There is no hiding the fact that leather was the winner tonight. It was everywhere, from the lapels and pocket flaps of jackets to whole dresses and trousers. One minute, it could have been straight out of a Rolling Stones tour film (circa ’73), or at another, a downtown New York break dance documentary (let’s say ’83). Ironic or otherwise, leather demands either a firm tongue in cheek or a size 6 figure. Alas, it’s as uncompromising as the vision of the designers who decided to hang their hat on it.

Straight out of the block was sass & bide, sporting black, silver, geo-prints, quilting, sequins and embroidery – business as usual for the duo. At this level, it’s hard to miss a beat, their style not so much revolutionary, but evolutionary. The signatures were all there: the light cotton trousers, the heavy, almost tribal, yet somehow futurist sequin and embroidery work. But even the best designers make mistakes and a black piece that looked like a stylist had decided to belt a black fur pillow to the poor model’s stomach was the only miss in a polished, if at times flamboyant collection.

Kym Ellery of ELLERY was as polished as always and her fabrication fantastic. She takes risks where she should, picking up on high fashion fringe trends and gives them just enough to make them her own. Arguably the best of the night, she showed work that is relevant and contemporary, with textures and fabrics that feel unique and specific to the brand. A geometric lace and a pale coral cocktail dress subtly showed off her skills and abilities, and a great cocoon opera coat with an oversized lapel was a lovely winter highlight.

Karla Spetic walked among some Australian powerhouses last night and at times her playful blend of cute, sexy and ice cream colours felt like it belonged elsewhere. Which is a shame, because Spetic’s work is light and creative, her obvious skill with colour evident in the multi-panelled and at times revealingly sheer skirts, perhaps a nod to her equally revealing swimwear. There were poppy pieces in sorbet tones and mixed fabrications that suggested a bowerbird quality, at times disjointed but mainly youthful and exuberant, a burgundy playsuit in velvet a bold testament to that.

Easton Pearson doesn’t mess around – always large and in charge. Heavy on the print signatures and embroidery, the models could almost be heard rattling down the runway. The most enviable part of the collection was the wonderful palette executed with control and typical aplomb. Like a Francis Bacon canvas it was loaded with drama and touches of light where need be. The team winked at the leather trend but didn’t make a fuss of it, letting it pop up on the pockets and collar of a tweed jacket. Great print work and embroidery in a fantastic pineapple print almost stole the show, while fabrication and cloth felt bespoke.

Christopher Esber’s work is a wonderful, minimalist take on fashion. Texture and textile overlap and harmoniously play together. Last night, a skirt with a clever lapel-like fold revealed a black sheepskin ‘collar’ mirrored on the left in leather. Short, smart and sexy, it was a hit on his short parade, which featured brilliant pleating and contrasting fabrication in folds and facings; all exhibiting a skill worthy of last year’s LMFF designer of the year. A double-faced or bonded coat with raw cut edges felt fresh and on point. Watch this name.

Bassike’s leather panelling, shearling, checkerboard and an acid wash-like cloth made up the meat of the show of the brand’s trademark basics. The message was clear, but the boldness of design and fabrication will take an equally bold personality to pull it off. The great foundation garments the brand is famous for were showed with confidence, demonstrating their control of the fine detail. The textured acid wash ensemble, made up of a short-bodied jacket and drop crotch trousers, proved a particular highlight.

The night closed with Arthur Galan AG, which provided a bit of rock ‘n’ roll to the proceedings (and yet more leather). At times a scene from the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street and at others a Milanese catwalk, it was serious, long-legged fun. A deep (deep) V leather dress with embroidered shoulders was the embodiment of this and the addition of fedoras on each model showed cohesion and consideration. The paisley-printed drop crotch trousers with matching loose top was a nice, soft touch to the hard edge bo-ho (really bo-bo) hippy fantasy of this leather-heavy showing.

lmff.com.au