Long after fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan, and Paris have come to a close, after the editors have returned to 9-to-5 normality, after street style photographers have packed away their SLRs, and bloggers have shared their final #fashionweek #ootd pics, Australia starts the whole cycle over with its once-yearly Fashion Week.
As an Aussie myself and a long-time supporter of all things related to Australian style, I know there’s a lot to love about fashion down under—even if the week doesn’t quite get the same amount of attention as it’s American and European counterparts.
However, when the first model steps onto the runway on Sunday, April 12th, Australia will officially celebrate its 20th year of Fashion Week shows—no easy feat for a country that has a population smaller than Kim Kardashian‘s Instagram following.
In its 20 years of Fashion Week history, Sydney’s runways have seen enough to rival any other city. There was the time Linda Evangelista walked for Alex Perry at the peak of her runway career, Ivanka Trump‘s debut in the ’90s, Miranda Kerr‘s return to the runway in 2007, and—a moment still fresh for all Australian fashion editors—when Alessandra Ambrosio made a surprise appearance at Perry’s show last year.
And it’s not just about celebrities: It was only a few years ago, in 2007, that two little known Sydney fashion students by the names of Christopher Esber and Dion Lee presented their graduate collection to Australian press and buyers. Today, both designers are celebrated as two of the country’s greatest design exports. Lee regularly shows in New York, and is unquestionably one of the most popular Aussie names selling at international stores like Net-a-Porter and Shopbop. (Odds are, you’ve probably lusted after a few of his looks while scrolling through street style snaps, since in-the-know fashion lovers are fans of his cool cutout cocktail dresses and sharply tailored jackets—you’ve definitely seen this one before.)
Around the same time that Lee and Esber made their graduate debut, a new kind of industry influencer started popping up around Fashion Week’s Sydney streets—the fashion blogger. Garance Dore, Scott Schuman, Susie Lau, Bryan Boy, Elin Kling, and Rumi Neely have all made the trip down under to check out the Aussie talent, not to mention Australia’s homegrown blogger bunch: Nicole Warne of Gary Pepper Girl, Lucky cover girl Zanita Whittington, Candice Lake, and Margaret Zhang of Shine by Three.
And that list is growing every year: According to Australian Fashion Week organizer IMG, bloggers Vanessa Hong of The Haute Pursuit and Leaf Greener, as well as The Coveteur team will be heading Down Under next week, too.
Of course, then there are the clothes. Sure, Australia didn’t produce Chanel, and we don’t have Marc Jacobs, but when it comes to fresh, fun, interesting style, no one does it better than the Aussies. If you’re planning on following the Sydney shows next week (we sure will be), keep an eye out for these runway highlights primed to cause some buzz.
You’ve probably been watching Tome over the last couple of seasons—they’ve been showing in New York and have really started to attract serious international attention. Although NYFW managed to poach the label for the past three years, designers Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin are returning to Sydney for 2015, which is a major cause for celebration among Australia’s fashion folk.
Aussie designer and “Australia’s Next Top Model” host Alex Perry is crown jewel of Australian fashion, and a household name among most Aussies. His designs have been worn by Gigi Hadid (shown in pink above), Nicole Richie, Giuliana Rancic, Heidi Klum, Jessica Hart, Kylie Jenner, Miranda Kerr, and about a zillion Australian celebrities. Last year, he brought Alessandra Ambrosio to the Sydney runway–the biggest model to walk that season–and while he isn’t putting on a show this year, we bet there will be street style stars repping the brand on the sidewalks.
Nicole Warne wearing Bianca Spender/Photo: Street Smith
Fashion runs through the veins of designer Bianca Spender, whose mum, Carla Zampatti, heads up one of Australia’s most iconic fashion brands. Her pieces are a little expensive, but the quality and timeless designs make the pricetags absolutely worth it.
This contemporary womenswear label appeared on Australia’s fashion circuit in 2009 with a flash of neoprene and color-blocking. Over the years the youthful label has refined its look, racked up multiple awards, and now presents a fun-but-feminine seasonal collection with mid-range prices. Aside from the usual blogger fans, By Johnny is also a favorite with the daughters of Australia’s Prime Minister, who continue to wear the fresh name at special events.
A country that hardly experiences a winter (48 degrees in doesn’t count, Sydney) is bound to produce awesome swimwear. Bondi Bather is one of the country’s coolest, newest, most buzzed-about bikini brands–and yes, they ship internationally.
At last year’s Australian shows, the street style crowd started stepping out in pastel colored pom-poms and sparkly crop tops. “Where are they all getting that,” everyone else wondered privately. During the “New Generation” runway show (a presentation introducing up-and-coming Aussie talent), the question was answered as new label Dyspnea debuted their quirky-cool collection.
The label was quickly picked up by Nasty Gal, and now have a show all of their own on this year’s schedule. Keep an eye out for their distinctive (and kind of crazy) looks on bloggers, buyers, and editors attending the shows next week, too.
At every Fashion Week there’s always that one hot ticket every editor and buyer wants to get–at Australian Fashion, that ticket’s a seat at Ellery’s showcase. Expect big name models and a front row packed with the who’s-who of Australian fashion and out-of-town guests.
Whenever there’s a red carpet event in Australia, you can bet the local celebs are stepping out in a dress by Steven Khalil. This year the eveningwear designer also turns 20, so watch this space.
Nicole Warne wearing Michael Lo Sordo at Australian Fashion Week/Photo: Keishikibi
Michael Lo Sordo
Last year was a huge one for Michael Lo Sordo. For Australians in the fashion game, Lo Sordo’s been a well-known name and a favorite for minimalist and on-trend outfits, but in 2014 he really kicked some goals, including being picked up by Net-a-Porter.
Photo: Strateas Carlucci
As the Australia regional winter of the Woolmark Prize this year for both mens and womens, all eyes are on Strateas Carlucci to see what their next move will be.
We Are Handsome
Last year this quirky swimwear brand sent models down the runway wrapped with huge (but harmless, apparently) live pythons wrapped around their bodies. This year they’re also launching activewear, and to launch the line a handful of Australia’s hottest fitness bloggers will model pieces on the runway at a hidden sports venue in Sydney’s inner city suburbs. Sounds fun, right?
Kylie Jenner put this label on the international map after wearing two of their dresses–including this red one on New Year’s Eve. Zhivago’s collection is quintessentially Kardashian–think fitted dresses, long sleeves, and plunging necklines.
Will you be following Australian Fashion Week this year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.