Australian Fashion Week has the honor of being one of the more remote international fashion weeks. That reality has its undeniable pros and cons. In the pro column is Australian fashion’s covetable, understated sense of ease, showcased during the Resort 2018 shows at Dion Lee, Christopher Esber, Akira, Albus Lumen, and Bianca Spender. That unfussy coolness is the country’s best export and also its best marketing technique—as a grouchy New Yorker, walking through the streets of tan, tall, healthy people in cool slouchy clothes was enough to make a me want to ditch boots, and maybe shoes all together, for a beach-going lifestyle, flip-flops, and hip-slung trousers. That might be why my suitcase returning was so much heavier. . . I blame it on those expertly cut Bassike trousers.
But I digress. This sunny escapism also comes with a downside. Due to its distance form other fashion capitals, Australian fashion week can feel untouched by international style trends. Yes, there are oversize blazers à la Balenciaga, button-trim trousers like those at Y/Project, and ruffles and frills that echo Erdem and Proenza Schouler, but rather than build upon seasonal trends, many designers simply cut and paste from other collections at a whim. That will lead to questions regarding where Aussie fashion sits on a global scale. While designers in cities as disparate as New York, Tbilisi, Seoul, Paris, and London have been engaging in activist—or at least politically engaged—acts the sight of a slogan or a call to action in Oz was rare. Kit Willow, the designer behind sustainable line Kitx, made the biggest splash with her call to arms for environmentalism on the runway, writing Truth and Rights of Nature across sheer tops.
Here, Vogue Runway tallies up five more things to know about Australian Fashion Week’s Resort 2018 season.
Aussie Pride Takes a Low-Key Form
Australia might be the world’s top exporter of fashion designers. Dion Lee and Di$count Universe have moved to New York, Kym Ellery to Paris, and a cast of menswear designers will show at Pitti Uomo this June. Even with their international ambitions, designers find subtle ways to nod to their heritage on the runway, from Strateas Carlucci’s devo and suss tops to Dion Lee’s thong sandals, R.M.Williams-inspired boots, and Akubra hats. You have to be in the know about Aussie slang and style to get the references, but when you do, it’s great.
Primary Colors Rule the Runways
Don’t adjust your screen. Bright coral red, optic white, and cobalt were the colors of the season at Australian Fashion Week. Dion Lee kicked off the trend at his show outside the Sydney Opera House, followed by Double Rainbouu’s print-filled collection and the bright whites and blues at Ginger & Smart and Karla Spetic. Though these might be the color of Australia’s flag, red, white, and blue are not the country’s national hues—that would be green and gold, representing the colors of the country’s national flower, the golden wattle.
Gucci Is the Brand to Beat on the Streets
Alessandro Michele’s magpie vision for Gucci has real appeal Down Under. On the streets and in the front rows his pearl-studded loafers, Dionysus bags, and “Blind for Love” knits were everywhere, second only the stocking boots his fellow Kering designer, Demna Gvasalia, created for Balenciaga.
The Shape of Sydney is Structured Suiting or Slip Dressing
Dion Lee and Christopher Esber both opened their shows with wide-leg takes on suiting, and the shape reappeared at Strateas Carlucci and Kitx. Those business casual numbers shared the runway with bias-cut slip dresses, seen at the aforementioned brands, as well as at Bianca Spender. If these seemed like disparate trends, you needed look no further than the streets outside the shows to see that locals prefer the structure of suiting or the beachy reach of a slinky dress to all else.
Don’t Forget New Zealand!
The island to Australia’s east is emerging as a fashion capital in its own right. Kiwi designer Maggie Hewitt hosted a lunch midweek that drew a high profile guest list of editors and buyers. Hewitt, at just 23 years old, has become a fast success on Net-a-Porter with her brand Maggie Marilyn—the online shop bought her graduate collection, a first for the retailer, and sold out of many of the items. Paris Georgia Basics, also from New Zealand, is another brand to watch. Designed by best friends Paris Mitchell and Georgia Cherrie, the brand has a sleek sensibility, offering silky tops and trousers on its own site.