Monday, April 24, 2006

Tight Knickers and tanties: it's Fashion Week again

Well here we go again. Mercedes Australian Fashion Week starts officially on Wednesday but in case you've been living on another planet for the past week, the fashion buzz around Sydney is already in full swing.

There have been off-schedule shows almost every day, the most high profile of which being last Tuesday's Azzollini show. Really cute idea for a swimwear show: make a catwalk out of a cutting table in a Lycra warehouse. Scathingly brilliant publicity idea: get your mate Michelle Leslie back up on the catwalk for the first time after three months in a Bali prison cell.

Anyone who might still be wondering why the event is running Wednesday through Sunday this year, instead of its regular Monday-Friday timetable (well, as of last year it has been Monday-Friday; it was stretched to five days for the first time in 2005), there are two answers. The official version is that the industry has been begging for the event to move earlier, to be better in synch with the selling period and that once the event was moved forward by one week, it clashed with Anzac Day. The conspiracy theory, which seems to have gained some currency in Sydney, is that organisers forgot to book the venue.

The move has caused no end of dramas, with some designers nervous about missing out on week day media, which is fair enough I suppose because let's face it, that's why they do it - for the coverage. But apparently even numerous attendees have expressed a reluctance to attend on the weekend. The latter should try covering the international Fashion Weeks, several of which have 10-day schedules.

But the dramas have provided a fascinating insight into the client base of Alex Perry for one. Apparently a lot of Perry's customers are home in the mornings to watch Kerrie-Anne Kennerly. When Perry threw a tantie after being refused the opening spot and then refused the closing spot, he told me the fact that KAK doesn't have a show on the weekend really influenced the latter decision because it meant he wouldn't have been able to do a live cross to her.

Perry says he couldn't have done a live cross on the Friday, ie before the weekend time slot that the organisers were offering, because KAK's Thursday and Friday shows arenĂ¢€™t live. Hello? Pre-record?

Now Perry is back on the schedule - in a space vacated by Alex Zabotto-Bentley at the last-minute - but Perry still won't be able to do a live cross to KAK because his show is on the Thursday night. It's the first time apparently that KAK has ever been able to actually attend an Alex Perry show in the flesh, Perry says, because she has spent the past ten years talking to him backstage down the barrel of a camera. Noted Perry: "Kerrie-Anne is over the moon."

So beyond Alex Perry's big fat Greek drama, what's on the schedule?

You can go to the official website to see the detailed breakdown but I'm tipping that a few highlights will be some of the debut solo shows.

They include hot new swimwear label Anna & Boy on Saturday night, from ex-Voguettes Anna Hewett and Lill Boyd. That's Vogue the magazine, as opposed to forum users (you know who you are).

Ex pro surfer Mic Eaton first appeared in a group New Generation show at MAFW's autumn/winter event down in Melbourne last October, but he's making a solo debut with his Material Boy show on Sunday.

Lingerie queen Fleur Wood is also popping up solo. As are Tight Knickers.

There are lots of new names in the group shows as well: great to see Kate Hurst on the schedule for the first time, as well as Cybele from New Zealand and all the 2005 Startup winners such as Out With Demons, Shilo and Keucke.

Established names include Akira - who beat Perry to the opener, but apparently doesn't have a live cross booked with KAK - and less established names include the hot new posse which has emerged over the past couple of years, from Alice McCall to Camilla and Marc to Lover, Gail Sorronda, Marnie Skillings, Cohen et Sabine, Tina Kalivas and Josh Goot.

Some keep rattling on about Collette Dinnigan, sass & bide and co not being on the schedule. But they are so preoccupied with running international businesses that they can't afford the time and really, who cares? Dinnigan was already showing in Paris by the time MAFW started, so she never needed the event. But where did we discover sass & bide for the first time? That's right, MAFW. The strength of this event is its ability to springboard new talent and it continues to deliver on that front.

There is also a heap of off-runway action, from showrooms to exhibitions to The Source trade fair, to the VIP bars, to the inevitable off-schedule, off-site shows which pop up each year during the week to the parties. Here's a list of some of the latter just FYI, although as a general rule obviously you will need an invite to get in:-

• MAFW Opening Party: Monday 24th April, 7pm. Trades Hall, 4-10 Goulburn Street.
• New Zealand Black 06: (cocktail party for the four on-schedule Kiwis - World, Zambesi, Cybele and Keucke), Tuesday 25th April, 6.30pm, State Theatre, 49 Market Street.
• Wayne Cooper: Wednesday 26th April, 9.00pm. Ruby Rabbit, 251 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst.
• Lover afterparty/Lover Loves Levi's launch party: Friday 28th April, 9.30pm. 34B Darlinghurst.
• Tight Knickers: Friday 28th April, 8pm. Lipstick @ Melt, 12 Kellett Street, Kings Cross.
• Leona Edmiston: Saturday 29th April, 8pm. Imperial Peking, 15 Circular Quay West, The Rocks.

Some may throw a few more tanties that I've divulged this but realistically, if this was New York, Paris or Milan, this info would already be out there.

Here's a golden opportunity for some enterprising soul: corrall all the Fashion Week information into some semblance of a guide or Fashion Week Calendar.

People stand outside the overseas shows handing them out to you as you walk in. And fashion addicts of course stand outside overseas show venues and parties desperately trying to get in. What we need in this town are a few more fashion enthusiasts and a few less luvvies who can't be bothered getting out of bed for Fashion Week if it's not during their clockon-clockoff hours. Guys, it's your job. It can't all be free frocks and handbags.

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