Thursday, June 7, 2012


I’m back in Los Angeles from Sydney after three very busy weeks attending Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA), doing follow up meetings with designers, manufacturers, industry people, and sales and PR agents, while catching up with important friends and contacts in the Australian fashion world.

My plan this year was to blog everyday of the show rather than put out a long post-show review. I did get a Day 1 recap done. But despite best intentions, I was just way too busy. So settle in for a bit of a read.

Between attending runway shows, meeting with designers and manufacturers, and their sales and PR agents in the suites of the nearby Shangr-La Hotel, and participating in the business matching program coordinated by the New South Wales State Government, Department of Trade & Investment (NSW T&I) in conjunction with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and the Council of Textile & Fashion Industries of Australia (TFIA), and finding time to network and make connections in the VIP hospitality area, I rarely stopped to eat let alone blog. Even my tweets and FB posts dried up.

I was also supposed to meet a delegation of Hong Kong designers promoted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council but just didn’t have the time.

It was an exhilarating and enlightening week. I don’t agree with those who thought the majority of the collections were pedestrian. Sure, it would be great if all the designers involved were in the position to send out forward or avant garde collections to excite and provoke. We are in times when people need wearable clothes at reachable price points. I’m not sure what some of the critics don’t understand about the designation, Ready To Wear.

I thought the layout and organization of the show was better than last year:
  • The addition of the enormous tent in the parking lot of the main venue (The Tent), the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) at Circular Quay took the pressure of the upstairs space where one of the runway venues (The Box) is located. The larger shows were done in The Tent which allowed The Box to be used for innovative installation type showcases such as Gail Sorronda, Flowers For A Vagabond and Akira.
  • The Tent also greatly reduced the foot traffic and bottle-necking of show attendees and delegates on the upstairs main floor which allowed for a large media center and a bigger cafe with a significantly expanded seating and meeting area.
  • There were less promotional booths in the upstairs area which again created more space. Last year, collections were showcasing out of booths configured across the floor.
  • This year the Showroom Suites were located in the Shangri-La Hotel, just a short walk up The Rocks from the OPT. Last year, they were a 20 minute uphill walk away at the Westin Hotel in the CBD.
  • Access to the VIP bar was monitored much more carefully. Last year, there were times when half of Sydney was trying to get a drink. It made it very difficult to get productive networking done. This year was much more comfortable.
I think the only aspect of the organization that was not as smooth as last year for me was the online “portal” system for gaining access and seating preferences for the runway shows. Last year, the international delegates were “parachuted” directly into great seating for requested runway shows by IMG staff. As a result, I got first and second row seats for just about every show I wanted to attend. This year the approval and seating of all attendees was done by the designers and their PR and/or sales agents. The lack of preferential treatment meant I didn’t get into some of the most sought-after shows, and my seating allocations were well back from last year. Fortunately, I am luck enough to know the person I call “The Guru of Fashion”, the brilliant bon vivant Nicholas Huxley of The Fashion Design Studio at the Sydney Institute TAFE. Nicholas made a call, and doors opened. Thank you again, Nicholas. More about “The Guru” later.

Day 2
The brilliant Toni Maticevski opened Day 2 of MBFWA in The Tent. This was one I couldn’t get into. I saw Maticevski at Carriageworks last year, and rated it one of the standout shows of the week.

My first runway was the always evocative Flowers For A Vagabond. Last week, Ragtrader magazine described the Spring/Summer collection thusly, “Flowers for a Vagabond has dubbed its spring/summer 2012/13 collection ‘Desirable Darkness’. The collection graduates from dark to bright with a signature tattoo style print presenting continuity throughout. Richly textured, it features contrasting silk chiffon with leather panels and piping and layering metallic tassels with tailored pieces.” Couldn’t put it better myself. I met with Toby Mclean, the designer and his PR firm, Click Communications after MBFWA. Hopefully, FFAV will be available in US stores in the near future.

The gorgeous flowing styles of Talulah were next. Talulah is now represented my Melt Management with showrooms in New York and Los Angeles.

