It was amazing to see how David Jones utilised new media technologies for their Spring Summer Fashion Launch 2012: besides traditionally having their guests at the launch, the public was also invited to join the live online streaming, with conversation open for everyone on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter to create the buzz. There was also a "shop" button on the streaming site, which linked to DJ's online shop so that the audiences can instantly buy the outfits on the runway. "Shiver me timbers!", as Uncle Jimmy (my ex-boss) would say.
I missed the live streaming but did watch the designer interviews, which to me were actually more interesting. One thing Nicky Zimmermann, designer/owner of the leading fashion and swim wear label Zimmermann, pointed out about Australian fashion was the huge difference between 25 years ago when she first started the label and now. What she thinks is that many years ago, Australian fashion was only for "a small majority of people" and was "very much detected from what was happening internationally"; today because of all the new technologies, there are a lot more people who are interested in fashion and everything has to be "100% immediate", which makes Australian fashion a lot more market-driven than ever before.
I couldn't agree more but I guess in regards to the taste of the "market", International trends are still very influential. Otherwise we wouldn't be seeing all these trends of colour blocking, pastel colour and floral print happening locally at the same pace (or maybe a little bit slower) with what's happening on the other side of the world. The trend could be similar but in terms of design, being in such an interesting position on earth - kind of remote, but in-between the East and the West, Australian fashion designers have developed unique, distinctive styles of their own. And for this season, while the Northern Hemisphere is going all dark and sophisticated with its hip padding and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo nouveau gothic leather, here it comes some lighthearted, colourful summering prints from Down Under.
It is delightful to see bright-colour-blocking around especially in this unpredictable economic environment. I was somehow hoping that this trend could last forever and everyone could wear colourful outfits everyday, which might at least visually fight with the pessimism in the world's economic downturn. Although this trend seems to be a bit slowed down now, Ginger & Smart's SS12/13 collection Neonature, has interestingly elevated it to a whole new level of digital prints with a mix of neon colours, much more like a deconstruction version of the 1980's tie dye. Without overdoing it, white is another major part of the design but functions more like an elegant, minimalist frame to a beautiful abstract painting. Hints of neon lime-green and pink appear in the makeup and accessories, hamonising with the colourful, eclectic prints.
Left: Subatomic Dress With Sleeve | Right: Subatomic Shirt, Neonature, Ginger & Smart SS12/13 collection
Speaking of bright neon colour, Emma Mulholland's surrealistic prints from her SS12/13 collection As Bad As I Guana Be is definitely eye-catching. Using iguana as motif, the title of the collection is witty wordplay. If you see the short film (directed by Alex Goddard) of this collection you might understand why there are also basketballs in the print (very unlikely I think!). Although I am still confused, but what's the matter? We love non-sense. So there is this quite unexpected pattern of dazzling green iguanas playing basketballs, dropped in a dark background with splashes of inks, which makes the whole thing suddenly goes from a dessert survival story to a deep-sea fairytale.
As Bad As I Guana Be, Emma Mulholland SS12/13 collection
The beauty of Romance Was Born's collections is their collaborations with Australian artists, which take clothing far beyond its functionality, and probably to a level of contemporary wearable art. The print-obsessed duo's SS12/13 collection The Miraculous Mundane brings in Melbourne-based artist Stephen Bush's signature painterly, expressive strokes and vivid colours to their elegantly tailored outfits. Below two prints are my favourites from the collection. The painting on the cotton Kapock Coat (below 1) depicts Bush's fantasy of a wild, psychedelic, isolated bushland while the one applied on the Pines Silk Tee Shirt (below 2) takes a subtle approach to a more water-coloury, zen-like dreamland.
Kapock Coat, The Miraculous Mundane, Romance Was Born SS12/13 collection
Pines Silk Tee Shirt, The Miraculous Mundane, Romance Was Born SS12/13 collection
Prints from Camilla & Marc's SS12/13 collection draw inspiration from garden and flower. The Secret Garden print (below 1) adopts the Impressionist's Pointilism painting technique, using small dots of pure colour to create an abstract floral field (but somehow appears in a series of symmetrical figures, magic), reminding me of Monet's garden paintings. The print is obsessively applied from head to toe, including tops, trousers, knee-high dresses and maxi dresses. In contrast with the rich garden print, the Floral Jacquard print (below 2) is much simper with realistic painting of flowers and ornaments running elegantly through the fabric.
Secret Garden print, Camilla & Marc SS12/13 collection
Floral Jacquard print, Camilla & Marc SS12/13 collection
After all of these intense, colourful prints, I think I should end this article with the lovely liberty print (below) from Karla Spetic's SS12/13 collection. The print might not be as artistic as the ones I mentioned above, but I really love the combination of this pretty pattern with soft pastel colour, especially the asymmetrical (colour wise) blazer with the print only applied on one side of the collars.
When I started writing this article last night I was kind of hoping spring could come as soon as I finish this article. Unfortunately there is no such magic. It is still windy but the sun is nice. This encourages me to wear my peacock digital print silk dress today just for a bit of pre-spring inspiration. We don't need to wait until spring or summer to wear colourful print outfits, do we? If everyone was wearing clothes in bright colours in winter ... imagine how fun would that be! Oh, and friends from the Northern Hemisphere, our Aussie designers are pretty interesting, agree?
Karla Spetic, SS12/13 collection