Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Talking the talk: Fashion Torque, Live in the Studio and Insight

Have always been a big believer in fashion forums. In my brief incarnation as editor of Australian industry newsmagazine Ragtrader, I initiated a (very short-lived) series called “Breakfast with Ragtrader”, inviting various fashion players to have a yack about industry issues. In the many and varied fashion panels in which I have been invited to be involved in recent years (including FGI, New Zealand Fashion Week, the L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival and a talk series hosted by the State Library of NSW during last year’s Rosemount Sydney Fashion Festival), I have always walked away thinking that if anyone were to initiate an ongoing in-the-round fashion series in this country, it would probably be a hit. Social media conversations are fine, but nothing beats a live event. Interesting to see more and more activity in this regard. Fashion Torque was initiated a couple of months ago by Melbourne stylist Philip Boon and designer Jenny Bannister with various guest panellists. It runs every Thursday at 6.30pm at the Globe Café in Prahran and is free to attend. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gemma Ward impresses the critics and a new artist mate

the sunday telegraph

As a teenager Gemma Ward conquered the fashion world. Now 23, she is slowly making her mark in the film business, with her fourth film, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, due for release on May 20th. But how does she shape up as a theatre performer? Not too shabbily, according to reviews of her stage debut in The Perth Theatre Compay’s production of The Ugly One, which premiered on March 22nd. Ward does well on her stage debut and, to her credit, is better as the 73-year-old reconstructed cougar Fanny than as Lette's younger wife” says The West Australian’s David Zampatti; “It's impossible to ignore her international celebrity as a beauty but, while this perhaps adds an unintended extra layer to Von Mayenburg's text, it does it no harm”.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


holly blake for michael wolff

Are you ready for the seven days of Andrej? In his first visit back home downunder since his already burgeoning media profile went into overdrive, thanks to several rather groundbreaking turns on Jean Paul Gaultier’s runways in Paris in January, Serbian Australian modelling superstar Andrej Pejic touched down in Melbourne this morning for what frockwriter understands is a very busy week. We hear today is in fact his only free day. Pejic is in town for Thursday night’s big unveiling of the revamped Bourke Street, Melbourne flagship of Australian department store Myer. In and around that event, one rehearsal, one in-store photocall on Wednesday at 11.45am – not exactly a press conference, but the next best thing – and at least two photoshoots have been squeezed. One of the photoshoots is for an Australian eveningwear label – a womens eveningwear label, just to clarify. And Pejic will of course be catching up with his family, who were first profiled on Seven Network’s Sunday Night program on February 13th

Friday, March 25, 2011

Zanita Whittington shoots a Puma

It’s a trend that is, increasingly, bound to get up the noses of some professional photographers: self-taught snappers with blogs nabbing lucrative commercial contracts that might have gone elsewhere. Notable examples include Scott ‘The Sartorialist’ Schuman shooting for Burberry, among others and Jak & Jil’s Tommy Ton shooting for Sergio Rossi and Lane Crawford. In Australia, joining a list that already includes Hayley Hughes’ Windsor Smith advertorial and Matt Jordan’s campaign for Orri Henrisson, comes model-turned-photoblogger Zanita Whittington’s new e-lookbook for Puma Australia. Starring Tania Pozzebom, it features product that is exclusive to Puma’s concept stores in Sydney and Melbourne, including Alexander McQueen for Puma, Puma by Hussein Chalayan, Rudolf Dassler Shufabrik and Mihara Yasuhiro. Here is a first look. The Puma gig follows twelve months after Whittington was tapped as a face of US sportswear giant American Apparel, the news of which unleashed a mini storm of controversy over AA’s claim that it only ever uses non professional models.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"I'm obsessed with models" - Melissa George

Since departing these shores in the mid 1990s, following a three year stint playing Angel Brooks on Australian soap Home & Away, Melissa George has established herself as a queen of the US small screen. Notwithstanding a few features, notably Dark City, Mulholland Drive, The Amityville Horror and 30 Days of Night, George’s CV is replete with a score of American tv movies and series, including Roar, Murder Call, LA Confidential, Friends, Charmed, Alias, In Treatment and Grey’s Anatomy. Her latest small screen effort: Australian production The Slap, whose current filming schedule downunder facilitated her participation in last week’s L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival as the event’s official ambassador. Frockwriter caught up with George on Friday night – four years after we chatted to her backstage at New York Fashion Week. This time, she demonstrated that she is as much of an ambassador for the Argentinian fashion industry, as she is for its Australian equivalent, and offered a fascinating theory to explain the sudden proliferation of top Australian models - or at least those hailing from her native Perth. 

