RAFW: Style With Substance

It’s over, but we’re all still reeling. Rosemount Australian Fashion Week was held at the overseas passenger terminal on Sydney harbour, just across the water from the gorgeous Opera House. Despite weeks of rain, the weather brightened up and the street photographers took to the outdoors snapping up fashionistas left right and centre. Inside, catwalks turned over and over with 89 labels attending the showcase of Australia’s designers from established houses to new talents.

Sadly, sustainability wasn’t high on the agenda, but we did rustle up a few labels who produce locally and/or are considering ethical and environmental choices in their collections, and they are stunning.

Roopa Pemmaraju

I can’t decide if I’m sad we only found one, or glad that at least we did find one, but in any case Roopa Pemmaraju brought the fair trade this festival. She has two lines, one under her name of luxurious fair trade kaftans in prints designed by her, inspired by Indian architecture, and another, Hobo Boho, which is made with fair trade organic fabrics in fair trade production. In explaining the inspiration for Hobo Boho Roopa says, “This is just basically a woman who travels around and she wants to have her souvenirs with her. She’s in Paris and she wants to wear something very loose-fitted and not something very structured.” The Hobo Boho range boasts some to-die-for jumpsuits naturally dyed with turmeric, indigo flowers and eggshells, together with whites adorned with delicate hand beading. The consistent feature is a striped embroidered line on the left chest side with charms hanging from it. It’s vaguely reminiscent of military medals but to Roopa represents collected souvenirs. Fabulous. Chic. Fair trade. Organic. Bliss.

Ginger & Smart

Ginger & Smart are accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia who not only ensure that workers are treated with respect, but look at the overall fashion picture, including waste. The brand ran their show just before fashion week with a delicious candy-coloured offering, with a few nudes and navy to tie things down. Texture is the name of the game, with fringing adorning long skirts, sheer panels here and there, cut-out deconstructed blouses and of course leather miniskirts (we’re going to be seeing a lot of those).

Kate Sylvester

Superstar Kate Sylvester has implemented many sustainability initiatives into her New Zealand business, often incorporating organic materials, and sustainability is measured across the office and production. Her collection was presented outdoors after dark at an arena near stables in Randwick. A smoke machine set the mood and the show opened with a single model in a summer dress illuminated by a single spotlight. Several spotlights were soon roaming, as were the models, in frilled and flowing dresses, swimsuits licked with hotrod flames, high waisted bloomers masquerading as shorts and plenty of coloured sheer socks with flat and heeled sandals. There were plenty of prints, but a pretty yellow was hero of the evening. Oh and I’m pretty sure I spotted that lovely Ruby Rose across the arena… (star spotted!).

Forget Me Not

Sian Keira Davies travelled from Perth to show her Forget Me Not jewellery in Sydney. The sterling silver pieces next season feature plenty of skulls. “The Sugar Skull collection is made with a skull basis, which is from Mexico – I’ve drawn things from that, but the whole range together is called Time will Tell,” explains Sian. “’Time will Tell’ is a saying my Dad always says to me, because I’m really impatient and I want everything to happen at once. He always says, ‘Time will tell, you’ve just got to take it easy.’” Sian is careful to recycle all of her off cuts back into sheet metal to be re-used.

Serpent and The Swan

Sisters Hayley and Lauri Smith started Serpent and the Swan 18 months ago. Hayley has a background as head designer at fashion houses whilst Lauri’s background is in special effects and prosthetics. Over dinner one night Hayley was discussing her love of trimmings and Lauri pointed out she could make them. Whilst perhaps a little smaller than her usual work, Lauri’s buttons, zipper pulls and other adornments are a welcome addition to Hayley’s pieces. Never ones to follow trends, the new collection offers men’s and women’s collections inspired by a day spent in New York natural history museum. Pieces in storm colours from grey to black with a splash of green show off features in chiffon and leather and fantastic trimmings depicting bones and wolves amongst other artefacts. Sublime.

Francis Leon

I realise this is getting long but it would be remiss of me to leave you with out mentioning the Francis Leon collection, which is made in their Fortitude Valley, Queensland store by the team. Their gorgeous collection of structured, classical pieces with a twist embraces pants, blouses skirts and double-breasted, full-skirted dresses. Lovely.

Thanks for a fun time, Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, let’s get some more sustainability on the agenda next year, shall we?