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Perth Fashion Festival

Milly Nolan travels to Western Australia to soak up the sights and sounds of the Perth Fashion Festival.

Last week I crossed the Tasman to Western Australia’s capital city, for the annual Perth Fashion Festival (PFF). While the journey from New Zealand was a long 13 hours (including a stopover in Sydney) it was well worth it for the fashion feast that ensued. Although I was only in the vibrant city for two of the seven days that the festival ran for, it was enough to sample a taste of the renowned Perth Fashion Festival, which is now in its 13th year.

OPENING NIGHT

The Perth Fashion Festival kicked off its 2011 program with an exclusive VIP launch party featuring one of Western Australia’s hottest design talents, Aurelio Costarella.

Held high above Perth’s Swan River at the revolving C Restaurant – celebrities, dignitaries, media and a who’s who of Western Australia’s fashion scene were treated to a spectacular night as Costarella, for the first time in PFF history, showcased his spring/summer collection.

With the Perth skyline providing the perfect backdrop, the models paraded around the circular restaurant in Costarella’s signature dresses, which were followed by a finale of stunning couture gowns, all of which were embellished with lace, feathers, draping and beads.

During the evening, stills from Costarella’s photographic exhibition 24 Looks were projected onto screens around the venue. 24 Looks captured 24 Perth models wearing 24 separate outfits from the summer collection, photographed over 24 hours by former Perth-based photographer Penny Lane.

DAY ONE HIGHLIGHTS

As one of Australia’s most coveted designers, it came as no surprise that Melbourne-based Yeojin Bae’s PFF debut was both slick and sophisticated. Held at the Museum’s Hackett Hall, her Premiere collection was very much “Desperate Housewives meets glamour” with sexy, provocative separates (silk blouses, pencil and mini skirts) and figure-hugging evening and cocktail dresses that were complete with delicate buttons running down the back.

Hues of beige, peach, cornflour blue, navy and dusty plum were contrasted by garments in bold red and a floral print. Necklines decorated with mesh fabric, floral appliqué details and sequinned pieces that hugged the body in an array of sleek silks were also prominent. The slicked-back hair positioned into a low bun and minimal make-up matched the polished collection perfectly.

Next up was the Designer Capsule #1 show, which was ‘one for the girls’, showcasing the feminine charm of three of WA’s hottest designers, Paper Skye, Lisa Marjanovich and Little Gracie. The show opened with the pretty, whimsical garments of Little Gracie. Accompanied by big, crimped hair and pink lips, baby-doll dresses, jumpsuits, asymmetrical tops and dresses with low-backs walked down the runway in colours of baby blue, pastel pink, coral, white and in a floral print.

Next was Paper Skye, which showcased a collection of superb tailoring and well-polished feminine garments. Devoid of any colour, every garment was cream, made from a beautiful sheer-textured fabric – the perfect pieces to take on a resort holiday.

Lastly, Lisa Marjanovich impressed the crowd with her eponymous label – a collection of pretty garments that had a deconstructed and grungy element to them. Each piece was unique, yet all shared a raw and unpolished element with frayed edges, gathered details, plenty of layers and asymmetrical hemlines. White, cream and beige were the standout colours amongst dusty pink and maroon shades.

Spotted front row at both shows was former Spice Girl Mel B wearing Wheels & Dollbaby accompanied by her husband Stephen Belafonte.

DAY TWO HIGHLIGHTS

An extravaganza of colour and print, the Designer Capsule #2 show consisted of WA labels, Poppy Lissiman, On Tour and Bhalo. First up was On Tour, which is a fashion-forward label designed by Alicia Sorgiovanni. Focusing on the edgy glamour of the grunge era, this modern collection consisted of carefully tailored blouses, tank tops, long draping skirts, maxi dresses and shorts – all of which were in beautiful painterly prints or an earthy palette of mustard, tamarillo, beige, green and navy. With strong shapes, graphic elements and careful attention to detail, this label is definitely one to watch.

Next was the fashionable-but-with-a-conscience collection by local label Bhalo, which displayed garments that were made from ethically hand-woven fabrics. Shirts, shorts, tanks and skirts made up most of the collection, seen in colours of pale pink, dusty lilac and grey/beige. Two-toned tank tops and shirts, with different coloured collars and pockets, added interest to the otherwise simple range, along with intricate embroidery seen on some pieces.

Lastly, self-titled label Poppy Lissiman finished the show with her bright, bold and fun collection, titled Pantonia. Each model wore a brightly coloured lip in a range of hues from pink to orange and oversized tasselled earrings – both of which matched the colour blocking, abstract prints and bold stripes of the eye-popping collection.

 

Leading Western Australian designer Christine Tang’s penchant for party dresses was obvious as soon as the first model for her internationally acclaimed label Story by Tang hit the runway later that evening. Flirty dresses with sexy, figure-hugging shapes continued to dominate the 40-outfit parade, as did pretty blouses, jumpsuits and wardrobe basics in jersey material. High necklines but low-cut backs were also prominent as were cute cityscape prints based on photographs of London. Cream, green, yellow, beige, peach, khaki and grey were the colours of the evening – either worn alone or paired together. While the music was cool, the collection was even cooler. No doubt Tang earned some more fans with this fashion-forward collection.

And with that, it was off to the airport to bid adieu to my wonderful, whirlwind trip to Perth’s Fashion Festival 2011.

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