Frankie's gold class - LMFF 2011

Frockwriter’s last LMFF was Friday night’s L’Oréal Paris Runway 6 showcase presented by Frankie magazine. Fantastic, upbeat show featuring some great Australasian brands, from Alice McCall to Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, Alpha60, Dhini, Limedrop and Nevenka, with cool girl styling that perfectly reflected Frankie’s fresh-faced readership, courtesy Jolyon Mason. Not to mention some new faces, notably 17 year-old Gracie Holt (above), who opened the show and walked in four other shows last week. Modelling for just three months, Holt hails from Alice Springs – making her the second great new girl to emerge from the Red Centre in five months, after 16 year-old Melissa 'MJ' Johannsen, who made an impressive debut at New York Fashion Week last month. Expect to see a lot more of both. Click (here) to see frockwriter's Posterous pic gallery shot backstage during the show. 

Because the night - LMFF 2011

Alex Perry's Spring/Summer 2011/2012 presentation was not the only glamour event at last week's L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival. Although unlike Perry's show, it provided no reveal of any brand new season's offerings, the L'Oréal Paris Runway 5 show on Friday night, presented by Harpers Bazaar Australia, was nevertheless a wonderful showcase of highend PM-wear from some of Australia's most acclaimed designers: Collette Dinnigan, Toni Maticevski, Aurelio Costarella, Jayson Brunsdon, Dion Lee, Scanlan & Theodore and Willow. Here are a few shots below. Click (here) to see frockwriter's backstage portfolio shot during the show.

Boy's own - LMFF 2011

A very high percentage of the fashion on last week's runways at the L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival was womenswear. But there was one menswear-dedicated show: Thursday night's Menswear Runway that was presented in tandem with GQ Australia. Oh and a local optical retailer whose name escapes us. Much to the frustration of backstage media - and, we understand, some of the organisers - nearly all photographers were kicked out at the last minute, in preparation for the arrival of VIP showpony, Helena Christensen. Celebrities often have demanding backstage riders, Christensen's apparently included no photographers and, beyond one or two interviews, no other press exposure. We understand the extent of the coverage outside of Melbourne reflected these restrictions. Click (here) to see frockwriter's Posterous pic gallery of the show.     

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Alex Perry's Cuban revolution - LMFF 2011

Could Alex Perry have started something with his Spring/Summer 2011/2012 collection unveiling last night at the L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival? A consumer event showcasing in-season collections to consumers, LMFF is popular with designers because its runways present what is in store right now - with some retailers reporting 30-50percent spikes in business during the event. But a wholesale collection that is traditionally shown to buyers and press six months ahead of the season? That's usually the territory of Australian Fashion Week. In reality, Perry showed 'first summer' last night - that is, the first half of next summer's offerings. He still plans to show at RAFW in May. Perry will show 'second summer' at that event - and according to his wingman, Josh Flinn, the second collection will be a lot more elaborate. With the fashion cycle continuing to accelerate, retailers offering far more frequent product drops than ever before and the rise and rise of Resort and Pre-Fall collections internationally, perhaps it makes sense for designers to gain additional exposure via consumer events such as this, at the same time providing some real news value for the fashion media. 

Juliana Forge often gets compared to Abbey Lee Kershaw

Tuesday's Kookai show looked like a million dollars thanks to a great cast headed up by the brand's current advertising face in Australia, Juliana Forge. Nineteen year-old Forge could be the next antipodian to clean up at the international show circuit, once she finally makes a serious move offshore. She has just returned from a shoot for Greek Vogue which could be a harbinger of big things to come. Here is a quick iv frockwriter grabbed with Forge backstage before the show, in which she mentions that people frequently bring up her resemblance to fellow Melburnite Abbey Lee Kershaw, now the world number five model.

Deep in Vogue - LMFF 2011

Second up on the L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival's main runway schedule was the Vogue Australia showcase, featuring the finalists of LMFF's 2011 Designer Award: Melvin Tanaya's and Lyna Ty's three seasons old menswear brand Song for the Mute, which won the award, plus Arnsdorf, Bassike, Dress Up, Ellery, From Britten, Laurence Pasquier and Lui Hon. Styled by Vogue's Trevor Stones, it was an edgy showcase of exciting, emerging Australian design talent. And it wasn't only the new brands that attracted frockwriter's attention. Rachel Grasso (above) was also a standout. Modelling for four years and repped in Sydney by Priscilla's, the 20 year-old Perth native of Irish/Italian ancestry must have walked in front of our camera on more than one previous occasion. For some reason, we really noticed her this week.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St Gilda - LMFF 2011

So the runway shows are off and running at the L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival. Headsup to any internationals unfamiliar with the event: it's an in-season runway showcase that is open to consumers. In addition to other events throughout the schedule, the naming rights sponsor operates seven multibrand runway shows down at the main venue in Melbourne's Docklands precinct, each presented in partnership with a different Australian magazine. First up last night, the Grazia show featuring Carla Zampatti, sass &  bide, Rachel Gilbert, Leona Edmiston, Tina Kalivas, Romance Was Born and Nina Maya. The styling theme was high glamour, with a mix of high ponytails, cascades of Rita Hayworth curls and ultra violet smokey eyes sported by a cast that included two Australia's Next Top Model alumni, Cassi van den Dungen and Sophie van den Akker.   

