Runways are about making an impact, and last night’s Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival’s (VAMFF) Premium Runway 1 definitely achieved this. Inside the Royal Exhibition Building’s Great Hall Australian designers showed that they are branching out. Burgundy, khaki, forest green, metallic silver and a touch of glitter offered welcome relief from the typical black uniform.

Scanlan Theodore
Scanlan Theodore kept it clean and sophisticated sticking with its affinity for feminine tailoring. Models strode down the runway to The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony, causing hairs on the backs of audience members’ necks to stand on end. Fur-lined navy coats and plush leather evening gloves were paired with ruched knee-high boots. Form followed function with structured blazers, textural leather and stiff tailoring breaking up soft fur and fluid fabrics.

In a word: elegant.

Romance Was Born
It’s easy to slip into a dream-like trance watching Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales’ collection glide by, especially when it’s set to the Jurassic Park theme song. The Mysteria Wisteria collection was a whirl of colour, pattern and texture. Flared sleeves, feathered detailing, frills, tulle and puffy shoulder pads created the sense of an avant-garde fairytale adventure. Boots made in collaboration with Italian label Beau Coops peeped out from underneath long, pleated skirts.

In a word: nostalgic.

Camilla and Marc
Since it was launched by the Freeman siblings in 2003 this Sydney-based brand has become synonymous with relaxed Australian womenswear. Military-style double-breasted blazers (reminiscent of Balmain) gave a tough edge to sheer polka-dot dresses that swished and swayed as the models glided along to the American Beauty score. A burgundy fur jacket was nipped in at the waist by a belt, and if you peered closely enough you could see a single red rose tucked underneath.

In a word: structured.

Sydney designer Bassike has perfected minimal, effortless cool. A cream and grey palette dominated, with compact cotton shirts, tailored wrap jackets and a white fluffy vest over a mid-length skirt.

In a word: refined.

An unlikely Star Wars theme ran through Peter Strateas and Mario-Luca Carlucci’s collection, from the film’s epic theme song, to the monochrome palette. The futuristic style gave the models a foreboding, robotic quality that made the garments all the more intriguing. An androgynous sportswear aesthetic – baggy sweatshirts and clunky lace up boots – was the mainstay of the collection.

In a word: futuristic.

J’Aton Couture
If you want evidence of how deeply Jacob Luppino and Anthony Pittorino care about their work just look to the intricate embroidery and patchwork detail of their designs. The models emerged in lavish gowns of fine Italian silk with pearl detailing, plunging backs, capes and cascading sleeves. These contrasted with the Superman theme booming overhead. A gothic bride was the last to float down the runway in an icy-grey beaded gown, her face concealed behind a veil secured with a crown.

In a word: meticulous.

Runway Takeaways

Expected: Melbourne weather to deliver the hottest March night in more than 100 years. It didn’t stop the excitement over the leather capes and fur collars.

Unexpected: The Star Wars droid carried by one of the Strateas. Carlucci models, in place of a clutch.

Highlight: A long-sleeved, sequined, fitted, Romance Was Born gown designed with artist Jess Johnson.

Spotted: The usual fashion blogger brigade: Nadia Bartel, Nadia Fairfax and Rebecca Judd all sat front row.

Broadsheet is a proud media partner of VAMFF.