Maticevski fashions drama for grand show

Benita Kolovos
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MELBOURNE FASHION FESTIVAL

Cowboy hats were an exaggerated accessory on designer Toni Maticevski's Grand Showcase runway

Melbourne fashion designer Toni Maticevski promised drama and extravagance at a runway show in his home town and did not disappoint.

Maticevski returned to Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building on Thursday night to present the Grand Showcase at Melbourne Fashion Festival.

The show featured lots of flesh, macro-ruffles, embellished ball gowns, dramatic capes and a glorious sense of volume.

Sweet, hyper-feminine silhouettes were juxtaposed with the masculinity of Maticevski's tailoring and male models in sheer blouses and gowns.

There were also exaggerated accessories including gloves, blindfolds, cowboy hats, knee-high boots and futuristic sunglasses.

Excluding a few lavender numbers, the show was largely monochromatic and featured pieces from Maticevski's autumn-winter range currently in stores as well as future ready-to-wear collections.

The Grand Showcase is the highest honour on the Melbourne Fashion Festival calendar, bestowed upon one designer each year by organisers.

Previous Grand Showcase designers include legendary Australian designer Carla Zampatti, Ginger and Smart, and Camilla and Marc.

Before the show, Maticevski warned he would be amping up the drama, telling AAP: "There will definitely be a few surprises in there."

After debuting his last few collections in Paris, he said it was a great feeling staging his biggest runway show to date in front of a "home audience".

"It definitely feels different showing in Australia versus showing in Paris ... it feels warmer and more engaged," he said.

"It's where my customer has developed with my aesthetic and unique style. They understand and embrace it probably more so because they have seen and understood its evolution."

Festival CEO Graeme Lewsey said Maticevski's work is an "exhibition of creative and original Australian design, on which the foundation of the festival was built".

"With his experimental approach, eschewing mainstream trends, Toni's collections demonstrate somewhat of a creative utopia, and has continually shown how one can quietly achieve global success through a genuine talent and a dedicated approach to the fashion business," he said in a statement.

Since launching his label in 1999, Maticevski has become renowned for his high-glamour mix of structured, architectural silhouettes and fragile flourishes of tulle, silk and draping.

The designer has grown his portfolio from ready-to-wear into bridal gowns, costumes for the Australian Ballet and Sydney Dance Company, and bespoke pieces for celebrities including Jennifer Lopez.

Maticevski won Australia's National Designer Award in 2002 and in 2012 he staged a retrospective show at the Melbourne Fashion Festival.