If you could invite anyone dead or alive to a group Zoom conference call, who would it be and why?
Costume designer Lizzy Gardiner, designer and illustrator Ken Done, Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott and pop art icon Andy Warhol. I’ve always been inspired by pop art and its ability to elevate popular culture into fine art forms, and vice versa. Fashion and pop art go hand in hand, using irony to democratise fashion for all. I love seeing the way in which designers and brands collaborate to incorporate iconic imagery into their collections, to create wearable art.
How would you describe the Australian fashion landscape right now?
Last year changed a lot for the fashion industry. Designers in particular have used the time to reflect and think about how they move forward, from the collections they produce to the ways they communicate with their customers.
Through 2020 and into 2021, we also saw Australian designers including Camilla and Marc, Carla Zampatti, Rebecca Vallance, Camilla and Romance Was Born respond to customers’ changing lifestyles by introducing more casual items into their collections, such as loungewear, sleepwear and even bed linen.
After 12 months of casual dressing, designers are now seeing customer demand for a return to evening wear. As the pioneers of the athleisure category, Australian designers are well placed to strike a balance between casual comfort and elevated elegance – and it is an opportunity for retailers to sell through additional collections.
The Australian fashion industry has proven extremely resilient and there is a bright future ahead. We cannot wait for Afterpay Australian Fashion Week in Sydney to return from 31 May–4 June, so we can continue to support not only designers, but also the countless professionals who make up our industry, including stylists, hair and makeup artists, photographers, producers, creative directors and others.
Who are some of the emerging Australian designers that people should know about?
Aaizél, Erik-Yvon, Outfaced and Replica Project, the four winners of Next Gen, IMG’s emerging designer program. This year’s winners showcase the creative excellence and talent who are shaping the future of Australian fashion. Next Gen was established in 1996 with the goal of identifying Australia’s next generation of emerging designers, and 25 years on, this continues to be one of the most exciting moments during fashion week in Sydney. The designers will present their collections on Tuesday, 1 June at 2pm live at Carriageworks. This show is not to be missed.
When you look around at some of the events that have taken place around the world in the past year, which ones really caught your eye?
New York Fashion Week: The Shows, was definitely the stand out for me. The pandemic forced designers to consider new ways to showcase their collections and express their ideas during digital fashion weeks, to replace big production runways and presentations. With audiences consuming more content, and demanding more from the digital experience, the September 2020 season saw IMG launch a global online platform called OTT (over the top) on NYFW.com, streaming designer shows and live experiences throughout the week. This central fashion hub gave designers the flexibility to showcase their collections or tell brand stories via digital content such as virtual runways, brand films and presentations, and enabled them to reach a global audience of consumers like never before.
It was great to see the creative and innovative ways designers chose to showcase their collections, including Australian designers Christopher Esber and macgraw who showed on the official NYFW: The Shows schedule for the first time.
Aside from designer content, the NYFW: The Shows OTT continued to highlight how fashion can be an agent of social change, bringing conversations of representation and inclusion to the forefront as part of NYFW: The Shows’ ongoing series of culturally-enriching conversations, The Talks.
What do you miss most about physical fashion shows and why? What are some of the things that a virtual event cannot replicate?
There is really nothing that can replicate the experience of sitting at a runway show. Afterpay Australian Fashion Week is a pivotal moment in the international fashion calendar, and for our Australian designers, it is the ultimate way for them to freely express their creative vision through set design, music, hair, and makeup that set trends and create cultural moments for years to come.
Each year, I am constantly amazed at the ways our designers are able to bring their collections to life in our unique and beautiful city – be it a lunchtime soiree at Totti’s in Bondi with Bondi Born, a tour of the Chinese Garden of Friendship with Double Rainbouu, or a dinner and a show at Restaurant Hubert with Romance Was Born. What makes a great show is the freedom of expression and the boundary-pushing spirit of Australian designers.