Fashfest 2014: Night 2 from the seats

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IT’S not just the clothes. It’s the live, original music, choreography, lighting, sound and the theatrical production that makes Fashfest an experience and an event. This is no ordinary fashion show and the second night proved that over and over.

Where to begin? Or shall we start at the end when designer Mitch Thompson from label Perpetually Five zipped around the rectangular shaped runway on roller skates to the delight of guests? Mitch’s designs departed from bright colours this year but were as fun as ever. This new collection, created with fabric featuring black and white ‘googly eyes’, is utterly charming and in 2014 Mitch has designed for women, not just men. The mono look was far from bland, with fluoro orange socks and bow ties adding pops of colour. This designer will never grow up and Canberra doesn’t want him to.

Each night of this four-day fashion showstopper surprises.

This year, for the first time, Fashfest has taken on an enormous challenge and designed its own line of contemporary swimwear—featuring an urban edge—in collaboration with Jets Digital and British fashion designer Shelley Campton, who now calls Canberra home.

The patterns on the swimwear last night celebrated ‘The Scientist’ theme and were designed by Eleanor Gates-Stuart, an artist-in-residence at CSIRO, and Jemima Parker, an emerging artist and screen-printer. The colours were sensational, the designs detailed and innovative and the collection all the more intriguing with some models also wearing lab coats and lab glasses. As one guest said: ‘Who needs leopard skin and animal prints when you can have science patterns?’

Fashfest is committed to helping the fashion industry grow and that starts with supporting those about to graduate from the Canberra Institute of Technology. These students are the next generation of Australian fashion professionals and nine designers launched work on the catwalk last night. The diversity was mind boggling and included long, flowing, feminine designs, sculptural looks and even sci-fi influences.

A highlight of the night was BM Designs, with designer Barb Mickelson launching not just her artistic and amazing hats but a stylish and graceful line of dresses and accessories that commanded attention. Each look was absolutely perfect. This is a designer to keep your eye on and one to go to when you need to stand out in the crowd at the races.

Grape, black and a bit of lace formed the next collection on the runway, launched by new designer Gina Poulakis from G.Ginchy, who specialises in creating garments for petite women who want to look curvaceous and fulsome. The aesthetic is feminine and graceful and last night’s designs looked sensational with Octavia Shoes, a high-fashion footwear label with a strong reputation for classic, sexy wedge shoes.

Often with the design the delight is in the detail and Philipa Soutberg’s very Australiana collection was no exception. This line of clothing is relaxed and easy-to-wear with a colour palette that reflects this country’s unique natural environment. Ochre, greys and browns feature and several pieces are enhanced with a ‘rabbit proof fence’ design, including a pair of funky leggings and an ‘easy-to-wear anywhere’ dress.

Men were not forgotten at the show with upmarket suits and ties by Braddon Tailors, owned by the very fashionable Pip Morgan and Tarun Charker. These lads also showcased some of the casual attire coming out of their Cotters Crossing label, still made with sensational fabrics and incredible attention to detail.

Then it was time for the climbing ropes, ice picks and skiis. Colourful gear by Mont Adventure Equipment kept models toasty warm in the cool airport venue. Asher Crawford, Miss Universe Finalist (2010), Olympian Alicia Coutts and international actor and model Liam Hall sported bright yellow, purple and red jackets. Mont is one of Canberra’s longest standing and most successful labels.

The company has never wavered from its high-performance outdoor apparel that is comfortable, fashionable and reliable when put to the test in the world’s harshest environments.

The after party rocked with guests spilling into the bar area to toast Canberra fashion and a great night out. Fashfest continues tonight and tomorrow night, with tickets available on www.fashfest.com.au

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