Runway 6: showcasing Melbourne, Australia’s fashion capital
By Tanisha Angel
This piece was written as part of the Fashion Writing Program 2019
There was a sense of conviviality in the air as stylish Melbournians and out-of-towners found their seats in the heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building for the penultimate runway; Runway 6, Presented by Fashion Journal, Supported by Nude by Nature at Priceline Pharmacy. A celebration of Melbourne’s homegrown talent, Runway 6 was all about showcasing the labels which are making this city an apt sartorial competitor for the likes of Paris, Milan, London, and New York.
The ghost of denim past, designer Bettina Liano returned to the runway for the first time since the collapse of her eponymous fashion line, with a reincarnation in the form of label BYBL. Many moons ago as a soon to be high-schooler, I made my first designer purchase – the product of several weeks’ worth of pocket money and some savvy department store discount rack scouring. The result? A T by Bettina Liano pale blue mini skirt with white micro polka dots; a piece I risked a dress code violation to wear on my very first casual-clothes day. With fond memories of chiffon in mind, I was interested to see what the former jean queen came up with.
The super skinny jeans were back with a bang. BYBL kicked off proceedings with a low-rise white skinny cropped ankle number, a throwback to the naughties in a world of waist-cinching super high-rise denim. Blending contemporary fashion with the pop-culture nostalgia of the 2000s, BYBL served up modern silhouettes with a twist. High-rise straight leg and skinny ankle cropped jeans were in no short supply, styled with scarf tops and snake print low-heeled Chelsea boots for a rodeo chic vibe. Particularly arresting was a pair of acid washed black jeans.
KUWAII was a pattern lover’s dream, sending their models out in stripes and florals, paired with bold primary yellows and reds or sophisticated burgundy and pale pink hues. Clean lines and comfortable silhouettes at KUWAII made for a collection which felt inspired by Phoebe Philo’s era at Céline (pre accent removal), albeit with more colour and print variation.
HEW made a case for the delicate florals of the 1940s, pairing the prints with muted shades of mustard, cream, and olive green for a refined yet modern take on day wear. Juxtaposed between the ethereal looks were slightly eerie graphic printed technologically inspired prints in a darker colour palette, contrasting with the flora and fauna imagery surrounding them.
Lois Hazel followed with a take on trans-seasonal pieces in black and earthy shades of cream, rust orange, stone, and plaid. Relaxed silhouettes like flowy androgynous style pants, wrap tops, shirt dresses, and a contemporary take on a peplum top made their way down the runway, making for a collection of timeless staples.
búl upped the ante with a sharp take on women’s streetstyle and workwear, featuring an impeccably tailored rust orange and mustard checked trench and skirt set paired with a double-breasted button up shirt with an orange turtleneck peeking out for a utilitarian yet sexy feel. The current boiler suit trend was catered to, with búl serving up a grey-blue corduroy iteration. However, the feeling of búl’s collection was best encapsulated by a forest green trench dress, which seamlessly blurred the lines between functional and feminine.
The denouement of Runway 6 was signalled by the arrival of A.BCH, who sent its models down the runway in undyed linen and GOTS-certified cotton. The collection embodied sustainable fashion, with A.BCH’s checked linen shorts, oversized sweaters, double-breasted button-down shirts, and scoop neck slip-style dress designed to transcend ever changing trends.
Closing out the pack was NIQUE with a monochromatic collection of black on black, experimenting with texture to provide variation. A sparkly black tinsel-esque midi skirt and top set was paired with a black puffer jacket, whilst a thigh skimming patent leather jacket was allowed to shine with a pared back accompaniment of dark jeans and a t-shirt. Interspersions of bright white – a crisp shirt worn half-buttoned over a slip dress here, a t-shirt peeking out from behind a dark wash denim jacket there – prevented NIQUE’s collection from becoming stygian, whilst maintaining sartorial unity.
The seven-designer strong line-up of homegrown talent delivered an effortlessly authentic runway, whether it be through proposing sustainable alternatives, putting forward a fresh take on womenswear, or seeing an old favourite reborn. As VAMFF began to draw to a close for the year, Runway 6 was enough to imbue even the most jaded fashion observer with a newfound zest for the industry.