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:: Spotlight :: 2005 L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival review

By: Carmine Pascuzzi / Catherine Naghten / Celia Purdey - photos by Jess Lo

The 2005 L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival (LMFF) came into its ninth year and lived up to speculation in being one of the brightest and biggest yet. Held from March 14-20, the LMFF was structured under the guidance and creative direction of new Festival creative director, Gary Chard. Australia's leading and emerging designers presented their Autumn/Winter collections at new venues across the Melbourne Central Business District (CBD).

Federation Square, in particular the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), set the scene by staging several catwalk events. It gave public access to some outstanding designs. The array of parades, after-parties, exhibitions, the business seminar, and other special events gained excellent attendances and there was plenty of glitz and glamour. It was a worthy celebration of what Australian fashion offers. .

Added to the catwalk shows and exhibitions was an extensive arts program, including an Andy Warhol exhibition rarely seen in the world. The Business Seminar again held good interest with industry leaders providing keynote addresses. There were numerous other displays, documentaries, and events during the week.

The Sportsgirl Tent, set up outside the ACMI, provided some quirky displays and examples of tattooing, massages, music, and beverages to a relaxed vibe.

Here are the accounts of what we saw during the week.

SABA at BMW Edge by Catherine Naghten

SABA may have been on the fashion scene for 40 years, but they had no trouble keeping up with the hip new labels at the 2005 L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival. SABA designs have the maturity and sophistication that experience brings, but also a keen understanding of what’s happening right now.

The 2005 Autumn/Winter collection incorporates vintage favourites, like tweed and fur, into bold mixes of pattern and texture that will horrify Grandmothers everywhere. With plenty of layering, accessories are essential to these outfits. Sequins and metallics accentuate an outfit here and there, giving professional pieces a sense of fun, while a scarf worn as a belt sculpts the waist into the hourglass shape of a 1940s femme fatale.

Men are also well catered for and have no excuse to look drab this season with blues, plums and autumn colours sneaking into SABA’s menswear collection. For them, the look is all about ‘nice boys’ with beautiful fabrics, tailoring and some quite preppy outfits. Their suit jackets and coats hark back to the days when men wore suits, not for corporate power, but to look well-dressed and oh so desirable.

The collection is available through David Jones and SABA stores around Australia. A full list is available here

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Calvin Klein - Choice - by Catherine Naghten

Calvin Klein launched a new underwear range at the 2005 L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival. Called ‘Choice’, it is designed to suit a younger woman’s tastes and budget.

A rebellious edge with a hint of girliness characterises the selection, with bold colours, mesh fabrics and prints in camouflage, graffiti and guitars. Cheeky boy-leg briefs pair up with pretty camis that could easily be worn as outerwear and delicate frills and ruffles adorn contour bras and sheer knickers.

After ‘Choice’, footy shorts might never be the same again. Calvin Klein had their own take on the concept, cutting them higher at the back and using red and white check fabric for a more feminine variation on the comfy classic.

The range also incorporated sleep pants in fresh white, peppered with multicoloured spots, to be worn with a stretch cotton cami or matching bra and men’s track pants, which hung low on the hips and had just a splash of orange to liven them up.

Citrus trims and patterns on black and white basics were visually striking and dominated the latter half of the show. The pieces for men were few and far between, but shared a similar theme with cobalt blue used as an effective contrast on white stretch shorts and cotton boxers.

The range is available in selected Myer and David Jones stores from April 2005.

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L’Oreal Paris Runway 4 - Alannah Hill - by Catherine Naghten

It’s easy to forget you’re meant to be looking at clothes when experiencing an Alannah Hill show. Of course the clothes are lovely (they are by Alannah Hill!), but Ms Hill is really all about ambience, and about the story of her clothes.

At 2005 LMFF, her collection opened to the ‘Lonely Goatherd’ song from The Sound of Music, with models cradling kid goats while impeccably clothed in knee-length dresses, which flair out with subtle seduction just above the hemline.

An airy gathered skirt, intricately detailed to sparkle with every movement, gets the audience whispering, and not just because the models are topless save a strategically held decorative fan.

A collection follows which features uneven hemlines and drop-waists in rose and plum, beadwork and lace, as well as the occasional goldfish. Alannah Hill uses patterns of old-fashion roses with lace, velvet and satin for a truly vintage aesthetic. Sheer nighties are next, in a babydoll style with satiny scalloped edges and diamante detail on the bust, or in satin with lace trim.

