Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Fabulous and Famous | Australian Fashion Week

Well this week is the highlight of the Australian fashion calendar – yes, ladies and gentlemen – I’m talking about none other than Australian Fashion Week. So whilst I’m a very busy little vegemite around about now, I couldn’t skip this chance to talk about at least some of the fabulous designers that are showcasing their talent in Sydney this week. Over a hundred designers will be showcased during the week; whilst it’s impossible to cover all of them here, for now let me get started taking you through just some of the designers who have presented collections.

The Week so Far
Since kicking off on Monday, RAFW shows have already been presented by Australian fashion big guns Alex Perry and Lisa Ho, while a debut RAFW collection was presented by emerging designer Konstantina Mittas.

Alex Perry’s show was a classy collection, with gorgeous evening dresses, beautifully cut day dresses and impeccably tailored and elegant suits. This collection suggests an underlying elegance that harks back to the days of glamorous black and white film. The gorgeous detailing and care in the cut of the pant suits paired with elegant and feminine silk shirts suggests an element of Marlene Dietrichesque quality, while the day dresses inspire comparisons to a young Elizabeth Taylor or Audrey Hepburn. This paired with funky sequined animal prints, micro minis and some pretty 50s inspired denim pants and full skirts promises this is a highly wearable collection and one that has appeal for women of all ages and temperments.

Lisa Ho presented a collection that could be seen as something of a departure from what you may have considered the usual apparel of this fashion house. Undoubtedly the new trends have been given a nod and I think if you have associated Ho’s designs with floral, floaty sundresses then you may find this collection offers a new take on this, and a new path for the designer. Big sleeves, short hemlines and other popular sixties elements have been incorporated here in a collection of very wearable, chic dresses.
The more floaty traditionally Ho style dresses have been given a new lease on life, in block colours like deep blue, fire engine red and golden yellow, as well as bold prints. The shift cut dresses paired with silver platforms are characteristic of the sixties feel that is coming through in this seasons collections. For more casual chic the silver thongs offer a summery option and the large bangles in the signature colours of the collection pull the look together and complete the outfits.
Some of the more overtly modern/trendy elements are perhaps a bit more miss than hit, but predominantly Lisa Ho has stayed on track to incorporate current trends in the kind of dresses and other apparel that have long been the trademark of this designer.

Konstantina Mittas debut show incorporates a number of more avant garde elements, with models sporting fringed ‘veils’ hanging to the waist. This sci-fi inspiration makes for a uniquely modern collection for the first showing of this emerging Australian designer. I love the patent leather boots and winged ankle boots. The sheer layered dresses are floaty and fanciful and a great addition for the summer season.
The new take on the little black dress has an eighties feel to it and the carefully cut silk jackets paired with lace under shirts continue along this theme, in a more Victorian-eighties style fusion. For a more casual element, the green sleeveless hoodies are a unique summer take on this staple of winter comfort. Bright elements are also incorporated into the predominantly neutral collection, with turquoise embroidery and green hot pants. This is an unabashedly modern collection, from an inventive and creative emerging Australian talent.

The Lisa Ho and Alex Perry collections present consummate examples of style from some of Australia’s beloved and established designers. These are grown up clothes for the modern woman, offering casual chic through to elegant evening wear. On the other hand, for all the bright young things out there looking for a fresh, funkier fashion alternative, my money is on Konstantina Mittas.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Designer and Label Profile: Leona Edmiston of 'Frocks'

Well in the interest of continuing the theme I started with last time – who better to profile than the indomitable designer and head of fashion label 'Frocks'; Australia's own original frock girl - Leona Edmiston.

Leona Edmiston started her career as a fashion designer in the 80s, and with her former business partner, designer Peter Morrissey, established the feted Morrissey Edmiston label. Gaining popularity with both local and international celebrities this partnership established the success and renown of both the designers and the clothes became a wardrobe staple for the fashion conscious until the partnership ended in 1997.
When the Morrissey Edmiston partnership ended Edmiston forged her own path. Since the launch of her solo label in 2001 the Edmiston brand has grown to include the ‘Little Leona’ range, ‘for little ladies’, the ‘PINS’ hosiery range, the ‘Leona’ line of clothing and a signature fragrance!

