Wednesday, June 15, 2011


It’s now been a month since my very hectic and productive week at the Rosemount Australian Fashion Week (RAFW) in Sydney. With so much press coverage of the show, I thought I’d let some time pass before reviewing the week to miss the initial media flurry, and allow the experience to percolate.

With designers and agents in town for LA Fashion Market Week this week, it’s a perfect time to talk about fashion shows. This LA Market Week is showing the Fall 2/Holiday collections. The US designers will be debuting their Spring 2012 collections at MAGIC in August. RAFW showcased the Australia Spring/Summer 2011/12 collections. It will be interesting to see how the US designers interpret the Spring/Summer trends compared to Australia counterparts.

This was my first RAFW so I obviously have nothing to compare the week to. Though some of the reviews have been critical, such as the scathing article “The weak that was” by Damien Woolnough, the Fashion Editor of the Australian newspaper on May 10 and his reluctant review of the week “The Top Five”, I found the show a real eye opener.

I hadn’t work in fashion before I left Australia over 16 years ago. All my knowledge and experience has been in the United States. So the size of the show was immediately noticeable – it was tiny compared to The Coterie show in New York or the massive MAGIC shows in Las Vegas. I know what you’re thinking; but it took a little time to sink in that there weren’t buildings and buildings of other collections to view. I enjoyed the intimacy of the event.

The setting of the show would have to rank as one of the most spectacular in the world – the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) – at Sydney’s fabulous Circular Quay. If you have never been to Circular Quay, it is one of the most spectacular big city vistas in the world. With the Sydney CBD buildings at your back, the Sydney Harbor Bridge on your left, the Sydney Opera House on your right, and the unparalleled Sydney Harbor lapping at the quay, you are in the heart of the historic Sydney Cove which many people the world over think is the best city in the world. The OPT is a short walk up the quay towards the Bridge.

You can see the lights of the OPT on the left in this photo from Circular Quay:

The OPT hosted the main runway on the 2nd floor (the adjacent Cargo Theatre also held runway shows), the media center, designer’s booths branded as The Gallery, and the Rosemount VIP Wine Bar on the 2rd floor of the OPT directly across the cove from the Opera House which was the hub of networking, people-watching, and imbibing of Rosemount’s finest.

About a 15 minute walk up Pitt St. into the heart of the CBD is the Westin Sydney Hotel which hosted the Presentation Suites – 25 designers in their own rooms doing appointments with buyers, sales agents, PR firms, and me. There were also “off-site” runway shows that opened each day’s festivities dotted around Sydney. My off-site highlight was the Toni Maticevski show at the cool Carriageworks space in Eveleigh.

In total there were 57 runway shows over 5 days that showcased 85 designers.

Although not everyone agrees on the best of the best, here are the consensus picks:






I liked some of the young inspired designers:

None the Richer

All of the Nicholas Huxley-mentored TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio collections were fantastic. But particularly the amazingly creative Charlotte O’ – pictured here celebrating her show at RAFW.

The incredibly talented and charming Teena Zerefos’ collection, Del Playa

Despite some of the naysayers taking pot shots from the gallery, it is obvious that the talent, inspiration and vibrancy of Australian fashion are alive and well. If designers are playing it safe right now, it is more about being commercially sensitive during economic uncertainty rather than a lack of imagination or skill.

RAFW was an amazing experience. I saw some incredible design work, met some fascinating people, and spent time in a great city. I am already looking forward to next year.
For those of you who want more on this year’s RAFW, try the RAFW website and some of the fashion editors that I met during the week:
Paul Brindley