Flying halfway around the world for a newly established fashion week might not be an appealing idea to some, but after braving the shows of Amsterdam and Berlin, Syndey seemed like the perfect destination for exploring new designers and a fresh fashion scene. Anthem has been a fan of Aussie designers like Josh Goot and Lover for quite some time, and although they were not set to show at home this season, the roster of names looked quite promising.
After twenty hours in the air from New York via L.A. and Sydney, I enjoyed a week exploring Melbourne, working through the jet lag in a prudent pre-fashion week adjustment. Monday, April 28th started the usual fray of early morning shows and all night parties. As I arrived in the center of town on the train, the Circular Quay venue between Harbor Bridge and the Opera House came into view, glittering in bright fall sun. Almost all of the shows for the week were taking place in this one location, a perfect backdrop rivaling the beauty of the Tuilleries and the bustle of Bryant Park. A few days prior, I was contacted by an official “host” of RAFW, who was to be my guide for the week, available to answer questions and liaise with designer public relations. After being on my own for fashion weeks all over the world, this sense of organization was welcome relief, making it so easy to see every show and gather information.
The very first show was native Kirilly Johnston, whose presentation hinged on a tweaked urban nomad theme, resembled Mara Hoffman's February New York show, sometimes a bit too closely, even down to the use of M.I.A.'s enduringly ubiquitous “Paper Planes.” Johnston sent models out in white head wraps, ribbed thigh high socks, Grecian tops and one shoulder dresses in a palette of white, grey, black and neon pink. Simple, rigid gold neckpieces stood out, as well as a well-cut pair of draped carrot pants, a seemingly wearable take on YSL's recent must-have design.
Next up, my accommodating young host Jess Lennie guided me to Nicola Finetti, a designer I hadn't seen before, but whose solo and collaborative work is a fixture in Australia. This Spring/Summer show featured various prints, like a nouveau tie-dye fractal and some interesting digitized floral designs on short dresses. Most interesting was an uneven hem waistcoat, a key item for this season combined with the trend for asymmetry, also used by designers like Ann-Sofie Back. Embellishment as well as print created interest for these otherwise basic cocktail silhouettes, including layered, scalloped circles that mimicked an Edwadrian collar around the neckline of some pieces. Scored to The Kills new track “Cheap and Cheerful,” Finetti’s work took on a harder edge for Spring.
Music was a also a key component of the Life With Bird catwalk, as a well mixed soundtrack of Goldfrapp and Kanye Wests’ “Flashing Lights” accompanied important items like light grey draped silk shorts, a white transparent sequin sweatshirt and very light wash stretch denim perfect for sunny months.
Kate Sylvester also brought out new key pieces for warmer temperatures, including an innovative combination of athletic white mesh with traditional lace, braided strap detailing and shorts with lingerie-inspired paneling. However, a few ideas fell flat, in particular the use of jackets hung diagonally across the models' bodies.
Halfway through the week and many collections in, so many notable, impressive designs had been presented, with many more to come. But enjoying the onsite wine bar and other amenities―like massages provided by Thailand Air, makeup applications by M.A.C. and hair styling by Redkin―got everyone ready for the next round… part two of the week coming soon…