RAFW diary: Early favourites from Rosemount Australian Fashion Week

Left: Morrison and Right: Lover shot by Stefan Gosatti/Stringer.
Left: Morrison and Right: Lover shot by Stefan Gosatti/Stringer.

On a greyish autumn morning (in Australia that is), fashion press, retailers and industry people click-clop along the impressive Sydney Harbour foreshore towards the Overseas Passenger Terminal for the Spring/Summer 2011/2012 collections. Cruise ships dock at the large glass structure on the lip of the water, but we’re here to be transported through five days of presentations by the best Australia has to offer. Here we present our favourites so far:

The first onsite show of the week, Bec & Bridge runs a full hour late due to a lag from the earlier offsite Zimmermann show—though the long wait isn’t too painful, spent gazing across the water to the iconic Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens. The Sydney designers, both of whom could easily sub in for late-running models, send out ’70s daywear shapes in slinky silks in two prints—a bright multicoloured abstract “dahlia” floral and an angular pattern inspired by the Chrysler building in greys and black. A few pieces cleverly combine the two. Suede mini shorts, navy crocheted tops and dresses and pleated silk halter dresses keep to the theme of “Lauren Hutton walks down Fifth Avenue…” but there’s an Australian spin: Hutton’s fedora becomes a classic Akubra hat (think Mick Dundee) in lilac, blush or magenta.

At Arnsdorf, the line designed by Melbourne-based designer Jade Sarita Arnott, the mood is more modern. Julia Nobis walks out in the first of a few minimalist whites, then mint details creep in and some softness in the form of flowing Swiss dot panels. A weightless, billowing silk anorak in white or mint wouldn’t be much help in a downpour but is glorious nonetheless. Wide linen pants manage to look fresh and sharp, and a long mint silk skirt worn with a shocking fuchsia top is, upon closer inspection, a long tunic with its arms tied around the waist. The models’ hair, a loose, low chignon with a wispy, roughed up crown, enhances the easy feel.

West Australian label Morrison shuns the liquid silks so beloved in this sunny country, using linen and cotton reminiscent of hospital scrubs in white, mustard, tangerine and navy. There are a pair of navy cotton overalls worn folded down, some relaxed oversized suiting, and a black-and-white skirt with an exaggerated waist ruff. Grey jersey introduces an element of lightness, especially in a dress composed of a sleeveless white cotton button-up top and a voluminous floor-length skirt in that featherweight jersey.

Cut to evening outside the Studio Theatre tucked into the side of the Opera House, and the fashion folks are standing around waiting for the eagerly anticipated Lover show—it’s the brand’s first local show in five years. Toronto photoblogger turned Style.com street-style star Tommy Ton chats to his fellow V-I-blogger Susie Bubble and tries valiantly to stay awake—he’s been up since 4 a.m., having flown in from L.A. this morning. The show hits a romantic-meets-sinister note. Models walk the square runway in intricate lace dresses, leather skirts and wide pants in white, beige, black and siren red as a video installation of their defiantly glaring faces appears on a massive screen overhead.

The Sydney brother and sister team behind label Camilla and Marc, Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman, have chosen the ornate lobby of the historic State Theatre in the downtown core to show their collection—scruffy-hot Aussie actor Joel Edgerton gives the front row a shot of testosterone. Models stride through a futuristic, searingly bright illuminated white frame in pants and skirts printed in colourful, rounded abstract flowers, short and tight neoprene dresses, and slouchy, boxy pantsuits in Jil Sander-ish hues of clear cyan and hothouse orchid pink. Things veer backwards in time with a grouping of stylized animal prints, sequins and lurex, and suddenly there are early-Ghesquière-at-Balenciaga peplums galore. Two brilliant textured black blazers with neon sleeves in pink or orange marry classic and futuristic in the right way.

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