Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tall Puppy Syndrome: What do we do with ambitious children?

Bindi Irwin has been a hot button topic in Australia since Steve Irwin’s death. No surprises then perhaps, that most of yesterday’s flack on this blog about Bindi’s new fashion range focused on her age. But any residual controversy surrounding Steve Irwin notwithstanding, the subject of professional or celebrity children is fascinating – if only because of the fact that our intolerance appears to be somewhat selective.


Under-16 model bans are gaining momentum in fashion, an interesting off-shoot of the ‘skinny model’ debate. London Fashion Week mooted imposing an under-16 ban on its spring/summer 2008 showcase, from September 15-20. The Melbourne Spring Fashion Festival recently dropped a 15-year-old as its advertising face.

Italy has also floated legislation banning under-16s from its runways. In France, an unofficial under-16 ban exists, however that may be circumvented via a children’s work license and lots of paperwork.

Fashion is a fast-paced business whose primary stock-in-trade is images of women. Many of these images advertise sexually provocative clothing. Sexually provocative poses in even standard fashion imagery are also increasingly common.

There is however plenty of other work which does not require under-16s to ‘sex it up’ for the camera. So, if a young girl wants to model, has the opportunity to do age-appropriate work and is chaperoned, should she be prevented from doing so?

An under-16 ban at London Fashion Week would have precluded both Twiggy and Kate Moss from working there. Both started at 15.

In Milan, it would have prevented 15-year-old Australian Gemma Ward from getting her first big break at the September 2003 shows.

Yes, fashion is a fickle business but it is what it is. Ward was in the right place, at the right time, with the right look. And at 19, she is now a multi-millionaire.

Two other Australians, Tallulah Morton (pictured above) and Samantha Harris, started modelling at 13.

Morton’s mother reports having initially been the subject of much tut-tutting about her daughter’s age – from those concerned Tallulah should have been in school (which she was) and that her mother may have pushed her into it. Amber Morton says she resisted sending Tallulah to an agency for a year – but was eventually worn down by approaches from agents and photographers, and eventually, also Tallulah herself.


But are those parents who drive their athletically-endowed children to the track, or pool, at 6am each day for training subject to the same criticism? What about the 160 girls aged 7-12 currently in four Australian Institutes of Sport, being groomed for Gymnastics Australia’s elite squads?

The Institute has an under-16 ban in every sport bar women’s gymnastics. This exception was made, according to the AIS, because the international careers of female gymnasts are generally over by the time they are 19 or 20.


And what about child entertainers like Bindi Irwin? Lindsay Lohan, Drew Barrymore, Macauley Culkin and Michael Jackson all entered the entertainment industry at a very young age – and all subsequently experienced problems.

Nicole Kidman, who started working professionally at 13 and Ron ‘Opie’ Howard, who was younger still, haven’t done too badly for themselves. It’s early days yet for Dakota Fanning.

So is it horses for courses or should all under-16s be banned from every arena for the following ‘sensible’ reasons:

1/ They’re in no position to make an informed choice at that age.
2/ It’s their parents pushing them – and the parents are only interested in the $.
3/ There’s no way minors can handle that type of pressure.

What do we do with ambitious children?

Original post and comments.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mogul the jungle girl: Bindi’s MAGIC fashion carpet ride

Crocs footwear and the Olsen twins eat your hearts out. Steve Irwin’s nine year-old daughter Bindi Irwin is about to stake her claim on the international fashion market, just one week shy of the one-year anniversary of the death of her wildlife warrior father.

US fashion trade paper Womens Wear Daily reports today that Bindi Wear International will have its global launch at MAGIC in Las Vegas from August 27 – the world’s largest fashion trade show which attracts over 5000 brands and 100,000 attendees. Launching in Australia immediately afterwards, Bindi Wear International is a 200-piece extension of a small children’s line that has been sold exclusively at Australia Zoo and its affiliated boutiques for the past seven years, designed under license by Yatala, Queensland-based company 3 Monsters.

According to WWD, 100 per cent of proceeds from the range will go directly to support the Australia Zoo’s conservation programs.

“My daddy was working to change the world, so everyone would love wildlife like he did” Bindi told WWD. “Now it is our turn to help”.

“It’s a full fashion collection” Bindi Wear International co-designer Palmina Martin told Fully Chic.

She added, “It’s got boys, babies, girls, accessories, bags, wallets, socks, a footwear line, hats.... tops, hoodies, jumpers, jackets, pants, skirts, jeans. There are four stories, each centred around a different topic, such as awareness of an animal. One T-shirt slogan says ‘Green is the new black’. There’s also ‘Save me, plant a tree’. There’s a Warrior story, with ‘Go wildlife!’ on the front and bird wings on the back. Or ‘Extinct stinks’”.

Martin was at pains to point out that the slogans are “cute”, not kitsch.

“It’s by no means in your face, and it’s not done to look like tourist T range” she said. “It’s a fashion line. There’s a really cute croc camo – a camo print made out of different crocodiles blended into each other. That’s in the Jungle Safari story”.

And Bindi was apparently hands-on in this design process. Martin told Fully Chic Bindi came up with many of the slogans herself. Her handwriting also features on the T-shirts and she had final approval on the collection.

“She changed a couple of little things – pockets on a dress, that sort of thing” said Martin. “She’s great, very entertaining”.

One thing the Bindi Wear International camp wouldn’t be drawn on however was the awkward proximity of the MAGIC mega launch to the anniversary of Irwin’s death.

“We’re not allowed to talk about it” said Martin.

Little chance of that happening in Vegas we imagine, once Team Irwin touches down and is besieged by the US media.

Original post and comments.

Dressing to the Left: Old Socialists don’t fade away - they spruik luxury goods

For anyone still acclimatising to the recent images of the former Secretary General of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Mikhail Gorbachev, reclining like a pimp in the back of a limo advertising handbags for French luxury goods giant Louis Vuitton, get ready for the September edition of US Men’s Vogue. Who’s the cover boy? Former British PM Tony Blair.

The cover story - “TONY BLAIR: THE MAN WHO MADE BRITANNIA COOL TAKES ON THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST JOB” - is promoted as an “Exit interview exclusive”.

Blair was interviewed by New York Times/International Herald Tribune correspondent Roger Cohen and photographed by Norman Jean Roy in South Africa in May, during his controversial “farewell” world tour.

However it’s not ongoing controversy over that purported “vanity” tour, which was causing tongues to wag in London yesterday - but rather, a mini debate over whether or not the British Labour Party’s longest-serving Prime Minister might have had ............. a little digital ‘work’ done in the cover shot. Stop the press.

Is it just my imagination or is some kind of pattern forming here? And if it doesn’t work out for Kevin Rudd in the election, might we be seeing him trotted out in the menswear section of the next David Jones store wars parade? Mark Latham flogging his own line for Autore Pearls? Who knows? In the interim, we can but reflect on a few memorable Blair-isms.

“I believe that, at its best, socialism corresponds most closely to an existence that is both rational and moral - It stands for cooperation, not confrontation; for fellowship, not fear. It stands for equality” Blair noted in his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 6 July 1983.

And on the occasion of the sharemarket collapse of October 1987: “The City whizz-kids, with salaries only fractionally less than their greed, now seem not only morally dubious, but incompetent”.

No idea if Blair spotted the previous edition’s health feature - “Manual labor can build a stronger, better body than the usual gym routine” - but on the September issue he does share cover billing with three other glossy Men’s Vogue exposes, that are headlined:



Original post and comments

Monday, August 13, 2007

Talking the talk: Sydney and Melbourne gasbag their way into top world fashion rankings

Many maintain that Australians have little interest in fashion. Just last year AC Nielsen purported that we think designer brands are a load of bunkum. But now, as Media Monitors tallies the media impact of last week’s store wars for its clients David Jones and Myer, comes news that Sydney and Melbourne have just both ranked in the top 15 of the inaugural Top Fashion Capitals list.

A San Diego-based not-for-profit, Global Language Monitor tracks and analyses words and phrases across global media. Founded in 2003 by word analyst Paul JJ Payack, it deploys 100s of “Language Police”, as well as a proprietary algorithm called the Predictive Quantities Indicator which trawls print and electronic media, as well as the blogosphere, taking into account long-term trends and short-term changes. Payack, aka the “WordMan”, frequently pops up in the mainstream media as expert buzzword talent.

For the past four years GLM has been monitoring fashion capitals. This is the first year it has published its findings and Sydney is ranked the world number 12 on the Top Fashion Capitals 2007 list behind New York, Rome, Paris, London, Milan, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Singapore and Berlin. Melbourne is ranked 15.

If you’re as perplexed as Fully Chic on, at the very least, the Las Vegas front, it’s worth remembering that Vegas is experiencing a mini fashion retail boom. It’s also a vibrant American trade show hub.

See below for the complete list. One wonders if the line “Gold Coast is golden for fashion” next to Melbourne is a mistake – or whether the PQI is in need of recalibration in favour of Brisbane.

But with the spring/summer showcase of Australian Fashion Week regularly experiencing significant year-on-year media growth according to Media Monitors – and Melbourne boasting not only AFW’s autumn/winter showcase, but the Melbourne Fashion Festival, the Spring Fashion Festival and the fashion-heavy Spring Racing Carnival – clearly all that coverage adds up.

According to GLM New York displaced Paris as the world fashion capital four years ago.

While many might dispute this, in pure media coverage terms, Fully Chic has its suspicions that this has a great deal to do with the 2001 acquisition of 7th on Sixth, New York’s centralized Fashion Week, by the world’s largest sports/lifestyle marketing company, IMG – and the subsequent media explosion that that event has experienced.

Also of note, IMG now operates major fashion events in eight of the 25 cities on the list. Yes, including AFW. Sydney and Melbourne first popped onto GLM’s radar three years ago and have steadily risen. According to Payack, Sydney enjoyed a 150 per cent spike in citations in the past seven months and, Melbourne a 250 per cent spike – although from a much lower base – so they may rise higher still.

