Fashion week had its victims
So the 15th edition of Rosemount Australian Fashion Week has ponywalked off into the sunset. So too, the event’s founder Simon Lock. What should have been one big knees-up, however, wound up feeling more like a wake for the outgoing IMG Fashion Asia Pacific managing director.
Five years after Lock sold Australia’s most high profile fashion event to the New York-based sports/lifestyle marketing powerhouse IMG and stayed on to helm the company’s regional fashion activities, apparently things haven’t gone so well. As New Zealand magazine editor Marian Simms quipped last week – only to have the phrase transformed into a Twitter hashtag meme, by Lock’s wife Lorraine - #itsalldanhillfromhere – Dan Hill being IMG Fashion’s Asia Pacific general manager.
Then in February this year, eight months before his contract was due to expire, IMG suddenly announced that Lock would be leaving the company. In the interim, reports have surfaced of tensions between Lock and IMG.
Finding himself mysteriously uninvited to two RAFW 15 year celebration parties in the leadup to last week’s event, Lock was also obliged to submit to Hill a list of shows he wanted to attend.
Hill confirmed Lock did have to submit a show wishlist, telling me: “He went to all of those – and many more”.
I understand Lock managed to attend 12 shows, out of a total of 60. Over the previous 14 years, he never missed one.
Last week, Lock cut a sad figure, spotted standing in general admission lines, being blocked by security from entering one show and involved in some awkward scenes at front rows adjacent to major designers.
So much for the politics, what about the clothes?
In spite of some media complaints that the week was “lacklustre” there were in fact some outstanding shows. Paris Fashion Week, Sydney is not, but it has survived 15 years, it continues to generate tens of millions of dollars of publicity for the industry and has provided an international launch pad for a swag of designers, models and production staff.
Two examples of the latter are Jarrad Clark and Kannon Rajah, both now New York-based. Clark is IMG’s Director Global Production and he returns each year to oversee RAFW. Rajah works on the casting and production of some of the world’s biggest fashion shows, from Victoria’s Secret, to Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Lanvin. Rajah came back home last week to work on Ksubi’s 10 year anniversary show.
Here are some of my personal highlights.
Every year the Australian media loves to whinge that “big names” have skipped RAFW. In truth, many of these big names are now committed to showing their ranges to buyers and media at the vastly more expensive international fashion weeks and it’s hardly surprising they don’t have a spare 100K each year to throw at a party just for their mates downunder. One of RAFW ‘s key strengths is providing a springboard for new talent. And it doesn’t get much better than Dion Lee. The second solo RAFW show for this 24 year-old TAFE NSW graduate, this was world-class talent showcased in a world-class location – the northern foyer of the Sydney Opera House. Lee dazzled his audience with a beautiful collection of intricately draped dresses and deconstructed tailoring. Read more here and see more Dion Lee photos here.
If Dion Lee was the revelation of the 2009 event, Christopher Esber was the discovery of 2010. A short, succinct presentation – as with Dion Lee’s (the week’s less directional talents seemed to feel the need to send their entire showrooms onto the runway) - it was more than enough to whet the audience’s appetite and deliver Esber’s vision of futuristic sportswear. Read more here and see more Christopher Eseber photos here.
With a surname like Ward-Fear, you would anticipate a horror aesthetic. Helping things along: the fact that his dad, David Ward-Fear, is a set designer who worked on films such as The Shining,Aliens and Mad Max. Some of the outfits looked like they could have passed as costumes in the latter. Little wonder Elliot Ward-Fear – who showed as part of the TAFE NSW group show - recently sent one outfit to Rihanna, angling for some stage exposure. Think digitally-printed blazers and motocross leggings, teamed with massive spiked crystal epaulettes.
Great to see a new guard of Australian models on this year’s runways, alongside quite a few veterans. The new guard was led, in 20 shows, by indigenous model Samantha Harris, whose firstVogue cover was also unveiled during the week. Beautiful Eurasian Rachel Rutt did 23 shows – and blogged in tandem with another high profile Australian model, Myf Shepherd, when she wasn’t walking the runway. Louise van de Vorst is so far best known for being the girlfriend of Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns. But this was China doll-like van de Vorst’s first proper runway season and she definitely made her mark. Expect to see her on the OS runways soon. Also on deck, two of Australia’s hottest new international runway faces: Lauren Brown, who scored the highly coveted Balenciaga show in Paris in March. Also, Julia Nobis, whose international career was launched in New York in February, when she was booked for a Calvin Klein exclusive.
ROMANCE WAS BORN
Every year, Sydney duo Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett manage to pull off an OTT theatrical extravaganza that has everybody buzzing. They did it again, this time with their Renaissance Dinosaur show staged inside Sydney University’s McLaren Hall. Fantastic styling and makeup and some hilarious outfits – including what could be the runway’s first volcano, complete with handbag. There might be a limited market for volcano dresses, but scratch the surface of the kookiest outfits and you will find the more commercial print pieces underneath, from T-shirts to leggings and dresses.
Rising out of the ashes of liquidation – or “pre pack liquidation” as they refer to the arrangement offshore, whereby the assets of a failed company are sold to a new business (some call it phoenixing) – Ksubi went under in January owing $9million. Just over $4million is in fact still owed to creditors. And the horror might not be over yet for founders Dan Single and George Gorrow. There are penalties for trading while insolvent – which administrators Grant Thornton established the duo had done. But Ksubi is now controlled by a new consortium and Single and Gorrow can for the moment focus on what they do best: brainstorming creative ideas to sell denim and streetwear. With denim superbrands like Diesel slashing prices in Australia and Miss Sixty filing for bankruptcy protection in the US, however, it might not be the easiest road. Assisted by Kannon Rajah, their show on Friday night which closed RAFW was nevertheless a slick production, worthy of any international stage. More Ksubi photos
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