The fifth and final day of MBFWA witnessed a magnificent crescendo with the return of Akira Isogawa to the fashion week spotlight. Staged in the same intimate venue as Jenny Kee’s retrospective, Isogawa’s collection plucked involuntary grins from rapt onlookers, gushing with praise at one of the week’s resounding highlights.
Backstage, Isogawa touched up dresses while his models’ slick hairstyles were topped with elaborate headpieces. Sixteen looks were presented on rises scattered with chiffon petals, each channelling Isogawa’s East-meets-West style. A set of six soft white gowns made up a bridal component, with intricate silver beading, chiffon flowers and delicate tulle headpieces.
And then came the colour. Origami prints in vibrant shades of blue, red, yellow and pink were splashed across silk and cotton gowns with printed and dyed finishes. Kimonos flowed loosely over gathered, floor-length dresses adorned with hand-stitched flowers. Delicately died fabrics were a theme throughout: egg yellow and powder blue capelets featured, with the traditional Japanese shibori method of fabric dying used to create a crinkled and spiked finish. Shoes were uniformly vivid wedges, with pops of pink, primary yellow and neon orange paired with tangerine toenails.
This memorable collection was met with one of the most excited receptions of MBFWA – an impressive fact, considering the design calibre of so many of the shows witnessed throughout the week.
Beginning with a comic bang, MBFWA kicked off with a cartoonish show from Romance was Born, steering the label in a more commercial yet no less innovative direction than usual. Monday also witnessed the premiere of Gail Sorronda’s hypnotic Oh My Goth film, set behind a surprisingly colourful and surreal collection. Gary Bigeni presented an array of tailored separates in retro prints and sea blues, before Manning Cartell’s off-site show materialised as the epitome of all things clean, sporty and sophisticated.
Tuesday’s back-to-back schedule featured a ladylike collection from Maticevski and a show-stopping presentation by Magdelena Velevska, where a white and citrus themed range was set against a pink-hued Sydney Harbour sunset. A darker theme set the tone for Song For The Mute, featuring refined composition and structure.
Midweek saw prints reign at Alice McCall and Sara Phillips, before Ellery’s off-site show blew onlookers away with a rich collection of strong shoulders, powerful silhouettes and opulent hues.
Thursday’s New Generation show witnessed Collecting Pretty Boys and Kahlo present outstanding collections in a packed tent, before the Jenny Kee retrospective transformed the intimate Box space into a mesmerising grove of eucalyptus and goddess-like models. Kee’s collaboration with Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett of Romance was Born resulted in extravagant headdresses and clothing that celebrated Kee’s inspirational design career.
This was a MBFWA characterised by new directions and rebirths for several of Australia’s emerging and well-established, designers. A vibrant week of colour, print and structure (both on and off the runway) saw crowds walk away with a refreshed perspective on Australian fashion. We look forward to seeing these collections trickle out into street-style snaps around the world.