Payack is adamant that GLM’s opinion cannot be bought – “It’s all to do with mathematics”, he told Fully Chic.

But can the same be said for the media outlets from which GLM gleans its data? Last month one Australian newspaper ran a large page three story about IMG’s new Berlin Fashion Week, without disclosing the trip was a junket.

“Could they rig it?” mused Payack, of aspiring fashion capitals, before conceding,"If let’s say Budapest wanted to be ranked, they’d have to spend at least $100 million to get there”.

1. New York—Far and away No.1 by every index
2. Rome—Beats out Paris, London and Milan
3. Paris—Heartbeat of the fashion world
4. London—Pulsing with creative energy
5. Milan—Perennial contender for No.1
6. Tokyo—Gaining global influence
7. Los Angeles—Will Posh Spice impact Ranking?
8. Hong Kong—No.1 in South Asia
9. Las Vegas—Emerging as vibrant fashion center
10. Singapore—Strong regional hub
11. Berlin—Big fashion push & its working
12. Sydney—Oz scores two in the Top 20
13. Barcelona—Regional center grows in stature
14. Shanghai—China breaks into the Big Time
15. Melbourne—Gold Coast is golden for fashion
16. Moscow—Lenin would not be amused
17. Bangkok—Realising its dream
18. Mumbai—Indian fashion influences globe
19. Santiago—Major strides for a proud nation
20. Rio de Janeiro—More than Carnivale and Ipanema
21. Sao Paolo—Money and fashion DO mix
22. Buenos Aires—Seat of Classic Beauty returns
23. Johannesburg—A first for Africa
24. Dubai Dubai?—Yes, Dubai,
25. Krakow—Neo-Bohemia thrives

- source: GLM

Original post and comments

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dirty Snakes and ponies: Myer's 16-step program for fashion success

Some of the interesting titbits that one gleans from venturing backstage at fashion shows are the model cue cards that designers so often install there. Yes, models have cue cards, just like newsreaders.

Instead of reading words off auto-cue, these are a little more akin to choreographic instructions - although without dance moves - to put the models into the designated designer mood.

It’s a walk, a look, a vibe, that the designer hopes to clinch for the show.

“Own it” is a common command. Ditto “Strong and sexy”.

I’ve also often seen “DO NOT smile” - the latter very much a reflection of the modern modelling mandate to walk po-faced, ditching the cheesy smiles of previous eras. They could do with more of these particular cue cards backstage at Armani.

But I didn’t have to go backstage at Myer to find out what was going on because the organisers had very kindly provided a pre-show preview.

I had asked for a garment runlist – what you usually see in the programs – however what wound up being sent was in fact a production runlist, complete with model cues for each designer segment.

There was the requisite “STRONG/SEXY” (camilla & marc, Cheetah), but also “FAST/WARM, VICTORIA’S SECRET CUTE SMILE” (Leona Edmiston, Cue), “HEAVY STRUT” (Wayne Cooper, TL Wood, Karen Walker) and “GORGEOUS SENSUAL SOPHISTICATED ROMANTIC” (the clearly terribly demanding Matthew Eager and Stretsis).

Then came the bombshell.

A model cue so exotic I do believe it may have had its world premier last night.

Forget Zoolander’s “Blue Steel”, Myer’s model cue for the Arabella Ramsay section read, I kid you not:


I was intrigued.

And needless to say spent the rest of the evening trying to find out what the hell it meant.

Our snapper Charlie was primed to capture the Dirty Snake the second it appeared.

We couldn’t find out much backstage however beforehand – the Dirty Snake seemed to be complete news to Jennifer Hawkins when we had a quick video chat before the show – and she’s Myer’s six figure spokesperson. Then again Hawko wasn’t due to be in the Ramsay section so perhaps it’s understandable that she wouldn’t have been any the wiser during rehearsals.

Hawkins did nevertheless manage to do a terrific, spontaneous Dirty Snake interpretation however – scrunching up her face in a minx-like scowl. Presumably Hawko has seen more than her fair share of dirty snakes on her Miss Universe travels.

In the actual show show however - unless some modelling union had stepped in to slap a stopstrut on the Ramsay section – there was no face-scrunching or minx-like moves, just Ramsay’s models weaving their way diagonally across the runway, from one side to the other, instead of walking straight down the barrel. Damn!


Dirty Snakes aside, the Myer show was no letdown, in fact it gets my vote for this season’s Store Wars victor.

David Jones had a constellation of high-profile runway names, a stylish and no doubt terribly expensive, French Riviera-inspired set and multimedia presentation and of course some terrific clothes from some of Australia’s best-known fashion brands, from Collette Dinnigan to sass & bide, Zimmermann, Akira, Scanlan & Theodore and Ginger & Smart.

What Myer had over DJs was the ‘wow’ factor. It was slick, it was simple, at the same time boasting state-of-the-art technology imported from London – and previously used in the Athens Olympics opening ceremony.

Far from overshadowing the production with bells and whistles however, it provided a dramatic backdrop to the clothes on show. Sixteen, metre-wide, illuminated white plinths were suspended over the runway like a canopy – only to be magically moved up and down via wires to form the “staircase” motif of Myer’s SS0708 campaign. Far more like a modern theatrical stage production than a fashion show.


While DJs has of course some great Australian fashion names, Myer is starting to collect its own very impressive designer stable.

Adding to its existing lineup that includes New Zealand’s Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester, our own Toni Maticevski, Leona Edmiston, Azzollini, Jets, the recently-defected-from DJs Jayson Brunsdon and hot new Thai brand Stretsis, Myer scored Australia’s top two new fashion scalps this season: Josh Goot and Yeojin Bae.

Goot opened the show with an impressive, abridged lineup from his collection shown three months ago in exactly the same venue (Redfern’s stark, industrial-look CarriageWorks – a decommissioned railway workshop).

These colour-blocked dresses and leggings looked sensational – the leggings shown off to their best advantage on the seemingly endless pins of another hot new Australian modelling star now working the international runways, Alexandra Agoston-O’Connor.

Bae’s sequence, by contrast, unfortunately did not maximise her best assets – even though that tuxedo jacket and microshorts looked sharp. This Melbourne-based Korean Australian, who sold to Barneys New York and London’s Selfridges in her first season last year, is in fact a dress specialist – it’s the only thing she started with last year and the dress remains the fulcrum of her subsequent collections.

Myer’s stylist instead chose a series of figure-hugging Yeojin Bae skirts and bustier tops, and one corset dress – baffling even Bae herself, who later told me that if she had styled it she would have layered the garments. We’ll get a chance to see Bae properly on Tuesday at a presentation inside Belinda Seper’s Corner Shop.


The trends? Yes of course more of the dress, the dress, the dress.

You have to ask, just how long can this trend continue? Well into our approaching summer and, according to northern hemisphere signs at least, through to next summer as well.

Myer has invested heavily in shift dresses, smock dresses and babydoll dresses – most in micro lengths – as well as plenty of maxi dresses.

My personal highlights were Goot’s colour-blocked body dresses (Goot has just picked up Lycra as a sponsor – so we’re going to be seeing a whole lotta Lycra his way very soon), Karen Walker’s ultra fresh shift dresses in poppy red and cobalt blue, Kate Sylvester’s micro-stripe corset dress, Nevenka’s retro-print, lace-trimmed smock dresses and Charlie Brown’s turquoise evening gowns. The brightly-coloured, cute-girl shorts and separates at Gorman and Arabella Ramsay looked hot. Manning Cartel’s futuristic, vinyl-embellished microdresses looked unfortunately like terribly cheap imitations of Burberry’s white-hot SS07 collection - one particular crystal-studded dress from which has appeared in countless editorial spreads internationally and on at least three covers.


Ponies got quite a big airing.

“Both shows had high ponies (read: ponytails) but Myer’s really bobbed around as they walked - DJs’ ponies were kind of sprayed to their heads” noted Sydney restaurateur Toby Osmond in a cab later.

“Look at that pony! That’s old-school!” squealed Sydney Confidential TV/Australia’s Next Top Model co-host, Jonathan Pease, throughout the show – referring quite specifically to Jennifer Hawkins’ highstepping runway style, commonly referred to as the “pony walk”.

“But you know, she’s not a real runway model – she’s a model model” I suggested politely.

“Well OBVIOUSLY” came Pease’s retort.

“What do you call that walk?” I asked Pease, pointing to one girl in the Azzollini swimwear section, who appeared to have major issues with the (clearly in some cases too-generous) shoe size and sauntered along like she had just emerged from some bizarre chiropractic manipulation session - or else was in dire need of same.

“Brokeback model” he replied.

A few other Pease reportage gems included “She’s going to pop a sneaker - shoes are too big!” (Matthew Eager) and “Eboni walks like she’s going to a fight” (Karen Walker).

As at DJs, the platform wedge was everywhere but unlike at the OS shows, which witnessed many a model stumble in these clodhoppers, no one missed a beat on this (or DJs) runway. Great to see that fabulous space-age silver cutout Pucci wedge that drifted right in front of my nose in Milan in September (I managed to sneak into a vacant front-row seat at the last minute). Whether Myer’s customers buy it, well, that’s the fourth piece of the fashion puzzle that we’ve yet to see.


Which brings me to a very interesting point about the differential between what designers show, what fashion writers report, what retailers actually buy – and after retailers have blown their budgets by backing particular trends and items, what the customer actually puts down money for. Or what goes onto the sale racks.

Over the past two nights we saw a lot of metallics, blue, white and black on both DJs and Myer’s runways, with some other vibrant shots of colour – including yellow. What we didn’t see a lot of was acid lime. Although all over Australian Fashion Week’s runways in May, acid lime only appeared once – in the Kirrily Johnston section at DJs.

Retailer reluctance to back this particular “hot” trend may perhaps have been best summed up by Mark Werts in Sydney in May.

Werts, the owner of US fashion chain American Rag, told me at the time:

“After 30 years in retail I can tell you one thing - lime just won’t sell”.

