Welcome to Hump Day at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Traditionally, Wednesday is the day where the emerging talent hits the runway. They usually do it with incredible impact, and trust me when I tell you, this year will be one of their best. The Innovators are a group of young, full-hearted fashion fledglings who know nothing other than the sheer passion which drives their creative process and is the fuel upon which their dreamy aspirations rely. They are the most recent fashion graduates of FDS, the acronym for Fashion Design Studio, Ultimo TAFE. It is the eponymous fashion school of excellence which is quite simply, now, and historically, the birth place of so many of Australia’s incredible designers. It has been fashion home, until his recent departure to pursue other incredible fashion endeavours, of the infamous Nicholas Huxley, about whom I will report in the coming months and whom I am privileged to know and share fabulous and funny fashion tales. Sophie Drysdale, Alex Zehntner and Laura Washington, and Kam …. quite literally move mountains with their passion, dedication and experience. FDS is, and always has been a whole lotta fabulousness all in one place, and this fabulousness is quite literally transferred to all the students who have the good fortune to walk through their doors.
So, Camilla and Marc opened Australian Fashion Week tonight in tandem celebration with their 15th Anniversary, with an incredible show!
Well, of course it was incredible … it was Camilla and Marc!!! What more would one expect?
I loved the feeling of this show. Firstly, it was reminiscent of times past as it was held at the iconic Sydney space, The Royal Hall of Industries at Moore Park.
I was so delighted to see this gorgeous collection … beautiful brocades in pale palettes graced the runway followed by the re-invention of traditional power suiting. I think I even detected some shoulder pads, matched in strength by the oversized double breasted jacket in various checks with very lengthy arms. A little impractical you might say … but bloody fantastic on the runway! Continue Reading…
Late in 2017, I had the pleasure of attending the Fashion Design Studio’s graduate show held at the very funky, inner city warehouse venue, The Commune. Wildly patronised and positively buzzing, it was clear this was going to be a memorable night. And it didn’t disappoint. I happened to be sitting next to someone who commented … Australian designers really are up with the best, aren’t they? I thought about this for a moment and replied, yes. A deeply resonant, Yes. The very subject forms the main theme of many of my articles. But then I refined my reply with greater detail and continued. Actually, I continued. We are the standard.
Australian designers. The global measuring stick of excellence. Creativity. Innovation. Talent. Surprise. Genius. The Future. We knock out incredible imaginative bespoke pieces year after year. Without fail. And you could be forgiven for thinking, seemingly, effortlessly.
Of course, this does not happen in a vacuum. There are many dedicated, passionate, hard-working professionals who drive these codes of excellence over the finish line, but it all starts with a dream doesn’t it?
The dream of fashion. The glamour. The imagination. The inspiration. The runway. The fabric.
The blood. Sweat. And tears.
It’s as though their young souls dance to the vibration of their fashion passion pulling them forward into their fashion future. Of course, we do want them to have a future … and a brilliant one at that.
May I remind everyone who is reading this article to please ensure that the future of these emerging designers is secured. You might be thinking, what does that mean? It is not enough to patronise these events and be enthused for one night. We need to be enthusiastic about their entire careers and support them for the long term. We need to constantly educate ourselves and fundamentally understand the importance of buying Australian labels not to mention supporting the institutions who create the creative playground and educational programs which underpin the success of Australian fashion globally.
All sixteen of the graduates who showed their collections should be applauded, loudly. My goodness. I have lost track of how many shows I have had the pleasure of attending. It struck me however that there was an aliveness that night, a tangible feeling of electricity in the air, mainly of talent undiscovered.
I was gently taken back in my mind to years past, of designers which have very permanent places in my own memory. Stuart Membery, Alannah Hill and Kit Willow came to the forefront of my mind as the various collections floated by. I loved the recurring themes of fine see through silks, elaborate detailing, bold ruching and my favourite, the flared pants. The clever use and innovative combinations of leather, wool, silk knits, feathers, faux fur, sequins, motifs, 3-D digital printing, vinyl, and corsetry … superb! … a wild and fantastical journey into the minds of true creatives and visionaries. I can’t possibly write more without mentioning the return of the all famous patent leather. Dear Lord. How can anyone live without it?