The penultimate Leona Edmiston line is the ‘Frocks’ label, that since its launch has quickly taken its rightful place as a popular choice for the elegant woman. The attraction and beauty of the 'Frocks' collection stems from the underlying ethos of Edmiston's collection. The heart and soul of this fashion range is the simplicity of a great dress as a symbol of feminine elegance and glamour.
The ‘Frocks’ label creates beautiful and unique dresses, using interesting prints and colours, that when worn endow the woman with a chicness and sophistication. Whilst we may be spoilt for choice with so many high street stores these days, there will never be a substitute for quality! What is so appealing about a ‘Frocks’ frock is the use of high quality jersey, silk and cool cottons to produce uniquely stylish and unrepentantly feminine apparel.

Not one to rest on her laurels, the Autumn-Winter 2008 range is yet another example of how Edmiston captures this ultra feminine and sophisticated feel in her clothing line. Imbued with bold prints, rich colours and ‘whimsical details’ these are clothes for serious fashion lovers – not overtly avant garde, but rather elegant dresses made with quality fabrics and cuts that can be worn by real women!
Further to this, the autumn-winter collection marks an increase in the range of sizes available, with the designer showing her commitment to creating fabulous clothes for real ladies – whether a size 6 or a size 24.

Leona Edmiston is an exemplary designer – showing innovation both in design and in business ideas – attributes that are truly characteristic of where Australia and the Australian fashion industry is heading today.

*I just want to include a big thank you to Prue at Leona Edmiston for taking time out of her busy schedule to help with the photo for this post!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


We Aussie girls love a good frock (dress if you aren't up on our lingo). If you don't believe me then a quick look at the turnout of ladies in frocks at the annual Melbourne Cup should be enough to confirm this for you! So without further ado – let us take a look at some of the great moments of the frock in Australia.

Jean Shrimpton and 'that dress'
Firstly, I should point out that Jean Shrimpton is not an Aussie – but this was on our turf and we like to take credit for anything if it happens here! Now I know that in recent times the catch cry has changed to 'Liz Hurley and that dress', in recognition of the stir caused when Liz arrived wearing the infamous flaming red Versace safety pin dress. But we should always give credit where credit is due – and the original dress scandal and instigator of a fashion movement all of its own – was a relatively demure dress that young Jean Shrimpton (aka the Shrimp) wore to the Melbourne Cup in 1965.
So what was so special about this dress? Well this dress had the distinction of not covering her knees! So what is the big deal? Well the big deal was that when this young model turned up at the races in this knee skimming outfit minus stockings and gloves, it caused an uproar! The subsequent broadcast of the pictures around the world led to the mini’s popularity being propelled into the stratosphere! The sixties came to be remembered as the age of the mini, with this style destined forevermore to be an icon of that era. Hard to imagine now when every western women between the age of 15 and 50 can in all likelihood remember wearing a mini at one time or another, but there you have it.

Paper or plastic? (Frock that is!)
In 1994 Australian frocks had reached another high point in fashion, when Australian Lizzie Gardiner won an Oscar for Best Costume Design. This young designer showed her flair for design with fantastic sequined and bedazzling frocks being the cornerstone of her sensational designs in ‘Priscilla: Queen of the Desert’; and she went on to create something of a sensation with her own unique dress at the award ceremony. Lizzie turned up in an extraordinary and unforgettable dress that was created entirely of Gold Amex Cards. This unique and witty style is a hallmark of Australian fashion and innovation, and this dress could simply not be excluded from any list of iconic Australian frocks!

Now this is actually all about men in frocks – but in the interests of cataloguing great frock moments I can't leave this one out. The film for which the aforementioned Lizzie won her Oscar is filled with fantastic and elaborate frocks. However, whilst there are countless great frocks in this flick – the greatest frock moment of them all is the iconic scene where one of the lead actors is sat in a giant high heel atop a bus in the outback, with the enormous train of a dress flowing out behind! Nothing says Australia more than the outback and there is perhaps no finer frock moment than this scene of extraordinary and unexpected glamour set against the magnificence of our desert landscape.

So there you have it – a brief look at some of the great Australian style moments for the beloved frock. Who knew something as simple as a dress could mean so much!