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lip went to fashfest: here’s what happened


Hijab House hits the runway. Image: Jagadish Seela via Fashfest

Hijab House hits the runway. Image: Jagadish Seela via Fashfest

Dear Canberra, where have you been hiding your stylish self all this time? Eye opening is the best way to describe my experience of Fashfest 2014’s closing night. The venue, lovingly called Fashfest HQ, nestles onto the Canberra International Airport. Its industrial design, modern look and kaleidoscopic displays of light offered the perfect backdrop for a celebration of local creativity, imagination and fashion.

The ambience was that of a sold-out red carpet event, with a palpable energy of excitement. The show kicked off with Yasmin Masri’s line of digitally printed swimwear, in collaboration with JETS Digital and Shelley Campton. The designers added a strong, modern twist to a black and white palette by infusing graphic, urban and tribal prints.

SZN’s Susan Dlouhy then sent her models walking in pairs with two separate items made from the same pattern, but different fabrics (denim for day wear; sheer black for evening wear). It was an interesting rendition of the concept of ‘prodigal twins’ who are ‘same, but different’. By using scrap and re-purposed materials in its designs, SZN weaved each item like a collage of memories and stories. I personally would like to see the label reach new consumers by creating more wearable silhouettes. But by innovating new ways to design sustainable fashion, SZN certainly shows it’s a name we should watch out for- check out Lip’s chat with Susan about her design practice!

Karen Lee’s collection was intricately textured, speaking volumes about the designer’s love for craftsmanship. Cosy, draping folds, sophisticated silhouettes and an exciting mélange of different textures like wool and transparent sheer fabric, were all part of the label’s black and grey pieces.

My favourite label was All eyes on Us. Designer Ashani Madola moved from Dubai to Canberra, so her opulent clothes are made from luxurious fabrics, daring colour combinations and embellishments. Counterbalancing this bold aesthetic is Madola’s fine attention to cut. The interplay creates sophisticated silhouettes for a glamorous finish.

My heart went pitter-patter when I realized that 4 Minutes 33’s ‘Viva la Vida’ collection is inspired by one of my favourite artists: Frida Kahlo, a spirited painter best known for her self-portraits. The models gathered to form a ‘painting’ by posing together on chairs. Hats off to this label for pushing the artistic boundaries of fashion design!

I was proud to see Hijab House’s first appearance in a mainstream fashion show. There is a diverse array of cultural and feminist arguments for, and against, donning the hijab. As someone who was raised as a Muslim, I saw a spirit of freedom and fun in the label’s animal-print scarves and Saharan-inspired shirt dresses. I think Hijab House’s mission is powerful – it can potentially inspire hijab-wearing fashionistas across the world.

The show finished with Corr Blimey’s ‘Berlin’ collection. The metal headpieces by Silver Atom are futuristic, bearing reference to urban decay and art. It’s not necessarily my style, but I appreciate their creative innovation. Needless to say, I was blown away when the face of Fashfest, Belinda Riding, walked out wearing the label’s showstopper: a slinky, copper gown.

Kudos to Canberra’s hairstylists for creating astonishing hairstyles on the runway and also to musician Michael Liu, who wonderfully complemented the Monfory Horrors through his classical violin tunes.

The closing night was designed around ‘the visionary’ theme, celebrating designers who imagine and bring new things to life. Fashfeset itself envisions the exciting future of fashion in Canberra. Co-founders Clint and Andrea Hutchinson have created something subliminal that goes to the heart of Canberra’s artistic identity. We have incredibly talented artists in Canberra. What a privilege it was to see some of their work. I cannot wait to see what the future brings.


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