We’ve seen Europe’s fashion trends. Here’s how Australia is responding

By Melissa Singer

Trends to watch (from left) ‘quiet luxury’ at Max Mara; ‘balletcore’ at Simone Rocha; indie sleaze at Versace.Credit:Getty

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Call it Australia’s prettiest trade fair, Christmas for peacocks or an insomniac’s dream, Afterpay Australian Fashion Week is once again upon us. Starting on Monday, many of the country’s top fashion designers, media, influencers and creatives, including photographers, make-up artists and production whizzes, will turn some of Sydney’s most recognisable locations into runways where brands will preview the clothes we will be buying in November (sustainably, of course).

Ahead of the first exit – that’s runway speak for each look in a show – some of the country’s, and the world’s, top fashion minds shared their predictions for the trends we’re likely to see, and what working during fashion week is really like.

Model Ambar Cristal is walking in her first Australian Fashion Week.Credit:James Brickwood

The model: Ambar Cristal

The 25-year-old Dominican Republic-born model is based in Boston, and is represented by Chic Management. It is her first Australian Fashion Week.

“My first runway experience was for Louis Vuitton when I was 20. For Australian Fashion Week I am on standby for several brands, including Alemais and Bianca Spender. Next week, I think we will see lots of colour, ’90s’-inspired designs and even the odd shoulder pad. Most days start early with hair and make-up, running from show to show, and fittings for the following day. There is a lot of pressure. So much preparation goes into a show that can sometimes go for only 10 or 15 minutes. There is a lot of good tension backstage. Just before we walk out, it is really quiet, no one speaks as the nerves kick in. When the show finishes, you feel this incredible rush.”

The buyer: Libby Page

As market director for online retailer NET-A-PORTER, Page uses fashion week to identify new brands, as well as those charting a new course.

Londoner Libby Page is a regular at Fashion Week Australia.Credit:Getty

“We recently launched Aje [on the site], so I am excited to see them return to Australian Fashion Week. We have seen the reinstatement of simple, everyday dressing; event dressing has always been key to our buy, but post-pandemic we have really seen an increase in this category. Now, though, it’s less high-octane glamour and more understated. At fashion week, the days are usually packed with activity, from shows to meetings. This season, I will be on a speakers’ panel to share my thoughts on the impact of the event. I am looking forward to seeing shows by Michael Lo Sordo, whose pieces focus on simplicity and elegance, and the Next Gen show for emerging talent.”

The photographer: Danielle Castano

Castano, a photographer and content consultant, has been shooting fashion week for 10 years, with a focus on street style.

Photographer Danielle Castano is focused on the street style on day one.

“From a street-style perspective, I am expecting a lot of micro-trends, such as ‘balletcore’, as well as indie sleaze, the minimalist crew in their oversized suits, and masculine-style ’90s layers. Show wise, I am excited for St Agni and Alix Higgins, a really exciting, forward-thinking designer. During fashion week, I capture street style for a few hours each morning, then edit and upload my first batch of images to my client. I head back to shoot the afternoon shows but around 5pm we lose light, so that’s my cue to return to the hotel to keep working. Most nights I end up getting room service, but I always lay out my outfit for the next day before bed.”

The critic: Luke Leitch

Leitch spends the year criss-crossing the globe, reviewing shows for Vogue Runway. This is his first Australian Fashion Week.

Luke Leitch covers hundreds of shows a year for Vogue Runway.Credit:Benjamin Storrier

    “We chiefly focus on the ‘big four’ – New York, London, Paris, Milan – but it’s also important to take the temperature of other scenes like Shanghai, Copenhagen and Sydney. I’m happily unsure what trends to expect, but really hope it won’t be too in thrall to what is happening in Europe. I’m interested to see [Indigenous designer] Ngali because of what that show represents, and I hear Bianca Spender is excellent. Caroline Reznik is apparently also one to watch. But I get to cover maybe a couple of hundred shows and presentations every year, so I don’t waste too much time anticipating.”

    The influencer: Katherine Denton

    Denton creates content for brands for her audiences across TikTok and Instagram. This is her second fashion week.

    Content creator Katherine Denton thinks quiet luxury will be a key trend next week.Credit:Simon Schluter

    “Fashion week is also a big networking opportunity; meeting people face to face can lead to new work relationships. Depending on what shows and events I have on each day, I’m usually up around 6am to get ready and create content. After my first show, I’ll shoot content and then go to a lunch or event. After changing outfits for the next show, I’ll shoot more, and head back to the venue. Before the night shows, I’ll edit my content, wait for approvals and then post to my channels. The shows I’m most keen to see include Henne and Wynn Hamlyn. Trend-wise, I’m curious to see if the huge push across social media of this ‘quiet luxury’ and ‘old money’ style has had an impact on the designers’ collections.”

    The finale of Yousef Akbar’s 2021 show at Fashion Week Australia.Credit:Getty

    The designer: Yousef Akbar

    The Sydney-based designer is known for his dramatic evening wear and red carpet looks. This will be his third solo show.

    Designer Yousef Akbar.

    “A platform like fashion week gives us credibility and puts the brand at a certain standard, which indirectly generates sales. I have respect for all the designers out there because I know how brutal it is in this industry; it takes a special kind of person and team to keep going. As a small brand, we do everything: the marketing, the sewing, the designing, cutting, logistics. But I love it. And when I say ‘we’, I mean my partner and myself; we have been doing 21-hour days for the past three weeks. I focus heavily on my own signature and style, so the collection will be familiar in a way, I just hope it is also a step forward in the growth and evolution of the brand.”

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