A romance is played out on the runway, with rose-bearing men wooing forlorn looking models who wear skirts with sparkle detail and either wrap tops or short-sleeved shrugs. Alannah Hill accepts her applause in person for the finale and speaks to the audience through the medium of an oversized red balloon printed with the words, ‘Thank-you XO’.

Hill’s outrageous display brings her clothes to life using everything from ballerinas to speech bubbles, and somehow it works. After all, her designs are meant to worn and loved by real people, whether at work everyday, or to weddings and other milestones.

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L’Oreal Paris Runway 6 - by Catherine Naghten

L’Oreal Paris Runway 6 was primarily a collection of semi-casual and streetwear. It featured the sort of clothes people wear most often. However, like our own wardrobes, it did include a few fabulous outfits.

Sevn’s very casual range for men included layered shirts and relaxed fit jeans. Their fitted T-shirts and warm windcheaters come in a range of prints and colours that would appeal to the average guy who doesn’t like dressing up but wants something he can wear anywhere.

ML Denim came up with cute quilted minis for girls and chunky fur-lined denim jackets for guys. Faded denim was also popular for women, heavily decorated with brooches or chains and straight leg jeans tucked into cowboy boots. For men, distressed denim came in a range of shades.

Æ’lkemi gave the show a girly touch with floral dresses in muted greens, golds and browns. Mostly loose fitting, these were sculpted to the models’ own shape using chunky leather belts. Bright yellow feathers added playfulness to the selection.

The yellow continued with a sunny offering from Sü. After thirty years of hiding in the linen closet, crochet emerged to grace a bright yellow singlet, which was worn over a black ¾ sleeve top. Other outfits followed suit with inspiration for patterns drawn from vintage soft furnishings.

Autonomy, the masculine side to White Suede, is streetwear for the label conscious rebel. Models wore crinkled jeans tucked into boots with leather jackets and hooded sweaters in some very cool Egyptian prints. They also experimented mixing casual and formal pieces for effect.

Ammo closed the show using contrasts of beige tartan with bright red and black and white. They boldly played with texture, coupling smooth ¾ pants with crimped organza shirts in blue and white.

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L’Oreal Paris Runway 2 - by Catherine Naghten

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image proved a great venue for the feature shows at this year’s Melbourne Fashion Festival. Harper’s Bazaar presented a pageant of some of Australia’s best, for L’Oreal Paris Runway 2 amid a sumptuous audio-visual backdrop and on a catwalk long enough for a marathon.

Michelle Jank opened with mini dresses of Peacock coloured ruffles, in fine layers that floated like feathers on a bird. Though slightly longer at the back to preserve a girl’s modesty, many of her design were flirtatiously gathered at the hip to reveal some thigh.

Lover took an entirely different direction with a range nearly exclusively in neutral tones. Kneelength hemlines and secretary chic had a 1940s influence while lace and knits were also a prominent theme

Karen Walker rugged her models up for winter in 1970s inspired woolly coats and lumberjack plaids. Leg-o-mutton sleeves made a comeback and earthy prints caught the eye in wraparound dresses.

Fabulous textures dominated Easton Pearson’s show, with tiny pleats, ruffles, sparkles and silks all melding into a single outfit as exotic influences met the ultra modern.

Willow emerged, gleaming from the runway like Athenian goddess in bronze, with flowing fabrics and metallic trims to flatter the female form.

Collette Dinnigan paraded glamorous satin gowns to a sultry beat, with feathers, fur and frills as favourite complements.

Martin Grant’s slinky collection in mainly black and white had petticoat style simplicity and a vintage character.

Michelle Jank
Michelle Jank
Easton Pearson
Easton Pearson
Easton Pearson Willow
Willow
Willow
Collette Dinnigan

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L’Oreal Paris Runway 3 - by Catherine Naghten

Presented by the popular fashion ‘zine, Shop Til You Drop, L’Oreal Paris Runway Three was a collection of those Australian labels which have become new favourites over the past few years and are at the cutting edge of modern design.

