Well it’s May already. May always means something to me, over and above the other months of the year. A few things come to mind. First of all, it is my birthday month. Second it is the time of Fashion Week, (albeit not this year). Thirdly it is the time of year when my heart breathes a sigh of relief, the leaves fall, and with it any lingering heavy energies slip away, ready to be transformed by the crisp and present coolness of winter. A time of reflection, nurturing and the potential creation of ideas ready to ignite and blossom in the Spring. One such project has been in the creative stages for quite some time now, and as all creative people know dreams are not and should not, be manifested too hastily. Continue Reading…
If you’ve been keeping up with our latest articles, you already know that Label Ministry ventured to lovely Auckland for New Zealand Fashion Week in August this year.
While most of Jade’s mission at NZFW revolved around the production of the unreal runway show for Heaven Swimwear I was lucky enough to have some time to kick back in the front-row of several other shows.
While I relished my time at every show, one label stood out among the rest. An… orange diamond in the (not-at-all) rough, if you will …
As you know Label Ministry recently visited New Zealand for fashion week. I was there to cover and work on the Heaven swimwear show for which I crafted the involvement of none other than the amazing Imogen Anthony, beauty extraordinaire and one of the best walkers of the catwalk I have ever seen.
This year for the first time, I travelled with Sophie, my wonderful intern who will, as I explained in a previous article be contributing to Label Ministry from now on. It is a most gleeful subject that Label Ministry is growing at an incredibly exciting rate and Sophie’s experience in the Australian fashion industry is greatly welcomed and appreciated. She is experienced in fashion public relations and writing as I am sure you will find evident in her article below on Rachel Mills …
Say a big hello!
Rachel Mills gently set in motion day two of New Zealand Fashion week this Tuesday gone. They are an Auckland-based womenswear label committed to sustainability and the sole use of local manufacturers. The label is based on seeking to “transform the process of getting dressed into a ritual rather than a chore.” Their designs can only be described as gracefully modern and charming, and the Rachel Mills Fashion week session captured this entirely.
The intimate installation was essentially a room for spectators to walk through, broken up by the blocking of different models against hanging material. It took place in The Studio of the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre, inducing a sense of ease in all of us who, (at first hazily), wandered through the room. The studio itself had high ceilings and a definite industrial sense about it, which made it feel, when set against the installation, like a New York loft apartment or a quiet street when one meandered within it.
Almost every piece in the collection was simplistic but embellished tastefully with romantic wraps, folds, relaxed fits, clinched-waists and tie details. The colour palette mostly stuck to light-greys, whites, and neutrals, with the occasional delightful pop of lemon or electric blue. The result: A willowy, sophisticated, feminine, effortlessly-cool vibe. The pieces on show largely tailored to smart-casual looks, but could be suitable for any occasion that calls for an understated yet chic beauty.
The piece that stood out most for me was the ‘Divided Pants’ in Harlequin spot and organic multi check, available now online for pre-order. (IMAGE: Divided Pant.jpg). The pants are split into two different halves: A soft cotton check in pale purple and white, and a silky black and white polka dot. They can be styled to look almost like a wrap maxi-skirt, or just left looking like trousers. I don’t quite understand the mechanics behind the pants and how they transform, but they were very flattering on model Diana Anuenue who sported them styled as a skirt on the day, and something I’m dying to get my hands on.
The room was dimmed, while the beautiful wistful-looking models were lit up against sheer curtains that evoked the feeling of a lazy Sunday morning. Most notable among them was stunning model Raina Masters, who commanded the room with her warm disposition and enthusiasm to quietly work with those photographing her, making for an enjoyable and personable event so different to that of many other installations.
Cinematic projections played out against the fabric backdrops, with the enchanting live vocals of Lilly Carron weaving a post-breakup mood that was utterly dreamy and captivating. It was as though Lilly’s presence was a ‘final destination’ within the installation, as at first it seemed that the vocals were recorded. Alas- no. Lilly’s voice really was that hauntingly beautiful live, and added the final touch needed to concoct Rachel Mills’ magical session. Lilly Carron is certainly one to keep an eye on for those interested in the music scene looking to support local vocalists as well as local fashion labels.
The whole thing had me wanting to own and wear every piece on show, while sitting in a cafe, gazing out a window at rainy streets with Lilly’s rendition of Etta James’ ‘I Would Rather Go Blind’ on repeat.
If it was Rachel Mills’ intention to have me wanting to stay a while with a book and a hot cup of tea…
She certainly succeeded.
Until next time,
This year I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful inspiring woman by the name of Rebecca O’Hearn, the founder of a website which you may have heard of … Smart. Casual. Classic.
A website, refreshingly aimed at the 45+ market age and imperfection is almost the centre point for all it represents and encompasses. A wonderful juxtaposition of style, health, and fashion for the older market.
With a background in Australian magazines and media, she spent seven years with FHM where her position culminated as the Fashion and Grooming Editor. She then went on to be the Fashion Editor of Woman’s Day, and during her time there, Bauer launched Yours magazine for which she became Fashion Editor also. In 2017 Bauer closed the title at which time she directed her passions online to her current website.
Bec describes Smart. Casual. Classic as the “market out there who are starving for relevant content for the mature Australian woman”.
As many of you will already know, in August of this year I travelled to Auckland, New Zealand to work on the Heaven Swimwear show.
As a show producer, fashion editor and stylist I was privileged to bring on board for this event, the beautiful Imogen Anthony who walked for the show. The first time ever that an Australian swimwear label has shown in NZ.
And walk she did.
Like a boss.
And … mustn’t forget the gorgeous boys!
This article however is to celebrate the designer behind this ever growing label Heaven who has now stepped in to some very large shoes after the Creative Director of Oz Swim Group, Kristian Chase has decided to concentrate solely on designing the globally acclaimed sister label Aqua Blu.
