Last night waiting for WA label Zhivago’s show to start, I began to feel a little bit like I was on a set for cult sci-fi film Blade Runner.
The designers, Lara Kovacevich and Lydia Tsvetnenko, and their WA-based production team, The Studio, had chosen a dilapidated old paint workshop behind the main Carriageworks venue at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney.
Eerie blue-green strip lighting had been inserted along the edges of the runway and a series of proscenium arches were lit up in an equally eerie blue.
When the first models came down the runway, the Blade Runner effect was complete. Blade Runner’s fashions, which had a retro-futuristic feel, went on to be a strong reference point in the 1980s.
Big voluminous hair, exaggerated padded shoulders (yes, those ones that came to define the 80s but actually went back to the styles of the 1940s), glossy red lips, an intense fembot stare: the female characters of the seminal Ridley Scott sci-fi film all shared this aesthetic in some way.
Certain people roll their eyes at the idea of the 1980s, but when I think of eighties women I think of strength, glamour, sex appeal and erotic power. There’s a reason why designers go back to that decade again and again.
But Zhivago’s Equilibrium collection is no mere 80s re-hash. While some of the signatures were there, this collection felt very modern. Those rigid shoulders, plunging necklines, body con dresses and electric blue sequins looked right now.
It’s a fine line to walk between tacky and cool and with this collection I think Zhivago finally nailed their look with a cohesive, definitive collection that clearly states who they are, what they are about, and the woman they design for.
Zhivago is unapologetically about high-voltage sex appeal and a lot of women might look at those micro-skirts or glittering electro jackets and think, “no, not for me”.
But there was some surprisingly pared-back eveningwear in there as well – some beautiful silk-satin blouses and tailored black evening pants that balanced out all that body-con.
This show proved that you can take a team of WA talent across the desert, where much fewer people know your name, and make an impact.
From the selection of models to the show styling (the models wore pearl ear cuffs from WA label Atlas Pearls, and sexy ruffled booties designed by Zhivago for Skin Footwear), it all worked.