Toni Maticevski used flowing cheesecloth as the basis for his creamy evening gowns, with strips of icicle blue or delicate pink sewn at angles into the bodice then falling into the natural shape of the ruffled skirts. These creations had the elegance and overall shape of traditional eveningwear but with an ethereal quality, like something from a fairytale.

Anna Thomas brought us back down to earth with a collection for the city, not the ballroom. She opened with knits, shirts and knee-length skirts in muted browns, plums and deep roses. Plain black numbers were embellished with sequins and brooches. For warm outerwear, she offered long woollen coats in a range of colours.

Alexandra Nea made an impression with her satin camisoles and waisted dresses edged in satin ribbon. A 1970s influence was apparent in her double-breasted polka dot coat and the exclusive use of earthy colours throughout.

AG opened with a blue velvet blazer and went on to make floral shirts look manly and a duffle coat look sexy. Tweed, leather and velvet were worn as feature pieces, such as a jacket, and paired with non-matching pants in complementary colours.

Christine used lush, exotic fabrics, from eastern inspired patterns to animal prints, and combined them with experimental shapes and unusual designs. A lustrous brown bubble dress, worn with a clustered pearl choker, was a stand out piece.

Vixen used panelled dresses, wraparound tunic tops and wide leg pants to communicate their theme. Inspired by all things Japanese, the prints and shapes echoed art and architecture, samurai and geisha.

Gwendolynne upped the atmosphere with dramatic headpieces and moody designs. Black lace gave a slightly gothic feel, while evening gowns in white or gold were purely angelic.

The final parade, from TL Wood, saw the return of high waisted pants, which gave the body a longer, leaner look. Gathered skirts hovered a little above the knee and were matched with demure waist-length jackets. Soft velvet pantaloons were revealed in several lengths, hugging either the upper thigh, the knees or the ankles.

Toni Maticevski
Toni Maticevski Anna Thomas
Alexandra Nea Ag Arthur Galan
Ag Arthur Galan
Christine
Vixen
Gwendolynne
Gwendolynne
TL Wood

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L’Oreal Paris Runway 5 - by Catherine Naghten

L’Oreal Paris Runway Show number 5 was one of the highlights of fashion week despite featuring some of Australia’s newest labels. Lucy Hinckfuss and Nude Rabbit have been on the scene only three years and Sisnme, only two. Their blossoming talent can only mean good things for Australian fashion.

Sisnme found an innovative way to introduce themselves and the show, slinging a random assortment of their clothing over a hoop petticoat, to make a collage of their work that doubles as a dress. Pirate hats, animal prints and coloured furs made for an unusual collection.

Nude Rabbit sauntered out in a classic black suit with pencil skirt, but got gradually more casual with cowgirl fringes, shrugs and ponchos. There was an air of the 1980s about their oversized knits and leg-o-mutton sleeves.

White Suede featured an exotic theme, the models wearing sarong style skirts and tribal pieces with animal print tops and straight leg pants. Wooden beads, oversized earrings, feathers and gold topped off the look.

Lucy Hinckfuss opened with embossed camel jeans with an understated floral pattern. Her range was very ‘woodstock’ overall, incorporating flower-child dresses, bodyshirts and simple vests.

Zayt’s vampy suits and dresses definitely owed some credit to the 1940s and 50s, but had a modern edge in the choice of colours and use of layering. A royal blue dress was by far the most striking, being so unlike the muted autumn tones that dominated the week.

After a brief but almost dangerous slip on the runway, Tribu got back on its feet to reveal a fascinating range of accessories. Their seamless ruffled knits instantly dress up a simple daytime outfit when worn as a scarf or shrug, and cascading strands of beads delight in the excesses of an evening out.

Lulatsch demonstrated their mastery in creating sophisticated casual pieces that are well cut, flattering and feminine. Gorgeously tailored duffle coats, coloured jeans and knee-length skirts trimmed with ribbon were notable, though the leather-look shorts perhaps were not.

Belinda Fairbanks paraded a collection of mainly halter-neck dresses of light fabric layers and uneven hemlines. From busy psychedelic patterns to bold bright flowers, there always seems to be something eye-catching about these garments. A vibrant orange dress dappled with black was gathered high under the bust, allowing it to fall in fluttering layers around the legs.

