A few of you may have noticed that a little design event took place in Sydney this week. The circus that is Australian Fashion week or as some of you may have seen on twitter as #MBAFW (which turns out not to be shorthand for “My Beautiful Ass Feels Wobbly” but stands for Mercedes Benz Australian Fashion Week) rolled into town.
Leaving aside the media madness that surrounded the arrival of fashion blogging superstars Candice Lake, Bryan Boy, Rumi Neely, Elin Kling and Susie Bubble (who have the cumulative following of close to half a million followers on twitter; which is to say nothing of the staggering readership these fashion bloggers have). The week rolled out the summer collections from over 60 local designers.
Standouts of the week included (links to catwalk shows) Romance Was Born, Jenny Kee, Christopher Esber, Carl Kapp, Magdalena Velesvka, Ellery and Song For The Mute.
The overwhelming theme of the week was sharp tailoring, sports luxe, floral print and peplums as far as the eye could see. However, one couldn't ignore more than a passing resemblance to recent international collections. International designers such as Mary Katrantzou, Erdem, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Alexander Wang received more than a passing reference from many of the designers that presented this week. In fact it got to the point that the most common thing heard after shows was “f@!&ing florals/ sports luxe/ peplums...AGAIN”.
Understandably, selling a collection to a savvy consumer is the end goal of every designer. Creating a collection that bears more than a passing resemblance to a collection that has proven to be successful for an international designer makes sense in these uncertain economic times - or does it?
Being a designer and balancing innovation against marketability is a challenge faced by every creative on a daily basis whether they work in graphic design, fashion or music. Pleasing the masses may make economic sense, but does it mean compromising on artistic vision?
The most exciting presentations this week, were the collections where designers stayed true to their artistic sensibilities and their identity. Romance Was Born and Jenny Kee share a uniqueness of vision that is unashamedly Australian. Yet so many other local designers seemed to have felt the need to repeat collections that have already been seen in Europe or America.
It begs the question as to why Australian designers seem so keen to play it so safe?
Australian Fashion Week 2012 was entirely on trend this year and I have already decided on at least twenty items that I want to add to my already overweight wardrobe. Yet when it came to innovation, daring, danger and excitement it seems that I was left a little wanting. However, that may be exactly what the masses want this year.
All images by Jamie Wdziekonski. I highly recommend visting his excellent photographic blog.