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Once were couturiers - Australian fashion icons reband to launch LMFF 2011

So there I was, navigating the fluorescent yellow bowels of the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, when I bumped into an Australian fashion icon waving a steam wand. Jenny Kee, co-founder of the 1970s label and boutique Flamingo Park, was trying to get the creases out of a multicoloured scarf headdress that was due to be showcased in Fashion Full Stop, last night's opening show of the L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival (which frockwriter is attending as a guest of the organisers and Tourism Victoria). Kee was resplendent in three examples of her own handiwork: a 1983 suit from Karl Lagerfeld's debut collection for Chanel, which incorporated Kee's black opal print, some vintage Flamingo Park and one of the scarves from her brand new online boutique. "It's all about online now" noted Kee, when I asked why she and former sidekick Linda Jackson don't relaunch Flamingo Park. "You need lots of money" explained Jackson backstage a few minutes later - reiterating sentiments she expressed at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week back in 2008, after Therese Rawsthorne showed a collection using Jackson's waratah print. They might not (yet) have put the band back together, but fantastic to see Kee and Jackson together again making fashion magic last night, with more than a little help from the new generation of Australian fashion talents, in one rollercoaster retrospective that spanned fifty years.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Girls on film at the L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival 2011

screen cap 'catwalk' via
Arguably more fashion-specific documentaries have been lensed in the past four years, than in the last two decades combined, with offerings including Lagerfeld Confidential (2007), Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton (2007), Valentino: The Last Emperor (2008), The September Issue (2009) and Picture Me (2009). That's not counting the recent proliferation of fashion shorts and videos, whose distribution has obviously been facilitated by the net. For anyone who is interested in seeing some older examples of the frockumentary genre, in addition to some less high-profile recent examples and who happens to be in Melbourne next week, this year's L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival, which officially kicks off tomorrow - and which frockwriter will be attending as a guest of the organisers and Tourism Victoria - has an abundance of offerings.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sunday rose: Abbey Lee Kershaw covers Sunday Magazine's fashion issue

Can't get enough of Australian supermod Abbey Lee Kershaw? Then you'll be pleased to know she is the cover story of tomorrow's Sunday Magazine inside Sydney's Sunday Telegraph and Melbourne's Herald Sun newspapers. Here is an exclusive preview of the cover, part of an editorial spread that was recently photographed by the mag in Sydney while Kershaw was shooting the Portmans campaign. This issue is a fashion special, timed to coincide with next week's L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival. Frockwriter didn't do the Kershaw profile, but we did write the 'style dynasties' story: a profile of three Australian families which have passed the fashion torch down the line to subsequent generations.  

Friday, March 11, 2011

Emily Baker, the girl who would be queen

animated gif maker

After an unknown 17 year-old Kiwi called Emily Baker emerged at New York Fashion Week, we mentioned that New Zealand had a potential new superstar on its hands. Modelling for just six months, Baker, who hails from Matamata on NZ's north island, certainly grabbed the attention of New York casting directors, who placed her in the week's top shows. Not to mention that of modelling authority, which makes a Top 10 New Faces list every season and dedicated its first slot for Fall/Winter 2011/2012 to Baker. At the conclusion of the season, in which she walked 60 shows, including almost every major name, some believe Baker could be fashion's Next Big Thing. Here's what MDC's editorial director Wayne Sterling told frockwriter, regarding this season's rush of Australasian models - with downunder, according to Sterling, emerging as a top 3 casting market after Russia and Holland. Noted Sterling, "As an editor though I think a great model transcends any trend. My training is not to fixate on a group of girls but to home in on an extraordinary new face with long distance potential. For me the girl poised to nab everything is Emily Baker. In the modeling sweepstakes she is THE sensation. There is a reason why she nabbed the first Top 10 newcomer slot. She is... rare, rare rare".