Original post and comments.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Erica factor: fashion to the maxi

So the first SS0708 “store wars” shot has been fired and with the dress continuing to be the biggest fashion story in the world right now, it was perhaps no surprise to see myriad dress styles last night on the David Jones runway at Fox Studios.

My personal faves included Willow’s cobalt blue evening gown with intricately draped bodice – which really did look magnificent when it emerged on another one of the fashion world’s hottest stories at the moment, 18-year-old Australian model Catherine McNeil.

Also of note the knit dresses by New Zealand label Sabatini in their first sortie in DJs’ summer showcase (Sabatini has only ever previously appeared in the winter show – some may recall the label’s silk velours peacock ponchos from a couple of seasons ago, as ripped off pronto by Charlie Brown, among others), Easton Pearson’s fresh white shift dress with bead embellishment and a particularly striking tiered, bugle-beaded, pewter cocktail dress by Collette Dinnigan.

But amongst all the dress styles on DJs’ runway, it was interesting to see just how quickly the ‘maxi’ dress has been so heartily embraced here this season.

Yes of course it has been big news in the northern hemisphere this summer past and I did recently muse that what goes up inevitably comes Downunder so I don’t why I was surprised. And it’s not like there weren’t any of these floor-length neo boho frocks on the Australian Fashion week runways in May. Think Kirrily Johnston’s acid lime versions – one example of which had a star turn last night in Johnston’s section of the show.

The maxi, or ‘patio’, dress has also been on the horizon for several seasons. Leona Edmiston has had them in her dress-dedicated repertoire for quite some time. Some may also recall the Australian Fashion Week solo catwalk debut of up-and-coming Sydney label Milich & Morton in May 2005. That show closed with a fab, finely-striped blue and white maxi dress – which the designers later told me was snapped up in multiples as bridesmaids’ dresses for a wedding. A fortnight later Paris Hilton looked fresh and uncharacteristically demure at the Cannes Film Festival in a fruit print Roberto Cavalli maxi dress.

I guess one of the chief distinguishing factors – and for the less confident, key worries – of this look is that it’s a full-length dress that is really designed to be worn in the middle of the day as, in spite of its full-length hemline, it’s really a bit too casual for eveningwear.

To this end I can’t help feeling that our very own Erica Baxter (pictured above by Edmond Terakopian) may play a significant part in what could well emerge as the SS0708 Australian mainstreaming of the maxi dress. Who didn’t see the images of Baxter in her Kelly green/turquoise/white scarf print Roberto Cavalli maxi, striding along the boardwalk outside the Cote d’Azur’s Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, en route to the Paloma Beach party, the day before her wedding to Australian billionaire James Packer? Let’s call them the “Jerica” nuptials.

In one of those fascinating moments of sartorial synchronicity, the Cote d’Azur just happens to be the theme of DJs spring/summer campaign launch and as Megan Gale told Fully Chic last night backstage before the show, the DJs team was in fact holed up on the Cote d’Azur at exactly the same time as the Jerica wedding – a stone’s throw from the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, apparently, because Gale said she could see Packer’s Arctic P boat moored nearby. A shot of Paloma Beach - sans TomKat generously smiling for the world’s paparazzi at the end of the pier, sadly - also appeared on the DJs show invite.

The average Australian would no doubt prefer to spend six figures on an apartment, as opposed to a Christian Dior haute couture wedding frock, as did Baxter, but look, at least they can have the next best thing – a maxi dress from DJs (although by everyone other than Roberto Cavalli, as that’s a brand DJs doesn’t stock). Although hilariously dubbed a “Gunnedah tablecloth” in The Sunday Tele a few days after the wedding, Baxter really did look a billion dollars in hers.

Original post and comments.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Spring sprung! Fashion gets fully loaded on

Well hello. You’re looking at the first post in the first day of the life of Fully Chic.

Does the world need another fashion blog, I hear you ask? Good question. We’re about to find out, I imagine. To the many of you who don’t know me from a bar of soap, I’m a Sydney-based fashion journalist (and the Australasian correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily in the US) and I was first inducted into the blogging ranks last year. Greetings to all of you, both serious fashion watchers and fashion dabblers.

Everyone’s opinion counts so please, don’t be shy. Feel free to make comments and sink your teeth into the topics. Many of these comments will no doubt inspire future discussions. To those of you who do know me, nice to see you again. I look forward to hearing all of your views and comments. I can’t promise that the fashion industry is going to be thrilled with everything that goes on in here. But I can guarantee they will be checking in - and that we’re going to have fun.

This is a great time, in fact, to be kicking off a new fashion blog. For Australian readers tonight marks the kickoff of a veritable spring/summer odyssey. Yes I know we first saw the Australian/New Zealand spring/summer 07/08 collections at Australian Fashion Week in Sydney in May. But with buyers having picked the eyes out of those and other ranges, from tonight we’re going to see what trends the big retailers actually backed. I’m talking of course about Australian department stores. Thanks to Sydney’s hilarious, and clearly neverending, “store wars”, the David Jones and Myer parades over the next few nights will give us a peek at what’s going to be in store.

Most of which merchandise both stores of course dearly wish you’ll rush in to grab at full price. But some of which realistically - global warming and Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan’s prolific, highly influential wardrobe malfunctions notwithstanding - is going to be marked down on those sale racks faster than you can say: “They weren’t my jeans officer”.

September 4 of course, just four weeks away, sees the launch of the northern hemisphere’s spring/summer 2008 shows. The madness! The egos! The wheeled-out, and occasionally also clapped-out, celebrities! Oh yes, and of course, the fashion. Starting in New York, the season then rolls on to London, Milan and Paris. Will we be there? Just try and keep us away.

Fully Chic has already had two test runs of the unabridged northern hemisphere shows circuit and we’re addicted. Stand by for your ringside seats at the world’s greatest fashion circus.

Then for the first time and in a move that’s going to surely test the mettle of anyone who is covering the Paris shows sur place, our very own fashion week supremo (IMG Asia Pacific managing director) Simon Lock, has decided to repatriate his “Transseasonal” Australian Fashion Week showcase from its five-year base of Melbourne – where, let’s face it, the younger, originally autumn/winter-branded AFW barely had a pulse - to Sydney, the birthplace of the event’s now 11-year-old, bursting-at-the-seams spring/summer showcase.

Yes we all know the real reason is because the Victorian Government decided not to renew its five-year contract with IMG. That’s hardly surprising - Melbourne already has enough fashion events.

But the big questions now of course are, does the industry need a second collections showcase? Will more people participate if this event is held in Sydney? And will those who stayed for the last – and traditionally, biggest – day of the Paris shows, October 7th, be able to keep their eyes open once AFW’s three-day, newly-rebranded “Transseasonal” showcase commences two days later at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal? The good news is of course that for once, Australians will be able to blame any show nod-offs on chronic jet lag.

Gladiators and gladiatrixes of the fashion blogosphere, I welcome and salute you. Let the shenanigans begin…

Original post and comments.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Shake your Boodie: The Australian swimwear show (mercifully) reaches new heights

I'm sitting on a private ferry en route to the Hallican Boodie show.

We are apparently en route to a private, harbourside residence in Woolwich and this ferry has been deemed the most efficient means of transporting us there. I'm having a bit of a deja vu moment because the last time I was on a fashion week boat, the Azimut yacht this time last year, Sydney restaurateur Dave Evans was doing the catering and was rudely bailed up by my good self on the Elle Macpherson subject in one of the cabins. Well Evans just strode past me en route to the rear deck. There is no catering on this boat I hasten to add, which is a damned shame as most of us have not eaten in hours. As the vessel approaches its destination, a voice over the PA system announces that return ferries will leave at 10.45pm and 11.45pm. Given that it is now 10.16pm, I'd say the chances of us getting out of this before midnight are remote.

We get out of the boat and are ushered along a narrow jetty towards some stairs which lead to the venue. Just to clarify, rather a lot of stairs, which wind up the escarpment to what appears in the distance to be a multi-level luxury mansion. We proceed to climb up the stairs, and up, and up, and our little obstacle course then takes us past a kidney-shaped pool, over some stepping stones and through quite a lot of greenery, including one area in which sprinklers are working for some absurd reason. I thank my lucky stars that I have on a pair of wedge heel Mary Janes and not the patent purple pumps with nail-thin green stiletto heels that I was wearing yesterday although that said, as I climbed the last set of stairs before the pool, I did hear a seam rip in my pencil skirt.

"How unglamorous" sniffs one woman as she scrambles past the sprinklers.

We are now on some open lawn area behind the house, possibly a tennis court. It's quite a large runway setup, complete with scaffolding towers for the lights, a raised runway and surrounding murals painted with images of Tikis and lush, tropical greenery. Some giant wooden Tikis are also scattered around the area and there is a Chinese lantern-decorated bar. It's a kind of Survivor-meets-Gilligan's Island look and it is in fact quite impressive. Some serious money has been spent on this launch (I later hear in the vicinity of 100K).

"It's like a Tiki party" volunteers Kiwi journo Carolyn Enting, before some 70s disco music starts up and she feels the need to qualify her previous statement.

"Actually it's like a Tiki party crossed with Miami Vice" she says.

I cross my fingers that this means there is a possibility Colin Farrell could emerge from behind one of the giant Tikis at any moment. For now, we have to make do with Miro - Simon Lock's glamorous Eastern block replacement for (the much-missed) seat Nazi John Flower who doubles as a personal trainer. Many at Fashion Week have grown accustomed to Miro's very hands-on approach to seating as he guides you to your allocated pew.

Miro gets up onto the stage in front of a band setup and takes the microphone.

"Could we please have the international buyers and media in the front two rows, thanks" he says, as some soft music starts up behind him.

Miro moves off the stage and after a short time, some new music starts - a cover of Que Sera Sera. A model emerges in a dramatically-cut black maillot and wearing some showgirl feathers on her head. She walks around deliberately - we assume - dazed and confused, as if she's not sure exactly what she's supposed to be doing up there - or has a case of early onset Alzheimers. Then other similarly-garbed models emerge doing precisely the same thing. It's always interesting when designers, from Sydney to Milan, ask their models to not just walk in fashion shows, but act. It's usually not a good look.

