FASHFEST promised excitement and a feast for the eyes, and boy did it deliver! Remember how I said I would need sunglasses as this would be Canberra's opportunity to blind me? Well they did. It’s a total Fashion experience, from the moment I took my prime runway seat, until I enjoyed my last sip of champagne at the after party, it was pure enjoyment that I consumed with absolute pleasure.
Image: Doug Hall Photography
Imagine a Meerkat standing up, that was me as I watched the bevy of models head down the catwalk. FASHFEST was full of surprises and that is what fashion is.
It is great to see the support to the artists in so many fields from music, lighting, building, designers, make up and hair artists as well as models and designers, providing them with a stepping stone to national and ever-growing global fashion market. We are so lucky to have an event like this in Australia that showcases local and interstate and New Zealand designers, models, hair and make up artists and the industry.
After the disappointment that was Melbourne Fashion Week only a few weeks ago, I was feeling a little deflated but after 3 days in Canberra I feel that my faith has been restored in Australian fashion and what can happen when you have a group of dedicated and passionate people work together to achieve a common goal.
Once I stepped off the plane at Canberra airport with suitcase in tow, I promptly embraced Canberra by meeting with Karen Lee from Karen Lee Designs learning about her love of all things black. Whilst I was at Assemblage Project in it's wonderful retail come studio space in the heart of Canberra, I was lucky enough to have a sneak peak at what would be showcased on the runway and see a fitting occur. The space is completely open with no hidden back rooms, exposing an all in one transparent design process.
From touring backstage and meeting with models, taking a seat besides the directors chair watching the wonderful hair and make up teams work and the creative process and nurturing environment was extraordinary. It was a pleasure to feed off the electric energy that I witnessed backstage that then surged onto the catwalk at National Convention Centre Canberra.
As the morning rose on day 2 I had a meet and greet with Clint Hutchinson and was keen to learn more about how he and his lovely wife Andrea took the leap into the fashion arena and created FASHFEST. It was a pleasure meeting Clint and hearing many stories that I was so enthralled I forgot to write things down. Our conversation turned to Braddon Tailors and led to discussions about their bespoke formal and dapperly delicious suits, and everything in between. Not just for the gents. I was like a trend pig in heaven when I was shown a purple velvet men't suit! You can see the passion for customer service with small details such as personalised embroidery and over 2000 fabrics to choose from!
Over the course of three days I watched endless models parade some of the most colourful and innovative fashion that I have seen on the catwalks in Australia in a very long time. I chatted with beautiful faces of the festival who strutted down the white catwalk and had the opportunity to even be tutored about how to master the perfect catwalk bounce as you walk the 30 metres down the runway. There is some bright fresh faced young models who I will be watching very closely.
It is always a pleasure seeing designers display their latest creations down the catwalk and many of these collections gave me a spine tingling experience. Onto some of my personal favourites:
Students are always a favourite of mine as the next wave of up and commers throw caution to the wind. The menswear within both of CIT shows was so refreshing and elaborate and cannot wait to see where some of these designers head after completing their studies.
The uplifting spectacle that blew me away and made me stop breathing. This showcase had everything! Sequins, more sequins, high waists, it was an army of ultra feminine that could easily be in a Beyonce film clip. it was FASHUUUUNNN!
Glamorous and sultry dresses and pant suits in vibrant hues that showcase a woman's body. Keep an eye on this young designer, her attention to detail and construction is phenomenal and she uses colour is a fun fresh way.
Karen Lee Designs
Comprising of designs ready for the consumer, personally I found the creative aesthetic to be Westwood like. Karen's designs do not follow current trends and what is in season and the strong display of black keeps everything chic and focuses on quality fabrics.
Designs that expressed diversity for the kiddies. There was some great pieces in this collection including a velvet mandarin collared blazer that I wish came in adult size.
Clothes that had been executed to the highest standards with such fun prints that had been designed by Yumi Morrissey. I adore my colour and Yumi delivered an outstanding colourful collection that is just in time for Spring/Summer.
BT BRADDON TAILORS
Characteristics of European design and sculptural quality, it was refreshing to see uplifting colours and fabrics used in suiting for both men and women. There was so many pieces I was squealing internally for with their individuality and strong details.
Meeting industry experts and hearing their inspiring stories and them answering many a burning question I had, was a true highlight of the 3 days. There is an abundance of knowledge in this country, a level of skill and a willingness to collaborate and share information that flowed throughout the festival.
I have quickly come to the conclusion that there is no better stage or in this case, catwalk, to showcase so many wonderful emerging Australian talents. FASHSFEST promised and delivered the program, bridging the worlds between fashion, art and music. I returned home and marked FASHFEST on my fashion calendar for next year in bright texta and you should do the same.