Fashfest catwalk/ Night 4 finale

WENDY JOHNSON reports on the Fashfest 2015 finale at the National Convention Centre

It was the procession up and down the 45-metre catwalk by the team who pulled Fashfest together that was perhaps the most impressive part of closing night.

Designers (who love showcasing their work, but who are always slightly nervous showcasing themselves), sound and lighting experts, video experts, hair and expert creatives, volunteers, and members of the event’s core team, appeared one-by-one before guests, justifiably proud of their efforts in putting on Canberra’s pre-eminent red-carpet fashion event.

“The Engineer” was last night’s theme… the driver who pushes design beyond limits, building on precedent while predicting the future.

Yumi Morrissey, from Zilpah Tart, was first up. This designer has taken her work to another level, introducing new shapes and styles and producing garments with patterns inspired by the Civic Fountain and Parliament House. Yumi’s “Warrior” collection features vibrant patterns, married with strategic use of block colouring and featuring metal armour on the shoulders of some jackets to amazing effect.

The spectrum of designer aesthetic at Fashfest is fascinating. Next up was Boho Bird from Birdsnest in Cooma – a collection of soft, flowing pieces by fashion designers Peige Eber, Hannah Knight and Emilie White. These ethereal and whimsical bohemian-inspired pieces are as beautiful as they are practical.

Then it was Cameron & James, by Melbourne designer Cameron Dixon, in his debut appearance. Cameron presented a collection of black and white garments for men and women, targeted at those wanting handcrafted, trendy, edgy clothing. Cameron is 100 per cent accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia and uses natural or organic materials as much as possible, avoiding chemicals and harmful processes.

The All-Star Showcase by the fresh graduates from the Canberra Institute of Technology (fashion design) celebrated the innovation of these young minds and included pieces by all six labels. Illusory Cog takes its primary inspiration from Salvador Dali and Sigmund Freud, Little Jane Lane from the world of tea parties and Alice and Wonderland, Maak the sophisticated, yet rebellious personalities of young men and women immersed in city life, Mimetic the female traveller, The Label the tension between light and dark, and Ziyah beach chic couture.

Karen Lee’s collection is bold and beautiful as much as it is highly wearable. The collection features textures and special elements like big buttons. Karen owns Assemblage Project in the Ori Building in Braddon and stocks her own label there (same name) as well as several other independent local and interstate labels. She once more launched and inspirational and memorable collection of simple, yet sophisticated lines and contemporary shapes. This collection will draw enormous attention in-store.

Corr Blimey impressed and fascinated guests with their sculptural streetwear. Fashion designer Louisa de Smet never fails to get the audience talking. This year, she worked with German fashion designer Walter Knoll, celebrating 150 years in business, to develop Propaganda Z, pushing boundaries in every direction. The designer, for example, uses felt to create garment like the Lantern Skirt, shaping material as a furniture maker would when furnishing a piece. This large collection is inspirational and made all the more special with jewellery and art pieces by Silver Atom.

As with all nights of Fashfest, the hair and make-up team, pumping out looks backstage starting from early afternoon, stretched creativity. They work closely with designers on total looks, turning heads with hair and makeup that add the stories being told. Corr Blimey’s look featured technicolour, dripping eye makeup and big, bold, black lips. Cameron James’ models had their bare feet painted to look like shoes. The hair design ranged from a beehive look, to intricate braiding to bohemian crimping.

More than 3000 bobby pins, 200 cans of hair product 3500 cotton tips, 500 mascara wands, 300 sets of false eyelashes and 100 bottles of foundation were used over the show’s four days.

The music was magical. Fashfest director, Ashley Feraude, pulled together a line-up of 14 live acts over the four days. Last night opened with hip hop artist Kay Marbilus and included numbers by Cris Clucas, Chanel Cole and an energetic performance by Mondecreen.

The National Convention Centre’s exhibition hall was once more transformed into another world by Canberra’s Elite Sound and Lighting, with tonnes of equipment, kilometres of cable, three LED screens, two measuring 6 metres x 3.5 metres. The experts from Elite devoted hours to making each night an entirely different experience.

This is Fashfest’s third year and organisers say they will keep pushing boundaries, including with guest numbers. Opening and closing nights, as always, drew the biggest crowds. Seating capacity was extended this year to test the waters and determine a threshold. The place wasn’t sold out on any night but was on trend with numbers of tickets sold last year.

And while the catwalk is now being dismantled in a bump out that is seeing dozens working madly over a couple of days, the designers are still at it, at least 20 of them. They’re now setting up for today’s Day Five, also held at the National Convention Centre. They’ll be on hand with their new collections at a mini trade show, to talk to customers, explain their inspiration and sell pieces or take orders from those who, quite simply, can’t get enough of fashion.

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