The Next Gen show at this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane promised to be creative, diverse and universal and it also proved to be a vibrant celebration of inclusivity and self expression. Showcasing the work of four fashion colleges, as well as a range of emerging designer, this show proved that our Queensland fashion future is in good hands.
Many of the audience were wearing upcycler Kimbralou’s quirky designs. Artists and style queens Mary Dickinson and Judy Brine were just two, as well as a posse of the designer’s family and house models.The colour and drama this brought to the event was amazing. In the audience I spied Sally from Steele My Style, Cate from Individual Style 101 and The Brisbane Girl. Janet Roach from The Real Housewives of Melbourne had been having a quiet drink at Mr Percival’s. I was lucky enough to wear a Chanel inspired jacket made just for me by Kat Harvey from Aldertree Designs. Kat was one of the QUT Honours students showcasing her work on the runway at this amazing show.
MeQ opened the show with a superb nine piece collection designed by lawyer and artist Carol Taylor. Carol has been a quadriplegic for 18 years since being in an automobile accident and she created her range of adaptive fashion to provide accessible clothing for people with a disability. Her collection was beautiful and colourful and includes small changes like magnetic zips and buttons to make the clothes more accessible but still fashionable. I loved the black and white evening wear, colourful kaftans and tops and the fabulous hot pink and black dress. Carol’s joyous models worked the runway and perfectly showcased this important initiative and cutting edge designs. A wonderful place to start!
Billy Blue College of Design brought us playful looks from Rosa Rosa The Label and metallic and futuristic fashion from Alisha Maraki. Matilda Cove showed lovely designer swimsuits in beautiful teal, black and blue and white patterns perfect for our climate. I loved the sheer cover ups. The Kelvin Grove State College Students made me smile with their BOLD collection showing off great shapes in a riot of colourful prints. Maison Garde brought drama with some gorgeous silhouettes in black, silver and lovely prints. I coveted the colourful spot dress with a high- low hem. They paired the pieces with engaging bow eye covers and visors, reminiscent of high end Paris fashion.
The students from QUT fashion showed their diversity and individuality with some classic looks. The eye catching alternative wedding wear in a dove grey, almost lilac toned, sheer with bespoke embroidery and emu feathers from Rohan Horsman was so creative. My young designer friend Kat Harvey’s piece reflected echoes from a fantastical past with her corset, dress and eye catching embroidered cape in rich, earthy tones. Sustainable styling at its best was shown by Megan Robotham who created a pale pink blouse adorned with synthetic mesh bath poufs paired with trousers made from Spring Water bottles.
Cairns based designer Cheryl Creed showed us a picture of elegance with her all black evening line, reminiscent of old Hollywood. This Aboriginal designer’s collection was called ‘YARRAWULLAI’ which translates to ‘gumnut blossoms’ and she drew her inspiration from the flora and fauna of Queensland’s landscape. I would have worn most of these beautiful designs filled with sequins, sheer, ruffles and lace. Elaborate feathered headpieces enhanced the luxe look of the garments. One to watch!
TAFE Queensland showed two designers- Cassidy The Label and Ileana The Label. Cool playsuits perfect for our climate were first and I really loved the boiler suit with yellow fringing. Very cool! A burnt orange sleeveless shirt dress would be right at home in my wardrobe. Annalise Designs were beautiful florals and stars. I loved this collection and I would wear every piece. Stranger was young and playful with one dress that had cigarette butts adorning it and many that showed colourful cigarette packets as pants and bags. For those who love their fashion quirky this range will please.
A roar went up for the finale as Jett Kenny strutted out in Kimbralou. Kimbralou’s fashion is recycled or upcycled fashion which uses denim jackets, pants and skirts with patches of popular culture sewn onto the pieces. Her art uses music, film and television references, slogans and animal pictures in her unique, colourful and standout pieces. Kimbralou is a strong advocate for women and minority groups and many pieces depict fierce felines like tigers and jaguars. Kimbralou’s sassy show brought this amazing Fantauzzo Next Gen Show to an ear splitting close as admirers rushed to congratulate this champion of sustainable styling. I can see international interest in her quirky pieces will soon follow.
Thanks must go to everyone at MBFF Brisbane for putting on such an amazing showcase of future fashion. There were so many new labels to love, many were following sustainable, inclusive and gender neutral principles which are so important in our world today. Thanks to Bryce Williams for inviting SheSociety along and applause must go to Styling Director, Kimberly Gardner for staging such magnificent shows. I have loved every minute of my time in this exciting new venue watching a range of great home grown fashion over several days. Brisbane Fashion has found a stunning new home in Howard Smith Wharves and I am so proud to say that I was there for the inaugural shows. Australian Fashion – See It. Love It. Own It.
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).