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FASHFEST 2015: Opening Night

Hayley O'Neill

It promised to be bigger and better than last year, and it delivered.

Fashfest 2015 was a true spectacle – a huge 45 metre long catwalk, 96 models, 52 make-up artists, 72 hair stylists, three massive video screens, three performers, live music centre stage, and some pretty amazing fashion just to top it off.



The opening night’s theme was The Activist, summarising the active, daring nature of the designs presented. The mood was set with the first of four titular short films produced by Georgina Jenkins and Robb Shaw-Velzen and directed by Nicky Tyndale-Biscoe. The film was set to a soundtrack of Tune For You by Jack Biilmann, who also played live at the beginning and end of the parade. Music from Suavess and Hudak added variety and energy, making this more than just a fashion show.

Guests at opening night saw designs from That Bird Label, The Prodigal Daughter, Perpetually Five + Clare, Little Jane Lane, The Professor’s Daughter and Luke Chiswell alongside swimwear designers Ziyah, Solar Babe and international lingerie designer Simone Perele.



Fashfest 2015 started the show off with models diving onto the catwalk in Ziyah’s luxury swimwear, lifestyle and resort pieces. Fashion designer Erin Spain, perfected garments suitable for the swimmer and non-swimmer, with lavish garments suitable for swimming and lounging around on deck chairs.

Summer memories floated by as Erin’s designs were shown on the runway, exploring a monochromatic colour palette with a splash of aqua tone. Erin worked with innovative silhouettes and block colours to create modern pieces and we even saw a touch of geometric print.

Erin loves the aesthetic of a higher waisted bottom to elongate the legs and show off the derrière, which looked fabulous on the runway. Glamour in the pool and luxury at the resort set the basis for Ziyah’s newest collection of beach couture chic.









Little Jane Lane

It was a tea party on the catwalk as Rachel Eager of Little Jane Lane showed a collection that was sweet, feminine and elegant. The models sweetly walked down the runway, with smiles on face and bows in hair, politely showcasing their delicate outfits to the audience.

Rachel’s collection showed sheers, laces and sequins that created an overwhelmingly feminine aesthetic. Youthful models wore high waisted skirts, cropped tops and dresses as they graced the catwalk in search of a cup of tea and delicious scone.

Rachel played up her feminine aesthetic with beautiful gelato pastels and even had the models wearing frilly pink socks in high-heeled shoes. With curls in their hairs and butterflies everywhere, these darling models sweetly showed us just how wonderful the world of Little Jane Lane truly is.



Luke Chiswell

It was Luke Chiswell’s iconic image ‘Straight Face’ brought to life in floral beards that set the tone for his debut fashion collection at Fashfest. We saw Luke’s version of a modern rebel expressing themselves in minimal garments featuring exposed edges and linen fabric detailing. These effortless outfits where styled with beautiful hand printed patterns that Luke created not only on the garments but also on the models’ skin.

Luke’s models felt like they belonged in an alleyway in Canberra, expressing themselves by creating an artistic mural on the wall. Luke’s collection was contemporary and versatile for both women’s and menswear.








Solar Bare

Active lifestyle label Solar Bare showed us that sun safety doesn’t need to be boring by updating the classic swimwear rashie. Solar Bare’s ‘fashvest’ explored vibrant colours that encompass marine patterns melding with flattering and stylish silhouettes.

We saw Solar Bare adapting to the female body by creating womanly garments that are pleasing to the eye and fit like a glove. Practical yet fashionable Solar Bare showcased swimwear in a wide variety of colours and prints to suit every woman’s needs and desires. Modern beach culture was the concept behind Solar Bare’s latest collection at Fashfest 2015.






That Bird Label

Birdsnest’s Fashion Designers Peige Eber, Hannah Knight and Emilie White from That Bird Label showcased their spring/summer 2015 collection at Fashfest tonight. With wrap, maxi and sun dresses on the catwalk, the retro-modern aesthetic took shape.

Beautiful prints in fun colours took over the catwalk with happy models that looked fabulous. The models wore beautiful scarves in their hairs and white sunglasses that played up to the retro vibe. That Bird Label showcased a really fun collection that had has all dying for summer weather. The collection was very versatile with garments suitable for work and play.






The Prodigal Daughter

It was unique, colourful and energetic. The Prodigal Daughter, owned and operated by Phoebe Mwanza, told the story of her two worlds and cultures; tying Africa’s bold and colourful prints with Australia’s landscape and lifestyle. Phoebe showcased designs for both menswear and womenswear exploring her versatilte prints and modern silhouettes can suit anyone.

With garments suitable for weekend, work and evening Phoebe had a lot of fun with pairing bold tribal prints with bold colours to create statement looks on the catwalk. Bright colours, clashing print and textures, it all came together in a collection that wowed the crowd.









Simone Perele

Pieces from the latest collection of Simone Pérelè French lingerie were showcased tonight, brought to Fashfest by Stephanie’s Boutique Lingerie. It was an intimate moment involving 50 shades of lingerie with delicate lace and silks flooding the catwalk in every colour and shape imaginable.

With every style and shade for every woman’s fantasy and desire, it set a romantic tone at Fashfest for the evening.





The Professor’s Daughter 

The Professor’s Daughter showcased an amazing collection tonight featuring 20 models, wearing head to toe Fashion Designer Mariska Thynne designs. The collection shown, ‘City memories from a Peranakan window,’ explored tailored dresses, cropped coats, and silk head scarfs in unique prints and colours. C

Created for the female form, Mariska worked with printed textiles, leather panels and block colours to produce unique shapes that flatter everyone’s body shape. The Professor’s Daughter showed versatile garments perfect for the office and weekend in a fun and vibrant runway performance.








Perpetually Five + Clare

What a finish! Perpetually Five returned to FashFest, but this time in a collaboration with local label Clare. Drawing from the roots of these two Canberra labels, designers Mitch Thompson and Clare Read brought a playful, sophisticated yet conceptual showcase of fashion that expresses their individual personalities. Miles away from the colourful prints of previous years, this collection was monochromatic but took itself no more seriously.

It felt like we stepped into a dark nightmare as we saw classic tailored garments paired with animal masks as models swivelled side to side down the catwalk like a playing card army. The collection’s aesthetic and mood felt like we walked into a Danny Darko movie but the garments held their own, by being easily worn tailored garments perfect for the office or weekend.






The show finished off with an intimate moment when Jack Biilmann performed his last song, which was the perfect finale to the evening. After the show guests headed over to Lucky’s at QT Canberra for the official after party of Fashfest, to celebrate the evening with a glass of their finest Möet.

Tickets are still on sale for tonight’s show and you seriously do not want to miss out on all the action. You can purchase tickets at

Photography: Rebecca Doyle Photography


Hayley O'Neill

Hayley O’Neill is a Canberra based fashion stylist and fashion editor for HerCanberra. Hayley works as a freelance stylist at Westfield Belconnen and Woden and began her career styling for The Work Diaries blog. Hayley has lots of experience dressing real people with every size, age, budget and body shape. More about the Author

  • It was such a fantastic night, what amazingly talented designers. I wish I had tickets for every night now!

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