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Stylin' 908

Author: Alyx Gorman
Monday, 12 May 2008

The Good:
Show of the Week:
Romance Was Born

One of the best things about Romance Was Born is the way they take the stale conventions of a stolid industry and shake them sideways until something new and much, much better emerges. In their show at the Conservatorium Of Music this translated into a tribal display that was as much school recital as it was fashion show. With 45 pink-faced, muddy-haired models, the potential for disaster was huge and mistakes did happen, but they simply added to the joviality of the affair. The bride, a staple show-closer in haute couture, was re-imagined in fluffy, creamy layers of tulle and crochet – she even earned a virgin sacrifice for her troubles. Best of all, underneath the make-up, overblown headdresses and wild theatrics lay a collection of solid, wearable pieces that represent a coming of age for the label.

Other Highlights
Konstantina Mittas 

We walk past Konstantina Mittas’ workshop every day on our way homefrom the shops, so to see her sculptural creations fly (literally, theshow was crow themed) from the studio onto the stage felt almost likewatching a chick (chic-) leave the nest. The show was dramatic in theextreme with UFO silhouettes and jutting, pointed shoulders. Made instiff, shiny fabrics, many of the pieces looked hard as rock – a kindof naturalist yet sci-fi armour that still managed to maintain whispersof heroic femininity. Earthier cloths were also used; one homespun-lookdress proving models really can look good in hessian sacks. One of thefirst shows of the week to truly impress, Mittas won herself a fan inuber-buyer Belinda Seper, among others. All this means she’s onedesigner who’s set to soar.

Dion Lee

Design Studio graduate Dion Lee presented one of the most refreshing,hopeful shows of the week. The undeniably talented young man’scollection of tailored, pleated and duel-toned pieces was markedlybetter than most of what the established labels were showing. Lee’stime working with Tina Kalivas was evident throughout – Kalivas isnotable as one of the only Australian designers who understands how tocut and tailor well for the feminine form – and Lee it seems willfollow in her footsteps. Capably mixing volume with body-con styles,Lee’s grown-up look was seasonally appropriate, without any of theunsavory, undone elements that often accompany spring/summer looks. Ofparticular note were the skirts – whether in laser cut leather orprinted and pleated they were obscenely covetable.
TV’s unbelievably covetable closet. We wanted to wear every single piece from their SS 08/9 collection. Everything from the flattering palette of coral, dusty pink and sky blue to the ruffled sleeves and sexy dream catcher cutouts screamed: ‘Try me! Buy me!’
Jessie Hill
Jessie Hill’s new take on tie-dye. Everyone who mumbled about being “over” tie-dye at Jessie Hill clearly wasn’t looking hard enough. The colourful prints, hidden under layers of other fabric, were actually shroud of Turin-esque human faces – although given the soundtrack of Nine Inch Nails, we’re not sure if it was Jesus or a rock god featured.

Akria Isogawa
From the delicately embroidered flowers to the shockingly rich, colourful hues, Akira’s closing show felt like a much- needed palette cleanse after a week of black and bleak. It made us want to tidy our houses, plant some roses and act like ladies for a change.

The visuals at Michelle Jank (Daniel Askill), Wayne Cooper (View of Courage), and the Cargo Room’s LED lighting displays had us staring harder at the screens than we did at the catwalks, not that we’re complaining.

Unfortunately for RAFW organizers, some of the very best shows of (or near) the week occurred off-site, off-schedule. These included Gail Sorronda’s cleverly draped and heavenly femme collection and Kym Ellery’s effortlessly it-girl in tight tight pants and black and gold.

The Bad:
Shameful shows:
Ruth Tarvydas

Watching the Ruth Tarvydas show felt similar to a dinner party hosted by our right-wing aunt and her sexist husband: even though it went against everything we enjoy and the parts that were meant to be funny just felt uncomfortable and awkward, we were too polite to leave. Much like the dresses on display, the event was bedazzled with stars; unfortunately (much like the dresses) Kim Kardashian isn’t too bright. In a different context (without the pseudo red-carpet, pseudo foliage and pseudo celebrities) the clothes would have made lovely formal dresses, but because of the setting, when the final frothy coffee was served after a grueling, seven-course meal, we felt too sick to even look.

