with its largely male audience.DAY 4

Breaking records in a global fashion week first, though, was Sydney label Bless’ed Are The Meek who have partnered with Tourism NT on their Summer ’13 collection. Projected footage recorded at various locations across the Northern Territory onto the runway in 3D before, during and after their show on Thursday, made quite the impression.Maria Maung, designer for the label, said previously that she wanted the audience to “get a glimpse of the place I had pictured in my mind while I was designing.” “The initial inspiration for the wanderlust collection came from the idea of being in open spaces, places that transcend time. I had seen the work of Australian artist Murray Fredericks who captures landscapes that look so surreal, and so it was a natural progression to explore the NT’s Red Centre, a place that is the source of intrigue for many Australians – so surreal and mysterious” she said.

Back in 2011, Shakuhachi gave us the runway show that never ended – ticking off every imaginable trend box in the process. This year we got a more concise edit, but still with the same need-it-now appeal. You could imagine fashion It Girls and blogger-types jumping all over the on-trend PVC separates, garishly good jungle and tapestry florals and candy-coloured metallic party pieces. But for the less adventurous amongst us there were strikingly simple silhouettes in black and white to fall back on – a particularly good graphic bustier cocktail dress featured, while pretty pastel prints and clean-cut separates in sheer white would look effortless yet modern on a warm Summer’s day.

There was a distinctively sci-fi element to Shakuhachi’s S/S vision, catering to the fully-fledged space cadet as well as earth-bound types. Whichever way you choose to wear it, the future is looking mighty fierce.

Day four saw Emma Mulholland make her MBFWA debut, so popular that a number of people were turned away at the door. The eclectic collection was a loud, bold and exuberant debut from the designer. With a distinct 80s and 90s feel, it harks back to her Mambo-inspired collection in 2011. Her threads have been worn by the likes of Kanye West, the Sydney designer assisted at Romance Was Born and Ksubi before striking out on her own. Mulholland has attracted a cult following for the colours, prints and all-round coolness that she embodies. The admittedly winter themes for summer are combined with a more tropical water skiing style to bring it back to summer.DAY 5

The final day of Australian Fashion Week rolled around, with New Generation 2013, an exhibition of Australia’s emerging names in fashion, with a diverse line-up including Desert Designs, Faddoul, N&S, Tristan Melle, Jamie Ashkar, The Letter Q, Zhivago and Betty Tran.Desert Designs kicked it into gear with a bold, vibrant punch of coral, turquoise and vermouth in tribal prints. Geometric black and white patterns interchanged with the brand’s trademark textiles, adding the modern touch that has given D.D. its edge.Zhivago was another brand that stayed in touch with its budding identity without being afraid to branch out. Translating to ‘daring’ in Russian, their surprisingly restrained colour palette and simple structures lender to a mysterious, almost foreboding allure without sacrificing wearability.Betty Tran, one of the biggest names among the line-up, finished off the show with a very explicit goal: defining the ‘Betty Tran Woman’ – one who is poised, professional and polished. Luxurious brocade fabrics breathed life into simple dresses and basic ensembles.It’s clear why Tran has had so much commercial success – boxy tops, A-line frocks and tiered skirts are very wearable – though the accessibility of the collection felt like it came at the expense of innovation.

Pulling of a full house on day five of fashion week is no easy task, but the eager masses crowded into the darkened theatre to see Staple The Label‘s runway debut. Michelle Jank presided over the styling and creative direction, setting up a perpex divide and creating an air of expectation with dramatic spotlight choreography.

The clothes didn’t escape her tricked-up touch either, with clever layering and distinctive combinations put together from the minimal but modernist S/S line. Liquid silvers and shimmering sheer organza shells added futuristic glamour to the streamlined separates and unfussy, sports-inspired jackets and dresses. It was cool, it was wearable, it was everything your wardrobe wants and doesn’t yet know it needs. Key looks were a grey marle sports piece spliced with white perforated (p)leather and modern organza shell tops and slips worn over simple shapes in white, black and hot pink.

A satisfyingly surprising smorgasbord of garments to make any fashion-lover swoon, 2013 at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia went out with a bang.Words by Gaia Gardiner.Share


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