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Australian fashion week: no big names, but a lot of new talent

Next
year will mark the 20th anniversary of Australian fashion week and, while this impending milestone is cause for celebration, a cloud
hung over Carriageworks in Sydney this year, thanks to the lack of big-name designers.

Australian fashion week
A model walks the catwalk for Alex Perry at Australian fashion week. Photograph: Jennifer Polizenni Brankin/AAP/Press Association Images

To make matters worse, the age-old debate about whether models are too skinny was also reignited, leading some media to dub AFW the Hunger Games. Designer Alex Perry even issued a public apology for casting thin models in his show.

Despite
this lack of judgement, Perry proved his sacking from David Jones
is well and truly behind him – he’s now a shiny star at Myer. With the help of Brazilian bombshell and Victoria’s Secret model
Alessandra Ambrosio, Perry reaffirmed his reputation as Australia’s red-carpet king with one of his best –and raciest – collections for
20 years. It was seriously sexy and big on
colour-blocking, sculpting and glittering textured fabrications, and you can expect
super-short skirts and exposed midriffs for SS 2014/5.

Australian fashion week
A model in the Carly Zampatti show. Photograph: Jennifer Polixenni Brankin/AAP

Also
flying the flag for the establishment was Carla Zampatti who opened the week with signature
sophistication: monochrome, sharp silhouettes and a hint of
futurism.

Meanwhile, seasoned pro Toni Maticevski, renowned for his
romantic red-carpet creations, delighted the fash pack by showing a harder edge. Cut-out pieces, crystal-encrusted
mesh tops and a 21st-century New Look silhouette were the order of the
day.

Designer Kym Ellery showed a highly wearable – if a little bland – black-and-white collection that ticked all the boxes for tailoring and even
starred A-list actor Gerard Butler in the front row
.

Australian fashion week
A model in an oufit by Kym Ellery. Photograph: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Fewer big names means AFW has increasingly become a showcase for emerging designers. But while that has some people up in arms, it’s worth considering our stars (Zimmermann, Dion Lee, Sass Bide, Josh Goot) have
now deflected to the runways of New York and London, blazing a trail for
Australian fashion globally and paving the way for the new guard.
After all, London fashion week is considered a breeding ground for new
talent and hailed by fashion editors as the most invigorating of all the
international fashion weeks.

“Fashion week has changed and evolved so much over its 19-year history,” said Kellie Hush, editor-in-chief
of Harper’s Bazaar. “This
week is very much about the new designers emerging and I think that
should be embraced. The crowd is also young and vibrant, which bodes
well for the future of our industry.”

Hush cited Michael Lo Sordo (who came of age with a
sexy, slouchy, colourful collection) and Strateas Carlucci as the ones to
watch.

Australian fashion week
A model walks the catwalk for the Strateas Carlucci. Photograph: AAP

Eva
Galambos, owner of Paddington boutique Parlour X and who
has attended AFW since its inception, was equally impressed with Carlucci, hailed as this year’s breakthrough star. “Although I could
see some obvious Rick Owens referencing, it still had its own identity
and I liked what I saw, particularly the menswear.”

Australian fashion week
Garments on display at the Romance Was Born show. Photograph: Jennifer Polixenni Brankim/AAP

No AFW would be complete without an injection of madness by quirky duo Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett of Romance Was Born. This season they eschewed a runway show in favour of an installation featuring a collaboration with
Perth artist Rebecca Baumann. Called Reflected Glory, it featured
clothes suspended from the ceiling to illustrate the light and
excitement of a house party and New Year’s Eve.

Which proves you still do need a few names to provide the wow factor. As Hush put it: “Next
year is the 20th anniversary and it would be amazing to see the very
best of Australian fashion showcased in some way at Australian fashion week.”

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