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Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, spring–summer 2014–15: the Innovators, Ae’lkemi, Aje

Filed by Lucire staff/April 12, 2014/3.20

Ultimo TAFE Sydney Institute of Fashion

The Innovators’ show featured the work of several recent graduates from the Ultimo TAFE school of fashion, carefully selected as promising future stars. I am always delighted to see fashion which is, like the name indicates, truly innovative and unspoiled by commercial reality. However, most of the garments were highly wearable.
   Irish graduate Ciara Nolan (above) opened the show with a very colourful collection including a bold use of cuts exposing skin and prints. These kids show promise, as they already demonstrate prowess in material manipulation, with expert draping and pleating seen in several of the collections, as well as innovative ideas—some of the dresses were held by translucent rods joining shoulders and other parts of the garment.

Ae’lkemi was an ethereal show which opened with blood red outfits, followed by black and white. Lacey and translucent gowns sashayed down the runway, my favourites being a silver white gown with delicate vertical frills on the hip area, resembling feathers, and a white poncho worn as a dress with exquisite detailing on the back. See-through lace gowns and sets were present, and beautiful. My only comment would be that totally see-through garments on nude bodies are not really likely to be worn by many women, so I may have liked them even more if nude lining had been applied to the gowns in some strategic areas. By and large, glamorous, delicate, feminine.

Whenever I am going to see an Aje show, I expect an unforgettable experience and they never fail to deliver and exceed expectations. Aje’s show was an ode to the first woman explorer of Africa—an installation in the Theatre, with a central stage featuring a large safari tent and models languidly standing and sitting around. There were many highly wearable garments and a stand-out black lace trouser and blouse set that I want to own right now. Glamorous and sexy but with the right balance of coverage to make it highly wearable. A green leather jacket also stood out—beautifully cut and tailored. The designers were greeting guests at the back of the tent and they were their usual selves, relaxed, happy, warm, down to earth. The atmosphere was evocative of exactly the story they were trying to tell with this beautiful collection. Viva Aje! And may their dreamy creativity bring us endless collections to love and cherish.

The buzz
Being one of the lucky ones that got to enjoy the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge, I had the outstanding opportunity to mingle with stylists, designers, celebrities and media. It was refreshing to hear stories from the designers themselves and also meet some of the people in the background who make their collections possible. Phoenix Keating is a warm and unassuming guy who welcomes you to talk and puts you at ease immediately. I had a nice conversation with him and also bumped into celebrity stylists Joshua Heath and Josh Finn (ex-Australia’s Next Top Model). Always great to exchange impressions with them—Josh Heath was, of course, epitomizing the manner in which a trendy male ought to dress, without crossing the Zoolander line of spoof fashion, and Finn was sweetly dressed with a great printed poncho by Camilla, which only Josh, as a guy, can do justice to.
   I was pleased to meet the leather man of fashion here, Juan Valdes, of Chilean decent and leather tailor to celebrities, high-end designers and a collaborator even to the latest Star Wars movies. We joked that South Americans are like God—they are everywhere!—Viviana Pannell

Viviana Pannell is the founder and designer for Basquesse, a Sydney, NSW-based label, and a correspondent for Lucire.

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