Collections were edited with a view to wearability and styled with accessories by Sportsgirl as an eclectic crowd (which included English fashion designer Henry Holland) sat at the runway edge for Saturday night’s National Graduate Show. The music created an electrifying atmosphere to kick off proceedings.
First up was Nixi Killick’s collection, which seemed like a psychedelic version of She-Ra in her graduate editorial. Considerably toned down for the runway, a pared-back version of her galactic princesses remained in the form of lilac corsetry and an opalescent powder blue maxi dress, with men’s offerings of metallic hooded bombers and space-faring digital prints.
Hayley Elsaesser drew light from darkness, giving monster motifs an unexpected twist. She paired creepy-crawly, bat, eyeball and cross-bone motifs with sugary pinks and sunny yellows – fashion with a comic book appeal. A cropped jacket and mini-skirt wrapped in high-shine metallics further reflected the mood.
Courtney Holm’s menswear range was informed by the role of prosthetics in augmenting the human body. Hand-generated and digital prints on jackets and pants formed the basis of a sporty collection with an industrial vibe.
Karen Yang’s cross-cultural imaginings were inspired by the juxtaposed stylings of the Congo’s le Sapeurs people. Channelling a fondness for exuberant colour and dapper dress codes, Yang’s collection was a riot of clashing prints, where toile checks jostled with juicy hyper-real landscapes. Wide, high-waisted pants, vests and trenches added sweeping drama.
Koren Wheatley presented a dystopic reality, where utilitarian shapes ruled. Drop-crotch pants, quilted sleeveless vests, glossy leather overalls and hooded jackets came in a spectrum of grey, navy, red and yellow. Two-tone sporty looks featured, with backpacks accessorising throughout.
Monique White’s collection was built on an ethos of sustainable fashion, translating to pieces of modern, uncluttered simplicity. Fabric selection was key; linen/cotton canvas, cotton twill and silk cotton were all utilised with the Australian climate in mind. A favourite was the playful grey and yellow polka dot suit.
Bernadette Francis’s collection drew on synaesthetic design principles with unabashedly bold colour and geometry. Prints and embellishments referenced Kandinsky and the 80s deco of Memphis-Milano design. A maxi dress encrusted with Melbourne jeweller Katia Di Crescenzo’s resin jewels was a sparkling triumph.
Kara Liu’s collection was firmly planted in the year 2012, comprising minimal dresses, wide legged pants and belted trenches in a palette of cobalt blue and monochromes.
Jack Hancock sent out an army of ancient Samurais who had time-travelled to Edwardian England. Austere jackets merged with Hakama pants in grey, black and white. Hancock also deconstructed traditional elements such as pockets and lining to create new design configurations.
Kathleen Choo’s sartorial sculptures featured abstract silhouettes with lots of draping, folding and laser-cut embellishments. At their most heightened, dresses gave the impression of moving through a landscape where shapes rise up like strange formations on a fossil mountain, untouched by colour.
Cesar Chehade responded to the idea of a future where humans have adapted to live underwater. Silhouettes resembled stingrays and octopuses, their glistening skins created using laser-cut silicon in purple, blue and green. A navy blue gown swayed down the runway, capturing the movement of seaweed in the ocean.
Natasha Fagg’s all white, insect-inspired collection featured futuristic gowns with highly sculptural detail. Artisan elements such as draped fringing and hand-tied cable ties were juxtaposed with technological innovations such as 3D prints created using medical imaging software.
This was a vibrant show that reflected the inventive and thought-provoking zeitgeist of Australian fashion’s next generation.