On Tuesday night a multitude of Brisbane fashion devotees descended upon the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival to witness the Next Hotel Next Gen Group Show, featuring the wares of Queensland’s most exciting emerging designers.
As we sashayed up the hill towards the softly lit grounds of Old Government House, it was obvious there was no better backdrop for up and coming style than the elegance and grandeur of Queensland’s first public building.
For those wanting to see and be seen, the Fashion Bar was bustling with guests enjoying the fairy-lit, white picket fence vibe under the stars, out on the Kidney Lawn. A popular meeting point, the atmosphere was expectant as industry insiders discussed fashion’s finer points over prosecco, acqua panna and Sanpellegrino. Beyond the picket fence a multitude of photo ops were begging to be had, with spot-lit garden swings and of course the iconic Mercedes E Class parked quite casually in the magnificent entranceway.
The runway format provided all guests with a prime view, set in a neon-lit side courtyard and framed by twinkling city lights beyond. Two feet away, the live streamed show was being introduced and hosted by Australian actress, model, TV presenter and Miss World Australia 2014, Courtney Thorpe.
At The Garb Wire we are passionate about the creative work of emerging designers, especially those out of Australia’s New World City. We get excited over those who like to push boundaries and get a bit avant garde.
Here’s our runway rundown of the incredible array of Next Gen fashion talent Tuesday:
The self-proclaimed “perfectly imperfect” Isabelle Quinn’s collection showed the romantic, unconventional and carefree aesthetic she has become known for. The Gold Coast designer grew up drawing, painting and making garments with her artist mother, eventually developing her own womenswear label. Influenced by the more independent, beautiful yet unassuming qualities of femininity, Quinn’s collection comprises forward, wearable pieces that are strong yet gracious. Delicate patterned tulle, satin slips with frilled hems and silky camis in cream, ivory and champagne. Paired with white booties for an overall dreamy, virginal feel.
Honestly if Joan Collins ever did watersports she would have donned one of these.
Combining luxury with necessity are designer sisters Naomi and Kirsty from Mara Swim. Brisbane-based Kirsty and Naomi, based in Townsville, have succeeded in building a game-changing swimwear brand. Newcomers to the runway this year, and showing at fashion week within just six months of starting their label, Mara Swim offers high-end one piece suits. We loved the attitude of the granite and metallic patterns splashed across deep purples and blacks, the sexiness of the unzipped deep vee and lace detail trims. Naomi’s own recovery from a melanoma in 2014 inspired this fierce yet sun-safe collection of power rashies, and honestly if Joan Collins ever did watersports she would have donned one of these. There’s little wonder Mara Swim have already received a lot of interest from paddle-boarding groups in California.
BOLD (Kelvin Grove State College) QUT, BRISBANE SCHOOL OF FASHION & TAFE QLD.
A vast array of design students’ work included a selection of futuristic activewear, socks and slides, power-patterns, drawstring cropped pants, pleated flares and gold and silver foil pattern work. Also on show were a number of more delicate bridal gowns. Our favourite student piece was from TAFE Brisbane, which was a playful, delicious looking terry towelling cape/pencil skirt combo in gelato colours.
Designer Annalisse McHugh from Sandgate, Brisbane, takes inspiration from natural fabrics and a whole lot of colour. This stood out in her show, with many of her garments floating down the runway like a sweet summer day. Consisting of versatile, free-flowing pieces in eye-catching cobalt, white and fuschia, each garment is 100% Australian made with the high quality fabrics. McHugh enjoys collaborating with local pattern-makers, dress makers and artists as part of the creative process, and is particularly excited by silk and pre-cut linens. In addition to growing her label, McHugh is excited to be a part of the 2017 Next Gen showcase in order to draw new visitors to Sandgate Village and to her own boutique, Sweet Georgia May.
Wilde Willow maintained their boho luxe aesthetic with sheer lace bodices, tulle, skater dresses, ruffles, bell sleeves and flared shapes in natural tones. Pom poms, metallic threading and rustic ties give the collection a sense of playfulness. Add metallic heels at sunset for cocktails with a twist.
MEGAN CANNINGS DESIGNS
We caught Megan Cannings’ show in 2015, and her runway follow-up on Tuesday night was as much a nod to the feminine form as ever. Highlighting her love of softly draping, easy fabric, Canning’s colour palette consisted of mint green and black. Textured lace, satin, girly micro dots, soft ruffles and delicate neckties completed the look. This completely self-taught, North Queensland designer believes women of all shapes should be able to express their femininity. Cannings offers custom-made dresses, rompers, kimonos and gowns, having built a reputation for beautiful extravagance and attention to detail.
The particular highlight for us was BlacknBling’s fierce leopard print dress with floral twig headpiece, brazen earrings and glitter booties.
BlackNBling brought some essential sass to the runway. Designers Helen and Lisa lived up to the label’s name, as models strutted down the catwalk in black dresses, headscarves, trenches and sheer bodysuits. Most fabrics were either blinged-up to a thousand or adorned more sparingly in specific places of interest. Accompanied by mirrored specs and glittery booties, the particular highlight for us was their fierce leopard print dress with floral twig headpiece and brazen earrings (as seen above).
Go large or go home. Lydia James is re-inventing the veil.
Bringing her bespoke pieces to the catwalk this year, Lydia James grew up in an English town historically known as one of the largest textile producers in the world. With every chance she would soon become a part of the creative world of fabrics, James studied textiles and fashion design before going on to hone her pattern-making and design skills with a luxury London fashion label. In 2014, she followed her dream of travelling to Australia and fell in love with Brisbane where she has continued to design, now launching her debut collection. Showing her ability to mix craft with class, Lydia James sent down the runway some beautiful handcrafted gowns in intricate creamy lace, as well as occasion dresses in black with sumptuous coloured applique and royal blue, with gold daffodil detail.
Put simply, Moreno Marcos won Best in Show.
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Fashion Design) student, Sofia Moreno-Marcos, drew on her Peruvian heritage for her show-stopping graduate couture collection, entitled ACLLAHUASI. Meaning “House of the chosen women” in the Quechua language, this collection celebrates her heritage in all its intricate embroidery. Many of the pieces were carefully hand made by skilled artisans in Cusco-Peru, using natural fibres including lambswool and alpaca on denim, silk organza and other hand-sewn details. Moreno-Marcos’ love of painting is also evident in some of her designs. Her collection blew us away in terms of silhouette, volume and colour (think lots of red). Moreno-Marcos also places emphasis on craftsmanship, luxury and sustainability in creating her unique couture items.
Post-show, guests were invited to browse MBFF’s first-ever Shop the Runway market in the grand old foyer. There was much excitement as potential buyers mingled with designers. They were not only able to see collections up close, but also place orders for their favourite pieces right away.
By the end of the week, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane will have presented 800 new-season outfits on the grand runway at Old Government House. The sold out event runs until 31 August, 2017.
Seen at top: Moreno Marcos. All images supplied.