Fashfest 2014: Night 4 reviewed

It was a sold-out, red-carpet affair. Fashfest 2014 released standing room only tickets to cope with demand and guests lapped up the experience, the fashion, the lighting, the music and ‘being seen’.

Fashfest designed each night around a theme and closing night was ‘the visionary’ who sees what others cannot see. Each of the four event’s kicked off with a locally produced short film and last night it was award-winning director Michael Fardell, founder of Screencraft, with ‘the vision’.

Then hot swimwear appeared, designed around the theme by Yasmin Masri, an independent artist and graduate of the ANU School of Art, who focused on urban landscape. This is the first year Fashfest produced its own swimwear, and it did so in collaboration with British designer Shelley Campton, who now calls Canberra her home, and Jets Digital. Indeed, organisers believe this to be a first for any fashion show in Australia. Then the rest of the fashion flowed.

Suzan Dlouhy, from SZN, designed her collection around the concept of prodigal twins. ‘Same, same but different’, Suzan said, ‘because that is what twins are.’ Models emerged on the runway in pairs with their ‘set’ of garments made from the same pattern but in different fabrics to transform the look—one garment perfect for casual wear (denim) and one for evening wear (black). They were all made from scrap material, giving value to what would have been waste. Even the sheer black number worn by the Face of Fashfest, Belinda Riding, was made out of remnant material.

Next up was Karen Lee of label Karen Lee whose new collection was beautiful. Layers, draping, folds, and a range of textures, all in blacks and greys, were used to design Karen’s story. Amazing cut outs and combining sheer with wool and other fabrics all added to the intrigue. Karen sells out of Assemblage Project in Braddon.

Guests were thrilled with designer Ashani Madola—new to Fashfest—whose glamorous designs featured elegant, luxurious and feminine elements with a touch of romance. Ashani recently moved to Canberra from Dubai where she worked for one of the most established retail groups in the Middle East.

All eyes on Us creates designs for the woman who is glamorous, sexy and fearless. ‘This is a woman who loves to go out and have fun,’ says Ashani. ‘She loves colour and detailed work. She’s not afraid to show a bit of skin. She loves to be noticed in a crowd.’ Ashani’s collection featured two prints, with pink and gold major colours. She used mesh, chiffon, treated cotton, lace, sequin and other fabrics to hand make the garments. Even the makeup on the models was gold.

The new collection by the designers behind 4 Minutes 33, who also sell out of Assemblage Project, was extraordinary. This year Gemma Jameson and Francesca Altenburg stretched themselves in a new direction with a promotional collection that introduced colour through fabric choice, embroidery and even paint.

The ‘Viva la Vida’ collection was inspired by Frida Kahlo (1907 to 1954), the Mexican painter who led a colourful life in a country full of colour. The one-off pieces are radically different for these designers, but Gemma says Fashfest is the perfect platform for pushing design language. It’s likely the collection will translate through to more commercially viable garments. The movement on the catwalk choreographed by 4 Minutes 33 had a twist, with all models gathering at the end of the runway to form a complete ‘painting’, posing together on chairs.

For the first time this year, Fashfest brought designer Sophie Loader to town from Sydney’s Hijab House. Sophie studied fashion design in Canberra and now focuses on stylish, modest clothing for young Muslim women who are religiously advised to wear the hijab (head scarf) and loose fitting, non-
sheer, long clothing. The designs are exquisite and the pieces suitable for any woman who wants to be comfortable and elegant. This was not just Hijab House’s first appearance in Canberra, it was their first appearance in a mainstream fashion show.

The show ended off with Corr Blimey’s innovative ‘Berlin’ collection. This well-established local label is owned by partners in life Louisa de Smet (designer) and Steven Wright (fashion lecturer at CIT and also Fashfest’s producer). It was the largest collection Corr Blimey has ever created—16 total looks (nearly 40 garments) with most enhanced by intriguing metal head pieces, necklaces, belts and hair pieces by Silver Atom. As its name implies, the collection was inspired by a trip to the famous city, with the garments incorporating subtle references to street art, metal and urban decay.

At the inaugural Fashfest, Corr Blimey’s silhouette was two-dimensional and very ‘right to left’, said Louisa. ‘This year it’s a 360-degree view. Right to left. Back to front. Up and down. And we have played with texture, using textiles you might not think would work together. It’s still all very wearable fashion.’

Belinda Riding stole the show when she walked out in a long, shimmery bronze Corr Blimey dress.

Music was the classically trained violinist Michael Liu who played off against Monfory Horrors (James Erskine). Unlike most major fashion shows, Fashfest offered live, and local, music every night-Magnifik, Radar & Weston and Coda Conduct playing the other nights.

What else made Fashfest so magical in 2014? The raw, industrial and architecturally beautiful venue provided by Canberra Airport, lit up magnificently by Elite Lighting and Sound.

“CityNews” photographer Gary Schafer took these photos.

Our photographer Andrew Campbell took more.

Jagadish Seela had their eye on the catwalk and took these photos.

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