Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia: Resort 2017
“Fashion Week” – the phrase conjures images of flamboyantly aggressive designers, demanding diva attitudes from celebrities relegated to the second row and mopey, underfed models amidst the backstage pre-show chaos. Accurate observations for New York, London, Milan and Paris, perhaps, but not Sydney. This year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia put on a seriously impressive show in our first foray into exclusively resort-wear collections.
Our nation’s previously ill-timed and impractical offerings were not only out of touch but nearly out of season by the time our designs reached global production and distribution, so the decision to focus entirely on seasonal designs that mirror the fact that most of the country lives in agreeably-to-excessively warm climate at least nine months of the year was, needless to say, a smart move by the Australian Fashion Chamber. This strategic change was welcomed with open arms, facilitating a light-hearted, enjoyable atmosphere throughout the week and further reinforcing one very important fact: we might take our fashion seriously, but ourselves, not so much. Here’s the long and the short of it… in reverse order:
- Simple and structural monochromatic pieces for the modern minimalist – your wallet and wardrobe will thank you for them long-term;
- Proving that yellow truly is the colour of happiness, multiple variations of the hue were seen throughout almost every collection, in shades of lemon, sunflower and marigold. Isn’t it lovely when colours are defined by elements of nature?
- Repeat after me: length, length, length. With the exception of a few youth-loving labels, most designers favoured shin-skimming skirts and below-the-knee everything over their skimpier counterparts. Hooray!
Now, speaking of length…
If you follow fashion (or perhaps even if you don't - his striking pieces are available in Myer stores nationally and regularly seen on Jennifer Hawkins’ awe-inducing physique), you'll know that local and international heavyweight Toni Matičevski presented a Resort 2017 collection to kick off the week that displayed all the architectural brilliance and elegant restraint we've come to expect from him. Structural masterpieces in monochromatic shades ran true to his aesthetic throughout, accentuated by pops of cornflower blue, canary yellow and glittering crystal-webbed cut outs. There were interpretations for bridal and a more mature, layered taste, as well as some controversial accessories that had media outlets across the country crying “50 Shades of Grey”.
Day two commenced with a collection from well-established Australian designers Ginger & Smart that was equal parts tasteful and artistic. Pops of teal, lime and bronze were grounded by textural pieces in black, white and the perfect metallic blush hue that stayed true to the resort aesthetic. The standout piece? The hat to end all hats.
Rebecca Vallance ticked every box in the Resort 2017 checklist, while Dion Lee and Zhivago capped off a rollercoaster of a day with pieces at varying ends of the sparkle spectrum – Lee chose seductively revealing crystal webbing whilst Zhivago designers opted for the label’s standard head-to-toe sequining and power shoulders. Diana Ross would be proud.
Set in the glorious morning sun under the Harbour Bridge, the Manning Cartell collection followed on day three, offering the most variety seen the entire week. Karla Špetić juxtaposed soft tailoring with masculine silhouettes in an array of floaty, androgynous pieces, while Bec & Bridge do as they always do – impress the twenty-somethings beyond the stretches of their wallets. Trust me, it’s a hard call to resist.
The evening continued on an upward trajectory with a trilogy of Australian design heroes in Akira Isogawa, Steven Khalil and Bianca Spender. The Akira range took the term ‘gender fluidity’ quite literally – loose, silky pieces in black, white, navy and beige were underscored by signature pops of red and the exquisite oriental prints for which he has become known, worn on both male and female models. Another High Lord of the local design scene, Steven Khalil, had every type of bride and black-tie enthusiast swooning, from traditionalist to contemporary and everything in between. Rounding out the holy trinity was Bianca Spender - daughter of Aussie design royalty, Carla Zampatti. The compilation played with proportions and offered just the right amount of masculinity, making for a collection that will surely capture the attention of international buyers. Keep an eye on the prodigal child of Australian fashion.
Lovers of all things eccentric Romance Was Born staged an outdoor garden production to commence day four where models with glitter-encircled eyes and teased, curled wigs were adorned in new-age brocade, rainbow-coloured feathering and layered piano keys. Yep, you read correctly. There may be limited opportunities to put these outlandish pieces to work in your own wardrobe, but there’s no denying the ingenuity of this creative pair and the fact that they can put on one hell of a show. Offsite, Daniel Avakian served up a minimalist’s dream and KitX delivered a lesson in cross-textural construction in the standout collections of the day.
Day five focused on resort attire in its truest forms – iconic flowing silks from Camilla paralleled with luscious lycra swim and activewear from We Are Handsome, P.E Nation, Bondi Bather and Cynthia Rowley (Queen of the Neoprene and my pick of the bunch). Look no further than these high-octane prints for your #mondaymotivation and #fitspo.
And so an exhilarating few days culminated in an exclusive MBFWA Resort collection from international powerhouse Oscar de la Renta, led by none other than homegrown Victoria’s Secret expat and multicultural muse, Shanina Shaik; all of which served as a poignant reminder that, while we are so very far away from even the nearest capital of the global fashion scene, we – our aesthetic, our composition, our influences – are authentically Australian and that is something well worth enduring a 14-hour flight for.