But enough of the runway 'theatre', as for the swimwear it's pure Hallican Boodie sass. Signature cutout maillots and intricately-cut bikinis, some of the best in a zig-zag or animal print, with one knockout metallic snakeskin motif. There is also some great resortwear to go with - floor-length patio dresses and coverups. All up, and given the minor inconvenience of having to be ferried across the other side of the harbour, it's a pretty spectacular swimwear presentation. The show wraps, a Chinese kitchen opens up in one corner and everyone dives into it, desperate for sustenance. After milling around for a short while a number of us decide it's probably a good idea to head back down the obstacle course to head to the pier. As luck - or sense - had it, a luxury cruiser is standing by to ferry the ten of us who make it down first back to the CBD, ahead of the scheduled ferries. I walked in the door of my apartment at midnight.

It's been a day, nay a week, of spectacular swimwear productions. After last year's abomination of a group swimwear show at this event, it's an exciting development. Swimwear is a big focus of these spring/summer shows in Sydney and three brands really stepped up to the plate this season with their productions: Hallican Boodie, Anna & Boy and of course Azzollini, with its impressive Don Cameron video clip. Zimmermann is always a great show of course - but Zimmermann is most definitely fashion + swimwear, as opposed to standalone swimwear, which is a challenge to put up there by itself for an entire, dedicated runway show.

Earlier in the evening Anna & Boy dazzled with a Milan-worthy production: LED panel at the runway entrance, mirrored runway, a giant "A&B" logo and flashing neon tube lights installed around the parameters of the tent. Great to see this fledgling brand looking so confident in the space of just one year. Also good to see resortwear added to the range - the pintucked shirt-dresses and logo singlet dress looked good and provided a great counterpoint to the charming retro florals and tartans of Anna & Boy's bikinis and one-pieces, which are gradually finding their feet not just on the editorial front (it helps to have connections at Vogue), but at the international retail level as well.

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Goot, the crap and the ugly: Fashion Week's polemics hit home

Sitting waiting for the Josh Goot show to start in the Redfern Carriageworks, a cavernous, industrial space on the fringe of the CBD that was once home to Sydney's locomotive workshops.

It has a very similar vibe to The Tunnel, the abandoned railway station down on New York's 11th Avenue where Goot staged his February show. It's a big space with two rows of seating arranged around three walls and at least 100 people are standing at the back of the seats. Dita Von Teese is here, ditto Jennifer Hawkins and on the other side of the room, my great friends from Ksubi, George Gorrow and Dan Single, with their US model mate Erin Wasson.

We could be anywhere in the world but in fact we are here in Sydney to see Goot's fourth runway presentation in twelve months. I know Goot is completely buggered - he sounded like it when I spoke to him last week about the Target project and this fatigue is reflected in every interview he's done in the leadup. There is considerable risk of course that that fatigue could translate into the clothes on offer today.

As the first outfit comes out - a white draped viscose skirt and top - I breathe in sharply in and think, 'Oops'. It's not a strong opening statement. But then the second emerges, a pair of fluid track pants and singlet in a superfine grey marle and then comes a flash of acid yellow in a microdress with batwing sleeves and the show is off and rocking.

Inspired by 'future Roman sport' the collection features a series of fine, chainmail-look polyamide/acrylic leggings and singlets, in both silver and gold, the singlets boasting Goot's signature racerbacks. There are also some very chic, minimalist cocktail dresses in sleek, fluid stretch acrylics, one in bright fuschia, another in vibrant ultraviolet, both with matching capes - picking up from Goot's Gotham girl look just shown for the northern winter.

The colour-blocked, psychedelic leggings with in-built 'swirl' seamwork - for both men and women - were sensational, even if the articulated pattern looked alarmingly, for a fleeting moment, like the Target logo (it wasn't). Some of the body-hugging dresses with clever, intricate, contoured seamwork - an extension of an idea that Goot showed in New York in September - looked awkward to my eye. And when Goot is no longer suffering from sleep deprivation, I'm sure he'll look at those old lady shirts towards the end of the show - and kick himself for not yanking them. But the American retailers that I spoke to loved everything. Henri Bendel will order yet more Goot and, having kept an eye on Josh Goot for two years to see how it developed, American Rag said they hoped to now pick the brand up.

Goot knows only too well that you can't spread yourself too thin - or risk losing focus.

"I don't want to have to do four collections a year, I want to do two a year and show two a year" said Goot afterwards. "I got home on the 15th of March, what is it now, six weeks? That's craziness, to put it together in six weeks".

Yet more future sport at Alice McCall, another Australian who is currently showing on the international runways (three consecutive seasons in London). Some fresh florals aside, there were less of McCall's signature prints in this collection, a move away from her hippie signature vibe and towards fashion's current urban sport moment, a trajectory that was perhaps not always entirely successful.

McCall has a knack for picking a hot accessory however I'm not convinced that her hologram corset belt will be one of them. Sporty grey marle appeared in babydoll and shift dresses, with flashes of this week's ultra popular acid lime green. There were plenty of McCall's popular - in fact, cult-ish - dresses to keep her customers happy, some of the prettiest in pinstriped cotton with acid lime inset crochet panels. The stripe story was cute - longline tops, cardigans and one intriguing hooded singlet dress with cutout panels - as were the denim overalls.

It's a good feeling to front up to two consecutive standout AFW shows from local brands that got their starts in Sydney just three years ago but which are now both becoming international runway regulars. Fashion Week's focus has changed since it first launched in May 1996 and there are plenty of designers who showed then who have zero chance of cracking the OS market.

And look, while I thoroughly appreciate the need to have a series of entry-level AFW parades, for new designers to enter at a low cost and then, or so the idea goes, rise up through the parade ranks towards solo status, perhaps it is now time for a rethink about what these group shows offer AFW. Akira Isogawa and more recently Gail Sorronda are both Ready-to-Wear refugees - but both Goot and McCall catapulted straight onto AFW's solo runways at the get go.

While it's possible to unearth talent in group shows, they nevertheless continue to be Fashion Week's energy vampires - sucking the buzz out of the schedule with their all-too-frequent blandness and 'equal opportunity' ambiance. There is nothing 'equal' about the fashion business - if you don't have a point of difference, or a strategy, you're out of business. The poor brands - and there are a lot of them - unfortunately drag down the stronger ones. I gather this may be one of the reasons why there were so many solo shows from newcomers this year. Gail Sorronda could not have afforded to risk her image by taking part in another RTW show - and she shone last night on her own. Ditto Arabella Ramsay, with a pert, pretty collection of cool girl chic that proved one of my personal highlights of the week. Jessie Hill's was another extremely confident solo debut this season.

The 'blah' factor of the RTW shows is one reason why organisers have so much trouble getting high profile delegates to attend them - which must prove embarrassing, when RTW show participants pay to be part of the schedule and expect some kind of turnup. Apparently New Zealand's Annah Stretton was mortified that AFW organisers refused to accord her a solo show today. But having witnessed Stretton's (very) shabby chic efforts in machine-washable, distressed tulle first-hand at New Zealand Fashion Week, not to mention her styling prowess that has embraced such accessories as a wild boar's head and dead parrots, that can presumably only be a good thing.

The 'blah' factor was also very much in evidence at the One Fell Swoop show today. One Fell Swoop may well have won the Perth chapter of one of the recent Mercedes Startup competition, but all it could come up with for its big runway photo op today was a series of badly-made, black georgette dresses with taffeta cummerbunds. That's not fashion - it's market stall merchandise.

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Table manners: Gail Sorronda's pretty maids all in a row

I am sitting in the Ocean Room restaurant at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, waiting for the Gail Sorronda show to start. This is the 10th show of the day and some amazing kid with long blonde emo hair whose voice hasn't broken is on a podium singing his heart out.

Given that it is currently 9.30pm and there is still no sign of the show, it's just as well that they have started handing around platters of Thai fish cakes or else I might be obliged to commence nibbling on my neoprene Mac cover sleeve. It's only because designer Gail Reid is so good that people are sticking around for so long. I later learnt that the name of the singer is Tom Jordan and that he is just 13. At first I seriously thought he was a girl. He's pretty damned good.

The audience is seated at a series of tables down either side of a wide "runway" space that leads from the street flank of the restaurant to the Harbour exit out back. The models emerge one by one and step up onto a line of small, white, translucent pedestals/stools directly in front of the tables. The pedestals light up from within as the models stand on them - with a spotlight positioned directly over each pedestal. With the rest of the room in darkness, it's pretty hard to see the clothes in any enormous detail, but it is a cute concept nonetheless.

The entire collection is in Reid's signature magpie palette of black and white: a series of terribly pretty, and mostly terribly short, puff-skirted, puff-sleeved cocktail dresses and ensembles in silk taffeta and sheer silk georgette, several versions of which boast either crisp man-style white shirts with exaggerated collars, or little aprons and bibs with plisse edges. There's a definite Fifi the French maid look to a number of these outfits. There are also some longer, more sharply-tailored dresses and one solitary pair of high-waisted, full-legged black trousers topped with a white cotton smock blouse.

In what has emerged as a signature hair look for this Sydney season - taking its cues from recent European shows such as Lanvin - all the models have their hair pulled severely upwards into tight chignons at the top of the head. They're also wearing quirky little head adornments such as silver cat ears and headbands festooned with crystals.

A number of the models appear to be Asian/Eurasian and this is somewhat unusual for Sydney. In spite of the number of Asians who actually reside in this country, their numbers do not appear to be well represented on this city's runways. Twenty five-year-old Reid, originally from Brisbane, is both Eurasian and a professional model herself. Suffice it to say that tonight's presentation looks a little like an army of glamorous Gail Reid clones.