Of course, who else should captain this ship, but the illustrious Nicholas Huxley and Sophie Drysdale who need no introduction and have led many an acclaimed designer right to the top.
Is it any wonder that Australia stands front and centre of the global fashion landscape. Are we not totally blessed to be able to enjoy the spectacle of world class fashion design in our own beautiful backyard.
We do not hold up a standard.
We are. The. Standard.
There is not a country in the world who would argue that Australian designers lead the way.
Collection by collection. Each and every season. Each and every year.
Meet Gillian Garde
I totally loved this collection by Gillian Garde. Her Norwegian heritage, and her collection Bloodline, “seeks to create timeless, luxury ready-to-wear”. I found this collection wearable, romantic, dreamy and fun. It is always inspiring when a collection evokes the imagination of an audience for a momentary space in time. In her words, “a nostalgic journey into the past seen through the lens of modernity”. Gillian Garde Instagram
Meet Maddison O’Connell
Then there were the unforgettable whispers of the earlier collections of Camilla Franks brought to life by Maddison O’Connell with her collection Lalude the Label, a luxury resort wear brand with a distinctive bohemian spirit embodying complex folk-like craftsmanship. Her full bodied collection of swim and resort wear boasted the use of lace, sequins, knitted silk and fringing in a colourful and happy colour way of turquoise, pinks and pastels with middle eastern motif. Lalude The Label Instagram
Meet Alixa Holcombe.
Alixa The Label is described as one of urban sensibility through the hand work and detail to her high end womenswear.
I loved Alixa Holcombe’s use of tie-dying and her hooded cream jacket with the tree scape motif was one of my standouts. One of the very important aspects to any collection in my opinion is the intrinsic commercial value and I felt that this collection really answered the call. Inspired by the Australian bush, her collection “Lost” explores wandering in the wilderness, the imaginary character, who becomes disorientated from exposure to the elements”. Alixa Holcombe Instagram
Meet Victoria Scott.
ORIA was also a collection I felt to be extremely commercially viable. Her twist on the denim and white shirt look was refreshing and incredibly wearable. I loved her use of see-through fabric and the checked coat dress was very cool. Her one-shoulder look was nicely done and I loved the return of the flared pant. Her collection was strong, contemporary, flowed, and felt complete. ORIA Instagram
Meet Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson “focused on the social and cultural philosophies of historical and modern Japan. The ultra-feminine Harajuku style, which celebrates the youth’s non-conformity to a restrictive present day culture” was unforgettable in candy pink. It was fun, quirky and eclectic. Lauren Anderson Instagram
Fashion Design Studio Graduate Collection 2017 Gallery
I apologise to any of the young graduates from Fashion Design Studio who are not included here. Time permits me from mentioning everyone.
Until next year … keep on dreaming!
The tide of appreciation and dedication to your growth and success in the Australian and global fashion industries is turning.
Until next time.
For those who embrace rebellion and eccentricity every day.
Angela Lowe, EWOL
Fashion Design Studio, TAFE NSW Ultimo, is the home of many famous people.
If you wait for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week every year with the highest anticipation then welcome to my world.
If fashion is your thing you’re in the right place.
If emerging talent is your passion, then let me personally thank you, because your love is much appreciated.
By oh! soooo many!
This is the story of “The Innovators”.
Graduates of Fashion Design Studio.
Where Sydney fashion design is concerned, FDS is the home and very solid bedrock of many iconic established Australian fashion labels … Dion Lee, Akira Isogawa, Christopher Esber, Gary Bigeni, Nicky Zimmerman, and Bianca Spender to name a few.
It is a creative hub of design excellence, like no other.
Led by experienced, devoted, passionate, brilliant educators like the famous Nicholas Huxley, the wonderful Sophie Drysdale and Andrea Cainero, the walls are lined with the distinct flavour of adventures just begun.
