As Australia’s biggest fashion event of the year draws to an end, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA), discussion has been circulating on the success of this year’s shows and the state of the Australian fashion industry.
MBFWA took place at Carriageworks in Sydney from the 12th until the 16th of April, where fashion fanatics commenced to source out the latest trends, seek new inspiration and celebrate Australian designers emerging and established.
Despite reaching its 20th birthday milestone this year, Australian Fashion Week is by far the youngest on the world stage compared to the big four: Paris, London, Milan and New York Fashion Week.
MBFWA’s youthfulness, combined with its distance from the big four fashion weeks means Australia is often looked to for the most innovative and fresh emerging designers, with their unique ideas and creative expression that creates more than just trends, but represents the Australian times and makes breakthroughs in fashion history.
Although the rise of online shopping giving Australian fashion shows greater prominence internationally, it was evident that designers were looking beyond the Australian market this season and across the shores to an international audience as we saw numerous multi-seasonal pieces and trend based collections.
One of these trends, which was heavily featured across the shows was the revival of the 70s, which was dominated throughout many of the shows in the form of flared trousers. Dyspnea took a bold and creative spin on the classic flare using sheer fabrics and furry pom poms on voluminous flares beginning at the knee.
Bec and Bridge, Ellery and Bianca Spencer took a more wearable approach to the trend as all three designers created chic flared trousers out of lustrous fabrics that draped beautifully in deep red, black and steel blue.
Another, popular feature on the runway was the timeless stripe, featured in a pyjama style look, in the MacGraw collection which paired a crisp striped shirt with a sheer calf length skirt and with white tailor trousers.
Kate Sylvester created a stripe combination mixing up dark and light stripes in a two-piece set. Strateas, Carlucci and Daniel Avakian also incorporated stripes with a mixture of beautiful stripped dresses and skirts.
Metallics proved another popular trend with gold, silver and bronze reoccurring throughout many collections.
In Alice McCall’s show, metallics dominated the collection with a consistent use of bold metallic dresses, cigarette trousers, skirts and cropped tops. Ginger and Smart also opted for a metallic vibe with rustic bronze dresses and tops.
Bec and Bridge used silver metallic swimming costumes, shorts and sleek dresses inspired by 70s supermodels.
Other trends included, sheer fabrics, bright orange hues, calf length skirts and monochrome designs with an overarching feature of ‘volume’ occurring throughout fashion week.
The trend-based pieces were ideal for commercial sale, opening up Australian fashion to a broader market. Although the large focus on trends saw some criticism that Australian style is becoming less original and lacking creativity.
Fashion is not just about imitating trends but it is also about the art of innovation and expression that reflects the current Australian landscape. One of the most praised designers for achieving this outcome was Romance was Born’s collection dubbed “Cooee couture,” which featured unique one-off pieces inspired by Australiana. The colours were bold and bright featuring Australian flora and fauna.
While the collection may not be for everyone’s wardrobe it did provide arguably one of the most innovative collections of the week.
Designer Ten Pieces incorporated the brands Australian identity in a unique way, by using the iconic Bondi Icebergs as the backdrop for their show.
The pool was especially drained for the event so male and female models could parade along the edge and across the inside of the famous Sydney pool.
The show reflected the Sydney beach culture and featured monochromatic pieces using wetsuit material for the shoes.
If fashion is about an expression of culture and art and reflecting the times, then perhaps the most disappointing feature of Fashion Week was the lack of Australian identity. Australia is such a diverse, multicultural nation so why were their only two Aboriginal models featured this year?
With the exception of a few designers, the representation of the unique Australian landscape was really minimal this year, with such a large focus on competing internationally.
This is not to say that designers should take a literal approach to the term “Australian Landscape”, like Romance was Born’s Australiana inspired collection, but instead reflect the diversity of our country by including a greater mixture of models and focusing more on the essence of Australian style.
Although, I think it is important that Australia is part of the international times and in this sense, the designers this year definitely did not disappoint in the way of producing beautiful, quality pieces that will undoubtedly be very successful for both an Australian and an overseas market.