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It seemed fitting that my first antipodean runway show should feature the debut collections of myriad Australian fashion graduates. Yet despite the comforting thought that I wasn’t the only ‘newbie’ tonight, I approached the media tent with ever-slowing tentativeness as beautifully dressed women called out to one another in between flurries of air-kisses.

After checking in for Emerge Australia, I oogled at the Australian fashion pack as I waited to be seated. I don’t know what I had expected but the Target-sponsored Graduate Showcase was much more the ‘real thing’ than I had ever imagined. Fashionistas flocked hither and thither in an array of outfits from the bizarre to the sublime as photographers buzzed around them taking pictures of a girl dressed as giant pink powder puff, and clambering over themselves to get a picture of the quirky Dadon sisters.

When we were finally herded into the room I couldn’t believe how busy the show was and the gravity of the event hit home. As media types milled around trying to find their seats I struck up a brief conversation with the girl to my left, only to have her replies drowned out by the thumping music streaming above our heads. Eventually I was seated snugly between two equally lost looking writers and we waited together in quiet anticipation for the show to begin.

The lights dimmed and the enormous screen above the runway lit up with an introductory film illustrating the journey of the first designer’s collection: Optic by Monique Duggan. When the clip ended, fabulous pop-y music began to blare even more loudly as Duggan’s funky Lichtenstein inspired collection was paraded down the catwalk.

Featuring 60s style boxy silhouettes with bright colour pops and big geometric prints Duggan’s collection is crisp, bold and lively. The models bopped down the runway like retro birds of paradise and it was clear to everyone present that the benchmark for this evening had been set high.

Luckily we were not disappointed. As the evening continued streams of inspired, innovative and exceptional works made their way down the long white catwalk. From UTS’s Vanessa Emirian whose love of circles inspired a stunningly sculptural collection, to Alexandra Hackett whose monochromatic designs are made up of anything- from receipts to security tags-for her retail inspired collection.

Forever a girly girl, I was charmed by Sofie Teh’s work which is big, colourful and irresistibly fun. Based on the regional clothing of Vietnamese people, Teh stated that she was looking to take their notions of colour and silhouette ‘to the next level’ thus creating her exaggerated and whimsical designs.

Oversized and studded with pompoms, Teh’s work is nevertheless thoughtfully detailed, featuring hand-painted prints and other intricacies that tie together the designer’s modern view of fashion and Vietnamese traditions of dressing.

In opposition to this flavour of vivid fashion was Rachael Zheng, whose collection Lilt is comparatively minimal. Also a great lover of print, Zheng described how she uses cheaper printed cloth in order to drape and design her pieces before manufacturing more expensive fabric once she is completely happy with the finished garment.

Zheng also voiced her passion for interactive design in terms of the physicality of a garment. As well as using the movement of cloth as the inspiration for her pieces she also likes to add an extra dimension to her designs such as wrap skirts or extra ties. This way, she explained, the act of dressing itself forms a relationship with her clothing taking the wearer beyond the realms of the typical visual connection we have with clothes and fashion.

Over the length of the evening the event showcased the work of twelve graduate designers all from different parts of the country. The perspectives on fashion and design varied hugely from designer to designer but the quality of the work displayed was consistent and high.

I walked away- somewhat shell-shocked- from the rush and raucous music of the runway and took pleasure in musing over the diverse attitudes towards fashion I had seen that night. As I rattled home on the late train, I felt I could already imagine the designers whose names will soon become more and more well known in the Australian fashion industry.

The The Fashion Advocate x

The Fashion Advocate Australian made fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands, Melbourne fashion blogger

The Fashion Advocate Australian made fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands, Melbourne fashion blogger

The Fashion Advocate Australian made fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands, Melbourne fashion blogger

The Fashion Advocate Australian made fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands, Melbourne fashion blogger

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