From May 31 to June 4, Sydney shone as the Afterpay Australian Fashion Week returned to Carriageworks after COVID 19 shut down catwalks around the world in 2020. This was the very first fashion week to return in real time and fashionistas and celebrities were out in force to celebrate.With over 60 shows onsite and around Sydney, the parades showcasing Australian Resort 2022 promised and delivered on colour, sparkle and plenty of style.
Day One began with a ‘ Welcome to Country ‘ and first up was designer, Jordan Dalah, whose designs featured enormous sleeves and oversized silhouettes. We celebrated ten years of Rebecca Vallance in Australia. Bondi Born made the most of the picture perfect Autumn Day by strutting their stuff by the sparkling harbour. Alice McCall showed in the evening and Bassike premiered the first of two shows.
Day Two began early for this writer with the much anticipated Ginger and Smart Spring 21 / Resort 22 Show. Colours for the season were pastels with green, apricot and lemon, shades of orange and the graphic floral prints that Ginger and Smart are known for. It was feminine, playful and soothing. I was excited to later attend the Next Gen Show which introduced four emerging designers to the Sydney fashion crowd. In the late afternoon I went along to the Ixiah runway where beautiful and feminine sustainable fashion in pastel, denim and florals impressed.
Day Three began with The First Nations Show where several Indigenous designers showed off an array of fashion. It was a joyous celebration of our First Nations culture; with music, dance and fashion all rolled into one. The show rightly received a standing ovation and there was hardly a dry eye in the house. My favourite show of the week by far. My second show of the day was the White Sands Resort ’22 where colourful swimwear in shades of coral, yellow, green, blue and attractive cuts in black reigned supreme.This young and vibrant show showcased all that is special about our Australian lifestyle. White Sands began in Bondi and now has a second home on the Sunshine Coast. Finally on Day Two I was in awe as I listened to a conversation with Alex Perry and Pip and Claire from P.E Nation. It was also wonderful to attend a discussion between industry leaders talking about – Fashion as a Force for Change.
On Day Four my day thankfully started later with the Indigenous Fashion Project sharing designs from six First Nations Labels. The Swim and Resort-wear on display showed off First Nations art and culture with a big nod to collaboration and community. It was a joyous display.
In the evening was my last show from Aqua Blu.Designs in wearable silk and linen were perfect for my Queensland lifestyle and the pieces are designed to be worn together or alone. Their bestselling rash vests came in a range of beautiful, sun safe patterns. Dresses and tops were ladylike and feminine. This was a beautiful tropical show which was also a celebration of diversity of models. Bravo Aqua Blu!
Celebrities, influencers, politicians and fashionistas alike attended the shows. Julie Bishop was in the front row every day that I was there sporting ever more fabulous outfits. Style gurus like Erin Holland, Annabel Falco, Ksenija Lukich and the Fashion Heist’s Aicha were spotted. Camilla Franks, Michelle Bridges and David Genat from Celebrity Apprentice were spied, as was a stunning Anna Heinrich and newsreader, Sylvia Jeffries. On the first day I had coffee next to the very beautiful Candice Warner. Jessica Mauboy was sitting near me at the First Nations Show and gorgeous Indigenous model, Samantha Harris, was front row with Jess and walked in the Indigenous Fashion Projects Fashion Show. I saw supermodel Jessica Gomes and influencers like Yan Yan Chan attended. Gladys Berejiklian looked fashionable in blue at the Indigenous Fashion Projects Show.
There was a constant parade of one trend fashion and looks and plenty of posing and snapping. Street Trends this year were lots of leather, chunky gold chain accessories, bucket hats, white boots and coats and dresses with cutaways. Hot pink was strong as was blue in every hue. By Thursday night with the rain falling all day and temperatures dropping, fabulous coats and plenty of structured suits were to be seen.
On the runway for 2022 we saw plenty of pink, green, purple and muted romantic floral. Tan flats and white boots made an appearance. Big bows, big sleeves and bucket hats were in abundance. Relaxed suiting was a great all ages look and pastels of every hue provided a kaleidoscope of colour. There was velvet too, from disco chic dresses at Rebecca Vallance to black velvet swimwear from White Sands.
I will miss the smiling faces of the Vittoria coffee baristas who ensured I could power through every day. I even brought home a personalised keep cup which I will treasure. I will miss the stimulating discussion from the daily talk sessions. I will miss the parade of fabulous and frenetic street style posing on the Carriageworks walk. Most of all I will miss the anticipation of the show to come and the creativity of the stories told through fashion.
Organisers of Afterpay Australian Fashion Week should be proud of this spectacular event which was the very first real-time Fashion Week to be held in the world. We missed our Melbourne brothers and sisters coming along and adding their unique style. Yet, history was made with the fabulous First Nations Fashion and Design Runway Show. Thanks to Grace Lillian Lee for inviting me to witness this special day.
The Australian Fashion Industry has been hurting but this year’s shows were a celebration of style, innovation and creation and now that I’m home I can’t believe what was achieved and the amount of fashion on offer over five frenetic days. We all need some colour and fun in our lives after the year that was and 2022 is looking bright and beautiful.
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!).