This is Reid's solo runway debut at AFW and it has been interesting to follow her rapid development. On a tip from retailer Belinda Seper, I recall first speaking to her backstage at the 2005 event after Reid appeared in one of the group "New Generation" parades following her Queensland finals win of the 2004 Mercedes-Benz Startup new talent competition. This time last year, Reid outshone every other designer in her group Ready-to-Wear show - with her brand name stretched across the back of the runway proscenium as if she owned the room.

In September I saw her at the London Fashion Week trade fair, with a book full of clippings and a rack full of clothes. Two months later I saw her at the Melbourne Cup, taking out a place in the pro-designer category of the Fashions on the Field competition.

One international retailer present tonight said the collection wasn't her cup of tea, but no matter - Reid already has 20 stockists in Australia, New Zealand, the US, UK, London, Greece, Denmark and Hong Kong. The Melbourne fashion chain, Cactus Jam, looks to be the next to join her burgeoning Australian stockists list.

"We've been following it for a few seasons and for us it's all about dropping a label into the store at the right time and this season would be the right time for us," said the owner of Cactus Jam, Fiona Petty. "I like the fact that it's clever, it's interesting and it's somebody who's actually designing clothes, as opposed to just translating what's happening everywhere else in the world."

After the show I walked to the back of the restaurant to congratulate Reid, and am directed to a small photoshoot that is taking place on the edge of the wharf.

Reid sits on a bollard, flanked by two models, with the sails of the Opera House lit dramatically in the distance behind the black-and-white tableau.

It's a full moon fashion moment all right.

We have a quick chat before I leave her to the photographers:

The collection was called Bird of Prey?
Gail Reid: I liked the idea of asking the question, who was the bird and who was the prey?

The models were the birds?
Well - were they? They could have been. It's all about the male and female gaze, and the spectator's versus the model's gaze.

Is it difficult juggling modelling and designing?
Well no because I do more designing than modelling.

I couldn't help thinking that all the models looked a lot like you.
Yes well it's kind of Mini Me. It's very introverted and very ...

It is very narcissistic! I'm happy to admit that. But you know what, it's my little empire and I can do whatever I want.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Frock of ages: fashion's (apparently) never-ending dress code

Frocks rule. Had he been as passionate a fashion writer as he was a conservationist - and exhibitionist - Steve Irwin might have said that.

As evidenced by pretty much every collection on Sydney's runways this week, the dress continues to be one of, if not the, biggest contemporary fashion story. And while to the ears of the uninitiated, it might sound absurd to say that dresses are currently a major fashion statement - as if they ever went away as a sartorial option for women - fact is, their popularity has waxed and waned over the decades. For the past couple of years however, the dress has been creeping back into collections with a vengeance.

Most major retailers with whom I have spoken over the past three seasons have all echoed the same sentiment - that the dress continues to power ahead on their sales floors. There are dress-specialist labels, dress-dedicated departments now in some department stores and even, it seems, some dress-specialist stores.

Take the Austique boutique over in London. Austique is operated by expat Australian Lindy Lopes and specialises in Australian labels - with 100% of what retailers refer to as "sellthrough" on dress-specialist label Alice McCall, reports Lopes, which means that essentially all the McCall stock that Lopes buys basically walks out the door. Lopes told me that, apart from a few jeans, Austique has only been stocking dresses for the past two years.

I was sitting next to Lopes at last night's Stephanie Conley show. Extremely well-connected (engaged to Brit/Australian fashion photographer Ben Watts, Conley is the soon-to-be sister-in-law of Australian actor Naomi Watts) Conley also happens to do a great dress, a pretty daffodil yellow example of which was famously pictured on Lauren Bush at the US Open a year or so ago. Conley's fresh-as-a-daisy solo AFW runway debut was jam-packed with some of the prettiest dresses on offer so far this week: from sweet floral cotton sundresses to some knockout cocktail dresses in buttercup yellow silk cinched with wide, clear PVC belts.

Almost every collection this week has been groaning with dresses. From the ubiquitous, trapeze-line, waistless shift and sack dresses - some of them perilously short - to pert sundresses, pinafore dresses, a few resilient bubble dresses from last season, and also the far newer, masculine-nosed shirt-dress or shirtwaister, which has been omnipresent. A good case in point, Ginger & Smart's pintucked white tuxedo shirtdress this morning.

Tina Kalivas' spectacular, colour-blocked show yesterday, while at times a little reminiscent of London's Marios Schwab, featured some terrific dresses as well - notably one spectacular black ballerina dress with intricate cutout bodice. This afternoon Fleur Wood showed an ultra feminine collection of dresses, some of the prettiest festooned with delicate lace, with layers of nude-coloured tulle cascading from Empire bustlines.

"Dresses are rocketing" Wood told me straight after the show. "[In] wholesale orders and retail sales... our dresses sold an extra I think 400percent on the year before, dresses to skirts, last summer to this summer. Phenomenal".

"It's the biggest category right now" said Ruthie Miller, womenswear buyer for the three-unit Californian fashion chain American Rag which already carries 17 Australasian brands and by this afternoon was looking to add at least two more - Anna Thomas and Zambesi, both of which collections showed, you guessed it, great dresses.

Added Miller, "I saw the change for myself, as a buyer watching trends.... [that] women didn't realise how easy it was to put on a dress. They were always putting on jeans with a blouse and top, belts and this and that. But it was just so easy to get up in the morning and just put on that dress and look fabulous and not have to think about what shoes go with which shirt".

Noted Mark Werts, American Rag founder who travels to Australia twice a year with Miller, "For us it started in vintage clothing about three or four years ago, when every girl was wearing jeans. The more fashion-forward girls were wearing dresses right in the middle of the jeans boom".

Another expat Australian who is carving out an Australasian-nosed fashion retail niche is Elizabeth Charles, who operates one eponymous boutique in New York and a week ago opened her second in San Francisco.

"The dress is by far my biggest selling item - it's about 90percent of my inventory" Charles told Fashion Season. "Once the dress bubble ever bursts, I hope I'm ready. If it swings around to pants, I think you don't want to be stuck with a heap of frocks".

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A design career punctuated by photo ops: Where to now for Ksubi?

I've just returned from the Ksubi press conference. As per usual it was one great big photo op for Ksubi co-founders Dan Single and George Gorrow: a meet-and-greet with their supposed bestie, international runway walker Erin Wasson.

As already reported, Wasson was recently sent a text message by the Ksubi lads to ask if she'd like to come on down to grace their show tomorrow. She jumped at the opportunity, Wasson told today's mini media scrum.

"So are you doing it for free?" asked someone from the media pack.

"Yeah" said Wasson, a little awkwardly.

For the record, Wasson happens to be an IMG model, and according to an IMG spokesperson, she is contracted and is being paid. As was Lily Cole, last year's international runway ringin at the event. IMG of course owns Australian Fashion Week and it has an interest in promoting its own talent. That's not to say that Wasson doesn't like and wear Ksubi's jeans or that she doesn't know and like Single and Gorrow. But it's worth pointing out this connection, just to keep some perspective.

After the "conference", during which not a great deal was said other than organiser Simon Lock recounting some of Ksubi's antics at AFW's past and some of their upcoming projects (a store in Tokyo, a book of photographs due out tomorrow) - and certainly nothing about yesterday's announcement of the sale of a chunk of Ksubi equity to Quiksilver Europe founder Harry Hodge - Gorrow, Single and Wasson squeezed in together for pics.

This is what Ksubi revels in: photo ops, back pats and prat fall pranks. Their fashion career, since they first launched themselves into publicity orbit in 2001, by sending 169 rats down the AFW runway, has been punctuated by one photo op after another. For the most part I do take my hat off to them: for the ability to keep on pulling publicity rabbits out of hats. I'm all for pushing the corners of the envelope and the label formerly known as Tsubi has certainly gone there many times.

From the models overboard show of 2003 (even Simon Lock at the time admitted he was nervous about the public liability issues of models coming to grief in Sydney Harbour after diving off the Tsubi boat) to the "fabulous nobodies" show of May 2005, you usually never know just what you're in for with a Tsubi show. Some ideas have been clever. Some have been offensive - a case in point, the "porno" calendar launch, for which models (including Michelle Leslie) posed in some very unflattering poses alongside cars and motorbikes. One line of accompanying 'graffiti' was so offensive that I wrote it down for posterity: "It is the code of the semen to f**** a golden prostitute".

And one idea apparently wasn't theirs at all: the famous "two minute" show of November 2004 - when, after making the audience wait for over an hour, models were sent out on a victory lap of the runway, clapping, as if it was the end of the show. London-based Swedish designer Ann-Sofie Back has, I am assured, been doing this very stunt since she first launched.

Ksubi has lapped up all the attention and publicity - and rucked up a A$20million sales turnover in the process, the greatest slice of which has of course come from their killer jeans. Perhaps it's no surprise to learn that they don't like bad publicity. I mean who does in fashion? This business runs on PR and publicists and designers love fashion writers who don't ask the hard questions best. Sydney is not the only town where fashion journos get banned and verbally attacked - Cathy Horyn of The New York Times is currently under a ban from several separate design houses, following negative reviews, including Dolce e Gabbana and Carolina Herrera. Ksubi is the only show this week that I haven't been invited to and there was the incident in New York last September where loudmouth New York publicist Kelly Cutrone - Ksubi's US PR rep - banned me from all her clients' shows forthwith.

I was interested to finally see the dark side of Dan Single on Saturday night at the Willow presentation. I'd heard a lot about it. Totally unprovoked - except save for a series of stories that I have written about the Tsubi/Tsubo trademark dispute which obliged Tsubi to change its name to Ksubi, and the Cutrone incident - Single approached me while I was talking to several other people and made a couple of nasty comments in a loud voice.

When I later attempted to clear the air, by asking just what Single's problem was, he told me - once again in full earshot of a number of people - that after I had made enquiries to some of Ksubi's suppliers approximately 18 months ago, some of the companies had been spooked and it wound up costing Ksubi a great deal of money. He didn't elaborate any further.

