Models walk the runway during the Alice McCall show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Resort 18 Collections. Photo by Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia 2017 got underway on Sunday with golden boy Dion Lee showing a spectacular collection under the sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House. The stunning location was the perfect setting for Lee’s brilliant collection and the fourth time he’s shown there since he first showed at the opera house back in 2010.
The collection itself featured his signature deconstructed tailoring with vibrant hues of red, cobalt and mustard as well as black, white and navy in shirting, textured knits and slip dresses. Lee partnered with Akubra and R.M.Williams to create complementary creative hats and also showed modern menswear pieces for the first time including trenches and neoprene double-breasted jackets. It was a stellar start to a big week which will see a host of emerging and established Australian designers as well as two New Zealand designers, Maggie Marilyn and Zambesi, take to the runway with their Resort 207/18 collections.
Alice McCall kicked off the first proper day of shows on Monday with a gorgeous collection called “Bon Bon” that was full of delightful ostrich feathers, girlish ruffles and sultry sheer mesh. McCall was inspired by the idea of her spirited party girl nicking her mother’s Italian couture from the 1940s and 1980s, which made for a collection of playful looks with luxurious influences. In amongst the boudoir inspired mini-dresses were true rock chick playsuits with gold button details. Floaty layered dresses were trimmed with black to give them more of an edge while the colours and floral prints were muted yet alluring. McCall’s flirtatious collection was a captivating start to the day.
Next up was Bianca Spender who is Australia’s queen of the jumpsuit and known for her sophisticated style. For this collection titled “Souvenirs Improbables” Spender was inspired by Japanese workers’ kimonos from the 19th century and utilitarian workwear from the early 20th century. The presentation opened with a sophisticated soft blue trenchcoat and wide-legged trousers on kiwi model Jade Woods and was followed by lots of languid suiting and dresses that were beautifully tailored. Eye-catching over-sized metallic jewellery by Dinosaur Designs added to the sense of elegant modernity of the collection. Clever draping and ruching on relaxed silhouettes made for handsome looks that were effortlessly chic.
Thomas Puttick made his MBFWA debut with a luxurious collection of fluid silk pieces inspired by the floral works of painter Henning Von Gierke. His opening voiceover talked about empowering women and celebrating the beauty of all women including his muses, a group of diverse, creative women of a range of different ages and sizes. These muses took to the runway in Puttick’s casually elegant designs and it was refreshing to see women not usually represented on the runway. His graceful creations are sure to be a hit with lots of women and it was a self-assured debut from the young designer.
The first show of the day to be off-site, Albus Lumen, invited the fashion set to La Porte Deux in Rosebery for their second MBFWA presentation which was full of simple but appealing looks with a European flavour. Designer Marina Afonina sent easy to wear linen dresses, over-sized shirting and wide-legged pants down the runway accented with rows of mother of pearl buttons in varying sizes. The range felt fresh and summery with swimwear, headscarves and straw baskets adding to the modern take on country holiday looks.
Also making his MBFWA debut was Justin Cassin who was the first (and one of the few) menswear designers to show this week. Cassin presented a range of contemporary men’s looks that felt like high-end streetwear and were accented by directional zips. The classic men’s colour palette of navy, black and grey was accented with earthier tones in tailored jackets and coats, clean suiting and more casual looks of bombers, tees and hoodies. The drop crotch pant which has found popularity in womenswear as well was used for the more liberal styles with baseball caps and Doc Marten boots maintaining the street edge.
Karla Spetic’s turn on the runway was a pastel fantasy full of juxtaposing feminine and masculine styles. Titled “Lucid Dreams” the collection was inspired by a recent exhibition by British artist Francis Bacon that was more uplifting than his usual melancholy work according to the show notes. Spetic showed a cheerful collection of sheer shirting, dresses and trousers that also showed off her KS swim cut-out pieces underneath. Floral motifs, colourful plaid and ruffle trims kept things light-hearted with holographic flecked fabric and streaked pink and orange hair pieces by Goldwells upping the fun factor even further.
Double Rainbouu is the brainchild of Toby Jones and Mikey Nolan, former art and creative directors at cult denim label Ksubi and debuted at MBFWA this year. Unsurprisingly the collection had that cool kid feel with fun resortwear that was youthful and full of colour. Tropical and pop-culture prints featured on casual shirts, shorts and tees with a humorous take on The Sun newspaper also making its way onto the runway. The collection was accessorised with socks and fuzzy slip-ons adding to the playful feel of the range.
Master couturier, Steven Khalil, was back for his third MBFWA showing to present an incredible collection of red carpet worthy and bridal designs. His exquisitely embellished range of sheer gowns and separates in luxurious silk and tulle glided down the runway in a rainbow of winsome hues. Plunging necklines and sheer lace had a sensuous effect while heavenly florals and delicate beading kept things in the realm of fairytales. The presentation closed with a delicately pretty bridal look as is the couture show tradition.
Zhivago certainly know how to bring the drama to the runway and their showstopping collection was inspired by the buzzing nightlife of South Beach, Miami in the 1990s. Rainbow sequins, lush velvet and shimmering metallics featured on their fierce collection of mini-dresses and party looks. Ruffles, fluted hems and delicate lace kept things feminine which the metallic buckle details and Zhivago logo sunglasses and hair accessories gave the collection a bold edge. Glittery lips played up the glimmering sequins and beautiful embroidery while plunging necklines and sheer panels made sure the looks were sexy and red-carpet worthy. Zhivago really know how to party in style.
Sass & Bide
Returning from a 14 year hiatus from the MBFWA runway, Sass & Bide, were back to close the day with a magnificent show called “Fiesta Barcelona” on a massive square set. The collection was inspired by acclaimed Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and the vibrancy of Barcelona street culture which was clear from the outset with each charming look that took to the runway. Fringing, frills and embellishments featured on Sass & Bide’s creative collection of detailed dresses and separates that perfectly channeled the flamenco spirit of Spain. You could practically feel the warmth of the sun-soaked hues of red and orange while elsewhere crisp white was accented with twinkling metallic details. Sass & Bide fans will find lots of love in this fantastic collection and if you’re quick you will be able to snap up limited edition pieces that are available right away on the brand’s website.
After such a brilliant start to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia we can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings.
Images courtesy of Stefan Gosatti/Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.