And the fashion talent just keeps oozing out … Every. Single. Year.
Meet, “The Innovators” at this years Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2017.
Amelia’s work is a reflection of all her interests; the inspiration of which is to embrace the classic feminine aesthetic and to represent a new-age feminine ideal. The collection is a combination of modernity and rebellion against traditional femininity. Internship at Zimmermann is where her specific interest in exceptional garment finishes and the perfect cut grew. Amelia was a winner in the World Square Fashion Illustration competition. During her final year of study, she collaborated with Vogue Australia and Witchery to create a piece for the ‘White Shirt Campaign’, in support of ovarian cancer. Recently pieces from her graduate collection appeared in the London-based ‘Schön’ magazine.
EWOL by ANGELA LOWE
Angela Lowe’s, EWOL exists at the periphery of normality. Where male and female overlap to create an ‘other’. Atypical in its use of material, its references and inspirations … EWOL blurs the boundaries of streetwear and high fashion to create wearable art worn by risk-takers. Those who relish the stares and the double takes.
Drawing inspiration from the juxtaposition of conflicting ideas – conviction and humour; masculinity and femininity. EWOL is for individuals who identify with a movement against the norm. For those who embrace rebellion and eccentricity every day. There are so many incredible things that we do not see with the naked eye.
A secret application to study fashion design, encouraged by her best friend and partner was the start of beautiful beginnings. As a child, Ann was an avid sketcher and would often design outfits for friends and family. It was only after partially completing an economics degree that she decided fashion was her real passion. She had found her voice, so to speak. YouTube tutorials helped Ann to learn the basics, followed by an internship with House of Quirky, Dion Lee, and Manning Cartell. She is now working as a womenswear and menswear design assistant at The Upside, with plans to look overseas to further broaden her horizons and gain insight into international markets.
CASEA by CASEA HEWITT
Cassie Hewitt released her first collection in December 2016. She has formerly interned with Manning Cartell, Bianca Spender, Carla Zampatti and Sara Phillips. Cassie was a finalist for the Australian Fashion Foundation’s Annual Scholarship Program, where she presented her graduate collection to industry leaders. This year Cassie went on to win the Graduate of the Year Award for Fashion and Textiles at the Design Institute of Australia.
Each CASEA piece tells a story through vibrant signature prints, rich colours, intricate embellishment, craftsmanship and luxurious fabrics. CASEA challenges the misconception that fast fashion is sufficient if the price is “right”. The brand’s accentuation on quality and craftsmanship aims to create a world where the trend of expendable fashion is diminished and a high value is placed on heirloom and sentimental pieces.
It took eighteen months for Emma Standon to identify her passion for designing swimwear and experimenting with bending the restricted rules of this fashion genre. Swimwear tends to be restricted in its ability to explore innovation in design, as functionality typically is the upmost priority.Fascinated by emerging technologies and the opportunities to explore innovative techniques in fashion design, Emma was especially interested by 3D printing. This was the spark which fuelled her interest in couture swimwear. This ideology, fused with underlining tones of sexual promiscuity and empowerment, became Handsy Swimwear.
Richard Giang is an Australian emerging fashion designer. Formerly an Architectural graduate at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), he decided to pursue his dream in the world of fashion. Richard’s designs are trans-seasonal, diverse, and wearable. Garments that evoke feelings of confidence, empowerment, sophistication and allure. His designs incorporate unique elements, techniques and textural fabrications that allow him to compromise and to create interesting aesthetic garments to suit all manner of occasions. Feminism and female empowerment are the foundations of his creativity, inspired by architecture, visual arts and Helmut Newton’s photography.
Johanna Smith was originally a teacher working in an isolated
Aboriginal community in far west NSW. Sheer isolation saw Johanna fall into a surreal entity of creative inspiration. The abstract arrangement of colour in outback Australia and the Aboriginal people became the embodiment, reference and muse of her label. The launch of YOHANA is infused with muddy hues and bold colour contrasts where obscure leather accents, cotton canvas and shirting are contrasted with lustrous texture.
