AUSTRALIAN FASHION WEEK

Olympia Valance Models the Best of Australian Fashion Week

Written by Lauren McCarthy
Photographed by Byron Spencer

This week, the fashion world went down under for Australian Fashion Week in Sydney, where over 65 designers showed their Resort 2018 collections. Showing at venues ranging from the Sydney Opera House, where Dion Lee held the first show of the week, to a public pool overlooking Bondi Beach, the collections proved to be indicative of the country’s overall vibe: colorful, relaxed, and altogether cool. Major trends included bold prints such as polka-dots, exaggerated sleeves and silhouettes, and plenty of streetwear influence. Here, Australia’s very own Olympia Valance—star of the hit television series, Neighbours, and soon to be Hollywood darling—models five straight off-the-runway looks from five of the week’s most buzzed about designers.

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24-year-old actress Olympia Valance is the star of Australia’s popular soap opera, Neighbours.

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Romance Was Born

In the week’s closing night spot, Romance Was Born certainly provided a grand finale, staging a rave-like runway show that saw models dancing and twirling their way down the catwalk. And in co-founder Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales’ exuberant designs, it wasn’t hard to see why. The duo describe the label as “storytelling through clothing; drawing on the spirt of dressing.” This season saw the pair collaborating with Australian artist Del Kathryn Barton, adding, “In doing so we’ve brought to life the girls that we imagine living within her work.” Based on the over-the-top, Rainbow Brite-esque collection, that life is one non-stop rager, nudity (several models walked out in just body paint and a thong) encouraged. Party on.

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Albus Lumen

Albus Lumen is not the name of the brand’s designer, but rather, a moniker that speaks to the ethos of the clothing; a Latin phrase meaning “white light.” Indeed, founder and creative director Marina Afonina finds beauty in relaxed shapes and minimalistic design, describing her client as “effortlessly confident, self aware and have appreciation of simplicity in dressing.” For the new collection, Afonina looked to the ideas of luxury and versatility, focusing on tailored pieces in a clean, classic palette of white, cream and black with a hint of new colors like yellow and terracotta. “Inspiration was drawn from youth, nostalgia and freedom – designing the collection with a Sicilian vacation in mind, with button detailing hinting at shells from the coastline in different colors and textures – all tied together through the collaboration with jewelry designer Ryan Storer,” she explained.

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Hansen & Gretel

Though creative director Ainsley Hansen wants to create “accessible” pieces, that doesn’t mean that Hansen & Gretel is lacking in high fashion appeal. “Wearability and versatility are key in our overall design aesthetic, where we often reflect on masculine shapes, and tailor them for a feminine body,” explained Hansen. For her latest collection, the designer was drawn to “various feminine archetypes.” The result was a youthful, bohemian-tinged show featuring easy, wardrobe staples, such a trousers and shirt-dresses, done if joyful prints. “Hansen & Gretel appeals to the daughter, mother, or grandmother of today,” Hansen continued. “Style classics are tweaked and reworked every drop, ensuring we are always moving our customer forward.”

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Christopher Esber

Christopher Esber was one of the hottest tickets of the week, drawing a huge crowd despite the late show time of 8 p.m., and even later actual start time, thanks to staggered delays of other shows, and thus, models, throughout the day. The collection, however, quickly made up for any tardiness: a sophisticated and forward-thinking take on menswear and tailoring that included ribbed tank dresses overlaid with superfine, sheer flounces, merino wool mini-skirts, and grid-like lace details carried throughout. It was a standout homecoming show for the Australian designer, who recently presented his Fall 2017 collection during New York Fashion Week.

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Strateas Carlucci

With Resort 2018, Strateas Carlucci made the case for patent leather—lavender patent leather, no less. It came in the form of slouchy bottoms, a memorable look in an altogether memorable collection. “[This season] explores what lies beneath,” explained designers Peter Strateas and Mario-Luca Carlucci, citing inspiration from the Paris Metro and the work of the late Chinese artist Ren Hang. “Exploring the freedom, rebellion and playfulness reflected in Hang’s work, this season celebrates the grit and beauty of the real world.” You could certainly see the pieces—heavy separates, graphic t-shirts, and slouchy jumpsuits, among them—on the coolest girls in Paris. And that was the point. “The Strateas Calucci girl is strong and grounded,” said the designers. “Street smart but elevated, she chooses sculptural and tailored silhouettes to take her through her day. Matching a utilitarian approach with an understated elegance, she is cool and collected, a little bit rebellious and owns her strength everyday.”