Australian Fashion Week Wraps Up Another Successful Week

May 20, 2022

After a triumphant week, Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, sadly came to an end. On the last day many shows were offsite, so Carriageworks was a little quieter. I managed to see the Oceania Collection by Gyre and the Next Gen designers. Gyre was a (new to me) label and I was keen to see their Australian Fashion Week debut. I was not disappointed.The day ended with the First Nations Show and a lavish Afterparty at Carriageworks.

A full house greeted West Australian brand Gyre.This label had a range of covetable floaty dresses, pretty backless dresses and playful separates. Swimwear was lovely and made from regenerated nylon. Gyre chooses to use circular fabrics and the Oceania Collection was created using peace silk and linen. It was truly feminine and beautifully designed. Gyre has a love for classically refined styles celebrating Australia’s natural beauty and creative talent. They are committed to delivering a sustainable future. 

Gyre founder and Creative Director, Elena Ballantyne says, “ It is our responsibility as an emerging brand, to be part of a more sustainable present, and future in turn by being a lighthouse in the ocean of fast fashion.”

The collection showcased 29 looks and began with classy resort wear in stark black and white.  Oceanic elements were present in collaboration with hand painted aquatic elements from Australian artist Prudence Demarchi. Pretty florals were also a feature.

Resort wear was complimented by elegant swimwear in timeless one – piece and bikini styles which were made from the Italian ‘ Econyl’ regenerated ocean waste. There really seemed to be a swimsuit to suit everyone and I will be sharing this tip with all my friends, who being Queenslanders are always on the lookout for the perfect ‘cossie ‘ or ‘togs’. 

I really loved the bohemian, coastal hats created by Lorna Murray. They were unique, ethical and sustainable and melded perfectly with the brand’s playful aesthetic.The concertina folds on the hats and bags really appealed. In a refreshing touch model’s hair was slicked back as though they had just hopped out of the surf. Gyre designs were teamed with an orange lip and fresh skin to convey the warmth of a beautiful West Australian sunset.

Another highlight of the Gyre show was the inclusion of Chaye Hartwell to the runway. Chaye is a transgender model, speaker, author and activist. Chaye is a role model for all to embrace our unique , differentiated selves.

In the front row I spied MAFS alumni Jules, Dom and Bec. Bec was dressed as a bride and had been busy promoting her new gig on Celebrity Apprentice. I sat with Linda from the minimalist streetstyle site and we were both astonished by this beautiful range. She was already planning to add to cart on a beautiful floral maxi, whilst I loved the cool white dresses and black swimsuits. Gyre is a lovely emerging label to watch out for!

Learning about our new generation of emerging designers always gives me a thrill. This year the winners of Next Gen were four women and all were from Melbourne. Each had a fascinating story to tell and their designs were as unique as they were. I was blown away by the talent of these young designers, three of whom were in conversation in the afternoon. Here the designers shared the challenges and opportunities of working through the pandemic, and where they’ve see the future of the fashion industry.

A vision in red pleating , mother, founder and creative director of ASIYAM, Asia Hassan, founded Asiyam to challenge the norms of how women dress. Her designs were born from not being able to find well designed and accessible clothing with modest aesthetics. Born in Somalia and a Muslim, Asia feels her clothes are designed to be worn by any woman. A feature of her label are the intricate details,  fabric manipulation and gorgeous rich colours. Her designs are now being stocked on THE ICONIC. 

The Uber cool Samantha Saint James’ vision for her label is to defy fashion’s gendered archetypes. Saint James, who is a graduate of the Whitehouse Institute of Design, combines traditional fashion design with contemporary innovation, art and culture. She creates luxury androgynous street wear that empowers the wearer.  

Phoebe Pendergast was one of the finds of fashion week for many, with her emotionally fuelled personal fashion designs. Pining for what ‘ used to be ‘ her contemplative design process draws from the personal memories and experiences she wishes to relive. A recent graduate of the Bachelor of Fashion (Design) ( Honours) at RMIT university it was exciting to hear that Phoebe’s sneaker range and accompanying video will be released by ADIDAS this month. A rising new talent to watch out for.

Designer Natasha Gordon founded CLEA in 2021, embracing an aesthetic that proposes a fresh  balance of opposing elements – masculine and feminine, textural and clean, strength and softness, intricate and minimal. With meticulous attention to detail, each garment is designed with enduring elements and longevity at its core. A graduate of RMIT, Natasha had worked in London for Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen before coming home to design knitwear for Witchery. In exciting news her range has just recently been stocked by David Jones and online, after only twelve months as a label. I think this quiet achiever has learned well through her ten years in the business.  

All designers agreed that the challenging Melbourne lockdowns had only fuelled their creativity and drive, which forced them to change direction and be brave within the fashion space.They are all conscious of respecting the environment and the circularity of fashion. The future is in bright hands with these fashion finds behind the wheel.

So as the Afterpay Australian Fashion Week party raged on at Carriageworks, this weary writer reflected on a fantastic week.This was a year of inclusivity and diversity with groundbreaking shows from Adaptive Clothing , The Curve Edit and many milestones from our First Nations Design. Gender lines have been blurred in society and through our fashion creating a modern, hopeful vibe on the runways, street and in the designs .There was a nod to the past with some 70’s, 80’s and 90’s influences on the catwalk and in street style. 

We looked back to go forwards, with names from my early fashion and art exploration, icons Jenny Kee AO and Ken Done collaborating with modern day designers. Bright and colourful set the tone as our fashionistas emerged like butterflies from a chrysalis. There was a true modern Australian style and acceptance emerging which ensured all groups and communities felt loved and included in a way I had never seen before. 

Many brands are now focussing on the circularity of fashion and more designers are only creating made to order pieces which reduces waste and landfill. Sustainable fabrics and focusing on the consumer’s needs are at the forefront of many designer’s minds.

Resort Wear for 2022 to ‘ 23 promises plenty of colour, with a touch of metallics and classic black and white. Prints have a retro feel. Cargo pants, flowing pants and drawstring bottom pants will be seen on the streets and catwalks. Love it or hate it, low rise is back. Voluminous shoulders and one shoulder looks still reign supreme. Pretty 70’s sundresses in midi and maxi lengths will be popular. For the brave there are plenty of sheer and revealing silhouettes. Try a cropped top, bejewelled bralette under a blazer or cut out. Blazers and outerwear are still oversized. Backless everything is also on trend.

Soft and fluid draping was seen in many shows. Colours we’ll be seeing are lots of pink, ice blue and bright rich blue, green, vivid metallic purple and orange. Neon is big. Sling-backs, slides and sneakers are still around and a look I haven’t seen since I began wearing them in Year Seven, the platform thong, is making a comeback. Yet, if I’ve learnt anything this week it’s to wear what you like and feel most comfortable in. Let your own unique style shine through. Remember circularity and sustainable fashion are always on trend.

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