Ready To Wear 1,2,4 and 5
With the notable exception of Ready To Wear 3 (one of the few shows of the week to feature menswear), all of the group shows at Fashion Week were disappointing to say the least. Whether it was five different takes on the same boring dress, or simply collections of clothes that, while nice on the rack, look bad on the runway, these group outings were always lacking in something. There were some saving graces – Mad Cortes’ pattern cutter Leonardo Salinas created a show that outshone many solo efforts, and Body also offered relief from the tedium. But despite these breaks there was a general ‘why bother-’ attitude surrounding the Ready To Wear shows, further cemented by the fact that hardly anyone turned up.

The Ugly:
Catwalk Feet

Like death and taxes, fashion events always have two inevitablefeatures: high heels, and lines (no, not that kind… well okay, maybe).And as anyone who has spent more than six minutes standing insize-too-small stilettos will tell you, these things do not make for apretty combination. Fortunately, there are plenty of products that arehere to help. We road-tested some of them this fashion week:

Monday: Scholl’s Party Feet. These little sticky gel pads made areasonable impact over the course of the day. They provided a squishycushion, softening the blow on the balls of the feet. However, by aboutsix in the evening agony still crept in and our subject wanted nothingmore than to give up and change into flats. At the end of the evening,the subject was afraid to remove the Party Feet for fear of damagingher shoes.
Tuesday: Apivita Propoline Pedi Care Relief Gel. After a liberalapplication of this extremely runny gel feet felt light, numb and readyto be stuffed into anything. Unfortunately this wore off after abouthalf an hour of standing in queues. By 1pm subject was begging forflats. Re-application during the evening proved pleasant but the gellacks longevity.
Wednesday: Voodoo Celebrity Feet Stiletto and Peep Foot Cover. Theseslip-on, padded toe mitts provided cushioning and protection againstblisters. They were moderately more effective than Party Feet, and theslip-on factor prevented damage to the shoe lining. Unfortunately,despite advertised deodorizing, these were the worst things the subjecthad ever smelt by the end of the day.
Thursday: Model Co Cool Feet Airbrush Catwalk Heels. Like the ReliefGel, this spray proved to be more curative than preventative. Initialsprays yielded cold shocks, and did little to reduce pain throughoutthe day (after three days of abuse the subject gave up and put onballet flats after lunch). Subject reported that final spray before bedwas “blissful.”
Friday: Prescription painkillers and bucket of ice. Subject reportedfeelings of “floaty, happy clouds” throughout day, and seemed unawareof own surroundings, let alone feet. The bucket of ice at the end ofthe day solicited a cry of “all better” and the subject immediatelyfell asleep with feet still submerged.
Winner: Painkillers and bucket of ice for longevity and relief.

Flying Blind

• Which show’s major draw-card – live crows on models’ shoulders – was snatched away by the fun wrecking do-gooders at the RSPCA- Maybe they were scared the feathered fashion accessories would be caught by the catwalk-
• A talent agency owner was so enthusiastic about the Rosemount wine-bar, she ended up spilling half of it down her front. The poor dear was later seen wandering the Antipodium show in search of a lost coat.
• One blonde model’s catwalk strut was so out of step she earned herself the nickname Pony Walker. At the end of the week no one was prepared to hoof the blame for casting her.
• As she took her final bow with a celebrity in each hand, one model was seemed to whisper “I have no idea what to do with you two.”
•“I was extremely disappointed by the lack of minge,” one stylist told us of a last minute bout of coyness; a previously sheer cat-suit had suspiciously out of place modesty crocheting.
• An American buyer angered many when, while sitting front-and-centre for Akira, she chewed gum with her mouth open and looked visibly bored.
• Not a toilet was safe from a spectacular spate of vomiting at one after-party… perhaps it was the canapés-
• At one show the entry line was so bad it felt like a D barricade at a music festival. Less bold fashionistas gave up before entry, and after the show we wished we had too. • Despite a ban on under 16s, children were used throughout fashion week with varying effect. Two terrified tots ran offstage at one show, while one bouncing baby girl solicited tears of joy from some audience members.

Oyster Party

Oyster parties aren’t known for their tameness, so when we tell youthis one was wild even by the glossy magazine’s standards, we really,really mean it. No surprise given the party was themed around the workof famed fetish photographer Helmut Newton. Sexy photographs hungprovocatively from the walls as the party beneath (thrown in a packedOxford Art Factory) heaved, panted and shuddered to music from DJ Ajaxand Kiwi band The Checks. By midnight the evening reached its climacticcrescendo and guests, thoroughly lubricated with 42 Below vodka,slipped in and around each other with orgiastic candor. Perhaps themost obvious sign that the party had taken place were the grey faces atFashion Week the next morning. It was certainly a night to remember butit seems, in the fever, that most had forgotten it.