At the end of the Tsubi trademark story that I wrote this time last year, I alluded to a major cash crunch that Tsubi appeared to be having in late 2005. That's certainly when I first got wind of it - due solely to the fact that the ragtrade, from Sydney to Auckland, was abuzz with talk about the company.

Who knows what's really going on in Ksubi's world? Many fashion companies experience cashflow problems - and of course some unfortunately also go under. But while Single and Gorrow may have laughed off suggestions from branding specialists this time last year that the trademark changeover cost could potentially wind up in the seven figures, it's probably a safe bet to say that irrespective of the cost, it's an additional expense that they probably did not need at the time.

A Tsubo director told me that his company had been pursuing Tsubi for several years but claimed that Single and Gorrow just kept fobbing off the calls and emails. In the end, Single and Gorrow didn't have much choice - the case almost went to court, which could have cost the duo more money still. Had they nipped the matter in the bud, at a time when most people had never heard of Tsubi, presumably the entire exercise would not have been quite so expensive.

Good luck to Single and Gorrow. It will be interesting to see how this new partnership pans out and just where the Ksubi brand is heading. Hopefully it's onwards and upwards. I don't enjoy having to investigate/report that fashion companies may be experiencing financial problems however the ragtrade is a tough industry and at the end of the day, it's my job.

One thing's for sure however. As a number of fashion creatives have discovered after selling brand equity to investors - there's no such thing as a free lunch.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Veni Vidi Varga: Brunsdon's pinup girls and Vogue's advertiser-friendly TV

Sitting here waiting for the Jayson Brunsdon show to start. It's the same upstairs "OPT" venue as the Lisa Ho, Anna Thomas and Melanie Cutfield shows yesterday - the one that looks a lot like The Salon tent at Bryant Park in New York. Given that that's precisely the tent in which Brunsdon showed in New York in February, this time it really, really feels like deja vu.

Strangely enough however, given the big fish in a small pond factor, I'd say Brunsdon's New York show was fuller than this. There are a few people standing around here due to the seats filling up - but in February, they were standing shoulder-to-shoulder in lines around the walls.

The big difference between the two shows is that this one is happening in the throes of a very warm Sydney autumn, while the other was staged during a bitterly cold New York winter - and gripped by a dreadful gastric flu, I recall sitting through Brunsdon's show wishing that they had not given me a front row seat, because frankly I felt like I was going to have to run out the door at any moment.

I could just envisage The Daily's headline the following day:"Chunder from Downunder!" or, perish the thought, the entry on Kelly Cutrone's blog. So far noone has been able to answer the following question: has anyone, in the history of fashion presentations, ever thrown up on a runway during a show? On that frigid New York evening, I prayed that the first recorded sighting was not going to be me.

Anyhow, to my left, about three seats up, is Dita Von Teese. Two seats to my right, expat Australian model - and newly-minted Victoria's Secret "Angel" - Miranda Kerr. Photographers on the other side of the runway keep training their lenses on both. Sandwiched in between them, as I am, it's a somewhat disconcerting feeling. This is what celebs live for of course - the photo op. Only to later bitterly complain when they can't switch that media interest off at inconvenient times.

As for the collection, I have to hand it to Brunsdon - as I do also to Josh Goot, Alice McCall and anyone else who is currently juggling runway commitments in two hemispheres. Brunsdon's first show in New York was just three months ago. And yet here he is again with a complete - but very tightly-edited - resort range.

No, Brunsdon is not reinventing the design wheel but he has managed in a very short space of time (three years) to carve a smart niche for himself in the Australian womens classic eveningwear category. Yes his pencil-thin, beaded, tailored cocktail dresses and boleros with built-in corsets owe as much to Roland Mouret as they do to his stated collection inspiration - the 40s Varga Girl - but there were a couple of knockout dresses, both of them in burnt orange silk. Perhaps I have been bamboozled by Brunsdon's New York buzz factor, but I can't help seeing this collection snapped up by a few Manhattan princesses.

Walking backstage afterwards I do a double-take when I spot a woman with dead straight, platinum-blonde hair, wearing a pink smock dress, interviewing Brunsdon in front of a television camera. I can't help thinking that the woman looks alarmingly like David Jones' group general manager for apparel, footwear, accessories and cosmetics, Colette Garnsey.

The woman turns towards me and voila, it is indeed Garnsey - doing a few quick backstage ivs, I am informed by a David Jones spokeswoman, for a video story for Vogue Australia's online division, Apparently Garnsey's debut iv was at last night's Alex Perry show.

Presumably, Garnsey won't be doing any interviews with non-DJs designers. But the question remains, should she be doing any interviews at all? I wonder to myself whether the end piece will be clearly advertised as a David Jones advertisement, whether it will masquerade as some sort of daft industry type-on-industry type interview - or whether perhaps there is any delineation between anything these days at Vogue. It should be noted that the magazine found itself on Media Watch on two occasions recently.

"So do we [the media] get our turn to play buyers now?" I joke, in Garnsey's direction.

"No!" snaps Garnsey.

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That's not a miniskirt, THIS is a miniskirt: Alex Perry courts danger and some Central Coast comparisons

What an utter hoot the Alex Perry show was last night. After such a flat morning, with some momentum starting to build after a couple of strong shows - notably Anna Thomas and the very confident debut of Melanie Cutfield - in walking across to Perry's Cargo Hall venue it really did feel like a big, buzzy show.

A long queue of people stood waiting in line to get in, a mini red carpet 'arrivals' section had been cordoned off to one side in order to capture the bevy of Australian celebrities who had turned up for the show. You name them, they were there: Tara Moss, Michelle Leslie, Sophie Faulkiner, Jodhi Meares, I even spotted Ros and Gretel Packer in the front row. They joined the usual horde of Perry's big-haired clients and fans - every last one of the latter, as per usual, guilty-as-sin of major Crimes Against Bronzer.

Inside there was a feeling of minor pandemonium - which was only exacerbated for me by the shrieks of laughter from New York retail ringin, Henri Bendel VP Fashion Director Ann Watson, as she opened up her goodie bag to find a complimentary ironing board cover, courtesy of Perry's sponsor Sunbeam.

"I've never been at a fashion show, where they've given an ironic board cover!" squealed Watson. "I can't wait to take it home and show everybody. In New York City, I don't know anyone who irons their clothes. I think it's because we live in such a service culture - everybody sends out. Next I'm going to get a can of starch to go with it".

The show started, and a series of mostly stick-thin models - three from the tv show, Australia's Next Top Model, on which Perry is of course a judge - charged out to the loud strains of heavily-remixed disco.

There were plenty of Perry's signature floor-length evening dresses and ensembles - the prettiest those with multicoloured skirts over corset tops, cinched by large belts. However the most striking feature of the Swarovski crystal-encrusted collection - many items from which featured satin versions of the moment's fashionable sporty racerback - was the length of the cocktail dresses. Or rather, lack of it. One coral garment in particularly clearly showed the model's buttock cheeks.

"That's a Britney Spears there" noted Watson.

"He definitely had the best models of the day" she added later, just as the models were doing their victory lap at the end of the show. "Why didn't the other designers have these girls?"

Here's Perry's post-show answer - in a quick backstage iv I did with him post-show:

Alex Perry: [stylist] Trevor Stones and I go through this laborious process of casting. It's really important, especially with what I do. If I put girls who are slightly elegant in my show, it gives it a different slant. And this season especially.

So what, you don't want them to be elegant, but brassy?

Well no, but if they're too elegant... They need to be a bit younger, king of racehorse lean, fresher-ooking girls. Because when you put them in something that's so heavily-jewelled, if I put it on somebody who looks a bit more sophisticated, it looks like I'm trying to create 50s Dior and that time is gone so it needs to be like a modern version of that and you do it on beautiful young girls. Casting is really important.

What was the brief you gave them? They were almost like automatons.
Just pummel out there and pummel back. No sauntering and swaying. Get out there as soon as you can and get back as fast as you can.

What was it like working with the ANTM girls?
You know what - they were fantastic. When we did the dress rehearsal, I didn't recognise two of them. I don't know that you would have guessed which ones they were in the show. Everyone would know Alice [Burdeau - the particularly skinny teenager whose weight has been the subject of recent controversy] because she's like a Nicole Kidman-esque kind of girl. But they fitted in seamlessly with the rest of the girls.

It was very short - particularly that coral number.
I took the reference from old 50s swimsuits. You know, those ones that have that panel in the front.

A Terrigal Skirt?
[Laughs] I wanted them to be dangerous. Everybody at some point has done short skirts since the beginning of fashion. And I thought, 'Alright, I'll show you how how to do a short skirt'. I've never touched that territory and I thought, 'I'm going to do it today, I'll jewel it and cut it to almost a dangerous level'.

Do you think you are going to actually sell the shortest versions?
I might have to lengthen them slightly. But those dresses, they could be made in any length and they're still beautiful - gorgeous cocktail dresses. And you know what? Some cheeky little girl is going to wear it like that. So long as she's got the legs. Let's hope it's not a bad leg offender.

Or a Crime Against Bronzer. There were more than a few of those here I have to say.
There could have been. If I had more time, I would have been too. They're tanned. They're healthy tans. They travel a lot. We're here pasty in the middle of winter and they've come back from somewhere. My clients - they can afford to go whenever they want.

Outside the venue, the lack of length of Perry's skirts was a subject of some debate - notably whether The Terrigal Skirt was in fact the appropriate term.

"Yes there's the Terrigal Skirt, which is just south of The Entrance" noted David Jones head buyer David Bush.

He added, "Then there's the Toukley Skirt - where you can actually see The Entrance".

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Many Rivers to cross: Fergie's fashion manifesto for the red carpet neophyte

Dita Von Teese wasn't the only international in town yesterday with nervous management. The publicist of Black Eyed Peas frontwoman Fergie was very closely vetting his client last night, while she was sequestered in a little velvet rope-enclosed section next to the stage where Von Teese was due to perform. After unsuccessfully attempting to sidle up to Fergie, I was obliged to politely ask the publicist could I throw a few fashion questions her way. I was wound up after three, so here they are for what they're worth.

