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:: Spotlight :: 2007 Brisbane Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival review

By: Jessica Oldfield

It’s no longer a secret that Brisbane is on the rise! With its growing population, onslaught of trendy designer boutiques, and swanky shopping precincts, the city's reputation is blossoming. And just to prove it, Queensland’s capital city flaunted its greatness when the 2007 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival arrived in late August. “Brisvegas” relished the opportunity to mix with such fashion icons as Alex Perry, Lisa Ho, Peter Morrissey, Vogue editor-in-chief Kirstie Clements, and The Australian fashion editor Georgina Safe.

The Hilton Hotel hosted the week-long event and provided its rooms for runway shows, luncheons, high teas and workshops. The much anticipated national designer shows were a hit with the young and old. As guests mingled sipping wine and eyeing off other peoples’ dresses, gift bags were being placed on everyone’s chairs giving the show a real sense of class. It was obvious who the newbies to fashion events were (aka me), as we all stayed around after the shows making sure every gift bag had an owner! Bags aside, the spirit of an event like this, is seeing the funky and hip youth mixing with the conservative and middle aged, sharing their one common love – fashion. Amid the excited chatter, business deals were taking place and young designers were seizing their opportunity to mix with the fashion elite.

Alex Perry’s collection was a hit on the runway with his flowing feminine gowns making every woman sigh. He lived up to his reputation delivering a show that was stunning, flirty and glamorous. His use of exquisite fabrics and shapes that favour the female form reinforce why he is Australia’s “King of Couture”. Having enjoyed the show, I knew I absolutely had to meet the man. With my big hair and personality in tow, I descended on the poor man, congratulated him and asked for his autograph. In short, he was awesomely sweet and he really made me feel special. Heck I even got a compliment. Now the logical part of my brain tells me that he probably does this to every woman but his charm worked on me and I felt like the most beautiful woman alive while in his presence.

Also bringing glamour to the evening were designers Lydia Pearson and Pamela Easton, Lisa Ho, Paul Hunt and Hwa Sook Lee Bora. The Bora label has accelerated into the spotlight after being the official designer for Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins. The designer says, “My inspiration, as always, is drawn from deep within; it’s formed from a strong desire to make all women look absolutely glamorous and beautiful.” This philosophy was obvious on the runway as the models radiated in delicately designed pieces.

As a simple girl from the suburbs, I would never have imagined that I could attend a swanky event like the swimwear show. It was nice that for a night, I could mingle with those who are accustomed to wearing designer clothes, eating designer food and drinking designer wine!

Guests arrived at the Hilton and were put on a bus to be taken to the secret location of the night’s show. Locals were shocked when we arrived at an old warehouse on the northern banks of the river which has been home to the water police for some time. The location was buzzing as guests sipped wine and nibbled on amazing canapés while admiring the lit up Story Bridge and enjoying the cool river breezes. Once seated for the show, the crowd’s anticipation was overflowing as women fantasised about their next swimsuit and men beckoned the arrival of Brisbane’s gorgeous ladies barely dressed. As models appeared through a waterfall and strutted their stuff, the atmosphere was screaming hot summer fun. Women squealed with delight as metallic swimsuits in bright colours shone and hunky toned men graced us with pink speedos. Brisbane can be proud of our healthy, fit and gorgeous models as they sparked memories of the days when supermodels epitomised the perfect body – think Elle McPherson and Claudia Schiffer.

Each collection was strong and catered for different age groups. Brothers Neilson was a crowd favourite as models really looked like they were having the time of their life as they walked the walk through the waterfall carrying plastic pool lounges. Popular label Riot also sat well with the crowd as it delivered a diverse, powerful and eye catching show. Riot designer, Gillian Marriage said, “Along with the Spanish and Moroccan feel, my designs will carry a strong retro 60’s feel with sleek and sexy monochrome and geometric prints and styling domination.” The metallic retro theme seems to be the way to go this season. I’m not sure that the average person could pull off a cut-out one piece in metallic gold which begs the question, “Who are the people that wear these suits and how do I become one of them?” Although that question remained in the back of my mind, I had an awesome time and for a brief moment forgot that I was in Brisbane where most people on the beach can be found in boardies and regular bikinis. Perhaps this is why the whole world of fashion is fascinating – it creates a world where most people don’t fit in, a fantasy for us commoners. I’m not complaining though because I can at least swim in the surf without worrying about my suit being ruined.

The week continued to raise the standard of Brisbane’s image, quietening those who are quick to assume that Brisbane is a large country town that’s a little backwards. Although we aren’t at the forefront of trends and fashion we are certainly on the rise. Where else can you find style, sophistication and fun all wrapped up in a city that is beautiful, friendly and inviting?