Every year, more than 150 Australian designers take part in the Australian Fashion Weeks, which are held twice a year, with Spring/Summer collections in Sydney in May and Autumn/Winter collections in Melbourne in October and November. International fashion buyers and fashion media attend these events.
The Victorian government claims to be Australia’s leading fashion state, citing not only its participation in Fashion Week, but also its hosting of the Melbourne Fashion Festival each March. Established in 1997, it is a collaborative initiative that provides fashion enthusiasts with a variety of catwalk shows, parties, product launches, exhibitions, and industry events that capture the glamour and creativity of Australian fashion.
There was a palpable buzz surrounding the physical return of Australian Fashion Week 2021 this year, following a Covid-induced hiatus. AAFW awoke from its beauty sleep with a new format, new Sydney locations, new designers and models, a new pledge to support Indigenous Australian designers, and, for the first time in the event’s 25-year history, wider accessibility.
It was a lot to take in, whether you were streaming from your bed or there in person, with a schedule that included nearly 50 shows, industry talks, events, and parties. Among the new faces on the runway, iconic moments from old favourites, and the hottest new designers, we reflect on the key themes and trends that emerged over the course of a week that highlighted our industry’s resilience and energy.
Life is like a beach.
When you spend the majority of the year in your pyjamas, you know it’s been an interesting year. Only a few months ago, it seemed like we’d be spending the rest of our lives in tracksuits, but as we emerge from lockdown and the great outdoors begins to call, it’s clear that it’s time to put on our togs. COMMAS, a slow resort wear label, gave us reason to hope by taking us to the beach, where models walked along the sandy shoreline of Tamarama Surf Lifesaving Club.
These pieces are the perfect evolution from our covid-comfy uniforms, displaying effortless swimwear that you’d be happy to leave on all day. Grace Lilian Lee, an Indigenous artist and RMIT graduate, also gifted us with the most stunning green bodysuit we’ve ever seen. Now is the time to go to the beach!
After that, everything was fine.
All of our Disney fantasies were realised at the Romance Was Born show, which served Cinderella realism. With a carousel, a thousand flowers, and laser lights, the models resembled cupcakes rather than people, adorned with candy-sweet colours and embellishments. Furthermore, each piece was handcrafted from upcycled fabrics, serving as a friendly reminder that we should never be boring and that we can look perfectly pretty in thrift.
A girl’s best trend is diamonds.
Fashion week Australia 2021 was blingy to the extreme. Sparkles, sequins, glitter, and gemstones could be found everywhere. Karla Spetic demonstrated how to create diamond realism without using real diamonds. If you can’t afford the ring, wear it as a print on a bib or a strappy dress instead.
Everyone enjoyed a few moments of peace and quiet. We took advantage of these opportunities to take a deep breath and realign ourselves. In and out through the nose and mouth. These highlights included a flowing white cut out dress by Christopher Esber, a perfect purple puff by Yousef Akbar, a shimmering silver jumpsuit by AARLI at the First Nations fashion design runway, and a dreamy cloud dress that blew past us at the Iordanes Spyridon Gogos show. These looks transported us to another world, and we don’t want to return. Dreamy dressing is on trend.
Polish, poise, and self-control. Our hats are off to Amanda Nichols of Replica Project, an RMIT alumna who won the 2019 Australian Fashion Foundation award for her work with archetypes and structured silhouettes. Go iron your suit jacket and get ready to giddyup.
Throughout the week, there were a few welcome psychedelic moments, and Iordanes Spyridon Gogos’ colourful celebration and genuinely diverse show was definitely one of them. Whoever said “blue and green should not be seen” is fired. Every colour is trendy, and you should probably wear them all at the same time.