Enter Stephanie Cunningham …
Stephanie Cunningham started her Fashion Design degree in 2008 at Whitehouse. Starting with sixty in the course, it soon reduced to twenty five. Right from her point of graduation, Stephanie went straight to Hussy as an intern and describes this as most fortuitous as it pushed her into the industry straight away. They produced womens clothing, shoes and accessories. From there she went into a hands-on-role in sampling and designing for a girl who started a formal wear label. From there. she moved across to a label which produced a maternity line. As strange as that seems it gave Stephanie three solid years of well rounded and invaluable experience. As the fabrics were all stretch it provided Stephanie with the knowledge and all she needed to know about creating fashion “with a bump”. During this time, the label opened a physical store, so Stephanie learned to interact with customers to find out exactly what they wanted. After that she went to bridal wear, again dealing directly with customers which allowed her to see the design process right through from start to finish. She then started to design for herself and finally moved across into swimwear.
What is the only aesthetic you haven’t worked on so far?
Probably, denim …
In your experience, what does the customer want?
The customer wants “the familiar” but not something that has been done before. For example, women love the crop top but my job is not just to re-create the crop top. It is to take the popular item and add fresh, new elements to create a new masterpiece.
In my mind, this is the problem with Instagram brands who churn out the same thing. I think the design element is missing and does not consider what the customer wants.
What is your opinion of social media?
I love social media and as the same time, I hate social media.
People who follow Instagram closely seem to take so much notice of the influencers but some of the brands saturate Instagram so much with the same material that there is a real pressure for everyone to look the same.
Heaven has strongly pushed the view forward that our customers do not have to look like everyone else. I think we are helping people to realise that they don’t have to look like they are all the same and that in reality, colour and individuality speak volumes.
Why do you think people who follow Instagram feel like it’s important to look the same?
I think it’s because of the celebrity culture, and everyone is desperate to fit in.
Slightly older groups have the opinion that they don’t want to be the same, but the younger demographic does not know anything different and therefore, don’t have the confidence to be completely individual.
We are seeing lately a translation of older designs, and the revival culture is huge which really equals a trend. To me, this proves that we are not completely innovating as much as we could, and this is why we try to be as creative as we can at Heaven to fill in those fashion and social gaps.
What is your opinion of the influencer?
In some ways I think that the influencer is unnecessary due to the the constant saturation of that one person and one general style.
On the other hand, I feel that it can work well, as long as the influencer translates specifically to the brand that they are aligned with.
There is an obsessive tendency around the culture of Instagram and influencers, so I would prefer to see “quality over quantity”. The exposure should be about the brand, not the influencer.
The saturation point has reached an all time high and over exposure can reverse the benefits to a brand.
At Heaven we are extremely careful to research the value of the influencer to make sure that it is right for our brand and not just an avenue to provide the influencer with free content.
What is your opinion of paid posts on Instagram?
In my opinion that would be need to be attached to specific strategy and my feeling is many Instagram brands are fleeting and this is the reason why.
What do you think about influencers sitting in the FROW at events?
I think the same strategy applies, and for my brand it is important that loyalty for our customers is paramount.
The industry people who attend our shows actually bring something to the event, the industry, the brand and its culture. They are not just there for the selfies.
It is the difference between having a brand that has the real world aspects; bricks and mortar office space, staff, sewing rooms, etc and the desire to be globally successful and recognised. Very different to some of todays “Instagram” brands.
What keeps the Heaven brand so well patronised and popular is the attention you pay to your customers and quite simply the quality. Would you agree?
Yes. We work hard at those aspects and they have always been at the pinnacle of our brand motivation.
I was reading an article the other day about the huge problem of things being worn, and then returned in massive numbers via online shopping portals. What is your view about this problem?
I think it comes back to the same old problem that we can’t see, feel and try the garment and therefore our motivation becomes purchasing for the instant adrenalin rush of something new, the Instagram post and the ultimate “like”. It is no longer about the garment, but more so about the moment.
Where do you see the future of Heaven?
Well, quite literally at the moment? … the sky’s the limit.
Funny about that … it is after all called Heaven 🙂
Model Extraordinaire | Imogen Anthony
Imogen’s Team | JayMillionaires
Photography | Thanks to Fiona Goodall of Getty Images for the photographs.
Check out the beautiful, luxurious garments by Heaven.
Follow them on Instagram.
Until next time,
Fashion Week is always special. And strangely, always, each and every year, in a different way.
For me, arriving there one year since the last time felt strange. So much has happened in one year, and quite literally months of my life had been devoted to a very important project, both for myself and for the Australian fashion industry. Those of you who know me, and now there are many, you will know that that project was none other than the Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Runway, held in April of this year. I was thrilled to be able to work with, encourage, and develop the designers with whom I was so closely aligned on this project, as well as developing the concept in this country of working with international big guns who see benefit in fashion collaboration. This has long been my vision and I hope to see much more of it in the future.
In the coming weeks, I will be sharing some editorial work from teams who attended, supported and wrote about the recent Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom runway event made possible by the Universal franchise in Australia. Continue Reading…
On 11 April 2018, Universal Brand Development executed a sensational Australian fashion industry coup. In collaboration with Jade Cosgrove of Label Ministry, the entertainment giant staged the first ever film-fashion runway event to take place in Australia.
It was a meeting of,
Well … dinosaurs really … life size ones at that; and the biggest movie studio in the world collaborating with seven incredible Australian designers.
Yeah. That’s all.
The story goes like this …
The glamorous invitation-only event was a night to remember, as “Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom” came alive on the runway at Australian Technology Park, showcasing seven of Australia’s most talented designers who unleashed their Jurassic inspired collections. 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,