Thank you to everyone who supports emerging Australian designers. They need your support, your interest, your passion, your encouragement, and your money. Please invest in their labels. Buy their product. Share the love by following their social media and …
LOVE Label Ministry on social, because the love starts here!
Until next time,
Runways are crucial to the development of fashion. They illustrate a moment in time, a shift in trends, a certain look, they reflect the current culture and they represent who we are. It’s not just a string of clothes on a catwalk – it’s a story. Runways are stories, and they’re special.
Claire Goldsworthy, The Fashion Advocate.
It’s that time of year again. VAMFF is here. The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival is fast approaching and the city of Melbourne and fashion devotees from far and wide make their way to the eighteen day long festival. As tribute to this years festival the star of this article is Claire Goldsworthy. A girl after my own heart.
She is the passionate fashionista and founder of the print and digital magazine, The Fashion Advocate and the creator of the collaborative brainchild, The Dress Collective. A collective of emerging Australian designers who manufacture their product in Australia.
This year Claire is at the helm. The Fashion Advocate Runway is a hand-picked collection of emerging Australian designers from around the country. As a vocal and passionate advocate of Australian fashion myself, this runway is one not to be missed by virtue of the fact that its focal point is Australian designers who manufacture in Australia.
Contrary to popular belief there are many emerging and established designers who still manufacture in Australia. In my opinion we should all be following them with great interest, applauding their ethics and moral values, and then setting aside our fashion budget to committing to buying their product, thus supporting their work, and most importantly keeping them in business.
Claire Goldsworthy describes “fast fashion” as “The dirty F-word”! I couldn’t agree more!
Why do we buy fast, dirty, cheap, badly made, unethically produced, highly pollutive fast fashion? Designs that are all too often ripped off from the world’s top designers?? If you have the answer, please let me know, because I am totally miffed as to why these fast fashion giants have such an enormous share of our fashion market. I have written many an article about supporting local Australian fashion and all of you who follow me (God love you all!), well know my opinion on this important subject. Some of you may have already read my article on the Zara Phenomenon …
Have we become such lazy and disinterested sheep that we are incapable of thinking for ourselves? Are we so disinterested in our own local fashion market, and our own economy that we have just given up fighting for what is right? Please. Pretty Please. Buy Australian Made Fashion. Support Australian Designers. Vote with your fashion dollar to create much needed change.
Anyhow, back to The Fashion Advocate.
Isn’t it just soooo refreshing to find someone who champions the importance of showcasing, supporting, and bringing to the spotlight, Australian designers, who produce sustainable, ethical product and manufacture in Australia.
Meet Claire Goldsworthy. She is. The Fashion Advocate.
Melbourne Entrepreneur. Fashionista. Editor. Founder of The Dress Collective. Runway Curator. Lover of Australian fashion. Gem.
If you would like to attend the The Fashion Advocate Runway on March 11 get in quick because tix are selling fast!
Here is her story.
Until next time,
Fast fashion has no meaning, no purpose, and no value …
Claire Goldsworthy, The Fashion Advocate.
What is the work of The Fashion Advocate?
The Fashion Advocate is a print and digital magazine dedicated to Australian made fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands, with a focus on ethical and sustainable content.
What has been the major inspiration for your work?
I wanted to see change. It drives me mad to see the plethora of fast fashion in shopping centres selling for five dollars a piece. How on earth can a garment be made, transported and retailed for five dollars?
It can’t – unless it’s been created under unsustainable and unethical standards. I was sick of seeing fast fashion crap. Sick of the facts and figures that get released every year about the negative environmental impacts of the fashion industry, and sick and tired of seeing the same style top in ten different stores.
Fast fashion has no meaning, no purpose, no value.
The inspiration for The Fashion Advocate was my desire for change; I wanted to promote fashion that matters. I wanted to inspire other people to start thinking about the impact of their shopping habits. I launched The Fashion Advocate to support Australian brands who have morals, values and ethics. To introduce consumers to a range of options that they might not otherwise have known about.
You are a fashion designer yourself. How does that assist you in understanding the difficulties other designers face?
