When I pop downstairs to get my morning coffee at Kawa in Surry Hills, I often see designer Anna Plunkett and her dog Monaro walking past. In fact, it’s impossible to miss them because Plunkett rocks sequins at 8am in the morning like nobody’s business.
As one half of the Sydney design duo Romance Was Born, she creates fantastically sequined, spangled and rainbow-coloured garments that she wears at all hours of the day, usually with a bright pink or orange lip.
But sequins can be hard to come by in Australia outside of the Brownlows and Logies in Melbourne, Mardi Gras in Sydney and school formals and black-tie events everywhere else.
And there is really only one other woman who springs to mind in Australian fashion with an unquenchable passion for their twinkle and shine. As the co-owner of the Vintage Clothing Shop in Castlereagh Street, Sydney, Lorraine Foster has been selling beautiful beaded flapper dresses, sequined prom styles and beaded boleros for more than 40 years. The garments and costume jewellery on sale date back to the 1880s and have been used in period films such as The Great Gatsby and The Water Diviner, but when Foster wears sequins she makes them feel modern and fun, just like Plunkett.
Sequin devotees like Plunkett and Foster could find themselves part of the mainstream, as sequins have their moment “crossing over”.
“Sequins are the new black,” Jenna Lyons, head designer of American apparel giant J Crew said last month at New York fashion week.
Lyons is one of the most influential people in fashion, dressing women like Michelle Obama and Lena Dunham. Where Lyons goes, other fashion designers follow.
True to her word, there were sequins aplenty at the J Crew show. They were stitched on to jumpers, they twinkled on skirts and they appeared on a particularly memorable rainbow-sequined blazer that will not be eradicated from my retinas anytime soon.
The trend is going global. In London, Sass Bide and Julien MacDonald put on the glitz; Nina Ricci, Dries Van Noten and Rick Owens sparkled in Paris; and in New York Rodarte, Son Jung Wan and Donna Karan embraced their inner disco ball with embellishments, metallic and more sequins.
It’s likely a reaction against normcore. After several seasons of finding beauty in the bland, designers have become bored with the mundane and are champing at the bit for a frisson of fabulousness in fashion once more.
But sequins and shine are certainly a tricky trend to wear in real life, and definitely not one for the wallflowers. Sequins may shine in splendour on the red carpet, where Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren often wear them with more aplomb and elegance than their younger counterparts, but for doing the school run/grocery shopping/Monday morning presentation, sparkle and shiny things can seem a bit out of place.
To translate their shiny statements for the everyday, it’s important to remember a few things.
One piece is usually more than ample, and for daytime keep the shape simple: a basic tank or a pencil skirt for example. Pair the skirt with a wool or cashmere jumper or cardigan, and the tank with denim jeans or wide-leg trousers and you can definitely take sequins out in the sunshine as well as in the evening.
If even that feels too much, a sequined clutch, shoes or sunglasses will update your wardrobe with a gentle nod to this new-season trend. But after dark is where sequins are really celebrated and you should go all-out.
Toni Maticevski in Melbourne, Sass Bide and Alex Perry in Sydney and Aurelio Costarella in Perth are among those who consistently design good sparkly gowns.
Let your style spirit guide be Lena Dunham, who shimmered in a head-to-toe bronze sequin Marc Jacobs gown at the Point Foundation gala in New York last year, then chose a Creatures of the Wind gown with sequined racing stripes for the Girls season four premiere in New York in January. Bold? Yes. For everyone? No. Boring? Never.