Inside the 19th-century Australian art room at the Art Gallery of NSW, tribal deities and outback nymphs strode down the runway in Romance Was Born’s dazzling spectacle. The audience donned their most flamboyant threads in salute for this show.
Music: Ambient sounds of the bush, with birds tweeting and the low, woody drone of a didgeridoo, with flautist Jane Rutter performing live to add a Midsummer Night’s Dream-style tone to proceedings.
Hair: Blond, brown, black and rainbow dreadlocks; spear-like feathers; coiled, sculptural ponytails and high-top buns; akubras, headscarves and cloth turbans in in vivid hues.
Beauty: Nude lip with raccoon eyes in teal, ochre and magenta. Or clean, bright skin worn with nude or red lips.
Key looks: A skin-tight gown in neon rainbow beadwork with an outline of Australia slap-bang in the middle; a geometric patchwork gown in all the colours of the rainbow with a matching turban; a midi skirt and open, boxy jacket that had the veneer of a stain-glass window using thousands of sequins and mirrored acrylic embellishments, some in the shape of Australia; a voluminous silvery grey gown and a gauze-covered crown, which felt like an avante-garde reimagining of Narnia’s White Witch.
Overall feel: Tribal outback meets neon Woodstock meets A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Plunkett and Sales have called this collection Cooee Couture, which like their lavish gowns, fit like a glove. The presentation felt deeply Australian, with models in a Ned Kelly-style helmet prowling the runway to the sound of the didgeridoo. Each and every garment in the collection was hand printed or painted by designer and artist Linda Jackson. The intricate patchwork, resplendent embroidery and wild use of colour makes the word, “textured” a gross understatement. Romance worked with Dinosaur Designs to load models up with arm-length stacks of chunky bangles and what can only described as neck sculpture. This show was without a doubt, one of the highlights of the week. And judging by the sound of the rapturous applause, everyone in the gallery knew it.
Spotted: Gemma Ward, Margaret Zhang.