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gumleaf runway mafia

animated gif maker
chanel FW1112/
So another ready-to-wear season bites the dust. Below are, to the best of frockwriter's knowledge, the final show tallies for Australian models on the Fall/Winter 2011/2012 runways. All 27 of them. As already mentioned, at least 18 Australians walked at New York Fashion Week last month, with others joining the circuit in London and Milan. And what a fascinating season it has been. A very clear vanguard of five names emerged. No surprise of course that even though she missed the New York leg, Abbey Lee Kershaw walked in 24 of the season's biggest shows. In her third show season, Julia Nobis, who did the entire circuit, wound up with 50 top shows under her belt. Not far behind her were Dempsey Stewart and Codie Young, in their first international seasons, with an impressive 42 and 39 shows respectively. Ajak Deng walked in 25 shows.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Aussie exclusive number two: Ruby Jean Wilson opens Yves Saint Laurent

yves saint laurent FW1112 backstage/sonny vandevelde
Twenty-four hours after unknown Sydney model Lydia Willemina Collins made an exclusive appearance at the Givenchy show at Paris Fashion Week, yet another Australian model has popped up on the Fall/Winter 2011/2012 radar at an equally prestigious French fashion show and also as an exclusive: Yves Saint Laurent. Scottish-born, UK-raised but now Terrigal, NSW-based 16 year-old Ruby Jean Wilson has only been seen twice so far over the past month - at Olivier Theysken's Theory show in New York, also on exclusive and at the Giles Deacon show at London Fashion Week. But Wilson didn't just walk in the Yves Saint Laurent show, she opened it (below) and she was flanked by some very big modelling names, including Abbey Lee Kershaw, the only other Australian in the show. What exactly is an "exclusive" show option? It means that the model may not appear in any other shows in that city prior to the exclusive - and more often than not, they may not appear anywhere else that season prior to being unveiled. With two other new antipodian faces, Codie Young and Dempsey Stewart, grabbing nearly 40 shows each in their first international season - including a slew of the most highly coveted designer name shows, such as Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein and Lanvin - you have to wonder which is the best strategy. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

From a tattoo parlour to a Givenchy exclusive - Lydia Willemina Collins

givenchy FW1112/getty via daylife

There are three days to go in the Fall/Winter 2011/2012 show season. So far, frockwriter estimates that 24 Australians have walked its runways, several among them clocking up over 30 shows apiece from New York to Paris - and one (Julia Nobis), over 40. We've seen circuit veterans, circuit virgins and several models who have returned to the runways after taking a break - in Miranda Kerr's case at Balenciaga, two months after giving birth. But as the arrival of Lydia Willemina Collins overnight at the prestigious Givenchy show attests, it's not too late to throw a wild card into the ring. Modelling for a month, the 18 year-old Sydneysider - who is working under her two first names - was originally scouted three years ago by Work Agency's Helena Vitolins, working in her mother's tattoo parlour. "But she wasn’t ready" reports Vitolins from Paris. "I just waited for the right time. We got her passport on Thursday, flew her out on Saturday. All of this happened very quickly. We’re going to New York tomorrow, she has some major, major holds and some major, major appointments". The Givenchy exclusive was Collins' second job, after this lookbook for Australian label Scanlan & Theodore, shot by Max Doyle. A natural brunette (see below, from a February 3 post on, her hair was dyed red by Givenchy's hair stylist Luigi Murenu specifically for the show. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Myf Shepherd is back in the game

david jones AW11 backstage

Myf Shepherd was the new Australian modelling supernova of 2008. Scouted in February that year and famously snubbed by the producers of Australia’s Next Top Model, the 17 year-old went on to walk in more shows than any other model during her first Australian Fashion Week in May 2008, before heading off to the northern hemisphere show circuit four months later and walking in 51 shows in her first international season. The next season she walked in 62. Then followed campaigns for Gucci, Sonia Rykiel, Miu Miu and others. By September 2009, however, something was up. Following a blitz of publicity over her personal life – and an apparent weight gain - Shepherd was much less high profile during the Spring/Summer 2010 show season. Then came the announcement she would be taking a break from modelling to study set design at the University of NSW’s College of Fine Arts. In fact, as Shepherd reveals in this short interview that frockwriter recorded backstage at last month’s David Jones show in Sydney, she didn’t just intend to take a break from the business – she decided to quit it altogether. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Oh behave: WISH magazine April 2011, the London issue

It's a dark, dark moment for British fashion. John Galliano is in disgrace, fired from his post as the creative director of Christian Dior, charged by French prosecutors with making racist comments on two separate occasions and now due to stand trial - exactly twelve months after Alexander McQueen took his own life. Shining lights that they were, McQueen and Galliano do not a fashion industry make however. Tomorrow, The Australian newspaper's monthly luxury mag WISH will publish a special London edition featuring a swag of interviews with a number of other far less tragic British fashion figures, notably Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey, Nêt-à founder Natalie Massenet, accessories designer Anya Hindmarch, go-to interior designer David Collins, publisher Tyler Brûlé and Bally's London-based creative directors Graeme Fidler and Michael Herz. Accompanying all the words, a fab fashion cover story that was lensed by Michelle Holden in and around various London landmarks in the freezing cold just before Christmas and which stars Brits Alexander Eden and Donna McPhail (on the cover) plus one Aussie ringin, Josh Gray. The story was styled by Ken Thompson with hair by Heath Massi and makeup by Linda Anderson. Here's a first look.

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