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L’Oreal Paris Runway 7 - by Celia Purdey

The glamorous week of runway shows ended with two parades on Friday, March 17 at ACMI at Federation Square. L’Oréal Paris Runway 7, presented by QV and Cleo, showcased some of the city’s most stylish and innovative boutiques. A mixture of European fashion and local design talent, the labels featured were eclectic.

Nicola Finetti started proceedings with model-of-the-moment and face of the festival, Alexandra Agoston-Connor in a long black backless dress, its elegance offset by a bohemian-style handbag slung across her body. Sequins, fur, cleavage and brooches followed, with a divine collection of ladylike glamour.

Cactus Jam presented funky and classy labels such as Chloe, Matthew Williamson and Roland Mouret. The gypsy look appeared to be an inspiration with long skirts, a tie-dye dress and big belts all featuring.

Paablo Nevada impressed with Audrey Hepburn-inspired pieces - shrunken jackets, little black dresses and ribbon and bow trims around high waists. A cheeky peek of a navel or two, short gloves and ankle boots bought an essence of rock chic.

Jewel-coloured satin dresses were popular at Third Millennium, with interesting details such as leaf prints, tiered fabrics, bows and accessories such as long fob watches.

Coats paraded up and down the runway from Christensen Copenhagen - trench, belted and buttoned-up. Pretty prints and barely-there dresses were mixed with jeans, quilted jackets and fur stoles.

Wayne Cooper sent out a stream of sexy dresses. A sequinned babydoll dress, a prom-style dress, shirt dresses and wrap dresses in all colours and fabrics. More fur featured as well as pleats and cardigans, making many a 40s-inspired look.

QV and Albert Coates’ Lane retailers successfully showcased a melting pot of looks, designers and cultures with their internationally and locally-inspired show.

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L’Oreal Paris Runway 8 - by Celia Purdey

Yen is not your typical women’s magazine, focusing on more than gossip, sex tips and makeup. Presenting eclectic fashion in edgy editorials, their show at LMFF 2005 proved no less. With three of the seven designers featured finalists in the Tiffany & Co. annual Designer Award, the standards were high. Like the award they were up for, the finalists and the other designers all displayed talent and diversity.

Zimmerman provided a feminine and girly collection in a palette of sweet pastel pinks and blues, rich olives and chocolates used in polka-dot and houndstooth prints. Delicate pieces created gorgeous silhouettes, with a sparkly coloured jacket the perfect piece to finish the show, enhanced by the spotlight.

Arabella Ramsay, one of the Tiffany & Co. Design Award finalists, experimented with textures and colours, with quilted, pleated and layered pieces. The country was definitely an inspiration as cowboy boots and cropped leather jackets were teamed with shorts and floppy hats.

Shapes, patterns and textures featured at DD by Megan Salmon. Drapes, layers, felted scarves and flowers on hips shaped the body, working with fabric in an innovative way.

C People was the masculine contribution to the show, with the boys sporting Russian-style moustaches and outfits that were like Lady Chatterley’s gentleman husband one minute and her gameskeeper lover the next. Casual and loose, the layering was paramount, from socks over long pants to blazers over turtlenecks.

Another finalist in the Design Award, sister and brother team Camilla and Marc, offered romantic lace and satin. Coffee, nude and chocolate was the palette and textures were blended, such as satin over cotton. Interesting takes on the traditional included fishtail skirts and a waistcoat.

The other finalist in the Design Award was Bare by Rebecca Davies. The 70s was a clear influence, with simple, clean lines that flattered the figure. Every piece focused on a special detail, such as sequinned trims, splits in skirts, key-holes or backless pieces.

Leona Edmiston’s signature look was alive and kicking with womanly and figure-hugging frocks. Influences from a number of eras was evident, with A-symmetrical candy-stripes paying homage to the 70s, and 30s - 40s style wrap dresses. Long and lean shapes hugged figures, alluding to shapes that would suit every woman.

Runway 8 was an exciting mix of established and emerging design in Australia, and a fitting end to the runway shows of a great week of fashion.

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That wrapped up another L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, which oozed colour, atmosphere, and colour. One thing that some astute observers told us in the lead-up to the LMFF was that we needed to see some more colour in the fashions this year, and not just the simple, yet effective, alluring black. We did see plenty of colour and style variations and there was plenty on offer for the public to enthuse and to purchase.

Next year, the Melbourne Fashion Festival reaches a 10-year milestone and we can expect a big celebration.