You know New York, London, Milan, and Paris. You know these fashion weeks clog your Instagram feeds twice a year with nonstop outfit images from every influencer known to man and the same blurry picture of Kendall Jenner or Bella Hadid, shot from every possible angle as they walk down the runway. But come May, far, far away is another fashion week that deserves a place on your feed: Australia Fashion Week.
This week, the 24th annual fashion week took place, as it does each year, in Sydney, where designers showed their Resort 2020 collections. The week had plenty of stunning venues, fronts rows filled with local celebrities, and even surprise runway appearances, including the runway debut of Aussie actress Phoebe Tonkin, who walked for Matteau’s ready-to-wear debut. Aside from Jonathan Simkhai, a mainstay of New York Fashion Week who traveled down under to show his latest, the week was dominated by local designers on the verge of becoming mainstays in the fashion vernacular. Here, a breakdown of the five best fashion shows of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.
Aje scored Australia Fashion Week’s highly coveted opening slot on Sunday, a position formerly held by brands like Dion Lee and Camilla and Marc. Designers Edwina Forest and Adrian Norris used the opportunity to shine a light on the natural beauty of the country, starting the show with a speech from Yvonne Weldon, a board member of Sydney’s Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council. The collection itself was titled “Bloomscape,” and sought inspiration from Australia’s landscapes, incorporating everything from printed highway signs and koalas to abstract floral prints on loose, flowing silhouettes.
There was plenty of sophisticated black and white in Christopher Esber’s latest, but there were playful colors as well, deep oranges and reds. Knitwear has always been a strong suit for the designer since launching his eponymous collection in 2010, seen this go-around in the form of easy day dresses and luxe evening-wear with diamante accents. And for the more daring? Try a bikini top with a matching maxi skirt.
A favorite of Justin Bieber, and the go-to maker of Hawaiian shirts for the fashion set, Double Rainbouu very well be the coolest brand showing at MBFWA. Each season, designers Mikey Nolan and Toby Jones find a new and exciting way to exhibit their latest (last season was in the back of a grungy bar, which immediately after transformed into a sweaty rager). This year was no different, albeit a bit more serene, occurring as a nature walk of sorts in the city’s Chinese Garden of Friendship, which provided as a beautiful wardrobe to a whole new season of fun, tropical prints.
The Lee Matthews Resort 2020 collection also marked the brand’s 20th anniversary. To celebrate, Matthews showed a retrospective of sorts, dipping into her archive of fabrications and prints and incorporating them in new shapes. Maxi dresses, sheer ruffles, and volume were big themes here, all done with a feminine touch perfect for easy summer dressing for their already loyal shoppers on sites like Net-a-Porter, Matches Fashion, My Theresa, and Moda Operandi.
After founding the brand on the premise of designing the perfect bathing suit—and, by many regards, succeeding—Matteau co-founders Ilona Hamer and Peta Heinsen turned their attention to ready-to-wear for the first time. To present the collection, the brand tapped longtime muse Phoebe Tonkin and model Robin Lawley to walk the runway, debuting beach-ready silhouettes that can easily transform into nighttime. Existing fans of the swimwear will be the thrilled, and more likely than a not, a whole new legion of devotees will soon follow suit—no pun intended.