Wearing a black and white Sass & Bide bubble dress, Fergie graciously chatted to Fashion Season about her personal fashion choices and the challenges inherent in navigating the red carpet.

Fingers crossed she pops in to a couple of shows later this week. According to her manager, there's a possibility that Fergie might try to squeeze at least one into her schedule, with Alice McCall a strong contender at this stage.

So what is your personal fashion philosophy?
Fergie: Be aware of what's current and what's coming but don't be afraid to make it your own.

And when you are making your own red carpet choices, is there a particular signature style that you tend to go for?
Well I always wear something that represents me, but if I'm doing something that's maybe a bit prim and proper like a.... [hard to hear with all the background noise]. There's always that one piece that, it's something that resembles you and only you. And that's what I try to do. And also, if it's too perfect I'll try to mess it up.

And what about the scrutiny of the media when it comes to celebrities and the red carpet? The potential for a massive slagoff etc... Do you think a lot of celebrities take that into serious consideration - do they worry about it?
Yeah I do but at the same point, sometimes I'll go out of the house and look at myself and know that it's an easy targeted outfit to say something about. But sometimes the comedians [presumably such television commentators as red carpet harpies Joan and Melissa Rivers] are just looking for a quick one-liner. But it's not the comedians who are setting fashion trends. They're usually the worst-dressed.

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The Dita factor and Kirrily's urban sport moment

Hurtling in a cab en route to the first show of Fashion Week day two - Kirrily Johnston, down once again at Bondi Icebergs. It's another beautiful day for a fashion meet. Many of us won't be quite as fresh-faced this morning as the last however due to the Dita Von Teese performance last night.

It was well past 11pm when the show finally wrapped and for those of us who then had to produce material to go to air, that wasn't the end of it. I was liaising with my producer until the wee hours this morning, checking that DVT's management had given their 'OK' to the footage for our video packages today.

Von Teese's management obliged all media outlets recording the performance to provide not just the performance footage for approval, but in fact the edited, ie ready-to-air stories - stitching everybody up with a signed contract before they could get through the door.

And look I thoroughly appreciate that DVT has an image to protect, and that some might well be keen to take the images of her writhing on a giant bucking bronco of a lipstick out of context, but I did have to laugh when I spotted what appeared to be dozens of mobile phones whipped out by punters the minute DVT hit the stage to record their own take-home versions of proceedings for posterity. Or YouTube, take your pick (on which currently appears a somewhat raunchier version of last night's show). If you can't stop Saddam Hussein's execution leaking onto the internet, what hope has poor Dita Von Teese of protecting her dignity for heaven's sake?

Now in another cab hurtling back to the OPT for the next shows. Once again Icebergs provided a glorious backdrop to Johnston's jolts of spring/summer colour.

In the case of this season's very sportif collection, the jolts were flashes of canary and saffron yellow and notably, a vibrant Pine Lime Splice green. I liked this collection, particularly the saffron yellow knit and grey marle micro singlet dresses with 'tough chic' exposed zipper and grommet embellishments, as well as Johnston's odes to the floor-length patio dress style, a nice contrast to all the uber minis we saw yesterday.

I liked the lime dress series best of all - all looking like they could have been made out of parka nylon, but which in fact were fashioned from various treatments of silk, from featherlight silk cotton to a glossy, viscose twill-look version. They were bright, breezy and effortlessly chic. But I couldn't help noting what I thought were some far too literal references to Alber Elbaz's just-shown AW0708 collection for Lanvin, the leitmotiv of which collection was a series of massive 'power' sleeves on loose shift shapes. Unlike some others working in the Australian market, Johnston has her own quite distinct aesthetic and, staying 'on trend' aside, I think she should follow her instincts a little more closely next time.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Thomas the swank engine: Anna T administers a bit of CPR to AFW

After an extremely flat morning, which was punctuated by a couple of minor jolts of colour in the shows of Silence is Golden and New Zealand's Cybele, Anna Thomas gave Australian Fashion Week some much-needed CPR.

And look it wasn't the endless suite of trapeze-line shift and sack dresses that bored the pants off most people - this silhouette has already infiltrated the Australian fashion market, just as it hits the northern hemisphere summer, so we expected to see a lot more of it this week.

It was a combination of poor-man takes of big international names, drab fabric, drab workmanship, dull, dull, dull colours. And some really bad shoes. I found myself asking people, "Does this seem really flat to you?". Which question tended to be greeted with a deadpan expression.

Then came Anna Thomas. And I started feeling like I was back at an international runway event - New York Fashion Week to be precise, with AFW's new "OPT" upstairs venue a dead ringer for the medium venue there that was called last season, from memory, The Salon. Not that the same venue felt like it during the earlier Lisa Ho show.

Slick and commercial yet very fresh, Thomas' collection featured a suite of sweet, gathered peasant skirts in graphic black and white polka dots, short shorts - or as the Americans like to call them, "panties" - boxy blazers and one striking pewter sack dress with a voluminous back.

The dresses were particularly strong, notably Thomas' take on what is emerging as another Australian SS0708 season requisite - the shirt-dress - as well as some utterly charming pinafore and shift dresses such as the banded lime green/black/grey sleeveless shift dress and a softly gathered pewter sundress with black contrast bodice and belt.

The collection had grace, polish and a kind of Roman Holiday ease. Ex-Country Road and also Max Mara, Thomas launched her label in 2002 and apart from taking part in the most recent 'transseasonal' AFW shows in Melbourne in September year, this was her first show at the event's biggest showcase in Sydney.

Let's hope it's not her last.

We had a (really) quick chat after the show:

You launched your label in 2002, why has it taken so long to show in Sydney?
Anna Thomas: I guess we've just been really finding our feet and we didn't want to present anything that wasn't really world-class and that we wouldn't want to put on a catwalk in Europe or in New York. I haven't felt confident enough to do it until this point. I was really happy with the collection and the direction that we took for the show, we tried to make a little bit of a departure from the typical thing that people think about an Anna Thomas collection. Everything just felt right this season.

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Paul Keating and the Veronicas - Fashion Week kicks off

I'm en route to the first show of Fashion Week: camilla and marc down at the Sydney Theatre Company. It's a beautiful day, with still not much sign of winter - except save no doubt for the winter clothes in which I am expecting most will be clad today. Wear current season's winter, watch next season's summer.... yes the crazy fashion locomotive charges forward.

This time last year I was new to blogging - and indeed blogging was relatively new to the event. This is my fourth blog in twelve months and I've noticed that the blogging ranks have started to swell, not just in Sydney but overseas as well. By February we saw The New York Times add a fashion blog to the runway review duties of its chief critic (Cathy Horyn), the latest in a long list of mainstream newspaper and also indie blogs to enter the tents. As with every other sphere that the blogging phenomenon touches, blogging provides a unique viewpoint at fashion shows.

Bloggers have no space limits, usually no sub editors and few rules. We also provide a backbone for dialogue with our readers and this is one aspect of the medium that I am finding fascinating at the moment - the reactions by some designers to the (relatively) unfettered commentaries of the public.

Some, like Alex Perry, say they are "thick-skinned" - and the frequent flack is like water off a duck's back. Others, I can tell you, aren't quite so bolshie. All I can say to them is, deal with it. The public are the end users of what you are showing on these runways, they have a right to their point of view.

Now sitting down inside the venue - one very long, snaking front row that runs from the front to the back of the STC. Too bad Cate Blanchett isn't on deck yet here. It's little consolation I suppose, but I've just brushed past a couple of Oz popettes.

"We could sit you over there next to them - you could be the third Veronica" quipped Lorraine Lock, the wife of Fashion Week supremo Simon Lock.

[Former Australian prime minister] Paul Keating is supposed to be somewhere in the distance. He could be the fourth Veronica.

The show itself is a pretty, and very short ode to the major influences of the northern hemisphere's current spring/summer season, with a soupcon of the new winter's tough chic thrown in for good measure: a suite of A-line, waistless shift dresses with exposed silver and brass zippers, some of them boasting sportif racerbacks.

I liked the cropped, hooded boleros in barely-there flesh tones, the vermillion micro knit dress and the series of cobalt shift dresses, which should provide plenty of party dresses for the Pretty Young Thing customers of this up-and-coming brand.

But while everyone has a trench coat on offer these days, camilla and marc's baggy-sleeved versions looked far too Stella McCartney-esque for my money and the lab coat dresses with grommets, like (very) poor man's Lanvin. Please leave the complete ripoffs to the high street.

Walking out, I spot Keating and manage to grab a few comments:

What did you think about the collection?
Paul Keating: Oh I liked the collection. I liked #1, #3 and #5 for a start. And a number of other single items in there.

What did you particularly like about them?
Well, their chic casualness.

Does it compare to Zegna?
Well that's formal. We don't get around in suits all day, do we?

No that's very true. What do you think about fashion in Australia in general?
Well I think fashion is one of the great arts, one of the great creative arts. One of the places where the endless combinations and permutations of fantasy all mix.

Do you think it gets enough support from the Australian government?
Oh well, I don't know what support it gets, to be honest.

On Saturday night at another show I spoke to Ian Thorpe, who volunteered that he had seen some Dior shows. Have you done Dior - or any other international fashion shows?
I haven't been to any.

I'm interested in the international fashion shows of the 30s and 40s and 50s when clothing was at its peak.

But that was a bit before your time wasn't it?
Well no style is before one's time.

I meant you couldn't possibly have been at those shows.
Oh I couldn't have been at the shows. But the gear is still around - the great A-line of the 50s, Balenciaga and all those people.

Original post and comments.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

'I've done Dior!': Fish-out-of-water fashionisto Ian Thorpe dives into the Fashion Week swim

We have touchdown. Well, celeb touchdown at least. Having now clocked two full OS show seasons and notably, two celeb-infested New York fashion weeks, and after last May's very disappointing "VIP" turnout at AFW, I have to admit I was a tad apprehensive about the prospect of only having the clothes to review next week. I mean, perish the thought of anyone talking about the clothes at a fashion show these days.

