In the past 12 months, some of Australian fashion's biggest names - Bettina Liano, Lisa Ho and Kirrily Johnston, to name just three - have suffered financial troubles, while others - such as Sass & Bide, Dion Lee and Josh Goot - have forged ahead with international shows. Who will step up to the plate at this year's Fashion Week Australia? Here's a preview of what I am most looking forward to seeing at this year's event, and why.
- *1. AURELIO COSTARELLA * *
Aurelio Costarella has been given opening honours this year - his show is the first on the schedule after Monday morning's official welcome. Costarella always flies the flag for West Australian talent and this year will be no exception. WA-born, internationally successful model Caitlin Lomax, who has walked for Louis Vuitton and Chanel, will take to the runway (also look out for Perth girls Sarah Pauley, Ebony Hunter and Gab Sullivan) and actress Emma Booth will sit front row. Lee Preston will take care of the models' hair, while local DJ Aarom Wilson will mix the show soundtrack. The new collection is inspired by classic 1920s and 1930s Parisian silhouettes but with a modern twist. "This season I was inspired by the work of Man Ray and his muses," Costarella says. "The colour palette will be the most intense, textured and vibrant we've ever produced."
- WHEN: Monday, April 7, 8am WST. *
- *2. STRATEUS.CARLUCCI * *
Strateus.Carlucci is designed by Peter Strateus and Mario-Luca Carlucci, whose previous label Trimapee was a cult menswear sensation. As Strateus.Carlucci, the duo are already selling their androgynous, avant-garde designs to boutiques in France, Italy, Russia and Hong Kong, focusing on sharp tailoring, utilitarian touches, high-tech fabrics and a dark colour palette. The designers recently took out the $10,000 Tiffany & Co. National Designer Award at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival. "Strateus.Carlucci have a very clear and strong direction, which is so important when building a fashion brand," Harper's Bazaar editor Kellie Hush says. "Their attention to detail and the quality of their tailoring is first class."
- * *WHEN: * *Monday, April 7, 12.15pm WST. *
- *3. ELLERY * *
Kym Ellery's fashion shows are always a highlight, boasting one of the most glamorous front rows you're likely to see at Fashion Week Australia. This year the Sydney-based designer will present a completely new evening wear collection at chic Bondi venue, Icebergs. Last year Ellery flew in star Belgian model Hanny Gaby Odiele as an exclusive. Who will be this year's runway star? We'll find out on Monday.
- * *WHEN: * *Monday, April 7, 11am WST. *
- 4. ROMANCE WAS BORN *
This year Romance Was Born duo Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett will team up with Perth artist Rebecca Baumann for an exhibition called Reflected Glory, bringing together the fashion label's latest collection and Baumann's kaleidoscopic world of colour via an immersive, large-scale installation. Baumann's art practice ranges over kinetic sculpture, photography, digital animation and installation work, so this event is sure to be a visual feast.
- * *WHEN: * *Tuesday, April 8, 7pm WST. *
- *5. DION LEE II * *
While Dion Lee has been showing his main line overseas for the past few years, his popular diffusion line, Dion Lee II, will have its first official Fashion Week Australia airing this year. Expect clean lines, sporty silhouettes, classic tailoring and easy-to-mix-and-match separates with a strong graphic look.
- WHEN: * *Wednesday, April 9, 8am WST. *
- *6. EMMA MULHOLLAND * *
Emma Mulholland began her design career working with Romance Was Born before branching out on her own. Last year was her Fashion Week Australia debut and it was a hit, full of hip-hop and skater-girl references rendered in fluoro hues. Expect a bit of punk, a bit of rave and a whole lot of energy at this year's show as Mulholland endeavours to consolidate the buzz that gathered around her ahead of last year's show.
- * *WHEN: * *Wednesday, April 9, 11am WST. *
- *7. AUSTRALIAN FASHION LAUREATE * *
The Australian Fashion Laureate recognises an outstanding creative or intellectual achievement in the Australian fashion industry. Previous winners have included Carla Zampatti, Jenny Kee and Akira Isogawa. This year's announcement will be made at an A-list event at the Mercedes- Benz Star Lounge at Sydney's Carriageworks on Wednesday evening.
- WHEN: * *Wednesday, April 9, 3pm WST. *
- *8. CLEAN CUT DESIGNER SHOWCASE * *
A new initiative at Fashion Week Australia, Clean Cut will showcase the work of Australian and international designers who identify as ethical, sustainable or eco-friendly. WA label Bhalo, designed by Jess Priemus, will be among the line-up, which also includes designers from New Zealand, the UK and Kenya. The show will aim to challenge the existing preconceptions about "green" fashion and focus on the quality craftsmanship and fashion-forward approach of a new generation of eco-designers. This is a welcome initiative - London Fashion Week has been doing something similar for a few seasons now.
- * *WHEN: * *Thursday, April 10, 11am WST. *
- *9. AE'LKEMI * *
WA designer Alvin Fernandez last showed at Fashion Week Australia in 2010, so it's been a while between drinks. On that occasion, Fernandez showed a Hollywood glam-inspired collection of feathered and beaded evening wear and cocktail dresses but this time around he is promising a more directional look and a range of daywear options.
- * *WHEN: * *Thursday, April 10, 1pm WST. *
- 10. SONG FOR THE MUTE *
Song for the Mute designers Melvin Tanaya and Lyna Ty excel at moody, intelligent menswear. I've always felt there should be more menswear shows at Fashion Week Australia, so this is a refreshing and welcome addition to the schedule. Like Strateus.Carlucci, Song for the Mute are already showing their collections in Paris and have won a number of design awards recognising their clever tailoring and their use of the finest Italian and Japanese fabrics.