This year, Melbourne designer fashion boutique Gusto & Elan has partnered with The Spirit of the Black Dress, part of the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Program, and will be showcasing the event’s winning designs in-store throughout April.

The Spirit of the Black Dress is a not-for-profit project which aims to promote rising Australian designers at the forefront of innovative and sustainable fashion.

Judged by notable industry figures Paola Di Trocchio, Susan Dimasi, Richard Nylon, Nikita Papas and Sarah Willcocks, the 10 chosen finalists in 2013 have given new life to the timeless fashion classic, the black dress.

Gusto & Elan will be exhibiting the finalist’s designs and selling some of their collections in-store for the month of April, including Marion Liese, Basquesse by Viviana Pannell, Cordy Gibbs and Kathryn Beker, who is also this year’s LMFF Designer Awards finalist and long-standing partner of Gusto & Elan.

From funky and futuristic to classic and elegant, featuring everything from recycled materials to multi-use wear, some of the stunning pieces will be exhibited through a photographic display in-store alongside all 10 designer profiles, while select fashions from the above designers will be available for sale.

As a progressive retail gallery, Gusto & Elan co-founders Sarina Zammit and Katya Baxter said the event’s philosophy fit perfectly with their goal of discovering the new generation of world-class labels.

“At Gusto & Elan, we approach fashion differently to regular retail stores, which is why we enjoy collaborating with local designers who seek to challenge the norm and take fashion in a new direction,” said co-founder and award-winning fashion designer Sarina Zammit.

“We recently launched Project Runway Australia finalist Matcho Suba’s label in-store, whose take on fashion is totally fresh and unconventional. His range is generating a lot of interest,”Ms Zammit said.

Just like The Spirit of the Black Dress, Gusto & Elan’s homegrown approach is focused on promoting innovative Australian designers to the world.

“We wanted to partner with the renowed The Spirit of the Black Dress event this year because we share the same passion for growing and sharing awareness of Australia’s unique designs at an international level,” said Gusto & Elan co-founder and business manager, Katya Baxter.

“Those entering the fashion industry today have a lot of potential and a lot of talent, and they do have a responsibility to think innovatively and establish sustainable practices. We’re proud to exhibit some of Australia’s finest designers judged by these standards,” she said.

To discover a new generation of Australian fashion, visit Gusto & Elan’s Brunswick Sreet store during April, or head to www.gustoandelan.com.au to browse their online store.

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Thara Vidyaratne

Thara is a journalist and blogger who loves Earl Grey tea and speaking in broken French. BLOG: www.mossandstonelove.com INSTA: @tharavids

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