But some bona fide celebs are now in our midst - thanks to tonight's MTV Awards and the Fantastic Four premiere, (and if there isn't already an appropriate collective noun, Fashion Season would like to nominate the following to denote same - a paparazzi of celebs, or perhaps even a Fawcett of celebs). Should any of these wind up popping into the fashion tents, we could be in for some fun and games.

Dita Von Teese of course is a shoe-in. Here to promote her involvement with (AFW sponsor) MAC, notably the brand's Viva Glam lipstick - with a fat $100,000 cheque handed to Sydney's Bobby Goldmsith Foundation yesterday - Von Teese will be on deck at at least some shows as the VIP guest editor of Australian Harper's Bazaar. Just as Cate Blanchett, Sarah Wynter and Elle Macpherson etc... have done in years past.

Anyone present at Myer Sydney City yesterday for the cheque presentation couldn't have missed the celeb buzz in the air, with a score of fans turning up for signings and photo ops with the petite, porcelain-complexioned DVT. Judging by the number of Goths I spotted, the Marilyn Manson factor obviously has not rubbed off either, in spite of the fact that DVT and Manson are now estranged.

No major sightings at the Willow presentation at Carthona last night. But the 'show' itself was nevertheless a sight to behold. Quite apart from the rare glimpse inside this harbourside Gothic mansion - and its superb, wild garden - the Helmut Newton-inspired tableaux of Willow lingerie-bedecked models inside a couple of the rooms provided a sumptuous visual feast. I trust the poor girl who had to lie with her back arched against one brocade sofa for an hour's duration won't require the services of a chiropractor today. We shot a preview video of this retro-look luxury lingerie range last week which will go live tomorrow.

Some pieces - notably the black tulle-swathed, white silk high-waisted knickers and bra - seem far too pretty to cover up. With DVT and her old-worlde Hollywood froufrou style thrown into the mix this season, Fashion Week seems, for the moment at least, to be having a bit of a burlesque-nosed moment.

About an hour later, back downtown in Ultimo, I turned up to the Nicholas X Morley show and was intrigued to spot Ian Thorpe. Thorpe has of course had more than his fair share of fashion moments so I was interested to get his take on the subject.

Here's what he said just before and straight after the show:

So, what are you doing here at the Nicholas X Morley launch?
Ian Thorpe: I was invited by a friend who is a model here tonight [Cheyenne Tozzi, apparently]. So I was asked to come along, which I'm more than happy to do. From what I've heard and from what she's told me I think it's going to be great.

You have been involved with a few different fashion projects. Are you still involved with Autore pearls?
Yeah... I'm not designing jewellery at the moment. Still designing underwear and I'm doing a few more things in the future but that's about it at the moment.

Any new fashion projects?
Nothing I can talk about.

Top secret?
Not top secret, because that means it's coming up soon. But something that's definitely on the radar.

[With the recent doping allegations] You have been going through some difficult issues recently.
I'm still going through all of those things. It's all playing out its due course at the moment. I start filming a documentary tomorrow. So things are all on track.

What do you think about fashion in general? I mean obviously you have always had very close fashion ties.
Yeah.... Fashion for me is kind of you know, it comes and it goes, but it always is a great reflection on kind of social issues and what's going on. At that kind of moment in time. The same as what music does and what art does at that particular time. That's what I love about it. It's seasonal and it's cyclical as well. It's great. All of us love some good clothes, it's as simple as that.

You have also had some special 'fashion moments'. A case in point one highly-publicised leather outfit with boots.
Yeah, I was in Paris.

And you copped a lot of flack over that.
Well you know, I wear what I want to wear and I don't care what people think.

The show wrapped. If you haven't seen the video we shot last week, it's a bright, print-heavy streetwear range of T-shirts, jeans, shorts, longline singlets and babydoll dresses, with a small swimwear component. I'm not too crash hot on a couple of the dresses, which seem a bit fiddly with sheer overpanels, but the prints are very strong and the skinny, cropped, lowrider women's jeans with exposed silver zips and microskirts in the signature crossbone print - either white on black or vice versa - as well as some of the fluoro babydoll smock dresses, tops and leggings looked great.

Ditto some of the menswear, a case in point the baggy pants, T-shirt and matching blazer in the white-on-black crossbone print. Although you probably wouldn't want to wear the latter three together, or risk looking like you had just stepped out of a prison scene from Pirates of The Caribbean.

And the Thorpedo's post-show verdict?

"The rave's back" he said.

Will we see you at any other shows this week?
Thorpe: No, I film a documentary starting tomorrow.

So no Fashion Week for Ian Thorpe?
This is it.

Shame, because Fashion Week induced one of your most spectacular fashion moments: the famous pearl mask you wore to one event.
Yeah, it was a masked ball.

It was very dramatic.
Oh OK, yeah.

So we won't be seeing any more moments like that this week - not even in the documentary?
No definitely not.

But you could do a documentary with Ian Thorpe's greatest fashion moments.

Maybe not yet.

I thanked him for being such a good sport and noted that it was great to see him front-and-centre at a fashion show.

"Hey" he quipped, without missing a beat. "I've done Dior shows!".

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Get it while it's Goot: Target stitches up another designer dynamo

We've seen McCartney-mania. Is it time for a Josh juggernaut?

Two months after Target shelves around the country were stripped bare within minutes of the arrival of a Stella McCartney collaboration collection, Target Australia plans to unveil a top secret project with one of Australia's brightest fashion lights, Josh Goot.

UPDATE: 16/05/07

Well don't say we didn't warn you................ Finally today, the worst kept secret in the Australian fashion industry - thanks to this blog's big mouth - was laid out in the open for all to see.

Yes indeedy, Target Australia has stitched up Josh Goot for a special limited-edition collaboration range. It's a lot smaller than the range Stella McCartney did for Target earlier this year - 12 pieces, as opposed to 42 - and it remains to be seen of course whether the Josh Goot name will resonate as well as McCartney's with Australian consumers, and if the latter will scratch each others' eyes out to get a piece of it in "selected" stores when it launches on June 19. As happened in a number of (the 100 designated) Target stores, with the McCartney mania of March 12th.

But with a veeeeeeery similar looking Josh Goot silver trench coat selling at Browns Focus in London right now for GBP290 (A$692), A$129.99 for the Target version looks to be one hell of a saving. The trench is the exxiest item in Goot's Target range, with prices starting at $59.99.

With racerback tanks, leggings, pencil skirts, cardigans, blazers and yes the infamous jersey trench coat in a colour palette of grey marle, silver, navy, black as well as Kelly green and a cobalt blue - all in a Tencel/wool blend, and in sizes from XS-L - Goot is pushing the signature 'tailored comfort' look of his first range shown in Sydney in May 2005.

As evidenced by the new collections shown in New York in February and Sydney a fortnight ago, he's moving on from that ever-so-slightly. That said, the theme of the latest collection was "future Roman sport". Let the Tarjay games begin.


Target is the principle sponsor of Goot's Fashion Week show on Thursday May 3 at 9.00am - and its logo appears on the invitation. But although neither the Target or Goot camps were spilling any other beans this afternoon, Fashion Season has learned that a Josh Goot/Target collaboration is due be either announced or else unveiled at Target in mid May.

It won't be without precedent of course in this market. Last year Target unveiled several styles from three other Australian labels, Alice McCall, Tina Kalivas and TL Wood, under the Designers For Target umbrella. A Target spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny whether Goot was the only Australian fashion brand involved with this latest Designers For Target project.

"I can't tell you anything other than Target are supporting me on this show" Goot told Fashion Season. "It's great to have their support - I think they've shown a commitment to young Australian designers over the past year".

The Stella McCartney range was sold in 100 Target stores around Australia. The 42-piece collection ranged in price from $29.99 for a scarf to $199.99 for a trenchcoat. Selling out in some stores within minutes, according to a Target source it was the retailer's most successful sales day ever in this market.

So just what might Josh Goot For Target look like? Dripping, most likely, in the designer's signature urban sport aesthetic.

Goot, now 27, made his runway debut at Fashion Week in May 2004 with a print-heavy streetwear brand called Platform. Launched a few months later his eponymous collection boasted a leitmotiv of "tailored comfort", with a simple concept: constructed wardrobe classics of the type normally made from woven fabrics, the trenchcoat, the blazer and trousers etc..., but fashioned instead from cotton jersey T-shirting. The entire, machine-washable collection came in grey marle, charcoal marle and silver. It earned Goot the 2005 Tiffany & Co Young Designer of The Year Award.

Goot's May 2005 Fashion Week show made an impact here and several months later, the front cover of high-profile US industry newspaper WWD. The brand was immediately picked up by prestigious London retailer Browns Focus and then swiftly by other key international retailers, notably the Colette emporium in Paris and Henri Bendel in New York.

In September last year Goot debuted at New York fashion week - with US Vogue later heralding him as the designer who kicked off the SS07 season's urban sport mood.

Goot showed for the second consecutive season in New York in February. He is committed to showing back in New York in September.

"This is the fourth show we've done in a year which is insane and it won't happen again" said Goot of next week's show, his southern hemisphere SS0708/international resort collection. "I felt that I hadn't finished the job here in this market. As far as positioning the brand and expressing the brand philosophy and mapping out our distribution, all these types of things, I think we have a little way to go, and hopefully the show will be another piece in the puzzle".

Apart from whatever promotion Target may be planning for the Goot project in mid May, could next week be the last Josh Goot show downunder?

"I wouldn't want to say that because that's got a lot of finality to it" said Goot. "I really enjoy showing here. It's in a sense much easeir than showing overseas. It's your own backyard. And I know how much of a role the Australian industry played in helping us build this brand. We've enjoyed a lot of support and in a sense I feel like showing once a year [here] is the least we can do to I suppose keep everyone's interest and kind of say thank-you".

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