I launched my own fashion label straight out of high school and worked everything out the hard way from the bottom up. I have a first-hand understanding of the blood, sweat and tears that go into a locally made fashion label because I’ve been there and done that. I’ve since put that label to rest as my aesthetic has changed, but having the first hand experience exposed me to the ups and downs of fashion.
I understand what brands go through. It helps me connect with designers and it’s not a foreign topic; fashion is simultaneously heart-breakingly hard. It conjures up so many different emotions. My experience helps me write about fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands in a personal way because I get it.
How much has your own label, Harriette Hill, influenced your own work?
Although I don’t run the brand anymore, it all started with Harriette Hill… My love of vintage fabrics, traditional sewing techniques and my ethical values all stem from my first brand. When I inherited my great grandmother’s 1950’s and 1960’s fabric collection, I was forced to find ways to make it last and so my journey into sustainability began.
How important do you believe is the unveiling of collections on the runway?
Runways are crucial to the development of fashion.
They illustrate a moment in time, a shift in trends, a certain look.
They reflect the current culture and represent who we are. It’s not just a string of clothes on a catwalk – it’s a story.
Runways are stories, and they’re special.
Yes. Yes. Yes!
How was The Dress Collective birthed?
Much the same as The Fashion Advocate – I wanted to see change. I had always been interested in fashion and over the years, I worked nationally and internationally in retail, brand management, PR and marketing, runway management, creative direction for various brands large and small, and always in fashion.
I was never truly content with working for other brands as their values and ethics didn’t quite align with mine. I launched The Dress Collective in 2015 to make a positive change for the fashion industry. I just couldn’t sit back and watch the damage anymore.
Please describe the role of The Dress Collective?
The Dress Collective is an online store that sells only 100 per cent Australian made fashion. It’s also 100 per cent transparent and each designers story is attached to every single item we sell, along with the garment’s design and manufacturing origins. The Dress Collective is more than just an online shop for Australian designers though; it’s a support network and creative foundation, built on a vision of positive and sustainable growth for the future of the Australian fashion industry. It doesn’t focus solely on ‘trends’ or seasonal collections, because that can sometimes create the ideal of ‘past season’ or ‘out of fashion’. Instead, The Dress Collective helps consumers make long term decisions about their wardrobe by introducing them to high quality, trans-seasonal and unique labels.
How difficult is it for Australian labels to produce their collections in Australia?
Contrary to popular belief, quite easy.
The cost is sometimes higher, but we do have a host of high quality manufacturers in Australia. The question though is about values and profit.
Is it difficult to manufacture in Australia? No.
Is it difficult to compete with fast fashion when you manufacture in Australia? Yes.
Local manufacturing can be costly, which drives up the cost of the final garment, but the value is in the ethical benefits of local manufacturing, so it depends on what you value and which part of the production cycle you consider to be more important.
What do you believe is the greatest challenge facing Australian designers in our current market?
Fast fashion. The dirty F-word!
People are hungry for unique clothing; the challenge isn’t demand as there’s plenty of that.
It’s the cheap fast fashion that causes a problem, and it starts to desensitise people to the bigger problem. You don’t think much about a twenty dollar top because you’d pay the same for pizza, therefore you’re more likely to throw it away, not care for it, and replace it with another twenty dollar top.
It’s a vicious cycle and it’s a hard one to break. The constant struggle is educating people about the importance of supporting local brands and the play-off between fast and slow fashion is an enormous challenge.
What is your opinion of fast fashion? What do you believe is its future?
Fast fashion has ruined our industry, globally.
It’s raping and pillaging the earth, killing garment workers and devaluing something that deserves so much more credit and thought. I do believe that people are slowly waking up to the impact of fast fashion and slowly making better choices, but it’s going to take a long time to see a total shift.
I won’t stop fighting for slow fashion though, no matter long it takes.
What do you most love about Australian fashion?
The diversity of it. I know labels that make entire garments out of pompoms, and some that make entire garments out of repurposed jeans. There are so many unique and diverse labels locally. I love it! Australian designers tend to be very self-driven and not focus on global trends too much because of the differences in season and locality compared with the rest of the world.
