6 Australian Designers to Watch

by Amy Louise Bailey

Romance Was Born

Since 1996, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia has been the local industry’s primary platform, paving the way for creative denizens to make a national style statement and gain global recognition. Some of the country’s most successful fashion exports, such as Sass & Bide, Zimmerman, Josh Goot and Dion Lee all got their break at the Sydney event. In celebration of Australian Fashion Week’s momentous 20-year anniversary this year, here are the highlights from 6 up-and-coming designers.


Designer Kim Ellery kicked off Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia Fall 2015 with a runway show that included a performance by the Australian Ballet—and a surprise appearance by supermodel Gemma Ward. Despite all this noise, Ellery’s collection, which was inspired by Egon Schiele’s expressionistic paintings, was still the highlight of the morning. The designer balanced maximalist proportions and structural tailoring with elongated dresses, wrap column skirts, shell top dresses and peplum jacket—all in a wearable, monochromatic color palette.


Alice McCall is best known for her playful, feminine style—and this year, presented her collection of lacy, flirtatious mini dresses and ruffled playsuits in the context of an appropriately candy-colored garden. She added an artisanal element to the Fall 2015 pieces through her choice of textiles: contoured knits, metallic brocade jacquards, bespoke lace and refined crochet.


As the daughter of renowned designer Carla Zampatti, fashion has always been a family affair for Bianca Spender. And so, she brought an elegant touch that only a true fashion heiress could to her Fall 2015 collection with minimalist dresses, and feminine separates in luxe fabrics and colors.


For Fall 2015, Bec & Bridge presented a free-spirited collection with glittering maxi dresses, Moroccan-inspired embellishments, fishnet tops, and kimonos in exotic prints—all worn with lace-up gladiator sandals in place of heels. The brand’s designers Becky Cooper and Bridget Yorston also debuted their swimwear collection, which features opalescent snake prints, sleek maillots and twisted silhouettes in rich jewel tones.


Christopher Esber brought his relaxed take on tailoring to his fall 2015 collection, which was inspired by the South Pacific Islands and the architecture of Ettore Sottsass. The mostly black-and-white collection highlighted the designer’s commitment to quality, cut, and technical excellence.


A psychedelic tribe of models stormed the Art Gallery of NSW for the Romance Was Born show. The brand, which is known for eccentricity, presented a collection of hand-painted, embroidered, and patchwork pieces, that was deeply embedded in Australian heritage. As a bonus, all production elements were aligned to create an overtly Australian atmosphere. Fashion Week guests enjoy a spectacle, and this was certainly Sydney’s Zoolander II moment.