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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