What are your favourite Australian labels?
All of the labels I stock online at The Dress Collective!
I hand pick them and they’re all so unique, yet very wearable and practical. Black Mob is incredible – it’s unisex and very vocal about the issues it stands for, I love it. DEVOI is another of my favourites; I absolutely love bright colour and prints, and this label delivers both.
Please share your views on the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion production?
It’s not even a question for me – you either engage ethical and sustainable practices, or you shouldn’t be running a business. If you are going to offer a product to the world, it is your responsibility to do so in an ethical manner; the harm of people or the environment shouldn’t be something that is gambled in the process. It is so very simple to ensure ethical and sustainable production and something you choose. Every step of the process is a choice for brands. We live in an incredible country and we are so very fortunate; we take it for granted. No-one in Australia would accept the garment factory working conditions or pay that are ‘the norm’ in third world countries. No-one would show up to work in Australia for those conditions. If you wouldn’t accept it for yourself, you shouldn’t accept it for any other person involved in the cycle of your business.
How does VAMFF differ to the other events across the Australian fashion calendar?
I love VAMFF!
It is such an inclusive, diverse festival that appeals to so many different people from all walks of life. The main fashion week is of course very targeted to your fashion-nuts, but the wider calendar includes beauty events, styling workshops, business seminars, shopping activations, film, photography … there’s something for everyone and I’m all about inclusion and diversity.
I believe you are curating your own show this year at VAMFF – The Fashion Advocate Runway. Please tell us more …
I am SO excited to be curating this event! I’ve handpicked twelve labels from around the country to showcase the diversity and talent of the Australian fashion industry, and all labels are entirely Australian made.
There tends to be a stigma around Australian made fashion and I’m working endlessly to ensure that the wider public understands the industry. People don’t realise that everything you need in your wardrobe – whether it be corporate attire, lingerie, formal wear, swimwear, sleepwear, whatever – can be bought from designers who manufacture locally. The details have been meticulously planned, from the local cocktails on offer to the gifts in the VIP bags – it’s all about Australian made. I’ve partnered with Luna Park too; I’m honoured to be hosting an event at such an iconic and historic venue, it all ties in with the message of valuing local, our roots and delving deeper into everything we buy, wear and engage with.
It’s going to be a very special event!
And indeed it will be! The designers are …
If you could speak openly, what would you say to Australian consumers?
Buy less, choose well, shop local. Start thinking about the impact of your choices and start creating the kind of world that you want for future generations; the world’s resources are not infinite. Support your local designers and design your own image around the message you want to promote; use fashion as a method of positive impact and change.
How can we best support emerging designers in Australia?
By shopping online at The Dress Collective!
Love a shameless plug!
Come on peeps … Shop. Shop. Shop!
The Fashion Advocate Runway Designer Line-Up
Follow them on Instagram and show your support!
Habadakas Instagram, Tatyana Design Instagram, Vincent Li Instagram, Diida Instagram, p’junk by Kate Hannah, Oreceo Castro, Lorenza The Label, Rayan Ardati, Cameron & James, Mhoo Mhoo, ‘Blushed’ by Teagan Jacobs, and Fool.
Annabelle and Eve, Awaken The Haus, Azulant Akora, Black Mob The Label, Cameron & James, Devoi, Don’t Do Pretty, Espire Clothing, Harriette Hill, Jude, Letitia Green, Marcela’s Accessories, Mici Jay, Oroceo Castro, Rbcca Kstr, Sets of Seven, Tatyana Design, The Spotted Quoll Studio, Vincent Li, Vous, Why Mary
“Buy less, choose well, shop local. Start thinking about the impact of your choices and start creating the kind of world that you want for future generations; the world’s resources are not infinite. Support your local designers and design your own image around the message you want to promote; use fashion as a method of positive impact and change”.
Claire Goldsworthy, The Fashion Advocate.
See you at VAMFF 2017! …
Until next time,