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Ray Mardia

The second night of Fashfest 2015 was all about the ‘Inventors’, a line up that encompassed some of the most creative and ingenious designs in Canberra — the ‘maker who creates through touch’. Designers who presented included Rockstars and Royalty, Mimetic, Bronwen Stead, Hana, BM Designs, Recollection, Simone Perele, Belle Bird and The Label.

In musical terms, ‘The Inventor’ is is someone who takes existing elements and crafts them into something new. Tonight’s music lineup showcased Canberra’s hip hop visionary TaKunDa who delivered two original pieces representing invention and innovation in lyrics and style.

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His brave lyrics prompted the audience to reimagine rap as a form of social commentary and it was utterly impressive. Ced Nada was up next on the decks, presenting a rich history in DJ sounds, with Julian Fung adding a funk-fuelled element on sax.

But before the recap begins though, here’a a shout out to Canberra’s hairstylists who created some truly incredible looks on the runway last night.


The fashion created under the Recollection label is inspired by designer Philippa Soutberg’s personal experiences of travelling through Australia’s natural and rural landscape. She presented a collection of rich colours that recalled the stunning beauty of Australian native parrots, with their bright tones and unique markings.

There’s a clever playfulness in the way she combines solid colour with prints. The palette is mostly your primary colours alongside green too while the appliquè mimics the textures of Australian parrots. When this collection struts down the catwalk, you can’t help but think of nature as it imbues you with positive energy.

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BM Designs

Barb Mickelson of BMdesignsheadwear has always been a maker, student and teacher. Her Fashfest 2015 collection was inspired by the natural beauty of her home and studio in the bush. From Grevillea-like neckpieces and Kangaroo Paw fascinators to delicate wattle prints, Australian flora was captured in all its glory.

Elemental and natural in its appearance, you can tell the Barb is passionate about our planet and practising sustainable design be it through her wattle prints, fiery tie-dyed dress or overall use of an earthy palette. A favourite for the night was a dress with a delightful fusion of modern prints, Grecian-inspired paired with a beaded necklace. Barb truly invented an innovative look, bringing together disparate ideas and making it look new.

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Hana Apparel Design

Hana’s Neda Alemohammad’s aesthetic is influenced by the delicate and gentle side of the Middle East, which remains despite recent decades of war and brutality. Her beautifully structured garments celebrate the beauty and richness of Persian culture through rich colour, exotic prints and hand-painted, natural fabrics.

A collection rich in cultural experience — artworks, gilded mosaic prints and beautiful fabrics are what defined Hana’s aesthetics on this year’s Fashfest catwalk. Stealing the spotlight however was a champagne number — a batwing sleeved dress featuring incredible portraits — it was truly remarkable. With so much time and energy spent on reading and hearing about war and conflict in the Middle East, this collection focused attention on a different side of those war-torn countries — the beauty and poetry of Persian culture.

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Belle Bird

Belle Bird is a label for all women with curves. Designers Peige Eber, Hannah Knight and Emilie White have created a monochromatic collection of daywear and evening dresses for womanly bodies. From lace inserts to body slimming side panels and flattering draping, this second Birdsnest house label has certain curve appeal.

As this collection stepped out onto the catwalk there was only one reaction on everyone’s lips – ‘Hot damn!’. Working with the body shapes of real Aussie women, the models embraced what they owned and what they wore with confidence. What’s innovative about Belle Bird is that curves are celebrated in this collection, not hidden away. Through sophisticated colour-blocking, draping, body-hugging silhouettes and lace, you can see just how much beauty there is in being a woman and celebrating your body no matter what the shape.

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Bronwen Stead

We are completely biased when it comes to this designer, because Bronwen Stead is one of our own. This incredibly talented woman has taken her passion for dance and natural bodybuilding competition, and combined it with her creative skills and background in millinery to create Angel Wings.

From soaring Icarus-like wings in primary colours to a delicate peacock’s fan; from angelic white to dramatic black feathers; your challenge will be to find an occasion where wings are compulsory. This collection had an energy unlike any other. The models had a bounce in their step and big smiles on their faces — as if the wings gave them extra strength. This was one collection radiating with joy as the audience experienced a soaring flight of fancy.

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The Label

Graduate designer Emma O’Rourke, perfected the art of minimalism in her Fashfest collection for The Label. Strong silhouettes, a neutral palette of black, white and taupe and a clash of drape and form made each piece a strong statement. Emma mixed traditional fabrics, such as silk, with techno-materials, such as scuba knits, accentuating the textures and core elements of each design.

Thought provoking and engaging, there’s a self-awareness about The Label’s aesthetic; Emma know she is engaging in a process where she’s making creative designs. A drape here, a fold there — the juxtaposition of silk and scuba are all part of her vision. The Inventor theme comes alive in this collection because The Label’s piece are carefully considered and deliberate.

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Mimetic capsule collection of business wear for the female Gen Y traveller produced a professional and durable wardrobe with impeccable tailoring. From a corporate-sexy shorts and jacket combo to a flowing print dress and modern taken on the duffle coat, this is one travel collection you’ll want to fit in your 7kg suitcase.

This is one work wardrobe you’re definitely going to want.

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Rockstars and Royalty

Rockstars and Royalty’s collections are always showstoppers and Vicky Kidd-Gallichan’s 2015 ‘Cherries in the Snow’ was no exception. Inspired by the eponymous Revlon lipstick, the colour palette of the new collection started with snow white and faded into pastel pinks, and then rich reds and, finally, a deep, deep black cherry.

The much anticipated collection was a triumph in every way. The concept of Cherries in the Snow translated into a stunning colour palette transcending you into a decadent, fairy tale. Vintage laces and jewels, rose prints and fresh and artificial flowers (the product of her collaboration with Peony n Pearl’s Fionna Tammin) came together in another spectacular and covetable range of gowns.

Whimsical, romantic and bold, the standout favourite was the ombre gown.


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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 fashfest.com.au

Photography: Rebecca Doyle Photography


Ray Mardia works as a lawyer in Canberra and can recite most of the lyrics of Baby Got Back. An epicurean at heart, Ray loves the good life, people's stories, nature, art and beauty in all its forms. Ray is a lifestyle contributor at HerCanberra. More about the Author

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