MBFWA 2014: The Innovators
Six runway shows for the price of one, and a stellar display of Sydney’s emerging industry talent.
The trauma of Year 9 textiles is recalled in my mind with little effort: a tasteless blur of poorly sewn pajama pants, improper applique technique and fabric choices that would prompt Emma Mulholland to quit fashion. While I was becoming well acquainted with an unpicker, those selected to take part in this year’s Innovators show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week were no doubt advancing well beyond making pillowcases.
The Innovators runway show is an opportunity for budding industry talent to show how far they’ve come since the tenuous days of high-school sewing. This year, six fresh-faced designers from the Fashion Design Studio at Ultimo TAFE made their runway debut at Carriageworks on the closing day of MBFWA, to a warehouse packed with whooping supporters, snap-happy media and meticulously primped front-rowers.
First off the rank was Ciara Nolan, whose ‘Carnivorous’ collection both renewed our faith in the neoprene trend and brought to mind images of a dinosaur in a wetsuit. Signature digital prints contrasted with leather paneling to create a decidedly textured, street-wear feel. Separates and structurally bold dresses featured a recurring dinosaur motif, which gave steely-eyed models a newfound sense of aptness as Brontosaurus resounded throughout.
Julia Logvin skillfully steered onlookers from Triassic to Space Age, displaying futuristic necklines and Barbarella-esque bodices. Metallics, black mesh and leather punctuated with neon detailing and silicone fringing made for a visual smorgasbord, proving that Logvin is nothing short of multi-skilled. She even managed to create a movement-restricting, neoprene cape that resembled either an upside-down tulip or a socially/sartorially acceptable snuggie.
Bringing us back down to earth with a streamlined, simplistic collection was Hayley Dawson, who paid homage to all things leather and to the prevailing appeal of the side-boob. Cream, turquoise and crimson perfectly complimented crisp cuts and oversized collars, creating an overall mood of looking fab while getting shit done – otherwise known as utility. Dawson successfully ignited the hope in us all that we too can rock a sleeveless coat mid-winter with an “It’s-not-cold-it’s-fashion” level of nonchalance.
Bei Na Wei introduced us to this season’s must have accessories: delightfully prismatic transparent backpacks and plastic visors (equal to or better than the kind your mum wears to play tennis, depending on your mum). While the SPF factor for the latter is probably somewhere close to zero, we don’t even care because each model wore a unique design and the effect was glorious. Bei Na Wei used an eclectic range of fabrics and textures to create shapes we never knew existed, and conveyed a valuable lesson through her collection: when in doubt, drape.
Kiaya Daniels was responsible for a stunning collection of menswear inspired by artist Romaine Brooks. Classic silhouettes were draping and dreamy, playing to the strengths of Daniels’ fabric choices – superfine wool, nylon and leather. An uncomplicated palette included white, navy, black and mustard, and was an adequate canvass to a recurring flower graphic. Credit goes to the hair department, who made every model look working-boy styled and effortlessly windswept in equal parts. Advice on how to recreate, please?
Closing the parade was Yousef Akbar, known hereafter as Mr Glitter Pants on account of designing a fantastic pair. Akbar’s collection is a testament to capturing images in motion with soft and hard lines, elaborate folding and colour contrast painting grand pictures to round off a fashion-saturated afternoon.
By Lucy Rennick
Photography by Daniel Knott