Fashfest 2015, Night One

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Designer Luke Chiswell

THE night opened with a stunning collection of resort wear by a fresh graduate from the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) that delighted the audience.

Fashfest 2015 has hit the capital for its third year, and fashion designer Erin Spain, of Ziyah, showcased a story book of fashion that went well beyond her young years in an industry that can be highly competitive. It was the first time the annual event opened with a full collection by a fresh grad.

Bold black and white geometric patterns and delicate mint greens in a range of fabrics, including new-age neoprene, is where Erin travelled with her collection. This is a designer to keep your eyes on.

The diversity of design at Fashfest became immediately apparent with the next designer on the catwalk, also a CIT grad. Rachel Jane Eager’s label focuses on tea party fashion for young women searching to escape reality. This new collection is very wearable, with its soft, flowy garments made of pastel pink, golds, mint greens, soft whites and pretty bows and butterflies.

Also feminine was That Bird Label, from Cooma, with a collection designed for modern Australian women looking for desirable, unique and affordable garments.

It was the first time on the catwalk for artist Luke Chiswell, so well-known for his iconic image ‘Straight Face’. His ‘New Day’ collection of garments has been created with raw material and clean, flowing fabrics, layering silk, canvas, linen and lace. His models wore big, bright, bouquets of flowers on their faces—the prettiest masks ever.

A sure crowd pleaser was Solar Bare, by Vivien Mitchell, who is blowing the water out of beach gear with her fashvests, a blend of rashie and fashion, protecting surfers, snorklers and sun lovers from the sun. The patterns of marine life promise to transform the traditional, and boring, solid black and blue protection gear and will add sparkle to the coastal experience.

A splash of colour was also the aim of Phoebe Mwanza of The Prodigal Daughter, with her gorgeous printed and solid block fabrics sourced from five African countries. This year, for the first time, Phoebe introduced garments for men—bright and innovative vests and detailing on solid cover blazers and jackets.

New to the runway was sexy, sophisticated yet chic lingerie, by Simone Perele, who has been in the business since 1948. It’s still operated by the same family. The collection was brought to Fashfest by Stephanie’s Boutique Lingerie, the only boutique in Canberra to stock the label.

The Professor’s Daughter presented a charming collection. Designer Mariska Thynne, originally from Canberra but now living in Melbourne, focuses solely on offering women alternatives to the grey and black garments so common in the corporate world. Mariska designs her own patterns and has her own fabrics made, some of which feature intriguing Peranakan windows.

The show ended with a black and white collection, featuring masks with a hound’s tooth pattern, by Perpetually Five plus Clare, a unique collaboration by Mitch Thompson and Clare Read. The collection pushed boundaries on every level. ‘The Haunted Mask’ was inspired by children’s nightmares and featured designs for both men and women.

The fashion was brought to life by more than 80 models with the huge hair and makeup team given full artistic license to add further flair to guest experience. It’s a logistics challenge for the team, who have to make quick changes in-between sets. No boring ponytails or red lippie for this event.

Fashfest aims to be more of an event than just a fashion parade, and so offers guests a live music experience. Canberra artists Jack Biilmann, Suavess and Hudak played on opening night.

The night, under The Activist theme, started with a short film created for the event directed by Nicky Tyndale-Biscoe, an award-winning writer and director of documentary and drama.

Tonight’s theme is The Inventor.

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