Sitting front row, bearing witness to the future of Australian fashion design was nothing short of inspiring. The 15 graduating fashion students of the Australian Academy of Design each presented their debut collections on Friday evening, with each designer displaying impressive cohesion within their respective collections as well as extraordinary technical ability and execution.
We were greeted with green apple mojitos and peach bellinis from Mister Mixer and guests were invited to have their makeup touched up by the beauty team from Klara Cosmetics. After perusing the artwork by AAD’s graduating design students, we were seated in time for a Q&A with special guest Yeojin Bae.
Bae’s advice for the graduating students is profound and invaluable. ‘Don’t feel that you need to rush,’ says the designer. ‘Really work on your own skills and develop them further. You may not be working as a designer straight away. You could be working as an assistant, working in trims or in a number of other departments. All of those skills are going to help you become a better designer. I worked behind the scenes for a really long time to make sure I excelled in my technical skills. When I launched in 2006 a lot of people talked about the “overnight success” that I had, and my first collection did have an enormous positive reaction but I spent so many years working for other brands and other labels leading up to my first collection, so I you need to take the time to really learn the skills and the craft. There are so many exciting aspects of the industry and we’re not all going to end up working as designers. It’s all these different parts of the industry that make the fashion industry so exciting.’
The show opened with a collection of fun and wearable separates by Amanda Seeley in an on trend colour palette of lime greens, punchy oranges and fuchsias, broken up with splashes of crisp white. The collection was directional and whimsical – an exciting mix of the retro and the now.
We were treated to a collection of monochromatic metallic party-ready wear in sequins and crushed velvet by Chantal McLaughlin, and an incredible line of ivory hued evening wear in sultry silks and laces by Cadao Ngo. The collection was effortlessly feminine and subtly sexy. A refreshingly versatile collection by Vi Vuong included beautiful vintage inspired evening wear, a divine fur vest and beautiful trend-driven separates.
One of the highlights of the evening was a collection by Caitlin Hogg. Hogg’s collection was cohesive from start to finish, and the designer showed a sense of design identity beyond her years. The collection featured deep, sultry indigo lace pieces as well as flirty pastels. Hogg closed her collection with a dusty pink sleeveless dress featuring sheer, white panels. The execution of this sheer detailing was simply flawless, demonstrating an impressive of technical ability.
Melati De Jong, Jaymei Vo and Carmel Mills all made impressive, and very different, forays into menswear. De Jong’s collection featured exquisitely tailored classic suiting as well as simply stunning womenswear. It is clear the De Jong has the wearer in mind as she designs- each piece fits like a glove, sculpting the body and creating a timeless silhouette. Jaymei Vo’s collection is primarily whimsical womenswear in soft lilacs and peaches featuring three-dimensional draping and floral motifs, but the designer has also created a stunning men’s suit in a surprisingly wearable duck egg blue. Carmel Mills presented a line of politically driven, avant-garde menswear, demonstrating an admirable passion for both art and design.
A collection by Paige Caroll features outstanding attention to detail. Silk pants, printed separates and heavily beaded leggings teamed with an ivory brocade jacket are modern, strong and are dripping with raw femininity. The pieces show an exciting contrast between fluidity and severity and cement Caroll as one to watch.
Versatile separate by Jessica Dean, including an incredible backless top in a modern houndstooth-eque print, would look at home on a Milan Fashion Week runway, and Sophia Chang’s line shows just how wearable wool can be- in all seasons. Miriam Fatol shows a collection of futuristic knitwear in rich metallics, closing with an iridescent silver cape that had everyone in the audience whispering ‘I want one’.
Angelica Fiume presented a line of beautiful daywear, with separates that could be pieced together into countless different outfits. The collection is perfect for women after a carefully curated wardrobe of timeless pieces that are able to be mixed and matched year round. Laura Zaffina opened her collection of autumnal-hued garments with a divine black peplumed jacket featuring contrasting tan suede sleeves that any fashinista would lust after.
The show ended with a truly breathtaking collection by emerging designer Joseph Jang. Everything about this collection appeared to be meticulously thought through, from the prints to the fabric choices to the almost other-worldly silhouettes. Each piece featured layers of fabric that, rather than appearing difficult to wear and bulky, looked so organic. The mermaid-like train on one of Jang’s extraordinary jackets practically engulfed the runway in pieces of exquisitely cut fabric, reminiscent of a fish’s scales.
The calibre of the design talent on display at the 2012 Australian Academy of Design Graduate Fashion Show was utterly jaw-dropping. If this is the level of work these young designers are producing as students, one can only imagine how bright their futures in the fashion industry will be.
Check out our gallery for full front row coverage of the show.
Photos by Gemma Watts