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There were clothes but no models at Romance Was Born’s show, Reflected Glory, which launched at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia at Carriageworks, Sydney this evening.

Dispensing with the traditional runway show, Romance Was Born duo Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett instead unveiled a large-scale installation in collaboration with Perth-based visual artist Rebecca Baumann, known for her kaleidoscopic works.

Even though it was an exhibition, the show was certainly not static. Glittering garments suspended from the high ceiling twirled slowly allowing prisms of light reflect and bounce off sequins and coloured plexiglass. Aside from the engine noise behind the mechanical workings of the exhibition there was no sound.

“I like the idea of not playing any music to give people time to reflect about parties they have been too and special moments in their lives. What it means to celebrate,” Sales said.

The exhibition explores the idea of our basic desire for happiness pursued through customs, rituals and social occasions. In Reflected Glory, each garment signifies a special moment in time – a house party, Mardi Gras, a wake, New Year’s Eve – all woven with iridescent thread and adorned with sequins and jewels.

An old Madonna T-shirt of Sales forms the top of a gold dress with an extended skirt that would require a model to wear stilts if ever worn.

“Some of the garments the silhouettes are a little bit longer than normal because we knew they didn’t have to be walked in,” said Sales.

The T-shirt has nostalgia for both Sales and Plunkett. Sales was wearing it when he first met Plunkett and hung out at his house party. In the exhibition the T-shirt is embellished in clear sequins and now “embodies the creative spirit between both of us” Plunkett said.

When creating the pieces for the exhibition Sales said the pair felt like they’d gone back to their roots. “Working together, hand sewing the garments together and just draping on the dummy and stitching that together and not so much trying to design and look like a collection or worrying about the way it is pattern made. It’s a bit more organic. A lot how we used to work,” Sales said.

Romance Was Born has spent the past six months collaborating with Baumann on the exhibition which is in a sense a “creative preview” of the label’s spring/summer 14/15 collection, also titled Reflected Glory.

“All the prints in the exhibition are from our ready to wear collection. This is the first time we have worked with an artist where we haven’t just printed the artist’s logo and fabric. We actually shot the sequins, everything in direct sunlight so there was maximum reflection,” said Sales. “We generated the prints from the photographs. The surfaces that we shot and fabrics that we used are a representation of what Rebecca uses in her work. Like the reflective holographic paper, sequins and plexiglass, and sequin dresses.

‘Romance Was Born’s exhibition Reflected Glory’ is on at Carriageworks, 245 Wilson St, Redfern, Sydney from April 9 to May 11, 2014 and entry is free.

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