Excitement was in the air on Tuesday night at LMFF as the handpicked participants in the National Graduate Showcase prepared to make their major runway debut. Packed with supportive friends, family and interested onlookers, the enthusiasm was apparent, making for a more joyful than usual atmosphere. The Graduate Showcase is supported by Sportsgirl, who clearly believe in nurturing the next crop of talent, with initiatives such as this and their recent Sportsgirls Like The Graduates collection.
Considerations of wearability and sales are out the window for grads, which makes these kinds of shows all the more exciting. It’s exhilarating to watch as the next generation of Australian fashion designers spread their wings and embrace their creativity. The consumer-driven nature of LMFF means this is the sole chance during the festival to witness this unbridled originality and creativity.
Before each grad’s turn on the catwalk there was a brief video in which the designers talked about their inspirations and techniques used in their collection – a great way to direct interest and highlight their thinking.
There was a mix of mens and womenswear amongst the twelve graduates who showed. The collections ranged from entirely conceptual (Taylor Ainley’s aviation-inspired looks came complete with moveable harness) to surprisingly wearable (Amelia Agosta’s sculptural creations and Chris Ran Lin’s knitwear).
Some of our favourites were Rica Hardian’s origami-inspired, nipped and tucked garments, with a complimentary zig-zig pattern on pants and an incredible billowing cape. Stephanie McPherson created an exploding print from photographs of broken glass plates that she placed on precisely pleated dresses. Anisha Bhoyro’s deceptively simple pieces were in fact the result of a technique that used one piece of cloth for each garment, with no traditional seams or darts, instead utilising pulled threads to create detail.
Although Laura Huishan Li’s sculpted pieces tended to dominate their models, the work that went into them was astonishing. Natalia Grybowski was clearly inspired by the work of London-based phenomenon Mary Katrantzou and her digital prints, but created beautiful work of her own. Finally Ju Young Seo’s petal-like detail was original and intriguing.
Where this batch of graduates will go next is impossible to say, but their impressive first collections demonstrate just how much young talent we have in this country.