Laser-cut leather skirts, lace riding jackets and sheaths, silk dresses and camis are strong elements of the first ready-to-wear Hardwick by Mariana Hardwick collection being launched at MBFWA this week.
Managing director (and daughter of Mariana), Rebekah Hardwick says the collection was “inspired by a natural mineral feel reminiscent of open-cut mines and an Australian landscape, as seen in the fabric’s natural metallic and nude biscuit colours.”
After 30 years creating bridal gowns, the impetus for introducing a ready-to-wear collection to the Mariana Hardwick label arose from a trip that creative director Anneliese Bridgman took to Paris for the Premier Vision trade fair last year. With some of the world’s finest millers and producers on show, it was there that Bridgman came across the metallic laser-cut leather, made by a small Italian manufacturer, that anchors the Hardwick by Mariana Hardwick collection. It immediately stirred the designer’s creative juices. “Anneliese texted me saying ‘I just saw this fabric and I cried’,” recalls Hardwick.
The resulting collection’s 25 pieces have “an earthy feeling, clean and crisp” and are designed to be worn to and after work. Layering is an important element and, as Hardwick explains, a lace dress can be transformed from an appropriate piece for work with a black slip to cocktail hour with a nude one.
Although the Mariana Hardwick label has done some fashion pieces in the past, “this was a far more dedicated approach,” Hardwick explains. “We’ve had constant demand from customers asking us if we were going to do it.”
Shooting the striking look book in the Grampians with stylist Jolyon Mason, proved the ideal backdrop for the collection. “So many elements were perfect – the mineral rocks, salt lake and scrubby bushland,” observes Hardwick. One photo of a model holding up what looks like a huge shining stone came about when the model casually picked up the photographer’s reflector. It’s an image that subtly evokes the Hardwick label’s two strands of customer – the bride selecting a shiny rock for her finger and another version of that woman grounded in the modern world where heavier lifting is required.
It’s a distinctly feminine collection, but the refined draping and cut is given an edge by earthy tones, skin-grazing silhouettes and revealing cut-outs. Not at all suitable for the bridal party.