Toi Et Moi Sydney opened their show with the owner, Gill Lawrence’s young daughter beautifully singing in French accompanied by her father on guitar. Gill also owns the collection, Mad Love.

I missed the Jayson Brunsdon show on Tuesday evening believing I had seen the collection at the Fashion Palette show the week before MBFWA. But when I met with Jayson and his sales manager after the show I found out that they had shown Fall/Winter at Fashion Palette for some reason. I am looking forward to seeing his SS 12/13 lookbook. Here is a shot of Jayson’s creations at Fashion Palette.

Instead of Jayson’s show, I made my way to the hip Victoria Room in Darlinghurst for the launch of the brilliant young couture designer Nomiki Glynatsis‘ Spring/Summer collection of couture jewelry and gowns entitled “Essence of An Enchantress”. Moet champagne, delicious hors d’oeuvre live piano accompaniment, interesting people, and gorgeous jewelry and gowns made for a fun, glamorous evening.

Day 3
The first half of Day 3 was crammed with meetings. Oroton was my first runway show of the day. The iconic Australian brand launched it’s first full ready to wear collection at MBFWA. The collection has a crisp, fresh, preppy look with separates in scarf prints, short dresses and jacket edging in Oroton’s classic shimmering metal mesh (the handbags, purses and wallets were synonymous with Australia in the ’70′s & ’80′s), and lots of color – blues, purple, orange, yellow, nudes and neutrals.

My next runway was one of the peoples’ favorites of the week, Watson X Watson. The sister team of Liberty and Somer Watson have created a sexy, uncomplicated, wearable collection that is creating buzz in Australia and internationally.
FabSugar put it best, ” … As their collection hit the runway you could almost hear the collective gasps from the crowd at what was a revelation of epic fashion proportions — these were clothes every woman craves to own, and wear, on a daily basis. For the working woman, soft tailoring and fuss-free silhouettes were on offer in crisp white and nude, while evening wear was presented with sequins, lace and plunging necklines in everything from dresses to jumpsuits. Weekend wear took a sporty turn thanks to utility-style jackets and relaxed florals, and the palest of pinks lent a feminine edge to slim-fit pants, relaxed tees and slouchy knits. Whether you like your silhouettes kept tight and sexy, or prefer something slightly more oversized and exaggerated, Watson X Watson delivers the goods, and then some.” The crowd went nuts after the show.
I am sure we’ll be seeing Watson X Watson retailing in the US very soon. A US distributor or showroom would be wise to snap up the collection ASAP.

As well as their women’s collection, Kooey Australia debuted their first full men’s collection along with Kooey by Sherri-Lee, a diffusion line designed by current Miss Universe Australia, Scherri-Lee Biggs. The color and prints of the women’s collection were highlighted by the Aboriginal-inspired dot prints in gorgeous blues that had you dreaming of a hot summer’s beach day.

Day 3 ended with The Men’s Show showing looks from designers ZsadarNathan Paul SwimwearInjuryFrom BrittenKalb & Etiw and Mils.

My favorites were Zsadar, Nathan Paul Swimwear and Kalb & Etiw.

Zsadar’s black on black and greyscale palette, asymmetric hems, drop crotch pants and button down shirts was fashion forward and wearable. Talented young Perth designer Shane Newton’s collection has huge potential, especially in the European market. I look forward to following his progress.

The Nathan Paul Swimwear got the crowd going with the models freelancing with poses and crotch grabbing at the end of the runway. Designer Nathan Lodge is thinking out of the box with his styles for men and women. The Dia de Los Muertos (Day of The Dead) prints will be a hit in Australia. His swim brief for men is one of the best I have seen. Polos, unisex shorts and a sweet jacket for women round out the sexy swim styles. Nathan has gone the extra mile by using Australia’s now famous androgynous model, Andrej Pejic. Andrej debuted on the international catwalk scene in theJean Paul Gaultier’s Spring 2011 Men’s Show.

Keep an eye out for my Day 4 & 5 review over the coming days. If you see anything in this blog that you want to know more about, please contact me at:

Paul Brindley
paul brindley consults