Runway 4, the halfway mark of LMFF, a day at the end of a long Melbourne summer with dazzling orange skies glinting over the sultry sway of the sea. The line up of designers read like a who’s who of Department Store Royalty- each designer being backed by either Myer or David Jones. We crammed as one into Central Pier to witness eight designers and two supposed rival fashion houses.
Nevenka kicked off proceedings with a little glam goth sans Victorian-era heaviness. This was young, fresh goth; sheer yet well-structured. Where last year Rosemary Masic recalled the birthplace of her grandmother with clothing worthy of a Hungarian fairy tale, this year she stayed firmly in the west. Goth gave way to printed mauves and purples ruffled into blouses and dresses, ending in fuchsia wide leg pants, think Farrah Fawcett at a roller derby tournament.
Taking it to another decade, Manning Cartell roared onto the floor with a sequined flapper style dress. The era of the hedonistic, pre-depression world was referred to again with masculine lines in trousers; whether slim cigarette pants, wide leg or the drapey genie kind. One wish? Clear my Visa card debt. The Manning sisters know how to rock it- fingerless leather driving gloves, ‘80s micro dresses, neon bright tights and black leather highlights. I need that credit card for a little black dress I spied from the trio.
Next was Lisa Ho who injected some more mileage into PETA meetings . Winter 09 was welcomed with a navy military-style trench and a long fur vest (real darlink) covering up a cutesy cotton print dress. The balance was just right; an ostrich feathered bolero worthy of a Great Gatsby heroine was matched with pared down pants. Ruffles in tiers were a staple on the night and not more so than in Lisa Ho’s collection. Her palette for these was red hot, peacock blue and gun grey and the silk/chiffon combos steered on the sheer side.
The ruffles followed on in Thurley, where fuchsia party dresses took charge of the runway with giant black helium balloons that reminded me of that government greenhouse gas ad. The darling of LMFF 2006, designer Helen O’Connor showed off her dress fixes for winter. Yellow overlayed with delicate black lace, a long white maxi dress with an crochet collar, little bead dresses, black and white print dresses- the 09 campaign is worth closer scrutiny for all the beautifully minute detail.
Now at the halfway point of the show, the lights were dimmed followed by the sound of approximately twenty models trotting down the runway. It was a clever move to elicit some kind of expectation from the audience. A teaser was played on the television screens- images of peacock feathers and a lithe woman. The light was turned on to reveal all the models on the runway at once- bright as Aladdin’s treasure. I need more that one wish this winter genie! Peacock motifs in print, coloured tights, gold prints with warm coloured cardies- it was a school of les poupees russes (Russian dolls) with coloured woollen hand warmers up to the elbow. Obus tempered down what could have been riotous with an indie nod to mixing it up- get with it.
More theatre was to follow; Arabella Ramsey took some silk geometric print dresses and plaid with a ton of back story. Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire (‘hey little girl, is your daddy home’) played as a Little Red Riding Hood type trench traipsed down the runway followed by a Lolita in a plaid dress with requisite sunglasses. Next we had rebellious teen types in cut denim shorts, a lazy jumper worn around a waist and influences as American as pie - plaid shirts (flannies mate), jeans and tassled boots. Don't forget the old patriot/rebel Bruce. Yes we can America.
Not to be outdone in the entertainment stakes, Kate Sylvester swung the tune to tutu-licious. A model gracefully demonstrated her ballet moves in a short white tutu with thick seamed white tights. There was a little '50s romance nostalgia going on with a juke box ballad cranking it over luxurious white smoking jackets, chunky knit highschool sweetheard cardigans and lots of thick tights like an old time ballet school warm up class. The dresses were delicate and dramatic just like a prima ballerina.
The hot night had one more label up its sleeve, another sister team- Ginger and Smart. Sister Genevieve, one time senior designer at Lisa Ho, took the fashion stakes to unabashed city girl. The models hit the nail on the head, striding down purposefully in loose hanging coats, ponchos and genie pants all topped off with little air hostess hats by Nerida Winter and HUGE black bags. I have one of these and I call it my "bag of death." The Smart shone in this collection, ivory silks rubbing shoulders with grey wools, highlights of tartan, cropped jackets -all super smart and wearable.