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:: Spotlight :: 2003 Melbourne Spring Fashion Week

By: Carmine Pascuzzi and Sonja Kowanjko

Melbourne Spring Fashion Week (MSFW) was held during September 1-7 at a series of venues with the main focus being on the Old Melbourne Gaol at the latter part of the week. It once again saw giant retailers Myer and David Jones take a leading role in displaying their Spring/Summer clothing range, while the F4 Nightclub hosting a couple of nights. It already has a regular monthly fashion parade night, and was keen to secure its identity in being proactive during this busy week in the centre of Melbourne.

The week saw distinctly variable showcases on offer for young and old observers. Popular items were denim micro skirts and short shorts, mesh jackets, fly jackets with zip fronts and sides, and high and low hemlines. Menswear was probably a little less prominent this season, but the new Henry Bucks store opening and Myer/David Jones showings brought due attention. New 2-3 buttoned, single-breasted suits were noticed, as were silk ties, rolled-up shirtsleeves and pale shoes.

F4 hosted Monday and Tuesday night parades and after-parties. The venue has only been open for just less than twelve months and it hosted some funky gear over two nights. The Australian Fashion Innovators (event organisers) in instigating some variations to the programming this year used it as part of the marketing. It was difficult to judge its viability as I suspect likely attendees wouldn’t go to a nightclub to see a fashion parade. Perhaps the venue could have simply held an after-party, but, bearing in mind the type of designs on show, maybe it was the right audience. Underwear and lingerie featured well in the “Sex in the City” themed parade, with the Love Kylie and Smitten Kitten range adding a dazzling Femme Fatale look. The Sabi line showed a very comfortable sleepwear/underwear range in floral patterns.

The Myer daytime shows were well attended as they usually are. A selection of local and international designers displayed their wares, including Wayne (by Wayne Cooper), Bettina Liano, and Nicola Finetti. The in-house Myer labels, Urbane and Basque, had a healthy range of clothes that were more marketed as more affordable than the higher-profiled designers.

The Old Melbourne Gaol - 5 x 5 x 5 Parade

On a typical freezing cold Melbourne night all of the ticket-holders, Media and VIP guests began to arrive at The Old Melbourne Gaol awaiting the first event to be held at this venue. Perhaps the Old Melbourne Gaol is not what most of us would associate with the world of fashion, however the venue worked exceptionally well. Two rows of benches were lined up on either side of the stone covered floor, which would act as the catwalk for the next couple of days. All of the guests were sipping on their complimentary San Pellegrino mineral water and were rummaging through their free show bags while awaiting the beginning of the show.

At last the lights dimmed out and we all waited in darkness until they went up again and out came the first of the models, exhibiting designs by stylist Peter Woodward from the precinct of Little Collins Street. Rock ‘n’ roll designs such as those from Cyberia were evident through the unusual top hats, the striped t-shirts and bandannas worn around the waist. The girls displayed a lot of lacy black or satin clothing while the guys wore shirts with stripes or pictures and grey jeans were worn for the bottoms.
Lygon Street was the next precinct on display with designs by Ivan Gomez, inspired by the ‘gangsters’ trend. Men were parading fur jackets, white suits and brown suit jackets and pants, while the girls were looking stunning in designs such as a sheer white v-style dress, bright pink shoes, a black high collared jacket and a polka dot frilly dress.

Polly Kerdel was the next stylist to exhibit the ‘surfs up silver and highwaisted’ designs of Chinatown. Anything but boring, the girls displayed brightly coloured bikinis, crochet tops, singlets and bright stockings, army hats and shorts. Eighties inspired clothing were also evident through the return of the leg warmers and bright sun hats. The men wore heavy chains around their necks with cut-off pants in beige and black. All of the accessories were certainly making a statement, not to mention the panda backpack worn by one of the female models. The finale consisted of a girl wearing a beautiful Hawaiian inspired hula skirt and bikini, with a lei around her neck.

‘Castaway’ was the next trend to be explored by Sophie Hexter in the precinct of Collins Street. The oriental atmosphere filled the venue with the change of music and the models strutting down the catwalk with outstanding headpieces and heavy accessories once again. The girls wore designs consisting of a hooded beige top, a strapless frilled dress and a lot of fur, feathers and brown were included in the ensembles. The last model to come out for this range wore an amazing Indian inspired dress with a lavish eagle headpiece that really stood out from the rest.

Rita Markuzov was the last stylist of the night to show off the fashion of Flinders Quarter with a ‘casual couture’ trend. The mood was very serious as the models approached the catwalk and the first girl slowly strutted out with a needle in her mouth, wearing a beaded dress with a huge flowing bottom, cascading like a wedding dress, over jeans. Once again the models wore amazing headpieces. The guys were casual with t-shirts, jeans and bandannas. Black and white were also popular yet again with designs such as a long white skirt with a matching short wrinkled top and a long black lacy skirt accompanied by a khaki jacket.

Collaborate at ‘The Old Melbourne Gaol’

Cyberia was the first label on display and the girls kicked off the show walking in pace to Gothic style music with some lace, crochet and diamantes and ripped white denim shorts escorted by white lace-up boots. The guys kept to the theme with a white denim jacket and then the girls slightly changed the pace with white and black satin dresses followed by a lot of bright and patterned clothing.

Next it was time to see what Truffle Hunter had to offer for their Spring collection. The music switched to an upbeat track and the models cranked it up a notch with the girls starting the show once again. They wore long skirts and dresses with polka dots, men style pants, a black Gothic style dress, oriental designs with satin and flowers. And the off-the-shoulder look has made another appearance for yet another season.

Manvious followed pursuit and the music altered to a slow and sombre track and the introduction saw the men lined up at the start of the catwalk. They slowly but surely made their way down the catwalk with square thongs in a trance-like state exhibiting cape-like tops, khaki and light-coloured pants with a lot of black.

Tunes by Michael Jackson filled the air and two breakdancers kicked off the show for Youthworks. Their white clothing was glowing in the fluorescent lights. The street wear theme was immediately initiated through the dancers in their baggy jeans and white singlets and when that concluded the models began to bounce out in hooded long sleeve tops, ripped denim and shoulder bags. The girls confirmed the return of the eighties with striped black tights and tie-up belts and the guys maintained the gangster image with baggy pants and wristbands.

The last fashions on display were those of TL Wood and the slow music was complimented through designs of pure femininity. Satin pants, a pearl woollen cardigan, black frilly skirt and a dark satin matching skirt and jacket were some of the designs that the girls were wearing. Long flowing black shorts and a skirt with wrap around belts were also part of the extremely feminine range and lace and headpieces also made their appearance again

Friday at the Old Melbourne Gaol

The Mercedes Start-Up award is a highlight of the week’s activities and it saw a presence of more up-and-coming designers. It was a close thing for judges to determine who would win the prestigious award.

The winner was JAIN. It was a worthy win as Jain has been close to winning several such awards over the past three years. She finally broke through against eight worthy finalists.

There were a host of other activities and exhibitions during the week, and the whole event seemed to fly through the week quicker than ever. We hope that consumers are now sufficiently inspired to check out the new designer collections and buy up over the summer. The MSFW had a unique charm in the Old Melbourne Gaol parades and hopefully retailers in Melbourne will enjoy a prosperous season.
Other Friday parades - Fashion Assassin

:: Photography: Belinda Russo, Anna Kiparis