I opened my new Vogue this morning the Australian edition. I just received it in the mail as a I am sure many other subscribers to the magazine did. I must confess this year the Australian Fashion Week in Sydney (April 30th- to My 4th) came and went for me.
I was somehow either involved with other overseas projects or maybe caught up with other issues or just plain not interested enough. Maybe because it fell during the time of my birthday April 30th, not a happy occurrence for me: I hate birthdays… or because of its upside down season’s calendar in comparison to the rest of the World fashion calendar…I can’t really put my finger on it…Mind you after having spent a few years working and living as a designer in Australia you would think that it would still loom large in my mind but it didn’t. There is somehow an expression of general dissinterest that has somehow overtaken me when it comes to the local fashion scene. Maybe I have grown disenchanted with the Australian climate when it comes to fashion at large or the lack of support from a public that seems to gravitate towards overseas product on each side of the value scale whether is the cheap and fast kind of fashion or the really expensive brands like Louis Vuitton and Prada.
As I was sipping my coffee I read Kristie Clements, Editor in Chief of Vogue Australia letter to her readers…I am writing this letter at the tail end of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia- Long days and nights of back to back shows installations and launches. The event kicked off brilliantly with a crazy, Marvel comics-inspired show by Romance Was Born, which ticked all the boxes for me:…..she goes on to tell us why…get a copy of the magazine if you must find out.
she does also mention other lables among them Zimmermann, Carl Kapp and Christopher Esber. She then ends the first paragraph of her letter by writing: Unfortunatly, many of the other shows (there were over 110 shows and exhibitions in Sydney for that week) fell short, with some disappointing plagiarism (Mary Katrantzou was a popular inspiration)….We’re not convinced on the plethora of peplums, either.
Well that pretty much summed it up for Australia’s fashion scene folks according to Vogue Australia… (she does make mention of some old Guard figures that have had a marginal resurgence of lately…hardly enough to pay rent…such as Jenny Kee and her installation The Art of the Scarf and one of the few local advertisers that Vogue Australia has: the leather good maker Oroton: now also doing ready to wear.
This was Australian Vogue endorsement for their Homegrown industry…I shudder to think about the hundreds of other designers that spend months putting together shows during other fashion weeks been held in other cities throughout Australia such as Melbourne or Brisbane or Perth…Not to mention the thousand of youngsters enrolling every year at fashion schools and institutes around Australia in the hope of one day becoming designers in their own right and work at a craft for which they have passion and will to spare.
Two of Australia’s biggest designers, Dion Lee and Josh Goot, having read the writing on the wall as most Australian designers do at a certain point in their careers, pulled out of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia citing tight schedules and the lure of overseas markets.
Last month Qantas awarded to Martin Grant the Australian designer originally from Melbourne, living and working in Paris the contract to design their new uniforms… The message is clear if you are serious about being a fashion designer in Australia move somewhere else! I have often said that Media especially in an industry such as fashion is the fuel to the engine. Vogue has always represented and especially within a restricted market such as Australia is for fashion, a beacon and a support instrument for the local talent. Clements and her publication should look no further that British Vogue to see what it means to support your local industry…UK Vogue has been a steadfast supporter and grower of British talent throughout the years culminating in a British invasion of Fashion during the 90′s that hadn’t been seen since the early 60′s and that is still going strong today.
It is not a reassuring climate in Australian fashion for sure, even as designers like Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett of Romance was Born are still struggling to make a living from their much lauded label… Australia has indeed a spirit of the new and unexplored, a certain pulse and dynamic sense of design that is admired beyond its shores. but as the saying goes never a prophet in you own land always abroad…I do think that the future in fashion in Australia is a long and winding road if in fact we are still to measure it through the eyes of a fashion publication such as Vogue. After all Vogue it’s an expensive publication to put out and unless you have money to spend in advertising, and even then, don’t expect your name to be mentioned in their magazine any time soon.
Then again it’s true not everyone is born to become the next Armani or the next Karl Lagerfeld…but one thing is for sure if we want Australian fashion to be noticed around the World, it is time we change the way we do business.
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